It's been a few, friends. Not only that, but I won't be able to afford ads for another week or so. Looks like you're stickin' with me till then.
I spoke recently with a friend who told me that she was deliberating helping her boyfriend pay for something. It wasn't a shirt, or a meal, or even an iPod. It was a car. A CAR! However, this wasn't a live-in boyfriend, nor one with whom she had spent a considerable amount of time. This was, as it turns out, a 3-month (if that) whirlwind of crap that went way beyond requests for thousands of dollars to be paid over time.
Apparently, this guy has also "politely" attempted to ask for assistance with stuff such as rent, groceries, and pet supplies. Hearing my disbelief-tinged remarks, my friend assured me that he was "fully intending" to pay her back--right.
"He's just going through a hard time right now, what right do I have to deny him?"
In a nicer and more forgiving tone, my answer would have been "every right in the world."
Obviously this problem is a little more transparent/easy to answer given the following two criteria. For one, he is specifically asking for help. It's not like she's offering up her services here--my friend has made it pretty clear that her dude was the initiator. Second, it's been a mere 12 weeks and he is already showing a dependence on her. It's not like they're married, hell, it's not like they're even a "serious" couple, in the opinion of my friend. It goes without saying that this situation is troubling, but what about others?
Say you've been dating a boyfriend for a year. He loses his job and thus begins slowly losing his ability to pay for not only you, but himself. Obviously, you've been involved with this guy for long enough that you've built a sincere love for (and loyalty to) him. You figure it'd be pretty rude to not help out a little, so you pay his rent for the month. You go out to dinner that week, so you also decide to pay for his dinner. Before you know it, you're pay for every dinner--and every breakfast and lunch, for that matter. Before you know it, you're supporting someone else like they're your child.
(Before I go on, I will say that I'm being a bit unfair by providing only female-supporting-male issues here. Obviously I don't believe that this issue is exclusive to females in heterosexual relationships, but I do believe it's probably more common for them. Women generally have an uncannily giving and maternal nature, so when we let it get out of hand it will inevitably turn into this.)
The truth is, helping out a partner who is in extreme need once or twice isn't going to break your bank, nor will it necessarily destroy the equity of the relationship. However, depending on the length and seriousness of the relationship, it is almost never appropriate to ask for help--let your partner decide whether they'll lend their hand.
In addition, I personally feel like there's a certain age when behavior like this should stop altogether; there should never be an instance where a 50-year-old man asks for money from his wife or girlfriend, but it is slightly more acceptable if it happens once or twice in the lifetime of a 25-year-old. At a certain age, you should have your life together. If not, you're not fit for a relationship, plain and simple.
I would appreciate any additional questions or comments on this matter. I will most likely go back and edit this if needed, but suggestions would really catalyze this.