Don’t miss the next live chat: Dr. Andrea Bonior, a licensed clinical psychologist who has been helping readers with Baggage Check since 2005, hosts a weekly live chat at washingtonpost.com on Tuesdays at 1 p.m. She discusses her recent columns and answers any questions you may have about relationships, work, family, mental health and more. Join or read Dr. Andrea’s latest live chat here.
Q. I am dating again two years after a bitter divorce. My ex-husband was incapable of pulling his weight financially, so it was always up to me to keep us afloat. He did not keep jobs for long and thought nothing of blowing our savings despite bringing in very little. This time, I am determined to find someone who can provide, at least for himself, to avoid this constant source of stress. I am getting pushback about being a “gold digger,” that I need to get to know someone longer before hearing about their financial situation. Is it that bad for me to want to know right off the bat that I am not wasting my time with someone who will be like my ex-husband?
First, where is this pushback coming from? Are you publicly attempting to secure the bank account numbers of your blind dates before you’ll agree to meet them? Or are you just telling your friends that finding a man who can pull his weight financially is important to you, and they are opining in a negative way? I’m guessing it’s the latter, but their opinions shouldn’t dictate your behavior, and they may be oversimplifying the situation. Sure, money can’t make a love match. But lack of financial responsibility sure can wreck a match, and create a lot of turmoil in the process. Given your experiences, your mindset seems reasonable — the same way a person who’s had their heart broken by a partner’s substance abuse may prefer a non-drinker. Let yourself search out what’s right for you to best avoid heartache — as long as you’re respectful and nonintrusive in your information-gathering.
So many gifts, I just can’t take it
Q. A co-worker of mine loves to shop and is always buying things for everyone. I think she comes from a wealthy family and just is able to spend a ton of money without thinking about it. But I also think she uses it as a control thing. Honestly, most of the things she buys are nice and I do want them, but I feel like that makes me beholden to her if I accept them. I’m not comfortable with it. And yet I’ve already accepted enough things that it would feel really strange for me to stop accepting them, but I feel like I’m getting dug into a hole here. Please help!
It may feel strange to stop accepting them, but it clearly doesn’t feel great to you to keep it up, and waiting will only make it harder to stop. Feeling beholden to her (whether that’s her intention or not) won’t magically cease — it will only get more entrenched. And by not speaking up about something that makes you uncomfortable, you make that problematic power dynamic even more stark, and give her even more control. “Bernice, you’ve been so generous for so long. I can no longer accept these purchases, though. It’s very kind, but it’s too much.” Then utilize a “That’s so nice, but no thank you” as many times as necessary when the cashmere starts popping up again.