When You're Being Used
Q: I'm not sure what to do about this woman I'm dating. She is so unbelievably hot, I'm not sure why she's attracted to me. She's got a sweet smile and is built like a dream. But she's going through a rough time. She always seems to need my help with something. First she asked me to walk her dog because she works farther away. So I come home at lunch to walk her dog. It's a little weird because we haven't been dating very long, so it's a lot to ask. But she's hard to resist when she smiles and hugs me thanks. Then she asked me to lend her some money for car repairs. She's had a lot of bad luck lately and it's not fair. So I want to help her get through this.
But what's really got me wondering is I found a box on her doorstep when I went to walk the dog. It said perishable, so I opened it. It was flowers from some guy saying he couldn't get her off his mind and he can't wait to see her. That's messed up! I asked her about it and she said it was an old boyfriend who wouldn't leave her alone. She said she doesn't talk to him. But then she keeps saying she's busy when I ask her to go out on the weekends. We get together on weeknights when she doesn't have to work too late, so I know she wants to date me. She's a lot younger than me, so I feel lucky that she likes me. Am I being stupid or should I just be patient and help her get through this rough time? -- Mike, 51
Dr. Susan: I hate to say this, but yes, you're being naive and maybe a teensy bit stupid. I think your younger woman is using you and probably dating others at the same time. How can she be busy every weekend? I'm not sure you should buy her story about the flowers being from someone whom she no longer sees. It's time for you to gather the fragments of your self-esteem and stop being a doormat to this woman. You feel lucky she likes you, but that's hardly the basis for a lasting relationship. Ideally, you'd both feel equally lucky to have found one another.
If walking her dog is a burden for you, tell her you can't do it anymore. Or perhaps offer to do it twice a week. Or can't she do it when she comes home, or hire a dog-walker? Lending her money is okay if she pays it back. She's working, right? Everyone has bad luck at times, but stop being blinded by her body and smile and youth.
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Susan K. Perry, Ph.D.
Susan K. Perry, Ph.D., is a social psychologist, relationship expert, and bestselling and award-winning author. Her books include Loving in Flow: How the Happiest Couples Get and Stay That Way, and Kylie's Heel, a novel for adults.
Pamela G. Chollet, Ph.D.
Dr. Pamela Chollet has a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and Master degrees in educational psychology and fine arts. Her passion has been helping people face and get through those times when they feel trapped and unable to move forward.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist, stress management expert, and author. If you're feeling overwhelmed, stressed out, or struggling to make changes in your life, Anna can help.