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Am I Being Used?

Question:

My boyfriend of 4 years had himself in legal trouble a couple of years ago and due to his record he has been unemployed ever since. Initially, I decided to take him into my house thinking that I can provide some help and insights, about resume-writing and job searching. I knew it was going to be hard but I never imagined how much. We are both immigrants – he from 20 years agoand I from 10 years ago. His family is also in the States for the last 20 years. I feel that I am doing all the work to get him out of his mess- felony DUI. I have ruined my car to drive him to appointments for counseling, probation and job interviews sometimes. I heve been payng the mortgage myself for over 3 years and I have maxed-out my credit cards. My salary is not big enough to cover everything. Next month I will go bankrupt.

I believe that drinking was deeply incorporated in his famyly life, as it is in our culture in general. I could not say this to his parents but I asked them to go to an AA meeting, hoping that a counselor there will explain to them their parental mistakes. Also, I was in the middle of my studies to get a job as a scientist and this process was greatly interrupted by his legal trouble and by the fact that my efforts are not respected by him or his family. None of them has a higher degree, as I do. So I am stuck in a huge financial crisis in a low payng job, huge expenses, and no financial support whatsoever from his family. His father decided to stop working immediately after reaching retirement age since he had difficulties interacting with others due to his foreign origins and possibly other cultural issues. So, he is not able to help. His mom is still working, but she pays for almost everything and also has a transplanted kidney. At the same time his sister married a very influential businessman in our country and she is doing great. 100,000 dollars would be a very affordable amount for her to loan when the family is in distress. The problem is that this possible help from her was once or asked for by my boyfriend and the outcome was that she said – “What ? Money? O, you are crazy! My parents are OK.”

My boyfriend supported his parents greatly while he was still working. So, on top of everything I deal with motivating him to keep searching for work. He loses faith often.

I am driving enormous amounts to my now two low paying jobs, to his parents who don’t show much initiative, studying with no moral support and eventually sleeping about 4 hours a day, worrying and being really angry at this entirely unreasonable family. I am begining to think that despite of all of my efforts I will end up miserably alone, broke and mentally not so well. I have talked with my boyfriend about these things but he just lets them go and just says that he doesn’t expect help from his sister. I feel that his mother can change a lot of things only by asking her daughter for help but she hates her son in law and is unlikely to do so. I suggested it once and the reaction was close to, “No way.” Also, I get this vibe that when they leave the U.S. in the next year or so they will drag their son with them under some pretext and forever. Then, he will have some freadoms he doesn’ t have here.

I have realised by now that his mother has some very manipulative ways. In the middle of this she and her husband had the nerve to fly to our country for a month and go to Las Vegas on a cheap vacation. My boyfriend and I, we go fishing for 13 dollars per license.

Is there any way to deal with this situation? Do you think I should try to save my 4 year-old relationship and its huge emotional, intelectual and financial investment? I am tired and aggravated and I don’t know if I want to see these people anymore. Shall I talk to his mother? If she really doesn’t give a damn about our raltionship, as I suspect, she may use my insecurity against me to achieve permanent separation. This is why I also think that hiding my health state is crucial at this point. I have serious health issues that need to be examined additionally. Do I give up with this relationship and try to repair myself? I have second thoughts and bitterness about his family styles that wouldn’t have become transparent had we not been put in this situation.

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Answer:

Well, you certainly are under enormous stress and it is no wonder that you now have health issues. A human nervous and immune system can tolerate just so much.

First, let me say that nobody can tell you whether you should or should not give up this relationship. However, the very fact that you ask this question leads me to believe that you have already answered it for yourself. In other words, you seem to have decided to give it up and repair yourself, as you aptly put it.

I am struck by the fact that you often, in your E. Mail, look towards your brother’s sister as the source of salvation. You seem to believe something like the following, “If only she would give me 100 hundred thousand dollars, all would be well.” This is a faulty way to think. Money, here, is not the issue. Rather, the issue has to do with your boyfriend and his inability or unwillingness to work and earn a living. I must point out to you that you did not mention in your E. Mail, if he has stopped drinking and attends Alcoholics Anonymous meetings or any other type of recovery program. In addition, his arrest and charges must have been much more serious than driving drunk for him to have earned a felony. I am no lawyer, but, I do know how impossible it is to cope with a felony record.

In the same way that you look to his sister for salavation you seem to believe that your boyfriend’s mother has some type of influence or control over him so that she can make him do the right thing. This is rarely true. In addition, his father certainly has the right to retire and he and his wife, the mother, have every right to take a vacation. The fact that their son has gotten himself into trouble was his own doing and there is no reason why they should deny themselves some of the pleasures that come with age.

My suggestions to you:

Clearly, you are a woman who is intelligent and capable. In my view, it is important that you take control of your life and through some of the following ways:

1. Instead of driving your boyfriend around, finish your education so that you can get that better paying job in science. It makes no difference whether he and his family value education or not. All that matters is that you value it and use it to your advantage. As for your boyfriend, there are buses available and there is no reason why he cannot use them to get around. Believe me, myself and lots of others have done and continue to do that: use public transportation. Then, you are free to see to your needs.

2. The two of you are not married and there is no reason for you to pay for his debts. Of course, you are financially responsible for your credit cards and if you used them for him then you will have to pay.

3. You can go to one of the many credit counseling bureaus that are around and have them negotiate with the credit companies to lower your monthy obligations and reduce your interest payments.

4. If you own a house, you can sell it or rent it out and live elsewhere at a lower price.

5. Yes, leaving your boyfriend is a very real option for you and you seem ready to do it.

You need to stop thinking negatively about yourself being left alone and miserable. With your education completed you will be able to command the job that you want and live a more comfortable style of life.

Really, the only thing you are in danger of losing is the unhappy way you are living at the moment.

Finally, people feel best when they take control of their own lives. In my opinion, you will feel a lot better when you look to your own strengths and resources, such as your intelligence, education and value system, to take control and to after the things you want.

Best of Luck

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