General Question

Katachan's avatar

Is my girlfriend taking advantage of me?

Asked by Katachan (95 points ) November 26th, 2012

We’ve been together for 1.5 years and we have been living together for about 5 months in my place.

I have a good situation, I live in the flat above my business which I can’t rent out because it doesn’t have a separate entrance. So I live here, rent free, and no bills. (Bins, electricity, water, Internet) and food is taken care of as well, (I own a restaurant) although we do like to cook our own meals regularly. She’s 20 and I’m 28. It’s a very successful business, but I like to keep the finances of the business solely with the business, in order to re-invest and I only keep a small wage for myself.

My girlfriend dropped out of college twice but is a very talented writer, and she said she was going to concentrate on her writing whilst living with me. She did this for about a month, writing a screenplay and lyrics for a song which is going to be in a Hollywood movie. I was very proud of her.

Her mum has always been a thorn in our side. Firstly, by not giving her an ounce of freedom when we first met and then forcing her to go to college unwillingly, (which she did, even though she wanted to take a year out) and it ended really really badly, resulting in her dropping out of college for the second time (I won’t get into that).

Her mum also had a major issues with her moving in with me. After the really really bad incident, my girlfriend and I decided that we wanted to live together, but after one month, her mum was getting increasingly annoyed and demanded my girlfriend stay in the family home ONE DAY A WEEK! (Can someone say “pointless!!?”) It was a compromise which my girlfriend came up with which her mum accepted.

Fast forward to today, and the issue at hand… my girlfriend is now working for her mother in her (desperately failing) business. I advised my girlfriend before she took the role to make things black and white about ownership, roles, future etc, or else I wouldn’t support it. (I have a huge amount of experience in familial-business relations, and know the issues that may arise down the line). My girlfriend keeps saying that she is going to “get” the business down the line, but this is too vague for my ears. My girlfriend didn’t heed any of my advice and is now on the cusp of making a success of the business, which I am proud of her for doing, but her mum is still in control of the business and any success that comes from it will only benefit her mother (Who is 55, unable to work, and financially irresponsible – hair, expensive car, clothes, jewellery).

Not only this, but my girlfriend was using money she made in another job and pumping it into the business!!!!!!! All the while not contributing anything financially in our home. Not to mention the fact that she’s not at home as much at all, and when she is, she doesn’t do a whole lot because she is too tired.

Final problem, I gave my girlfriend an iPhone to use last year cos I got the newer one. Within a month, the front screen was completely shattered and the back had a big crack in it. She had always maintained that she would get it fixed before giving it back to me, but a year later, it still wasn’t fixed and my aunt wanted to buy an old iPhone, so I asked my girlfriend to get the phone fixed. I badgered her for a month before she went and got it fixed, but only after a huge argument because I was getting hugely frustrated my aunt kept calling me about the phone. The killer point is that I ended up having to pay for it myself because “she had no money” (was pumping it into her mum’s business) and a month later, she still hasn’t paid me back.

During all of this, her parents thought it wise to go on a 10-day holiday as well, while she looked after the business. (Without pay)

She didn’t consult me about pumping money into the business and I feel she is overall too secretive with the discussions that go on in her family and I don’t want the situation of her living under her mother.

I asked my girlfriend to move out today because I can’t deal with everything that she is doing and me not feeling that we’re in it together. (She is very resistant toward leaving)

She says that she is doing it for us, that she wants to be financially independent like me and that she is going to own the business one day, but I can’t cope with her working for her mother.

Anyway, my point is that the girl I’m with now is not the same girl I fell in love with, although it can be argued that we are not defined by our profession, I feel her actions and her new life has drawn a chasm between us and even though what she is doing is similar to what I’m doing (business), it’s not what I really want.

Running a business is stressful, and for both of us to be in the same (separate) boat is not healthy and I only see a future fraught with these stresses.

Am I being totally unreasonable? Or is she taking advantage of my stable financial position in order to help out her mum? And if she is, should I be feeling so down about it?

Please help :(

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25 Answers

Unbroken's avatar

I think she is whether she intends to, or realizes it or not.

In one way it’s a compliment. She is in essence saying she is comfortable with you. She feels your relationship is secure, which she obviously doesn’t feel about her family. Even though that is not a good way to show it.

I think this is where her maturity issue age difference comes in to play.

You have the choice of trying to treat her like the mature adult that you love and nurturing your still budding relationship.

Or catering to her in the way she caters to her parents, in return you’ll probably be treated the same.

Or ending things and finding someone who better matches you needs and desires.

Unbroken's avatar

Welcome to Fluther by the way.

Thammuz's avatar

On one hand, if she really wants to be financially independent she should act like it. On the other hand, at least she’s doing somehting with herself.

I have an answer to your problem, but not to your question. She said she wants to be financially independent. Take her up on her offer. Seems to me your bugbear is that shes’ doing all this for free while weighting on you and draining your resources to pump them into a business that is going to give her nothing in return. If that’s the case the clear and obvious solution is to push her towards making this business be worthwile for her as well.

Tell her you respect her intent of being financially independent, but that to really be that she needs to make her own money to reinvest, and therefore she needs to browbeat her mother into either splitting the ownership or at the very least giving her a regular wage with a contract and not just out of goodness of her heart.

ZEPHYRA's avatar

Sounds like a competent young lady and very sharp. But you have to lay down the law openly and directly and tell her that while she should respect her family, she also ought to respect you and if things go on that way, you will be forced to take more “drastic” measures. Be firm and clear and she will get the message!

chyna's avatar

It’s easy to be independent and taking over a business when someone else is paying your bills. I think you two need to come to terms with what the long term goals are, what you both expect out of each other and set a time as to when your goals will be met. Being open about these things is the only way to work them out. Her secretive ways are driving a wedge between you two and you need to make sure she understands this. If she won’t sit down to discuss these things in an adult manner, your time together is most likely over. She is definitely taking advantage of you.
Welcome to Fluther.

Katachan's avatar

My! What a wonderful little community you guys have going on here :)

Chyna, I would agree that it would be tough on her to just simply take over the business as-is, and yes, clarifying the long-term goals is important, but her vision is so vague. I guess I could work with her on that, but she is very obedient to her mother and I can’t see anything I say doing much good.

Zephyra, yeah, she’s smart, but very naive most of the time! I’m super-straight with her most of time, but honestly, it doesn’t seem to get through. :/

BosM's avatar

This is easy. You have to decide if you want to love her or control her. All I see in this question is “me, me, me”. She is 8 years younger than you and much less experienced. If your “sage” advice is falling on deaf ears then use all that wisdom you have to figure out a different approach. Otherwise, decide what you’re in the relationship for, love or control. From what I’m reading you feel that you need control over her life, which is a recipe for relationship disaster.

LuckyGuy's avatar

Welcome to Fluther.

Be careful. You are putting her in the uncomfortable position of being between you and her mother. (Reread those last two words slowly….. go ahead, I’ll wait…..) Got it? Ok. Granted, you are older and wiser and your business is successful. Do you think she is worth it. Probably “yes”. She appears to be a hard worker and is honestly trying to help her mother (you don’t have reread those last two words again). Remember she is not spending the money on clothes or sitting on the couch eating bonbons. She is working. You can be certain for the rest of her life, that woman will always be her mother. You cannot say with the same certainly that you will always be her husband.
Don’t put her in the middle or force her to choose. You might lose.

One last thing: about the phone. You gave her the phone. Done. The phone was old and you did not need it. She did not break it on purpose. In the future, if you are not prepared to completely give something away, do not give it away.

SuperMouse's avatar

When finding a resolution to this situation, I think your long term plans for this relationship need to be considered. If this is temporary and you don’t want to spend the rest of your life together, your reaction to this situation might be different than if you are going to build a life as a couple.

If you are planning to spend the rest of your lives together I think you need to sit down and have a serious conversation about your goals, alone and as a couple, and your current situation. Your business acumen can really benefit your lady and her mom. You can help her create and stick to a business plan. I think you would be well within bounds to ask to have this conversation and even insist upon it. @BosM, I think the OP’s question is as much about helping out his girlfriend as it is about helping himself, I really don’t see this as being all about him. I think @rosehips makes a good point, she might not even realize what she is doing because she is so wrapped up in the hard work, trying to turn this business around, and trying to work with a woman who, based on your description, can be very trying.

If this is just a temporary relationship though all bets are off, you really have no choice but to tell her she is expected to pay her fair share – hold her to it – then just mind your own business regarding how she is handling her mom’s business,

I agree 100% with @LuckyGuy on the phone, you gave it to her, let it go.

Welcome to Fluther.

marinelife's avatar

I think that you are missing the big picture for the trees of what’s been happening.

You and she do not sound like a couple. A couple has shared values and goals.

You have said that she is secretive. That is not good.

She sounds obsessed with her mom’s business.

I would keep firm with the breakup and move out plans.

Judi's avatar

You have every right to say “I’m not happy with the situation anymore. I’m out.”
She changed the ground rules of the relationship. He mother succeeded at inserting herself in the middle of your relationship. It appears she has made her choice and it was her mom, not you.
After having a mother in law who didn’t approve of me, I swore that I would never again get serious with a guy unless his mother adored me.
You started off with two strikes against you.
Really, you sound like a great catch that a mother in law could be proud of. Owning a successful business at 28 is impressive. Go find a girl whose mama loves you.

Katachan's avatar

Just wanna explain something about the phone. I love Apple, and have had every iPhone since the first one. (Even still have all the boxes) They are sacred to me. I gave her an iPhone 4, expressly as a loan ONLY, when I got my iPhone 4S. I got the iPhone 5 then, and was passing my 4S on to her. The condition was- get the iPhone 4 fixed, and you’ll get a nearly new 4S in return! I still gave her the 4S after all that. I’m generous like that ;) But at the end of the day, it’s still my phone.

Katachan's avatar

A note about our relationship: In general, it’s wonderful. Supportive, loving and caring. And when work is over, things are great. We care incredibly deeply about one another. It’s just the professional and family side of things that throw a spanner in the works.

I forget sometimes she’s only 20, and I guess I need to take that into consideration more, but I find it difficult to accept that she doesn’t share things with me, particularly when it impacts me directly.

Judi, according to my girlfriend, her mum actually likes me a lot and I’ve known the mum since I was 12! She’s just a control freak!

glacial's avatar

@Katachan Your expectations regarding the phone are unreasonable. You said in your question that you gave her the phone. A gift is not something that you can control after having given it. Lending her the phone is a risky thing to do if you have so much emotion invested in its well-being. Sounds like you have an opportunity to learn a valuable lesson about the danger inherent in lending things to other people. I would advise not to lend a thing that you value so highly to anyone. It puts them in too precarious a position.

I hope you figure the rest out – sounds like some good advice has been given here so far.

Katachan's avatar

I am also not trying to control her at all, but I feel it’s my responsibility to offer a little guidance. Maybe it’s not my place.

I’m totally anti-control. She went out with her girlfriend the other night without me and they both kicked me out of my bed. I’d definitely say I’m not controlling of my girlfriends, but I do like to keep check on the direction of the relationship, if that makes sense.

desiree333's avatar

I have a question, if you do not want this woman in business with her mother, what is it that you want her to do regarding employment? It seems that you have many issues with her family, and they seem to be taking advantage of your girlfriend’s time. However, all I get from this question is that you want to control your her. Immaturity may be a problem on her end, but you need to let her have freedom when it comes to this. You may be happy with her staying home like a housewife, but maybe she doesn’t enjoy simply writing for a living. Tell her she needs to speak firmly with her mother, and get a solid decision on her place within the business. But otherwise, I think you are being controlling and unsupportive because of a family vendetta you hold. This doesn’t mean that your girlfriend is without fault. If she doesn’t begin to make adult decisions, then I would follow through with your plans of time apart. Good luck.

Katachan's avatar

@desiree333 She also has two other jobs working in two different clothes shops. Busy girl. Both jobs only part-time and she works in her mum’s shop every day she has off except Sunday. It’s too much IMO, but it’s really up to her. I just hated how she got one measly day off last week and she was called to the shop to fix a printer. Then was told to make some tiny edit to a video last Sunday which required starting the whole project from scratch (It was only a video slide show, but still took over an hour). Just silly tedious stuff which caused her to drop everything at home to attend to. I just find it unreasonable!

I really do love her and really dont think she meant any harm to our relationship so I’m going to speak with her again tonight and try to resolve things.

Personally, I’d love to see her writing full-time. It’s what she plans to do in the future anyway, but maybe the time is just not right for her right now.

Katachan's avatar

@glacial of course, you’re right about the phone. Caveat emptor or something to that effect.

Thammuz's avatar

@Katachan on the subject of writing full time:

I’m in a similar field (game design) and i have to tell you: you never do something artistic full time. Not unless you’re already famous and relevant, then you can do it full time, because you have the proverbial “100 true fans”.

That aside:

From what transpired from your latest posts, i have to tell you: You’re in the wrong here. It’s frankly ridiculous that you singled out the fact that she works for no pay at her mother’s store and that she did not repair a bloody iPhone, while neglecting to mention that she has two part time jobs on top of working at ther mother’s, and it tells me that you’re a) overthinking the shit out of this “problem” and b) making mountains out of molehills.

She is investing her money in something she deemed worthwile (I’m assuming the other two jobs are where she’s getting the money) and broke an iPhone. Now, the first issue is kinda your problem too, if she doesn’t pull her own weight at home, but that can be fixed by asking to pay part of the living expenses. The other issue is plain silly. She has two and a half jobs and the issue clearly wasn’t that pressing to her, either get it fixed yourself or tell your aunt to be patient. It’s just a smartphone, i assure you she won’t die if she doesn’t get it immediately.

You say you’re not controlling, so you should understand the point of letting her make her own mistakes, including investing money on a person that is going to waste them. Especially considering you’ve said before that you’re not exactly living off the kindness of strangers.

livelaughlove21's avatar

The only thing I think she’s guilty of is being too nice, specifically to her mother. Being a good daughter isn’t a bad thing – my mom would kill for a daughter like that. I do realize that she might screw herself over in the end because of it, but sometimes that’s a lesson one must learn the hard way. All you can do is communicate about it and tell her how you feel, but it’s her decision in the end. You can’t control her behavior – that’s not what a relationship is about.

I think asking her to leave is a little dramatic but, at the same time, you can’t help how you feel. It’s your decision whether your feelings for her make up for her perceived flaws, just like it’s her decision to help her mother (even if you think it’s the wrong one).

The woman is working multiple jobs and trying to please her family and you. What about her? She’ll probably realize that participating in her mother’s business was a bad idea, but perhaps not.

The way I see it, you either love her enough to support her decisions, bad or not, or you don’t. And if not, you’re not a bad person, you just want different things in your life.

The phone thing is neither here nor there. When you give someone something, you should anticipate that something may happen to it. She’s a lot younger than you, so it’s understandable that she’s not on her feet yet and may not be able to contribute financially as you can. Few 20-year-olds are self-sufficient. I say cut her some slack and keep the lines of communication moving. But if you don’t want to be with her anymore, move on.

desiree333's avatar

@Katachan You are being petty when it comes to the damn iPhone. If the phones are that sacred to you, don’t lend them out. Period. Also, you’re obviously PERMANENTLY giving it to your Aunt are you not? So that pretty much disproves that you still cared about the phone. Your girlfriend is busy, which you neglected to give credit. She didn’t break the phone on purpose, and she shouldn’t have to spend her day off fixing a phone that you gave her so you can give it to someone else. If she was too busy to fix the phone, you could have just told your aunt to wait. You’re successful enough with your business. No need to act like an Apple dealer also.

KNOWITALL's avatar

Who can tell wth she’s doing… It comes down to the fact that you’re not happy as it is correct? So to address that, if you are happier w/o her and all her issues are stressing you out, cut her loose.

You have a nice set-up it sounds like so why not look for someone a little more ‘together’ and give that a shot?!

hearkat's avatar

There’s a lot going on here. I was once 20 and involved with a 28-year-old (although I was the more mature one), and it is a bit of a gap in how one is relating to life and family. At 20, we are usually still wrapped-up in our biological family, and it seems that her mother is a good manipulator. At 28, most have created their own identity separate from their childhood family, and are looking to build the “family” of their future.

Money issues are best discussed at the outset, and it is helpful to look at those as more of a business partnership and objectify it as separate from the interpersonal relationship (whether between her and you, or her and her mother). I get the sense that your concern isn’t so much that she’s not contributing to your household (since you say you’d willingly support her while she works on a writing career), but rather that you see all her hard work going for naught, as her mother is not likely to reward her contribution to the family business by repaying her investments or providing her a share in the business any time soon.

The precedent for those scenarios have already been set. Her lack of a contract with her mother is her lesson to be learned, despite your advice. I’ve heard many people say that one shouldn’t do business with family, because of such complications. The only situation in which you have any say is your relationship with her. You’ve now asked her to move out.

If you want to try to reconcile with her, I would suggest that you clarify your position to her. Explain that you see her working so hard and putting so much of herself into the mother’s business without any clearly defined benefit to herself, and worry that she is being taken advantage of by the mother. In addition, you see that all this is time away from her writing, and you’d be sad to see her sacrifice her passion for someone else’s interests, and are concerned that she may regret it some day.

Then discuss the goals for the two of you as a couple, and ensure that you are both envisioning the same future together. If you both want to build a committed future with each other, and become one-another’s “family”, then there must be an agreed-upon investment of time, energy, and finances. Creating a shared savings account, into which you each contribute a pre-determined amount (could be equal dollar-for-dollar, or perhaps 10% of each take-home paycheck to be equal proportionately) might be a way to help reinforce the shared goal of building a future together. Scheduling a regular “date night” that the two of you spend together (such as Mondays, if the restaurant is closed then) can help you two stay connected as romantic partners.

I think others have expressed quite well that the iPhone issue is something completely different, and about which you are overreacting. Accidents happen. Stuff is just stuff. There’s a lot of iPhones for sale out there, if it is so important that you have one of each generation.

Please keep us posted, and good luck!

wundayatta's avatar

I don’t think that whether or not your are reasonable is the question. You are responding emotionally, which is appropriate. But you should know that many times, when you look back at emotional decisions, you regret them.

You are angry and want your gf back. You are hurt that she has disappeared. So you lash out and kick her out, probably half hoping she will see the error of her ways, and decide she doesn’t want to lose you. She won’t, of course.

The thing to do here is to postpone any decisions for three months. Do not make this decision in your current frame of mind. Give this thing time to settle out. It may come out in your favor, or it may not. Who can know? But if you make a decision while feeling this way we know it will end badly.

Shippy's avatar

In a way she sounds a bit lost, and unable to grasp at some of the more adult aspects of life. Like contracts and legal issues that sort of thing. But she is only 20, life does teach you things as you go along. Sometimes by hurtful experiences or results. I just get this strong idea, that she is torn between to very strong forces, you and her family. She has tried to find herself by starting “writing”. But how viable is that option? Like you said, or someone said, if you don’t have bills to pay your mind can run off on a dream tangent, not a realistic tangent.

I would talk to her, ask her what she feels is her “duty” to her parents, her expectations for her own life. I’d also mention that all homes cost money to run, and what could she afford to pay to assist this running of the home. If you need the money then list how much everything costs, if you don’t need it, a token would suffice. This might show some commitment on her part to you, and your relationship.

The other part is harder, you have less control over what she does for her parents for free. Or how she handles her affairs that side. But given some responsibility this side, with you, she may change her opinion on her current way of handling things. I think the phone is really not an issue, it is a smaller problem that has become huge, because of the real things bugging you. All relationships need a sit down now and then, to clear the air, and stay on track. Or it all bubbles up and fights ensue.

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