Dear Dr. Darcy:
My live-in girlfriend hasn’t contributed to rent in a year. All the bills are in my name and I do make much more money than she does. The thing is, in the last year her salary has gone way up but instead of offering to pay rent (or offering to pay for anything!), she hired a personal trainer to work with her a few times a week, she’s bought lots of clothes and spent money on Botox. I’m becoming very resentful as I pay for everything. I don’t understand how she can live with herself – I make deep into the 6 figures and I don’t treat myself half as good as she does. I haven’t had a massage in over a year – she gets one every month! I love her a lot but can feel myself becoming bitter. What should I do?
We teach people how to treat us, mama, and your girl’s been a good student. It didn’t start off this way, did it? She was probably gainfully employed when she met you, and as she learned of your high salary and willingness to share it with her, work became less important and when her company needed to cut fat, she was among those let go. She was already living with you by then and you, feeling sorry for her, told her not to worry about rent. And she listened.
Your offer was grounded in generosity but it lacked something essential: Boundaries. Her rent-free lifestyle should have been time-limited. Furthermore, she should have had responsibility for covering some bills other than rent. It was a mistake I hope you’ll never make again.
That said, one would think that she would feel compelled to offer to pay for things as her earnings increased. That she hasn’t makes me feel like there’s something passive-aggressive going on here. Her actions are communicating feelings that she can’t express. She’s pissed off at you for something. Maybe she senses your resentment. I certainly wouldn’t be able to keep mine under wraps for more than a couple of months.
You need to have a sit down with her. Tell her that you need to discuss divvying up the bills again, and after you’ve got a fair agreement worked out, you need to go somewhere and get your resentment worked out. The thing is, you’re really not resentful with her. You resent yourself for being a doormat. Live and learn, mama.
Writer’s Stats: Female, lesbian.