Dear Shan Tell’em,
I stumbled upon an incredible man while attending a get together a few months back. We get along great, and about a month into dating, I met his mother, his grandmother and his sisters. He comes from a large family that consists of mostly females. They like me a lot and I enjoy them as well, but there’s one issue. He takes care of ALL OF THEM. His 25-year-old sister has all of her bills paid by him. His other two sisters are constantly asking him to buy them shoes and other items. His mother, who is married is ALWAYS asking him to pay for this and that. He buys them food, new clothes anything they want. THEY ARE GROWN. My problem isn’t the fact that he is generous. That’s one of the reasons why I love him. I just come from a different background that encouraged a little more independence when you become a certain age. You do for those, but you don’t do everything. Help!
Dating the “Nice Guy”
I understand your frustrations, but this is something that you have to tread lightly with. I think you need to have a conversation with your boyfriend, especially if you feel like his family is taking advantage of him. He genuinely sounds like A) a nice guy and B) a provider. While those are very good traits to have, there is no reason why he should be taking care of SEVERAL grown people. Are they disabled? If not, they should be working and bringing income into the household. But he has to see that on his own. You mentioned that his mom was married, but you did not say whether there were any other males present on a consistent basis. What could be happening is that your boyfriend feels OBLIGATED to take care of the women in his household because no other man is around.
My suggestion is that you think about what’s bothering you about this situation. What are you attempting to solve by bringing up this issue and why? Is it the fact that you feel like your man is being taken advantage of by his family? Is it a fear of things always being this way if you progress? Are you concerned that he won’t have enough money for you? Whatever it is, understanding why you feel the way that you feel before you talk to your mate is critical. It allows you to better articulate why you are bothered, and creates an environment that is more conducive to solutions. You mentioned that your boyfriend currently lives with his family. If the two of you progress and get your own place, he’ll have a new obligation. The expectation would be that once he moves out, his family would understand that they’re on their own. But don’t assume that your expectation is how it will be.
My suggestion is that you clearly communicate your expectations for the two of you, once you’re both sure of where you are headed. You are right to take note of things that you think might pose an issue in your relationship, but be sure to balance it out with the present. Your relationship is still relatively fresh so enjoy it while you can.
Good luck and I wish you the best.
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Shantell E. Jamison is an editor for EBONY.com and JETmag.com. Not confined to chasing headlines, this Chicago-based writer, radio personality, and cultural critic also is the author of “Drive Yourself in the Right Direction: Simple Quotes on How to Achieve Your Best Self.”