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Thursday, May 26, 2011

How to Know You Are Being Used

People without children are easy targets.

You have been so generous over the years. Making sure that your nieces, nephews, cousins, and other family never missed a holiday without a gift from you. And it all seems so nice on the surface, until you notice a pattern in the timing of their requests, you overhear something negative being said about you, or you find out through a third party source that no one really cares about you only what your money can do for them. So how do you know that you are being used and what should you do about it when you find out?

Let’s consider who is behind all the “you’re my favorite uncle” and “you’re the greatest aunt” flattery. You may have already figured out that the parents or anyone who knows that you have been very generous to the people in the family has said, “Go know she has money…tell him about your problem he will help you.” You see while you were forking over cash, time, and energy, and telling family or friends, “Don’t tell anyone I gave this to you.” He or she was telling someone or some people all the while what you were doing while keeping in mind that, “In the event I may need my rich Uncle again, I will call him.” Meanwhile, this child’s parent is advising them about you, “You better keep in contact with them you never know when you might need them.” This wise child, with parental influence of course, uses the mighty pen and a letter, email, or holiday card thanking you for any gift you may have bought them while other notes and cards are periodically mailed to you, “Just thinking of you…Hope you get well”, etc. At some point you may have suspected that the card or letter they sent just doesn’t sound like my nephew or niece and the gift they sent wasn’t their style. Of course it isn’t, but the parents know they need help with their child’s clothing, shelter, extracurricular activities, tuition, etc. and you don’t have children, so why not?

You see people without children are targets for everything church activities, being named the Godmother or Godfather, throwing events, running errands, babysitting, housing other people’s kids and so on, because most people think, “Well they don’t have kids so they have some money and time. Instead of being selfish, they can help me with my kids.” Now initially you may do something to help them out of the goodness of your heart or because God told you, but God doesn’t raise fools, and you just may have been one for years helping someone else’s child or children. If you can afford it so be it, if you don’t mind being used so be it, but things get complicated when you want to move on with your life, but feel you that you can’t. How will the child understand that you can’t buy him or her anymore? How do you think the parent will react to you?

Now there is nothing wrong with generosity, but when you find that there is an ugly feeling beginning to set up in your heart or in the pit of your stomach about what you are doing, that’s a warning something isn’t right. If your family or your ex’s family is sincerely interested in you and would like you to be a part of their lives, then don’t you think you would be called upon for things that had nothing to do with money? But what if there are past due bills for some family event and they are short some cash, a wedding is coming up or a sudden pregnancy, someone needs a new car, or someone needs a loan, then what? Can you sincerely say they love you or your money? Put them to the test. Ask them if they wouldn’t mind helping you do a task or chore. Turn the table around on them and see if they can do something for you without money being involved, there you will find your answer. Don’t just request favors once or twice, but a few times spaced out and not around holidays (you don’t want the influences of Christmas melodies or guilt brought on by stories of Christ dying on the cross.) See how they handle your simple test. You won’t be telling them what you are doing, because you are sincerely seeking the truth about your “favorite” family member or in-law. If they come over and help you without expecting a favor of any sort, you have someone who is genuinely interested in a relationship with you, not your cash. However, let’s say they do perform a task for you but then expect you to give them something in return even though you told them you were unable, you know what your relationship with them has been about and will continue to be about. But what if they can’t help you, they say they are busy or don’t have the time, and other excuses then you have finally come to the realization that you have been played for a fool. Close your wallet or put your purse up, and realize that he or she didn’t care about you. It’s a hard, painful truth to face, depending on how you felt about this person, but consider it a lesson learned and now you are free to do more with your money now that you know. You will find that these “favorites” will be disappearing out of your life gradually, in some cases, rapidly because they don’t want to have anything to do with you since you can’t give them anymore. You see mooches, stingy people, or selfish creeps, are only concerned about one person and that is themselves. Now you may say, “Well that really isn’t my niece or nephew but that is there selfish mother or father putting them up to it.” You are right. But if this niece or nephew hasn’t learned over the years particularly in their twenties that giving and receiving is a two-way street then you can’t blame the parents, you will have to hold him or her accountable.

I have personally seen in my years, ex spouses, unwed partners, and family friends giving and getting raw deals. For example, the ex may be encouraged to stay close to the family because of his or her almighty dollar. The family knows this but any new people coming into the family don’t know it. So they are left wondering why is the ex still hanging around? Now there are those situations where people will stick around because they do have a genuine relationship with the in-laws or because children are involved, but it is rare for a person to stick around “just because” there is usually some sort of attachment there whether it is mental or dare I say it, financial. “What can you do for me? I know that my brother or sister doesn’t love you anymore, but how can you help me?” The ex may have some clout in certain circles, investments that they want to share, material wealth, and other things that anyone would want, so yes it makes since to keep them around. You see money buys friendships and information. If I can befriend you by buying you something in exchange for a tidbit of information that could help me in a situation, you may not know what my strategy is because you are just too grateful to receive the gift. So you have ex spouses who may start this fake relationship of generosity for a time and then gradually they are gone when they have heard or seen enough. You may have witnessed some of your own family members brag on a family friend or one of your relative’s ex partners, “She was so good to us…She bought us…He gave us…He always buys nice Christmas gifts…We love their vacation home…They made this for us…” But what happens when he, she or they stop buying, helping out your family with financial problems, and other money related issues, “He used to help us…he doesn’t like us anymore…I never liked him…I never hear from her anymore… She never loved us.” The truth always comes out.

So what about that niece and nephew and what else could be really going on behind the scenes that you might not know about? Private school, high school graduation, proms, college, depending on the age, you will need to know how deep to go in your pocket. Single people without children need to watch out for these parents with children who have big ticket dreams; they are keeping you around for far more than just your positive influence. You ex partners who think the family loves you, you need to put your ex-husband or ex-wife’s family to the test instead of asking them, “How much do you need?” when they call. Tell them, “I’m sorry I can’t help you.” Watch how their whole attitude changes from a happy smile to a sad frown. Watch yourself, why are you really hanging around your ex’s family and haven’t found a man or woman yet? If the former in-laws should call you, don’t expect to be on the phone too long when you can’t do much for them. “ I have to go…thanks…Oh I’m sorry to hear that…you can’t help me…Talk to you later…I’m real busy.” While your protecting your money, compare how often you use to hear from them when you gave them money to how often you hear from them now when you chose not to give them money.

A person can only get away with what you allow them to get away with, so if you enjoy being used, keep up the good work, but if you want a quality relationship based on love and not money, then sit back and watch the movie this holiday season, you will be surprised at what you might find out!

By Nicholl McGuire

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