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Harriette Cole: I think my boyfriend is gaslighting me about his financial situation

Harriette Cole: I think my boyfriend is gaslighting me about his financial situation

DEAR HARRIETTE: Every chance he gets, my boyfriend says, “I don’t have any money.”

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He works in the fitness community, whereas I am employed in a corporate setting. I earn significantly more than him; he has a more robust savings account. I also have more responsibilities within my family, so I tend to spend more money.

Occasionally, when my boyfriend sees me purchasing necessary items, I feel gaslighted when he mentions his own needs.

Being the oldest in my family, I naturally grew up with a provider mindset, and I feel responsible for my boyfriend’s needs. I acknowledge that this may be an internal issue on my part.

My question is, do you think I am being taken advantage of in this situation?

— Shared Responsibilities

DEAR SHARED RESPONSIBILITIES: Just because you earn more money does not mean that your boyfriend should expect for you to pay his bills.

What the two of you need to do is talk about your relationship, including your finances.

Think about your expectations of a partner in a relationship. What do you hope for in terms of what your partner will handle financially? Ask the same of him. Yes, you earn more money; that does not automatically mean that you should pay for more of the shared costs associated with your relationship.

Pause for a moment and assess the situation. Some relationships remain financially uneven. That can be fine if the two partners have an agreement about how resources will be managed.

What level of commitment do you two have? Does this feel like a permanent relationship — marriage or otherwise? If so, what level of financial contribution are you willing to accept from your partner? What are you willing to contribute?

Talk it out and make decisions based on what you can live with comfortably. Otherwise, each of you could end up silently seething in the corner while secretly wishing the other were handling the situation differently.

DEAR HARRIETTE: Is it normal to feel disconnected from your closest friend after college ends?

My best friend in college was one of the closest friends I had. We were practically joined at the hip throughout those years, and our instructors jokingly referred to us as twins. Both of us had participated in pageants in high school and enjoyed volleyball. We related to each other more than anyone else.

While she and I both tend to be picky about friends, we instantly clicked, and I even spent three months at her house during my internship because it was near her place.

After college, we went our separate ways, and communicating with her on social media started to feel awkward.

Is this a common experience for friends at this point in life?

— University Friends

DEAR UNIVERSITY FRIENDS: Some friends last a lifetime; others do not. It can also be true that friendships change over time.

Both of you are busy right now with your lives. Perhaps your closeness has waned, but it may rekindle as time goes on.

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If you want to remain friends with her, tell her. Then schedule time to reach out, even if it’s brief. At least you will keep a connection.

When circumstances change, perhaps your bond will become strong again.

Yes, this is common. You are not alone.

Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to askharriette@harriettecole.com or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.