Is borrowing money early in a relationship out of line? How do I set boundaries and determine if I am definitely being taken advantage of?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I'm very confused and would love some clarity that is so often offered on this site. Though I'm not terribly young (31), I've never been in a long-term relationship- I've had quite a few dating/physical experiences, though. I'm not in a long-term relationship now, either, but I started dating a guy about a month ago, who immediately seemed to be smitten and claimed to want to be serious with me. But there are red flags...
The thing is, I'm living in China and this guy is Chinese. He is working-class, and speaks no English (so the cultural differences are even greater than they would be with a white-collar guy who knew some English/about the West). IN the beginning, he was super sweet, bringing me gifts of fruit and stuff, sending me text messages that he missed me. A little clingy, but that kind of thing is common with Chinese guys, I think. Originally I was supposed to be here short-term, but he told me he hoped I could stay and would miss me if I left. He talked about us getting a place together, and even getting married in the future! (these actually aren't neccesarily the red flags for me, just background. FWIW, Chinese people basically date in order to marry, esp. more traditional people.)
A few weeks in, he told me he'd been selected by one of his jobs (he has two) for a training session in another city which would enable him to get a certificate and a better job. He said he was going to ask his cousin, who he lives with, for the money. The next day he told me she gave him some of the money, but not all of it. He asked me to borrow the rest. I expressed reservations, and he said he wouldn't blame me if I didn't want to lend him the money. Finally, I did (it was a significant, if not huge, amount). And before this, he had asked me to buy cigarettes to give to his boss (exchanging of gifts in business/social settings is an important way to navigate social relationships in China.) I bought him the cigarettes.
He had told me he'd pay me back at the end of the month; before the end of the month, he had some problems at work (there was a large explosion at a worksite and people from his company where there, as was he). This was somehow related to him not getting paid. He said he didn't have the money yet, and himself just had a few dollars until he got paid. He also said his father was sick and needed some money for the hospital.I was a little worried about him not having enough money for basic things, so I told him I'd give him a little money and he didn't have to pay me back (this time I offered; he did not ask). He took it, but said he would pay me back. He expressed gratitude for the money and also was apologetic for borrowing it.
But then today, only a few days after I gave him that money, he asked me if I could buy cigarettes again, because another friend was coming to see him. I just wrote back, "no". Then I said, "It makes me sad that you would ask me that." He then apologized and told me not to buy them.
Am I dating a conman, a freeloader, or just someone who has no boundaries? Or maybe he's actually in need? Could this be a cultural thing? I gave him money because relatively, I have a lot more than him, but I'm not rich, at all. And I actually resent being asked for money at this stage in the relationship. (especially the cigarettes, today). I feel kind of foolish (and I know many of you reading this probably think I'm foolish as well).
I guess my question is, how do I tell if I am being taken advantage of or if this person is truly in need? I guess time will tell (if I stop lending him money). Or is this enough to just break up with him now?
Does anyone have experience with this? Please don't be too snarky, I'm honestly having a hard time.