You Don’t Owe Them Anything

A corporate bedfellow pushes and pulls. Is it manipulation or investment? Does it matter?

Hello Dae and Nikkita,

I am a 59-year-old lesbian woman born, raised, and currently living very comfortably in Seattle. I recently got a new job. One of my bedfellows had a lot to do with it. They are kind of a big deal and they know it. They make sure everybody knows it. We made this city, but they’ve built this city into what it is now. They’ve built it into what they want it to be.

Despite helping me get this new job, I get the feeling they do not actually respect me. They spent a lot of money on me, but in the end it feels more like strings than an investment. At worst they are narcissistic, treating me like the Queen on their chess board they can move at will. At best they make me feel like I owe them something I can’t quite put my finger on.

They have a lot of money and power now, but before, when they had nothing, my city welcomed them in with open arms. They grew here. Became who they are here. Now they have a lot and aren’t so good about sharing or thinking about their impact. Some people think I should ask them for more, but I’m afraid.

A few months ago, before I was official, they threatened to leave. I know they are flirting with other possibilities and it makes me sad and uncomfortable. I apologized and tried to reassure them, “I don’t want more. We can just stay how we’ve been.”

But if I’m honest, we really can’t stay how we’ve been. There are a lot of people who need me to do the right thing. I have moments where I want to leave and go back to the people who have supported me. But right when I get the courage to name the problem, they come back around and start being all sweet to me again. I wish they would stay distant like they usually are, but they do just enough sometimes to convince me to stay.

I know they will ask me for things in the future. I know they want multiple partners. They still intend to find another. I also know I should ask them (and a lot of others) for more, but, like I said, I am afraid. They remind me all the time that I am only in the position I am because of them. I know it’s not right, but I don’t want to lose everything by challenging them.

What do you think? Do I bite the hand that feeds me or keep with business as usual?

Sincerely,

Seattle Predicament

Dear Seattle Predicament,

Well, honey, hate to break it to you, but it seems you are dating a corporate fuckboy (Fb).

Your average Fb is consistently inconsistent—popping in and out of your life; around only when it benefits them; making you question your sanity. If you stick with business as usual, you will be stuck between a rock and a hard place. They have a lot to do with your current position, but so what! That does not mean you owe them anything; especially not if it keeps you from doing what you know is right.

Your new bedfellow is a classic gaslighter—making you feel like you are the reason they want to leave. If you keep on this trajectory, you will eventually apologize for standing up for yourself; for setting some healthy boundaries; for asking for the more that you absolutely deserve. You will take all of the blame for “making them feel unwelcome.” And, as all Fbs do, they will eventually come back around to you, smug and garnished with charm and vindication.

They will say they want to start over and rebuild the relationship. “Let’s start fresh.” They will expect you to forget the ways they have failed you or put you in compromising positions. They will act hurt, but reasonable and forgiving. Not because they are so reasonable and forgiving, but because you are a great investment for manipulation in their bigger picture. They know they cannot afford to lose you. They will say things are different, but make no mistake, they are the same. Once a Fb, always a Fb. Case in point: the fact they are still looking for other partners!

If you decide to proceed with your entanglement, be honest. Let them know you see their pattern. You may be willing to stay in the relationship, but you must be explicit about your boundaries and expectations. You owe it to your integrity and to the “greater common good” to set the record straight. If you are ever going to achieve a state of health, you have to ask for more. They’ve got it, but you will not get what you are unwilling to ask for when it comes to a Fb.

They may leave if you ask for more, but remember who you are, what you’ve said you will do, and to whom and what you are really accountable. At the end of the day, you are in the power seat. Even more, people are depending on you to do the right thing. Our relationships always impact more people than just ourselves! While the Fb is mesmerizing and magical, they wouldn’t be comin’ back around if they didn’t need you or if you didn’t have something they want.

So, should you bite the hand that feeds you or keep with business as usual? Neither.

Reality is, they do not feed you. You feed you. If you continue with business as usual, the only hand you are biting is your own. So be brave. Ask for more because it is the right thing to do. If they leave, one less Fb taking up very valuable space in an already too crowded landscape. That will just be space for a real partner, invested in your shared future and health together, to honestly develop with you; as opposed to doing so at your expense.

Have a question for Dae and Nikkita? Send it to editor@seattleweekly.com.

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