*This is a work of nonfiction based on actual events I experienced firsthand; used with permission.
One job wasn't enough to support me and my unemployed boyfriend. So I frequently worked two jobs to pay his bills.
Ironically, we met at work. We both worked for the same retail sporting goods store. He worked perhaps a hundred feet away from me, and I developed an irrational crush on him from a distance.
When he got fired, I felt crushed. I thought I would never see him again.
Imagine my surprise when I looked out my kitchen window one day and saw him standing across the street. He didn't follow me home. No, he wasn't stalking me. He didn't even know where I lived.
It was just a big coincidence. I live across the street from a public park, and since he was unemployed with nowhere to go and nothing to do, he was relaxing in the park in full view of my kitchen window. It seemed like fate.
I walked across the street to say hello, and he seemed just as surprised as I felt. He told me all about being unemployed; he was subsisting on a single can of Coke and one candy bar per day.
Anyone with a lick of sense would have taken it as a warning. Unfortunately, I didn't have a lick of sense because I asked him out on a date.
We began dating, and since he was unemployed and broke, I paid for everything. Before long, I was paying for his clothes, his groceries, and his rent. I didn't mean for it to happen, it just did.
Soon, I couldn't afford to pay my own bills because I was using my entire paycheck to pay his. I funded his entire lifestyle, and while he didn't have an extravagant lifestyle, everything seems extravagant when you're paying to maintain someone else's entire life.
Since my full-time job wasn't enough to support two people, I took on a string of part-time jobs. I'd work two jobs until I became too exhausted to function, and then I'd quit one job until I recovered. The lack of funds immediately became a problem. So I'd take on the next part-time job as soon as possible. This went on for years.
My boyfriend would go without a job for long stretches that lasted several years apiece, and then he would get a job for anywhere from one day to several months before getting fired again. Always, I was there to pick up his slack.
Even during his brief stints of employment, he asked me for money, and he never bought me lunch or attempted to repay the money I'd spent on him or the money I'd loaned him over the years.
When I finally ended the relationship, I told him how I felt about him living off my hard work and earnings for so long. "I would never accept so much money from anyone," I told him.
"I don't know," he replied. "Maybe you would."
He was wrong; I'd never use anyone like he used me.