No Free Lunch: Our Actions And Their Consequences

My Dear Readers,

“I want what I want and I want it now!”

Many of us have felt this sentiment, or even said it out loud. However, in doing so, we avoid, deny or fail to fully grasp the fact that there are consequences for the actions we take.

The term consequences has been given a bad rap.   Usually applied in the negative, consequences are merely nothing more than reactions to what we do or do not do.

Even in those circumstances, where you may look for faults or somewhere to place blame, it is still possible to be empowered and to accept responsibility for the decisions we make.

Only you can grant yourself the permission to lead the life you desire.

Below is such a story…

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Dear Visible Man,

I hope that you can help me.  I am a second generation American from the Philippines, and I have two young daughters. We currently live with my parents, who are retired and lived on a fixed income.

I am struggling with an important decision. I have a friend who is also a second generation American Filipino who has invited me to move into his new home with him.  I have known him for four years and we have been good friends during that time.  Although he has pursued me for a sexual relationship, I am not attracted to him in that way and I have been clear about not wanting to be sexually involved with him.

Granted, he is an attractive man.  He often says that he can have any woman he wants, but he desires me. He says that if my children and I move in with him, I won’t have to work; that I can quit my job and he will provide for my children and me.

I know that he can provide for us. He’s college educated and makes good money working in the technology industry. I also have a degree from a local college, but I am barely able to pay my bills and take care of my children.  I am in my mid 30’s and have had dreams of opening my own small business, but since I am barely able to get by every month, that dream is becoming more like a fantasy.

He says that he is willing to help me develop my business.  I am very tempted to move in with him and have this relationship, which would be one of convenience for both him and me.

However, I have been involved in an online relationship with another man. He resides in the Philippines where he is a citizen.  Although we have never met, I feel attracted to him.  However, for us to further develop our relationship, I would have to sponsor him so he could come to the United States.  Since I don’t have the finances, I am unable to do so.

I feel very confused. Perhaps I could move in with my friend for 2-3 years and then tell him I want to end the relationship, but I know that may be the wrong thing to do. However, I do know that such relationships of convenience between men and women are common, both in my native country and throughout the world.

I really want to create my own business so I can be independent.  As my parents are getting older, I must prepare myself as it is traditionally expected that I take care of them.   I am very anxious—my friend wants a decision from me within the next two weeks.

What should I do?

Panicking in the Pacific Northwest

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Dear Young Woman,

Take a breath.  Embrace your feelings and slow down so that you can reflect on this situation.

I will not tell you what to do.  It is up to you to evaluate the choices before you, and take responsibility for the decision you make. However, I can make some suggestions as to things you want to consider as you make your choice.

Be willing to be honest with yourself. Often, we are more willing to listen and accept the words of others rather than the truths which lie within ourselves, and when life fails to materialize the way we imagined, there is resentment towards both the other person and more importantly, to self. Yet, who should really bear the blame?  The seller of the bill of goods, or the buyer?

In this situation, I would suggest that you let go of blame and instead, embrace empowerment and responsibility. Be honest with yourself.  Ask yourself the following:

  • If he can have “any woman he wants,” why does he want me?
  • What do I have that the other women do not? What is so special about me?

Be willing to question his motives.  Regardless of how many sexual relationships he has had, he seems to be unable, for whatever, reason, to maintain meaningful long-term intimate relationships.  Consider the following:

  • Since he’s had so many sexual encounters, are you at risk for contracting a sexual transmitted disease from him?
  • Regardless of how he answers the previous question, would you truly feel comfortable being sexually involved with him?
  • What protection do you have? Despite his generous offer, there is no promise of marriage, or indication that your name will be on the title of the home. What prevents him from tossing you and your children out on the streets?
  • If you quit your job, that means that you and your children would be totally financially dependent on him and his good will. Is that what you want for your children and yourself?

You indicate that you are confused, but come on now. Look into the mirror.  It is one thing to tell a stranger like me that you are confused, but you must be honest with yourself.  This is not about being confused.  This is about being conflicted.  Conflict is defined as having or showing mutually inconsistent feelings.  IN essence, you want to have your cake and eat it too. You want to keep your relationship with the person you met online, but you also want to the financial security that your friend offers. Yet, you must be willing to ask the hard questions:

  • Are you prepared to let your lover in the Philippines go? Or, are you planning to hold onto him until you gain enough money from your friend to bring him over to the States?
  • Looking at your actions, are you simply being manipulative and playing games with your friend in considering his offer?
  • Are you instead being manipulated by the online lover in the Philippines?

You must also consider your children.  How would you explain your actions to them? Is this the model that you want your daughters to follow?  How would you advise them on handling a similar situation?

Concluding Words

Many people, including myself, have had to struggle from paycheck to paycheck. I currently have a male colleague master level therapist who struggles to support his family and goes to the food bank every month to make ends meet.  He does so with great humility.  He is a model not only for his son and for other men and women who work every day to provide for their children.

It has been my experience that there are times when individuals who seek “advice” from therapists are in reality seeking “permission” to do the things they want to do. This is evident in your observation that these “relationships of convenience happen all over the world.”

It may just be that you are conflicted and looking to justify what you are leaning towards doing.  However before you pursue this “relationship of convenience,” please consider that many of the women involved in such relationships throughout the world do so not out of choice, but rather due to force, threats,  and their own feelings of hopelessness or obligation.

As college educated people, we have what many do not have: the ability to choose our own directions, and the empowerment to pursue them.  It is not acceptable that we ignore or willingly surrender that which is often denied to others.

Life is not an easy journey, even for college-educated people.  It is absolutely possible that you can provide for your family, care for your elderly parents, and own your own small business, and it can be done without behaviors that you may later regret.

One of my patients once told me “one’s later can be greater than one’s beginning.  The question is: do you have belief, faith and trust in the journey you have chosen?

When you focus on the climb and its direction, you can’t help but achieve your destination.

The Visible Man

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