A BRIGHT, young woman is going out with a man who holds her bank account. She doesn’t realize it but she is being victimized by a freeloading boyfriend. When one is in love, one usually feels that sharing is a wonderful thing—so you feel you have to share everything you have with the one you love.

It’s time to wake up. You never share your money, dear. You can pay for your meal. And on occasion you can pay for his. But you don’t pay for his tuition or the rent of his apartment. This would no longer be sharing. This would be called support—-financial support.

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And that is one thing you should never do—-financially support your boyfriend.

I once told a friend how uncomfortable I was about the fact that her boyfriend never fished out his wallet to pay for anything whenever we were out together for a meal. I did not expect him to pay for my meal. But I certainly did not expect him to expect me to pay for his. But that’s exactly what happened—-every darn time. My friend (his girlfriend) and I ended up paying the bills while he freeloaded on us.

If the man you’re going out with starts asking or expecting money from you, that’s bad news. And it won’t get any better as the years pass and you graduate from girlfriend to wife.

A friend found herself going out with a married man—-of course, he told her that he was separated and in the process of getting a divorce. Soon enough, she found out that he was actually still living with his wife. My friend was then looking like a mistress because for all of his talk about divorce, it wasn’t really happening.

I told my friend that if this man truly loved her, he would get a divorce first before continuing to see her. My friend stopped talking to me. It’s been seven years. The boyfriend remains married to the wife. And my friend is still the ever-hopeful girlfriend cum mistress who continues to believe, year after year, that the wedding is forthcoming.

My friend eventually resumed talking to me. She continues to tell me that she is saving up enough money so her married boyfriend can get a divorce. The major obstacle for the divorce, she tells me, has been the large sum of alimony that the wife is demanding. In the last seven years, my friend has been giving her married boyfriend money for the divorce that doesn’t seem forthcoming.

I know what you’re thinking. My friend is an idiot. She is. But in the interest of peace, I have held my tongue. In fact, I have said nothing. What else can I really tell her that I haven’t told her already? I already told her seven years ago that she’s been had—-but she’s been blind as a bat since.

Sometimes I wonder if she actually gets it but is just in so deep, she can’t get out. Love or lust can be a powerful drug.

My advice to young and not-so-young women: Do not put yourself in a situation where getting out will prove to be a problem. When you enter into a relationship, recognize the danger signs from Day 1. And when your safety, sanity or dignity is at stake, do not hesitate to get out—-as fast as you can. Run.

(sunstarcebucolumnist@yahoo.com)