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Zondra Hughes Headshot

Are You the Lover or the Help?

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Alamy
Alamy

I had the misfortune of dating a guy who was in the process of relaunching his business.

On our first blind date, he discussed his business plans at length, and his zeal was attractive to me. We continued to talk via phone and began to see each other regularly.

Notice I didn't describe what we did as dating.

To me, he was a potential boyfriend; to him, I was free labor.

You see, my ex worked so hard on his business that our time together consisted of me completing tasks for him or listening to him pitch his business to investors.

If we did go out, he would treat the invitation as an opportunity to pitch his business to anyone within earshot.

So, I offered my help -- just to get us out of his home office and on a real date. With that offer of help, I shifted our relationship dynamic; no longer was I the potential girlfriend, I had become the executive assistant. Soon enough, our get-togethers consisted of me filing, typing and listening to business pitches.

This transition from lover to the help was entirely my fault.

At any point I could have said no: No, I am not going to steal away on my lunch hour to run your business documents to City Hall. No, I am not going to generate your Memo of Understanding for your new client. No I am not going to attend a black-tie event so that I can sit alone with a table of strangers while you work the room for sponsors. And, no, I will not continue to call you my boyfriend while you ignore your boyfriend duties.

Looking back, my ex didn't want a girlfriend because his business was his girlfriend, his comfort, his lover, his joy, and the subject of his every conversation. What my ex sought was someone to help him with his business and not expect to be paid!

At that time, my duties at work had doubled and I did not have the time or wherewithal to continue working for him after work, so I ended whatever the hell that existed between us.

It's easy for a woman to make the transition from lover to assistant, because she wants to make his life easier with her creativity and organizational skills. She wants to show her lover that she has his back, and is thoughtful enough to delay her own needs and wants in order to support him.

As a woman who has walked that plank before, I must warn that the dual roles of lover/executive assistant are wasted on a boyfriend and are best reserved for a husband.

As a wife, if you work your fingers to the bone for your lover, and things go south between you, you can legally expect a return on your investment.