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Read more in Solstice Fire and the Art of Service, by Eric Francis.
I have a friend who’s been through hard times lately, and by that I mean not the usual set-back. In the past few months I’ve done several kindnesses for her, including giving her money for groceries and rent, to help her get back on her feet.
I’m a good-hearted Taurus who can’t stand to see someone without even the smallest security, so I was shocked to find out recently that she’s been giving some of these funds to others, like her former boyfriend who I consider a total sponge. I know Taureans are supposed to be finishing some partnership lessons this summer with Saturn in Scorpio finally leaving their partnership house — and this person used to be a business partner. Is it time for me to cut her off?
— Confused Cow
I wouldn’t want your good-heartedness besmirched. So let’s see what we can do.
First, it would help to identify the true nature of this relationship. Once a person plays a particular role in our lives, it’s difficult to relinquish that image or recast the actor. In other words, once our brains cast the role, we get comfortable with that image and begin to stereotype our expectations of its performance. So what do you expect from this person, your friend?
You say this person used to be a business partner. In astrological terms, a business partnership is a 1st/7th house position as equals. As a 1st/7th house relationship, any money that’s shared between two people of comparable status or power hopefully would be managed on terms agreeable to both parties.
Today, however, you are no longer equals if you are no longer business partners. It’s clear, also, you two are on considerably unequal footing in finances. Knowing that, and knowing you are no longer equal investors in a project, you can’t continue to expect your friend to play the role of the co-equal ‘partner’. This is the role you’re used to her playing. But is this the role you unconsciously still want and expect her to fulfill, socially and emotionally? Think hard about that one.
Because she can’t. Right now, at least, your friend can’t be the 7th house person. Instead of being an equal, she’s fallen into hard times where she lacks the means to choose her role and her place in life. And you play the part of charitable benefactor.
Suddenly you’re the boss, the parent, the loan officer. As such, you expect to have more say in what she does with her money. This is true even if it doesn’t accord with your desired and self-comforting image of “good-hearted” buddy. In fact, you DO expect to name the terms. And because the relationship is now unequal, you also expect her to agree to the terms.
This is hard on friendship. In fact, there’s no friendship between you two right now. True friendship is an open-ended and self-selecting relationship between two people who view one another as equals. Your old bonds of friendship ended as soon as she fell on hard times and you took up the job of The Bank. It’s true even if you feel sorry for her and (rightfully) know she can’t get back up without a hand.
If you continue to hand over money or other support, you need to recognize this and stop insisting she behave like a venture partner in your latest project. She needs help, and if you want to help, do so. If you don’t like the terms under which she currently uses your generosity, then change them.
But don’t expect her to accept them when you make your offer. She, too, remembers you as a partner and may be unaware of her own conflicting expectations about roles in the relationship, assuming you are both still friendly equals. Thus, she uses money as she sees fit, like an adult who’s used to managing her own decisions. Even if it means some of the money goes to an unworthy ex-boyfriend.
Perhaps it’s time to practice that ancient form of charity where the ‘right hand knows not what the left hand does’. The original context of this wisdom is that we give not to be recognized for the gift or charity. We give discreetly and modestly so that our hands, in ignorance of the other’s actions, cannot conference about the matter, and so come together in self-congratulatory appraising applause for our good-heartedness.