DEAR AMY: I am 21 and in a committed relationship with the man of my dreams. Lately he is quite dependent on me. He has run into some financial trouble due to unstable employment. At first I started helping him out with small things, like picking up the check when we'd go out or giving him rides, even if it is extremely inconvenient -- literally across the city. On top of the money I give him, I find myself having to remind him to do simple everyday tasks, like planning his bus route to work ahead of time and waking up early enough to get to work. Instead, I usually end up having to drive him. I want to be the supportive girlfriend, but it's starting to take a toll on me. I have a busy life and a future to be saving for as well, but whenever I tell him no or don't offer to help him, I worry that he'll think I'm selfish. I worry about him a lot. When we go out, I can't help but buy him food, even though we've talked about it and agreed that for the time being neither of us should spend money on the other. I just don't know where to draw the line or what's expected of me. Should I stop stepping in?Playing the Wife
DEAR PLAYING: The way you describe it, this dynamic contains a fairly predictable geometry: The more you do, the less he does.
In an ideal situation between mature (or maturing) adults, the more one partner does, the more the other is inspired to do. In this relationship, you are not "playing the wife." You are playing the mommy.
If your guy doesn't have a medical condition interfering with his ability to figure out a bus schedule, then you should not be mothering him. When you do, you remove his incentive to do anything differently.
Don't call to wake him up in the morning. Don't take him to work if he has another way to get there. Don't hover, prompt him, bug him or otherwise overcompensate for his choice. He may respond to less effort on your part by making more effort on his own behalf.