It’s Moocher Week! Don’t Mix Money, Friendship and Hospitality

by admin on January 11, 2017

I have been friends with Amy for 5 years now. We met in college and she lived nearby my house. She has now moved to another town 2 hours away. We are still very close and see each other often. She has not finished graduate school so she has to come once a week in town. I gracefully invited her to my house once a week because I have a guest bedroom and own my house. She accepted and went on and on about how she would pay me back in buying a bit of groceries or bringing me baked goods because she would be eating three meals at my home. Each week, I would make her dinner, breakfast and give her a homemade lunch, so the cost of having her over is not anything.

The weeks went on and she never brought anything. I understand that money may be tight for her and that all of that traveling every week is costing her money. However, she is always going to restaurants and is planning several international trips for the next few years.

I’m not asking for a lot but a hostess gift at the beginning would have been nice and well as a few baked goods once or twice.

Come Christmas, she had me believe that I would have a bigger gift than my other friends because of my generosity. However, it was maybe worth $5 more than my other friends’ gift.

How do I bring it up without seeming greedy? We are in our twenties, and money doesn’t grow on trees for either of us. However, I am more frugal than her, rarely go out, and am watching my spending carefully so travel is out of the equation. I don’t want money retroactively but her treating me to lunch would be more than enough.

Thank you in advance for your input.  0109-17

{ 62 comments… read them below or add one }

Marie January 11, 2017 at 6:13 am

This is a tough one! How many weeks has she been at your house?
If it’s – for example – two months, you can go to her and say: since I took care of all groceries and meals in the last 2 months, will you be doing this for the upcoming two?

There are three scenarios that I imagine:
1. She will feel obliged to accept and do so or give you money for groceries.
2. She doesn’t want to, and you can tell her that you can no longer host her.
3. She will agree but end up not buying groceries. Make her solve the problem by telling her to get groceries right now. This is the point where she realizes that she only has two options: no longer stay at your house, or actually fixing the problem by buying food or giving you money to do so.
Be prepared though that you might need to fix your own dinner last minute by the way.

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Lkb January 11, 2017 at 6:50 am

I understand the frustration but the OP had me until the comparison of dollar amounts for gifts. Who is the OP to look at a person’s gift Choices for other people?

Sorry, I don’t have a solution for the situation except perhaps to give hospitality from the heart and not look for payback so much and consider the friend’s promises as so much words in the wind as our admin said on previous posts. It may help in dealing with the frustration of something that can’t be helped.

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essie January 11, 2017 at 1:17 pm

You said it much better than I did. Thank you.

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ally January 11, 2017 at 2:37 pm

To be fair to the OP, thought, that part she included about
“Come Christmas, she had me believe that I would have a bigger gift than my other friends because of my generosity. However, it was maybe worth $5 more than my other friends’ gift.”
made me think that the friend said something flippantly about OP being sooo hospitable, that she’s going to get a little something else for Christmas, wink wink nudge.

I’m guessing about that, but why include it otherwise? Unless OP completely made that up, to me it implies the ‘friend’ knows what a good deal she has, and made yet another empty promise of ‘payback.’ It might not be malicious or even conscious, but it sounds like part of a pattern of just not walking her talk.

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Anonymous January 11, 2017 at 2:52 pm

Yeah, me too. What was the gift, anyway? If it was something that Amy legitimately thought the OP would enjoy, then the dollar value doesn’t matter……or at least, it shouldn’t matter. I’d rather have a less-expensive gift that’s suited to my tastes, than one that costs more, but is either generic, or really not me. So, maybe Amy is a moocher, but I wouldn’t call her out over the dollar value of a gift, because that would just look petty, and it wouldn’t help the OP’s case at all.

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Vrinda January 11, 2017 at 3:04 pm

Who are you to assume that the OP looked at these other gifts? She wasn’t commenting on the gif t choices, but the dollar amounts. Maybe Amy told her what she was getting these people or these other friends told her what they got, and the OP knew how much these things cost or looked them up. If it’s information that she did not ask for but was dropped in her lap, then there’s nothing wrong with her commenting on it.

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Cleosia January 11, 2017 at 8:24 am

If you are housing and feeding her, I think that she is using the money she is saving to go to restaurants and planning her foreign trips. I think you need to cut her off. Tell her your financial situation has changed and you can no longer host her weekly visits.

Since you said that you two were close, if it were a matter of just money, I would say, “Forget it. Poor student.” But a poor student doesn’t do restaurants. At best they live on Ramen. She seems to be taking you for a ride and that’s poor treatment for a close friend.

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Lex January 16, 2017 at 4:09 am

You’ve basically said the exact same thing I came down here to post. It would be best for the OP to cite her own circumstances as a reason for ceasing the hosting. It’ll be awkward but give Amy a couple of weeks notice to give her a chance to find alternative arrangements. I would probably say I had some ‘Personal stuff’ or ‘Family Stuff’ going on and you’re not going to be in a position to have her stay for the forseeable future.

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Shoegal January 11, 2017 at 8:44 am

Focusing on what your friend may or may not give you and sizing up your gifts at Christmas is taking away from your generosity. You offered the use of your home and you probably did it with a good heart and without expectation. If you can’t handle now – not being acknowledged in some way – then tell her that this is becoming too costly and she will need to find other arrangements.

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Aleko January 11, 2017 at 8:50 am

But she isn’t going to treat you to lunch, is she? She’s going to go right on taking advantage of your generosity till she graduates, and maybe longer.

Real friends pay for their friends’ kindness; they do it with appreciation and small gestures. No matter how tight money was for her – and you imply that it isn’t as tight for her as it is for you – she could still have shown appreciation by doing chores, bringing tiny treats, etc.

If she isn’t ‘paying’ with friendship and gratitude, I think you simply have to ask her to pay with money. Agreed that you shouldn’t ask for money retrospectively; just simply
work out the actual cost of having her stay every week – the food, the extra washing of bedlinen, etc – and before the next time she comes, tell her you’ve been doing a New Year budget check and you simply can’t afford to go on bearing this cost, so from now on you’ll have to ask her to pay $X in cash every time she stays over. Just that; don’t sound accusatory but don’t dress it up or apologise, either. If she responds with ‘oh, I’ll start buying groceries and bringing meals with me, honest’, just say ‘thanks, but the cash to plan meals with will be a lot easier for me’. Because you know she won’t do it more than once or twice before going back to mooching.

This will be uncomfortable, sure, as she’ll know perfectly well that you’re doing it because she has failed to play her part in the arrangement. But not half as uncomfortable as would be for you to go on resentfully providing hospitality to a scrounger.

If you can get her simply paying the cost of her accommodation, you can simply enjoy her company, as presumably you did when you were neighbours.

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clairedelune January 11, 2017 at 8:53 am

I don’t understand why you are making 3 meals a day for Amy–and packing her lunch?? It sounds like you have a part-time roommate, not a houseguest. I think you can start regaining a little bit of ground here by shutting down the free meal program and making sure Amy understands that she’s now responsible for feeding herself, just like any other roommate would be.

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@LizaJane January 11, 2017 at 1:05 pm

This. Exactly. If you don’t want to cook for her, don’t.

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Grady January 11, 2017 at 1:17 pm

Yes this is what I was thinking. Don’t make any meals. Especially don’t send her off with lunch. The bare minimum I would offer is cereal or oatmeal for breakfast. She should eat dinner before she shows up. Since she is saving so much money by not having to get a hotel she can at least feed herself. A true friend would take the host out for a meal on occasion.

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Kay February 8, 2017 at 5:48 pm

I don’t even get a packed lunch from my husband. This is really above and beyond on your part. We’re there no places for her to purchase lunch from? Agreed-stop cooking for her.

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Miss-E January 11, 2017 at 9:07 am

I don’t really think you can, not in a way that won’t disrupt your relationship. You set the precedent for this by opening your home and feeding her without any set rules of reciprocity. Yes, she absolutely should have given you a gift or bought you groceries but there was never any established requirements.

I refer you to Admin’s advice from yesterday: learn and move on. Inform her that you can no longer accommodate her on weekends, stop cooking her three meals a day and just end things as they are. You can’t demand something that was never really promised. If she’s a mooch, cut her off and be done with it.

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Anna January 11, 2017 at 9:40 am

She is definitely rude to not show her gratitude to your hospitality, which I think is more what you are looking for than money. But now you have that information about her, and you can decide how you want to let that affect your friendship. There are no rules in life that you have to be friends with rude people–you don’t! I know–boy do I know–how it is in your 20s before you may fully realize this. Just because people enter your life and are basically pleasant or have other great qualities doesn’t mean you have to be friends forever. I had to learn this lesson many times.

I was like you–I was blessed to have resources, and in addition, I was careful with them because I realized they were not infinite. And many friends took advantage of that. For some, this was youthful self-involvement that they grew out of, and others were just plain rude people for whom I stopped extending hospitality and other kindnesses. Now that I’m well into my 30s, I always hash out specifically any shared financial arrangements with friends (I frequently travel with friends, etc.) so that everyone knows what they are expected to contribute before anyone festers resentments. And if someone isn’t willing to do that, I know they probably aren’t that great a friend.

It is important to hash out details of these kinds of arrangements specifically so that everyone understands expectations and no one feels taken advantage of, or surprised when the other person suddenly airs resentments. Here, you extended more hospitality than you really felt like giving if you were to receive nothing in return (hence your resentment).

So, what to do now? Well, it might throw a wrench in Amy’s life to tell her you can’t host her at all anymore (even though you are perfectly within your rights to do that if you want to), but you certainly don’t have to cook her three meals a day. There’s nothing wrong with “sorry, I have plans for dinner tonight, so you’re on your own–I hear the pizza on the corner is great!” or “I didn’t get to the grocery store this week so I own’t be able to cook for you–can you bring something from home for yourself?” At the very least, this should relieve the financial burden she is putting on you and shift the expectations a bit.

Also, definitely put an end date on the arrangement, “Amy, I just want to let you know that I won’t be able to host you next semester because my dog hosts his poker parties on that night,” so that this won’t feel like you are obligated to do this forever. Just because you agreed one time doesn’t mean you agreed for every day in the future.

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LadyV January 11, 2017 at 2:14 pm

“My dog hosts his poker parties” – I actually laughed out loud at that one!

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Lomita Momcat January 11, 2017 at 10:48 pm

Exactly this. “Amy, my circumstances have changed, and I can’t host your overnight stays anymore. I wanted to give you a month (or whatever) notice so you can make other arrangements.”

If Amy asks for an explanation, it’s up to you whether you give her one; you don’t owe her any explanation, and etiquette doesn’t require an explanation, since a host doesn’t owe a guest an explanation of why the host chooses not to invite someone to their house. (The devilish part of me wants to suggest that OP find out what Air BNB lists for rooms for rent in her area, and that she tells Amy “I found out I can rent the room you’ve been staying in out for “x” dollars per night! Wow! Can you imagine? If I rent it out just one night a week, in a month I can have “4x” dollars to spend! Isn’t that amazing?”)

The sad thing to me is, it’s obvious OP values Amy’s friendship more than Amy values OP’s. I can’t imagine being the recipient of such open-handed hospitality without a substantial show of gratitude to my host in return.

Amy just doesn’t care as much about OP’s friendship as OP cares about Amy’s. Sad.

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Melissa January 11, 2017 at 9:45 am

I am admittedly not good with confrontation, and it appears the OP isn’t either, or she (assuming it’s a she!) would have already called Amy out on this. But, I think what I’d do is let her know, in a friendly way, that you won’t be able to provide meals anymore due to your grocery budget. You can even blame it on a New Years Resolution to stick better to your budget. If you have extra food when you cook, that’s leftovers for a lunch or another dinner, and that’s what you’ve budgeted for.

Only the OP knows if Amy is a user, or just a procrastinator with good intentions but no follow through, and I am assuming the latter here. If Amy is a user, then I’d reevaluate the friendship, and possibly see to it that my guest room was no longer available for her use. Either way, the OP is obviously becoming very resentful (the mention of the value of Christmas presents is very telling), so before it blows up, something needs to change. As good as Amy’s intentions might be, I can’t imagine staying at a friend’s home every week, eating 3 meals provided by them, and not throwing in $20 at the very least for the food, electricity and water used! Or picking up some groceries, taking the OP to dinner when she stays, almost any show of appreciation would probably help a whole lot!

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Elle January 11, 2017 at 9:55 am

I would let her know you will start charging her for her stays and meals.

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justme January 11, 2017 at 9:59 am

First off, stop making her meals! She is a grown up! She is your friend and you will need to just tell her straight up that you need x amount of dollars for her share of groceries for the week. If she doesn’t like it tell her she can eat her meals out.

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abby January 11, 2017 at 10:00 am

Well, Amy sounds entitled (it would drive me crazy accepting 3 meals a week from someone while doing nothing to reciprocate), but I do not think there’s any polite way for you to say, hey, how come my Christmas present only cost $5 more than your gifts to other friends, and by the way, where are all my baked goods you promised?

It sounds like this situation is over so you are not looking to get out of it, but rather how to explain that you are hurt and feel taken advantage of. You say you are close, so I think you just need to be direct and tell her how you feel. I would leave specific examples about the cost of your gift out of this conversation though. It’s an awkward conversation, but clearly this is something bothering you, so I think you need to clear the air.

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stacey January 11, 2017 at 10:20 am

It’s not possible to retool this dynamic. Your friend is providing you with very important information- namely that she prioritizes herself over consideration for others. Otherwise, she would either have done what she promised to do or she would have refrained from promising anything. As it stands, she gets to congratulate herself for her good intentions without doing the follow-up of actually performing her word. You describe yourself as gracious, OP, and you are. Perhaps that will console you a little for your friend’s flakiness and selfishness. But- there is nothing that says you have to keep inviting her or supplying food. And- you need only say that your hosting will regrettably have to end. The option of advance notice or of continuing to host are also at your disposal. You just know that this friend has a tendency to over-promise and under-deliver.

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Pat January 11, 2017 at 10:30 am

I think you might just suggest something like “Would you pick up some whatever from the bakery for breakfast on your way over?” or “Why don’t you take care of lunch on Tuesday?” Maybe she’ll get the hint. If she doesn’t get the hint and that’s your only complaint about her and you enjoy her visits, I think I’d just let it go. Over time you learn that everyone has their faults and foibles and sometimes the best thing to do is to overlook or laugh about them. If you get really resentful about it, well then maybe it’s time to end the overnight stays.

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Politrix January 11, 2017 at 10:37 am

I think the title on the post says it all. You offered Amy your hospitality in the spirit of kindness and friendship. Yes, she was rude not to do anything for you in return (and even more rude to say that she would), but if you had made it clear that this was a favor then presumably you weren’t expecting reimbursement. I’m afraid you’ll have to let this go, and maybe scale back the friendship if you feel your generosity isn’t being reciprocated.
To be honest, though, comparing the dollar value of your Christmas gift to your friend’s gift is really ungracious and petty.

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Lemon Zinger January 11, 2017 at 10:42 am

I’m not sure if you can bring this up delicately. I would tell Amy that unfortunately, you are no longer able to host her in your home due to other commitments. She isn’t going to pay you anything.

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livvy17 January 11, 2017 at 10:46 am

I don’t think you can suggest that she give you gifts of any kind without seeming greedy. However, I don’t think it would be out of line for you to request that she pay some fraction of your grocery bill, to cover all the meals you’ve been providing, or help extra on cleaning, (if she’s not doing that already). She may have forgotten that she said she would. If she protests, or acts shocked, or reacts in any way other than, “Oh of course, I’m so sorry I haven’t done that already!” you’ll know that she sees your lodging/cooking/hospitality as an entitlement rather than a cherished gift.

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Lisa S. January 11, 2017 at 10:49 am

You simply explain that the current situation of hosting her once a week is no longer working out, and she’ll have to find alternate arrangements for housing. Don’t explain, or ask for her understanding, because this situation was working out beautifully for her and you’re upsetting the status quo. Of course she’s got money for restaurants! You’re feeding her 3 meals a day and acting like a hotel. (But the fact that she’s planning future international trips wouldn’t bother me…I’m planning to go Fiji, New Zealand, The Maldives, etc. Don’t mean I have the money for them, but I’d love to plan on going there!)

And as soon as she starts begging for another chance, or tries to get you to admit that it doesn’t really cost that much to host her, walk away. If she has a key, change the locks. A real friend wouldn’t take advantage of you like this.

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jeneria January 11, 2017 at 10:50 am

While I agree with you in principle, I think it’s weird that you rated her Christmas gift as “maybe $5 more” than the gifts your other friends gave you. Until that moment, I was with you, but after that you do sound greedy.

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jeneria January 11, 2017 at 10:52 am

I hit enter before I was done. Maybe you could suggest she cook a meal once in a while? Or you could scale back the meals you’re providing (like the lunch)?

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Grady January 11, 2017 at 1:25 pm

The OP only mentioned the Christmas present because her friend said that hers would be a combination thank you and Christmas present. I don’t feel she is greedy for mentioning it. I think her friend is gaslighting her.

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Melissa January 11, 2017 at 3:52 pm

She may not be “greedy” (actually the OP seems to be pretty generous) but it just never sounds great for someone to compare their gifts to others, I understand what she meant but it does come across as petty to put dollar figures on gifts and compare, even if she had a reason to.

And I think gaslighting is a strong term to use here, if the OP asked her about chipping in for groceries and Amy pitched a fit and said that OP told her she’d provide all of her meals, and didn’t want anything in return, or something like that, she’d possibly be gaslighting. But so far she’s just dodging responsibility and taking advantage of OP’s generosity. Gaslighting is manipulative and abusive, and from what we see in the letter, Amy’s behavior doesn’t quite rise to that level.

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Lisa S. January 11, 2017 at 10:50 am

I meant “Doesn’t mean I have the money for them.” My grammar is better than that!

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UKHelen January 11, 2017 at 11:04 am

Tell her that your circumstances have changed. Tell her you need the room for someone else and she can’t stay there any more.

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Eddie January 11, 2017 at 11:22 am

You are not a bed and breakfast. Stop with providing every meal. It may cause a moment of discomfort since you set the precedent, but it will cur down on your costs and help you feel less resentful. Maybe ask her to stop at the grocery store or pick up dinner on her way home. Hopefully she gets the hint that she is not at a b&b and it’s time tobatart contributing.

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Dee January 11, 2017 at 11:36 am

OP, you did not gracefully invite her to stay over; all this time you’ve been expecting some sort of remuneration for your troubles and money spent. You never clarified that, though, just pretended that you were doing this out of the goodness of your heart. Thus, the “gracefully” is not true. If you want your friend to pony up then just say so. You don’t need an excuse but if you want one just tell her you’re finding finances a little close lately and if she could spring for groceries once or twice that would help. Then, if she’s a good friend, she will do something to try to even the score.

I doubt, however, that you are all that good a friend to her, since you are actively keeping score, comparing how much she spends on others compared to you. My instinct is that you are both immature and haven’t learned to speak your wants and needs clearly. Why don’t you start there and stop judging your friend on how she lives her life otherwise?

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keloe January 11, 2017 at 1:42 pm

Yes.

If this is a regular thing, the most sensible solution to such a situation is agree on some sort of compensation / division of costs / whatever beforehand.

If I stay with friends, I usually invite them to a meal/cinema/whatever and bring some gifts, plus I try to take care of most of my own meals. But it’s never a regular thing. If I was turning up regularly, I would probably ask for some settlement.

However, monitoring the other person’s expenses and calculating the value of gifts in comparison to others’… no. First of all, you can’t control other people’s behaviour and second, you certainly don’t tell other people how they should spend their money. And there is no way of tactfully telling anyone that you wish they spent more of their money on you, whatever the motivation. Either make it into a business arrangement of forget it.

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NostalgicGal January 12, 2017 at 3:20 pm

A few months ago I attended a convention. (someone gifted me with plane tickets, I sent them a beautiful crocodile tooth (look up the pattern) shawl as a thank you; someone else gifted me with the registration fee, I made them a chain mail collar, etc. Showed my gratitude with skills if nothing else). The person that let me stay with them, our suite room was used for some of the day events. In thanks I was the maid. Every morning I made up the bed, cleaned the room, wiped down the bathroom (I had been a hotel maid once, I knew what this entailed). Otherwise made the room look checkin nice because it would be used during the day (the maids didn’t get time during those four days to fully service the room, they’d have to interrupt to do towel trade, so). Friend appreciated that I had the room perfect every morning (compared to some who had shared-use rooms). I also fetched ice (no ice machines so the on-site bar doled it out as requested) and otherwise tried to be a good citizen. When the maids did the trade I would pass a tip, and at checkout left the tip.

Whole point is, you need to show your appreciation in any way you can. If Amy was that broke, surely she could do something that involved time and skills or some such in return. Even pitching in to be the maid, dishwasher, run some laundry, whatever. An hour worked is an hour worked. And is something that surely could be squeezed in.

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PJ January 11, 2017 at 11:38 am

I see that you’re really helping her out, and while you didn’t ask for anything in return, you’re feeling unappreciated. I get that!

I think you could ask her directly for some help– to pitch in a little money for food for the weekend to help cover the cost. It may help to remind her that her lodging does cost you something.

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ally January 11, 2017 at 11:50 am

I think you could handle it 2 ways.

First is to immediately stop providing her with 3 square, homemade meals a day. Send her a text before the next visit saying this, and then offering her fridge space so she can store whatever she wants to buy. Key word is that SHE’LL be buying and preparing it. Frame this in your own mind as win-win: she still gets a free place to stay, but it doesn’t have to COST you anything to do this.

The second way is a little more confrontational, but still within the bounds of politeness. Say that she promised to buy groceries, bring baked goods, etc in exchange for staying at your place. Say you noticed it hasn’t happened, and you don’t want to pressure her, but that things have changed so much from what you originally discussed that you can’t host her anymore. She might raise a fuss, try to guilt you, etc, but just repeat – to her and to yourself – that this isn’t what you signed up for and can’t do it anymore.

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Cat January 11, 2017 at 2:25 pm

I’d add, “And you will be cleaning up the kitchen when you have finished” or that may not occur to this mooch.

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ally January 11, 2017 at 11:53 am

Oops my other reply posted too soon.

I was going to finish with this:
You say her buying lunch would help even things out, to make it reciprocal, and I get that. The scales aren’t balanced, but you can’t demand that she provide anything (well, you can, but that won’t make it actually happen), although you can cut off what you supply her. Whether that’s food, doing fewer weekend(s), or the entire arrangement. Thus re-balancing the scales.

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padua January 11, 2017 at 12:27 pm

it sounds as if she’s more of a guest than a lodger. i think you need to make the distinction. if she’s a guest, you’re not entitled to anything more than her company. which, if she’s someone you get along with, sounds like a nice opportunity to catch up. if she’s a lodger, you’re going to need something more than an informal verbal contract. if she has family in town, she may not realize that you’re doing this because you expect something out of it as she has other options.

communication is key.

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Kirsten January 11, 2017 at 1:08 pm

You offered to host her and you weren’t expecting her to pay or contribute financially to that. Nothing has changed, has it? She’s rude in not offering some sort of hostess gift, but is it malicious rudeness or thoughtless rudeness?

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AMC January 11, 2017 at 1:14 pm

I don’t think money is the real issue here, since gratitude costs nothing. And I don’t think Amy’s problem is that she’s a mooch since she’s accepting only what you’ve willingly offered to her. Amy’s problem is that she talks a bigger game than she’s willing to deliver, probably to alleviate awkwardness and her own guilt in the moment. Get use to it because it probably won’t change. Has she at least expressed gratitude for your generosity? Has she been a good guest in your home? If so, I would advise you to readjust your expectations. Know that when she makes lofty promises about returning your favor, it’s all talk and no substance. If by some miracle she does end up following through, you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

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essie January 11, 2017 at 1:16 pm

My interpretation is that you offered without mention of any compensation. She offered to “pay you back”, yes, but probably assumed that since you offered freely, no compensation was really necessary. If her visits are causing a financial hardship, then tell her you need $_____ each week. If it’s not a hardship and you’re just upset that she’s not reciprocating your generosity, then remind yourself that you OFFERED your spare room to help a friend and accept that she’s not as open-handed as you are.

However, you lost my sympathy when you pointed out the dollar difference between your gift and the gifts of your friends. That’s just petty, IMO.

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Gabriele January 11, 2017 at 1:25 pm

jeneria
She compared the value of the gift the friend gave other friends…after the friend had said she’d get her a much better gift…

I don’t think it’s petty to complain about a gift being promised being so much more and ending up costing only $5 more. Sounds like more ‘good intentions and no delivery’ and the friend could, if challenged say ‘I meant to do….’ so the person asking for what had been promised/offered would feel guilty. (Been there, had that done to me…).

Two considerations: you are hosting someone who is almost a permanent guest. You might check what the law in your city/state says about such people. I know that if you allowed her to stay for longer periods of time she might be able to claim to be able to claim continuing occupancy and that you’d have to evict her (not in the part time situation, but still).
I would also check with whoever has your property insurance and find out if you have additional exposure with having a regular ‘guest’ and if you should be concerned. If she has keys and comes and goes as she pleases, her presence there might raise liability issues.
She invites someone over (you’re not there). Her guest hurts her/himself. Guest then sues you because of faulty ____ or broker ____ (etc).
See where I’m going?
You might also look into the laws covering temporary guests because with the proliferation of Airbnb, a lot of places are looking at the legalities of ‘guests’ (paying or not) which stay for extended periods of time.
If you find out that there are no laws you might consider renting out the spare bedroom to earn some extra money so YOU can take a trip without stressing your budget.
Let her know that and that if a weekend isn’t booked she might be able to stay but that she should make other plans, just in case. With Airbnb rooms renting for $50 a night and up (depending on location and such) without you saying anything she’ll know that she had a great deal (free ride) but you value what you have more highly. If she is such a good friend she should be happy that you can earn money so you can take great vacation trips.
She may be a very good friend because she knows how to get what she wants.

You sound like a caring, nurturing person and you’re treating the friend the way you would hope someone else might treat you in a similar situation. So another question:
Has she invited to host you where she lives when you have time off? Since she seems to go out to eat she must have other friends for such activities– has she introduced you to any of them or invited you to meet them? (somehow I think the answer is no…). So she has her life, all made possible by your
generosity and she’s treating your like a second mother, taking care of her.

And you really just want her to wake up and realize all you do for her, show some gratitude and make an effort to be kind to her. You may be used to the company and you think what you’d miss if you asked her to follow through on her promises and she didn’t come anymore. It’s not just the big hurt from realizing that you have been used, it’s facing what it’s going to be like when she doesn’t come to stay anymore.

There is a great organization called Servas. (servas.org) My neighbors signed up and hosted foreign visitors for a couple years so their daughters could experience people from other countries and cultures and as a Servas host, they could visit other countries and be Servas guests. They never travelled but they did get to meet a lot of interesting people. The guests bring a small gift for the host and the host only agrees to provide a bed and a light breakfast. A host can offer more, perhaps share some of the culture in their area, but it’s not required.
Or become a part time Airbnb host…and empty bedroom doesn’t have to mean no one visiting you…
Whatever changes you decide to make, the person who’s been sleeping in your (spare) bed is not going to be happy so start slowly, measure the response and make your choices accordingly.
And do talk with your insurance agent.
Good luck

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JD January 11, 2017 at 1:34 pm

I have to wonder at the people criticizing the OP so much for offering the house then expecting to be paid back someway, and checking out the gift difference monetarily. The way I read it, OP offered to let her stay without mentioning payment, THEN Amy voluntarily offered to pay her back with groceries, baked goods, and a larger gift at Christmas, making a big deal out of it. I think OP is just feeling unappreciated and somewhat used when none of the payback happened, although she continued to go out of her way for Amy by providing meals as well. Why did Amy tell OP she will provide some payback if Amy never had any intention of doing it? And if she did have good intentions, why isn’t she paying OP back a little bit even, as promised? Amy promised and has reneged on that promise. How does it make OP greedy to see that the groceries never appeared as PROMISED, and the big gift difference, also played up by Amy, not OP, was actually negligible?
OP, I do agree that, although it would be hard, I would stop providing meals. I know if she’s there, sitting and staring at you as you start a meal, it’s awkward at best. But, as others said, I’d say my budget is tighter and I can’t do that anymore, and stick with it. If, that is, you keep having her stay with you. I don’t see that you can ask for more than helping with the groceries, as she said she would, or asking her to pick up dinner for you both sometimes. Amy may be just clueless. I know when I was young and inexperienced, I accepted help from people at times that I never paid back in any form, and I now feel terrible about it. Maybe Amy will one day surprise you with a fabulous day out, on her, who knows? I hope so, anyway.

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BellyJean January 11, 2017 at 3:01 pm

Thank you. +1

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Cat January 11, 2017 at 2:24 pm

You have been very generous to your friend. It’s not like she just came to visit you for a few days; she is basically a permanent roommate once a week until she finishes her degree.
You can allow things to go on as they have or you can remind her that you are housing and feeding her at your expense or you can decide that enough is enough. You could reduce meals to cereal for breakfast, a p&j sandwich for lunch and a TV dinner for supper. That would reduce your cost.
If she mentions the reduced fare, remind her that you are on a budget and that she is free to purchase whatever food she wishes to provide for the two of you. If she says nothing, her being there will cost you very little.
If that is too passive-aggressive for you, state plainly that she had promised to bring baked goods or to purchase some groceries and that she has done nothing. It’s time to ante up.
If you are truly fed up, tell her that you have company coming for a month and she will need to find other accommodations.

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PWH January 11, 2017 at 2:55 pm

Hi OP,

This is definitely a tough fun. I think your friend’s offer at the beginning, when you offered your house for her to stay in, was just one of those things people say. I don’t know that she really meant it or perhaps she said it so off-hand that’s she’s forgotten. Since you are good friends, you may just want to come right out with it – “Would you be able to help with groceries this week?” or “Can you pick up dinner for tonight?” Lather, rinse, repeat and hopefully she will get the message. If she refuses, or doesn’t make any offers on her own, it’s really up to you how you would like to proceed. I’d definitely cut off your catering service for her stay. She can make or buy her own meals if she’s not going to contribute. If you decide you don’t want to host her anymore, I don’t think it would be fair to Amy or to your friendship to simply tell her you can’t accommodate her anymore without any notice. That would pull the rug right out from under her. If it comes down to it, it may be a matter of asking her what she plans to do the following semester for a place to stay or the next month.

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Lils January 11, 2017 at 4:00 pm

Quick and dirty solution for the OP-
When she arrives after class and it’s the normal time that you would serve dinner, order pizza. Take her pizza order and let her know you will call and place the order, and quite casually say, “would you mind to get the door and pay for the pizza?” Because you are going to hop in the shower. or walk the dog, or make an important call in your bedroom, or do whatever else that would leave her waiting by the door with her wallet open.

Sometimes people need a nudge to open their wallets at the appropriate time. The OP has been very generous and perhaps the really close friend has been negligent in contributing. Rather than having an uncomfortable Pay Me Back in Cash conversation, why not just create a few direct opportunities for her to pay you back? Let her know you’d absolutely love it if she could pick up some Chinese takeout for BOTH of you on her way to your place. You can even text it to her- early enough in the day that she can plan for it and most importantly, pay for it. Honestly, you have been a saint to provide free room and board for weeks on end. This has to come to an end or your resentment will ultimately derail the friendship. Your friend may not be intending to take advantage but she is, and it needs to be called out.

I agree with the poster who said it can be hard to have strong boundaries in friendships in your twenties, but now is the time to start. Your house, your rules. Guests can be gracious or they can find another hostess. You set the standard ultimately, so give her the benefit of the doubt and also give her some convenient opportunities to reciprocate your generosity.

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Lerah99 January 12, 2017 at 11:27 am

I like the spirit of your suggestion, but in practicality it’s not that great an idea.
From reading about Amy’s behavior. She sounds like the kind of person who spends money until it’s all gone. And then lives on very little until the next paycheck hits.

So if you do this to her on a day that isn’t a payday – she may honestly not have the $20 to pay for the pizza because she’s already spent it going out to dinner with her friends or buying a new outfit etc…

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Devin January 11, 2017 at 4:47 pm

If this story is current, now would be a good time to set up expectations about the new semester, and the living situation. Since her big promises have all fallen flat, then i would set up a new arrangement or cancel it all together. Be honest and say the added cost of time and money has been greater than you anticipated and you’ll need her to agree to X compensation for it to continue for another year. Having been friends for 5 years, I have a feeling her response will either alert you that she is a mooch, or she will sincerely be apologetic/embarassed she didnt realize she wasnt reciprocating. If she makes up lame excuses or tries to come up with solutions that only benefit her then let her know you are sorry the arrangement wont work. She probably doesnt even consider the added costs if hosting someone (water, electricity, laundry, grocery) and will hopefully offer to pay her way without argument.

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Lori January 11, 2017 at 4:59 pm

I feel your pain. I come from a culture where (most) everyone follows the gracious rules, and that allows all of us to feel good and generous.

It sounds, however, like you are beginning to feel resentful of your friend’s lack of following generally accepted rules of reciprocity and her failed promises, and hosting weekly in perpetuity in an unequal balance probably feels like a miserable trap. It also sounds like you value this person and would like to
keep the friendship.

If you want to keep the friendship and all you want is a token of gratitude):
Be honest. Let her know that when she said x, y, and z, you believed her, and admit you’re starting to feel resentful in spite of your best intentions. Your resentment is a red flag to tell you something is wrong, and Either your resentment or her inconsideration will ruin the friendship. Either provide her with a plan of something you can rely on her to provide or ask her to come up with a plan.

If it’s the money that’s bothering you most, just ask for a weekly contribution after evaluating your budget for the New Year. It’s a great time to introduce new information.

If it’s the imbalance of work, then email or call and remind her of her promise and say, I’ll be looking forward to a rotisserie chicken (or your home cooked meal or baked goods) I know you’ll be good enough to bring this week. There were other good suggestions, like doing packaged dinners, or offering her the third shelf in the fridge for food she’ll bring.

What do you really want? If you want to appear generous and gracious, you will have to continue pretending that nothing is wrong, but if you want to keep the friendship (or lose a fake friendship), you will have to be honest. Honestly, when I moved to the US, it was the people who were gracious and respectful in pointing out my inconsiderations that helped me to grow out of them more than those who were avoidant or harsh.

All the best–let us know how it turns out.

(:
Lori

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klb4n6 January 11, 2017 at 5:05 pm

First off, stop making her lunch. She’s an adult, she can buy her own. Next time she’s going to stay over, send her a grocery list of things to pick up before she arrives. Things that are good for dinner that night and for breakfast in the morning (pastries, etc.) and make it clear this will be a weekly thing. Sit down and tell her you need her to start contributing grocery items for when she stays over, since she’s essentially your roommate those days.

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Princess Buttercup January 11, 2017 at 5:49 pm

Reminds me of some of my “friends”. I’d host them at my house a few weekends each year. Make them meals over the weekend, provide things to do and beds. I also planned gatherings for us out and about every month. All while living on far less income than any of them. Then I had health issues, stress, even homelessness. They all knew this. A simple “can I treat you to a cheap restaurant I know you like” would have gone a long ways. Instead I got cut off. Haven’t heard from any of them since last time I planned a gathering for them two years ago.
Lesson, real friends share and reciprocate. Moochers just take. Cut out the moochers, they are only loyal to what you give them.

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BellyJean January 12, 2017 at 9:20 am

I’m sorry you found this out the hard way. That must have added more pain when having to deal with everything else. *big hugs* Hope you’re in a better place now.

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SLC January 11, 2017 at 7:29 pm

Sounds like you aren’t as close as you would like to think or perhaps is a matter of assertiveness. I am very assertive and would have no problems about having a short, to the point conversation about the situation, I think the key is to make it as short and concise as possible.

“Friend, I have been making the meals every time you come over, I would appreciate you taking care of the meals the next time you come over, thank you as that would be a big help” – said with a smile, just don’t make an excuse or give a reason to justify your statement. If she objects I would tell her you need to reevaluate the arrangement, either stopping it all together or coming up with a amicable solution.

Good Luck!

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Barensmom January 11, 2017 at 8:43 pm

Straight up, Amy is a mooch, intentional or not. Tell her it is no longer possible for her to stay with you. Personally, I’d also scale back on the friendship.

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Klein Bottle January 12, 2017 at 5:03 pm

Six years ago, my former brother in law and his wife came south to visit my then-husband and our son and me. Long story short, they were there for over six weeks, with plans to stay till spring, and every day, I felt my resentment grow. They would get up, eat breakfast, and immediately start planning on where they would have lunch, which usually ended up being at my favorite little neighborhood Mexican restaurant. Not once did they offer to treat us, or to bring us back any food, until one day, she announced she’d be making venison for dinner, (they brought almost an entire deer my brother in law had shot right before their trip down), and since she knew I wouldn’t eat that, she’d brought me a meal from the Mexican place! Except, oops, she had ordered “me” shrimp fajitas, following several conversations discussing the fact that I eat neither meat nor seafood, so oh well, guess she had to stuff her face with the fajitas, too.

It was a vast relief when they left, but, I’m a different person now. I use my words, I do not speak nor understand “passive aggressive”, and I no longer permit people to take advantage. One thousand times burnt, twice shy, I suppose.

OP, she is your friend, and you have been incredibly gracious! Nothing she has offered or promised to do has she followed through with, so it’s time to use your words. It’s not a conversation you *should* need to be having, because most adults would be ashamed at the lack of reciprocity. But, there it is and here you are. Simply tell her that housing and feeding her, weekend upon weekend, is becoming a cumulative strain on your budget, and you would like her to contribute $20.00 per week, *or whatever number you think is reasonable), to offset the cost of groceries, gas, water, electric, cable, Internet, etc. If she balks, or or tries to negotiate down, well, then you’ve learned some valuable information, and you can then inform her that you regret you’ll no longer be available to host her.

I suspect she just doesn’t realize how she’s taken advantage of the situation, and will hand over the money with no problem and a sincere apology. And, the fact that you totalled up the prices of the gifts she gave and compared tells me that you are really feeling frustrated and taken advantage of. I would feel the same way. Just use your words and let her save some face, while reciprocating and keeping this otherwise pleasant arrangement ongoing!

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littlebosammy January 20, 2017 at 8:40 pm

Cut her now. Otherwise she’ll be trying to take advantage of you for years to come. I had such a “friend”, took me several years to wise up.

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