This happened a few months ago. I was at a dinner with some family friends, who are the parents of my best childhood friend (let’s call her Lydia). Lydia’s mother was there, whom I am very close to, and one of her mother’s childhood friends whom I had never met. We were just having a casual chat over the remains of dinner.
I was about to head off on a solo trio around the world so I was in a pretty good mood at the time. I was talking about where I planned to go, and where I was going to spend Christmas. I should mention that Lydia and her family originally come from one of the countries I was visiting. I looked over at Lydia and said, “You should come to [home country] for Christmas! It would be awesome to be together for the holidays!” Her mother agreed and said she should come and join me. We did not, as far as I can tell, actually apply any pressure to make her come with me. They were passing comments. Which is why I was so shocked at what happened next.
Lydia drew herself up and said, right to my face and in a tone much louder than necessary given the small party of people, “Well, unlike some people, my parents don’t pay for everything I’ve ever had, so I’m not able to just ‘up and go’ whenever I want to. So no thank you to Christmas in [home country]”. This was even more insulting because my parents have not contributed one thing towards my trip, given that I am, you know, an adult, and also because I know for a fact that Lydia’s parents help her out plenty anyway, and she makes more money than I do. I know those things are beside the point but they just added to the horribleness of the moment.
There was a stunned silence. And I had no idea what to do. I didn’t know whether to move on or not, or to say something. I felt so embarrassed about her comment although later I realised the only person who should be embarrassed is actually Lydia for being so vulgar and standoffish in the first place.
The result is that I distanced myself from Lydia before I left. I’m still on my trip now but I don’t intend to invite her along to anything ever again.
So my question is: what would you do? How do you move on in social situations when someone says something so mean and hurtful, in front of people you like and also don’t know that well? Any input is definitely welcome! 1212-14
Lydia’s comment was loaded with a lot of back story. She could have been exploiting the opportunity to make a passive aggressive jab at her mother which is likely, in my opinion, given that the last person to speak on the topic was her mother. You may never know what the motivation was for Lydia’s outburst but the solution is not to defend yourself since it really is no one’s business how you fund your trips and had you responded to her, you would have looked just as petty as Lydia. Best to change the topic of discussion quickly as if the comment was never said.
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I have a wittily-written book called “The Perfect Hostess”, first published in the 1920s, which has the following advice for situations like these: the hostess should pull herself together and make a statement so totally at odd with the facts that every guest feels the need to immediately contradict her, eg “What a shame that they are pulling down Westminster Abbey to make way for the traffic!” or “I do like this plan to let criminals out of prison on Sundays but I wonder how they’re going to persuade them to come back in again”.
Failing your hostess stepping in like that, stunned silence was pretty good.
You could also say quietly “I’m sorry for offending you.” or “I’m sorry you were offended.” (Which is literally true, even if the sole reason you’re sorry is that you just found out you were very wrong in your judgement of Lydia’s character), then turn to some other guest and start some innocuous conversation, eg the weather, their trip to the party.
This is great!
Ah, so they had bean dip all the way back in the 1920s! 😉
I agree that while Lydia’s reply was rude and OTT, there probably is a lot of backstory here (probably some build-up of resentment between the mother and daughter).
Generally speaking, in that kind of situation, the only thing to do is change the subject and pretend nothing happened.
This is similar to what happened to one of my cousins. Cousin was no.4 and only daughter of 4 children and in the previous generation of the family it was expected that the youngest daughter lived and looked after the parents in their old age. Cousin used to make sly jabs at my aunt and uncle (even though they helped her with money – no doubt to sweeten the deal of looking after them) about travelling around the world. Aunt used to encourage her to go travelling, then would make a huge fuss about leaving once she had made plans, booked tickets and asked friends. Eventually it got too much for cousin, who decided to pack up and go travelling to America where she met a man, married and had children. Aunt and uncle carried on fine without her.
Maybe OP’s friend Lydia came from that sort of background?
Regardless of Lydia’s background or her dealings with her mother, trying to humiliate the OP the way she did was uncalled for.
Absolutely uncalled for. Completely! But unless it was typical of Lydia’s behavior I’d chalk it up to some sort of backstory she’s not privy to and let it go. Especially since the trip will allow for some cool-down time.
I would consider this IF Lydia offered a sincere apology. Because she owes the OP one, regardless of what was going on.
If she does not apologise, the OP is probably better off without a ‘friend’ who thinks backstory makes it OK to attack and humiliate people out of nowhere.
Sounds to me like Lydia is eaten up with envy.
Absolutely! Especially at your own best friend.
I can see three threads that might have caused this outburst. Even though you weren’t putting pressure on her, were you so excited about your trip that it was all you were talking about? She may have been jealous (or tired) of having that be the center of conversation for a while. Do you travel a lot so that she might have been feeling like you have all the fun that she doesn’t get a chance to do and might feel that it is being rubbed in her face? And the third possibility isn’t related to you, it’s similar to what the admin said…. does her mother constantly tell her that she “needs” to go do this with her life and “needs” to go do that with her life so that she has become hypersensitive to feeling like she is getting orders about how to live her life.
These things crossed my mind too.
I have a different assessment of the situation:
“…unlike some people, my parents don’t pay for everything I’ve ever had…”
Given your ages and her use of past-tense, it seems to me that Lydia is pointing out that your parents paid, or substantially contributed to, your lifestyle for years (perhaps your college expenses?) to ensure you have a comfortable launch in life whereas she didn’t have the same level of support and may be currently struggling under a mountain of student loan or other debt despite having a higher income than you. She wasn’t referring to your parents having paid directly for your trip but that their previous generosity is making the trip possible for you now.
If that is the case, your light-hearted invite was as inconsiderate as it was obtuse. It was probably was the last in a long-line of other comments she’d tolerated from you about what you have or what you just bought or what you were going to get to do next. It reminds me very much of when I worked retail minimum wage and the well heeled customers would obliviously state, “Oh, you MUST go to Bora-Bora! A young person like you would just LOVE it!” I so wanted to inform them that I could barely afford to fill my car and that I ate Ramen noodles for most meals, so how in the world could I afford an exotic vacation??
So, while you’re busy writing Lydia off, examine your conscience for times you haven’t been humble about your more fortunate circumstances and vow to be more aware of what others are going through.
Jewel, I think that’s a bit harsh. The OP says Lydia is her best friend from childhood, so she probably felt comfortable sharing her excitement over her upcoming trip with Lydia and her family. I know if I were in financial straits, and my BFF invited me on a trip (assuming she didn’t know it wasn’t within my means, which is unlikely), I would simply say, “Thank you for the invite — but I’m afraid it’s not possible right now.” and let it go at that.
“It was probably was the last in a long-line of other comments she’d tolerated from you about what you have or what you just bought or what you were going to get to do next.”
Interesting assumption. I’d expect my best friend to be open and honest with me about her feelings, and I would reciprocate in kind. I’d want her to feel comfortable sharing good news with me and my family, and conversely, if I were struggling with money, I wouldn’t have a problem sharing that either — and would trust her not to make an issue out of it.
Of course, if my friend made a comment like the one Lydia made, I’d probably wait for a time when we could talk privately, and ask her to clarify what she’d meant. She may have some valid issues, but the OP was right not to bring it up then & there.
OP, I hope you can smooth things out with Lydia, since you two seem to be very close — but in the meantime, let it go, and enjoy your trip!
I know that you’re using a lot of “if” and “may be” statements here to qualify your response, but given the utter lack of any indication in the OP that the OP’s parents paid for her college, that Lydia’s parents didn’t pay for hers, that the OP had made a “long line of other comments” to be tolerated by Lydia, or that the OP hadn’t been “humble” enough about her circumstances, I think that there may be some interesting assumptions made here. At the very least, the advice to “examine your conscience” doesn’t seem particularly helpful, given that it’s based on so many “ifs.” It’s essentially assuming that Lydia’s admittedly rude statement must have been based on real-life circumstances and prior bad behavior by the OP, without any basis.
I’m just imagining posting here about a rude woman who came up behind me and shoved me out of her way, causing me to fall, and getting a response along the lines of “it seems to me that the woman was in a rush due to trying to get to her sick child at the hospital or something equally important, and was tired of waiting for you to stop rudely blocking the path. If that was the case, it was probably not the first time you’d done something like this, and you should examine your conscience for other times you’ve walked too slowly and gotten in people’s way.”
+1 I love it
OP wasn’t being inconsiderate. She shouldn’t hold her tongue about her excitement for a trip she is paying for. Especially when she talking to people who she considered close family friends (far different from customers or total strangers). She already mentioned that Lydia has the support of her own family as well as makes more money than the OP does, so I don’t get where Lydia does not have the same privileges and good fortune that the OP does nor where Lydia may have debt.
Lydia was rude, boorish, and for some reason decided to take out her issues on the OP. Why should the OP examine her conscience for someone else’s poor behavior? The OP shouldn’t examine her fortunate circumstances just because someone decided to make a untrue, rude statement over an invitation.
I don’t think OP should hold her tongue when being excited about her own trip. But that wasn’t the problem in this story. Problem occurred, when OP suggested that Lydia should join too. And the thing was made worse when Lydia’s mother joined the wagon (not OP’s fault obviously), because even if OP feels that it was not pressuring, when you are on the receiving end, it still might feel quite a lot of pressure when your best friend and mother are ganging up that you should be going. I feel it was quite presumptous thing to do out of a blue, without considering is there real possibilities if she could join her.
Summa summarum, talking about the upcoming trip wasn’t inconsiderate. Asking other person to do expensive trip so they can join you, was inconsiderate.
It was presumptuous, yes, but what if Lydia could’ve thought “not a bad idea” or maybe she could’ve laughed it off, deflected, said “Oh I got other holiday plans” etc. There are a lot of other, far more appropriate reactions. I can see how the mother added pressure, but that would be something between Lydia and her mother, not for Lydia to overreact and suddenly shout something rude and untrue to the OP. If I did such a thing, even if I felt the OP was being inconsiderate (don’t know if Lydia was talking about hardships beforehand, which yes I would see the invitation as inconsiderate), I would apologize for it.
Yes obviously Lydia was over the top with her comments, even if OP might have been bit inconsiderate. It definitely didn’t warrant such a strong reaction. Again, this is the case of difference between understanding (or as we speculate about unknown people, more likely trying to find possible explaining situations, which might or might not make OP for example consider if she really wants to distant herself infinitely from her (ex) friend) and approving.
You’re making a lot of assumptions about the OP here.
I paid my own way through college. The most I got was a small nest egg (about $500 – and it was a gift that she had been planning on giving me since I was about 8) and a workaround from my grandmother to open a brokerage account when I turned 13 (you can’t open a brokerage account by yourself until you’re 18 in most states. She signed the papers for me and put it in my name. You can say a lot of things about her, but my grandmother knows finance). Through careful investing, a lot of advice from said grandmother, and putting almost every dime I made into it, I had enough to pay for college in its entirety with very little debt without getting a job while I was in school.
However, to a lot of people I looked spoiled and taken care of. I had easily a dozen people in class snub me for going to New York over spring break. My dad was living there at the time and paid for me to come up and see him. There wasn’t a hotel room, I paid for several meals and cooked for him (my dad doesn’t cook. Okay, I’ll rephrase: My dad doesn’t cook in a way that doesn’t set off the smoke alarms), and I got to see the fun parts of the city with very little cost.
What I’m saying is that there’s a lot of judgement being taken against millenials right now and comments like yours don’t help. Many of us have found all sorts of workarounds for travel, finance, and loans, and yet there’s a stigma that somehow our parents are paying for everything since there are a few people whose parents really *do* pay for everything. Those people are few and far between.
People make quick assumptions, without trying to figure out what the actual case may be. It’d be better to make positive assumptions on both side, if one must make assumptions.
Boo on your classmates, but yay on your hard work and success! Wonderful work ethic that paid off. 🙂
Amen. My in-laws helped us out financially during a tough time a few years ago, but my husband had to moonlight for the family business in order to earn it. It may have appeared that they just gave us a bunch of money, but that wasn’t the case. He was paid by the hour like everyone else who worked for them at the time.
It’s not like that at all, though. OP clearly stated that Lydia makes more money than her. You might have just as big a chip on your shoulder as Lydia and are sniping at OP for not being a perfect person. Lydia made a massive breach of social conduct and no amount of past obliviousness can justify that. Big melodramatic outbursts like that are never proper etiquette and no circumstances perceived or real change that, so I would recommend not spending so much time trying to guilt OP.
Jewel, you are being too harsh and making too many assumptions, as well as splitting hairs. This is not about the experience you had. The OP and Lydia were close friends, not strangers like those customers at your retail job. Suggesting that a friend come along on a trip is not the same as what your customers did. In the former, the two know each other and making such suggestions is not unreasonable. The OP knew Lydia had a high-laying job, but does not say if Lydia had debts of any kind.
We don’t know Lydia’s situation, if she has student debt or not. If her parents helped her out so much in the past, than what where they helping her with, if she allegedly has student loans to pay now? We don’t know anything about that, so making such assumptions just to justify Lydia’s behavior is impractical and is only condoning her rudeness.
You’re also making very stretched inferences about the statement, ““…unlike some people, my parents don’t pay for everything I’ve ever had…” People don’t use tenses like they properly should, and just because it is the past tense, it doesn’t automatically mean Lydia is referring to past generosity and not the current trip. It might mean that, but it might not. It certainly doesn’t decree that because of the OP’s parents’ helping her financially, that she can pay for this trip now. The OP doesn’t even say if her parents ever paid for anything, if not everything, she ever had. That statement comes from Lydia, and only her.
“It was probably was the last in a long-line of other comments she’d tolerated from you about what you have or what you just bought or what you were going to get to do next.”
You assume that the OP hasn’t been humble about her more fortunate circumstances in the past and bragged about this to her friend, but we have no proof of that. You are only going by Lydia’s nasty remark. How would she know that the OP’s parents paid for everything she ever had? The OP would have to have told her, and it’s unusual for someone to go to their friend and tell them every time their parents foot the bill for something.
Instead of telling the OP to examine her own conscience, maybe you should not be so quick to visit your bad experiences on others make assumptions about their treatment of others. It’s time to stop feeling sorry for yourself and hanging this “Woe is me” label on yourself and Lydia.
I have to agree with where Jewel is coming from in their response and only add a bit to it. You have two choices here, one you can distance yourself from someone you described as you best childhood friend or you can privately ask her if something was wrong. I would assume that by that description of your relationship that you are close and wouldn’t want to lose someone that valuable to you over a comment like that. If she is that important to you, patiently and with empathy, as her what is wrong. There was must be something going on with her that warranted that kind of outburst and a good friend would find a private time to ask if she is ok and wants to talk. If its a case that she felt you were putting pressure on her or rubbing it in, then apologise. Or maybe its about her mom or maybe she is having some financial problems, either way be her oldest childhood friend and give her a chance to talk.
Or do what seems to be the norm on this site and drop her as a friend altogether for one relatively minor etiquette flaw to prove you are in fact right and superior to her.
“Or do what seems to be the norm on this site and drop her as a friend altogether for one relatively minor etiquette flaw to prove you are in fact right and superior to her.”
I doubt that anyone on this site had a friend calling them, begging to be friends again, and crying themselves to sleep, and they were all, “nope, I’m dropping you as a friend for that one minor etiquette flaw you have committed the other day, and there’s nothing you can do”. Reality is, people change, grow apart, and develop in different directions. Friendships end. Some just end organically, while for others, it takes a falling-out for two people to realize they’re no longer friends. While I agree that OP should give Lydia another chance and try to smooth things out, there’s still a chance that the friendship has run its course.
I’m pretty sure there’s no defriending etiquette police actively operating on this site.
It seems, though, that a lot of stories end by saying “Needless to say, I never spoke to him/her again.” Sometimes it’s justified, sometimes it’s not. In this story, Lydia was shockingly rude. But it also seems as though OP has known Lydia for a very long time, and this friendship might be worth patching up.
Two friends of mine from high school had a falling-out over one’s casual remark to the other. It wasn’t in public, just over the phone. “H” told “K” that she and her husband were buying a trailer. K congratulated her, but also made a trailer joke. H was so offended that they didn’t speak for several years. But, at the time, H was going through kind of a rough patch. H had graduated near the top of our high school class, and gone to leading universities for highly specialized scientific studies. She married a great guy, but the guy was in the military and that dictated their living arrangements. H was working for minimum wage at a camping goods store. K, meanwhile, had been able to find work in her field, was working towards an advanced degree, and married a guy who had a high-paying job. The thing is, though, K was raised very poor to the point where owning a trailer would have been a dream, and H knew this. It was a graceless remark, but K certainly didn’t mean anything by it.
I don’t know the middle part to this story, but the end of it is that H and K wound up patching things up. H’s husband even wound up stationed near K for a few years and they got to see each other regularly. It’s OP’s call, but I’d encourage OP not to throw away years of shared history over one moment.
We ALL make assumptions and interpretations. I did it and y’all are certainly doing it. None of us knows for sure the entire basis for Lydia’s reaction except Lydia, so everything we’ve collectively posted here is simply conjecture derived from our own life experiences. You are speculating and I am speculating. So, while we’re at it, here’s another supposition from me: I bet the letter writer knows more of the reasoning behind Lydia’s outburst than she’s letting on, but we’ll never know since most people tend not to want to incriminate themselves. In the end, I’m very comfortable with my interpretation as I imagine are all others who post to this thread. Vive la difference!
You offered one assumption and judged the OP to be like that. The rest of us looked at different possibilities. We didn’t make one assumption about the OP and assume her to be bragging. Now you say you didn’t know the entire basis for Lydia’s reaction, but it was not what you said earlier.
If you re-read the posts, most everyone made one (primary) assumption on the basis for Lydia’s behavior. In my first post, I didn’t equivocally state that I KNEW the basis for Lydia’s reaction, it was simply my supposition, hence my use of qualifiers. For that matter, Vrinda, perhaps you ought not be so quick to split hairs or stretch inferences yourself.
In Jewel’s defence, I can see entirely where she’s coming from; I think perhaps the wording could have been clearer, but she wasn’t making assumptions, rather than potential suggestions. Jewel was saying, IF this is the situation, I would look at the issue this way. Offering a different angle, if you will.
I agree with this, because I too have someone I know, a close friend, who often talks of all her overseas travels, when she receives a huge amount of support from her parents (and always has). And like the OP, whilst she may pay for the trips themselves, it is the financial support in other areas of her life that allows this.
I am not saying that this is definitely the case with OP; just that there may be another side to Lydia’s outburst, or Lydia may be somewhat justified. But I don’t know OP or the backstory, so I can’t say. Just offering another potential side to the story.
Lydia owes you an apology
Backstory or not, if there’s an awkward silence, it makes her look bad, not you. It’s not rude to have a brain freeze while there is awkward silence. After a beat or two, you’ll probably have the first people to recover leap in to change the subject.
Enjoy the trip!
I want to offer a different perspective. Lydia’s comment was inexcusable and rude. However, I would not have made the presumption that she could go back to her homeland for Christmas because I do happen to know many immigrants who would dearly love to go back for visits at least annually but cannot afford to or are unable to do so due to circumstances.
By inviting her back in front of her mother you may have driven home the fact that she is not in a position to go and perhaps she very much wants to. It may be a sore spot for her. She may be jealous of the fact that you are given the opportunity to do so and she may not be in a position to for a long time.
Again, none of this excuses her comments. But it is very presumptuous to assume that someone can go on an expensive trip on short notice. It doesn’t matter how much money a person makes or how much one’s parents assist, there are circumstances in life that just don’t allow for it. So I believe you unwillingly triggered an issue with a lot of backstory that you aren’t aware of.
In response to her outburst, I would have only said, “I didn’t mean to offend you” and carried on. She is responsible for her own behavior.
I’ve always found that “I didn’t mean to offend you.” does absolutely nothing for the offended party. It kinda only highlights how oblivious you were to what you were saying to them. I mean, that’s not what it means technically and you certainly wouldn’t mean to imply that, but that kind of outburst isn’t rational and thus their response to “I didn’t mean to offend you” isn’t like to be either. It’s like how saying “calm down” to an angry person usually does the opposite.
In situations like this, I’ve always preferred to attempt to deflect. Or, if you really wanted to wade in, respond with something like, “Well I didn’t want to assume. I thought it was more important to let you know you’d be welcome to join me.”
Besides that, I agree with everything you said.
The “Sorry if you are offended” reply always seemed a bit off-hand to me too. The difference between that and a true apology was demonstrated by one of my high school students.
I had made a comment inclass and he replied in a very sarcastic tone to contradict me. I asked him to see my after class and, when his classmates had left, I told him I was offended by his remark. He said he was sorry that I was offended, but that he didn’t think he had done anything wrong.
Knowing teenagers, I chalked it up to hormones or having a bad day and let it go. He was a nice boy and was not given to that kind of behavior.
When I got to school the next morning, he was sitting by the door of my classroom. He told me he had come in early to apologize for his behavior the previous day. He did not mean to be rude to me and he was very sorry for his reply to me.
Now, that is unusual for a teen. I said, “When I spoke to you yesterday, you didn’t think you had done anything wrong. I accept your apology, but what changed your mind?”
He had been angry, had thought I was picking on him and had asked his two best friends, both of whom were in that class, what they thought. They told him he had been extremely rude and that I had let him off too easily. He should have been sent to detention!
Now, that’s a teenager. If the teacher says you are rude, she’s picking on you. If your friends say you were rude, you go apologize. It’s been a lot of years, but I still recall that conversation.
Lydia could speak up and answer for herself. The OP offered an invite. It is up to Lydia to decline or proceed at that point. Especially if it was just as casual and passing as was described here. I know saying no is hard for a lot of people and being in that situation especially with someone we care about is difficult. Still, let’s not treat Lydia like a victim or child who can’t simply decline an invite. She can’t expect people to read her mind. And if that’s the attitude we’d need to take, then no one could ever be invited to anything.
While I agree that Lydia didn’t need to reply to your comment with such an outburst, I do have a little bit of sympathy for her. My husband and I are not in a position to travel for a host of reasons. When friends and family tell us about their upcoming trips or post vacation pictures on Facebook, even though I know they are not doing it to brag, I do get a little pang of jealousy. Of course, I don’t react to it like Lydia did.
@cattlekid: I can relate wholeheartedly! With a “bonus”… A friend of some decades is also a “pusher”, as in “While your cousin Mark in that European capital on a highly placed US govt. mission, why don’t you visit him and meet some nice people?”
The friend that lives a “cushy” life will NOT hear from me an explanation that, other factors aside, my dollars do not stretch that far. So I tell her that I am really a homebody (true). Also I rave like crazy about her experiences (a good act).
P.S.: the lady is also a recreational shopper, I’m not. Museums are more like it. Any time, any day.
Lydia probably suffers from “it-must-be-nice-ness”. You know – the kind of person who is always envious of other people’s success and is sure that they don’t deserve it. I worked with such a woman – I used to be a secretary for a construction company, even though I had a computer science degree. At the time, jobs in I.T. were hard to come by. I finally landed a job as a computer programmer, and I was thrilled – not only was it the job of my dreams, but it paid much better than my secretarial job. On my last day, one of my co-workers sneered at me and said nastily “Gee, sure must be nice.” Yes, it WAS nice to finally have a job in my chosen field and use the degree I’d worked very hard to get.
What’s that expression – “the harder I work, the luckier I get”?
“I am a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work, the more I have of it.”
It’s commonly attributed to Thomas Jefferson, but I don’t know for sure he said it.
It’s your co-workers mental deficiency that made her or him say the “must be nice” words. That person must have been pretty oblivious to the fact that a specialized degree IS work, not just a stroke of luck. The stroke of luck may have been landing the desired job in probably less than favorable market conditions.
So yes, the only response could be “yes, it IS nice to have my efforts rewarded”. Smiling sweetly, as recommended by EH.
I agree that Lydia was rude and should have not taken a shot a you and/or her mother.
I am going to present a viewpoint that will not be popular, and not knowing the OP & Lydia personally, may not apply to what happened at all. A few years back, my family was really struggling financially. It was a few months after the economy went bad. Because it is not a good idea to discuss money issues, none of our friends (except my very best friend) and very few of our family knew how bad it really was.
We had friends who had inherited money from a long-distance relative of the husband and were not shy about telling everyone how much they had received, showing off all the things they bought and *constantly* flashing hundred dollar bills. It really boiled down to bragging and showing off. Even though I was genuinely happy that my friends had been fortunate, after a few weeks , it got tiring and annoying.
Then the couple wanted the group to go to the mountains for a week. Because of our financial struggles, we could not go. We had declined many times, yet this couple kept bringing it up and pressuring us to commit to going. After a few episodes of this, I think everyone except this couple had figured out we could not afford to go.
I finally called the wife, and vaguely as possible, told her that it wasn’t financially possible for us to go, but thanks for the invite. She immediately said (I will never forget this as long as I live) “I had not realized that you were so poor. We have plenty of money, so we will pay for you to go!”. Needless to say, we are no longer friends with these people and no, we did not go to the mountains with them, because I told the wife that she was a rude and presumptuous bitty and a few other not so nice things. I had reached a breaking point. I said no, and that meant no and time to drop it and pick another subject. They finally moved (after losing most of their “pre-money” friends because of the constant bragging/boasting) for what they termed as “a better class of friends”.
The point of this long story is, you don’t always know what someone’s financial situation is and maybe, just maybe, this was a breaking point for your friend. So, even though you and the mother were not pressuring her to go, she might have just gotten to the point that vacations were just another reminder of what she couldn’t afford and she broke. Again, this was in *no* way your fault or her mother’s, and she was undeniably rude, but people are human and fallible. Sometimes they reach a breaking point and lash out. Although it seems that this was probably more towards the mother than you, you might have gotten caught in the crossfire.
I hope you were able to enjoy your trip!
You’re probably right about the OP inadvertently reaching a breaking point that she didn’t know about. I completely see how a trip around the world can be a touchy subject.
My guess was that Lydia didn’t have enough vacation days at her well-paying job, or had a commitment to work through Christmas season – some places have a vacation freeze around year end, because it’s such a busy time for some businesses.
Your former friend had some nerve to call you poor to your face, given that their wealth all came from a distant relative who just happened to die at a convenient time for them while having a will in their favor. Not a polite thing to say, but I’d like to be a fly on the wall when their “better class of friends” snubs them and shows them the door after their inheritance money runs out! OP’s story triggered a personal memory for me as well. I’m good friends with all my exes, but somehow being on friendly terms doesn’t come easy with the very last one. We were together for two years and were making future plans, before he suddenly broke things off and got together with a mutual friend a few months later. We try to stay in touch, but less so lately, because for some reason our exchanges tend to veer into the PA territory. Anyway this summer, I sent him an update, asked how he was doing and added a few things about myself. Some good some bad. I mentioned that my kids were doing well and that my new bf got along well with my one son still living in the house. I also said that I still had hardly any vacation days at my new job, had just spent all my savings on my son’s college bill, and that my dog (whom this ex used to like a lot) had been diagnosed with a terminal illness, given up to two years to live, and now had to be on $300-400/month of meds and tests.
His reply (never mentioning the dog or any of my other updates): “(gf) and I had a great summer traveling around Europe”.
How did it make me feel? Humiliated. Reminded of my lower place on the socioeconomic ladder compared to him and (gf). Things of that nature. Although I admit, maybe some of the “good-news” portion of my update, like the part about my kids doing exceptionally well, made him feel bad and that was how he retaliated. Did he ever find out about how his comment made me feel? nope. I said I was happy for them, and would love to hear more about their travels someday. (and made a mental note to cut down on personal updates between me and those two.) Lydia should’ve acknowledged that OP meant well, and done the same. Because OP did mean well, and had no idea about Lydia’s situation, whatever it was!
From what I hear of US college bills, it’s entirely possible his and gf’s summer in Europe was far cheaper than even just one year of your son’s college bills. (depending of course: if he spent his summer in Norway, Switzerland and sailing the Mediterranean on a fancy yacht that would be extremely costly, if they spent it backpacking in Eastern Europe and crewing on a Mediterranean yacht he might have had an equally good time but far more cheaply.)
True. But in my particular case, my son gets a merit scholarship and I’m still in over my head trying to pay for what’s left. Then there’s also the fact that, at the time of that exchange, I had three paid vacation days to last me till next summer, and they’d just returned from a three month vacation and were planning the next. (I changed jobs a year prior and had no PTO at all during the first six months, and then spent what little I got after that on college visits & such; and his work offers a ridiculous amount of vacation and leave time.) Background certainly comes into play – it was always a source of arguments throughout our relationship, where he wanted me to travel abroad with him during his breaks, I never had the time or the money, and he’d get upset that I couldn’t go with him.
That said, you’re right, even with the scholarships factored in, one year of my son’s college bills could buy me a nice long European vacation!
“Then the couple wanted the group to go to the mountains for a week. Because of our financial struggles, we could not go. We had declined many times, yet this couple kept bringing it up and pressuring us to commit to going. After a few episodes of this, I think everyone except this couple had figured out we could not afford to go.
I finally called the wife, and vaguely as possible, told her that it wasn’t financially possible for us to go, but thanks for the invite.”
Part of your problem with this couple is different from the issue of bragging about having money. It is the issue of continuing to push people to do something after they have said “no”. I know a couple of people who do this. It is not only rude but disrespectful of you. You really have to be firm with someone like this, and if they won’t stop doing it, then cut back on contact. Once you have said “no” once or twice, they need to let it drop. And frankly, it’s none of their business why you didn’t want to go on the trip.
Your friend was inconsiderate to brag so much about her money in a time of crisis, and rude to not respect your “no” – and exceptionally rude to imply that you and her other old friends were not good enough for her.
On a more general note though, I think the society you live in could benefit from a culture change that would make talking about money – or the lack of it – less shameful (which the quotes “Because it is not a good idea to discuss money issues” and “I finally called the wife, and vaguely as possible, told her that it wasn’t financially possible for us to go” make me believe it is, correct me if I’m wrong). I am myself from a place where people are more relaxed about money, and so I don’t really understand why talking about money issues is not a good idea, or why you couldn’t just have said “sorry, we just cannot afford to go to the mountains this year, with the financial crisis and all”. Sure, you don’t owe her or anyone an explanation as to why you won’t go, but at least that would have shut down the subject a lot quicker. Money is something we all deal with in our lives: we all get it from somewhere, and we all spend it to get the things we want or need, and unless you are so rich that you don’t need to think about money at all, then it will be a part of your life and your life decisions. The not talking about money issues thing – is that to pretend that you are one of those people who don’t need to think about money at all? Is it embarassing to be so average that you have to budget your expenses? (I get that money problems would be embarassing if you make ok money but waste it all on unnecessary things you can’t effort, as that would look like a sign of stupidity, but why is being hit by a global crisis embarassing?) I think if people would worry less about what other people know and think of their money situation, it would take some of the pressure off of them.
While it is true we all obtain and use money, I can see why the particulars are generally considered out-of-bounds for etiquette purposes … among acquaintances and strangers. For me, because our group of friends compares financial notes from time to time, we are all in a better position to make decisions for ourselves. Examples abound – what’s a good price to pay for a house in our area? what experience should we expect when buying? What were your hospital bills like when the baby was born? How much should I realistically set aside for new baby items? How about home repair? What are you paying for health insurance?
Sure you can Google all of that, but you get more meaningful information by having someone close to you be open about their experiences. And because my family DOES NOT discuss money (there is an etiquette rule after all!) I can’t just go to my parents and ask them. Hopefully we are moving to a culture where finances aren’t out-of-bounds among friends and family.
I’ve tried to reply to you twice, not sure what it’s not posting. Basically, discussing money, particularly the lack thereof, seems to make people uncomfortable. We didn’t want our friends & family to feel uncomfortable around us.
We were living within our means, but my husband got laid off for a few months, and we had to spend our savings to cover bills. He’s diabetic and has to have medicine and see a doctor regularly. Combine that with all the other monthly household expenses, and it adds up. We still saw our friends and were happy for their successes, vacations, new cars, etc., we just could not afford to travel or make large, non-essential purchases.
I’m not ashamed of having to struggle, budget or be average. I wasn’t trying to pretend I didn’t need to think about money by not discussing it with my friends; I didn’t want them to feel burdened. Most of our circle knew we were struggling a bit because they knew my husband had been laid off, but we didn’t want that to sour every get-together or be the main topic of discussion.
My reply was to @Inga.
I feel like I can relate a bit, although at least my experience happened in relative privacy. I was about 17/18 at the time, and preparing to go on my first cruise with the rest of my family. When this happened, I was at a church function taking place at my old grade school. There were plenty of people around us, but involved in the conversation was only myself and a girl who had been a good friend of mine for years.
I had been excitedly telling her about what plans we had for the upcoming trip, when she said, “There’s no need to brag about all your good fortune.”
I shut up, and didn’t comment on her rudeness, but inside I was beyond hurt. It’s never my intention to brag, and I always try to back down in a conversation if someone seems to feel uncomfortable or change the subject. I readily acknowledge that I am very fortunate, and that my parents are very generous people who enjoy taking my brother and I on fun trips. I’ve since gone on a second cruise, and we have our third one planned, but I’ll never bring either up to this particular friend, again.
@Kovi, It looks like you still have a lot to experience and to learn about dealing with people. (Not just re proper use of pronouns.) So far you’ve been blessed with a lovely life if a condition “beyond hurt” was caused by a simple rebuff. More likely than not, the road of your life will get much more bumpy. Just the law of averages, dear…
I am very well acquainted with a married couple who, through a combination of very hard work and propitious circumstances found themselves in very “comfortable” financial circumstances.
The family lives in a larger than usual home (not luxe), has more and “nicer” than average cars, can afford more elaborate travel, etc. However, one of the principles that the children have been inculcated with is that they have to avoid even a “whiff of bragging”. I have heard the quiet but stern reminders.
They’ve also gone on culturally enriching cruises to Alaska and the Caribbean (not just the pig-out at sea, but more like “scuba anyone?”), a “Golden Triangle” tour in India, skiing in Utah, the Big Apple experience, etc. However, the kids (the older one is just 17) are just very low key in any and all references to the “goodies” in their life.
And not only with friends that might speak their thoughts. Unfiltered.
@hakayama – I think that you were unnecessarily harsh to @Kovi. I can just imagine my cheeks burning, and my stomach dropping with such a quick, thoughtless and harsh reprimand. Considering she’s still friends with this person, and didn’t create a hoopla about it – I’d say she was quite mature in her reaction. She also learned to not bring things up.
I’m not well off at all and only travel for personal reasons (when I can afford it) to my parents at Christmas, but I’m happy to hear about my friends’ good fortune and relish hearing about the adventures they go on. People should want to share in the happiness rather than silence it.
@BellyJean: The last sentence shows that the “learning” about bringing things up was not quite completely “done” yet. Please read the last sentence of Kovi’s comment.
I re-read it and don’t see anything wrong with it. I wouldn’t probably be beyond hurt, but if a friend had basically told me to shut up when I was talking about cruise #1, I’d get the hint and not tell them about cruises ##2, 3, and so on. Not because I’m immature or whatever, but because cruise talk seems to upset this particular friend, and I want my friends to be happy and content 🙂
Last sentence of Kovi’s comment: “I’ve since gone on a second cruise, and we have our third one planned, but I’ll never bring either up to this particular friend, again.”
Please note: “… I’ll never bring EITHER up to this particular friend, again.”
She didn’t bring anything up again. She learned and is now applying her learning. What else is there to learn? Perhaps you should re-read Kovi’s comment. 🙂
“(Not just re proper use of pronouns.)”
Why was that necessary to bring up?
@Vrinda: The “inspiration”, if you will, came from seeing that the lesson from the friend was not complete. Please do re-read the concluding words. There’s still the compulsion to TELL about the “coming attractions”, probably with the same degree of excitement as described regarding the FIRST cruise. A cruise mentioned as such.
I often act on intuition which, we are told, is nothing more than subconscious processing of data that’s right before us. Read and re-read.
I could have said something about a future possibility of falling into a company of “between you and me” people that will have an “attitude” towards the “between you and I” individuals.
“Soonest ‘bestest'” is a good principle when applied to fixing all kinds of things…
If I can’t share the good things that happen in my life with my good friends, those people aren’t really friends. Yes, it is rude to prattle on and on (to brag), but if you literally cannot mention that you’re going on a trip or a cruise, I think that is a highly problematic aspect of a friendship. People share about what is going on in their lives. Traveling can be a big part of that, and there’s nothing wrong with sharing it.
Wow, this reply to Kovi doesn’t seem unwarranted. The insult concerning her use of pronouns seems particularly harsh considering your own creative sentence structure–including several incomplete sentences. Also, “dear…” is just plain rude and condescending. I think Kovi deserves an apology from someone besides her rude friend. I agree with BillyJean and Goldie that Kovi appears to have learned from the interaction and acted accordingly. And E is correct that we should be able to share our happiness and excitement with our good friends. That’s part of the reason they are good friends. Chartising people replying to your post to “read and re-read” was also rude. Perhaps you should also step back and see that you “still have a lot to experience and to learn about dealing with people.”
Possible back story (which does not in any way excuse the outburst): Lydia is getting pressure from her family, likely her mother, to visit home country. She’s sick of it and she knows that since the casual invitation was issued, it’s all she’s going to hear about until the opportunity passes. I get something similar from family regarding the home state. They think it’s the most awesome place ever. I think it’s okay, but really takes a long time to get to. I’d rather spend the same amount of travel time and money and visit a more exotic locale than visit extended family I’m not exceptionally close to. The pressure makes me dig in my heels and defensive about it.
Yeah, this was my thought as well. Lydia was awful, but I would never put someone on the spot like that.
Wow. Lydia sounds like an ex-friend of mine (there are some people you just have to cut out of your life). Every cool thing that happened to someone else, she had to say something to make them sad.
Someone got engaged, oh, well, marriage is the primary cause of divorce.
Someone graduated from college, too bad there aren’t jobs in that field.
Someone was going on a trip, that place sucks, why would you want to go there… and so on and so forth.
Because of her, I have a rule: If someone is doing something that seems like fun, I show what I call “an acceptable amount of jealousy.” Then I ask all sorts of questions and get them to tell me all about it so I can live vicariously through their experience.
Well, at least she was good for something!
“because of her, I have a rule: If someone is doing something that seems like fun, I show what I call “an acceptable amount of jealousy.” Then I ask all sorts of questions and get them to tell me all about it so I can live vicariously through their experience.”
We do that too! It’s actually kind of humorous when one of our west coast our southern based friends will make a comment about how it’s 80 degrees there. Meanwhile here it’s -7. I’ll just blankly say “I hate you…” and then we are all silent, do a stare down and usually someone can’t help but laugh. We all do it in good humor. Jerk you get to go to the beach on Christmas morning??? Come on that’s not fair! Come freeze with us! You know you want to!
At a recent party I went to, a woman whom I didn’t even know did that. It was such a bizarre experience. I wasn’t even talking to her. I was standing off to the side and quietly talking to my bf, telling him about how my son, who’s a college freshman, was then in the process of changing his major from engineering to a humanity (after a lot of thought, analysis, and coming to me for advice, I must add!) This woman just happened to walk by and overhear me. She turns around and swoops into the conversation with “but do you know there are no jobs in this field?” “What is he going to do after he graduates?” “A friend of a friend of my children’s tutor got the same degree and still cannot find work” – for crying out loud, he’s a freshman and he now plans on going to grad school. He’s got five to six more years to figure out what he’ll do for a living! He doesn’t even have to work in that exact field, as long as he can use his education to do something else that pays, and that he enjoys. I told her Thanks, we’ll figure something out when the time comes, but she kept talking. I kept telling her, Thank you for the info, I will pass it on to him, Thanks!!! hinting that this conversation is over – she kept talking. Finally (thank you, EH, for teaching me the beandip concept) I look her in the eye and go, “How about that freezing rain we had this morning?!” THEN she finally got it. Whew! I’ve gotten a lot of this kind of unsolicited advice from my fellow immigrants from my home country over the course of my life. I think they kind of come from a good place of trying to help me navigate my new life in a new country; but that they forget to take it into account that we’ve all been here 20 years, raised kids here, built our careers here, and can be trusted to have done the research and to know what we’re doing!
Maybe your ex-friend was also trying to be helpful, assuming everyone would make horrible mistakes and fail at life if she didn’t jump in with her advice ASAP? Which again, comes from an assumption that people have not put any thought into their decisions to get married, major in a certain discipline, take a trip to a certain place etc. Since this is of course, not true to a ridiculous degree, your rule applies perfectly – just be happy for people and trust that they’ll do fine!
Lydia’s comment was certainly rude, and she does owe you an apology, but like some PP’s have said, it sounds like there is quite a backstory here. Had the OP rubbed her previous accomplishments or the ability to own certain possessions or have certain experiences that Lydia was not able to take advantage of in her face in the past? Is the jab Lydia made a jab against the OP or against her own mother, who was there?
Of note, in many of these stories, the OP’s say, “and I have distanced myself from this person”, or “I have never spoken to them ever again”, or “I am ending the friendship”, etc. Certainly, some offenses merit the termination of a friendship, and yet, there are times when a conflict is an opportunity to address differences and resolve a conflict in a mature manner through discourse and honesty and goodwill, politely. I realize that there are times and people with whom that’s not possible, but surely, in some of these etiquette blunders, it might be possible to address the perceived insult and use it as a point to develop a more authentic relationship. In this instance, if Lydia is such a cherished long-term friend, would it not be good idea to discuss this situation with her once OP returns from her trip?
DGS, I really like your last paragraph! Excellent point!
Agreed; I actually overlooked that aspect. I think it was a total overreaction and somewhat childish on OP’s part to distance herself from Lydia, and question such a long term friendship.
And I say this, because over-reacting to small slights or perceived insults is something I do myself, a lot, and it is something I am trying to improve on myself.
I used to do the same on the advice of my mother – “Oh your friend was having a bad day and snapped at you? Just write her off and don’t talk to her anymore!” Then I got tired of being lonely (because that routine does ensure you’ll be alone a lot) and I became more forgiving. Then I found that I was getting taken for granted and walked all over. Figuring out how to navigate between the two extremes is still a work in progress for me!
I lost a lot of friends in my divorce, later relationship (where partner put me in a position where I had to ditch my friends so he wouldn’t feel ignored), breakup (where I lost new friends that I’d gained in the relationship)… I have hardly any left. The ones that stayed with me through all that, can probably get away with murder as far as our friendship is concerned. It’d definitely take more than a single insensitive comment for me to “write them off”, after what they’ve done for me in all these past years. But then, of course, none of them has walked all over me, you’re right, that should never be tolerated.
My parents, like your mother, were sometimes too quick in my opinion about ejecting people from their lives and not talking to them anymore. But they always had each other. I’m in a different position.
I lived with my parents for a few years after graduation from college (my B.A. was useless by itself, so I worked a few good-experience-but-low-pay jobs so I could eventually get into grad school). I couldn’t believe how many people thought it was their business what my parents did or didn’t pay for. Someone tried to sit me down and convince me that I needed to move out immediately for no reason other than, “You’re an adult now.” I was working three different jobs, none of which paid well or offered benefits (but looked great on my grad school application). I might have been able to find a slightly-higher paying job, but I would be throwing out all of my career ambitions. My parents and I had set guidelines before I graduated regarding what they would pay for and how I was expected to contribute around the house in return, and it was our business and no one else’s. I did go to graduate school when I was able and now have a full-time career in a different state, so I’m glad I didn’t let nosy people tell me what to do with my life.
Good on you! 🙂
That sounds a bit like my boyfriend. He lived with his parents while looking for work (on an engineering degree, no less!). He finally found something he loves and he’s good at that pays well, but he still lives with his parents because he’s waiting for me to finish school in case I can get a job in the same area he works so we can move in together (we live about three hours apart right now, in neighboring states). So when I talk about visiting him, the topic of his family usually comes up and I find myself having to defend him against assumptions that he’s a deadbeat or freeloader.
There’s a lot of assumptions about people living with their parents – my brother-in-law lives with his mom at 24. He works, he pays for everything himself, and he and his mom treat each other like adults (as opposed to that parent-child dynamic that some parents cling to). He doesn’t want to commit to living anywhere else until he’s ready to settle down with someone and buy a house. He has a HUGE advantage over, say, me at that age because he can benefit from living with his mom, and I’m happy for him!
My older son was going to live with me after college. He was going to pay the rent, help around the house (he is INSANELY good with his hands), help with the dog and so forth. In no way was he planning on being a deadbeat or a freeloader. If everyone in the house is happy with the situation, why not?
I dunno, I think there is a big learning thing from setting up home without your parents. Even if your b-i-l’s mum does have an adult relationship, she’s had a couple of decades more experience, and it’s not his house. He might have a financial advantage, but I think you’ve got a life advantage at this point.
I don’t know…. I would be leery of anyone who had never lived on their own before. They could be a 100% contributing member of the household but there are some things that you just never learn until you are out on your own and have only yourself to lean on. I wouldn’t want that learning curve to be when I moved in with them in a brand new house.
I agree with the administrator, that it is better to drop it than to defend yourself, which would only make everyone, who was already stunned, feel even more awkward.
Your being too stunned to say anything was probably the best way to go. You never know what Lydia’s financial situation is, but whatever baggage she has over it isn’t your fault and she shouldn’t have embarrassed you.
I can’t say whether the OP was bragging or not, but I guess I have gotten to the point where I’m tired of people who are fortunate being made to feel like they should be ashamed of their good fortune. It smacks of class envy and I don’t particularly like that. There’s definitely some backstory and some simmering jealousies or resentments brewing here. Whether it’s aimed at the mother or the OP isn’t clear. But her snotty little outburst was immature.
Um… sorry that you feel tired? Without going into the whole social and financial inequality issue, the way I see it, people who are fortunate are being, not made to feel ashamed, but are instead being gently encouraged to abstain from rubbing their good fortune in the faces of others, who might be less fortunate for reasons that may or may not be beyond their control. It’s just a polite thing to do. Kind of like it has always been bad form to tell people how much you make or how much you have in your bank accounts, or inquire about theirs.
My comment has nothing to do with OP’s story, OP, Lydia, or their parents. I just felt the need to respond to the class envy comment.
Listen, I’m not rich. Far from it. I’m not complaining because I want to be able to brag about all the cool things I have and do. My point was that I think it’s just a little unfair that those that do have things or who have accomplished things have to suppress themselves because all these other people might be upset. I have no problem with people who are richer than me or prettier or luckier or whatever. Their accomplishments and good fortune take nothing easy from me or my life. It’s just the way things are. I like my life and who I am, so listening to someone else tell me about a fabulous vacation or a new car doesn’t make me feel like I am somehow a failure. Good for them. And yes, there is a difference between sharing good news with people you love and rubbing someone’s face in their own lesser fortunes. I agree that going out of your way to make someone feel bad is wrong. But where do we draw the line? At what point do we make the distinction between being justifiably proud and being an obnoxious twit? Sometimes I think that we on the lower end of the scale cling to our righteous indignation toward those who have more so we can feel better about ourselves.
This is more about knowing your audience. If I got a promotion I wouldn’t run out and tell a friend who is struggling to find work. Yes of course people should put their personal issues aside and be happy for me because my good fortune has nothing to do with their ill fortune but it works both ways.
I wouldn’t share a financial windfall with anyone. And if I were going on an expensive trip I would keep details to a minimum depending on who I was talking about. For example, I talk candidly about my travel experiences with a friend who has also traveled. But I don’t look for opportunities to talk about it.
This is more about keeping your business close to yourself. I think people are too eager to share themselves with people. We don’t need an audience for our accomplishments. If I have good fortune I don’t immediately run out to tell every one. Some people will want to hear it (my parents maybe, my inlaws, some people I’m close to) and others just don’t need to know about it because it serves no purpose.
You’re right. I now wonder if I haven’t crossed the line myself recently. My older son, after graduating from college and trying to find a job in our area for two months (unsuccessfully) sent his resume out to the West Coast and ended up finding a phenomenal job in Silicon Valley, that he really enjoys. That was almost a year ago and I am embarrassed to admit I told a lot of people. Mostly though, I told the ones who asked about him. Or sometimes, when I told his story to some of my acquaintances, it was to spread the word that our area isn’t as awesome for college grads as we’d thought, and that our kids might have better luck applying for jobs out of state. (We ourselves had no idea that it would really work – our thinking was, if no one in our city wants him, why would anyone on the West Coast? – and I’m sure a lot of recent college grads think the same way and don’t even bother trying.) So yes, agree with you, I don’t see the point in telling something to people who didn’t ask for the information, and wouldn’t benefit from it. Why would I tell them? They don’t want or need to know.
It’s safe to say that the OP knows the audience in that case. Any decent friend, or even a decent human being, would not pitch a fit of jealousy in a public place over a friend’s exciting and well earned plans.
I don’t think anyone is suggesting running through the street in your pyjamas at 3am in the morning yelling “yay, I’m so lucky!”
But I don’t think that anyone should restrict their lives to merely what they need to do. Yes, you may not *need* an audience for your accomplishments, but it is nice. And it may well alert people to possibilities for their own lives such as Goldie’s story about applying for a job in the West Coat.
Plus I’d much prefer to hear from time to time about a friend’s good news, or bad news, rather than endless discussions of the weather.
I wouldn’t begrudge anyone who has had a wonderful experience the opportunity to discuss it. Like Jewel, I’ve been in the position where someone has said to me “You MUST go to Exotico Locationista! You’d love it!” during a time when I had to ration spaghettis sticks and used to get a kitchen-catcher garbage bag full of donated, stale bagels in order to have anything to eat.
But that wasn’t the other person being inconsiderate at all. The comment wasn’t intended to underscore my poverty, it was a “Put this on your bucket list!” statement. Certainly I couldn’t afford it at the time, but my response was “I’ll have to remember your advice. Maybe one day I will go there. It sounds fabulous!” I would never begrudge anyone their excitement over a new adventure/experience.
IME, when people are TRYING to rub your nose in your mistfortune, the intentions are pretty clear because they want you to know that’s exactly what they are doing.
I guess now that I think of it, the few (very few!) times someone did make me feel bad when they told me about their new fabulous whatever, there was backstory. These people thought they had a bone to pick with me, and knew exactly what they were doing. It’s in the delivery. It’s not what they say, it’s how they say it. I think a big part of it is, when people offer stories of their fabulous cars or trips apropos of nothing, without being asked, without any part of the conversation ever leading up to it, I’d have to wonder if there’s a hidden agenda.
Actually, after pondering on it for a while, I think that adding a message to a story of your awesome accomplishments along the lines of “AND I also worked super hard to get there” does not do any good, either. It kind of implies that the person you’re talking to, who doesn’t have the things you do, didn’t work as hard; so we comes across as judgmental. We don’t even know how hard that person worked and why they can’t afford the things we can. And either way, come on, we all know that everything we’ve accomplished (and I say this as someone who’s accomplished quite a bit myself) is a combination of hard work, genetics, being in the right place at the right time, and knowing the right people. So, I’d say, share when asked, or when you think that what you share will be of interest to the person, but in all cases, tread lightly. It really is a delicate matter.
I agree. It’s gotten to where you almost can’t mention anything good because it’s considered bragging and rubbing it in others faces. Doesn’t matter how hard you worked to get there, you aren’t allowed to talk about the good. You can only sit and listen while others complain about how bad their life is – all too often because of their own actions.
That reminds me of the boyfriend I had (now an ex) who WATCHED ME almost drive myself insane with getting through my last year of college while doing my best to find enough time for my two kids, and then when I began my career and made more than his minimum wage job (he had dropped out of college years prior), he made some snarky comment about how “we don’t ALL have the luxury of a salary job!” Riiiight, because someone just handed it to me out of the blue.
Haha, Tracy, so very true.
I agree with you, Lo and Amy – we should be sincere with ourselves and be able to distinguish genuine bragging from our own inferiority complex – if it’s the latter it is not fair to blame others for having the nerve of telling us from time to time they are doing well.
Do unto others, etc.
I have a friend who I recently had to sit down and tell her to stop being a “Debby Downer”. Every story or conversation ended in her being wishful, jealous, or depressed at her situation. While I don’t mind helping her work through actual problems with solutions; I’m not her one woman cheerleader show. After a few weeks of ‘forcing’ her to flip her script and realize the good in her life, she now shares with me all the positive in her life. And I’ll admit, sometimes I’m jealous. I’d rather be jealous of my friends accomplishments than feeling pity for their negative outlook.
I think I’d raise an eyebrow, pause for a breath then say “ANYWAY, have you heard about…” And move on with a new discussion.
She could just tell Lydia, “What are you talking about? I paid for this trip myself.” She could also add, “Unless you paid for it, you have no business talking.”
It is boring and annoying to prattle on about a subject that is not of interest to other parties. Lydia would not have been thrilled to receive an insincere invite to spend Christmas in her “home” country and OP was insensitive in this regard. However, two wrongs don’t make a right and Lydia should have done what countless others do in this case – groan inwardly and try not to roll the eyes. Both parties were wrong and should just resolve to be more sensitive in the future and not repeat such behaviour. Otherwise, it would be difficult to distinguish between the worse offender in this story.
I always thought up coming plans, and talk of travel (especially if it involves a country the hostess is originally from/has family in) are very polite topics of conversation when dining with both close friends and acquaintances. If I were at dinner with my mother’s friends, I would be delighted to hear about someone having planned trip around the world, though I currently couldn’t afford it. In this story it seemed as though the other parties were interested in hearing about it, except for Lydia. What topics do you think make polite conversation?
I’m not clear on why you think the OP’s invitation was “insincere”. To me, it sounded like someone who truly wanted to spend the holidays with her long-time friend in the friend’s home country. It was a spontaneous and, from my viewpoint, well meant comment – so where is the insincerity?
Someone who truly wanted to spend holidays with her long-time friend in the friend’s home country would have suggested it while still planning her trip, and in a private conversation with said friend. Doing it spontaneously in the middle of telling several people excitedly about your trip that you have already all planned out and are about to leave for – no, this is not a sincere invitation, it is a “would be fun for me to meet you but I don’t particularly care”. It could still have been well meant, of course – by a ditzy person.
Or, it might just not have occurred to the OP that it would be fun for her friend to come with her. Many years ago, I was planning a trip to Great Britain (after receiving some inheritance money) and was going on my own. I was discussing the trip with my mom and she said “I don’t suppose you’d like company?” It truly had never occurred to me that she might want to go – and when I said “YES, I’d love your company!”, I certainly wasn’t being insincere – and I also don’t consider myself “ditzy”. Someone who is planning a major trip around the world has a LOT to think about – and I’m willing to give the OP the benefit of the doubt that it JUST occurred to her that it would be fun to have Lydia meet up with her.
So everyone who plans a trip has to invite their long time friends when they start planning it??
If ones friends have no interest in the lives of their friends, that doesn’t sound like a very good friendship to me. If someone is excited about something, sharing in their excitement is polite. And sharing what is going on to your life and thinking to some degree it’s of interest of others is not rude. If someone was going to a country and knew I had been there, hey that shows this person knows me and thinks of me. My family is foreign and people often tell me when they visit that part of the world. I think it’s a cool thing to discuss.
The key to not being rude in this situation is that there be evidence that others have some interest in the topic, and even then not going on about a singular interest to the point of tedium. There is nothing wrong with briefly bringing up a topic but after the initial mention then it should be dropped if no one else shows much more than a lackluster attention. In this situation, Lydia did not appear to have expressed interest in the topic at all, and there is no evidence that her mother did, either. But OP seems to have talked about the trip at length and even dragged Lydia into the seemingly one-sided conversation. If Lydia was tired of hearing about it she may have lost her cool. Still rude, but why should OP get a pass for boring her friends just because she’s excited about something only she is doing? Friends are people who care not to bore others and who seek, instead, topics of mutual interest.
Lydia was, of course, wrong and owes you an apology. Reads to ME like her mother is always coming up with entirely unrealistic things for Lydia to do, and then nags her about them and is oh so disappointed when Lydia can’t just, oh, I don’t know, quit her job, blow off her creditors, walk out on her lease, drop out of school, dump her husband and kids, and wave her Hermione wand to produce buckets of cash to do whatever her reality-deficient mother thinks she should. She was fed up to the teeth with her mother, and the blast was aimed at her mother — YOU want me to do this so much, YOU pay for it!
Yes, she should have blasted her mother directly and privately, and, yes, she needs to realize her mother is in LaLaLand and just tune her out — much harder than it sounds — and she should apologize to you. But I implore you to exercise some compassion with her. Also, enjoy your travels!
An inverse anecdote…..
I had a full tuition scholarship for college, and my parents were well off. My folks paid for my living expenses, but I still lived as cheaply as possible in terms of dormitory, meal plan, no car, etc. I had a few nice things, such as my own printer, a large dorm fridge, and a microwave. My roommate and I had a very large room, and would often have our neighbors (two other girls) in to hang out, chat, and study. I also gave these girls permission to use my printer, and never requested ink or paper off of them, though they’d occasionally give me a pack of paper to thank me for the convenience and savings(on campus printing was something like 0.15 per page).
One night we’re all studying, we’re hungry, and I offer to order a pizza to share- no need to pay back, its finals for goodness sakes, and its my treat so we don’t have to worry about dishes. While waiting for delivery, one of the neighbor girls said quietly to me “you know, I’ve noticed how nice you are, and how you’re so generous. You’re different. You’re the first person I’ve met at this school who had money and didn’t flaunt it/shove it in someone’s face. Thank you for all your graciousness and kindness. It’s nice to know someone like that.”
Gracious behavior and quietly treating friends without acting like they are a charity case can go a long way. This same girl was ecstatic on my behalf when I found out I was getting a trip to CA to see my nieces during the summer. While she could easily have been jealous of my trip, (she had family there she hadn’t seen in years), she was instead happy that I was excited about seeing the family munchkins.
I have, additionally, had classmates from law school saying “gee, it must be nice not to have student loan debt/have a nice townhouse/have money for nice dinners with your DH.” I’ve never bragged about it, but some have asked outright what my loan repayment rates were (rude), or seen my home/asked what DH and I are doing for such and such date. I deliberately ignore these comments instead of being sent to ehell by reminding them that 1) they chose to do the extra expensive study abroad on the grounds of “what’s $15k more in debt?” and 2) post law school, I’ve been carefully managing a budget and making a small “fun” cash stash so DH and I can have a special time on occasion, rather than say, blowing money on leasing vehicles I can’t afford, season tickets for professional and college sports, or going to bars 4 days out of 6…..all of which have been committed by the “must be nice” crowd. Sometimes, no matter what you do, there’s no pleasing people.
My husband has no idea that I started stashing $20 from each paycheck away. I have a secret spot in the kitchen he never even goes near. I’m doing it so that if we need it it’s there or if we want to do something special with our kiddos we can.
That’s a great idea. I don’t have to be nearly so sneaky – I can hide my secret stash right in plain sight in our joint checking account because my husband never checks any of our finances! 🙂
I wish I didn’t have to be. But he has the tendency to take it with the intention of replacing it then never does. So I simply hide it until it’s needed.
I am so glad I have been squirreling money away now! We ran out of oil in the middle of the night and it’s been -50 here at night. Fuel company can’t get to us for a delivery for about a week. That money is filling our oil tank with off road diesel YAY!
So sorry that happened. It was a bad spot to be in, and you handled it gracefully.
From a close friend, I would ignore a hurtful comment. I would assume that I misinterpreted it. Let it go. You don’t know what her motivation is. Maybe she heard rumors at work that big layoffs are coming and she is seriously worried about having money to make it through Christmas. Maybe she is scared to death of ebola or crime or plane crashes and being pushed to take a trip sent her over the edge.
I would always always assume that a dear friend couldn’t possibly have meant to hurt me as much as it did. If it happens again, then I would think that, yeah, this friend is trying to hurt me, time to back away.
I’m rather surprised that so many posters spent so much time on providing so many explanations for Lydia’s behaviour – none of which the OP asked for, and all of which a few seconds’ thought would have suggested to her. The OP actually asked for ways to respond, not “why on earth did my best friend act like such a vicious cow out of nowhere?” Given she’s chosen how to handle Lydia (who doesn’t seem to have apologised either), she seems to know what’s going on and is hurt by it regardless of the cause.
I agree with Admin. There is no way to respond to something that rude, so you were best to ignore it. Tempting as it is to look her in the eye and say, “Shall we agree to consider that unsaid?”
True. But, like NostalgicGal said below, the answer to how to respond in order to keep the dinner party going is easy – “How about those Buckeyes?”, “Can you believe the snow this morning?” i.e. beandip like there’s no tomorrow. The more difficult question is how to continue being close friends with Lydia after that conversation.
Simple, this was the CLASSIC ‘if you EVER have to beandip-NOW is the time’ situation.
No matter what the backstory.
Hi OP, your friend’s jab was rude. I’ve had people say similar things to me in the past and have opened my mouth to give a witty response, only to close it because, as Admin said, a response just isn’t worth it. You could come up with a billion and one reasons why Lydia would have said those words to you, but despite it all, an apology is what you should expect from her now. I hope that she has had time to reflect on what she said and your reaction and will hopefully contact you once you return from your trip to explain herself. It’s unfortunate that your friendship might end over, what I perceive to be, jealousy.
I don’t think stuff like this just comes out of nowhere.
I also think that when its a situation where the two people in conflict are really close to one another that asking for how to generally handle a comment like that is really going to be helpful.
Typically, if a close friend bristles at something, we might say “What’s up with you? Who spit in your Cheerios?” or something like that. Because you should be close enough to just simply ask.
I think there is a lot of information missing here. And while it could be a PA swipe at the mom, I think its also possible that there this has been building up between the two friends for awhile.
Hope you enjoyed your trip regardless!
Your friend was rude and her behavior especially with other people there was inexcusable. She could have politely agreed and changed the subject or said something along the lines of “I wish I could but its just not good timing” and changed the subject. She then could have spoken to you privately later.
If you still want to keep her as your friend, you might reach out via email and say you were sorry your idea distressed her so much…notice you are not apologizing for anything- just that she was upset. I would say that a friendship as long as yours should not be broken over something like that and can you meet up and talk. Then the ball is in her court.
We have a friend like this. He doesn’t work and hasn’t for a few years. We are the same age (in our 30’s). He has made comments about how “wasteful” my husband and I are with our money. It goes from what we buy for groceries to our electronics. He also knows that we rent from my parents, however our rent is in line with the rest of the area. We aren’t given any kind of break. My husband works a job he dislikes but keeps it because it’s the best paying position here. We went without cable for over a year, use pay as you go cell phones and buy a lot of stuff second hand. Yet the moment we buy something nice this man makes a comment about how he has never been able to afford stuff like that and it seems very wasteful to buy XYZ. I’m sorry, but you dropped out of high school and haven’t had a steady job since you were 20.
We had another friend who is no longer in our lives because of her VERY negative attitude. Whenever my husband and I had any kind of good luck come along when he was unemployed she would react with “must be nice”…as if we didn’t deserve a small windfall. She too was a school drop out and a single mother and didn’t work. She was choosing how her life was going and I finally snapped one day and pointed that out when she was going on and on about how is must be nice to have a car (it was 20 years old and dying). I told her that perhaps if she got some ambition and stopped making excuses she too could have a car, and a life she WANTED. Let’s just say that the friendship is no longer there and I haven’t spoken to her in several years. Best several years ever, no more walking on eggshells.
Some people just can’t see past their own noses though. It’s fine to be envious of someone, it’s actually quite normal. What isn’t fine is to try and ruin their good fortune simply because you covet it. I am genuinely happy for my friends that are going on amazing trips or buying homes and brand new cars. They have worked very hard for them! Some have received help from family but that is none of my business.
I have known people who wanted to comment on how I spend my money. The answer to them is, “When you pay my bills, then you will have the right to complain about how I spend money.”
I’m going to go against an undertow I’m seeing.
If someone who was happy about taking a trip thought it would be great if I could take the trip with them, then they’d be valuing our friendship and the time they spend with me and they would be showing it by saying so.
That was the feeling I picked up from the OP’s post; “It would be awesome if we could be together for the holidays.”
You say that to people whose company you value and enjoy. It’s sad that it is being seen an insult.
With an already fully planned trip and you soon to leave for it, you say that to the people who you think would be fun to run into, but it doesn’t really matter if they won’t be there. If it was people whose company you truly value and enjoy, you would be planning that trip together with them.
I agree with those who say that if OP and Lydia are really close the most appropriate thing would be to ask directly (perhaps not immediately but a tad later): hey, what’s up with you, is something happening? If a friendship is a true one, it should survive a simple question, shouldn’t it? If they do not clarify this issue I am afraid that misunderstandings might heap up to finally put an end to their relationship.
But there is another point I would like to make. Several people mentioned that they feel hurt if their friends talk about things they themselves cannot afford. Of course exaggerated bragging and/or one-upmanship is difficult to tolerate, but on the other hand, are we not being sometimes unnecessarily touchy-feely?
I am a orphan and have been financially supporting myself since it became legally possible. I have finished a degree, made a decent living, have an almost repaid mortgage. I had schoolmates who received cars and/or flats from their parents, were able to dress much better than I, travel to destinations I could not afford. I do not remember feeling any serious envy towards them, and I would never think of snapping at them although it was true that they got paid for much more than me.
Instead, I am and have always been very proud of the fact I have been able to provide for myself on my own, and I must confess that I have often felt a bit “superior” than those who perhaps had more worldly possessions but received most of them from someone else (although I of course know it is not nice and I hope I never let them know).
Wow thank you, this is a thought-provoking comment. Now that I think of it, I am probably now far worse off financially than any of my old friends and ex-friends. We were all comfortably middle-class/upper-middle-class, two-income families living in nice suburbs, taking nice vacations together etc. Then I separated from my husband, paid for the divorce, bought a small older house for myself, kids, and dog (that will be paid off in ten years, if not sooner), provided the lion share of support for the kids (ex did pay child support, not a lot of it and not for a long time, but it helped), put one kid through college, am now putting the next kid through college… little by little I arrived at a place where, *for now*, I can barely keep up with my bills and necessary expenses. In the meantime my old friends still live in nice big houses and go on the same nice vacations. The ones that I’m still in touch with, tell me about their travels and other events they attend that I can’t afford. Either they’re very gracious in the way they tell me those things, or what, I don’t know, but hearing their stories doesn’t make me feel jealous at all. I guess I, too, am proud of the fact that I was able to make it on my own and provide a decent living standard for my kids; and confident that I will one day bounce back and be able to afford all those nice things again. Plus, my friends’ stories about their trips are usually very interesting! Only times I feel uncomfortable is when they sometimes offer me to join them in their activities that I can’t afford, and I have to tell them no, but go out of my way not to tell them the exact reason why – somehow I feel it’s embarrassing.
I think you’re a far bigger person than I am, though, because with my friends and me, I know that we all had the same start in life, same life and career path in this country, etc. Our financial situations were roughly the same. I just chose to use my finances to buy myself freedom from a bad marriage. That was an expensive choice, that I’m happy I was able to afford. I don’t know how I’d feel if I had friends like yours, whose lives were different than mine from the start, and who had their parents buy them things I couldn’t even dream of. Good for you that you feel no envy towards them! I don’t know if I could.
Agree with every word you said, and you sound awesome.
Thank you, Michelle and Goldie!
Actually, those “rich kids” were never my friends, just schoolmates. They were a different “blood group”, but I do not think it was because of the different background, it was just coincidence that there were other people I felt closer to.
Goldie, I admire what you achieved and, actually, I think it cost you much more than it cost me – I was looking only after myself and my financial situation could only improve, you had two kids in tow and voluntarily opted for scaling it down financially to regain an asset which is much more precious than money – your FREEDOM.
I think you can be proud for being able to maintain your kids on the schools of their preference. I am convinced that they appreciate it now and will even more in the future. I cannot help but think of the words of somebody much wiser than me – that you have only what you give. And I like your attitude – the fact I cannot afford it NOW does not mean I will not be able to in the future, and I making plans and looking forward to it is much better than being bitter that I cannot do it right NOW.
And I am really not the big person here – the truly big persons in my life are my Uncle and Aunt who immediately took care of me when my parents died, and have treated me ever since as their own daughter. They were willing to take the risk to take home a complete stranger (my uncle is my father’s cousin and our families were virtually not in contact, so they knew I existed but did not know me personally) , and I can never be grateful enough. I actually consider myself much luckier than those who received houses or car keys, because the gift I received was incomparably more precious – a happy life in a loving environment, instead of an orphanage – and I am well aware of it.
Wow! Thank you for your kind words. This is exactly what I tell people, that I used my income and savings to buy freedom, and I’m glad I could afford it. I admit, I’m sad that I went to a good school and my kids to low-ranking ones. But the kids are happy with their choice of schools, so who am I to judge.
After my beloved grandmother passed on, one of her daughter’s (my dad’s sister) swooped in and took all the good furniture, china etc. for her two daughters, my cousins.
I really didn’t want anything except a beautiful rosary that been blessed by the Pope, and that my grandma used to pray with everyday. My dad made sure my Aunt turned it over to me, saying that was the only remembrance I wanted.
Well….there was/is a fifth cousin who at EVERY get together after grandma’s passing would say something to the other cousins who got all the furniture, usually along the lines of “well! I would have LOVED to host Christmas/Easter this past year…..And I COULD HAVE if I had gotten the good table/dishes/serving trays/silver etc.!!!”
Every damn get together…..it got to be very annoying. Still is.
just4kicks, kudos on your attitude!
Your comment made me think of my grand-uncle, whom I loved dearly and who virtually replaced a Granddad (who died when I was a toddler) for me. He was a great person an we had a lot of fun together.
When he was dying, his daughter (who knew how close we were) called me and asked me for help. I did what I could, visited him, helped feed and bathe him, took him to short walks when he was able to walk, talked to him. His own grandsons almost flatly refused to help their mother at all, and she not only justified them (one of them was doing a recreational sport and she said “oh he cannot come on weekdays because of his work, and on weekends, he has to compete”, while I came on weekdays after work and gladly gave up MY own competitions in my sport without saying a word about that because I felt there was a more important thing to do) but she was downright mean to me when I refused to come on one weekend because of a birthday celebration we planned with our friends for months.
When my grand-uncle died, his daughter organized – and paid for – a post-funeral meeting of the family, which I was very grateful for, as we are a big family and sadly, there are virtually no other occasions to meet than funerals. And that was it – she stopped contacting me, and she never proposed me to pick a single thing as a memory – I would never have wanted anything of value but I would certainly have appreciated a photograph or something along that way.
Still, the most precious thing I have are my memories of the good times spent with my grand-uncle, and I think I received the better part but still find her behaviour very odd, and consider her not contacting me anymore a good riddance.
@AnaLuisa: Thank you. 🙂
I’m so sorry about your Grand Uncle.
You are on the spot with memories will last a lifetime, material goods will break and fade.
My grandmother had many rosaries, and when my dad went to gather some things for my sister and I, he asked specifically which rosary I wanted. I didn’t know then that it had been blessed by the Pope, all I knew about it was it my grandma’s favorite, it the one I saw her praying with every time I went to visit her. It hangs above my bed now, and every time my husband travels for business or my oldest son travels with his baseball team, that rosary is tucked into their suitcase.
I wouldn’t trade it for the world!
This is why I like the idea of setting a will up so that everything I own is auctioned off, and the money is split between my family. If someone wants a special piece to remember me by, they purchase it at the auction. My sister is so sentimental, she doesn’t want to get rid of anything of mine. I collect antique glassware, and have a monumental collection. I’d much rather the glass get sold to others who will enjoy it, and my family get money to buy something they’d enjoy.
My grandparents weren’t well off, but always helped their children whenever they could. My grandmother died first and her funeral was packed with family members coming to see my grandfather. My grandfather lived longer, but by the time he passed away, he had given away most of his possessions. The larger items, like his house and car were sold to pay for the nursing home. Even then, my mother had to mortgage her house to keep him there. When he died, there wasn’t anything to give anyone. And as a result, my mom and her half brother were the only two in their family to attend his funeral. It was a sad testament to what mattered to my extended family. I have a shirt of his I kept. A burnt orange button up shirt with a pocket. Hangs in my closet. It’s too big for me to wear, and has a few stains, but it was something he wore all the time. Always kept tissues in the pocket. It’s worth more to me than any other thing I own.
@Ken: I agree, get it in writing, saves lots of headaches and hurt feelings.
One story that comes to mind, is when my MIL was in her final hours at the hospital, and my husband called his two brothers and one sister to come right away because it’s time to say goodbye.
The two brothers hurried over, but no one heard from their sister and couldn’t find her.
Finally figuring she was probably on one of her many alcoholic/drug benders, stopped trying to contact her and spent their final moments with their Mom.
After she passed, and all the final paperwork had been signed, the family tearfully left to go home and make funeral arrangements.
As we passed by the nurses station, one of the nurses came from behind the desk to express her condolences.
My husband asked this nice nurse to please tell their sister, if/when she showed up there, to tell her to come to MIL’ s house to meet up with the rest of us.
The nurse looked confused and asked if there was more than one sister.
My husband said no, just one, why?!?
The nurse then informed the family that his sister DID show up hours ago…..to ask for all of her mom’s jewelry, wallet and personal effects they took from her when she was admitted.
The nurse gave her everything, and my SIL turned on her heel and LEFT!
I, to this day, have never seen my husband so furious and hurt….And of course she showed up stoned to the funeral and gave a rambling speech until one of the relatives marched up front and dragged her physically back to her seat.
I can’t believe some of the posters here defending Lydia! I don’t care what backstory exists between Lydia and her mother, or even between Lydia and the OP, there was no excuse for Lydia’s actions. The OP had every right to be excited about her trip and there was nothing wrong with her talking about it.
I have been blessed with family that helped me when I needed it; however I have always worked and done what I needed to do to make my own life better. I have never responded rudely to anyone I know enjoying the fruits of their labor. I never respond rudely to people bragging about the things they didn’t earn themselves. It’s none of my business.
I don’t want to defend Lydia, it was definitely uncalled for, as you say, no matter what. And I do think OP had every right to be excited about her coming trip. However, I also do think that it is not wise to put people on a spot by making very expensive invitations when there are other people around. Because as we here know, quite many people are very uncomfortable for saying no (not everybody has the lessons from Ehell to go by), especially when saying no easily gives out some information (such as you cannot afford it) about you.
Of course OP could not know that Lydia’s mother would also join with the “oh you should totes go”, but from her point of view, there was now two people trying to get her doing something that in reality is not possible for most adults with short notice. Either because of money, or family or work duties. And that is why such “invitations to join” can make the inviter look very .. well, snobbish or insensitive.
I also don’t think this is not about enjoying the fruits of ones labor-case, or that Lydia even felt that OP was bragging. As far as we know, Lydia didn’t say anything when the discussion was about OP’s trip and her happiness about that. Se only said anything after they suggested that she should do a trip too. And I do think, it was rather presumptous to make the suggestion, it’s not anymore “I have worked hard and thus I can do this trip and enjoy it”. It’s “I have possibility to do things and now straight out I assume (or give impression that I assume) that everyone else can do these things too without realizing that not everybody has the same possibilities.”
My sympathy for Lydia stops at what she said to the OP’s presumptuous invite though. That excited, in the moment, invitation is no excuse for Lydia’s over the top, rude, loud response. Lydia and OP are close friends, childhood friends in fact! I can completely see making such an invitation to someone I felt close to (and who appears to be in the similar financial circumstances, mentioned no hardships, etc). I agreed before, it was presumptuous, but Lydia’s response? Nope. Wrong.
I’m with MichelleP; everyone can make up all sorts of reasons and assumptions as to why OP was inconsiderate, rude, a braggart, ditzy, etc. But within the context of the story, I see no wrong with OP. I see some pushiness on the mother and nothing but rudeness coming from Lydia.
This wasn’t a serious invitation, the OP describes it as a passing comment, although presumably OP would have been delighted if Lydia had spontaneously said yes. Lydia could have just smiled and let the statement go unanswered.
I think it became serious when Lydia’s mother jumped in and started telling Lydia she should go. So basically looks like it was an argument between Lydia and her mother, however the OP somehow bore the brunt of it. I agree that no matter how Lydia’s mother’s comment made Lydia feel, she shouldn’t have taken it out on the OP.
I was a student nurse not long ago; I was driving a 98 Oldsmobile held together by the bumper stickers, taking cold showers, no cable, no meals out, etc. I worked while going to school full time. I went to school with several ladies, most younger than I, who had no idea what it was to struggle. Their parents or husbands supported them. Did I wish I could afford the things they had? Sure. Did I resent their complaining about not getting a $2000 laptop they wanted and “only” getting the $400 ipad? Sure. Did I snap and have a jealous outburst at them? No!
Do I resent being a struggling single mother after my husband quit paying our bills and took off, not to be heard from again? Sure. Do I envy those who have husbands supporting them and their children? Sure. Do I have jealous outbursts about it? No.
Admin’s advice is spot on. Lydia is the only one looking foolish. If this behavior is consistent, distance yourself, OP. Enjoy your trip!
I find it terribly sad that a person can’t share their excitement about a vacation, a new car, a new house, or a pet pink unicorn for fear that they will be perceived as bragging. I also find the phrase “more fortunate” annoying. I made choices pertaining to education and other factors that put me in a more well-off position than many of my friends. Not because of luck. Some chose to pursue a different path, be it a lesser paying career, a lack of desire to go to college, or the desire to marry and reproduce right out of high school. They made their choice, to attribute my hard work and ambition to luck is insulting. So if I hear “it must be nice” or if someone is offended because I excitedly said I finally found that pink unicorn at the unicorn ranch, than I would not consider that person a friend, but someone who resented my choices or more likely resents the choices made by themselves.
I don’t know your situation, of course, but what I do know is that what I have cannot all be credited to my hard work; and the fact that some of my friends and acquaintances do not have what I do cannot all be credited for their being lazy and having made bad choices in life. Yes I made it through a rough five years of school, worked hard, took care of my professional growth, and was ambitious, and that certainly helped build a good career and have a job that actually allows me to keep up with my, currently insane, expenses. In addition to that, I was also born with a high IQ, had parents who cared about my education, got my education for free in one of the best schools in my home country; had distant relatives that immigrated to America and brought me and my family over; and chose a profession that I enjoy AND that also happens to pay well (something I in no way expected when I first chose that career in high school – it paid peanuts back then!) None of this has anything to do with my hard work or my choices. OTOH, I have a friend who’s every bit as smart, driven and talented as I am, and more. When he was in 12th grade, his father got laid off from a job and couldn’t find another, and my friend ended up joining the Army instead of going to college like he’d wanted to, because there was no way his family could afford for him to go – how is that his fault? Yes, “it must be nice” is rude and uncalled for. But so is “you made your bed, now sleep in it while I enjoy the fruits of my hard work”. For most people, that’s just not true. They worked as hard as anyone else, and it’s patently unfair to them to assume that they didn’t just based on their paycheck and bank account.
*”cannot all be due to their being lazy” sorry, major typo above
I’m confused by the statement “because his family couldn’t afford for him to go”. I don’t plan to pay for my kids college, my parents did not pay for mine (and that included college, medical school and law school). The kid can work prior to college so that they are in a place to obtain scholarships, work through college, and work after college. Nothing stops them form this. The insanity that parents owe their children a college education is ridiculous.
Also, joining the military is another way to pay for college….and can actually lead to a very lucrative career.
Please excuse the number of errors in my submission….I must be tired.
I’ll ask him when I see him why he didn’t work his way through college. My guess is, since they had other kids, they also couldn’t afford for him to keep living in the house; couldn’t afford to keep supporting him. And I think paying college tuition AND his share of family expenses is a bit much to expect of an 18-year-old.
He was in the military for fifteen years, I don’t know why. By the time he came back, he had three kids and couldn’t go to school. Again, don’t know why. This is just one example off the top of my head. I actually know quite a few people my age that graduated HS here and couldn’t afford to go to college.
Also, on the subject of parents paying for the kids’ education, I wouldn’t count on not paying anything for your kids college. The prices go up every year, not just tuition and room&board, but all kinds of extra fees keep coming out of the woodwork. Both of mine went to cheap state schools and got a lot in merit-based scholarships. I picked up the tab for the rest because I don’t want them to 1)get discouraged at the loan debt piling up and drop out; or 2)pick up enough jobs to pay for college and for their expenses, fail classes, lose scholarships, and drop out. I almost failed out of college my second year because I thought I could handle full-time college and a 40hr/week second-shift job on the shop floor. Come to find out, there are only 24 hours in a day. Likewise, I know someone who went to a top-tier school here and worked three jobs to put herself through it – she regrets it, because her grades suffered as a result. I am not saying that the parents should pay more than they can, or pay for everything, but I don’t see how contributing to your kids’ education is ridiculous. At least not any more ridiculous than seeing FB updates from my friends who are in their late forties, saying that they’re over the moon because they finally paid off their student loans from all those years back! and that’s from when tuition rates were a fraction of what they are today. If my son had gotten into the school he wanted (out of state), I told him he’d have to take out loans and that I would help him pay them.
That said, I’m glad that mine was free. Otherwise I would’ve gotten a very different education than the one I have.
And one more thing on the same subject. How much your kids can pay for their education, and consequently how much they can get in subsidized loans (i.e. only 5% or so interest rate that is deferred, vs 8 and more percent interest that starts accumulating the day you take the loan out), will be calculated based on their parents’ income. Based on that, a lot of people I’ve talked to believe that it behooves the parents to help with the expenses. Unless of course, the parents cut the kids off, the kids move out, file for official emancipation, and basically separate themselves from their parents. Few families want to go through that.
I want a pink unicorn!! 🙂 (But, I’ll be tickled pink if you get one, wildkitty!)
This is far offtopic from the sad story of OP and Lydia, but, since the thread evolved into a discussion about whether we should tell our friends about our new shiny whatever the thing is, and in which words… I just thought of one way to deliver this news that always leaves me feeling bad. So I thought I’d share, with a word of caution – don’t share your good news in this way – you might come across all wrong. An old college classmate found me on a social network 20 years later, and we chatted via email for a while. She’d send me long updates on their trips, or their latest visits to trendy shows and restaurants – she’d literally send me itemized lists of the stuff – and she would always close with, “and where have you guys been lately?” “And what have you guys seen lately?” And I had nothing to tell her that would even come even remotely close to her amazing adventures. So eventually, our email conversations fizzed out. I’d advise, then, not to put the other person in a position where they feel backed into a corner; where they feel like they have to offer something to match your financial situation and are unable to do so.
Another thing that same woman did was tell me about the activities they’d do once in a while on the cheap. She’d be sure to point it out that those were the cheap options in between their real vacations, outings, what have you. Also potentially very embarrassing, because what’s cheap for me might not be cheap for you, and out of reach for the next person. I was still married then and we’d just returned from our very first all-inclusive Dominican vacation. It did put a small dent in our budget. This vacation was a big big deal for us at the time. Then I get a message from her, telling me how they would, IN BETWEEN VACATIONS, take a week off and fly to an all-inclusive Mexican or Dominican resort ON THE CHEAP. Again, I didn’t know what to say to that.
And yes, this woman and I do have a backstory. We both met our husbands in college, and the guy who’s now her husband went after me first. I turned him down and soon enough they started going out, and got married shortly afterwards. Ancient history in my opinion, but I guess she probably remembers.
That said, she’s still an old college classmate, and if I see her again, I’d be happy to chat. Now that I’m aware of these little habits of hers, I’ll just ignore them. First time she did that, she caught me off guard, and I admit I was confused and a bit hurt. Now I just think it’s a cute little quirk of hers.
After your trip, talk with her, she may have just been jealous that you were going on a trip which you were able to save for, while she regardless is unable to do so. Ask her why she reacted the way that she did since her accusations are untrue. If she doesn’t provide an explanation and an apology, then ditch her.
It is a bit of a mess because it sounds as if there could be some family drama going on of which you were unaware. I would not have suggested that we be together in the home country for the holidays unless I was inviting Lydia to come as my guest and I would be paying her way.
There is no excuse for making such a rude reply to your suggestion, however. It is very easy to say, “I have plans for the holidays, but it was an nice suggestion” or “Perhaps we could plan something like that for future holidays, but it won’t be possible for this Christmas.”
My husband and I do well for ourselves. We’re not rolling in dough, but we’re comfortable. Some of my friends have had some really bad luck or have made some bad decisions and they’re not. Everything from bouts of unemployment to debilitating health problems to just plain spending more than they’re earning. So sometimes I feel a little guilty saying something about how we’re going to Fantastic Place when that person can’t even afford the most inexpensive of trips. I don’t want to rub it in. But at the same time, I want to share my excitement and experiences with friends.
And not that long ago, we were the ones struggling and some older friends were comforable. I felt a little jealous when they went to Disney World and we went camping, but I was also glad to see them enjoy themselves. But one did love to tell me how much he earned and how much he spends on certain things, and man did that get old.
I think there’s a balance point to be had. Sharing excitement is fine, itemized lists aren’t. A few vacation pictures or relating the Most Amazing Thing Ever is good, a slide show isn’t. A comment about saving up or going off season to save money is fine or how it was totally worth the expense, naming how much you spent total isn’t. (Also not cool, asking how much was spent). You get the idea. Maybe OP went overboard in her excitement and it crossed the line to bragging. Maybe Lydia is feeling jealous and lashed out. I think it’s best to go light on description and see if there are follow-up questions from the friend. That’ll help gauge where that balance point is.
Wow. Lots of interesting conversation here. First, OP, I hope you’re really enjoying your travels! And, of course, your friend was rude. Whether she was intentionally mean and the friendship should be cooled is something to be worked out in the future – you will know best whether, on balance, it’s worth the effort it takes to understand and forgive or to move on. Long-term relationships are usually much more complicated than can be conveyed in a few paragraphs.
I, personally, am thinking hard about the comments about whether and how we share news of our good fortune with our friends when we’re in different income brackets or have had (or have created) different opportunities for ourselves. I suppose I cherish the hope that friends share joy, even if they don’t share circumstances. It seems presumptuous to think “oh, my friend J is poor, and will be jealous if I talk about my fancy new flapdoodle”. Doesn’t that make interesting assumptions about her poverty and about her reaction? There seems to be an unfriendly tone in thinking that someone I regard as a friend would have the ungenerous response of jealousy, rather than happiness. (Of course, knowing one’s friends well means knowing whether J has that kind of response – the J I’m thinking of delights in flapdoodles, and would share my joy.)
Certainly, one should be gracious: there’s a big difference between saying “hey! lookit what *I* have and *you* don’t! har har har, envy me, suckahs!” and saying, “I’m so excited! This thing I’ve been working toward for a long time is finally paying off, and I can’t imagine any way to make it better than to share my happiness with my friends! Please share that joy with me! wheee!” Of course, grace requires balance – if every gathering is about me and my celebrations, that’s no fun – friends find ways to celebrate their communal good fortune (and to support each other, too, when bad fortune strikes).
Two more thoughts: (1) Elf, my favorite and happiest vacations are camping trips. It cracks me up to hear people “sympathize” with me that we can “only” afford to go camping on vacation. (Yeah, there’s an “interesting assumption” moment there.) (2) Am I the only person thinking of other e-Hell submissions, where Posters tell stories of casual conversations where people take them up on off-hand invitations? (“You’d love the lake in July!” turns into unannounced guests joining the family vacation.) When I first read this story, I thought it would take that turn. I suppose either side of the coin has its dents and dings.
@eeek: It’s absolutely wonderful to come across someone for whom camping is a first choice in vacations. The only way I barely might consider going to anything “Disney”* is if I were paid a per-diem equivalent of my pre-retirement salary.
And roller coaster? Only to spare some innocent person’s life. And only if I could have ear plugs, keep my eyes closed and everyone “traveled” on an empty stomach. 😉
* Does not apply to movies, only “parks”.
To your thought (1), camping isn’t even that cheap! Last time I went camping with my group of friends, we had three tents sharing one site and my share of the trip expenses somehow still came up to over $100! (That’s not counting the food and drink each of us brought; and of course, not counting the camping gear, which is also not exactly cheap.) That was four years ago. Year after that, when the usual mass email went out asking who’d go camping that year, I declined saying that I couldn’t make it. But in reality, I just couldn’t drop another hundred on a weekend trip just for myself, to a place barely outside of our metro area.
I can imagine, for a family that goes camping for say a week, at national parks all around the country, the price would be much higher. (But it does sound like an exciting trip!)
Where we camped it was cheap. We really prefer to rough it – so no electrical or water hookups. We already owned all the gear, so that was sunk cost that we didn’t count. And I love camping too, but it was the contrast that struck a jealous note within me. Surpressed, but I still felt it. We camped out not only because we liked it, but because that was LITERALLY the only trip we could afford. Whether we would have preferred to go to Disney, or anywhere else, wasn’t a consideration because the prices were too high. So it wasn’t that camping is just oh so horrible, but that the choice to do any other kind of trip was nonexistant. Just starting out and broke, the only vacations we did for a few years were 1) camping and 2) “staycations” at home, making day trips to some interesting places. Both were great and I enjoyed them and we still do both these days now that we have other options. It was the not having other options that got me.
Well, it is nicer to have the luxury of options, other than having no other options. I know when my camping (with no other options) days began, I’d been away from it long enough that my yearning made it the most desired choice (and I could ignore that I had no others). Now I choose camping over any other options because I really love it. (And my brags have me so proud of our first backpacking trip ever last year – terrifying and joyful, all balled up together. Loved it!)
Yeah, it can still be spendy, depending on how it’s done and how fellow campers divvy up the cost. We don’t “group camp” for that reason. The hubs and I can manage our trips for more than a week in a national forest for less than one plane ticket that might get someone to a coast for a cruise. But we know we’re stodgy old farts, though, who like hanging out together – hiking, playing cribbage, cooking over a fire, reading to each other by firelight.
That said, I do know what it’s like to have family and friends who enjoy – as part of their own gloating travel extravaganzas – telling us how we can’t possibly have lived fulfilling lives unless we visit exotic Gallifrey (in the Springtime, of course). I know how delightful it is to have SIL demand that we pay for Space Camp for the Nephew Who Has Everything (we reneged when he told us he’d rather just hang out for a week with us, w/o mom – though we renamed it, “I Need My Space” camp).
I hate the One-Up game, and hate (more) the fact that sometimes envy creeps in, despite my own wilful “sez you” nature, and I find myself reluctanctly playing the “One-Down” game. But, we all have buttons. We wouldn’t be human if we didn’t. So I try hard to remember what Elinor Roosevelt said: “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” And I remember that I do not consent. Or, I try really hard not to.
I think it was good that the OP didn’t say anything that could have upset or wound this woman up further. Does begger belieft the wya some people behave at times.
At work once a collegaue came in and she was very angry. When I asked her what was wong she shouted “don’t ask!”. I was gobbed smacked as this was very out of character for her that I knew something must have gone wrong. I was stunned at how and what she said but I was more worried about her. Something had gone wrong but the following day she was her nomral self and told me what had happened.