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Expectations Are Premeditated Resentments

My husband and I were comfortable financially. A dear friend hit hard times and we gave her some money. She did not ask but I knew it was needed. She cried and said we were lifesavers.

My husband lost his job a couple of years after that. We used our savings and credit cards up and just got by. My husband finally got a good job but we were deeply in debt and struggled to make our monthly payments.

My friend came into a large sum of money right at that point and they took a big vacation, and bought many luxury items. She knew we were struggling to make ends meet and while she sympathized, she never once offered to do for us what we had done for her.

We took steps to get our debt cleared up and are once again financially stable but I can hardly look at my friend these days. They live only a couple of blocks from us. We used to have coffee together almost every single day and got together a couple of times a month with our husbands for card nights but I have made enough excuses that she has stopped asking. We do still talk on the phone occasionally.

Do I let her know how hurt I am? 0119-15

The timing of this story submission coincides well with my intention to discuss the topic of expectations we all have in regards to our relationships with other people.   I had recently heard or read an interesting phase which I believe sums up the dangers of having expectations that people owe you something.

“Expectations are premeditated resentments.”

My mother used to say that we are not disappointed because we got too little but that we expected too much.   Oh, how true.   Expectations are unspoken contracts  we place on others and when they fail to live up to the demands of this contract, when our expectations are not met, we feel justified in resenting the other person for failing to live up to the expectations placed on them.

So, dear OP, you gave your friend a gift which had unseen and unknown strings attached to it.  Upon handing your friend money, you promptly placed a contract upon her that she was not aware of and when she failed to honor the terms of your expectations, you resented it.  Expectations are premeditated resentments because the bottom line, the harsh reality, is that people can, do and will let you down.   YOu set your friend up for failure because you assumed she would and should reciprocate in the exact same way should you ever have the same need some day.  In essence, you really didn’t give her a gift, you used her as a bank to store money with the expectation that your friend would return it some day when you needed it.   The problem is, she was not aware that your gift came with these expectations and now you resent her for not knowing the terms of your expectation.

You could talk with your friend to express to her how hurt you feel but what you will do is expose the fact that while she never asked for nor expected any money from you, you most certainly did have expectations that you not only deserved part of her good fortune but when she did not deliver what you felt she owed you, you resented her for not reading your mind. You won’t come out smelling of roses, OP.   I suggest changing your perspective and viewing your infusion of cash as a true gift and needed charity at a time when someone was needy and further, divest yourself of the expectation that this friend, or anyone for the matter, owes you money when you might be in similar circumstances.   You will be a happier person with no expectations that people owe you anything other than gratitude for the gifts you give.


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  • Adri January 23, 2015, 2:04 pm

    I agree with Admin but I so understand what the OP is feeling, a had what I though was a great friend, known each other since we were both 11, I stood by her during all her ups and downs (helped plan her wedding going as far as giving her money for the floral arrangements she wanted but couldn’t afford, I recommended her for a position at the company I worked, took her grandma to the doctor when she was unable, etc. etc.) but when my mom died suddenly and I called her crying asking her to come to my home, she told me these exact words ” I can’t because my car is on the shop and you know I don’t do public transportation” so, that was the end of that friendship, or so I thought, years go by, I get married, move to Italy and who comes looking for me on facebook? my “friend” who now wants to visit Italy and would like a tourist guide and a place to stay, I told her that Italy has a lot of nice hotels and she is welcome to them since my home is always open to my friends but sadly I no longer consider her one.

    • Cat January 25, 2015, 11:21 pm

      Or you could have said, “Sorry, I don’t own a hotel and you know I don’t give tours.”

    • Vrinda January 27, 2015, 5:10 pm

      If she doesn’t do public transportation, how is she going to get by in Italy?

  • Elizabeth January 23, 2015, 2:07 pm

    “Do I let her know how hurt I am?”

    Only if you’re going to explain that you helped with strings attached.

    • Kay L January 24, 2015, 1:57 pm

      What strings were attached?

      Why is it some kind of crime to expect that when you are there for a friend that they will be there for you? Ohterwise, you’re not a friend, but a charity or a someone’s counselor.

      If one likse frienships that only go one way, then I suppose this would be one to hold onto.

      At the very least, given how the OP was going through a hard time, the “friend” could have kept to herself how she was spending the spoils of her good fortune.

      “Oh, I’m so sorry that you might lose your house. Let’s talk again when I get back from Cabo in two weeks.”

      • AnaLuisa January 26, 2015, 3:37 am

        I agree that a friend should avoid rubbing it in but I have always considered my financial issues as completely my business, and the same holds for my friends.

        If I am struggling financially, I would NEVER expect my friends to rush to me with offers of money. We have friends who are struggling with finance almost all the time, but on the other hand, they own several (quite old) houses, whose maintenance requires a considerable amount of their time and a good portion of their money. I consider this to be their choice I fully respect but I do not feel any obligation whatsoever to offer them money (and they never ask, as I assume they think the same). I probably would if a hurricane blew off their roof and they needed a quick fix unless their entire house would be ruined, IF I could afford it, and it would be entirely up to me (and hubby) to decide whether this is the case. I do not think they would be entitled to feel any resentment if we are unable to help, or even scrutinize our financial situation and conclude that we had enough money but did not offer, so we do not deserve their friendship anymore.

        In short, I think everyone’s financial issues are entirely their business and if friends help, it is a very pleasant bonus but it cannot be absolutely counted/relied upon, or any resentment felt if they don’t. To reproach friends they didn’t offer me money just by themselves IF I even do not ask them is very unfair, and even if I did ask and they say this was not possible (but showed sympathy and/or willingness to support me in a manner they were able to), I have no reason to be disappointed.

        Friends are not a piggy bank: what I expect is reciprocity in emotional terms (I would definitely not appreciate a friend speaking all the time about herself but not willing to listen to me, and I would not appreciate a friend avoiding me in bad times), but I absolutely do not feel that my lack of planning or my bad management of finance is their issue and that they are obliged to help me bear the consequences.

      • AnaLuisa January 26, 2015, 3:41 am

        “Oh, I’m so sorry that you might lose your house. Let’s talk again when I get back from Cabo in two weeks.”

        I would definitely leave out the Cabo part, but how am I responsible for someone losing their house, and how can he EXPECT me to cancel my plans and give the money to him? If I do, kudos to me, but by no means this should be expected and/or even reproached.

    • Emmy January 25, 2015, 7:09 am

      I agree with Kay L. OP didn’t deliberately give her friend money to make an investment or get something back. She helped her out in a time of need because she felt sympathy and didn’t want to see her friend struggle. It would only be natural to be hurt to see that your friend didn’t care enough to do the same for you after what you did for her in that situation. There are a lot of similar posts about people putting themselves out to help a friend through a difficult time (like the loss of a close family member) only to have the friend blow them off when they are in a similar situation.

      I think admin is way off. Everybody has expectations of relationships. A marriage wouldn’t be a happy one if one person did all the work and neither are friendships.

  • MPW January 23, 2015, 4:59 pm

    So it’s only important to reciprocate small and token gestures – like thank-you cards, RSVP to invitations, and so on? Friendship should be more than just lip-service. People should be aware of another’s circumstances and reciprocate when and how they can. I make a much better living than my closest friends and I not expect them to spend the same money after I have taken them out to dinner, however, I appreciate an invitation for lunch and if they pay for my $10 burger and fries, it’s a great gesture for me.
    Even in relationships, I had a disparity in income between myself and the women I have dated. It wasn’t merely the issue of me spending more money on them – spending, say, $500 on a gift of jewelry at Christmas was not too much for me to spend, but it wasn’t just throwing money into an envelope. There was a long process of studying her tastes and ensuring that what I got was something she really wanted and would enjoy. What is expected is not the same money, but the same level of consideration. It is the thought that counts, and this is the situation here.

  • Syn January 23, 2015, 8:57 pm

    I’d talk to the friend and try to be as open as possible. Say you know she doesn’t owe you anything and that you realise this is an uncomfortable dynamic, but that it’s been bothering you since… And ask her if it never occurred to her to help you, or if there was another reason for it.

    • Syn January 24, 2015, 12:48 pm

      I wanna add – I think how the OP brought her situation up matters a lot. If she never brought it up that things are hard, I can see why her friend may have thought offering money would be crass. But the way things work in my friend circles, if someone talks about being tight on money, we offer to help anway. “If you need money, you can always ask me.” It’s better than sayin “I could lend you x amount if you need it.” But if OP was open about struggling and her friend just kinda of ignored it and never offered to help, regardless of OP’s previous help, I feel like she’s a questionable friend. I don’t value friendship through money, but through willingness to offer help. I’ve never taken more than a casual “can you lend me a bit for X” loans from friends (and the way we do it, we don’t pay back, we just buy them something the next time we’re somewhere together or grocery shopping, so we never keep track on exact amounts), but I’ve appreciated the offer to lend larger sums more than the potential money itself. The fact OP’s friend never even offered to me smells like she thought “not my problem”.

  • Ellex January 23, 2015, 11:48 pm

    Thanks to some health issues in my 20s I basically fell off the face of the earth for seven years. I lost many good friends that I had made. I’ve spent the last few years trying to rebuild those bridges. It’s hard and I recognize that I will never be as close to most of them as I was before. This is one of the big regrets in my life.

    And OP, you are willing to let a good friendship, a lasting one to die over this? Scratch that, you’re willing to slowly kill it over this? Don’t do that. Let go of the expectation. Embrace the friendship she is extending. Maybe it will never pay off monetarily, but friendships aren’t investment vehicles. You showed your support and affection monetarily, your friend may do so in other ways. Look for those ways and learn to value them.

  • AnaLuisa January 24, 2015, 9:58 am

    I think this gift did not have strings attached to it – I`d rather call them pieces of solid steel rope.

    Perhaps there is a question to ask – what importance do you give money in your scale of values?

    I have always been taught – by my nearest and dearest and by life itself – that money is just a MEANS to get things of real value, that not everything you can buy with money has that value, and there are many things of value no money can buy you. Although I have friends for 20 or more years and we spent a lot of time and did a lot of things together, I have only a vague idea how they are doing financially, and we virtually never discuss money – there are so many much more interesting things we can talk about! If they bought some “luxury items”, I would probably not even notice, let alone hold a grudge against them because I was in need and they did not share.

    I have always been reluctant to borrow money from /be given money by anyone, I suppose for the very reason described here – I was afraid it would tie my hands more than I would be willing to accept – I am not an ungrateful person, sometimes have problems to say NO, and owing someone a big favour would mean for me that I would be obliged to repay it irrespective of whether it would be convenient for me at the moment. It feels much better to give because in that way I feel more entitled to do what Cheapie said – to decide whether/to what extent I am able to provide help, and no one can have hurt feelings because I didn`t.

    I think that OP`s attitude is a bit passive-aggressive. First, she did not ASK her friend to lend her money, can she really reasonably expect that the friend will read her mind and know exactly that it`s precisely money OP needs? (Whenever I needed -and greatly appreciated – something from my friends, it was never money but rather practical deeds – when my husband had serious health issues when our first baby was only three months old, I did not need money – I was able to maintain our family for six months until he recovered – but I was extremely grateful that a dear friend of ours took me to the hospital – my hands were trembling so that I was unable to drive) – and was pushing the pram with our baby outside the hospital so that I could visit my hubby in the ICU. I am still moved when I think about it – it was exactly what I needed in that moment.

    A year earlier, this friend`s workshop was affected with flood, and he needed physical help to clean his tools and the entire building. I was into my first trimester of pregnancy, and was afraid to go help him in person for fear that all the dirt and germs would endanger my baby. So I decided to give him the money I earned during the days I would otherwise have helped him, as he needed some things to be replaced. But I by no means think that money was more valuable then physical help – on the contrary, it was much easier for me to give him money than to shovel dirt.

    If any of my good friends and/or family members was in need, I am not really sure whether I’d be able to guess exactly what they needed, and then give it to them. If so, good for me/them, but if not, I would expect him/her to tell me what they need, and then I would do my best to help; however, I would want to reserve the right to decide what amount of help/money/whatever I am really able to provide. I do not like the idea of somebody sulking because I did not read their mind properly and/or my help was not exactly what they wanted (because I could not afford it time- or finance-wise).

  • ketchup January 24, 2015, 10:06 am

    I had a ‘friend’. She was very good at taking. She liked me very much when I was there for her and when I was cheerful. Then it happened. I hit a rough spot. I needed her. She wasn’t there. So I made it permanent, and she hasn’t been in my life for years now. I feel a lot happier for it, and healthier too.

    Sometimes, friendship just doesn’t work out. There has to be balance in these things, not a fair balance per se, but something you can accept, and can live with. Friendship for the sake of friendship isn’t much of a friendship.

    • AnaLuisa January 24, 2015, 12:25 pm

      “Friendship for the sake of friendship isn’t much of a friendship.”

      I – partially – disagree, Ketchup.

      I do not think that friendship is mainly about giving and getting help – after all, are we not able to manage our lives without needing others to help us most of the time?

      I have hit several hard spots in my life, and my friends’ help was much appreciated but by no means required and/or taken for granted,” or else you are no more my friend”.

      I would not feel well in a friendship if I did not have the right to say NO for fear that my friend will get rid of me. And, honestly, I do not think a substantial part of any friendship should be spent to help each other out of trouble. Seriously, how many situations are there in our lives in which we are really in a desperate need of help, and there is no one but a particular friend who can help us?

      I very much understand the need of balance in a friendship – but, unless there is a dire need, I would not want a friend who needs help all the time.

      Selfish? Perhaps, and I admit that I am selfish and I am not ashamed of it. There are cases where I would go to great lengths to help – an old friend of ours, who was single and had no relatives, had health and financial problems – it only appeared later that she had cancer, whereof she, sadly, died three years later – and we took her home, cared for her for more than a year, took her to hospital, fed her cats, and never wanted (or received) a penny from her (not that she would not want to, but only after she died, we found how much she was struggling financially, and was deep in debt, and both her and us preferred not to mention that issue), and I am glad we did that because this was one of the situations of real need I mentioned before, we were the only ones who could do it, and perhaps it made the end of her life a little bit sunnier.

      But I had another friend, who used me several years as a “shoulder to weep on”, without something beyond normal course of life happening to her. She would probably have helped me if I needed to, but I got so sick from the constant whining and complaining, that I stopped to contact her. I do not want to spend my life listening to negative comments, or helping someone who does not really need it.

      • ketchup January 27, 2015, 3:09 am

        I think you misunderstood. A balance you can live with. If you have a friend that feels good for you, awesome. But to have a friend just to have a friend… I don’t think that works. There’s no shame in accepting that things don’t work out. It happens. As it did with your overly needy friend.

        And besides, helping someone can be something you do for yourself if you feel it’s something you need to do. Helping others cab make us feel better.

    • Toni LaClair January 24, 2015, 5:41 pm

      This happened to me several times. I was there for them, helped them in any way I could. When I needed them during difficult times…suddenly they were too busy.

  • AnaLuisa January 24, 2015, 10:07 am

    Just to add – if it is not literally a life-saving thing, I would NEVER expect that any of my friendswould share his/her money with me. It is primarily us who is responsible for our situation, and if things go rough, then tough luck, we would either reduce our spending to the very minimum, or, if it is really bad, borrow the smallest amount of money needed to survive, and pay it back as soon as it possible.

    I do not feel entitled to be given money by our friends, and this is for very selfish reasons – if I accepted a gift like OP’s friend, it could put me in a position just like her – an ungrateful person who did not comply with her obligation, and perhaps deserves to be de-friended, without even knowing the proper reason.

    And I would definitely not want that.

  • Fiammetta January 24, 2015, 6:11 pm

    I think that this is not so much about the money, so much as reciprocity. I had a great many friends who relied on me emotionally, and I didn’t care about answering their calls in the middle of the night and doing everything I could to help them out consistently. I thought, hey, if I ever need their help, they’ll be there for me too. And then I did, and they weren’t. I think that, in part, friendship is based on an understanding that you have each others’ backs, even if that is something that doesn’t need to be enacted upon, it is an underlying trust, that when broken, is very difficult to mend. I think probably OP would have been happy with emotional support, the realisation of how quickly you can lose everything and be all on your own, no matter how much you give to others when you were ok, is scary. Reciprocity is important, any relationship should be one between equals, one of trust. OP knows what to expect of this friend now, probably the most important thing now is finding people who she knows she can depend on. When she feels like she has a support network behind her of people she can trust, what the friend did will sting much less, and it will be easier to create a new relationship with them on new terms, if that is what she wants.

  • Angel January 25, 2015, 9:43 pm

    While I completely get that the OP is hurt, lots of friendships are uneven, or one-sided. This is just one of those types of friendships. The OP needs to manage her expectations, not just of this friend but of friendship in general. Friendships are not always going to be reciprocal and you can’t always rely on a friend to do for you exactly what you are willing to do for them. I think it kind of stinks that the OP has withdrawn from this particular friendship–for a fairly trivial reason IMO. Friend didn’t ask you to help her out financially–you did this because you wanted to. And now you are mad because she didn’t offer to do the same thing for you? To me that doesn’t really make a whole lot of sense. If she is your friend, she’s your friend, there shouldn’t be conditions on friendship. If she has acted like a jerk to you or is deliberately excluding you for no reason, that’s one thing. But because she doesn’t meet your expectations of friendship, you want to cut her loose? Maybe it’s better that you two aren’t friends anymore.

  • BagLady January 26, 2015, 8:14 pm

    I think Admin is making some unfair assumptions about the OP’s motives for helping her friend.

    The help was not given with the expectation that friend would do the same for OP, because she had *no way of knowing* that (a) she would fall on hard times herself, or (b) friend would come into a windfall. I don’t think OP is hurt because “she owes me,” but because helping her friend financially was a gesture of caring, and when her friend didn’t do the same when the situations were reversed, she’s interpreting it as “friend doesn’t care.”

    It could be that the friend’s windfall came with its own strings attached. Perhaps it came from someone who insisted she and her husband take that trip and buy those treats they had to put off when they hit hard times. Or a gazillion other scenarios that have nothing to do with whether friend *wanted* to help OP.

    If you subscribe to the theory of love languages, gifts — whether money, goods or even greeting cards — are a veritable Tower of Babel. OP helped her friend financially out of love and was hurt when she didn’t get the same “love” when she needed it, when there could have been many reasons for that (see previous paragraph) unrelated to her friend’s love for her.

  • ketchup January 27, 2015, 3:19 am

    When one of our friends was broke, we didn’t give him money, but instead invited him to come eat with us as often as we could.
    Later, he and another friend helped us when we were broke. They wanted to go out with us to dinner and the cinema, so they paid for us. We would have been okay without their help though. Now one of them is going through a difficult time and we try to help emotionally.

  • Missy J January 27, 2015, 5:27 pm

    Keeping score causes misery. If you do something to help someone and not expect a reward out of it, you’ll reap great feelings. You can never go wrong helping people out (within reason).

  • livvy17 January 28, 2015, 12:14 pm

    I agree with the Admin’s thought that expectations can lead to disappointment, but I disagree that we shouldn’t HAVE expectations.

    To me, most gifts do carry with them obligations for reciprocation – thanks, certainly, and at least some vague expectation that I might give something back in the future, especially for large gifts, and or situational gifts, such as the one the OP describes. There’s an implied “I know you’d do it for me.” Otherwise, if the friend felt vague obligation was too much pressure, they should have refused the gift, or attempted to repay it in the interceding years.

    Gifts carry no financial or legal burdens, but someone I love and respect would feel an burden to their honor. If I find, when the time comes, that they don’t feel the urge to act honorably, I don’t find it unreasonable to be disappointed in them to the degree that it might ruin the friendship, the same way I would likely be disappointed if I discovered a friend was a fraudster or a wife beater. I EXPECT them to be good people, and am ok with dropping people who are not.

    Gifts without any expectation whatsoever are CHARITABLE – and I wouldn’t accept charity from friends.

  • livvy17 January 28, 2015, 12:17 pm

    One addition to the above, I would likely explain my disappointment though – I think it’s sort of cruel to drop a long-standing, close friendship without at least explaining why I’m hurt/disappointed. (And I suppose giving someone an opportunity to explain to me if I’m misguided.)

  • Enna January 29, 2015, 12:14 pm

    Maybe she couldn’t actually afford to give you finacial support OP? I can understand why you are hurt. Maybe just don’t offer her money again if the tables are turned. One time a few months ago a firend said she’d pay me back taxi fare but the money didn’t apparer. I’m not going to fall out with her but I’m not going to be taken for a mug. I suggested my christmas present to her children would be a trip to the cinema and reminded her later on please could she give me the money. That never appared. So in the end I just said buy some toys with that money for the children.

    It wasn’t a large amount but it made a point. If she deceides to the pocket the money she will only let her children go without. But next time I will insist she pays for the taxi or she can get one by herself. If she brings up the cinema I will point out I said she could use the money she owed me to get her children something. On certain days they do deals at the cinema so the money I gave would easily cover the tickets. Not the end of the world.

  • Lyn January 29, 2015, 3:46 pm

    I absolutely agree with Kay L. This is not a case of “expectation”. This is a case of a friend helping another friend when she needed it, and feeling very hurt that that same friend was not aware enough or didn’t care enough to help her when she needed it. I absolutely understand the hurt feelings OP has.

  • shannon April 1, 2016, 2:16 pm

    People need to agree on what a relationship is. If the OP was generous when her friend was in travail, and her friend did not reciprocate with some kind of support, be it emotional, financial or anything else, but instead rubbed her good fortune in the OP’s nose, then her friend is what one used to call a “fair weather friend”. Fine. But once one reveals they are a fair weather friend, the person in OP’s position has the choice to make – is the friend worth it, or not? OP decided not. Another person might decide yes, for fun, but never again for real support from them, and continue a facile friendship, very different from the original close one. Both friends have choices. Both friends also will suffer the repercussions of the choice of the other. Saying that one must not put “expectations” on relationships is kind of like saying all relationships should be based on unconditional love, meaning no matter what the other person does or does not do, you will love them. Bad behavior, selfishness, greed, taking but not giving. It is like blame the victim. OP has a right to decide what she will or will not accept in a friend. And probably learned how to assess new and better friends based on the standards of how OP generously behaves, not on the selfish standards of the ex-friend.

    Sometimes the unimaginable happens. Two friends have a dispute, then they come back and claim their own assholeness, and everything is fine forever, but the deal is this. Once you have been an asshole once, and owned it, you had your shot. Last word. Those who give excessively tend to attract those who take excessively – but that makes the first one kind and the second one a jerk, so stop blaming the victim.