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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I agree with Admin. Though you were kind at the time, and it sounds like you gave it freely and the friend accepted it with sincere gratitude… expecting her to reciprocate and being hurt when she didn’t, isn’t her fault. You OP need to let it go. And move on.
That’s a very sticky situation, OP.
I’m sorry for your troubles, we went through that a few years ago, my husband lost his job due to downsizing, and had a rough time finding new employment. We, too, are finally back on our feet.
Best of luck to you!
I admit that I would be very upset if we gave a friend money in times of trouble who did not reciprocate when the tables are turned. In my opinion, it would be hard not to.
Maybe that makes me an awful person, but I would feel the same as you.
Unfortunately, as Admin pointed out, there isn’t much you can do, or say, that wouldn’t make the situation any better.
You say you’ve “cooled off” your friendship, and it doesn’t appear that your friend has noticed.
I hope things continue to get better for you, and look upon your helping someone in need as change for the “good karma bank”. 🙂
I agree with everything you said.
I don’t know if you say this in USA, but here in the UK we have an expression – fair weather friends. The friends who are only there in the sunny times and disappear when it starts to rain.
If this was me, I would also struggle not to feel resentment at this friend.
But I don’t know if I’d call her a fair weather friend solely for lack of monetary support. If she gave emotional support, if she has done other things, maybe I’d see that as her rainy day support.
I might also look at myself. I hate to admit when I need help, and as a result, people don’t always realise I need it. If OP didn’t feel she could tell her friend how badly she needed money, maybe her friend never realised. If none of those things were true, then maybe the OP’s cooling off the friendship is a good thing.
No, the OP has no right to expect anything from the friend. Wrong to expect. Wrong to assume that the friend understood how bad it was/that offers of help would be welcome.
However, if someone had helped me the way the OP helped her friend, then they needed help I could give but I ignored it…shame on me. Shame on me for not even asking if I could help after what she’d done for me. If I were the friend, I *would* think I owed the OP. Because I would, quite frankly. And I would be working to show my appreciation, if not through money, so that whether I offered money or not, that friend would know I would never forget how she helped, and that I cared.
@B: I agree with your comments completely.
When my husband lost his job, my folks (who are comfortable, but by no means wealthy) helped us quite a bit, especially with very expensive oil to heat our home.
We have tried on many occasions to pay them back as much as we can, but they always say no.
I feel guilty owning them money, but I can’t force them to take it.
I think the fact you try shows you appreciate it. One day, you may be able to repay them in a different currency.
One of my mother’s friends helped her financially when we were about to go under and she had nowhere else to turn.
Forty years on, she has never forgotten. Sadly his wife is now terminally ill, and my mother is doing everything she can to help care for her. As she says, “after what they did for me, this is the very least I can do for them.” She is right.
She is paying them back B. Better than in a monetary way. That’s just beautiful.
@B: The “currency” does not seem to matter. What is truly important is the HELPFUL response. Helpful in a tangible way, not just words mumbled in an appropriately sorrowful tone…
Congratulations on being raised by a truly good person.
I agree with @B as well. No, OP’s friend does not “owe” OP anything. Considering OP helped a friend when the friend was in need, it seems that friend would want to reciprocate when OP found herself in a similar situation. To me, that is the type of thing true friends do.
I would be hurt as well, OP, but at this point, there is not much you can do unless you are willing to discuss it with this friend.
@just4kicks: possibly DH might know where his parents do their banking. I’m pretty sure that cash can be readily deposited in anyone’s account, especially if you know more than just their names.
@hakayama: ah, yes….Well my folks are quite the sneaky (and wonderful) type who when I’ve snuck cash into my dad’s wallet or left it folded somewhere for them to stumble across, go shopping for our kids. Their 50th anniversary is coming up next month and they are going to see a Neil Diamond concert. We plan on prepaying a nice (nonrefundable!) hotel suite which happens to be right next door to the concert. My dad has MS, and this way, if the weather is bad, all they have to do is pop upstairs after the concert!
I agree with your comment 100%. This is called the empathy and support of friendship. I don’t think it would be considered reading someone’s mind to know that “turnaround is fair play”. It doesn’t take a mind reader to know that when someone loses a good job, that things change. Her friend was surely not in the dark about that. While I understand Admin’s point of view (as I said I agree with your comment, B, 100%), some things aren’t about contracts — perceived or not– they are about friends supporting one another. That being said, OP can feel good about knowing that when someone needed them, they stepped up. That kind of character is worth far more than money (even though there are times in our lives when money is sorely needed). I had a situation in my life where the debt was much more clear cut, but had to face that someone wasn’t prepared to honour our friendship in the way that I had. It took me a while to come to terms with it… the feeling of anger, hurt, betrayal. All I was left with was the realization that I was the kind of person who didn’t look away when someone was desperate… but unfortunately, they didn’t have that kind of character in return. That realization had to be enough, and oddly, it is.
I am also in agreement. A number of years ago, I gave a friend who had separated from her husband a place to live for several months, rent free. A short while after she reconciled with him, I asked her if she could do me a favour and come in and feed our cats while my husband and I were on vacation for a week. She said no, with no explanation. She was perfectly within her rights to say no, absolutely, but it is a little disheartening to realize just how selfish someone you love can be. We are still friends, but with the proviso that I know I can’t rely on her in a time of need.
I agree with you. When the person you helped is unwilling to help you in return, you feel you were used rather than befriended.
My husband (before he lost his job a few years ago) had a friend who used to say to him all the time, “hey…if you ever need money, just ASK me….I’m not married, have no kids etc.”, in response to good natured comments from my husband about the kids need this, the dishwasher is on the fritz today etc., in casual conversation.
Come to where he was down sized and no one was beating on our door to hire a man in his mid fifties, and my husband swallowed his pride one day and asked this friend to meet him for a beer.
During the conversation, my husband explained that he had two really good job prospects in the works, and would it possible to borrow some money from him, paid back with interest by a certain date? This friend pretty much laughed in my husband’s face and said “what the hell do you think I am? First national bank?” So much for ask me anytime. And, no, this man did NOT owe us ANYTHING, not a dime, but my husband was embarrassed and humiliated beyond belief and felt awful for weeks.
He recently ran into him, and this guy said “Hey! How’s the family and the new job?!? …..don’t forget…with the holidays coming up let me know if you need anything!”
Ummm….what?!? My husband said thanks for the offer, we are good.
Gawd, what a jerk. I’ve had to ask for a loan from a friend once, and it was soooooo humiliating. To respond like that in the first place is bad enough, but he’s got a lot of nerve acting like Mr. Generous before and after the fact. My sympathies to your DH.
Some people like making such generous offers, without actually doing the work of following through.
I knew a couple like that. When I was dealing with the aftermath of my mom’s death, they kept telling me they would take me out to dinner to give me a break. They told me that each time we met in church or at a social occasion, but never followed up (or did anything whatsoever), so I can only conclude that they wanted the brownie points of making the offer. Maybe it made them feel good to think of themselves as helpful.
Rattus, it’s a longshot, but could it be that this friend’s husband is allergic to cats and didn’t want to risk her getting cat hair on her clothes, which he might come in contact with?
Then the answer is “I’m sorry, I am so allergic to cats that if I did that, I would get very sick. I will pick up your mail for you though and keep an eye out on the place for you.
I think the issue here was the “no explanation.”
Because a friend would feel free to explain and a friend would understand.
I was talking about the friend’s husband, not she. The friend lived with Rattus before going back to her husband, so if she was allergic to cats, Rattus would know and not ask her to take care of them. The friend should have offered to do other things like take in the mail, keep an eye on the place, etc.
@Julia Houston: thank you for the nice comment, and to all who did as well.
My husband is 100% stubborn Irishman, and I know how hard it was for him to “tuck his tail between his legs” and admit and then ask for help. He never would have done so just to anyone. But, as mentioned, this guy is a millionaire (many times over) and always made comments like to my husband, and even to my son once. My son had a part time job and was out with his dad shopping for new catchers gear for the upcoming season. We paid for half and he saved to pay the other half. They ran into this guy who said “Hey…your dad is making you half? Why don’t I pay your share, and you take that money and buy your girlfriend a nice gift! Girls like that! Brownie points!” My son and hubby laughed and politely declined. Why, when we truly needed help, he acted so awfully we will never know.
And for the record, this man could be a gazillionaire and doesn’t OWE us squat, we know that.
But all the offers in the past lead my husband to believe he would loan us the money…..if we ever truly needed it.
Nope. I was actually friends with the husband first (I had been his room mate twice before I got married, and he had spent a fair bit of time at our house) and he isn’t allergic.
I agree too. I had a friend who lived several blocks away, and we hung out quite frequently. I did her several favours (for instance, she had wrecked her car and wanted me to drive her down to where she needed to retrieve it, far away and last minute, kind of inconvenient but I did it because that is what friends do). So I’d done a few things like this for her, and then I asked her if she’d mind popping by a couple of times while I was away for just a weekend, to feed my cat, and she hemmed and hawed and when she called back she said some version of “I’m afraid that won’t be possible.” No explanation. I know we say on this site all the time that people should not JADE when saying no, but I’m afraid it just came across as “I don’t feel like it, it’ll be too much trouble” when I had gone to plenty of trouble for her.
Then she got into a relationship, and completely dropped out of the picture. I tried to call her several times, and she either didn’t return calls or if I got her, she’d say “Can I call you back in 10 minutes?” and then never did. I gave up trying after that.
Then she broke up with her boyfriend and became excessively needy, wanting to call me all the time to unload about her grief, wanting to do everything with me. I accommodated her at first but eventually it just became too much and I just stopped being available till we lost touch. There needs to be some reciprocity in friendships.
@Rebecca: I am so sorry about your disappointment. Not loss, because you’ve never “had” a friend in that neighbor. Looks like you’ve come across the quite numerous “romance beats friendship” specimen.
Too bad that you truly WASTED even a short “after the breakup time” on her. I don’t think that sort of behavior needs to be tolerated even from a sister. After all, so many sibling relationship become/remain in the “arms’ length” category.
P.S.: In your case, I’m sure it was not just about reciprocity. It’s the vanishing act that would leave me quite chilled.
@Rebecca: I had what I thought was a wonderful girlfriend who pulled the same crap with me.
I didn’t hear from her AT ALL when “love was in bloom” and was so deliriously happy with “man of La Moment”.
But….when said relationship went south, she blew up my phone at all hours, crying and what should I do?!?
My mom years ago (she is fine now) starting having crippling headaches out of the blue.
She was sent for several tests and scans after telling her doctor that the pain was so bad, if she had a gun, she would’ve ended it all.
She had a brain tumor, which thank God, was benign, and shrunk with medication.
Anyway….the day we found all this out (about it being a brain tumor), our family of course was devastated, and I stayed there for a few days to cook, clean, comfort etc.
Upon returning home, I checked my answering machine and saw in the past three days, SEVENTY TWO messages….all from my friend….who was dumped….for, get this, being too needy.
I listened to one or two of them and deleted the rest. When she called again and I answered, she layed into me, what kind of f@$&ing friend are you?!? Where ARE YOU?!?
I told, very angrily, I had been very busy, you know, dealing with my mom’s BRAIN TUMOR!
She said, and I quote, “WELL….if that’s more important than me, than I guess I know where YOUR priorities lie!!!”
I hung up without another word, and never spoke to her again.
I had a neighbor like this – she was constantly asking us for favors. Fix her computer (my DH is a computer nerd), watch her husband (with dementia) while she went to visit her daughter across the country for 2 months, pick up her mail for months on end, take care of her plants, take her to the doctor when she broke her foot (this last one was demanded, not asked). But when I asked her for a favor like feeding animals or picking up mail while we were away for the weekend? Always too busy. Really?! I eventually stopped talking to her, but my husband felt sorry for her and still fixed her danged computer. Until we moved. People like this really annoy me.
And while I think things should be done without expecting anything in return, it’s nice to know you can count on some people to help out when you’ve helped them.
@Cathy: you are much better woman than I am!
Watching a person with dementia while she leaves town?!?
Uh, no way.
Maybe while she runs errands for an hour or so, but actually packing a bag and leaving town?!?
The computer thing reminds me of many years ago, we were friends with a very nice couple.
The husband tore apart and rebuilt computers just for fun.
The wife worked at a supermarket deli, and would send home hoagies and salads that were still edible, just past their sell by date for us and our kids.
Our computer had completely crashed, and my husband asked his pal to come look at it please.
He did and fixed it in half an hour.
My husband and I got them a gift card to their favorite restaurant, for their time and trouble.
They used it that weekend, and my husband ran into them after work one night at the bar they hung out at.
Before my husband left, his friend said, “Oh wait a minute! We have a thank you for YOUR thank you!”, and went out to their car and handed my husband a brown paper lunch bag.
My husband didn’t look inside, just said thanks, put it our car and went on his merry way.
He forgot about it (it slid under the seat) until we were cleaning out the car a few weeks later, and my husband said “Oh my God! “K” gave this me WEEKS ago…!” ……And opened it expecting a very moldy sandwich or two, and instead found out about another hobby this couple had…..
Growning their own marijuana!!!
Thank GOD neither of us was pulled over by the police those two weeks, or we would’ve surely found ourselves in the slammer! And, yes, we promptly threw it away….
I do agree with admin, one should not really except a payback from a gift. But… and this is kind of a big but, on the other hand, I also understand it is hard NOT to have expectations about reciprocation in friendship because that is how the idea of friendship is partially defined. Friends are usually people who like each other and do nice things to each other. We have sayings like “friend in need is a friend indeed”, and so on. For example parent-child relationship on the other hand is usually defined more of child being dependent from the parent and thus for a long time the “nice things” and help flows from the parent to the child, but not from the child to parent (often though when child is comfortably in adulthood, the relationship changes to more of a two-way thing). But friendship is supposed to be bidirectional to begin with.
Still, to reciprocate one does not need to do exactly the same things. If I babysit my friend’s kids, it does not mean she has to babysit my kids. But maybe she does something else, maybe she gives me a ride sometime. But not because I watched her kids, but because we are friends and I needed the ride.
I agree with this. The “give and take of friendship” is not an unreasonable expectation.
I do not think the OP can or should say anything but as is a common phrase on this site, “actions have consequences” and the cooling of the relationship by the OP is not untoward. She knows now what sort of a person she is dealing with.
Years ago a very longtime friend confessed she was in a terrible marriage; I allowed her to move in with me at some inconvenience, loaned her what was, for me, a great deal of $$ at that time (which she reluctantly paid back only upon request, a long time later and yes it was clearly a loan from the get-go), drove her for a distressing medical procedure & took care of her afterwards, put up with her stalker estranged husband knocking on my apartment doors at all hours and leaving odd objects on her car and mine for months, appeared as a witness in both her divorce and annulment proceedings (missing work to do so), helped her move into her new apartment and furnish it at modest costs, etc. etc. etc.
She almost immediately entered a relationship with a wealthy surgeon (she was a nurse) and then moved in with him and eventually married. Shortly after moving in with him, she hosted a dinner party at his upscale condo. No special occasion, just for fun, inviting his siblings & spouses, one of her sisters & BIL, etc. “I’d love to invite you, but since you aren’t dating anyone and wouldn’t have anyone to bring, it won’t work,” was what good-old-me (a friend since age 13; we were in late 20s at the time) got in return for my year’s worth of above-and-beyond supportive behavior.
I never said anything but that was a big eye-opener for me about her priorities and loyalties. I pretty much withdrew — attended the wedding because my parents were invited and didn’t want drama, but turned down maid-of-honor duties (fortunately had a career/work-related trave excuse) and turned down repeated requests to visit the new city they quickly moved to, about 1200 miles from here. I’ve seen her teen son once in his life and never the younger daughter, and I really can’t work up much angst over it.
Funny, I ran into her younger sister a couple of years ago and we had a drink and were talking about the old days; after a glass or two of wine sis asked me why I’d stopped being “practically a member of the family” and I regaled her with the dinner party anecdote and a couple of more minor snubs. “I’m ashamed to be related to her,” was the head-shaking but not surprised response.
@Hollyhock: Congratulations on a gracious exit from that woman’s life. When her life became sunnier, you became a burden. You probably were an embarrassment to that “friend”, not only because you would not come up with a date, but if you did…it probably would not be a person of the “appropriate” caliber for that show-off party.
The maid of honor “honors” were only to be a continuation of your caregiver status.
Just wondering if pouring your heart out to the sister eased your discomfort. As they say, confession, even under the influence of the fermented truth serum, is good for the soul. Even if they were someone else’s sins. 😉
I’m sorry for your troubles
I do basically agree with the Admin in this case – if you say that you *gave* them money, then you can’t attach strings to it. by saying “well, i gave them the money when i knew they needed it and now i expect them to do the same” you are retroactively applying strings to your gift.
Take a deep breath, and decide if this situation is worth losing a friendship over. clearly, you were very good friends – such good friends that you know of each other’s financial problems and you gave her money when she needed it.
I don’t blame you for having hurt feelings. It would be hard not to. I would not let her know how I feel about it. Just take it as a lesson and move on.
I can understand how that would hurt. Social connections do generally function on the basis that favours are reciprocated when appropriate. Turning off those feelings is hard. These favours are how people survived before insurance and government programs.
That said the friend definitely wasn’t obliged to lend you that money. And, particularly now you’re out of debt, bringing this up when she can do nothing about it is fairly pointless. Chill the friendship if it’s making you miserable.
I agree with everything that the admin said.
That being said, isn’t it the nature of friendships to have a give and take? One sided relationships where one person is always the generous one, whether it is time, money, emotional support, never last. If one person is down right now, the other person helps to raise them up.
OP, I’m sorry that this friendship came apart, it sounded like you were once very close. Right or wrong, I would feel the same way that you do.
This is where I land, too. No, the friend didn’t owe the OP anything, but I think a true friend would see how much she was struggling and offer to help just like the OP offered to help her when she was struggling. I would also be very hurt in this situation and pull back from the friendship because it does seem to be rather one-sided.
I agree with both of you. It’s not about being owed, it’s about the fact that friends help each other. It’s not as much about the money as it is about the gesture and the hope that your friends are there when you need them, as you were for them.
But if the gesture you are looking for is a tit-for-tat exact reciprocity of what you gave, then you have unrealistic expectations that are just waiting to hatch into full fledged resentment. It closes your eyes to other ways you may have been helped that are not necessarily monetary based.
I agree to some extent with admin’s comments, but…
I also agree with the OP’s feelings. Even if one disallows any expectation of reciprocation, isn’t there still the question, ‘What sort of person is my friend?’. The friend has shown herself to be someone who can look at a close friend who’s struggling, while she has the means to alleviate that suffering, and choose not to alleviate it. The fact that she herself was previously helped by the other person compounds the ‘error’, but the ‘error’ is big enough to stand alone. The friend has the absolute right to do as she pleases with her money, and we’ve been told what she chose to do.
Perhaps the friend is not the person the OP thought she was. That’s a personal expectation, rather than a financial one. All the OP can do at this point, I think, is decide whether she likes the friend and wants to keep her as a friend. It’s a personal decision.
OP, I would also look at this another way. You have no idea how your friend actually felt about your unasked-for gift.
At the time, she cried and said you were a lifesaver. But maybe she was crying because she was humiliated. Maybe she has had trouble looking you in the eye because she no longer felt like your equal in the friendship. Maybe she was too desperate to refuse the money, and hated herself for it.
Maybe she resolved to never make someone else feel that way, by giving them charity when they did not ask for it.
Maybe if you needed/wanted help from your friend, you should have asked.
The friend may well have had those feelings, but I would think that by two years later the rawness would have died down somewhat and she could start applying logic as well. If she was still using that reasoning two years later, it sounds not so much the rawness of immediate emotion, but someone scrabbling for straws to justify not doing what they know they should.
Her humiliation didn’t stop her from accepting the money, and presumably using it to help herself out. If she really felt this way, she would have paid back every penny as soon as she was able to. Even if she was only able to repay the OP after they had already fallen on hard times, it wouldn’t have been ‘humiliating charity’ but simply a friend repaying a debt she felt she owed.
Oh EllenS: Will you please be my attorney after I commit unjustifiable premeditated murder? 😉
And I don’t mean killing a head of cabbage either…
If that be the case @EllenS, maybe the friend should’ve given the OP back the money she loaned and then maybe her humiliation could be assuaged.
Thank you, Marozia, for pointing out when Ellen missed. It is exactly people like that, people that always turn it to “poor me” feeling SO bad that charity/ good deeds were forced upon me, that keep a relationship one sided, because they appeal to the kindness and goodness of the other. Ad nauseoum. I am so glad Ellen is not my “friend”.
I believe this is what is referred to as a “fair weather friend”. The problem is that this is seldom realized until you are “down and out”. Yours is a sad situation; you were let down but not because of money, but because your belief of what friends are and what they do for one another was disappointed. The strings that bind (“expectations”) that were one time the norm in our society are gone now. Society of old had it’s faults, but it seems to be the American Way to throw out the baby along with the bath water. Instead of improving on the ways of society we seem to have gotten rid of it, and concepts of friendship, honor, and even returning favors have no standard meaning to anyone. Now we are told to expect only the worst and most thoughtless from everyone. Give away your emotional support, peace of mind, or money to “friends” and expect to be treated like you are a total stranger. I recommend you keep these valuable things for yourself. In the lack of society we live in today you will need them.
I have to say this assessment sounds harsh…but there is a sad ring of truth to it.
I cannot count how many times I have heard IRL and read on the forum some variation of “well now you have seen [person you helped]’s true colors – consider [your help] a loan instead of a gift and cut your losses.”
I think it comes down to the relationship between ethics and etiquette. Some actions are arguably ethical but not necessarily polite, while on the other hand I cannot think of an etiquette-approved action that would be considered unethical.
I think the issue of reciprocity that others have brought up here is more of an emotional/ethical issue, not as much an etiquette one. IMHO, etiquette only requires that OP’s friend express gratitude – which OP indicates she did. I suppose the other etiquette issue would be how the OP interacts with this friend who disappointed her.
I agree. I also have a big problem with somebody who just suddenly starts snubbing a friend, not doing anything with her, without really explaining what’s going on.
While the Dame is right, and OP’s friend had no obligation to give OP a similar financial gift to ease her hard times, it’s a pretty shallow, vapid friend that would see a friend who had previously helped them in hard times and say, “Well, I’m so sorry to hear you’re deeply in debt, but you see the luxury cruise ship for my very expensive vacation is disembarking this afternoon, so – must run. I’ll email you the photos, so you can see how my new clothes match my new jewelry. Ta ta!”
So yes, OP had not right to expect friend to give her money, but she did learn the depths of her friend’s generosity and observational skills. Which is not great.
Unless you have personal access to your friends’ checking accounts and credit card statements, you have no idea how that “luxury” vacation was funded. My husband and I pay for the vacations our married children share with us which is a factual piece of financial information that is not commonly shared among their friends who could erroneously presume our adult kids are taking “luxury” vacations and therefore must be financially rolling in the dough.
This needs a “like” button! Exactly, OP doesn’t know how the details of her friend’s finances and expenses. The friend may not have bought luxury items INSTEAD of helping OP, it may have been that after getting herself out of a financial hole and treating herself (after being broke for a long time and never being able to do it, it is really nice to treat yourself), she didn’t actually have extra left over upon learning of OP’s troubles.
Exactly. When I rent a beach house for a week, I have to reserve that house many months in advance, sometimes an entire year in advance if it’s a popular rental unit, and that requires me to put down a considerable amount of money to reserve the house. A month prior to the vacation, I have to pay the balance. I will have committed my money to a “luxury” vacation long before I ever knew of a friend’s need.
I agree with Admin. Not to mention after struggling financially and probably dealing with a crazy amount of stress that vacation was probably really really needed. We haven’t had a vacation in 11 years and we’ve dealt with financial issues in the past. We plan on taking a much needed vacation now that we can. If someone were to make a comment about how we are going on vacation as if we didn’t deserve it because of their financial situation I’d be extremely offended and probably write off the friendship. OP may have taken some extravagant vacations when friend needed money and the friend didn’t say a word or try to cool the friendship.
Piggybacking off of what Admin says here: OP refers to her friend as “her/she” at first but then “they” when talking about how the situation changed over a few years. The “they” might very well be a husband/parent/etc who is footing the bill.
It’s also possible that the friend doesn’t really know the gravity of the OP’s situation. It doesn’t sound like the OP pulled her friend aside and showed her the mounting debt. How is she supposed to know the OP’s financial problems are so dire?
Never in my post did I state that the friend didn’t deserve her good fortune/the fruits of her labor. I said she was a bad friend. OP states that friend knew they were struggling to make ends meet, but instead of offering a helping hand, friend devoted her resources to buying large ticket items and vacations. I stand by my statement that her actions paint friend as insensitive and shallow.
I didn’t say that people who take nice vacations don’t deserve them. I take nice vacations and appreciate every moment of the downtime. But you can bet that if it was a decision between repaying the kindness of a friend who had helped me through hard times or treating myself to a nice trip, I would make sure that friend knew how much their kindness was appreciated by returning the favor. Even if they didn’t ask for help.
How many times on this blog have we advised people to step away from friendships in which the effort/hospitality is one-sided? We tell people to fade out of friendships where they are always hosting the friend for dinner, picking up the check, calling to make the plans, etc. We tell them, when someone shows you who they are, believe them. The friend had shown the OP who she is. I hope the OP believes her.
I just wanted to say that I agree with the admin that providing help should be with no strings attached and no expectations. I will also add that although said friend had, as the OP said, come into money at the period she needed help the most, that doesn’t necessarily mean that that money was free and available to provide for helping her friend. The friend could have gone into debt during the period they were struggling and maybe they were using that money to clear the balance down. You don’t always know the exact terms of what is going on financially with someone so can’t really dictate how they spend their money.
By the same token, I can understand why the OP is hurt. This really isn’t about money (at least not completely) but rather about how the offer to help in any way was not given when the OP needed it most. It’s moments like those that make you wonder whether it’s still worth it to invest in that friendship or not. What I would probably say to the OP is how important this friendship is to her nad whether it’s worth it to lose over the lack of help being available when she needed it. And that’s completely without judgement. Because ultimately that’s what this issue is about-whether this friendship is something the OP can continue with or not given how the OP feels her friend was there for her when she truly needed her.
If I was the friend who’d been helped with cash, I’d feel odd to not at least offer some assistance back when it was clearly needed. However, here are some scenarios that might be why she didn’t assist in return: If friend is married, perhaps her husband said no to offering to help OP. Perhaps husband or another family member came into that money personally, and friend doesn’t feel she has the right to give it away. Perhaps friend’s family would have been very upset to know she accepted charity from OP, so that she hid the gift and quietly paid bills with it, and now she can’t tell them why she feels she needs to give money to OP.
I have to agree with admin yet agree with the others. You should not and cannot expect payment back. Still it can be painful for you to think you were willing to help, but friend is not, especially when friend knows how rough your circumstances were, because she just had gone through it herself. I just ask that you consider it might have been made impossible to do so, unless you know for sure otherwise.
I understand that maybe she hid the money from her partner/husband but the curious part of me wants to know if the husband wondered how those bills got paid or if he noticed the past due notices & phone calls stopped? Also, since the friends are/were close enough to know of each others’ financial situations and one offer money, could the friend not say to her partner/husband “Our friends are really struggling financially. I think we should offer to help them as they helped us” – assuming she did not hide the money when the friend gave it. If he did not know, maybe friend could say the same and just leave out the “as they helped us” part.
I see both sides of the story and it’s a toughie. I hope OP & her family pull through and get to a better place- I’ve been there and it sucks.
It might also be possible, that the husband(if “they” means that) wasn’t around when OP helped her friend, or was only a boyfriend with no common finances. Or it might mean parents or children or siblings, OP wasn’t clear about that.
And of course, it’s true that OP wasn’t clear about how they came to the money. If it’s for her or for the family or maybe even mainly for the husband as JD said. So if the money is basically husbands, who wasn’t around when OP helped her friend, it’s possible that he doesn’t see the need to help someone he barely knows. (Pure speculation of course.)
Michelle – I gave that possibility out of personal experience. My husband had a bad situation at work and quit his job (so no unemployment checks). I was a stay-at-home mom, then, with a one-year-old and we’d been living paycheck to paycheck before he quit. I handled paying all the bills, buying groceries, etc., because he never wanted to have to deal with any of that and said I was better at it anyway — he still doesn’t like to deal with it to this day. For three weeks, until his boss saw that my husband was right and hired him back on with the situation straightened out, we had NO income. My dear priest handed me $50 out of his pocket to help me out with food, which I gratefully used to buy some groceries (this was the early 80’s), but I never told my husband, because at that time, he was young and foolishly proud and would have insisted I give it back — but we needed it! My husband just assumed we must still have had a little money left somewhere, and didn’t ask any questions. He could and still can be totally oblivious to personal finance matters. He still has no idea what we have in the bank and doesn’t care, but he’s learned a few lessons since then, thank heavens. But yes, it is possible to accept charity and the spouse never know.
Back when we were a two-income family and comfortable financially, I sent a few casual friends, whom I’d met through online communities, decent-sized sums of money when they fell on hard times financially (family loss, job loss, serious illness). I never expected anything back. Now that my own money is kind of tight, only things I received from those same online communities (thankfully, not from the same people I’d sent my money to) were reprimands on not managing my finances well enough, and vague advice to manage them better in the future. They aren’t friends; they’re casual friends. So I’m not as hurt and upset as OP is. But I’ll definitely not be sending large sums of money to any of them in the future. One in particular is a close-knit community that goes many years back, where many members have met in person etc. and every once in a while someone falls on hard times and people take a collection. I’ve only given nominal amounts lately, and plan to keep doing that in the future. So I do understand how OP feels. But, again, OP’s friend was not obligated to give OP anything in return. Also, for all we know, maybe OP’s friend wanted to give and her husband said “no way” – these things happen. If all else is good with the friendship, I’d give this friend the benefit of the doubt and continue staying in contact. And I wouldn’t, of course, bring up the money in a conversation.
Heartfelt gifts do not come with strings attached. If she truly did not expect friend to pay her back after she got out of her financial woes, then she has no claim in future money friend would have, even when the tables are turned. The best policy is to NEVER consider someone else’s property (money, time, etc.) your own, regardless of their and your circumstances. OP’s friend does not owe her. If she showed gratitude at the time and has continued to be a faithful friend, OP has no valid complaint.
And if we were to hear her friend’s side of the story, might it not be that she bought dinner, gave comfort listening to OP complain over coffee, watched children free of charge at some time, or offered some other non-monetary support? And even if not, perhaps there are other reasons this friendship has cooled.
This is where I sit. The OP mentioned the friend was sympathetic, so it wasn’t like she just vanished and blown off the OP. It’s not clear if she offered any non-monetary ways of helping out, but I also don’t see the problem with her using her money as she saw fit; perhaps the vacation was long in the making and now she and her husband has the financial means for it, etc.
I can understand the hurt feelings; that comes from expecting something from someone and it seems they did not deliver. However, the admin is completely right and I don’t see a wrong in the friend.
OP, I sympathize, and I admit that I would probably feel the same way.
If no other reason than for your own peace of mind, could you step back and see if there is some other kindness your friend extended to you that you may have missed? Just because it isn’t monetary, doesn’t mean it doesn’t count. Did she take you our for a drink? Give you a ride somewhere? Give you a hug when you really needed it? Watch your kids while you went for a job interview? Think about it. You might find something that makes you feel the friendship is worth saving.
I am on the fence about this one because I can see the emotional conflict that comes with it more than the legality issue of, “I did this for you so you owe me now”.
I needed to have some costly work done at my home. I was well able to pay for it. A relative told another relative (one I had never met) that I needed the work done. He happened to own a company that did that sort of work.
He promptly came over, introduced himself, looked at the problem and sent over three men and some heavy equipment/materials and fixed the problem. I asked him for an invoice and he said he’d mail it to me. I never received it after asking many times; and I have no idea what the work actually cost.
I would not have minded a relative’s discount, but I have always believed that a lady cannot accept an expensive gift from a man who is neither her father nor a husband and remain a lady. Relatives are rather a grey area. I have resorted to sending nice gifts at holidays and at his birthday.
You are not in charge of what others do with their money. If you need to be paid back then that’s not a friendship, that’s a business exchange.
Is she a good friend? Is she a shoulder to lean on? Does she provide emotional support? Does she care about you? Then why do you need her to offer you financial assistance too??
For my part, I would never take money from a friend, no matter how badly I needed it because it is this attitude in people that I would worry about creating. After all, if money is a gift then it is a gift. I have no obligation in return except sincere gratitude. If it is a loan then I am obligated to pay in full and clear it out as soon as possible. And I don’t like having debts.
I really think you’re treating your friend unfairly.
I think it’s pretty disingenuous to say you wouldn’t expect a friend, who had the means, to help you in your time of need, after you had helped them in their time of need. This is a perfectly natural expectation and I have trouble believing anyone who says they wouldn’t have that, at least on some level. The OP did not give her friend the money with any expectation at all. The expectation came after, and rightly so IMO, when it was the OP’s turn to need help, at which point her “friend” should have returned the favor.
OP, I’m sorry that your friend let you down and turned out to be not much of a friend at all.
The fact that the friend came into money, clearly had money to spare, but didn’t feel moved to help the friend who had similarly helped her previously….I see why the OP is upset. It’s now crystal clear that the friendship is lopsided, which can be a major obstacle in terms of how you feel about a relationship. Does the friend owe her? Of course not, but it says a lot about this friend that she just ignored the dire straits of the person who had helped her out of her own dire straits in the past. I cannot imagine taking that sort of help, and then at minimum not offering to pay back the funds because I could see my friend was now in a really bad spot. Not that I think she should have offered to pay her back to begin with, but given the situation and the fact that she came into a sum of money. I don’t see this so much as a “strings attached” situation. If such an obvious turning of the tables hadn’t occurred, it wouldn’t have been so obvious that the friendship was not equal to both parties. To suggest the OP shouldn’t have feelings about that becoming clear seems unrealistic.
Money and friends are nearly always a sticky situation. If you had meant for the money you gave your friend to be a loan, then you should have had something in writing. Otherwise, when you give money to someone that they didn’t ask for, you might as well consider it a gift and be done with it. And you should also be thankful that you were in a position to help your friend when she needed it, and that you did so. That makes you a better person than most, unless you let the resentment fester and continue.
And by the way, my favorite part of this whole story is that phrase, “Expectations are premeditated resentments.” I must use that. 🙂
As other posters have noted, Admin is right about this. And furthermore, this is one of the many good reasons why significant transfers of money among friends and relatives should be called “loans” rather than “gifts”, if the sum in question is big enough to be important to the giver/lender somewhere down the line. That way the expectations are out in the open without being burdensome.
A gracious way to do this would be to say to your financially struggling friend, “I know you would never ask for help but I want to lend you this money. I don’t want any interest, and I don’t want you to pay it back until you can afford it, but it will make me feel better to know that you have it.”
In fact, it would be best to put that sentiment in writing, in a kind note to your friend, and keep a copy of it: all major financial transactions should be recorded in writing and documented for your files anyway. Then when your friend’s financial situation improved and you encountered some hard times yourself, if she still hadn’t offered to pay you back, it would be reasonable and easy to say, “Dear (Friendname), I don’t know your situation and I don’t want to press you, but we’re having financial troubles of our own right now and we could really use the (umpty) dollars that we lent to you back in (year)”.
Of course, even then she might still choose not to repay the money you informally lent her. If so, I’m not suggesting that you should start a feud or try to take her to court (the documentation and terms of your friendly loan probably wouldn’t stand up in court anyway). But at least you would have no uncertainty or secret half-justified grievance gnawing at you. It would be very clear that you had lent the money with the expectation of getting it back someday if and when your friend’s financial circumstances improved, and that she had knowingly accepted the money on those terms.
Interesting. I take the opposite approach: only give money to friends and rlatives, never loan it. And I don’t see how making it explicitly as a loan, and then not getting it back, would calm things emotionally.
Agreed, Tracy. Agreed.
I agree with you Tracy W. Relationships get broken over money problems and I would rather just say goodbye to the money than have it turn into a situation where I am constantly bothering someone I love for cash. Never a loan, always a gift.
Lending rather than giving may not guarantee you’ll ever get your money back, but at least it provides more emotional closure for the lender. If a friend won’t give back a loan when you need it and they can afford to return it, well, it’s clear to everybody involved exactly what happened there.
But if a friend will accept substantial help from you in their time of need with no mention of repayment or reciprocity, and then turns out to be unwilling to offer similar help to you in your own time of need, that shows that the friendship’s significantly one-sided. And although you will naturally feel disappointed or hurt by that, there’s nothing you can say or do to address it without seeming to impose your own unsolicited—and, it turns out, unjustified—expectations of reciprocity upon the other person.
So if you DO have expectations of reciprocity (and frankly, almost all relationships and friendships are partly based on some innate assumptions about reciprocity and mutual support in some form or another), don’t keep them hidden and then just kick yourself for having had any expectations in the first place. Get the expectations out in the open by making it clear that on your personal map of this friendship, support is a two-way street, and help is to be exchanged as needed for mutual benefit rather than always flowing in the same direction.
It is hard not to have this expectation with many things we gift. We have spent much time helping relatives that need it. When they say that they will pay us back we always say no, it is a gift. The reason for this, especially with relatives, is that once that expectation is in place it can start bitterness and strife.
I will tell you, OP, there was once, in the recent past, where I expected like that from someone. I was paying her to nanny but bent over backwards to accommodate her and the many medical appointments, many of which were last minute (like telling me about an appointment at noon the day she had to be there at 3 pm). I had counted on the good grace I thought I had built up to be cashed in when I had to rush one of my children to the ER. Instead I got flat out refusal when I asked for help. Remember I was paying her to nanny, had accommodated her needs, and then when I needed her to watch one kid longer so I could get the other to the hospital it was a no. A few days after the hospital trip my boss had a meeting with me because all the accommodating I had done had put me behind and people were starting to notice and getting upset. I had to stop being so accommodating for her, and I stopped doing many of the other extras I had done for her. The relationship went downhill on a freight train, and we ended up parting company less than amiably. Lesson learned for me. Even paying someone is no guarantee that when you need them they will be there.
If instead of “expectations” we said “hope”, then it is much less “mercenary”. I’m sure that the OP did not give with the expectation of having the favor returned in any form. What I find certainly hurtful, is not so much the lack of help as the fact that the friend appeared to be totally clueless.
Interestingly enough, that individual is most grateful for the benefit received, but is probably quite unlikely to do even a “pass along” good deed of her own volition. Possibly (provable) gifts to charity are small or non-existent on their tax returns. And yes, I know people like that.
Perhaps the Admin’s suggestion to …”divest yourself of the expectations…” might be re-worked into “distance yourself from insensitive friends”.
Yes, I find myself doing that when I discover some folks not being in the same book I’m in. Same chapter or page people are the true keepers. The others can remain “pleasant acquaintances”, but that’s about it. “Decluttering” is not just for things in one’s home. It works on the emotional level too.
I agree and disagree with the admin. If you never tell someone that you are expecting something from them–then yes you have probably set yourself up for disappoint in the future. Not because that person is a bad person, but because that person is clueless.
However, it comes across that what admin is saying is to have low or non existent expections for everyone in order to lead a happier life. I disagree with this. I have expectations for everyone in my life (most of which have been spoken outloud at least in a vague sense) and if they can’t live up to my expectations why would I want them to be a part of my life?
Just with my own spouse I have expectations. I expect my spouse to help me take care of our kids, to love me unconditionally, to provide for us (or if laid off to make efforts to provide for us), to plan the occasional date night, the surprise dinner etc. These are a few of the things I expect from my spouse. Hashe not done them sometimes–sure. Have I spoken them out loud–usually. Have I been disappointed when he doesn’t “live up to expectations” sure have and I’m okay with that.
I have expectations of friends and family as well. I understand that we may not always live up to expectations. It’s at that point you decide if that person is worth keeping in your life (major disspoatment) or if its something that didn’t really matter (minor disappointment. However, not having expectations of people who you chose to be in your life to me just makes you a doormat to be treated as they see fit.
In my life having expectations has meant that I have a very loving and caring husband who knows how to make me happy (and I am him), children who are aware of what is expected of them and comply with those standards (usually). And a close knit, long term group , of about 20 friends. Yes, expectations may cause disappointment but they can also bring much happiness.
Back to the LW: I’m not sure if I would be disappointed in your friend. Here’s why 1. Your friend remained a friend through your struggling times (asking to have coffee, to hang out, etc.) 2. Your friend sympathized and spoke to you about what was going on. and 3. Even though she didn’t give you money, she stood by you.
So here is where I come out, having expectations of a relationship to me is fine and maybe necessary to avoid being treated as a doormat. Believing that relationships should be tit for tat will only lead to disappointment.
I completely disagree.
Are we now off the hook of all the rest of social reciprocity?! Can I now consider invitations to someone’s house as gifts that have no strings to obligate me to reciprocate the invitation?
It is understandable for someone not to reciprocate if they are not in a position to do so. It is less understandable if they are. But, it’s completely intolerable if they are more than able to and simply refuse.
That’s really a clash of values.
It really doesn’t matter that in this case, it is money and not simply a dinner party invitation. The “friend’s” ignoring the LW’s situation in light of her own good fortune shows that she really didn’t value the gift she was given.
I once heard a tale about Tony Danza and a woman he was dating. He was obviously much more wealthy than she and he gave her a few thousand dollars to go on a shopping spree as a gift.
At the end of the day, she bought bags and bags for herself and not even the smallest token for him–not a tie, not a clip, not a card saying thank-you. The relationship didn’t last long.
I think that someone who has a generous heart and cares about their friends cannot ignore it when they are struggling particularly when they are in a position where they are more than able to do something about it.
This “friend” showed that she does not have the same values as the LW. It’s not really about the money, it’s what the money says. The LW used money to say, “I’ve got your back.” The “friend” used money to say “I care more about a fancy vacation than I care about you.”
I think its right to feel hurt by that.
Writing a thank-you note for a generous gift and reciprocating that gift exactly in kind are vastly different things. I think that Admin would also agree that there is no social contract that says if I invite you to my house, you must invite me. Now, if I repeatedly invite you over and you never return that favor, I have every right to stop inviting you but there is no iron-clad law about it.
I also want to point out something here: at first the OP refers to her friend only as “she/her” but years later she says “they”. It is very possible that the friend got married or began dating someone who was much more well off than she. It could have been that person’s money that was used for the vacation and so forth. I wouldn’t offer my husbands money to someone else.
And even if it wasn’t, it still stands that the OP did a kind and generous thing. It was not a loan, it was a gift. It was the OP’s choice to do so and it is the friend’s choice not to reciprocate and nobody can dictate how you spend your money.
You said what I was trying to say, but in a much more eloquent manner.
I also don’t see how the OP could have lent the money with any expectations, since she was well off at the time and the friend was not. She could not have foreseen what would happen. It’s not unreasonable to be surprised when someone you helped so much could help you, but decides not to. If someone lent me money, then had none when I came into enough for a luxury holiday, I’d scale that damned holiday back to help them. I’d go camping if I had to.
It’s old-fashioned but to me, this comes under having honour.
The OP shouldn’t have to “attach strings.” She is just acting out of her values–values that the “friend” apparently does not share.
It’s very selfish to think that you “deserve” someone else’s help to the extent that if you are in a position to reciprocate in a meaningful way, that you don’t have to.
Doing for others is part of what makes the world go round in a good way.
Someone once described heaven and hell as both being places where everyone had all the soup they could eat but their hands were glued to the ends of spoons that were too long for them to use to feed themselves.
Those in hell were starving. Those in heaven were feeding each other.
That’s what we do as friends and its those exchanges large and small that nourish friendship and help it to grow. When you don’t obligate yourself to reciprocate kindnesses, you are choosing to let those connections wither.
Oh, Kay L! I just LOOOOOOVE the hell/heaven images. Many thanks.
I’ll quote/use it a lot in the future.
But the friend didn’t think she “deserved” the help. It was offered. She never asked. Why should she now be held to an agreement she never made or even requested in the first place?
Gift giving is not a tit-for-tat situation nor is it a money in, money out deal. OP, was wonderfully kind to give her friend money to help her out, but OP must realize that money is not the only form of reciprocating. Did her friend take her out to eat and pay the bill? How many phone calls did she listen to where OP needed to vent about her current situation? What other little things that the OP overlooked did the friend do to make things brighter for her? It is not all about the money. Money, in this type of situation would help immensely, it is true. However, there are other things, things people frequently overlook, that are just as helpful, just as needed as money. Did her friend’s SO ever change their oil for free? That saves quite a bit there. Many times in this situation people look only at getting EXACTLY the same as they gave, they do not see the other little things that are done, that add up, that might make life a little brighter.
This. I like this. POD.
I cannot say that I think much of a woman who would accept several thousand dollars from a man she is dating, regardless of his wealth, to go on a shopping spree. I’m from the generation who believes that a lady does not accept expensive gifts from a man unless he is her father or her husband.
I would never want anyone to see me as someone who can be purchased or as someone who is after a man’s money. I like the chapter of Proverbs that reads, “Who can find a virtuous woman? Her price is far above rubies…” I don’t know what Ruby’s price was, but my guess is that she was not all that virtuous.
I’ve had times of trouble where I had to choose between heat and groceries and that was after I’d been living on ramen for a year. True friends stick by your side one way or another. “Friends” who are in it for what you can do for them vanish as soon as an opportunity arises that they can do something for someone else.
Sticking with you can be anything from having you over for dinner and real food once or twice, being a job reference, suggesting an outing that doesn’t cost money, watching your kids while you go to a job interview, or a hundred other things. Gifts of money are nice, but there are loads of other things friends can do that are useful and not as blatant as handing you money.
Please give some thought to all the little things that add up to little bits of assistance. You may find that your friend reciprocated after all and it just wasn’t as obvious.
I wonder: did you feel this way about other friends of yours that were living well while you struggled? I’m sure this is not the only friend you have that took a vacation or something while you were on hard times.
It doesn’t really make much of a difference but I just wonder if you were hurt by any and all wealthy friends who seemed to ignore your troubles or just this particular one because you had loaned her money in the past.
I can see why you are hurt but I’m with Admin on this one. You have no right to be upset and certainly no right to voice these feelings to your friend.
I haven’t read all the replies, but I pretty much agree with the admin. I did note that a lot of posters took exception to her stating that you should not place expectations on family/friends when giving money, so I guess I would rephrase that as “I place different expectations on family/friends” when I give them money. I think pretty much everyone places some kind of an expectation on others in some way.
I am an extreme saver. Not everyone is, including my best friend. Last year she had a major house repair that had to be done. She is a single mom and money is extremely tight for her and her daughter but she always manages on her income. I gave her money to help out with the repair. She did pretty much what I expected … put about half to the repair, bought theater tickets for a play to treat her dad, put some of it toward the trip to Costa Rica that she is on right now, and put some toward new glasses for her and her daughter. Is that what I would have done? No way. The trip, theater and probably the glasses would have all been put on hold while I paid for the whole house repair. But that is me, not her … and as soon as that money left my hands, it was hers to do with as she wished. What would I expect from her if my family fell on hard times? Her ear to listen to my gripping, her extra coupon inserts, and her unconditional love … and I received those years ago when we were financially strapped. I would also expect that if I asked her for any other kind of help, she would think it over and determine if she were in a position to help without it being detrimental to her family or our friendship. But I wouldn’t expect her to offer money, just give money, or to read my mind in any way. I have different expectations for everyone … because no one is exactly alike, thank goodness.
I also realize that if my best friend were extremely irresponsible with money, I would not have given her any to help out and, to be honest, we probably wouldn’t be best friends. I think the personality differences of an extreme saver and an extreme spender would clash too much to sustain a “best friendship”. But as it is, we do just fine with each other and I can’t wait to hear about her trip. I’m hoping she brings back some sunshine! 🙂
@Cheapie: I’m a cheapie too…Perhaps more intense and judgmental than you because I would NOT have handed that sybarite any money. If anything, I’d have written a check to the people that were doing the work on the woman’s house.
My expectations of that single mom would be the same I had of myself when raising my own offspring: put the welfare (and future) of the child first; be prepared for the unexpected; build a bit of a money “cushion” for when disaster strikes… NOT a vacation or a shopping trip before everything else.
I do think that it’s wrong for OP to believe that friend absolutely must reciprocate the generosity if there was no contract. On the other hand, I don’t blame OP for being hurt that friend didn’t offer aid in OP’s hour of need.
The thing about finances is that you can never know how someone is doing unless you’re their accountant. I have friends who are doing worse than I am financially but who have nicer houses and accommodations because their family gifts them things.
When I was younger I learned a lesson, which is that you should never lend money or expensive items to friends. If you feel they need money you give it as a gift and never expect anything in return. Because when you have to ask for the money back your friend will feel offended that you, who have so much, are demanding money from they, who have so little.
Is that right? No. If they took the money then they should have taken it with the knowledge that they have to pay it back. Or if someone helps you out you should try to help them back (not necessarily in monetary exchange). That said, how many times have you borrowed something like a book or movie or whatever and not given it back at all, or given it back super super late? My library fines have soared to embarrassing numbers. Sometimes its hard to do the right thing. If someone is good with small responsibilities then they will be good with bigger ones.
You can’t make other people feel a certain way. You can only control yourself. Therefore, my simple rules for myself have been: Give money as a gift and expect nothing in return, if someone helps me, I want to return the favor and strengthen our friendship. The expectations I have are for myself.
You can control your own behaviour, but you can’t control your own emotions, or your hopes. I don’t think many people could really give up on their expectations, after all, one of the great things about real friendship is the mutual aid.
“We are not disappointed because we get too little, but because we expect too much.” Those are some wise words!
To be honest, I’m really tired of that saying. Because I keep hearing that as an excuse to accept insensitive, bad behavior and continue with relationships that are one-sided.
I had a ‘friend’ at university once who said that I could only blame myself that I was upset when I was turned down for a chance at a scholarship. Apparently, I shouldn’t have been so excited / had such high expectations.
And how are we meant to inspire ourselves, and inspire the best in others if we dont expect things of ourselves and others? Should I have no expectations of how my child will turn out, and therefore save myself being disappointed if he turns out criminal? I think not – I have an expectation that he will be a contributing, law-abiding member of society, to the best of his ability. Why should I expect less?
Many years ago I worked as a department manager at a big store. There were about 20-25 department managers. I was naive back then. I really believed in the whole ‘team player’ and ‘do unto others’ method of treatment for my fellow managers. ANY time one of them asked me to switch shifts or needed coverage, I said yes. EVERY time! I covered emergencies for all of them several times over. After many months, I had something come up and I needed someone to take my shift. Every single manager at the store said no. After that day, I began looking for a new job because I lost all respect for the whole group.
This reminds me of the Shakespeare play “Timon of Athens”. Timon generously gives to his many friends. When he falls on hard times, none of them will help him out.
Although I agree that money given to friends should always be considered a no-strings-attached gift, I can also understand being hurt that a good friend wouldn’t reciprocate when it was most needed. I would stop short of funding the overthrow of Athens in revenge, like Timon did. But I would quietly dial the friendship back from close to casual, because I think that’s how the other friend views the friendship.
Money can certainly ruin a relationship. What may seem like a significant amount to one person, may seem small to another. I understand why OP feels hurt, but truly, was the money she generously gave her friend a gift or not? If it wasn’t a gift, it also wasn’t generous, it was just a loan. OP also seems bitter because she has gone from Lady Bountiful to being the one in need and does not enjoy the role reversal. She should rejoice in her friend’s great luck in receiving a pile of money that has apparently allowed her to finally take a wonderful vacation and buy some really nice things! I hope things improve financially for OP soon.
I am in a similar situation right now with my sister and best friend…albeit on a much smaller, less important scale. When my best friend got married many years ago, while we were in college and broke, I bent over backwards to throw her a bridal shower and bachelorette party, forgoing my own needs and wants to be able to. Then, last year, I did the same for my sisters baby shower, literally not paying bills on time so I could make it absolutely perfect. Those were all my choices, I know. And I truly loved doing it and wanted to be there for them. Now, I am engaged and getting married soon. Neither one has offered to do ANYTHING for me. At all. My mom, knowing my sister is fairly selfish, and having no expectations of my friend, took it upon herself and is planning me a shower. I feel awful and told her not to worry about it, but she doesn’t want me to miss out on the experience.
So, OP, I entirely understand. It may be because of our own expectations, but it hurts none the same. It doesn’t seem fair at all. I, for one, would entirely feel a responsibility to help you after you have helped me. Apparently not everyone is as empathetic. All I can do now is expect less from them and possibly not put myself out as much as I used to, so as to stop feeling used.
Oops! Looks like Mom should land in EHell. 😉 Showers, unless strictly family affairs, are not something such a close relative is supposed to arrange. But then, “o tempora o mores”…
Are you wrist-slapping someone over who is throwing her a shower when she’s sharing her hurt?
@Cami: Isn’t this site all about etiquette? 😉 So the wrist slap, as you call it, is just a reminder.
May Christina never experience any “HURT” greater than “miss[ing] out on the experience” of a bridal, or any other shower. I believe that something is to be said for “big picture perspective” and priorities in life.
Etiquette is doing the best possible thing in the circumstances. In Christina’s circumstance, Mom, by not strictly adhering to etiquette law, is adhering to the spirit of etiquette, by doing a kindness to her daughter. Further, wrist slapping someone for doing a kindness is surely not proper etiquette.
I feel your pain.
My bridesmaid from our wedding 4 years ago got married last year. We didn’t get an invite to the event – at all.
She had moved out of town to be with her fiance, and so we hadn’t seen each other in nearly a year (travel for me wasn’t feasible with an infant, and they couldn’t afford to travel here while saving for the wedding), so at least I dont have to see her regularly.
I was sad, and a bit disappointed, but I congratulated her heartily and told her I understood that numbers for weddings were tough to manage. We’ve completely fallen out of each others lives now, except via facebook.
My parents were also recently in a similar situation. My father suffers from MS, and finally had to stop working 4 years ago. When disability/insurance were slow to get things settled, they fell on hard times. My uncle, and my moms best friend, both helped financially. It was much needed and greatly appreciated. As soon as my parents were stable again, they saved up the amounts that were given to them and promptly repaid the debts. Both of these people gave the money as gifts, with no expectation to get paid back. But my parents would never allow that and felt the need to return the money. I’d be the same way. As soon as I was able, the money would be paid back; not just when a future need came up on their side.
Administrator has a point, but if I were OP, I would not even bother with phone calls to this “friend”. Yes, OP can’t come later and place strings on a gift she made previously. However, there are uneven relationships, and uneven relationships don’t work. Some people are takers, some people are self-centered, some people will take whatever you offer in friendship and never return the favor. OP has a right to feel frustrated with someone who accepted her generosity, but shows no generosity in return. I’ve known people like this. The best way to deal with them is to stop dealing with them, and find friends with whom you can have a more balanced relationship. I wouldn’t bother having a sit down with the “friend”. What’s the point? She knows that she accepted financial help from OP. And she knows that she never returned the favor. OP wouldn’t be telling her anything she doesn’t already know. Move on.
I agree with several commenters – I DO expect reciprocity in my friendships. If a friend offered me a loan or a gift of money, and I felt I wouldn’t do the same for them if our situations were reversed, I would decline the money.
While I agree that the friend didn’t OWE the letter writer any money, I would certainly hate to have a friendship where one only gave what was owed.
I am glad your finances have improved. I disagree with what Admin wrote. I think you are more concerned with the aspect of friendship and kindness that the expectation of money. I too would be hurt if I’d helped someone financially and they later ignored my need despite being able to help me.
And yet, your friend did not ignore your need. She sympathised with you – you don’t mention what form this took, whether it was polite murmurings over the phone or heartfelt conversations, but sympathy is a precious thing in itself. Also, you don’t know what your friend’s actual position is. As someone else said, maybe your charity towards her humiliated her, and she does not want to do the same thing to anyone else. Or maybe her windfall was a chance for her to finally have some good in her life for a little while, and then she has been devotedly saving the rest of the money so she never gets in financial difficulty again. Or maybe she simply didn’t feel obliged. Everyone has different values around money. You don’t know what her reasoning was because you disconnected from her.
This doesn’t seem to be about friendship but about money. OP gave money as a gift and now she wants her friend to give money back. True friends will be supportive of each other, as OP says, ” …and while she sympathized, she never once offered to do for us what we had done for her.” So, the friend did offer sympathy (and other support?) but not money. Banks are not your friends and friends are not your bank. If the friend showed support to OP then that’s the reciprocation. Of course, the friend is now probably quite aware of how much money factors in the relationship and to not be caught up in that anymore would probably be a relief.
My mother used to say ‘Don’t expect anything and you won’t be disappointed’.
@KayL, I like that story about Tony Danza and his lady friend. There’s a lesson to be learned.
I haven’t read all the responses to this post but I have to say I don’t really agree with Admin. Admin says that with the gift of money from OP to the friend, the OP also placed an expectation of the same treatment in the future. It sounded to me that OP gave the money freely as she knew the friend really needed it and life went on as usual. It seems that OP is hurt and surprised the friend didn’t react the same way when OP fell upon hard times.
Either way, I’m glad OP is back up and running. I think we can all relate with monetary struggles especially with the recent recession.
While the money the OP lent her friend did not come with strings and was a gift, it is very telling that when the situation is reversed, the ‘friend’ does not help the OP. I can see why the OP is hurt and is backing away from this relationship. It seems that there is a disconnect in values between the OP and her ‘friend’ shown in their treatment of each other in times of need.
I agree with this – I don’t think that the OP should have expected the friend to necessarily give her financial support (and we don;t know whether the friend might have been able to help if they had been asked, but didn’t have the initiative to offer)
I do think that it was understandable and reasonable for the OP to feel hurt. As to whether or not she says anything now, to me, tat depends on the nature of the relationship and whether the OP wants to rebuild it.
I think if you want to try to rebuild the relationship, it may be that the only way that is possible is by having an honest discussion and being honest about your feelings. It does not need to be accusatory, but it could help you back to a stronger friendship. (I once started to feel resentful because I felt that I was making all of the running in a particular friendship. For a long time, I had done this as my friend was in what I saw as an abusive relationship and I was utterly determined not to allow her husband to drive me away in the way he had with others of her friends. When she left him, I helped her out with her divorce and then after that, I did feel that I was still doing more of the work on the friendship. I was able to raise it with her, (only talking about the ‘current’ situation, not the past) we had a conversation. It really helped out friendship -it turned out that it was part;ly just that she’d got into the habit of letting me make the suggestions, and also that the hangover from her relationship had bruised her confidence so it was easier to wait to be asked, than to risk being shot down by making suggestions. She also then talked to me for the first time in details about her relationship and told me directly how much it had mean to he that I had refused to be pushed out, which I had not expected but which meant a huge amount to me. All that was about 15 years ago and we are still very close friend, so I am glad that I took the difficult step of starting the conversation.
I did have another experience with a friend who I gave a lot of help to at a time she needed it, mostly at her specific request, who then completely cut me off and failed even to respond to my calls when I needed something from her (not a personal favour. Stuff I needed to do a job for an organisation we were both members of, and which she held for the organisation)
In that instance, I just wrote it off as experience, and distanced myself from her, as the friendship wasn’t a long – standing one so I did not feel that it was sufficiently important to me to try to fix it.
It is definitely very selfish of the friend to not offer to help the OP in her time of need, just like the OP did with her in her time of need. I believe that a good, decent friend would pay this generous deed back. With that said, I agree completely with Admin. Don’t expect and you won’t be let down. I can commiserate with the OP as I’m going through a very challenging time right now financially and employment wise. From an emotional standpoint, I’very been disappointed that several friends whom I’ve been there for emotionally in their time of need haven’t been there for me right now. But although I’m disappointed, I don’t hold it against them personally. I just accept that they’re doing the best that they can and that I know they’re not going to be there for me emotionally.
I certainly understand your being hurt, but I think it’s really sad that you’ve let it destroy your entire friendship. Friends you like well enough to drink coffee with every single day are hard to come by. It’s likely that your friend doesn’t know why you stopped talking to her, and is suffering in hurt silence herself after getting the cold shoulder so often. You never know how things looked from her perspective–maybe she thought you and your husband would be too proud to accept money. Maybe she assumed you’d ask if you needed it. Or, maybe she was just being selfish, because extended financial hardships can make one selfish about money, but who hasn’t been selfish at one point in their lives?
I know a lot of people here are saying that you should just cut ties, but I feel the opposite. I feel that true friendships are worth fighting for, and dear friends are worth forgiving. Not people who are toxic and destructive and just use and abuse you, but it doesn’t sound like this was that kind of relationship. The fact that you wrote this letter seems to indicate that you are still struggling with this, and probably miss her and wish there was a way back to the friendship you had before. Unfortunately, at this point there probably isn’t, except for an honest discussion in which you can tell her, without anger, why you were so hurt, and ask her forgiveness for simply withdrawing without explanation. Perhaps she will give you an explanation of her own, perhaps not, and you have to figure out if you can accept it if she doesn’t. She, like the admin, may not feel she owes you explanation or apology, just like she didn’t owe you money.
I remember years ago, when my grandmother died and they were sorting out the inheritance, my parents were living and working overseas. This meant my father had to trust his two siblings to settle everything fairly, but he said, “You know, even if one of them did go and take all the money, I wouldn’t do anything about it.” Because relationships are more important than money.
Dear OP: I am happy for you that you are now “out of the woods”, and wish you that continued state “forever”. I’m also glad that the “friend” is history, and let’s hope the wounds are completely healed.
While your “gifted” friend was not actually obligated to reciprocate your monetary gift in kind, common decency would dictate that she should have done so, even without your expecting it.
It seems that too many commenters have forgotten the old principle of “Putting your money where your mouth is”. Sadly, to me, they are equating words with action. They forget that, or might not be aware of the fact that moral support does not pay the light bill. Or any other bill…
It’s a pleasure to see that so many of the said commenters have never experienced “dire straits”. At the same time, it’s extremely sad that so many of them lack the imagination to see themselves in a position where stretching pennies takes an enormous toll on the human psyche. Right down to generating less than warm and fuzzy feelings towards friends that are so free with hand-holding, but tighter than a duck’s behind with letting go of the bucks.
Saying that commiseration and moral support during times of duress is in some way comparable to a fistful of money is, at best, Polyannish. At worst… I won’t even attempt to smuggle the very thought to this site. 😉
I’m confused by this answer and here is why.
Let’s say OP NEVER gave her friend money in her time of need (even though she could clearly afford to) but instead responded by being there for her friend, sympathzing, suggesting low/no cost days, watching kids etc. She the friend have cut ties with OP? I don’t think so.
It’s one thing to expect an even relationship, though to me most relationship cycle with one person doing more then the other and then it switching. However, expecting tit for tat in a relationship means that you care about your friend only if they equally and in the EXACT same where care about it and can in the EXACT same why give/spend etc. what you do. It doesn’t make for a good relationship
Also, I’m laughing when you say that people who suggest that having the friend standing by her means that OP shouldn’t blow her off haven’t been in dire straits. Really? So who else did OP blow off because they didn’t lend her money/gift her money in her time of need.
OP gave money and there were string attached (whether OP chooses to admit that or not). Basically OP’s “gift” ruined a friendship.
@Devil’s Advocate: You’re absolutely correct about the “gift” having ruined the friendship but only if one chooses to follow a sophistic type of reasoning.
In emotional/psychological reality, it was OP discovering that her friend was heartless. It was the lack of offer that was the litmus test of the person.
Vague but significant parallel: People I knew arrived in NY from Europe after being badly battered in WW2. They met some distant American relatives and, in the course of a social gathering, one of the “locals” made a reference to wartime experiences as follows. It went “pearl clutchingly” something like “Oh yes, it was awful for us too. Gasoline was rationed. One just couldn’t go anywhere.”
Can one blame anyone for not establishing a very close relationship with that ditzy pearl clutching female?
I respectfully disagree.
Perhaps the friend does not place the same importance on money than OP?
When our friend was stricken by a natural disaster I gave him some money to cover his extra costs as I was pregnant and thus unable to help him physically but I do not remember how much it was exactly, it was an amount I could easily do without (an equivalent of what I earned for several days I would be otherwise helping him), and do not consider it a big deal – if I was helping physically it would definitely be much more work/risk (several people got seriously sick from the germs brought by flood water).
Money is JUST money, a means to get things, not the goal by itself. I find it much easier to give somebody money than to help him physically and/or emotionally, so I place much more value on the latter.
I just thought of something else I want to throw out here just as food for thought. I had a close friend I’d grown up with; we’d been friends since we both were three years old (yes, really 3). Then I moved away for work and we only saw each other when I came to our home town on vacation; then I moved to America and we only communicated by snail mail, which was very unreliable, letters often got lost in the mail etc. One letter I’d gotten from her, said that her family was once again struggling financially, that she had opened a small booth at the local market, but had to go into debt to do so. She’d borrowed $300, which was a ton of money in my home town back then. So I sent her the $300 (our 2nd or 3rd year in the country, this was quite a bit of money for us then, but I figured I could spare it) and said she could pay me back when her finances got better. I never counted on her paying me back. She never did pay me back, because five years after that, she died in a car accident. Looking back now, I am so glad that I was able to help this friend when I still could. I know this doesn’t very well relate to OP’s story, just a bit of my experience. Good friends are hard to come by. I’m glad I could help mine out when I still had her as a friend.