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There are two things going on here: your spending is out of control (and beyond your earnings, it sounds like); your boyfriend doesn’t get you gifts. The first one is entirely in your control; just stop spending so much!! You’ve internalized our consumerist culture’s message that buying new, expensive stuff is the best – or even only – way to show love. It is not! If you feel you *must* give all these family members gifts, you could make some gifts (like baked goods, a home-cooked meal, a hand-knitted scarf, hot chocolate mix in a decorated mason jar, a photo album with favorite pictures from the year), you could buy stuff second-hand (where a lot of times you can find items that are new with tags still attached), or give hand-me-downs. And I don’t understand why you went out and bought a bunch of brand new camping equipment for one camping trip in January. Why not borrow from people? Or tell others on your camping trip that you can’t afford all this stuff and they’re going to have to pitch in and contribute some things?
What are you afraid will happen if you don’t blow all your money on your loved ones? That they’ll love you less? Be upset with you? Not know how much you love them? None of this is going to happen. They will be glad you didn’t go broke buying stuff unnecessarily. People who love you want you to be able to afford a car next year. They want you to have an emergency fund. They really, really don’t want you going broke and then resenting them because they aren’t grateful enough for your sacrifice.
As for your boyfriend not getting you any gifts, that’s kind of lame. Have you told him it’s important to you that he give you something? That for you, gift-giving is an expression of love and when he doesn’t give you anything, it makes you feel unloved? Have you given him some suggestions of budget-friendly items you’d appreciate? Have you asked him why he’s not giving you anything? If he simply flat-out refuses and continues making excuses, you have two choices: suck it up that he’s not a gift-giver and you’ll have to find validation of his feelings for you in other ways or, if you can’t, you should move on. Stay with him and you will continue feeling depressed, resentful, and angry until he finally dumps you because he can’t take the drama anymore.
So…we weren’t really friends then? Is there something I should do besides ghost them? They didn’t care enough to say good-bye, they took their time in responding to email/text, and now I’m supposed to visit them? I’m really tired of putting effort into maintaining friendships and relationships and not getting anything in return. There’s the same pattern with my brother (who has kids) as well as other friends. It is incredibly difficult to make and execute plans with adult friends here in Los Angeles, so I’m probably extra sensitive to it. It feels embarrassing to “chase” people who don’t seem to value the relationship as I do. I’d appreciate your thoughts. — Tired of Chasing Friends
It *is* weird that your friends would move without even saying anything to you, which leads me to believe they left under traumatic circumstances of some kind that they didn’t want to try to explain or discuss with people, or they actually forgot to tell you because they don’t consider you a close friend and so you weren’t on their radar. Either way, I think the long lag-time to respond to you is a reflection of embarrassment and/or rudeness and apathy. The invitation to visit is a way of covering those things up and not an actual real invitation. Sure, you could simply ghost them and that would be fine or you could send a quick text back saying, “What a surprise! Hope the transition is going smoothly and you have a happy holiday season.” Either way, no need to reach out again or try to maintain this particular friendship!
As for other friendships and relationships, if you value them and you genuinely feel like you aren’t getting the same kind of effort returned to you that you put in, you should talk to your friends and family about this. It may just be that they have different levels of emotional, physical, and logistical availability, depending on family commitments (parents of young kids, for example, are notoriously less available than kid-free people), job demands, and all the various other stuff that eat up adults’ time and energy. And if you’re in LA, I can imagine just the commutes alone can be daunting. But, you know, talk to your people – tell them you wish you could have more time together and ask if that’s a possibility — something you can both work on in the new year, discussing and taking into consideration how each of you would ideally like to spend time together (like having a regular lunch date, or Sunday night dinner once a month, or a movie date every season—-I’ve learned that having “standing dates” with fellow busy people is a great way to stay connected and sort of reduce the amount of time and energy we spend planning and arranging) — or if they’re already investing as much as they can. Even if they avoid answering this question, their non-answer will tell you what you need to know.
Regardless, it sounds like you could use some new friends whose availability and interest in hanging out matches yours. People who live in or close to your neighborhood would be a good bet. Here are some tips for making friends as an adult. Good luck!