“My Friend Thinks I’m a Charity Case”

My childhood friend and I recently reconnected after more than 50 years! We got together for an overnight visit while I was in town for the holidays. I loved seeing her, and now we exchange calls, texts, and emails a few times a month. She works at a great job and is living well. Her apartment is so nice and she looks fabulous! I suffer from chronic depression and have had to face a lot of challenges without support from a loving family or a support system. I manage my life as best I can, living within my means but not in a state of misery.

While I was visiting my friend, she pulled out a huge shopping bag and started to stuff it with makeup, costume jewelry, clothes, accessories, and even expensive perfume. She did not ask if I wanted these things — just handed me the bag on my way out the door. Her generosity touched me, but I am not dressed in rags. My clothes fit me well and are clean with no rips, tears, or stains. I have a good purse I picked up for a song at a local thrift shop and good basic walking shoes. I do not wear makeup or color my hair because I am usually alone for days at a time except to run to the post office or grocery store. If I need to dress up, I can fuss and put on appropriate clothes.

I feel offended. In my whole life only two other well-meaning friends have gone so far as to purchase a blouse or top for me. A whole wardrobe — which, by the way, is not to my taste or in my size, plus all the bells and whistles, is a first-time experience. I do not understand why people would take it upon themselves to buy/give me clothes and think it would be a swell idea. It hurts my feelings, and the clothes are wasted because I never wear them, plus a resentment develops on my part. Since I saw her, I have received two more items in the mail from her that include a designer jacket for over $150 and a designer purse for over $75. I budget $25 a week for food for myself and eat a very healthy diet. For someone to think I would want or need a designer jacket that costs more than six weeks worth of what I would spend on groceries is ludicrous.

My friend is very smart, kind, and generous, but giving me stuff only makes me feel like I am lacking in her eyes. It makes me want to retreat from too much further contact. It makes me feel like I must look god-awful for someone to step into my life and shove clothes down my throat. I am comfortable with who I am, as I am, and these acts of generosity shake me up. I know she would die if she knew her gifts and generosity were hurting me, but I have no way of handling this situation that won’t take an emotional toll on me. — I Yam What I Yam

There are two things that I think maybe you could stand to have better perspective on. First, you say that you “suffer from chronic depression and have had to face a lot of challenges without support from a loving family or a support system,” and it is entirely possible that you’re friend is responding to THAT more than what you perceive is a response to your appearance. Maybe she picked up on the depression or you flat-out told her you suffer from depression and that, for most or all of your adult life, you’ve had little to no support. She is in a position of having material abundance and can share that with you as a way of showing you support. Her gifts to you are exactly that — a show of support — and not a show of intolerance or judgement about the way you look or live. Secondly, no, your friend will not “die” if she learns her gifts and generosity are hurting you! Of course, she’ll likely feel bad that she’s hurt you, but if she cares about you — and it sure sounds like she does, she would much more prefer the temporary embarrassment of learning she’s been hurting you over the longterm scenario of continuing to hurt you and continuing to waste money on things you don’t want.

You have to tell her to stop giving you these things you have no use for! Of course, you want to do this in the most tactful, face-saving way. I suggest this:

“There’s something I’ve been wanting to tell you and haven’t known exactly how to say it. First, I am so glad we’ve reconnected, and I really have enjoyed our calls and emails and texts and our recent visit. Your friendship and support have meant so much to me! And while I appreciate the gesture and the intention behind all the generous gifts you’ve given to me, I need you to know that I’m not wanting for material things. They simply don’t fit my lifestyle. I know you want to show you support me, and you already do that perfectly just by being a caring friend who stays in close touch. That is truly all I need or want from you — you, just you, are more than enough. And I hope that I, just as I am, am enough for you, too.”


Follow along on Facebook, and Instagram.

If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at wendy(AT)dearwendy.com.


  1. LW1, I totally agree with Wendy’s advice. One additional thought, sounds like you’re a baby boomer, and I’ve noticed that it’s not uncommon for people of that generation to accumulate a lot of “stuff,” even to the point of being hoarders. I’ve seen the parents of my S/Os having rooms stacked with Rubbermaid bins of things they definitely don’t need but can’t bear to get rid of. Your friend sounds like maybe she’s a compulsive shopper who has lots of clothes and bags with the tags still on that she hasn’t even worn yet. And beauty products she doesn’t even use. It was easy for her to fill a bag to give you on your way out the door. She thought she was doing something nice, but also she’s kind of feeding her own compulsion.

    Also, my aunt is probably your age. She’s always been SUPER frugal, to the point that she thought it was unnecessary to buy any new clothes. She was wearing things that were decades old. While they weren’t ripped or stained or anything, they did make her look quite odd sometimes. My mom, who wears similar sizes, would bring her bags of gently worn clothes and she’d choose things she wanted to keep. My parents felt that my aunt didn’t look great in public, while she felt she looked fine. And I mean yeah, it turns out her frugality allowed her to have a good savings, which is coming in very handy now that she needs long term care and has to pay a portion of it out of pocket. Funny, now she’s happy to accept new clothes as gifts.

    Anyway, being frugal is good, but recognize that it can look to others like neediness. Your friend is only trying to be kind, I think, but she may have issues of her own. If you enjoy her company but just want the unwanted gifts to stop, Wendy’s script is good.

    1. I would also add that when my aunt accepted my mom’s clothing, the key was that she got to pick what she liked, and the rest could get donated. She was also ok with getting things from me for Christmas but would tell me what she wanted from LL Bean. I bought her some new outfits this year and ordered machine-washable stuff from LL Bean that would be practical in the place she’s living. The difference is these are gifts that match her lifestyle and that she would choose. That is not the case with your friend and I definitely appreciate the difference.

      1. Teri Anne says:

        The key issue is that the aunt got to pick what she liked, and the clothing was likely to be in her size. And when the niece purchased presents for her aunt, the aunt had already selected the clothes.

      2. Right, no one was forcing stuff on her that wasn’t her style… but they were definitely thinking she could use clothes that would be more in style. The LW needs to shut it down before it starts happening every time.

  2. LW2 seems that neither her or her husband want them to stay at the house. LW should ask the husband to take care of it since it’s his BFF’s wife. I don’t think anyone is required to let someone stay at their place for free. You can offer it, but to think she’s being petty to not let them stay feels like Janet should be entitled.

    1. What makes you think the husband doesn’t want his friend to stay at the vacation house though? I get the feeling he just doesn’t want to upset his wife.

      1. I read the line of ” She didn’t take our subtle hints that it wasn’t ok. ” that they weren’t OK with it. But, since Judy was persistent on texting about it he was going to give in to preserve the peace.

    2. “He thinks we should just let them go”

      She says right there that the husband is fine with it. If he didn’t want them to stay and simply didn’t know how to turn them down, I’m certain LW would have included it to make her point. And I think it may have even affected Wendy’s advice if it was just a question over how to let them down tactfully.

      I agree that no one is required to let anyone stay at their vacation home. But LW sounds extremely petty, and I don’t think this issue is about the home as much as it is about snubbing Janet.

      1. I don’t read it as he’s necessarily fine with it (he seemed onboard with trying to tell them no without saying no), but rather afraid it will ruin his friendship if they say no. Which, I mean, given the way Janet has behaved, it will. Either the best friend is afraid to tell his wife no, or he’s as pushy and entitled as she is. The LW should definitely respect ber husband’s desire to preserve the friendship, but this issue will only grow, even if they let them stay “this one time.” Frankly, the friendship was destined to fail once the best friend failed to stop his wife from leveraging his friendship to score a free vacation.

      2. Northern Star says:

        I’d get some joy of out snubbing Janet, too, if she lied in order to use my vacation home once and is demanding time there again.

        Since this LW doesn’t like Janet, it’s probably for the best if Janet gets frustrated and doesn’t want to spend time as a couple anymore. The LW certainly doesn’t want more quality Janet time. The husband and his bestie can be buddies. Their wives don’t have to be.

  3. LW2: I actually feel you on this. We have a beach condo in a popular vacation spot and I have a firm “no one (but our parents) stays without us being there” policy. Why? Vacation spot or not, it’s still our home, particularly since we don’t rent it out or anything when we’re not there. I don’t think that not wanting others to stay alone in your home is petty. Some people may be fine with it, but my husband and I are honestly not, so I get it. And I get why you and your husband are stressed over what may seem like a simple request to those who don’t mind that sorr of thing.

    That said, there’s really no way to get out of letting Janet and your husband’s best friend stay at your place that will not seriously strain (or end) the friendship, but the strain is due to Janet’s actions, not yours. After you didn’t respond, then offered a joint vacation, it’s pretty clear the answer to Janet’s request is “we’d prefer you didn’t,” but she’s not taking the hint because she’s using your husbands’ relationship to her advantage. That’s a shitty and manipulative thing to do. Given her persistence, and that you say she’s the type to throw a fit when her hotel room isn’t ready, she’s going to have a meltdown when you deny her the use of your home. (She’ll also likely meltdown if you ask her to pay a cleaning fee, too, by the way.)

    So, what to do? You can tell them “I’m sorry, but we prefer to be there when guests are there” and deal with the fallout. You can let them stay and be prepared for more and more such requests. (And they will come.) You can…well, that’s about it, really. I’d defer to your husband this time since it’s his friendship that’s going to get blown up. Sooner or later, I suspect it’s going to get blown up anyway thanks to Janet’s shamelessness, though.

    1. Ele4phant says:

      Totally agree.

      I don’t own a second home, but I imagine if I did I would feel similarly. My space is my space, and even if it’s a secondary home I probably wouldn’t be comfortable letting other people stay in it all the time. Just because *other* people do it and are comfortable with doesn’t mean I have to be, or the LW does. Also – it’s actually not nothing – people who run Airbnbs have to devote a lot of time (or hire and pay a cleaner) to keep the house up after people use it. I wouldn’t want to do that work for free.

      That said, the husband wants to let the friends use it, so she needs to get on the same page with him, and not take it out on Janet.

      1. Yeah, but we’re not talking about letting people stay in it “all the time.” We’re talking about letting the husband’s best friend stay there. I mean, if you won’t let your best friend stay in your vacation home because he’s “not family,” but you’ll let someone else who isn’t family and you aren’t as close to stay there bc they offer a vacation home that you can stay in in exchange, well, sure, that’s your prerogative. But I think it’s petty. If the LW dislikes Janet enough that she wants to snub her by not allowing her to stay in her vacation home when she’s not there for no other reason really except she just doesn’t like her and she finds her pushy, why does she want to vacation with her? It just seems petty to me, and I stand by that.

        I’d feel different if the LW said, “You know, after going on a few vacations with Janet, I’ve realized I just don’t like her. I don’t want to vacation with her, I don’t want to spend time with her, and I don’t want her in my space. How can I help my husband maintain his relationship with his best friend while not kowtowing to Janet or having to spend any time with her?” But that isn’t what she asked or what she cares about. What she really cares about is getting even with/ getting Janet back for lying to her that one time, and that’s what I think is petty.

        LW, I am clearly in the minority on this one, so take my advice with a grain of salt if you want. If you’re sticking to not letting Janet and her husband stay at your place, tell you husband to tell his best friend: “Listen, I’m sorry, but for a variety of reasons we prefer people not stay in our vacation home when we aren’t there. We can help you look on airbnb if you need any help finding a similar spot in the area.” And if there’s pushback or whatever, just stick to your guns and avoid over-explaining or over-apologizing. And going forward, stop vacationing with Janet and really limit your exposure to her. Just because your husbands are best friends doesn’t mean you wives have hang out.

      2. Ele4phant says:

        Meh – IMO if they pay the mortgage and upkeep they can have whatever rules they want about whom can stay there and who can’t, and for what reasons.

        It’s theirs, it’s not community property, and they don’t have to establish fair protocols for when, who, and how often it can be used.

        I do cede that she needs to get on the same page as her husband, and it’ll be better for her own mental health if she keeps as much distance as possible from Janet, letting the husbands maintain their friendship one on one as much as possible.

      3. Northern Star says:

        Wendy, Janet would have absolutely ZERO right to be miffed that she can’t use someone else’s vacation home for a week for free. Zero. I fail to see how it’s “petty” to say no to such a request for any reason, really.

      4. Ele4phant says:

        @northernstar, not that they need to be logical (they can pick and choose who gets to use their vacation home on based on guests astrological signs for all I care), but I actually think the LW are pretty rational.

        You can stay there if you are family, or you can stay there if the OP gets something in exchange (i.e. they are getting to stay in a different vacation house).

        Jane isn’t family, and she isn’t offering anything in exchange. So no staying.

        Some people might be more open hearted, and that’s fine, but that doesn’t mean OP has to.

      5. There is one thing in there beyond just thinking Janet is annoying and disliking her, and that’s the move she pulled already where she had lied about flights in order to stay longer in their home last time and set the precedent for having stayed there unaccompanied. That is legitimately annoying. She was invited for a few days and then maneuvered to stay longer. But I’m also in the camp of, LW and her husband need to be on the same page about stuff like this and some compromise could be made.

    2. I agree. I had a friend and she had a summer home that too many people felt entitled to. She was the one spending the money on it and everyone wanted a free place to stay. And didn’t take care of it as well as she did. It was precious to her. They ended up selling because of the stress of it. I think also it is how you use the space. Some people have houses that are shells with nothing personal in them for renting. Others treat it as a true home. I wouldn’t want people judging what is in my medicine cabinet or staying in my bedroom with my clothes there.

  4. Juliecatharine says:

    It sounds like Janet is a pushy bitch who gets what she wants because she is willing to trample other people’s boundaries. F that. Next time she pushes on the house: ‘sorry that doesn’t work for us’ PERIOD. If she wants to keep at it: ‘Janet, we already said that doesn’t work for us here’s a link to this super cool website called Airbnb, have fun!’. Just let it slide right off. Don’t engage or get annoyed, just be placid and unmoving. If she demands to know why you won’t budge tilt your head, look at her like she has three heads and ask if she’s ok.

    1. Yeah, agree. My parents have a beach condo and they offer it to lots of people to stay when they won’t be there. But certain people and certain behavior really irritate them. And when someone crosses a boundary (my aunt and uncle went too freaking far last year), they just say no, that doesn’t work for them.

      1. That said, my mom and dad are on the same page, or they get on the same page first, before letting the person know it won’t work. It’s possible here that the LW may need to make some kind of concession to Janet to keep the peace with her husband. Maybe there’s a compromise.

    2. Northern Star says:

      Usually we encourage people to draw boundaries with pushy jerks. Don’t know why it would be “petty” to do so with this particular pushy jerk.

      “I also think it will lead to more problems in the future if we do allow it.”

      Yes, it absolutely will. Someone who always bitches about the accommodations and demands free stuff will turn around and complain about your vacation home. Or break something and just leave it.

    3. Avatar photo Skyblossom says:

      This is the way to handle it.

    4. I like this approach. I DO think LW is getting enjoyment out of being able to snub Janet, but it still doesn’t entitle Janet to stay in their vacation home.

      1. Olivia Rosen says:

        You do not reward bad, rude, or dishonest behavior. Tell LW to get her husband to start socializing with his friend on their own, not as couples. LW does not like Janet and Janet should not have the power to manipulate adults into giving her what she wants. The 2 women obviously do not like each other, so the men can socialize on their own or dissolve the friendship. Janet should be told “Under no circumstances am I comfortable with your persistence on asking to use the vacation home . The answer is NO and I will not change my mind. I will also not respond to any further requests along this line. LW should say “I” will not change my mind so her husband can shrug his shoulders (he sounds like a milquetoast) and say, LW says no and she has her reasons and I am not getting into the middle of this.

      2. anonymousse says:

        If you want to stay friends with the husband, you can’t cut out his wife so rudely.

      3. ele4phant says:

        Yeah, she does need to thread a needle here.

        Assuming the husband wants to remain friends with Janet’s husband (and she doesn’t want to damage her own marriage), she can’t go all nuclear on Janet, good though it may feel.

        But, certainly, she can step back from the “couples friendship” part of things, and let her husband and the other dude manage their own friendship independently of the wives.

      4. I’m not sure why you replied to me, Olivia. I also think they should give Janet a firm no. But not the way you’re advising. That’s a surefire way to nuke the relationship and LW has indicated she doesn’t want that to happen, for her husband’s sake.

    5. It also sounds like LW and her husband haven’t actually said ‘no’ outright or been good at communication with Janet and her husband. So yeah, Janet’s pushy and LW is wishy-washy non-committal and avoidant.

      LW, the way to solve this is is to first work with your husband to define the boundaries about what you are OK with and not in your vacation property. Then communicate those boundaries to others in a gentle and timely manner.

      If you aren’t articulate *why* exactly you don’t want Janet there in a way that is a general rule you and your husband can agree on, you are probably just being petty AF towards Janet. Once you start communicating your boundaries well, you can set consequences for those who cross them. But until you do so, people will be confused by your actions. For example, don’t want non-family or people without reciprocal generosity staying in your vacation home? Then communicate this to Janet and husband- “You’re welcome to stay with us when we are here”. They try to cross this boundary (for example by saying they couldn’t book flights out at the same time as you and need to stay a few extra days), then you reiterate your boundary- “Sorry, we aren’t comfortable with people staying here without us. Here’s so great hotel or air bnb options.”

  5. We have a vacation place and finally set up a friends and family rate to rent it because of all the requests. We didn’t mind with some but had some not particularly close people who got pushy and we were tired of having to deal with it. No one wants to feel used and vacation places aren’t cheap. Set up a rental rate plus cleaning fees and be matter-of-fact about it and you won’t have to worry about moochers.

    1. I think this is a great way to do it. Family still feels like they are getting a better deal but you aren’t being taken advantage of. The people I know who let friends/family use usually have just charged us the cleaning fee which is nice, spent a week in Hawaii (way too long in Hawaii) for just a cleaning fee. We did give him a large discount of work we did for him though in this case.

    2. Ele4phant says:

      I mean, this is a good idea generally but I don’t think it will work in this instance.

      Janet presumably knows the BIL gets to stay there for free, so if she hears that now that she’s the first person getting charged she’ll have a snit.

      I mean she shouldn’t, but she also shouldn’t be so pushy and entitled to using someone else’s private property.

      Honestly – its kind of galling to ask to use someone’s private property. If it’s offered, great, but the invite should come from them, not you. At the very least, ask with a ton of space for the owner to say no, and don’t get pushy about getting a response.

  6. anonymousse says:

    LW1: I think you should assume positive intent with the gifts. If they truly make you feel bad, send the gifts back and tell her they aren’t your style or that you’d prefer she not send/gift you things. That’s reasonable, and shouldn’t hurt her feelings.

    LW2: I understand you don’t want to let Janet stay there unattended…but you also don’t really want to vacation with her either. Is there a way that your husband could talk to his bf about expectations for the vacation home and you could see how it goes? Otherwise, it really does seem like a petty issue that will definitely affect the friendship.

  7. I think Wendy and Kate’s advice on LW1 is so spot on. There’s nothing wrong with being frugal, and most people buy way too much stuff- but I can see how a friend might think she is being kind and generous too and it’d be sad if a friendship gets damaged over this. LW, do you maybe identify as being zero/reduced waste in your lifestyle? if so, that might be a positive spin you could put on your communications with your generous friend so she doesn’t load you up with her excess things, without feeling in any way rejected ?

  8. Bittergaymark says:

    LW1) If pretty much EVRRYBODY you know keeps trying to help you update your wardrobe by giving you freebies… NEWSFLASH! … you AREN’T dressing nearly as spiffy as you think. Instead, you go around — wait for it! — looking like a charity case.
    LW2) Clearly, you don’t like Janet very much because you think she’s a bitch… Funny. Since it seems to me that you both have soooooo much in common.

    1. Ele4phant says:

      Eh – yeah they don’t get along – but that isn’t Janet’s house to demand.

      You don’t have a right to use somebody else’s property for free.

      1. Bittergaymark says:

        Eh, there’s just this rather gleeful we-caught-her-lying because we-checked-the-airlines oooh-am-i-smart-or what? vibe that just rubbed me the wrong way.
        Honestly, I can see Janet telling her husband, “Fine, cheapskate. Lets take your friend up on his offer. But can we PLEASE do so when SHE is NOT there..”

      2. And maybe they couldn’t afford the flight on those days. I just booked a flight for my husband and chose a less convenient day since it was $500 less. Just saying. Could’ve not been a lie.

      3. Right – that’s why I referred to it somewhere as a “white lie.” It probably was a matter of affordability, just as when Janet told the LW that they couldn’t afford to go to the vacation home during the week the LW invited them to come along. I don’t agree with Janet being pushy, but I have a feeling these two couples probably have different budgets and that that may be part of the tension here.

      4. The husband and I like to fly Wed nights to Sat night when we go away on long weekends. 1. Those days are usually cheaper. 2. We get Sunday to prep for the week. 3. Having all day Thurs and Fri at places, they’re usually less crowded.

        Do I have to take one more day off work? Sure. But the above mentioned benefits outweigh that.

        Who knows what was going on with flights.

      5. ele4phant says:

        BGM – if someone had repeatedly trampled on my hospitality and lied – white lie or not – to get more free time in my home, I might be a little gleeful about shutting her out of trying to manipulate me into staying in my home again.

        Does that make me petty? Maybe, but nobody’s perfect and stop thinking you are entitled to my private property 😉

        And maybe it’s cultural, but I can’t see how its anything but pushy to ask unsolicited and than barrage the homeowner until they give you an answer.

        And if last time was a matter of affordability? *Then say that*. Say, there’s a huge difference in flight costs to fly back the same time as you, to stay within our budget we need to fly home X day, can we stay a few extra days after you leave?

        And if the answer is no you can’t stay extra and you can’t afford those flights, sorry but you can’t afford this vacation, even if part of it is free.

        Lying so you can take a vacation that isn’t within your budget is shitty.

      6. I don’t think it’s pushy to at a minimum, ask the question. It’s pushy to keep hounding someone if you don’t like the answer. It’s not pushy to ask, solicited or not.

        I’m not sure where the LW said she repeatedly tramples on her hospitality. She gave one example. The rest of the examples are about how she doesn’t like Janet as a person.

        Regardless, I do agree that the LW and her husband just need to say no and stop tying to “hint” at the no.

      7. I feel like it’s rude to ask someone if you can use their vacation home.

        If they’ve offered it to you before when they’re not going to be there, it’s probably not that rude to ask them the next year if it would be ok for you to use it again? Still marginal, but yeah, I do think it’s rude to just ask. Like, hey Donna, I know you and Pete have that place in Maine, could we use it during X week? It puts them in too awkward a position.

        And honestly, some people are really clueless and don’t get that the owner is going to have to probably pay for a professional cleaner after your visit. The polite thing to do would be to leave money or a gift card on the kitchen counter or something that would cover a cleaning, but a lot of people don’t. They might leave some type of gift, like a certificate to a local restaurant, which is something, but probably not equivalent to maid service. Some people also break stuff.

      8. In my circle of friends and family, it wouldn’t be rude. But also in my circle of friends, we’d offer to do everything you mentioned. Pay for cleaning. Clean up after ourselves. Leave a nice gift. Make sure the person knows they can tell us no.

        Even when staying at rentals, we clean up after ourselves to make it easier on the owner/cleaner. Strip beds. Throw away all trash. Straighten up the house. Put used towels in piles. Started the dish washer. Etc. I’ve not traveled with people who haven’t done this.

    2. Olivia Rosen says:

      I never said EVERBODY does this. (Reading comprehension 101). Its a matter of boundaries and letting people be who they are and not Barbie dolls playing “makeover.” You are presumptuous to think I walk around in burlap potato sacks and a paper party hat and act surprised when someone pushes her clothes on me. Its not a case of Mammy Yokum needing to stop being a country mouse. My friend loves synthetics, bright (BRIGHT!)low cut blouses in florals and patterns, short skirts and topographically tight slacks, high, high heels, fur coats and jackets, makeup and brightly dyed hair. I am a simpler dresser, neutral colors, classical, conservative with nice accessories like scarves and belts. Do I buy $100 scarves? Yes, when they end up in the Goodwill for $1.99. I have salt and pepper hair that I like. I have good skin and a decent face that looks better with a touch of eyeliner and lipstick but without it I do not look like a typhoid victim. I am healthy and active and dress to move.
      If what I described sounds hopelessly out of style and offensive to every
      eye, too bad. The point is not who has the better fashion sense, the point is crossing the boundaries of personal style and the right to
      be ourselves and wanting to change someone. I will take Wendy’s script and add a line or two about not wanting the issue of gifts and spending to enter our relationship….blah, blah. If it stays an issue, I will make a quick exit.

      1. Maybe she is trying to calm your obvious insane anger by throwing gifts at you like throwing meat at an angry lion.

      2. Your description of her clothing along comes across as insanely rude and judgemental. So the behavior you think she is having towards you, judging how you dress, you are doing to her.

      3. I have to agree with this. Your description of her, your defensiveness toward the unrated gifts, your response in another comment toward the other LW in this column — all of it comes across so much angrier and judgmental than warranted. You say you suffer from depression and that you’ve never had a support system. Maybe you’ve been pushing people away? Are you getting therapy or treatment for your depression? I would recommend that if not. And, in my humble opinion, the script I suggested is already pretty perfect; no need to add a line or two about you don’t want spending and gifting to enter your friendship. The fewer words you can use to get your main point across tactfully, the better.

      4. anonymousse says:

        Giving you gifts isn’t trying to change you. She gave you a gift. The proper response to to accept graciously. If this is ruffling your feathers so much, kindly ask her to stop gifting you such things. If she persists, donate them to Goodwillor a woman’s shelter.

      5. Avatar photo Skyblossom says:

        I think it is pushy to try to change someones clothing style.

      6. Letter writer two: If I’ve interpreted your letter correctly, you have only recently reconnected with your friend over Christmas (and after fifty years). You don’t know each other that well.

        “My friend is very smart, kind, and generous, but giving me stuff only makes me feel like I am lacking in her eyes.”

        In your letter, your exact words were “Her apartment is so nice and she looks fabulous!”

        If you stayed with her and told her how you have very little support and have had a lot of setbacks and feel depressed, and you complimented her style and all of her stuff, she might have thought she was offering you her personal stuff she thought you liked and trying to do it in a way that didn’t make you feel embarrassed to accept the stuff.

        If wearing bright expensive clothes and makeup is what makes her feel good, she might have thought sharing the things she loves would brighten your outlook.

        She doesn’t know you that well, and even if she did know you well, people miscommunicate all the time.

        Did you stay with her or allow her to treat you to meals? Because that might have given her the impression that you weren’t embarrassed to accept generosity from someone you view as being more materially well-off than you are.

        If I were in your shoes, I’d write her a note that thanked her for thinking of me, but told her that while the stuff looked great, it really wasn’t my style and ask her what she would like for me to return any of it. I’d tell her, I’d be happy to donate it if didn’t want it anymore. If she says she really wants you to have it, tell her that the high-end look looks fabulous on her, but you are perfectly suited and happy with a simpler style. She’ll get the message.

      7. My last comment was very poorly written, but the sentiment is still true.

  9. Celebration242 says:

    LW2 – I would not let her stay in the house. I’d just tell her that you get so many requests from so many people who want to stay in your house that you’ve had to make a rule that no one stays unless you’re there. And I’d also stop inviting her to go with you on future trips (Oh, I’m sorry, we’re taking my parents then so won’t have room). I disagree with Wendy and don’t think it’s petty not to want non-family members to stay in your home. It’s your home. You do with it what you want. I don’t know where Wendy lives but I do have a friend in New Jersey who has lots of rich friends who are always offering her vacation homes to stay in, so it might be more of a “thing” to offer homes in the Northeast. It certainly isn’t a “thing” where I live and anyone who asked to stay in someone’s vacation home would be considered rude and pushy.

    1. Yes, totally rude and pushy to ever ask to stay in someone’s home – without them – for free, no matter where you live! I live in Brooklyn, and as I said, hotels are really expensive here and people’s apartments are often very small (basically, guest rooms are unheard of), so when extended family and friends come to visit, it can be challenging finding affordable lodging for them, especially if they’re on fixed incomes, etc. Well, I live in a community that is very generous and close-knit and it’s fairly common, if you’re going out of town for a weekend or a week, to spread the word that your place is available if a friend or neighbor has out-of-town visitors who need a place to stay (sometimes in exchange for feeding the cats or watering the plants). So, my perspective may be skewed by this experience (especially having been the beneficiary of this kind of generosity), and yes, maybe it is more “a thing” in the northeast to not feel so territorial and “what’s mine is mine and I’m not sharing with anyone, even a best friend, unless I am getting something of equal value in return.”

      It’s also kind of a thing in the northeast – or at least in NYC – to not put up with people’s fucking bullshit either. Like, I literally don’t know anyone in my wide circle of friends and acquaintances and local family who would vacation with someone they don’t like. People would be MUCH more likely to let a close friend stay in their vacation home for a few days than continue to travel with a frenemy. *shrug* It probably is a cultural thing, I guess. New Yorkers, for example, are generally very clear about boundaries and those boundaries tend to be especially strong around time/energy/effort and a little more loose around stuff like property (probably because we live in such tight quarters and so close to each other), oh and and cars too (people who have cars are always offering their cars to people who don’t have cars). That said, when I used to travel to St. Louis when my grandmother was still alive, I had to pay a few hundred bucks to stay in a hotel even though at least three family members with big houses had plenty of room for visitors.

    2. ele4phant says:

      “Well, I live in a community that is very generous and close-knit and it’s fairly common, if you’re going out of town for a weekend or a week, to spread the word that your place is available if a friend or neighbor has out-of-town visitors who need a place to stay (sometimes in exchange for feeding the cats or watering the plants). ”

      That’s the thing, it sounds like in your community people are *offering* their homes. They are choosing, of their own volition, to offer their homes. And there’s also a tacit expectation that when *you* need something in exchange (a place for your visiting friends and family, someone to feed your cats when you are out of town, etc), you can count on your neighbors to reciprocate. Even if its not one-to-one, you all are engaging in this system because you all expect it will come out as a wash, and you will benefit as much as you put out.

      None of this is the case here. OP2 did not offer her home, Janet came to her unsolicited and asked for it. Furthermore, she isn’t offering anything in exchange.

      Plenty of people are happy to loan out their vacation homes for free, and that’s great, but that’s not a choice everyone has to make.

      And yeah, it probably is a cultural thing. I’m from the Northwest, and people are less upfront. It works great when everyone plays along, but it does mean that some people can trample on other people’s sensibilities to get what they want. Maybe it would be better if we were more forthright, but the culture is what it is, and that’s not going to change overnight, you know?

      And there are trade-offs in this culture for being pushy. You may get what you want in the short term, but long term if you keep stepping on people’s toes it will alienate you from others long term.

  10. Ele4phant says:

    LW2 – assuming you get on the same page as your husband, just say “Sorry Janet, this doesn’t work for us” and then rinse and repeat as much as necessary.

    1. dinoceros says:

      Yeah. Hinting is not a useful tactic. And LW doesn’t need to give Janet the long explanation/justification given here about who stays in it now and why.

      1. ele4phant says:


        I mean, ideally one hopes people would have the social grace to pick up on what is clearly a soft no, but Janet has already proven she doesn’t get , or will ignore if it serves her, the social cues.

        She’s has the gall to ask unsolicited to use someone else’s property, so why would we expect she’s going to pick up on or respect a soft no? She’s going to bulldoze over people’s sense of social niceties to get what she wants.

        Its not Janet’s right to use the property just because she wants to, and she’s not entitled to be given what she deems a reasonable explanation of why she can’t use it.

        Just say over and over – sorry, but your request doesn’t work for us.

  11. “I am comfortable with who I am, as I am, and these acts of generosity shake me up.”
    These two things don’t go together. If you’re so comfortable with yourself, why is it such a big “emotional toll” on you, or so mortifying, if someone gives you stuff? You don’t sound comfortable with yourself exactly.

  12. We have gone on a few vacations together. Every time she has done something extremely annoying,

    from complaining that her room wasn’t ready early enough and demanding free breakfast from the hotel

    to complaining that no restaurant menu has anything she can eat to overstaying her welcome when she was invited to our vacation home for a few days.
    She claimed she couldn’t book the same flights we did and had to stay in our vacation home longer than we were staying. We actually checked the flights and they were not full as she claimed.

    I think the letter writer simply doesn’t trust Janet. She gives off the impression that Janet will be dishonest and take advantage of others in order to get a better vacation for herself. I think it’s kind of weird that Janet is doing all the texting if the husbands are best friends. It makes me wonder if Janet’s husband is too embarrassed to ask and the letter writer’s husband is too embarrassed to tell his best friend “no”.

  13. LW1: You say: “I am comfortable with who I am, as I am, and these acts of generosity shake me up.” If this were so, you wouldn’t feel the least bit offended by your friend’s actions and it for sure wouldn’t shake you up or hurt you, as you implied.

  14. dinoceros says:

    LW1: I assume it’s the depression, but her inappropriate generosity reflects more on HER than it does you. I think if you can get to a place where you don’t assume that her doing something awkward means that there’s something wrong with you, it will help you handle the situation smoother. She assumed that it would be fine and you wouldn’t be offended, and she was wrong. That has literally nothing to do with you. Even if she misjudged the situation and wrongly thought that you needed her to give you those things, again — SHE misjudged. We can’t control how others see us all the time.

    But if she’s generally a good friend, you can easily handle this in a way that should be fine for all involved. Tell her that you appreciate her generosity, but you aren’t in need of designer . Tell her it makes you uncomfortable to get such lavish gifts. Then tell her that you’d prefer she ask first before trying to give you things like that (or tell her you’d prefer her NOT give you things).

    That said, if you are disappointed by a lack of a support system, it would be in your best interest to not shun her for this, and to help her redirect her desire to be helpful. Tell her that material things don’t help much, but it would really be helpful if friends could do . If any part of this is related to how she perceives you, it’s probably that she sees that you are in need of support, but doesn’t know how to give it. (Also, she’s not going to die to be asked nicely to do things differently. I understand this is stressful to you, but this could easily be a situation that’s solve quickly and forgotten about, if you’re willing to have one awkward conversation.)

  15. about LW 1- absolutely you can feel comfortable with who you are, yet be unnerved by someone’s implicit criticism. Looks, and stylish attire, are really important to some people, and not to others-me, I don’t give a damn most of the time, but if circumstances require, I’ll be dressing like an alien glam princess .( A very old one at that, and unashamed) The rest of the time, I’ll be wearing exactly what I feel like that day, and it may well be a boiler suit. I took from LW1 that she could brush up perfectly nicely if required, but liked to dress neat but unremarkable for general life and visiting friends in their house. A friend taking it upon themselves to make it clear this was just not good enough would give me pause for thought.

  16. ….which gives me the idea that maybe, the next time LW1 visits her friend, perhaps just this once it might be politic to dress up a fair bit, so her friend can see that she has the ability to do so if she so chose? That might be enough in itself to halt the flow of unwanted gifts.

  17. LW2: just say no, sorry, it is not possible.
    The end: you don’t have to make a fuss about it. It won’t ruin the friendship. They can ask the question – I would never ask such a question – and you are allowed just to refuse. This is not rude to refuse.
    But stop inviting them there. Either you like them or not.

    LW1: you can tell your friend: “thanks you very much, but you don’t have to offer me all these clothes. I couldn’t return the favor. I just enjoy your company.”
    Gifts should be reciprocate. Otherwise, it is a bit superior of her, even though she means well. BUt I wouldn’t make a fuss about it either. If you have few friends, don’t spoil this new connection for something like this.
    Anyway: now you can resell those expensive things. Put them on the internet or take them to a second hand fashion shop. You will make some money.

  18. ele4phant says:

    I think it’s pretty presumptuous to ask unsolicited to use someone elses property. That is a big ask, IMO.

    Perhaps they feel they are close enough, perhaps they feel because they got to stay there themselves once before there is a precedent, but I wouldn’t do it.

  19. anonymousse says:

    But if they are close friends (husband and husband) I don’t think it’s that weird to ask. It is weird to insist when you have been told No.

    Her husband should handle this, whatever they decide. Stay out of it, LW1.

  20. Teri Anne says:

    That LW1 suffers from depression is a red herring, because the discomfort she feels from her friend’s gifts is not caused by her depression. She is upset by the tone deafness of her friend’s gifts. The friend assumed that because she likes makeup, perfume and fancy clothes, that the LW would also. The LW does put effort into dressing neatly and appropriately but she simply doesn’t have any interest in wearing makeup and perfume. Even worse, the clothes do not fit. I also dislike makeup and perfume, and over 40 years later my memory of receiving makeup and icky perfumed soap for Christmas still stings.

    LW1 seems to be on a tight budget, and a better approach for the friend would have been to ask what she would like. Grocery gift cards may be a great present. I like the idea of one correspondent that the LW could sell the items to get a little extra spending money.

    1. Or donate them to Goodwill and get an itemized receipt because that can be a good tax deduction. They assign a pretty high value to each item.

    2. dinoceros says:

      I don’t think it’s a red herring. Many people might feel offended or awkward because her friend did this. But not everyone would take it this personally. I might be irritated by a friend for doing this, but it wouldn’t make me question my own worth or register as this big a deal. She didn’t say “I’m annoyed that she’s tone deaf,” she’s wondering if her friend thinks she’s less-than.

  21. LW2, When Janet manipulated you by getting a later flight home than you, you should have said, oh, I’m sorry but you can’t stay here without us…you will have to get a hotel those last few days. No, do not invite her to vacation with you again since it’s obvious you can’t stand her. I personally think it is fine to tell her, sorry, we don’t loan our our vacation house anymore. I can give the names of some good BnBs in the area if you want. This is someone you don’t like and don’t trust. Don’t let them walk all over you.
    LW1, you need to tell your friend kindly…please don’t give me anymore hand me downs or things. I just don’t want them. I DO want us to keep up our friendship though…it means so much to me to have reconnected! Also, LW, please don’t be so offended…she is just trying to be kind and wants to help you and do something nice for you.

  22. allathian says:

    LW2, you and your husband need to be on the same page about this. I assume both of you have title to the property? If so, both of you should have a say in who gets to stay there with or without you being there. It’s obvious you really don’t like Janet, and that’s unfortunate, but judging by her pushy behavior I don’t blame you. If your husbands really are best buddies, maybe you could ask your husband to spend more time with his friend without the wives being there. I assume they occasionally spend time together without you and Janet.

    LW1, I feel like you’re sending mixed messages here… On the one hand, you’re dealing with depression without a good support system. That’s tough. But on the other hand, you seem to have a hard time accepting support when it’s offered. I totally get it that you may feel like the friend you recently reconnected with sees you as somehow less-than when she gives you unsolicited stuff that you have no use for. But if you’ve told her that you’ve been depressed and don’t have much of a support system, and in the next breath complimented her on her appearance and nice house, it’s completely understandable that she might like to share her good fortune and give you some stuff. Even if her gifts were too lavish and made you feel worse, I sincerely doubt that she did it out of malice or because she wanted to feel superior. When you talk to her, you should thank her for her generosity and tell her how much you value her friendship, but that she doesn’t need to show she cares by giving you excessively lavish gifts that make you uncomfortable. No need to go into details about why and how they make you uncomfortable. All that said, it’s also charitable to be able to accept generosity when it’s sincerely offered.

  23. LW2 and her husband own the home. If it sits empty or is in use is their business. There is no obligation to allow someone to use the vacation home. Why does Wendy want to shame her for her choice regarding the use of her property? No one is entitled to someone else’s property. I notice the bf husband did not call and ask her husband, maybe he is not okay with the request but can’t control his wife? I would assume that if the husband wanted to make the trip, he would call and ask. Who would text such a request? Even if it were family or a close friend, I would call and make a personal request asking that they think about it an let me know–not putting them on the spot for an immediate answer. BTW, I would only ask if the owner had previously made such an offer. If the husbands are BFs, maybe they should have a “guy” weekend and enjoy golfing or whatever interest they share. Who tells someone offering free lodging that the ticket is too expensive? Bet it is less expensive than the ticket and lodging combined. Apparently she does not like their company and just wants to use them for free lodging, but not be bothered by them. Since the husband is not the one that made the request, I would not assume it would hurt the friendship if the request was not granted. Just text her back and say, sorry that time does not work for us and btw we’ll miss you on the joint outing since it does not work for you. Then your husband should contact her husband and try to plan a guy’s trip so they can enjoy time together.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *