- This topic has 9 replies, 3 voices, and was last updated 11 months ago by LisforLeslie.
I am 44 and have known my best friend, Stella, since I was 14. They say opposites attract, and that couldn’t be truer in our case. Immediately after high school, she moved across the country to another state while I stayed closer to home to go to college. I was always very driven by academia and was career and goal oriented, while she was more focused on meeting the right person to settle down and have children instead of pursuing higher education, and there is nothing wrong with that.
As I was in a much better position financially over the years, I opted to make the flights to see her periodically. Due to her financial struggles, I she would drive me right to the supermarket so I could purchase food I would need during my stay with her. She would cry every time I left. I knew the man she had her two children with treated her poorly, and it always broke my heart to see her so sad.
Every chance I had, I would send her a card or a small gift here and there. I even rented a car on a work-trip and made a ridiculously long drive to see her. I always made every effort I could to see her, no matter what, because her friendship meant the world to me.
However, looking back at my friendship over the years, I am beginning to question if, in a sense, I have been “buying” my friendship with her. I feel I always went to her, and I always made the financial sacrifices. Once while on a trip to see her, she convinced me to loan her money to go to an amusement park, promised to pay me back, and never did. I’ve given her gifts of cash totaling over $1,200.00 to help her financially, and two were lumps of $400.00. Yet, I never even received a thank-you card from her for this. When I got married, she was supposed to have been a bridesmaid. Due to her financial situation, my family and I paid for her attire and even offered to fly her up for the big day, and at the last minute, she was unable to make the wedding due to child-care issues. Again, we didn’t even receive a card from her. When my husband and I moved to her state for his job for a 12-month stint, she never made the 2-hour round trip to see us. I could give quite a few other examples, but I am feeling a bit unappreciated and somewhat used.
To make matters worse, her stories and versions of events don’t always quite add up in the details. She also seems to be perpetually hopeless and depressed. However, she has always been there for me emotionally whenever I have needed her like a rock. All-in-all, I love her like a sister, yet, I am questioning the overall health of this friendship.
What are your thoughts? I don’t give to expect things back from people other than emotions, and I love to be generous. What I don’t like is feeling like I might be “buying” affection from someone.
Am I overthinking all of this? I’m losing sleep.
JoanneAngeOctober 28, 2022 at 7:28 pm #1116697
It sounds like she’s in a bad, potentially abusive marriage with very little money (or potentially no access to money) so I’d try to cut her some slack. You might have offered her trips and been nearby but if her husband ensures she has no access to childcare or tells her he doesn’t want her to leave the kids with him what option does she have? No wonder she’s hopeless and depressed, I would be too in that situation. And ultimately you don’t know if she’s covering for her husband or something else in these stories she tells.
She’s been there for you emotionally, which is something she can offer without causing issues at home so I think that’s how she’s giving what she can. You are always free to end friendships if you don’t want to continue but I think your friend’s life isn’t going so well and compassion may be the name of the game.AnonymousseOctober 28, 2022 at 10:03 pm #1116698
I think gifts of money to friends who desperately need it should be given and immediately forgotten. If she’s your best friend, give her the gift of letting her save her face with you and not have to beg and plead for your friendship. You’ve been very close friends for 30 years. If anything, stop giving her money if it bothers you. Although, honestly it sounds like she really needs it. She is in a really hard spot, it sounds from what you wrote. I wouldn’t expect a thank you card from my very good lifelong friend.
Did something happen recently between you that made you feel that way? I’m curious why this has come up for you now when it seems this dynamic has been the status quo for decades.
Maybe I’m harsher than the previous commenters, but I have a low threshold for one-sided friendships. I also have a lot of my oldest friends scattered around the globe and know how much effort it takes to stay close. If you no longer feel like this is serving you, it’s okay to take a step back. Maybe there’s a boundary you can draw that makes you feel close without feeling like you’re being used (e.g., you’ll visit once/year but not give cash).
You can always talk to her about this directly, too. Tell her how you feel. See how she responds.
Yes! Thank you so much for asking this very important question. And to answer the questions that the other commenters had: She broke up with the father of her first two children many years ago as he was quite abusive towards her. Those two children are now in their early 20s. About 12 years ago, she met another man, whom she married and had a child with. This man, Robert, treats her well and is an excellent provider. Sadly, he didn’t arrive in the US under legal circumstances. He ended up having to go back to his home country to finish the process of getting his documentation to become a legal citizen. He was supposed to have had been there for 3 weeks, but that turned into 8 months. She wasn’t prepared for that. By the way, this was during 2021, so it was fairly recently.
During this time period in late 2021, she had asked to borrow $5,000 from me at one point. She knows I no longer work due to MS, and I thought it was ridiculous to ask for a loan of that amount. She then started freaking out on the phone with me for months and having panic attacks, crying, etc., which is when I gave her a “gift” of the $1,000 because I felt a loan would have jeopardized our friendship. She refused to work during this time period, even though she is able-bodied. She is in pain due to a car accident, but I am too due to MS, several rare diseases and my own car accident. I worked with severe pain for many years, and it wasn’t until recently that I had to stop working because of overwhelming medical issues. She told me that because she financially “hasn’t had to work for years” because she has been doing well with her current husband, she didn’t want to get a job during this time period. She refused to work, yet, friends and family kept giving her money and loans to pay her bills, and once I gave her that money, she started saying that she was such a big admirer of mine because I always “move forward” and accomplish things, etc. Between the compliments and the panic attacks and crying spells over money she was having on the phone with me, not to mention her comments about her sisters “not doing right by family” for not giving her money, I had the impression that perhaps I had been “had” as in manipulated into doing exactly what she wanted me to do. She may not have even realized that she did that, and under the extreme stress of the situation I will give her the benefit of the doubt, but I know the before and after signs of manipulation, and something didn’t feel right to me at all.
I will say this too: I often feel that her version of reality doesn’t always quite add up in the details, and I’m sure you know what you mean by that. If you have friends that you keep up with all over the globe, you know that it really does take a lot of effort to keep up with friends. I feel like I have a lot of friends in all corners too – I have moved a lot over the years – but I have noticed that I tend to be a “giver” and a “fixer.” This may not be serving me. It is not my job to fix other people, and I am now beginning to realize that the effort I have been putting into trying to fix and help others may also need to be channeled into some “self-love” too.
My apologies for such a drawn-out reply to your response!
LisforLeslieOctober 31, 2022 at 6:00 am #1116714
- This reply was modified 11 months ago by deepbluesea01.
- This reply was modified 11 months ago by deepbluesea01.
The money is gone. Accept that. You have to determine if this person brings anything into your life or are you just holding on because she’s a long time friend.
I’ve been in your shoes, I had a friend that was always a little short, her husband was out of work, they were fighting, the kids needed blah blah blah. And I gave her money – a lot of money. And I was fine never seeing that money again. But the drama never ended. I had to step away because she became a never ending soul suck of drama and I HATE drama.
Does she actually bring any benefit to your life?
I’d not stay close to this woman. Asking someone for $5,000 is no small favor and she certainly seems to feel entitled to other people’s money. She may not be a horrible person, but what are you getting out of this friendship? I’d be taking a big step back if not ending the friendship altogether.
ETA: Do you invest this much into your local friendships? I ask because I have also moved around a bit, as have my friends, and I know it’s hard to make new friends. My best friends from my teen years don’t live near me and while we’re still great friends and I love when we get together, it did strike me as a bit odd that you and your friend are still somehow this close/enmeshed after so many years of living far apart. So just wanted to add that if I were you, I’d be redirecting the energy you’re putting into this one friend into developing close friendships nearby.
I am sure you are correct with that observation. I didn’t think of it like that. We are two drastically different people at these points in life, anyway. We seem to use each other, in a lot of ways, as venting outlets. However, I have been trying to move away from being trapped in negative thought-processes. Try as I might, I don’t like dwelling in circles of misery. I suffered from depression for years when I was younger, but now that I’m a bit older and wiser, I just want to be happy. I feel like every time I speak with this friend, she is stressed over something – to me trivial matters quite often. As far as making new friends goes, you are correct on that: it is tough. Sadly, being married to an alcoholic hasn’t helped me much at all. I am not depressed, I am just indifferent, and my self-esteem is suffering because of it. Yet, I am not trying to justify it. However, I am at a crossroads where I realize I have some tough choices to make it seems, and obviously not just with friendships.LisforLeslieNovember 3, 2022 at 7:58 am #1116758
It’s ok to let her go. To be less available. To fade out. It’s ok to decide that you need to focus your time with people who bring joy and happiness in your life and support you.