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Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

Petty and Selfish Friend- It’s Me. I’m the Friend!

Home Forums Get Advice, Give Advice Petty and Selfish Friend- It’s Me. I’m the Friend!

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  • #1092030 Reply
    Alea
    Guest

    My friends (a romantic couple, Morgan and Lane) recently got a new puppy and are finding it hard to manage their schedules. The nature of their work is that they get called in on weekends, and I don’t work weekends. I also lead the most boring life imaginable and almost never go out on weekends, which my friends of 10+ years know. When Morgan and Lane have invited me out to do things, I’ve usually declined, so they know I’m a homebody. As a result, I had offered to dogsit for them if they occasionally get called in and can’t get “childcare” for the puppy, since I would most likely be available. Throughout the years, I have babysat for other friends with babies/kids and pets, which Morgan and Lane know. I also NEVER charge money, but these other friends have always left meals/snacks for the duration of my babysitting.

    When I offered to dogsit, I was not expecting that Morgan and Lane would ask me to dogsit every weekend. It’s been about six weeks now where they’ve asked every week, and I’ve said yes about half the time. Sometimes they need me both Saturday and Sunday, so I feel bad and say yes to one of the days. There was one weekend where I actually surprisingly was not free. And a couple times, I made up excuses so I didn’t have to go.

    While they are obviously very appreciative and say thank you when I do dogsit, they have never offered to cover my gas, they have never offered food (they said apologetically the first time that they had no food that I could eat, since I’m vegetarian, so I told them, “No problem, I’ll bring my own lunch and dinner!” And it has since become an expectation that I provide myself food…), and they’ve never tried to thank me in any way except verbally.

    I know this makes me super petty, but I’m starting to resent Morgan and Lane. I didn’t offer to dogsit out of an expectation that they would compensate me, but I feel like it’s just good manners to express your appreciation in some way. They know that everyone else I’ve babysat for has cooked for me or left me food when I do it, but I think Morgan and Lane find it too difficult because I’m vegetarian.

    Morgan and Lane are genuinely good people, kind friends, and for some reason, the things I say have a huge impact on them. The problem is that if I’m honest with Morgan and Lane and say I no longer want to dogsit and why, it would really hurt them. I was the one who offered to dogsit on weekends when they have to work, and it’s selfish of me to take that back simply because they don’t feed me and because it has been a lot more weekends than I anticipated. It makes me cringe to even think about suggesting that they start preparing food/snacks for me…that feels like a huge faux pas to me. They should either offer food on their own or not; it’s not my place to request it. I didn’t make it a condition to them that they must provide me food if I’m going to dogsit. But in addition to all this, I’m starting to get tired of having to do the drive (again, it’s me being petty here…the round trip is only 40 minutes), and having to spend a full day with the puppy. I totally understand that from their point of view, I would simply be sitting at home reading and eating my own food anyway, so why don’t I just go do the same thing at their house? And as a bonus, I get to play with an adorable puppy. I’m feeling a lot of resentment, and a bit of guilt (about both the resentment and my unreasonable expectations), and would love to hear suggestions or advice from objective third parties. Please and thank you!

    #1092034 Reply
    Peggy
    Guest

    You are not selfish and petty. You offered to help but they are taking advantage of you and not being thoughtful in their treatment of you.
    However, they can’t fix something if they do not know it is broken. You have every right to say something like this “You know I love you guys and your dog. I wanted to help out and I enjoy spending time with Furby. However it has ended up costing me quite a bit in gas money and having to bring and buy extra food. And as much as I love Furby, a whole day or weekend with him,on what has become a quite regular basis, is becoming more than I want to take on.
    No need to apologize or act like you are wrong for mentioning the issues. I think you should say this and then give clear requests and limits. For e.g.
    “I can sit twice a month for up to x numbers of hours. ( or whatever you deem doable) It would be great if I could get 20.00 toward gas and a “Veggies are Us” card to cover my meals.”
    If they are sweet people and good friends as you say, this should not be an issue. They will likely realize that they have “pushed the envelope” on this.
    If they don’t step up, you can simply just not be available anymore/be busy. You should not feel guilty to not want to be at their beck and call. The friendship will have more chance to be ruined if you don’t say anything. Your unvoiced growing anger and resentment will lead to more problems if not dealt with. And if you just really don’t want to dog-sit at all anymore that is okay too. No need to over explain. Just “I love Furby but I am not going to able to sit with him anymore as I want to devote more time to X,Y and Z. You don’t need to justify your actions. But you can’t be taken advantage of, if you don’t allow it.

    #1092130 Reply
    Ele4phant
    Guest

    Look – they are taking advantage of you, but you can say no. You have a right to set boundaries for yourself. Their feelings may get hurt, but that’s kind of a them problem. Honestly it’s unreasonable to get upset when someone wants to stop doing favors for you.

    A reasonable person should be able to hear “I love you and I love your pup but the dog sitting has turned out to be more of a burden for me than I realized, so I’m no longer able to do that for you/I’m not able to do it for you this time.” Without having a meltdown or taking a personal offense. If they do that’s about them, not you.

    I’d have plenty of advice if they wrote in about how they need to be appreciative of the free favor a friend has given them, that just because you’ve done it before doesn’t mean they are entitled to it forever, and that really they should pay you for your efforts (I pay my cat sitters what it would take to board him or find a stranger on rover, they should compensate people who help them with their dog too).

    That said, you wrote in. So my advice to you is to stand up for yourself and not care so much about their feelings.

    #1092166 Reply
    CanadaGoose
    Guest

    Curious as to why they can’t bring the dog to you. That would deal with the gas issue and make them realize the burden you are undertaking with all the driving.

    I agree with the suggestion that you flag things with them that would make this easier for you. “You know I love helping you guys out and I think puppy is great, but this has turned into a nearly every weekend thing, which is a bit much for me. I’m still happy to puppysit occasionally/every few weeks but I know you guys need more so I thought I should flag it with you.” I’d let them respond and then when you are making arrangements for the next time, if you have to go there, just let them know they need to feed you. “I know I’ve been bringing my own food because you mentioned you didn’t have vegetarian stuff around that first time but I would really appreciate it if you could either stock some food I can eat or order me in some delivery for when I’m puppysitting. I can text over some suggestions if it helps.”

    They think you are fine with this as you offered to do it and you offered to bring your own food. If they are caring people, they will feel bad about taking advantage of you and make it right pretty quickly.

    #1092186 Reply
    Alea
    Guest

    Thank you for your comment! I think maybe I presented myself in a better light than reality, and made my friends seem worse. Sorry to be long winded, but I’m going to try and give a bit more info. The reason I say I’m petty is that the gas cost is really only $2 (or less) per round trip, so it seems awful to ask them to cover that, especially because they aren’t doing well financially. Their jobs do pay really well, but they have mortgages (they have to help out their parents on both sides and cover their own mortgage) and they often lose track of their day-to-day spending (eating out, going to movies, etc.) so they hit the end of the month and things are tight until payday. (I am not in any way bragging about being rich myself! Their household income is almost quadruple mine, but that’s my choice, because I chose to remain single and stay in a lower paying job. But I do so knowing that I’m boring as heck and don’t need a lot of money since I don’t do anything, hahaha.)

    I think I have just created this unreasonable expectation over the years that people I babysit for will feed me, because everyone did it naturally on their own, so I was disappointed that they don’t offer to do that or suggest another way to “thank” me. I definitely don’t think they are taking advantage of me intentionally, but you’re right, they have no clue that I’m displeased with the situation because I say nothing. I just feel so bad speaking up because I was the one (dumb enough) to offer in the first place. If they had made the request on their own that I take on dogsitting, I would have no problem now saying directly, “I don’t want to do this anymore. Or this needs to change.” But it seems so rude to offer and then take back the offer, or add conditions to it.

    I love the idea of telling them that I want to only dogsit X days. I was thinking of saying to Morgan and Lane that to make things easier for my planning and scheduling, we should agree on two set days a month that I would dogsit for sure, and they could let me know if they don’t need me. Any days outside that, they can ask, but I would likely have something planned already. (Though I feel a bit guilty, because that’s obviously a lie, hahaha.)

    #1092188 Reply
    Alea
    Guest

    Oops, I don’t know if I did this wrong, but I was trying to reply directly to each comment, and I’m not sure that shows up. So my last message was to Peggy! I guess I’ll just “@“ everyone else below.


    @Ele4phant

    My friends definitely wouldn’t take offence or have a meltdown, but they would be really disappointed. A new restaurant opened in town and they wanted to go, and then thought it would be a good idea to invite me. I checked the menu and could only eat two dishes, neither of which appealed to me, so I declined. They were disappointed enough that they then suggested various other restaurants in hopes I would join them. I had to say, “That’s ridiculous. The whole point was you guys wanted to try out that new restaurant. Just go without me!” But they were a bit hurt. They did end up going alone and loved the food, but later told me how much they wished I could’ve joined them and how they would’ve liked it better if I had gone with them. (Not as a way to guilt me, but just expressing their honest feelings.) So I would hurt them a lot if I told them the truth or said I don’t want to dogsit at all anymore. I think in their minds, they ARE appreciating me by saying (or texting) “Thank you!” every time I dogsit. And to be fair, I have always viewed my babysitting of humans, dogs, cats, reptiles, and rodents as something I do for someone in need, rather than as a service for payment. And I feel like they are in need, with everything going on in their lives.

    @CanadaGoose
    Funnily enough, on days that I can’t dogsit, they have to bring the puppy to either Morgan’s parents or Lane’s parents, and both sets live in the same direction as their work. But they told me they would prefer not doing that and would rather I look after the puppy. (From what they’ve told me, I’ve come to the conclusion that both sets of parents aren’t very attentive to the puppy. They have found poop or chewed up items in their houses days later…) I, on the other hand, live in completely the opposite direction! I also drive faster than they do, so my 40 minute round trip is 45 minutes for them. They would have to add an hour and a half of driving (to drop off and then come back and pick up) the puppy if they brought the fuzzball to me.

    Your final comment nailed it. They ARE caring people and would feel terrible if I implied that they are taking advantage of me, because it isn’t their intention! But my doing that would really hurt them, which makes me feel awful and guilty. And I love your suggestions, but asking them to provide food makes me feel rude. I feel like it would be the same thing as asking someone for a birthday present when I invite them to my birthday party. I can hope (or even expect!) a gift, but I can’t outright ask for one if they don’t give me something, right?

    #1092190 Reply
    Alea
    Guest

    @Peggy
    Not sure if this is how I catch your attention, but my first reply was for you! Sorry about that.

    Thank you to everyone for your suggestions and advice! I’m going camping next week since we have a public holiday on Thursday, so I’ve told my friends that I’m not available on the weekend. This will buy me some time to try and think up a message that will hopefully minimise the “hurtfulness” to them. 😛

    #1092197 Reply
    ele4phant
    Guest

    You don’t have to have a melt down to be disappointed or hurt that someone can’t drop their own plans to take care of your pet for you.

    If that’s how they react, even if it’s just mild displeasure, expressing that to you isn’t cool.

    I mean, come on, you are giving them something for free, on demand, that they would have to pay a dog walker, like at least $15 an hour. I know view this as a loving thing to do from your heart, not a service, and that’s very kind of you, but it *is* a service that has a value. Professional dog walkers exist because this can be a burden to do for someone else and has a value.

    You are doing them a huge kindness to help them out, but you should not feel, and let them make you feel, like you are at all obligated to keep saying yes. You can set boundaries, give them conditions you need in order to do it (like leaving you food), or just say no on occassion and they have no grounds to say boo.

    You should be able to say nope can’t help you out today and any reaction less than “Oh no worries! Whatever time you can spare is a huge help, and we’ll take whatever you can give!” is unacceptable on their part.

    If they feel hurt over that, that is about them being unreasonable, not you.

    This is a favor you are doing for them, you get to set the terms about what works for you, not them.

    #1092198 Reply
    ele4phant
    Guest

    And, if I’m not mistaken, they are working during the weekend and want someone to hang out with their dog all day, yes? It’s not that they have a family member in the hospital or anything, right?

    TO me, that sounds like someone that maybe shouldn’t have gotten a dog if they can’t give it adequete attention during their normal routine.

    You aren’t being unreasonable to not want to spend at least one full day of your entire weekend caring for someone else’s pet. You aren’t reasonable for wanting a little more compensation for the burden this favor puts on you, beyond a texted “Thanks!”

    Your time is your time, just because you are homebody does not mean your time is an open slate for anyone who might want it.

    I feel like I’m coming across as mean, but what I really want to impart to you is that you should care more about your own feelings (which are reasonable) than their feelings and expectations of you.

    If they feel hurt that you don’t want to continue the weekly dog sitting, I mean, that’s absurd of them.

    They chose to got a pet, they need to figure out how to make sure it’s cared for on a regular basis isn’t of putting that work on their sweet, overly accommodating friend that’s afraid the mildest push back would hurt their feelings. They are taking advantage of you.

    #1092200 Reply
    Tui
    Participant

    Yeah your friends shouldn’t have a dog if they can’t care for it and they should be compensating you if you are using your own petrol money and spare time. Also, it’s harder to relax and enjoy your weekend if you’re not in your own place. Definitely pull back from what you’re doing. Also try and be more social. Say yes to meals out even if you don’t fancy the menu, you can eat before or after what you want. I’ve been to plenty of things I wouldn’t choose normally because I want to be spend time with people.

    #1092214 Reply
    Alea
    Guest

    @ele4phant
    Hahaha, I’m imagining them texting me what you typed in reply when I say I can’t dogsit on a particular day, and I can’t stop laughing. That’s definitely not it! To be fair, they do say something like, “No worries, we know it’s short notice.” Because unfortunately, they only know they both have to work a day or two beforehand. It’s not so much their reaction when I say I can’t go, it’s more my worries about their feelings if I try to stop the arrangement completely. I don’t think you’re coming across as mean at all. In theory, if I put myself in the position of an unrelated third party, I would be saying everything you’re saying. But being in my current position and knowing what they’re going through is what’s making me want to avoid taking action.

    There is one area where I am going to agree with you, except I’m being way harsher and awfully judgemental: There is no maybe about it; they should not have gotten a dog, much less a puppy. It was actually a total shock to me when they announced that they had put a deposit down with a breeder. We’d had a conversation just shortly before their announcement, and through our three-way discussion, it seemed to me that they both knew it was not the right time to take on a puppy. I have NO idea what happened. Lane recently admitted to me that they can barely afford this puppy. I know there is no way they could ever pay for a dog sitter or dog walker. But as their friend, I don’t want to kick them while they’re down and say, “Why did you get this dog if you can’t afford the cost and time?!” It’s too late now, what can they do? Ugh! I’m getting a bit mad just writing this out, hahahaha.

    I think your word “obligated” is perfect. I feel obligated to help them because I feel sorry for them. Obviously, their current situation is their own fault. They made certain choices and now have to live with them. But I don’t want to be the kind of friend who is only there for them when their lives are going well, so I think I’m overdoing it with the “being there while their lives are NOT going well” instead…

    #1092215 Reply
    Alea
    Guest

    @Tui
    You know, I never could figure out why they were so upset that I didn’t go with them to try out that restaurant, but it turns out all this time, it had nothing to do with the restaurant. After reading your message, I totally get it now. I’m a cold, unfeeling person, so I didn’t realise…it’s because they wanted to spend time with me and I made it clear that they weren’t important enough for me to want to spend time with them!!! Yikes, oops, and oh dear. Unfortunately, knowing this wouldn’t have changed anything. I still wouldn’t have gone, if I could go back in time. (Though I would’ve tried to be kinder and gentler in my “rejection” to them. I was pretty blunt at the time about refusing to go.)

    I wouldn’t mind them coming over to my place and hanging out with me for a few hours, but I don’t want to have to go all the way to a restaurant and then order a dish I don’t want to eat just to socialise with them. And I’m sorry, I have to say, your advice to “try and be more social” is one I definitely don’t want to take! The difference between you and me is that you WANT to spend time with people…I’m trying to avoid it! Hahahaha! I’m the total opposite from you in that spending time with people is actually an additional deterrent on top of the fact that it’s an activity I already don’t want to do in the first place. On the flip side, food that I like/want can actually entice me out of my house, even if I have to socialise as “payment” for it. 😉

    P.S. Fully agree that they shouldn’t have gotten a dog. But it’s too late now. What’s that saying? They’ve made their bed and have to lie in it? Though I seem to be sleeping over in this bed quite a bit…hmm. 😅

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