DAME’s Friendkeeper helps a woman navigate her suspicions of a potential pal and tells another how to discuss loaned cash without losing her cool.
I hope this doesn’t make me sound like an ingrate or a crazy paranoid, but I’ve recently made a new acquaintance and she’s, how can I put this, trying too hard. I met her through a friend one night at a party. She seemed cool enough and we realized we work in the same industry so we exchanged information. That very night she followed all of my social media channels and I got a Facebook friend request before I even got home. She favorites all of my Tweets, comments on most of my posts, and has since inundated me with requests to hang out. At first I wasn’t intentionally shirking the invites, I simply have a busy schedule, but now I’m starting to wonder about her motives. Why is she so eager to befriend me? Does she have an agenda? Does she think I can help her work-wise? Is she just an incredibly friendly person who loves meeting new people and I’m too jaded to appreciate her lack of self-restraint? I don’t want to unnecessarily put the kibosh on a potential friendship, but I also don’t want to put effort into an inauthentic connection. What would you do?
I feel suspicious, too, but not about her motives, I feel suspicious of her sense of personal space and boundaries. Neither of us actually knows her; she may be nice and fine or she may be making a suit of the skin of former friends who’ve rebuffed her (okay, probably not), but I would totally be wary. If this was a romantic pursuant you’d be long turned off, amiright? And let’s not discount the possibility that you ARE that fabulous and she just really wants to be your friend. Be that as it may, you can certainly get together with her and see what she’s about. Very often when I have a sense someone is trying to network through me, I go a little cold, but it’s worth a meeting to find out and then you can decide if it just doesn’t seem authentic. It’s kind of like when a guy or gal tells you they love you too soon. I argue, YOU DO NOT KNOW ME. At this point you are in love with the notion you have about me or the idea that I’ll be making my fabulous shrimp and pasta dish all the time and trust me at $16.99 a pound, I will not! Anyway, meet her for coffee. She may be great and you may have fun and maybe there’ll be something there, and if it just doesn’t feel comfortable, then you can put the kibosh on it.
A few months ago one of my closest friends was in a bad way financially. She had recently moved, was trying to get her freelance biz up and running in a new city, and had an influx of unanticipated expenses to deal with. Knowing my money situation is fairly stable she asked if she could borrow enough cash to cover a month’s rent, just to smooth her transition. Let me say up front, she’s no Suze Orman. We’ve been friends for years and this is a thing I know about her. But when one of my closest friends is in a bind, I help her out, even when I know it’s not the best idea. So of course I gave it to her. Now her business is picking up, she’s settling in to her new life, and she appears to have a somewhat steady stream of money coming in. At least that’s what I gather judging by the new Rachel Comey sweater she was wearing the other day (she swore she got it on eBay for a steal) and the $200-a-session psychic she told me she went to see. What’s weird is that she’s not ignoring the fact that she owes me money. She’ll bring it up, thank me again for loaning it to her, and tell me she’s working on paying me back. But that’s hard for me to believe when she then tells me how delicious the dinner she had at a super pricey restaurant was, or that she’s booked a flight just to get out of town for a few days. WTF! I don’t have enough money to do that, so how does she?? Should I be offended that paying me back obviously isn’t one of her top priorities? And how can I let her know that it should be, before my resentment festers further?
Friend With(out) Money
It just so happens I have discussions about this all the time. Probably one of my top kvetches is about money and I have lovely friends who offer to lend me some and I always say, OH NO! One time I talked to my beau about money and he launched into his Frank Burns impression (sorry if you’re too young to remember M*A*S*H)—“Neither a borrower or a lender be. Polonious.” And then went into a long speech about how Frank kept a ledger of the money he lent Margaret and how mad she got. “What’s your point, dear?” I said graciously (no I didn’t, I choked him within an inch of his life…and not in a fun S&M way).
Anywho, I consulted my sage Aunt Mattie about your letter because she often talks about that very thing…take it away, Mattie!
“Lending a friend money is never a good idea. The minute the dough goes from your hand to hers you become the bad guy. Either you’re cheap for asking for it back or you’re someone to dodge. Your bigger problem isn’t the money though, it’s that your friend is a half-wit for mentioning all the fancy things she’s buying. Next time she talks about something expensive she purchases ask her to get one for you too so you can return it and get the money for that iron lung your doctor says you need, but you’ve been putting off its purchase until you have some extra cash. And if someone you’re close to asks to borrow money in the future, decide how much you can afford to give away and give it to her, or faint dead away so you don’t have to answer.”
Okay so now you’ve got this issue in your life and you don’t want to feel the way you feel. You said she brings up paying you back. Let’s say the next time she does tell her, “You can pay me back in increments, you don’t have to pay it all back at once.” I think since you didn’t lend it to her with an “I need it back by” date, you need to just massage it into the conversation.
Otherwise you did a mitzvah and you’re a kind friend and you will get hot fudge sundaes in heaven.
Got a platonic problem of your own that could use the Friendkeeper’s advice? Fire away: [email protected]. No situation is too uncomfortable or too small and all details are kept confidential.
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