DAME’s Friendkeeper preps a woman for the pitfalls of owning property with pals and tells a woman how to make a clean break from a toxic tie.
I’m considering buying a house with a good friend and her husband. Is this a terrible idea? I’m single and don’t see myself partnering up anytime soon, and the only way I can afford to buy property is if I go in on it with other people. Plus, I adore them! We’ve been friends for years, we get along great, and we’re looking for a duplex, or something similar, so we won’t actually be living together. But I’m still nervous about how this might affect our friendship. We’re both gainfully employed now, but what if one of us runs into money trouble? What if my amazing friend is actually a hellish neighbor? I think I’m just being neurotic, but I can’t help but consider all the possibilities. What can I do now to make sure our friendship isn’t negatively affected by this enormous purchase we’re about to make together? Is there a way to lay a positive foundation (ha!) that will help us sidestep any future uglies?
A wise woman who goes by the name of My Mom once said, “There’s no decision in life that’s permanent, except having a kid.” And as I approach my FORTY-EIGHTH BIRTHDAY ON SATURDAY, I have found this to be true. Of course there are risks involved with anything. Leaving a job for another job, getting married, ordering fish, but if you go into it with your eyes open you can save a good deal of heartache. You and friend and husband should sit down and discuss everyone’s potential worries. I promise you’re not the only one who has them. None of you has done this before (or if you have, you haven’t done this with each other). Maybe your friend’s husband is worried that you’ll be monopolizing his wife. Maybe your friend is afraid you’ll be walking into her home unannounced every morning and drinking her coffee. I don’t know but the way to insure that you have the best possible shot at this working is by laying out the ground rules. Set boundaries for how you all want to coexist. And talk about the what-ifs—what if you meet someone and you want to leave? What if your friend loses her job and can’t pay? Maybe she thinks you’ll cover her mortgage payments. (She does? Who the hell does she think you are, J. P. Morgan?) Anyway, very important to find it all out now.
I think I have an unusual request…what’s the best way to end a friendship? I have this friend, Claire*, who I used to really get along with. I’ve known her casually for a while and though at first I found her cynicism witty and her intensity intriguing lately she’s sucking more energy than I can give. It’s just that everything is all about her. It’s a relationship my therapist would probably call “toxic” if I were still going to see her. Claire and I don’t hang out that often so I thought I could just let it fade away. I’ve stopped returning her calls but that doesn’t seem to deter her. Do I have to actually tell her it’s over? And if I do, what’s the best way to do it? The city we live in isn’t that big and I don’t want it to be horribly awkward if and when I run into her around town. I’ve never broken up with a friend before, turns out it’s just as hard as giving a bf the heave-ho. Please help!
Breaking Up Is Hard to Do
Interesting, I hear the flipside of your letter a lot. Someone says all of a sudden they are out of someone’s life and they don’t know why or what they did. They call and the call isn’t returned, they email, no response. And they don’t know why and they wonder and stew. What I think is interesting is that you said it turns out to be just as hard to break up with a friend as a boyfriend. Well, guess what? It’s supposed to be! I mean sometimes people miraculously grow apart at the same time, but other times it’s an “I’m not really feelin’ this anymore” kind of thing. Now, if this was a boyfriend or girlfriend, you wouldn’t just dodge them to break up (unless you’re in second grade), you’d either try to work it out or at least say why it wasn’t working for you. Do the same thing here. I mean, I am sure you could pretend to be dead for a few months and eventually your friend will get the idea. But you’re better than that. When I used to go to group therapy, one of the goals was to get a sense of how people experience you. It turns out what I considered my “blank” face came across as fury. So have the conversation and give your friend the opportunity to answer or at least hear it—maybe it’s something she’s unaware of or maybe she’s working on it, or would like to. Or maybe she’s happy with her negative soul-sucking self and doesn’t want to go changin’ to try and please you. But either way you are leaving with a clean conscience. And I promise you, no matter what, it’s going to be awkward bumping into each other—that’s just how it goes—but eventually it will all be OK.
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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