Friday, June 16, 2006


Dear Crabby:

My best friend is very rich.

In fact, he's a millionaire. This is putting a strain on our relationship. I make a good salary, but I'm not a millionaire like he is. I feel like he keeps putting me down because of it.

For example, I recently went to buy a sofa and he said that the one I chose was not nice enough and wanted to buy me a more expensive one. That's just one example.

He does this kind of thing ALL THE TIME. He invites me on big vacations that I can't afford and offers to pay for them. If we're shopping together and I look at something he right away tries to buy it for me. This makes me feel worthless. What should I do?SignedCertainly Not A Pauper in Pennsylvania

Dear Certainly:

We should all have your problem.

Since you’ve given me zero clues as to whether this friendship is male/female, male/male or female/female, I’ll tackle my response in three short paragraphs because believe it or not – as Ripley would say – the circumstances are different depending on the sex variables - even if the answer remains the same. So first things first.

If you’re a woman and it’s a man opting to buy you things under the rubric of friendship, my ardent advice is to cordially refuse every offer of a gift that is made – particularly if you have no romantic designs on the fellow in question.

While not every man who offers to buy you an Isotta-Fraschini is looking for a payout on all fours, it’s a fair claim to assume that any man throwing hundreds of dollars in your direction is setting up an expectation for some sort of romantic payoff.

You don’t want to be known as a little gold digger.

But, if this man has been a good friend to you, you also don’t want to castrate his good nature with a “take your Royal Doulton and shove it” attitude.

Best advice – politely decline.

You don’t need to explain why. Your expense account is not on trial here.

REVERSE: If you’re a man and it’s a woman who’s offering to shower you with Ferraris and a stable of polo ponies, my advice still stands.

Respectfully decline the offer with a smile.

You don’t want to be a kept man. If pushed to acceptance, merely explain that you’re secure in your more modest social standing and move on.

If it’s a male/male relationship we’re talking about – not romantically involved and homosexual in nature – then you can pretty well bet that the driving circumstance behind your friend’s ambition to elevate your social status to his own is based in competitiveness and possibly hurtful in tone and nature.

“You poor thing. Can’t afford that designer couch. I’ll buy it because I can and you can’t. Then I’ll proceed to tell the whole world of my philanthropy and remind you at every opportunity that that upon which you sit belongs to me.”

Again, I most certainly would not accept any such gift, if for no other reason than it will instill chronic guilt each time you look upon it and remind that the receipt is on someone else’s Visa Platinum.

Finally, if the relationship is female/female then it’s fairly descent to assume that the desire to shop for you is predicated on jealousy. You’re not jealous of her. She’s jealous of you. What?!? Didn’t you say she earns more than you? Yes, but to coin the old cliché – money isn’t everything. In fact, maybe your girlfriend secretly admires and covets what you’ve done with your life on a budget. Perhaps your world is more secure than hers – romantically, professionally, etc. There are lots of reasons – which I won’t indulge in here – as to why a girlfriend would want to go out and buy you things, but most have nothing to do with goodwill.

Again, DO NOT ACCEPT the ‘gift.’

Regardless of the ‘sex variables’ I mentioned, you seem to have a chronic condition happening here. The person you’re with hasn’t occasionally offered to help you pick out an item with the understanding that you’ll pay them back later.

They want to populate your world with things they’ve acquired for you.
The nature of such a relationship is just a tad sycophantic and more than a bit possessive if you ask me.

If you desire to keep this person as a friend, tell him/her that you think them grand for offering, but explain to them that you have no illusions about material things that you cannot possibly afford.

Or just limit your outings with this person to coffee and lunch at a fashionable hot spot that’s equitable to both your expense accounts…DUTCH!

Word to the wise: you’ll never live the good life on someone else’s back!

Yours truly,
The crabby critic

@ 2006 (all rights reserved).


Anonymous Carrie said...

Dear Crabby,

I'm 24 and my Mom won't let me go out. I still live at home because I took out maximum loans for grad school. I do have a job but it simply does not pay enough.

My girlfriends and I were planning a girls' night out tonight and my Mom was all "I don't think it's a good idea for you to go into the city to a nightclub with just girls." Then she asked why I want to dance with girls all night and if my boyfriend knows that I'm going. Geez, I'm not married and yes he does know that I'm going.

Crabby, what should I do? Her control over me is driving me crazy.

From Carrie

July 01, 2006  

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