Friends and finances: Our rich friends are making us uncomfortable.

Advice on sticky friendship dilemmas.
March 8 2011 10:06 AM

Our Rich Friends Don't Understand Why We Can't Make Date Night

Do we have to tell them we can't afford to socialize?

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Please also note that there's a huge difference between missing the intensity of one's college friendships and missing the actual friends with whom you were once intense. In short, unless you're primarily interested in reminiscing about that awesome Oktoberfest kegger at Sigma Chi senior year, it seems to me that you'd do just as well to build stronger ties to newer friends. You might also want to keep in mind that your female friendships will probably never be as love affair-ish as they were when you were 19 or 20. Why? Not only were you undoubtedly more impressionable back then, but it's impossible as an adult to replicate the particular intimacy of living in a house with six ovulating individuals—unless you join a nunnery (or a brothel).

Sincerely,
Friend or Foe

Dear Friend or Foe:

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When my friend "Lisa" and I met at work, she was single, didn't have many local friends, and was living with her parents. My husband, "Dean," and I gave her free access to our house, and she was here more often than not, becoming our permanent "third wheel." Early last year, she decided it was time to look for a house for herself. I spent a year helping her with her search and going to open houses. Then, to our relief—my husband and I were more than ready to have some time to ourselves!—she hit it off with one of Dean's co-workers, "Aaron."

Lisa is fiercely private. After she began dating Aaron, she told me that she could no longer confide in me because I'd repeat anything she said to Dean, who would talk it over with Aaron. She doesn't know that Aaron goes to work and tells Dean all of Lisa's secrets, including the intimate details of their sex life. (Dean has forbidden me from mentioning Aaron's loose lips to Lisa because he works in a very small office and can't handle the fallout.) Dean has also repeatedly asked Aaron to stop—to no avail.

Aaron's latest revelation is that, after decades of tax trouble, Lisa's parents filed for bankruptcy last year, and Lisa actually bought their house off them last June, so that they could continue to have a roof over their heads. Which means that a) Lisa was flat-out lying to me about her own real estate search for at least six months; and b) she trusted Aaron with the information after two months of dating him but cut me out completely. Now I'm doubting that Lisa and I were ever really friends. Do I tell her that I know, and say I found out through public records? Do I tell her about Aaron being a blabber-mouth? Or should I just cut her off?

Sincerely,
Feeling Had

Dear FH,

Aaron is not the issue here. People talk: Your husband, for one, apparently had no qualms about telling you what Aaron told him! This is about Lisa. On that note, I think you have every reason to be peeved at her for wasting your time considering wallpaper patterns while she was secretly transferring the deed on her parents' home. That said, it's possible that she felt ashamed on her parents' behalf and believed she was protecting their privacy. It's also possible that the third-hand version of the story you heard is not the correct one. Perhaps Aaron or your husband got the dates mixed up, and the house transfer only recently went through, in which case Lisa wasn't misleading you at all. You'll know the truth only if you ask Lisa herself. If you decide to do so—and I think you should—I'd be honest about how you heard the news. You'll defeat your purpose if you start lying yourself.

You'll also hurt your case if you make this about Lisa having picked Aaron over you as her closest confidante. Just because you let the woman hold the popcorn bowl while the three of you direct streamed Hot Tub Time Machine doesn't mean she has an obligation to tell all. Also, you say you were grateful when Aaron took Lisa off your hands! So why the jealousy now?

Please also note that sex is the closest thing we have to a truth serum. This is why we inevitably end up telling our bedmates far more than anyone else. Which brings us back to you and your husband: Best to give the guy a "heads up" before you berate Lisa. If he tries to talk you out of it on the grounds that Aaron will kick him in the nose, point out that if he didn't want you to know about Lisa's dirty laundry, he shouldn't have told you! (You might also add that your friendship with Lisa means a lot to you, and you see no way forward without—to use a horrid cliché—"clearing the air.")

Sincerely,
Friend or Foe