In the May 7th, 2015 CJN I tackle the problems which can test friendships.
Is there ever a time it’s appropriate to mix into the personal life of your friend – to question his/her choices or offer your opinions? What about dating your dear friend’s ex boyfriend/girlfriend?
Where do you, as a friend, draw the line?
My close friend Cindy has no sense when it comes to money. Cindy is the type of gal who has to have everything – the latest trendy outfit, pair of shoes, car. She has her nails done every week and is forever going to her masseuse. The problem is that Cindy has no money! She lives off some money her parents left her, but that will soon be gone. She has no savings, no RRSPs, no real estate. Her car is leased, her condo is rented and her credit cards are maxed out.
She has come to me for a loan from time to time, and I have always managed to weasel out of giving it to her. I feel like I’m standing by and watching my friend self-destruct. At this rate she is going to end up homeless. How do I get through to her?
Lousy Money Manager
Dear Lousy Money Manager
Cindy may be spending to fill a void. This excessive spending behaviour is no different than any other addiction. It is labelled compulsive buying disorder, or oniomania.
If you are prepared to get involved, you must call her out on what you see and not let her make excuses for her actions. Are you prepared to take her by the hand and lead her through the steps she will have to go through?
Like any other addiction, Cindy has to admit she is in trouble. This will be the hardest part of the entire journey. Let her know what you have noticed and try to scare her into reality. Be honest and tell her why you will not lend her money. If she is willing to disclose her financial situation, you can show her on paper how she is setting herself up for a disaster.
If you can get through this first step, you can move on to a more positive solution. Help Cindy come up with a budget. Write down every expense she has and every bit of money she has to work with. See if she is willing to be accountable for her spending. If all else fails, CAMH has programs for this type of addiction. It may be a good place to get ideas on how to help Cindy.
Don’t be surprised if Cindy is not willing to listen just yet, but feel good knowing that at least you’ve planted the seed of concern in her mind. Let her know you will be there, when she comes to terms with the fact that she needs help.
I’m part of a close circle of friends. Janice, one of my dearest friends, broke up with Josh more than a year ago, but they remained close, and he has become an important member of this circle.
A couple of months ago, Josh’s mom passed away. Since then, Josh and I have become closer. I lost my mother last year, and this common grief has bonded the two of us. It is obvious that Josh and I are headed into a relationship that will extend the boundaries of “just friends.” I have no idea how Janice is going to feel about this, and I love her dearly and do not want to hurt her. I also do not want to give up on what Josh and I have developed. I’m stuck and scared. Help!
Dear Testing Loyalty
Dating your friend’s ex falls in the category of the “dating grey zone,” and there are no easy answers. This situation is a little different, because Josh and Janice were mature enough to put their breakup behind them and continue on with their friendship. Often a relationship will end badly, and hard feelings and anger are left behind.
Don’t let Janice discover this through the grapevine. You must be upfront with both Janice and Josh. Be honest with Janice. Explain how innocently your bond developed. Hopefully enough time has passed that Janice will be onside, but you have to prepare yourself for the chance that she will not approve. In that case, you will have some hard decisions ahead of you. Even if Janice gives you her blessing, the dynamic of your relationship could change.
Often, the best relationships are created when the two people involved start out as friends first. Friendship is about honesty, loyalty, support and respect. Your circle of friends has already tested some difficult situations and has come out on top.