Several years ago, my husband and I became fast friends with another couple.
They're a few years younger and had just relocated here. They've often asked for favours big and small, and we've always agreed.
They’ve been there for us on the couple of occasions we asked for support.
But they once asked a very big favour that we just couldn't agree to due to some potential risk involved.
Recently, my friend confessed she’d felt very let down, and, to fully trust me again she may test me from time to time.
She’s now pregnant, and he’s recovering from surgery and can't drive, currently.
However, they’re financially better off than we are, and have few commitments beyond work, while we have small children.
Suddenly, we're receiving favour requests frequently - usually directed at me - to drive them to appointments, do small tasks, bring them groceries, etc.
I love them, but I'm feeling they need to learn how to problem-solve everyday inconveniences on their own.
I've happily agreed to be helpful when the baby comes, but now I'm worried we have very different expectations.
She's emotionally delicate and I'm not close enough with him to bring this up.
She lost me at “testing (you) from time to time.”
They’re taking advantage and you need to state your boundaries.
They can apparently afford a cab ride to appointments, but you could agree to give a lift occasionally.
Groceries can be ordered from some stores, tell her so. Just say you don’t have time to do extra shopping and deliver.
Be specific about when the baby comes. Either you’ll visit her some weekend hours or run around a bit helping her get settled.
But you cannot do both. Decide ahead which tasks you can manage and mention them soon.
Frankly, if you fail her “test,” it’s not as great a loss as you might think. Their friendship has too much self-interest attached.
I've been dating this girl for several months and moving towards greater commitment.
We have limited income and both qualify for a supplement for the severely disabled.
I've become very concerned about finances as she has the expectation that I subsidize her by driving her about, without her ever contributing to gas or maintenance costs.
And she expects me to pay for all our activities together.
Recently I said that my car was broken – an exaggeration but it does need some work for which I’m trying to save.
We haven’t seen each other in six weeks as she refuses to take public transportation either to my house or any date that I've suggested.
Instead, I’m constantly asked when my car might be fixed.
I’m feeling very used and I'm not sure if I should continue to try to make a go of this relationship.
I don’t have much faith in a relationship relying on self-interest.
However, you were unfair to her to create an exaggerated excuse. By doing so, you diminished the relationship by not trusting her to have an honest conversation about the financial issue.
You needed to say that you’d love to see her often and get closer, but you require a more equal situation on paying for the things you share – the cost of activities and of the gas and car maintenance to go out.
It’s not too late. Tell her the truth, and ask if you two can brainstorm some solutions – e.g. taking public transport together, or seeking help from an agency for the disabled, to attend some activities, etc.
FEEDBACK Regarding the man with “Foot in Mouth” (November 10):
Reader – “As someone in recovery from a long-standing eating disorder, I was surprised by the gentleness of your advice.
“There’s absolutely no way of telling a person that he or she liked that person’s figure because there was “plenty to hold onto,” could be construed as a compliment.
“That phrase has been used to fetishize a female body that doesn’t look like the idealized thin body that appears on television, in films, on runways, etc.
“It’s almost impossible not to understand the phrase as, “you think I’m fat.”
“An eating disorder doesn’t simply stem from fear of being fat, but rather from another deeper issue.
“It can often involve a desire to be perfect, or a fear that one won’t be “good enough” to be liked or loved by others.
“An apology isn’t enough. The woman should end contact.”
Ellie – Thanks for sharing your personal experience and insight.
Tip of the day:
When friendship relies on the favours you provide, set firm boundaries.