My dear, dear Girlfriend,
You have been my good friend for eleven years. Time flies, doesn’t it? You are turning forty today. Happy Birthday!
Do you realize how much you have achieved? You have money. You have no debt. You have a big house, and you have a good and stable job. You can afford to go to exotic countries for your vacations. You are raising two kids all by yourself, and you are doing a great job.
I am very proud of you because not every woman could have achieved what you had. Remember last year you bought a new car and paid cash? It was such a huge achievement, didn’t you think so? At least in my eyes! A single mother of two pays cash for everything! I, on the other hand, can only dream about it.
We have been good friends for years, but somehow it feels that we live on two different planets. Sometimes I feel like you don’t know me at all. Especially when it comes to your birthdays.
Let me take this letter as an opportunity to try and reach out to you because it seems that spoken words don’t have enough power anymore. I should have written this letter a long time ago. Actually, I have been trying to reach out to you for years. But you never listened.
I am always dreading your birthdays because I know that I am expected to keep up with your expectations. You don’t take into account that Beaker and I have debt to battle. You don’t ask me if I can actually afford to celebrate your birthdays the style you want. For years I have tried really hard. I have even put quite a few your birthday expenses on a credit card just to prove to you that I was a good friend.
This year I am refusing to overspend in order to be a good friend. The point is that the friendship should matter, not the amount of money I spend on your birthdays. Right? RIGHT?
You are turning forty, and you want a big expensive celebration with close friends. You want great celebrations every year. I won’t mention the past. This year I totally understand it. We turn forty once in a lifetime, and some of us want to make it a special occasion, something to remember forever.
If you want your close friends around during your special day, don’t you want to consider your friends’ financial situation? Just for a short second? Just once in eleven years?
You suggested an upscale five star restaurant where entrees are served a la carte and cost about $50 and up.
Have you ever listened to me telling you that there are bills, there is debt in my life? Have you ever understood that Beaker and I don’t have a good emergency fund, and we live on a borrowed time before something happens?
Don’t make me regret telling you that we paid $13,000 off of our debt last year, because it seems to me that you want me to put your birthday bill on my credit card.
Now… I realize I have gained some weight over the years. But it doesn’t give you the right to tell me that Beaker and I should eat less when I tell you that we cannot afford to go to your birthday where we have to pay $50 per plate. Of course we can come and order a couple of salads (hopefully they will give us some bread), bring a bottle of wine, and watch you enjoy your day. Would you like us to do this?
I am trying to understand what matters to you the most: spending time with your close friends celebrating your special day OR have an upscale dinner just because you can? If it is the latter, you are on your own this time.
Hopefully the day will come when you read this letter. Maybe you will get mad that I put it on my blog. Maybe it will ruin our friendship. I do hope, however, that this letter will make you think a little bit more about me and a little bit less about yourself.
I love you, and I always will be your friend!
Happy Birthday, my dear!
Wow Aloysa, that’s a powerful letter! I’m sure a good friend will totally understand (and I hope your friend does!).
In my opinion, you are doing the right thing! Some things are hard to say, but it ought to be said.
And sometimes certain things carry more power on a paper (or on a computer screen). 🙂
Wow, I hope your friend understand too. We’re all at a different point in our lives and it’s tough to keep with with more well off friends sometime. Maybe you can go to lunch or do something at an earlier time.
Honestly I am not so sure that she will understand. This letter is mostly for me… to let it all go… finally.
Hopefully this letter has made you feel better. It is hard when good friends are not as understanding about others’ economic positions. It would be nice if you friend would appreciate a nice dinner you and Beaker could make her at your home. Even a nice dinner at home with lobster from the grocery store would be less than what this restaurant would cost for one person. Let us know if your friend ever reads this.
But would this dinner be appreciated? I don’t know… Maybe it is something I can try, uh?
It is TOUGH when people have different means and goals, if she is that good of a friend she’ll understand that you can’t meet up for dinner.
It is okay to be in financially different situations. What is not okay… when the expectations rise to a ridiculous point.
Welcome back Aloysa. Looking forward to reading some more posts! 🙂
I’m that friend to at least one of my dearest friends but I always pick up the tab and tell her to never buy me anything. I’ve gone to the opposite extreme and sometimes I just have to let her do things for me and say thank you. Sometimes it’s hard to find a happy medium. If she’s as close as you say you are, I’m sure you can work it out.
You see… I wouldn’t let my friends to pay for me all the time. It would make me feel very uncomfortable. Once in a while, it is okay. But then, let me pay for you too.
Great letter Aloysa. To make up for the intense message, I’d recommend sending one of those humorous “You sure are getting older and wrinklier” birthday cards, just as balance. 🙂
Seriously though, if this person is your friend, she’d better perk up and listen.
I am sending no cards! 🙂 I think I’ve reached the point where I don’t believe in balance anymore.
Bold and honest letter Aloysa! I loved it. I do hope your friend understands; in fact you shouldn’t even have to write this letter if they are a friend at all. Everyone is in different places in their lives and friendship is about being friends, not the stuff or the activities.
It is exactly my point. Friendship is about being friends, supporting each other and caring for each other. It is a two way street. Unfortunately, I feel that right now it is a one way street.
Wow! I’m completely blown away! This letter is so honest, upfront and is a true definition of ‘tough love’. I hope your freind realizes just how much it takes to be this honest with someone you are close to. Not everyone has the courage to put this out there. Kudos Aloysa! Good for you for sticking up for yourself, taking a stand and setting good financial boundaries!!!
Maybe she can throw the birthday Chinese style and pay for everyone. 😀
Your friend told you to EAT less? Oh my. 🙁 Hopefully, your friend will read this very powerfully written letter and see how they are hurting you. Kudos to you for not spending more in order to be considered a good friend. You obviously are a good friend already, or you wouldn’t be reaching out like this. 🙂
Very powerful letter and way to vent our those feelings through this blog. I hope your friend realizes that it’s not always the material stuff that makes the friendship, it’s usually always the non-material ones.
I don’t know the specifics of this situation (beyond what you’ve described here), but I’m willing to guess that your friend has no idea that her desire to go to a fancy restaurant is causing you so much stress. I’m guessing that if she knew how you really felt about it, she’d feel awful! My recommendation is to bring it up to her in a more gentle — almost casual — manner. It’s great that you vented here on the blog, but when you’re approaching her, just casually say, “gee, I don’t think I can afford to join you at that restaurant; how about we go biking in the park together tomorrow instead?” Also, if you don’t want to spend money on buying her a birthday gift, give her a homemade “coupon” for 1 free evening of babysitting!
Gee… if I had a friend I was close enough to say all that to instead of just not going to the party, then that friend would be close enough to understand without such a vehement letter. My vote is for no drama, like Afford-Anything is suggesting and if that doesn’t go over well, then it doesn’t sound like she was such a great friend. You can always just say “no” to an invitation. I really don’t get the drama.
Of course, it’s been 4 days so who knows what’s happened since this posting.
Sometimes Nicole you just need to vent because as good of a friend that you might be, you don’t always see eye to eye. Consider Aloysa’s post a “grumpy rumbling”.