The new year has not started off well. As a single parent, it was my turn to take the kids for one of their winter break weeks. I took them to Mont Tremblant ski resort. Taylor had a bad fall and had surgery. She needed to stay in hospital for a couple of weeks. My other daughter had to get back to school in Toronto and I felt overwhelmed. I knew my ex-wife would use this against me, so I reached out for some help from my close friends to get through this. Magically, all my friends disappeared when I needed them most. Taylor is home now, but I can’t get over the overwhelming feeling of abandonment I felt from those I thought I could count on.
Dear Rethinking Friendship,
Accidents happen, and we have no choice but to cope. I’m sure when Taylor was injured, you went into survival mode and did your best to be there for both your girls. Understandably, you turned to those you felt you could count on in a time of need.
What you didn’t manage are your expectations, and that’s why you’re feeling betrayed now. Your first instinct was to call for help, a natural response. You had a preconceived idea of how your friends would react. You’re disappointed because your expectations were not met. Now that your family is home safe, you are rehashing the incident and allowing it to fester when what you should be doing is letting it go and being proud that you managed this crisis on your own.
Don’t judge your friends until you’ve had a chance to talk to them. You never know what they may have been dealing with at that moment, such as illness, vacation, depression, family matters or any number of things. People are fallible, and even the most compassionate friends can misconstrue a situation or make mistakes.
When you get over your hurt, have a one-to-one over beers with your friends and rehash this event. Give your friends a chance and hear their side. A decent friend is a rare commodity. Don’t give up on them so easily.
My friend Helen and I decided to take a last-minute trip to Mexico together. We worked out all the details, and I bought the tickets to a fabulous all-inclusive resort online. Helen was beside me when I bought the tickets and said she would pay me when she got her paycheque the following month. We went on the trip and had a fabulous time, but I have yet to see the money she owes me. When I asked her about it, she said her car broke down and she had to use the money to fix it or she couldn’t get to work. Now a second paycheque has come and gone, and I haven’t seen a dime of my money. How should I handle this?
Dear Feeling Duped,
It’s too early to feel duped. It’s possible that Helen truly had emergency expenses. I realize that should not be your problem, but it is. Don’t hound her, but don’t let up either. Start with gentle reminders. Do you know when Helen gets paid? If you do, a day or two before, ask her if she will be repaying you. Tell her you have financial commitments and you are counting on the return of the money this time.
If Helen doesn’t repay you, then you have to rethink how you can minimize your damage. Perhaps suggest a payment plan. Maybe Helen will be able to give you a portion out of each paycheque. This way you will eventually get your money back.
Money disputes have been known to ruin friendships. If after a reasonable length of time and constructive solutions, you still can’t get repaid, you’ll have to resort to other less palatable options, such as suing or accepting a bad decision and a disingenuous friendship. Do your best to work with Helen so it doesn’t have to come to that.