Author Topic: My best friend :(  (Read 4767 times)

FireHiker

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 852
  • Location: So Cal
My best friend :(
« on: September 21, 2017, 10:08:42 AM »
I'm not even sure where to start; I mostly just need a safe place to vent about my sadness regarding my extremely-not-mustachian best friend from high school.

It's been a rough few years for her, I know, after catching her (now-X) H cheating and then going through divorce. She has two young kids and doesn't have a high salary. She recently passed a milestone birthday though and is going through what I guess is a mid-life crisis? I'm astonished and horrified at the financial bits she casually discloses.

Last night she was telling me about a "fitness competition" she's decided to do soon. She's been training for a couple months (paying a trainer and spending a TON of "healthier" food, her words). She spent $700 on a dress earlier this year while she was on vacation (her words: "it would have been $1500 if I bought it here" and "I bought it without any plans because I liked it, because that's how I roll"). Now she's spent another $100 on crystals to add to it to be more "blingy" since she decided to use it for the competition. All this while she can't afford various things for her kids, and is racking up tons of credit card debt.

And then there is the amount of economic outpatient care she receives from her parents. They pay for her car and her phone, and pay for her kids' martial arts and music lessons, and who knows what else. They paid for her trip to Disney World last summer, but didn't pay for all the souvenirs she bought while she was there. I know when she bought her condo that she couldn't actually make ends meet without her parents' help. Any time she comes down to visit, she is super stressed about money, but then she turns around and spends it inexplicably. Last visit she went to her X-BIL's wedding, where she went to the mall to get her makeup done "for free" but spent $100+ on makeup while she was there.

I think I'm mostly sad because I can't even recognize this shallow person she's become, where she cares more about appearance than substance, almost universally. If we lived closer to each other I can't imagine we would still be friends because we have hardly anything in common anymore. So, I guess this becomes a Mustachian-people problem? I can't relate anymore? I don't even want to. I didn't even bother trying to engage on the subject last night, because it is just not worth it anymore. When she used to ask for financial guidance I would make suggestions at her request, but there was always a reason they couldn't work: "couldn't possibly cut cable/would miss my shows". I'm the first to admit that my husband and I are "mustachian-lite": high earners with a decent (not amazing) saving's rate, 40%. But, anytime I speak with my friend, I feel like we are not even in the same universe anymore. I think it hit me really hard last night because one of my closest, smartest, most financially responsible friends died earlier this year, and I feel the void keenly.

Thanks MMM community for providing me with a safe place to ramble.

TreesBikesLove

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 70
  • Location: PDX Suburb
Re: My best friend :(
« Reply #1 on: September 21, 2017, 12:08:47 PM »
It's really sad to see a close friend lose themselves. I hope she is not turning to superficial pursuits from a position of low self-esteem as a result of her ex cheating on her. It might help to continue to offer emotional support to your friend even if the financial advice falls on deaf ears. Low self-esteem and depression can cause many decisions that seem irrational from the outside but in the mind of the depressed there is no reason or feeling. They can flounder aimlessly searching for meaning.

From my experience, supporting a depressive individual can be completely draining and the best advice I received was "console them, acknowledge their feelings, but do not empathize." You can be supportive without internalizing their feelings.

Laura33

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 2102
  • Location: Mid-Atlantic
Re: My best friend :(
« Reply #2 on: September 21, 2017, 12:47:45 PM »
I'm sorry, it's tough to watch a friend self-destruct.  But I'd recommend being patient and viewing her recent behavior along the lines of a longstanding freakout, and not as indicative of who she really is.  I think when you've spent years doing everything "right" -- following the rules, caring for other people, frequently putting others' desires above your own -- and then that doesn't work out, it's very easy to think, well, fuck that -- if this is what doing the "right" thing gets me, then screw it all, I'm going to do whatever I want, prudence be damned.  Listen to Martina McBride's "When God-Fearing Women Get the Blues" for an excellent illustration.

IOW, this might be who she is, but most likely not.  The best thing you can do for her is be calm and available to talk about the frustration/emptiness that is leading to the acting out.  That doesn't mean acting like you're excited/happy for her stupid decisions -- comments like "oh honey, you know you don't need that fancy stuff to impress me, right?" (or even a more serious "this doesn't seem like you" can be fine and even helpful -- and then let her know that you're there for her if she wants help getting back to normal and on track.

vivophoenix

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 430
Re: My best friend :(
« Reply #3 on: September 21, 2017, 01:03:06 PM »
I'm not even sure where to start; I mostly just need a safe place to vent about my sadness regarding my extremely-not-mustachian best friend from high school.

It's been a rough few years for her, I know, after catching her (now-X) H cheating and then going through divorce. She has two young kids and doesn't have a high salary. She recently passed a milestone birthday though and is going through what I guess is a mid-life crisis? I'm astonished and horrified at the financial bits she casually discloses.

Last night she was telling me about a "fitness competition" she's decided to do soon. She's been training for a couple months (paying a trainer and spending a TON of "healthier" food, her words). She spent $700 on a dress earlier this year while she was on vacation (her words: "it would have been $1500 if I bought it here" and "I bought it without any plans because I liked it, because that's how I roll"). Now she's spent another $100 on crystals to add to it to be more "blingy" since she decided to use it for the competition. All this while she can't afford various things for her kids, and is racking up tons of credit card debt.

And then there is the amount of economic outpatient care she receives from her parents. They pay for her car and her phone, and pay for her kids' martial arts and music lessons, and who knows what else. They paid for her trip to Disney World last summer, but didn't pay for all the souvenirs she bought while she was there. I know when she bought her condo that she couldn't actually make ends meet without her parents' help. Any time she comes down to visit, she is super stressed about money, but then she turns around and spends it inexplicably. Last visit she went to her X-BIL's wedding, where she went to the mall to get her makeup done "for free" but spent $100+ on makeup while she was there.

I think I'm mostly sad because I can't even recognize this shallow person she's become, where she cares more about appearance than substance, almost universally. If we lived closer to each other I can't imagine we would still be friends because we have hardly anything in common anymore. So, I guess this becomes a Mustachian-people problem? I can't relate anymore? I don't even want to. I didn't even bother trying to engage on the subject last night, because it is just not worth it anymore. When she used to ask for financial guidance I would make suggestions at her request, but there was always a reason they couldn't work: "couldn't possibly cut cable/would miss my shows". I'm the first to admit that my husband and I are "mustachian-lite": high earners with a decent (not amazing) saving's rate, 40%. But, anytime I speak with my friend, I feel like we are not even in the same universe anymore. I think it hit me really hard last night because one of my closest, smartest, most financially responsible friends died earlier this year, and I feel the void keenly.

Thanks MMM community for providing me with a safe place to ramble.


all i hear are your friend's screams for help. she got divorced and is blowing money to get 'fit' and be happy. you said she changed it's clear she is in crisis and you're sad about the money?

have you literally asked her how she is doing?

Chesleygirl

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 639
Re: My best friend :(
« Reply #4 on: September 21, 2017, 01:15:18 PM »
ILast night she was telling me about a "fitness competition" she's decided to do soon. She's been training for a couple months (paying a trainer and spending a TON of "healthier" food, her words). She spent $700 on a dress earlier this year while she was on vacation (her words: "it would have been $1500 if I bought it here" and "I bought it without any plans because I liked it, because that's how I roll"). Now she's spent another $100 on crystals to add to it to be more "blingy" since she decided to use it for the competition. All this while she can't afford various things for her kids, and is racking up tons of credit card debt.

This sounds kind of like pageant expenses. I used to work with a woman who entered her young daughter in pageants. It costs money, buying costumes and dresses. This woman never had money to eat lunch at work. She'd borrow money from a different person every day, to buy lunch from restaurants; and almost never paid it back. She even borrowed lunch money from her boss. Once, she took up a money collection at work to buy a baby shower gift for someone. She kept back some of the cash for herself. We found that out, after she quit and walked out of the job.

FireHiker

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 852
  • Location: So Cal
Re: My best friend :(
« Reply #5 on: September 21, 2017, 02:39:09 PM »
Thanks for listening/offering feedback/giving me a safe place to talk about it without risking hurting her feelings with my concern and frustration. When I talked to her last night I actually said something very similar to what Laura mentioned, along the lines of "you know I love you no matter what/don't need to do xyz to impress me, or anyone who should matter".

I definitely think she has some self-esteem issues because of the XH. It was four years ago now, and I've been very supportive as a good friend should be, in many, many ways. When she first found out about XH, I changed plans for a major holiday so that she and her kids could be at our home instead at her requests, and I was happy to do it. We were each other's maids of honor, god-parents to children, etc. She and her kids come to visit fairly often (she has other relatives near me so she'll often come visit and stay with me), and I try to give her a break, listen as much as possible, be there for her. She was dating someone for awhile but this new obsession with her fitness came after she broke up with him. She has said herself that she is scared of being alone so she's definitely out looking. I worry who/what she will attract if she's only concerned about appearance and not substance. 

Yes, vivophoenix, I have asked her how she was doing, and actually listened, and offered love and support. Often. I did again last night. My concern for her far transcends the financial, but since since is the anti-MMM forum, that's what I was posting about. As for the money and the reason it worries me and makes me sad: She is often stressed about money and over the last four years has always talked about it whenever she visits, so I have tried to offer her advice when she has explicitly asked me for advice, but otherwise I try not to get involved in the money talk. The last time she visited though she was talking about how she wanted to plan for the future and retirement and asked me questions, so it was a big 180 when we talked last night. She doesn't seem happy to me, and throwing money on appearances, money that she doesn't have, isn't going to make her any happier. I am much, much more sad about how she seems to feel about herself than anything relating to the money; this milestone birthday has really sent her into a tailspin, where she has really adopted this "YOLO" attitude that I've never seen in her before to this degree. She's gotten kind of selfish with spending on herself at the expense of her kids, and I'm having a hard time reconciling it with how she used to be.

Chesleygirl, yes, it is definitely like pageant expenses. She had done some over the years (not recently) and compared this upcoming event to them.

Sorry my post here is rambling again. It hurts my heart to see her so unhappy and trying to spend herself into artificial happiness, and seeing the impact on her kids and her financial life, when I don't think it's really what she wants.

Chesleygirl

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 639
Re: My best friend :(
« Reply #6 on: September 21, 2017, 03:17:15 PM »
I also have another friend who does lots of pageants, but she doesn't have kids or a family to support. So it's not like anyone else is being affected by her expenses. 

I would just make sure this woman you know, doesn't make a play for your money. Guard your wallet. But other than that, just offer support and if she starts asking too many favors or wanting money, tell her no.

I've known people with six-figure debt and still spending; sometimes all you can do is sit back and watch the inevitable train wreck.
« Last Edit: September 21, 2017, 03:18:49 PM by Chesleygirl »

FireHiker

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 852
  • Location: So Cal
Re: My best friend :(
« Reply #7 on: September 21, 2017, 03:30:53 PM »
I also have another friend who does lots of pageants, but she doesn't have kids or a family to support. So it's not like anyone else is being affected by her expenses. 

I would just make sure this woman you know, doesn't make a play for your money. Guard your wallet. But other than that, just offer support and if she starts asking too many favors or wanting money, tell her no.

I've known people with six-figure debt and still spending; sometimes all you can do is sit back and watch the inevitable train wreck.

I don't think she would ever actually ask me for money; when she really gets in a bind her parents bail her out, every time. They really enable the bad financial decisions. Her relationship with her mother is so emotionally unhealthy for many reasons, but she is bound to her parents' financial support unless she's willing to modify her lifestyle. We originally bonded as teenagers because of our horrible relationships with our psychotic mothers. I can't fathom how she can accept being financially dependent on her mother now.

Chesleygirl

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 639
Re: My best friend :(
« Reply #8 on: September 21, 2017, 06:30:15 PM »
Just out of curiosity, how old is she?

If she's in her early 20s, some parents still support their kids at this age.

It's hard for me to talk to people about their finances because I know it's really, none of my business; but when they start complaining, it's temping to say something to them.

katscratch

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 995
  • Location: Minnesota
    • Freedom From Scratch
Re: My best friend :(
« Reply #9 on: September 21, 2017, 07:00:28 PM »
I've had a couple of friendships where my friends went through a wackadoodle phase in response to trauma.

My response differs depending on the relationship and the larger support network they might have. A lot of times I tend to be the one in our (sassy and opinionated) friend group who is willing to just listen rather than lecture. Other times I'm the only one on the opposite end, when that friend is perilously close to a tipping point and really needs someone to outright call them on their shit.

I tend to be in the second camp more often when there are kids involved.

It's hard to watch, but ultimately we all know we can't change someone's mind when they're not yet in a place to change from within themselves. It sounds like you're doing a good job of identifying your own boundaries and concerns from how you're speaking here.

TheGrimSqueaker

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 2050
  • Location: A desert wasteland, where none but the weird survive
  • www.theliveinlandlord.com
    • The Live-In Landlord
Re: My best friend :(
« Reply #10 on: September 21, 2017, 10:46:38 PM »
I can't really be my scythe-wielding, judgemental self without a few key pieces of information.

First, was she a spendypants before she married?

Second, was she a spendypants before she got divorced?

Finally, do the laws of the state/province where she lives entitle her to any ongoing compensation from the cheating ex?

When people talk about "trauma", generally it's in the category of losing a limb or having a close friend die in your arms. Frankly, cheating and divorce don't quite fit into that category. The PTSD card really isn't hers to play.

I'm not saying PTSD doesn't exist or that trauma effects aren't real. I've got buddies who twitch a lot and have flashbacks due to all the firefights they were in while serving in a recent war. I've got a daughter whose perspective is permanently warped because of idiotic behavior by idiots in her past life. So trauma effects, and the asinine behavior that sometimes comes out of them, unfortunately plays a part in my everyday life.

There's an outside chance that your friend's life experiences qualify her for a psych ward, but based on what you've told us, they mercifully don't. Now, if the ex-husband had tied her up and raped her or done something equally odious... OK, the trauma explanation has some basis in fact. Catching him banging someone else, while disappointing and definitely grounds for divorce, just isn't in the same category as watching your child bleed out after a traffic accident or being kidnapped by Boko Haram. I've known some people who really have been the victim of odious attacks, and also the victim of cheating, and they will be the first to tell you that the cheating is barely a bliip on the radar screen compared to the kind of things that really do make people twitch. PTSD, while fashionable, really isn't an everyday phenomenon.

Reacting to divorce by going through, say, a kind of a slutty phase is something that happens to some people (male and female). Permanently damaging your own credit rating or digging yourself into a permanent hole because of debt is an entirely different, self-destructive decision roughly on par with cultivating a daily heroin habit.

Villanelle

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 2306
Re: My best friend :(
« Reply #11 on: September 22, 2017, 01:20:50 AM »
I just want to chime in and say that I understand and can relate.  My best friend of 20+ years and I have grown apart and it's so painful and sad for me, and while there are many, many factors at play, she too complains about finances but then proceeds to spend money on so many unnecessary things, and it makes me sad for her.  Money is a source of stress and I know she could be rid of that stress if she made difference choices.  But she's not ready.  My heart hurts for her stress, and for the deep friendship we used to have, that no feels superficial.  I'm not ready to give up on her because I love her and she has been so important to me and so loving and wonderful in so many ways in the past. But our lives have become very different, and I also feel like she could be making choices that make her life happier and easier, and of course I want those things for her.  Perhaps she looks at some aspect of my life and thinks similar things.  It's tough.

talltexan

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1992
Re: My best friend :(
« Reply #12 on: September 22, 2017, 07:05:17 AM »
Is the fitness competition a one-time thing, or does she expect it to become a lifestyle?

Sometimes people want to do something like that while they're still young and can still get into that kind of shape.

Many of my friends who go through divorces get into amazing shape. Several of those were able to remarry very quickly

JAYSLOL

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 975
Re: My best friend :(
« Reply #13 on: September 22, 2017, 09:16:08 AM »
I can't really be my scythe-wielding, judgemental self without a few key pieces of information.


Funny, I was reading this on my phone, slightly zoomed in so that I could read the comments easily, but not see the profile and info on the left of each comment, and read this first sentence and thought "I bet that's GrimSqueaker", scrolled left and sure enough...

Chesleygirl

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 639
Re: My best friend :(
« Reply #14 on: September 22, 2017, 09:16:59 AM »
Reacting to divorce by going through, say, a kind of a slutty phase is something that happens to some people (male and female). Permanently damaging your own credit rating or digging yourself into a permanent hole because of debt is an entirely different, self-destructive decision roughly on par with cultivating a daily heroin habit.

I had a group of women friends, a few years ago, who were financially self-destructive. (One of them was going through multiple divorces over a period of a few years, along with two home foreclosures within a five year period). The other woman was an MLM addict. They always wanted to go shopping to the mall or dine out at expensive restaurants. Sometimes expecting someone else (usually me) to help pay the tip or something like that, or wanting me to drive, or asking me for lots of favors here & there. I had to cut them loose. I hate doing that, but sometimes you need to make new friends. In some ways, I miss them but I have a family to support and don't need to be living the lifestyle that they are.

FireHiker

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 852
  • Location: So Cal
Re: My best friend :(
« Reply #15 on: September 22, 2017, 09:25:37 AM »
Lots of interesting and thoughtful responses here. Man, I love this place.

A few answers: the milestone birthday that just occurred is 40. She was a moderate spendy-pants before the divorce, not so much before the marriage; they were married 10 years and she was young when she married with no money with which to be a spendy-pants. Their were issues in the marriage before the cheating, and I know she was trying to spend her way into happiness, but not on the "$700 dress on an international vacation because I liked it" level. More the "bought more than I should have at Target" level. So, it has really escalated. I'm pretty sure in her state the reason for the divorce has no bearing on what happens financially, although she does get child support. She was awarded some alimony, but I don't know for how many years.

I was really, really surprised by the fitness competition announcement, but I have no idea if it will be a one-time thing or not. She did do some pageants in high school but it was more a whim than really being serious about it. She's always looked good, but I didn't think she had that level of interest in working out to compete. I know last year she decided she wanted to do a 5K race every month (with entrance fee each time) but it seemed like a healthy enough activity and wasn't exorbitant or out of the norm for her level of social or expense, and spaced out throughout the year.

And yeah, I have tried to keep my mouth shut for years on the finances, aside from suggesting frugal fun when we hang out, which is usually met with approval. I have compromised too and spent money to have fun together over the years so it goes both ways. But, she was so stressed about money on her visits this past year, and to the point where she WAS asking for advice, that this complete 180 really threw me this week. I just worry she's going to dig herself into a huge hole here and it's going to be a hell of a climb out. Even though we've both changed a lot over the past 20 years, we've been friends since we were 14/15, and there is a LOT of history there. Villanelle, what you described with your best friend of 20+ years is EXACTLY how I feel. Thank you for helping me feel less alone!

The interesting thing to me is that, before finding MMM and the concept of FIRE, I might have rolled my eyes at the pageant thing and the superficiality of her newfound interests, but not been worried about the money. This has really shown me how much *I* have changed too, I guess.

JAYSLOL I love that you could identify TGS just from the post. :)

Chesleygirl, I think if this friend and I were local to one another, we probably would have naturally drifted apart years ago. And yes, I really do need to make some new friends with whom I have more in common. Really missing the friend I lost to cancer in June, where we were SO in step on most things!

Chesleygirl

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 639
Re: My best friend :(
« Reply #16 on: September 22, 2017, 11:35:59 AM »

Chesleygirl, I think if this friend and I were local to one another, we probably would have naturally drifted apart years ago. And yes, I really do need to make some new friends with whom I have more in common. Really missing the friend I lost to cancer in June, where we were SO in step on most things!

I've already lost 3 friends to cancer, one of them a very close friend. Lost another friend to an accidental death in a car accident. I have fewer friends now, than when I was younger. I've also had to cut some of them loose, others we just drifted apart. I've accepted that is I'll probably never have the same kind of close friends that I had in my 20s. It is what it is. I've also experienced a change in friendships when people got divorced. It's understandable because their life is crumbling around them, but I sometimes I have to get away from the negativity. I need support, too.
« Last Edit: September 22, 2017, 11:41:13 AM by Chesleygirl »

Just Joe

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 2230
Re: My best friend :(
« Reply #17 on: September 22, 2017, 11:50:08 AM »
As our friends married and had kids - some of them drifted away b/c their time and mental space was dedicated to family, extended family and groups like church.

We cut a few loose due to growing in different directions.

We also lost a couple of friends to the 24 hr news cycle. They would get all worked up about the latest political crisis and were just unbearable to spend time with. I recently ran into one of them at the grocery and nothing had changed in several years. Still in "crisis" about things they are not in control of. ;)

iris lily

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 2989
Re: My best friend :(
« Reply #18 on: September 28, 2017, 08:01:33 AM »
I can't really be my scythe-wielding, judgemental self without a few key pieces of information.


Funny, I was reading this on my phone, slightly zoomed in so that I could read the comments easily, but not see the profile and info on the left of each comment, and read this first sentence and thought "I bet that's GrimSqueaker", scrolled left and sure enough...

Fearsome/awesome for sure, I enjoy her comments.

JAYSLOL

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 975
Re: My best friend :(
« Reply #19 on: September 28, 2017, 12:09:58 PM »
I can't really be my scythe-wielding, judgemental self without a few key pieces of information.


Funny, I was reading this on my phone, slightly zoomed in so that I could read the comments easily, but not see the profile and info on the left of each comment, and read this first sentence and thought "I bet that's GrimSqueaker", scrolled left and sure enough...

Fearsome/awesome for sure, I enjoy her comments.

Same here!