I'm Rich, He's Poor, and I Feel Like an Asshole


Welcome to Friendzone, Jezebel’s column devoted to dealing with the
valuable people in your life whom you’re not humping. Got an issue and
looking for guidance? Email
[email protected].

I was lucky enough to be born into a financially very well-off family, which allowed me to save money through college, grad school, and my first years of full-time employment. My friend didn’t get any help from his family, and is swamped with student loans and credit card debt. I don’t want to lie to him by omission, but I also don’t want to rub it in his face when I spend money on major things that he can’t afford. He’s never mentioned anything in the past, but I can’t help feeling like an asshole anyway if I mention buying a new car or putting a down payment on a house – it’s not like I did anything to deserve financial stability. Any advice?

Mazel tov on the good fortune to have been ejected from the loins of a wealthy person! Wahoo! Lady, you sound like a good gal with a nice head on her shoulders. I don’t hear snottiness or greed. I do hear a bit of guilt about your own luck o’ the draw. I am here to officially inform you that your guilt is a waste of your own time. (I am a giant bucket of lapsed Catholic guilt, so I know from whence I speak). Take that energy and use it to do some good in the world. Donate some of your cash flow to a great organization. Embrace your ritzy heritage and buy fancy local organic produce from Whole Foods, bake an elitist gluten-free pie, and drop it off at the hospital as a treat for the nurses. You get the idea. I bet you’ll feel better immediately. And about that pal of yours – I seriously doubt he resents you for your ability to dive into your piles of gold, Scrooge McDuck-style. But ya know what would be awkward? Editing yourself, mincing words, and doing an elaborate dance to hide who you really are. He likes you for you, just as you are. And like I said, you sound like a real good lady.

I became friends with a mom when my son
was in preschool. She seemed to be my “real friend” and I was open that my son
had autism. Our children became best friends. She started being
squirrelly about scheduling playdates, then finally just stood us up one
morning. The next day she emailed and said she was “cleaning out her closets”
and forgot. I have suspected that part of this was the parents not wanting the
boys to be friends, because they knew my son had autism. My child was very
upset about losing his friend – he actually talked about for months. This
happened a couple years ago, but I ran into this mom yesterday. I got a “Hi,
how are you?” and then a quick head turn away. I just said hi and kept
moving. Then I got an email from her saying, “Nice to see you yesterday. I
hope you and your family are doing well.” Do you think I should respond? If so,

like somebody is afraid of
confrontation. Obviously, something went awry in this woman’s friendship with
you or in her child’s friendship with your child. But instead of dealing with
it head on and addressing the situation, she went into hiding. Hey, I’ve been
there. Confrontation is not my favorite flavor of ice cream, either. But in
your case, kiddos were involved, and that makes it tougher.I
want you to figure out exactly what you want from this chick, and then go after
it. Do you really want to know why she dropped you? Are you sure? Does it matter to you that much?
Can you deal with what may be an unpleasant answer? Alright, then ask her. Call
her on the phone or write her a polite email. Anything aggressive will scare
this broad off, so be sure to use a lot of “I” statements, like this:
“I have been wondering what went wrong in our friendship. I so enjoyed
spending time with you, and Damien just loved Little Nicky. I would really
appreciate your helping me understand what happened. I have been worried about
it for some time now.” You may never get a straight answer, but at least
you can feel satisfied that you tried. If she gets “squirrelly” or
otherwise appears to emulate the behavior of unreliable woodland creatures,
drop it. Nod politely when you see her, and move on with your life.Alternate
option: just write this chick off now without making the effort to contact her.
She’s obviously not worth your time and friendship, anyway.

I’m a 21-year-old man who
is slowly but steadily recovering from tremendous and catastrophic emotional
abuse and neglect. I have basically taught myself how to socialize from the
ground up. Instinctively, I have no idea what to do in social situations. My
therapists tell me that the trauma I suffered as a child had such an effect on
my social ability, it manifested as a spectrum disorder. I didn’t even have a
friend for the first twenty years of my life, and then I became really close
with a young woman. We’ve helped each other through a lot of difficult times. I
developed a crush on her (my first ever) and confessed my feelings. She told me
that she’d rather remain friends. Despite my disappointment, I have been very
careful not to treat her differently. But I am confused. If someone tells
another they’d rather be friends, what the hell is the motivation? Pretend
you’re describing it to a robot, I’m serious.

really glad you’ve been able to address/manage some issues through therapy.
Sounds like you were dealt a shitty hand, and for that I’m very sorry. The good
news is you’ve chosen to take care of yourself, to perhaps be the responsible
adult that your primary caretakers never were. So I want to congratulate you
first on being brave, seeking therapy, and working to make a better life for
on to the friendship stuff. When someone says, “I’d rather just be
friends” it can mean a few things:1.”I’m
not emotionally ready for a relationship right now.”
I just want to be friends.”
3.”I am freaked out right now and I want you to stop
bothering me so I’m going to say this nice friend thing to you.”It
sounds to me as if your lady friend was going with option numero dos. You
provide emotional support to one another; you confide in one another; you may
even, in a friendly way, love one another. That’s all she wants right now, and
you’ve demonstrated you’re willing to respect her boundaries. If she were
freaked out by you, she’d distance herself and eventually not talk to you
anymore. Sounds like you’re behaving like a model young gentleman, and she’s
still up for being friends.

21, which I know feels really old right now, but is actually pretty damn young.
You spent the first several years of your life mired in abuse. Give yourself a
break, and don’t put too much pressure on your very first crush. Think of it as
a practice crush. When someone gets on a bicycle for the first time, we don’t
expect him to instantly win the Tour de France, do we? Of course not. We get
excited when he manages to ride down the block. But the knowledge from that
ride, as well as every subsequent ride, may eventually lead him to become a
racing champion. It’s a bit of a silly metaphor, but my point is this: you had
your first crush. There will be more crushes. Pat yourself on the back for
managing your disappointment so elegantly this first time out. To me, it seems
to be a victory that you are willing to open your heart enough to have such
feelings at all. You haven’t surrendered to the people who held you captive as
a child and hurt you. You’ve reclaimed your life as your own, and that is a brave,
beautiful thing.

Image via Pakhnyushcha/Shutterstock.

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