The Friendzone: First You Get the Money, Then You Get the Power, Then You Get the Conscience


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

A year ago, I lent a lot of money to my two best friends, who are a couple. I told them to take as long as necessary to pay me back, trusted them to keep their word, and promptly forgot about it. This month, he decided to propose to her, and confided in me about it. I was extremely excited for them and couldn’t wait to hear about it. It turns out that instead of the low-key, intimate proposal I had expected, he blew a fortune on a VERY extravagant proposal and ring. Is it wrong for me to feel a little angry about this? Do I have a right to feel strange that he used money with which he could otherwise have paid me back? Should I talk to either of them about it?

Was the giant expensive ring a stupid move on the part of someone who is clearly not financially solvent? Yes, he has bought into the wedding industrial complex. Is it wrong for you to feel pissed? No, you absolutely have the right to be mad that he threw away money that could’ve been spent on repaying his debt to you. Do I think you have the right to complain to him about it? Sorry, but the answer is also no.

Giving money to friends without attaching any strings or deadlines is like throwing money in a hole, pooping in the hole, and then setting everything in the hole on fire (note: this also describes what it is like to pay rent in New York City). We already knew this guy was no Suze Orman (oh, my sweet, sweet power lesbian spirit animal), and now it is confirmed.

If you want your money back, ask for it. Sit them both down and tell them that it’s been a year and you’ve got bills of your own to pay. You’d like to set up an installment plan with them, on a timeline that works for everyone. You’re happy to request small, regular payments. If they are good people, they will agree to this, even if it means giving you $20 a month for years. If they suck, they will whine and complain that they have a wedding to pay for and that you are mean. I hope they don’t suck.

Understand that they are under no legal obligation to give you anything. And don’t lend money to friends in future unless you have a lawyer put the deal in writing.

For years my best friend and I ran a successful food truck together in New York. Because I had no experience I was happy to let her call the shots at first, but after a few years, when the partnership was truly 50/50, she still couldn’t let go of control. Eventually her controlling behavior got to me and I had to quit. I was very honest with her — maybe a bit too honest — about how she treated me and I think it hurt her feelings and angered her. Since the breakup, we’ve exchanged a few nice emails and texts. Still, when I ran into her unexpectedly the other day at a job interview I was shocked when she walked away from me when I said hello. Should I try to smooth things over with her over coffee or just accept that we’re never going to be friends again?

Your former friend is incapable of dealing with the hurt feelings and weirdness that surfaced as a result of your breakup. You rose up above your station in the relationship and wielded some serious power. BOOM! Bossypants people don’t often know what to do when someone stands up to them. It turns their world upside down. You might be surprised to hear this, but seeing you may have caused her much more anxiety than she displayed on the surface. It probably reminded her of her weakness.

I mean, let’s say David’s meeting with Goliath hadn’t ended in death, but simply in Goliath backing down. Would it not have been totes awks if they ran into each other by the river one day? What would they have talked about? Certainly not slingshots (too soon).

Doesn’t sound like this girl brought you too much joy. I wouldn’t expend energy trying to change her from a distant ice princess to a warm, loving bestie. In future, feel free to say hi or simply nod politely when you see her. You’re probably not the type to ignore someone completely, but I don’t want you to waste any time on someone who isn’t going to return the favor.

I’m casual friends with another mom with a child in my son’s kindergarten class. Our kids are best friends. When the mother isn’t around, the child has mentioned being hit by the father, having a drawer slammed shut on his fingers, and a few other incidents. We live in a small, rural community, and I don’t know if I ought to tell the children’s teacher, address it with my not-so-close friend, or what.

You know, there comes a time in every advice-giver’s life when she gets a question that is too important to ignore yet too big for her to handle alone. Your question is just such a question. I decided to call in the big guns, and rang up my friend Dr. Jenn Berman, the author of The A to Z Guide To Raising Happy, Confident Kids (you may also know her from VH1’s Couples Therapy.) She writes and speaks about parenting all the time, and she’s a mom, so I figured she’d have some good ideas for you.

I told Dr. Jenn it sounds like you fear being ostracized in your community. She said, “When it comes to the well-being of a child, that has to come first, even before your relationship with the mother.” She made the point that if, God forbid, something were to happen to the child, you’d never forgive yourself.

Dr. Jenn also told me that at least in the state of California, where she and I live, you can file an anonymous report with the Department of Children and Family Services. I checked a few other states’ websites, and none of them said that people who reported child abuse were required to give their own information, just to give information about the child in question. Check your own state’s website to be sure, but I have a feeling you won’t have to worry about being outed if you go this route.

It’s also important to note that a report of suspected abuse does not automatically result in removal from the family home. It does prompt an investigation of one type or another — the degree of thoroughness may vary depending on your place of residence. Be sure to ask plenty of questions when you speak to a caseworker over the phone or in person.

Dr. Jenn also said that you can tell the child’s teacher, who is by law a “mandated reporter” — a professional who is required to report any suspicions (not proof, suspicions) of child abuse to the authorities. However, there’s a greater likelihood of your identity being found out in this case.

Finally, I asked Dr. Jenn how you should handle it if your son’s friend ever tells you any stories about abuse in future. She said, “I think it’s important for her to let the child know that he doesn’t deserve to be hit. If it happens again, he should let his teacher or mommy know. There’s nothing he could do that would make it okay for [the father] to hit him.”

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Share Tweet Submit Pin