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So, I have a friend who I love dearly, partially as a good friend and partially like a son. He's a really, really sweet guy who cares about others.

 

But he's making some bad decisions and is constantly going back and forth about what he wants to do with his life.

 

The going back and forth doesn't bother me much...he's doing pretty well in his current position so I don't see that as much of an issue even though he seems to change his mind every five minutes about what he wants to do with his life. It's his life path and whatever career he chooses or wherever he wants to live has no bearing on my life.

 

What is more upsetting is his handling of his finances and how it affects him emotionally. Yes, I know how he handles his finances is absolutely none of my business...except he complains to me frequently. For example, I know he owes several hundred dollars to various agencies such as utilities, doctors, etc. He's struggling to make his house payment because he's relying on roommates to help with the payment and currently he has no roommates and is having no luck finding any except people who don't work and don't pay rent. He was complaining to me about 5 days ago that he was so broke he had no money to buy food because he'd spent several hundred dollars on electronics he didn't need but wanted.

 

So, what did he do last night? He bought a new car!

 

He messaged me with a pic, obviously either expecting or hoping that I'd get excited for him and congratulate him. I gave him a kind of lukewarm response along the lines of "nice car! The dogs will like riding in it!", but I couldn't bring myself to give him the response I think he was hoping for. He stopped messaging me after my tepid response.

 

I mean...sorry, but that was a bad decision and how could I be excited when 5 days ago he was rummaging in his fridge searching for something to feed himself? He even said he hopes he's able to make the payments. He owes hundreds for bills, struggles to make his house payment, and I'm supposed to be happy he bought a new car???

 

I do feel guilty because I'm sure he's excited and was hoping I'd be happy for him, but gosh darn...I just think it would have been better to wait until some of his bills are paid. I think once the excitement wears off he will be stressed and anxious about making the payment...just like he was after he bought all those electronics.

 

Again, yes, I know this is none of my business except he vents and complains to me so often about being broke (his word).

 

I value our friendship and want to keep it, but I don't feel right encouraging him to do these things when he's done them before and gotten depressed and anxious when the bills come in and he doesn't have the money.

 

I mean, should I just fake it and pretend I'm super duper excited? Or should I just keep doing what I did, give a kind of lame response because I don't feel right being dishonest to a friend I care about?

 

I'm the kind of person who believes one should be honest with friends. I don't blow sunshine up peoples' butts if I think they're making a huge mistake. I don't lecture or act superior or give my opinion if it hasn't been asked for, and I've never used the words "I told you so!!" But aren't there are some people who would prefer you just act excited for them even if you think they're doing something they'll end up regretting?

 

Thoughts?

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Are you sure his complaining is not something he does to illicit a response (hoping you will jump in and give money, etc.) Does he also see you as a sort of see you as a parent-type figure or mentor? maybe you have coffee or lunch or whatever it is you would do together and say "hey, i have noticed that money has been tight for you lately - i have been in your shoes - if you ever want help with figuring out how to budget, let me know." i think if you are good friends, the friendship will survive you saying "i am sorry that you don't have grocery money-- i was surprised that you bought that new dvd player ...i know its hard to think ahead at what might come up in the next few weeks..." Or i would have been flat out "I thought you said you didn't have grocery money -- how did you buy a car?"

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I mean...sorry, but that was a bad decision and how could I be excited when 5 days ago he was rummaging in his fridge searching for something to feed himself? He even said he hopes he's able to make the payments. He owes hundreds for bills, struggles to make his house payment, and I'm supposed to be happy he bought a new car???
How did he qualify for a car loan if he's so in arrears with bills and mortgage payments? He'd never qualify here for a new car loan.
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He's not in arrears with his rent. He just struggles to pay it without roommates.

 

I was able to qualify for a car loan here when my credit score was in the low-500s. It just means a very, very high interest rate and high payments. I have another friend who is paying $500 per month for a 2009 Jeep she bought used that has several hundred thousand miles on it. Some car lots and dealerships will sell a car to just about anyone...which is NOT a good practice IMO.

 

I do think he sees me as a parent figure in addition to a friend. I have sometimes offered to buy him a burger, but he usually returns the favor. I won't give money for bills and he has never asked.

 

I think your suggestion is a good one, abitbroken. He's told me in the past he's depressed and anxious over money (boy, have I been there!), so maybe he'd be open to some suggestions.

 

However, the damage with the car is done, he signed the loan docs. He told me he has to be very, very careful not to spend because otherwise he won't be able to make the payments. I have to wonder if having to diminish his lifestyle will feel worth it when he looks at that shiny new car...or not. And I wonder with his tendencies to impulse-buy if he'll be able to rein it in.

 

He does have another friend who is amazingly blunt and honest with him. This friend will flat out tell him "What the H are you doing??? You're broke and yet you bought a new car?? What were you thinking???" He told me that once he asked this friend why they weren't more encouraging and supportive even when they thought he was wrong, and the friend told him "I'm not THAT friend". I have to say, in many ways I admire that.

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He does have another friend who is amazingly blunt and honest with him. This friend will flat out tell him "What the H are you doing??? You're broke and yet you bought a new car?? What were you thinking???" He told me that once he asked this friend why they weren't more encouraging and supportive even when they thought he was wrong, and the friend told him "I'm not THAT friend". I have to say, in many ways I admire that.

 

I do, too!

 

Honestly, i would say "X is not encouraging because how can he/she stand by and be encouraging about bad decisions. Here is some encouragement - why do you feel the need to have the latest electronics and car when you don't have the money to eat? Are you getting an ego boost out of it or something?" It honestly sounds like he has never learned to be a grownup.

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I think he's looking to "retail therapy" as a cure for what he's termed his "depression". Not as a medical condition, but how he feels sometimes. It's almost like clockwork; he'll mention feeling down, he buys something, he gets excited and shares the info with his friends, then a few days before payday he's "broke", blames his purchases ("I probably shouldn't have bought X, Y and Z"), he feels down again, payday comes along and he buys something else. It's not constant; he seems to run in cycles with this.

 

I get the "retail therapy" concept, heck, I've done it. But it's usually a pair of $40 shoes or a new house plant, or maybe a set of nice towels that cost $25. But a car that costs thousands? Hundreds of dollars worth of electronics? Ouch.

 

I care about this friend a lot and it's painful to watch. But I don't interfere unless I'm asked to. I think, as abitbroken mentioned, I could perhaps say something tactful along the lines of "Maybe now it's time to set a budget and hold off buying expensive stuff until your finances settle down". I have had money issues in the past and overcome them, he knows this, so hopefully it won't be viewed as someone who can't possibly "get it" trying to barge into his business.

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Do you think he might be exaggerating his issues as a form of getting attention?

 

Possible.

 

He gets lonely being by himself. I'm the kind of person who enjoys my alone time, but he seems to really hate it. He is also a bit dramatic and emotional.

 

I think I understand him because my kids are close to his age and I'm not so old that I don't remember being that age too. I don't see his dramatics and him being emotional as a big negative. I think he has a really good heart and he tries hard to be a good friend. He goes way, way overboard doing things for other people. I have codependent tendencies and think he may too (in my entirely unprofessional opinion lol...I despise amateur diagnoses). He worries SO much if anything he says or does might upset or offend someone.

 

I just think this expensive purchase thing he does is a form of self-soothing, but it can have disastrous consequences if he doesn't rein it in now. Take it from someone who JUST paid off the debt they accumulated in their 20s and 30s...it follows you for YEARS.

 

I've also wondered if he's really as broke as he claims. I have other friends (a married couple) who always claim they're "broke", yet they take multiple vacations each year, live in a lovely home in a pricey neighborhood and buy new vehicles every 2 years or so. And the wife spends $150 on a haircut and color, gets cosmetic treatments and gets a $45 pedicure every two weeks. Their definition of broke is different from mine! Maybe he says "broke" when he really means "don't have the money to buy the shiny expensive new thing I want to buy".

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I'm the kind of person who believes one should be honest with friends. I don't blow sunshine up peoples' butts if I think they're making a huge mistake. I don't lecture or act superior or give my opinion if it hasn't been asked for, and I've never used the words "I told you so!!" But aren't there are some people who would prefer you just act excited for them even if you think they're doing something they'll end up regretting?

 

I have a friend like this. I love her to death but she is a money-imbecile. Initially, I tried to 'help' her by making suggestions, but then -duh- it dawned on me that she is a grown woman and she is not going to change. And she's actually the first to admit that she's an idiot with her money. So, I don't worry about it. I just enjoy her friendship and money-drama entertainment.

 

My boyfriend, on the other hand, rakes her through the coals every time he sees her. He still thinks he can make a difference, poor soul. I think she likes the attention.

 

Actually, come to think of it, I have quite a few friends who (in my opinion) make terrible money decisions. But really, it's not my problem. I have enough to worry about. Let them deal with it!!!

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Think of the money friend spends as buying something useful that is invisible. A kind of mental vacation.

 

If you want to talk about it, beware of the many issues that may be related. Fear of failure. No faith in the process of making progress. Overwhelmed-ness.

 

ADHD often comes with poor money habits due to impulse and/or poor administration; also time blindness which leads to other near misses that can become expensive, and after years of dealing with it, frustration in trying to be like everyone else and just giving up and spending whatever.

 

Try not to judge. They know.

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Here's something I've learned in my recent years:

 

If a person doesn't ask for advice, don't give it.

 

Your friend is telling you about his life. He's telling you about things that make him happy. He's a grown adult (yes? if not, then it's a different story), so it's his money to do with as he pleases, even if, yes, it puts him in debt.

 

If he starts asking you for money, then you have every right to tell him no. Just, plain, no.

 

If he asks for your advice to get him out of his debt hole, then sit him down and spend a few hours with him on strategies.

 

But if he's making stupid decisions, well, that's on him. You can then choose whether you want this type of person in your world. Lifelong friend or not, we can always decide who we want in our sphere.

 

You may have looked at him one way years ago, but a different way now. That's ok.

 

It's ok for you to move on from this friendship. It's also ok for you to only speak to him once in a while, exchange quick pleasantries, and send Xmas cards. You can do with this friendship what you'd like.

 

Because he hasn't asked for your advice, nor has he asked for your money (I don't think, has he?), it's not your place to give him any.

 

I have a lifetime of friendships like this, so I get it. Instead of completely shutting people out, I maintain what I call a "cordial distance". Pleasantries once in a while, happy smiles if I run into them at the grocery store, but we are not grabbing dinner on a weekend or going to a concert. Nor am I sharing a lot about myself.

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Here's something I've learned in my recent years:

 

If a person doesn't ask for advice, don't give it.

 

Your friend is telling you about his life. He's telling you about things that make him happy. He's a grown adult (yes? if not, then it's a different story), so it's his money to do with as he pleases, even if, yes, it puts him in debt.

 

If he starts asking you for money, then you have every right to tell him no. Just, plain, no.

 

If he asks for your advice to get him out of his debt hole, then sit him down and spend a few hours with him on strategies.

 

But if he's making stupid decisions, well, that's on him. You can then choose whether you want this type of person in your world. Lifelong friend or not, we can always decide who we want in our sphere.

 

You may have looked at him one way years ago, but a different way now. That's ok.

 

It's ok for you to move on from this friendship. It's also ok for you to only speak to him once in a while, exchange quick pleasantries, and send Xmas cards. You can do with this friendship what you'd like.

 

Because he hasn't asked for your advice, nor has he asked for your money (I don't think, has he?), it's not your place to give him any.

 

I have a lifetime of friendships like this, so I get it. Instead of completely shutting people out, I maintain what I call a "cordial distance". Pleasantries once in a while, happy smiles if I run into them at the grocery store, but we are not grabbing dinner on a weekend or going to a concert. Nor am I sharing a lot about myself.

 

I had to log in specifically to rep this post. Absolutely brilliant and pretty much nailed it, I think.

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You need to tell him that you do not want to hear about his financial issues. Period. It is unfair for him to do this to the friendship, when he is so irresponsible with money. That would make me nuts.

 

It is the same thing as the people who are always complaining about their weight, yet are ordering a lot of carbs, followed with a dessert. I don't want to hear it. Either, be satisfied with who you are, or make healthier choices.

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I did say I don’t give advice unless asked. It's in my OP. I also said he's never asked me for money.

 

I won't stop being his friend over this. It just hurts to see someone I care about doing things they could very likely end up paying for (in more ways than $$) for a long time. Spoken from experience here.

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I did say I don’t give advice unless asked. It's in my OP. I also said he's never asked me for money.

 

I won't stop being his friend over this. It just hurts to see someone I care about doing things they could very likely end up paying for (in more ways than $$) for a long time. Spoken from experience here.

 

These are his choices. How old is he?

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These are his choices. How old is he?

 

Late 20s.

 

I racked up credit card debt until I was in my mid 30s. Took me over a dozen years to dig myself out of that gigantic hole. It would be a shame if the same thing happened to him, but I can't stop it.

 

Hopefully he gets ahold of his impulsive spending.

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It is smart to keep this on the "light and fluffy" level, since that is how he relates. He doesn't sound stupid, so doesn't need advice.

 

Superficial, emotional, dramatic etc is who he is and what he's used to and most likely gets off on the roller coaster ride he puts himself on. It's exciting to him. It's not hurting him whatsoever, if it were, he'd stop.

 

He's not Evel Knievel as far as risk goes but he seems to thrive on the edge and telling people about it. Who in turn live vicariously on the edge of their seats wondering "what's he going to do next?, How is he going to pull that off?"

 

So the payoff for him is huge. He gets the thrill of the roller coaster then the thrill of people's astonished responses to his antics, which he must love telling everyone. He is the self-created star of his own action flick.

I did say I don’t give advice unless asked. It just hurts to see someone I care about doing things they could very likely end up paying for (in more ways than $$) for a long time. Spoken from experience here.
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"I'm not THAT friend". I have to say, in many ways I admire that.

 

Good! He has someone like that in his life, and he still opts to remain friends with the guy. What can this tell you about questioning your own approach just because it wasn't gleeful support of something you don't support?

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Well, your friendship sounds a bit like he is the ying to your yang. However, you do have to be careful that you don't actually get sucked into his drama and dramatic personality and start internalizing it, worrying about it, and making his alleged problems your own, etc. So I'd suggest that you take the parts of the friendship that you enjoy, but when he starts into the woe is me I can't even buy food, you find a way to shut that conversation down. Or listen only as much as you can handle without it getting to you and then step aside. Friendships also require boundaries. I know sometimes that's easier said than done too.

 

I have a girl friend who is constantly in some kind of a toxic relationship. Sometimes it's fun to listen to the drama, other times I really really have to bite my tongue because she is hurting herself and I can see that and my heart will also start bleeding. I really have to remind myself that she is choosing this and no matter what anyone says, she'll keep going back to whatever toxic guy du jour of the moment. This is who she is and maybe if someday she finally gets tired of it and wants better, I'll be there for her. When it gets to me, I really do just distance myself a little and ...well...become at bit too busy to hang out much. Kind of limit my exposure to bits I can handle without upsetting myself on her behalf.

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It IS hard to see someone make self destructive choices. It helps to remember that we each have a path, and that path leads us to learn whatever it is we need to learn.

 

The hurt we cause ourselves is in some ways a gift because it teaches us. The sooner the better - and of course, it's never soon enough to an onlooker, and it may never happen. But - its his path. He will figure out a way to sort himself.

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DancingFool, when I started on ena I was that friend to my friends. It's a great example. I needed to bang into this wall of hurt so that I would finally discover, confront and resolve an inner pain that I was carrying around. Had I not done it, I'd still be in situations that don't satisfy.

 

I am grateful my friends loved me and let me be. Mad appreciation for them hereafter.

 

I have a friend now who drinks in an unhealthy way and knows it. It hurts! But I will love her to the end of time. So, I've said my peace, drink water when we're together because that's how I am most comfortable, and I treat her as the strong woman she is.

 

Some days, we just have to love our friends and trust they will find their way. What else can we do?

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Adding a thought inspired by dancingfool... when our friends keep running into a wall... ITS OKAY. That wall is there because, in a twisted way, they seek it out.

 

We may do this too: sometimes I try to find the wall I keep hitting. Usually I am using some behavior to enforce a limit of some sort. If I flip it around- I often find I need something that I am denying, until I self destruct and make my needs a top priority.

 

Anyway - that's a sidebar.

 

Just that overspending, or undersleeping... or .... something, big or little. Its likely we can relate if we think of it as a path to discovery and recovery.

 

But I know, it doesn't always resolve in a positive manner. That IS scary. It's hard.

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