(The Frisky) -- Dear Wendy:
I recently married and bought a home. During this same time, I was laid off from my job and my husband's income decreased drastically. We ended up moving in with my in-laws while we used all of our money to fix up the house.
All of my girlfriends were in my wedding. I embraced their financial limitations, and made the most of it. If a girl couldn't afford her dress, I offered to pay (at the time I was making significantly more than any of them).
I looked past the fact no one threw me a bridal shower or bachelorette party. In the end, they only spent around $200 -- for their dress. Now I am invited to countless birthday parties, nights out, and social events. I have to decline most of these "social obligations" to sacrifice for my house.
My friends are not taking this kindly; they are rude when I cancel most of the time. I feel that a caring friend would understand my situation and accommodate my friendship needs.
As in, rented movies in, cookouts at home, etc. What do I do if I cannot meet their financial expectations?
-- Lucky in Love But Not Money
You say in the past, you embraced your friends' financial limitations, but I have to wonder if that's completely accurate. You use only your wedding as an example of embracing their limitations -- a wedding where they each "only spent around $200 -- for their dress."
So, they skipped on throwing you a bridal shower or bachelorette party, but did they all skip buying you a gift, too? Or paying for potential travel costs? Or losing wages for time taken off work? And if you were really "embracing" their limitations, why not skip having bridesmaid altogether, or let them choose their own dresses -- perhaps all in a similar color.
After all, $200 for a dress they'll never wear again is hardly what I'd call being thrifty when you're talking about people who are financially limited.
But this is about more than just keeping a tally of how much your friends spent for your wedding or how much you embraced their budgetary restrictions during that event. This is about respect, embracing the different paths you've taken, and taking equal responsibility in nurturing the friendship -- regardless of your budget.
One reason your friends may be acting rude to you is that you aren't showing the respect to them that you think you are.
I'd probably be pretty rude to you, too, if you constantly canceled on plans with me. It's one thing if you can't afford to do the stuff I'm inviting you to do, but if you know you can't afford it, don't accept the invitation in the first place.
Say: "Oh, thank you so much for the invitation. I wish I could go, but as you know, I'm not working right now and every penny we're making is going toward our house. I can't wait until it's done and we can have everyone over for dinners and parties. In the meantime, I'd love to see you, so would you be up a picnic in the park soon?"
And, look, just because you don't have money to spend doesn't mean you can just forget a friend's birthday or happy event. A home-baked cake, a handmade card, an offer to babysit so friends who are parents can enjoy a night out don't cost much at all (if anything), but it shows you care.
It sounds like you're expecting your friends to "accommodate your friendship needs," but what are you doing to be a friend to them? How are you accommodating their needs? What are you doing to nurture the friendship?
As I've said a million times, you have to be a friend to have friends.
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