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Can money spoil friendships?

(24 Posts)
CuteClematis Wed 30-Jul-14 09:06:19

Just looking for some opinions...
I know this is all in my head, but it's bothering me. I'm having problems relating to a very old and close friend since her DH has been promoted over many years to the extent they are multi millionaires with several properties. She doesn't 'flaunt' their wealth but she will moan to me about things that are purely related to their wealth - mainly the problems with property maintenance and cleaning staff etc. I think it's a bit insensitive because we aren't in that league at all. We aren't badly off- I'd call us comfortable middle class! But it's me- I know that- I feel slightly embarrassed/ uncomfortable discussing finances etc now because she's in another league.

For example, DH is planning his retirement and has decided to carry on a bit longer than he first intended -this increases his pension by around £10K pa. I haven't discussed this with my friend- I will- but at the same time I know it will be meaningless to her as her DH earns a huge amount of money. Similarly when I buy clothes or bags, I don't 'expect' her to like them because she only buys designer wear and bags @ almost £1K a pop!
I'm not jealous and I don't feel inferior but I just feel the landscape has changed so much from when we met years before either of us married. I feel her money distances us, even if it's mainly in my head.

Quitelikely Wed 30-Jul-14 09:27:28

I don't think it's insensitive if she moans about property problems etc. friends do moan to each other, it seems harsh that you don't want her to just because she has done well in life. I think you do feel a tad uncomfortable about the earnings gap here but from her side it will just feel like you have deserted her be ause she has money iyswim.

If its a good friendship tbh I would stick with it. Good friends are far and few between IMO.

CogitoErgoSometimes Wed 30-Jul-14 09:27:57

There's a phrase I like which is 'comparison is the thief of joy'. Could be the Facebook motto smile You describe her as a very old, close friend. Do you ever tell her that talking about staff problems or designer handbags makes you feel like you've got less and less in common? Do you actively do things together still or is the conversation about your very different daily lives and past memories?

holeinmyheart Wed 30-Jul-14 09:29:04

This is difficult but as I am the other way around perhaps it will help if you hear it from my perspective. I am very well off and I have old friends who are not. I have a dilemma too. Shall I pay for everything every time we go out? I have given them money for specific things and our relationship has survived. Should I not enjoy my wealth to make others feel more comfortable? Etc You are her friend and she likes you enough to want to discuss her problems with you. Wealthy people have problems too. You can tell her that you feel uncomfortable discussing money problems with her but usually you do discuss things with people who you consider friends. I must say I try not to discuss money problems with my less well off friends. But in this friendship your friend will have problems the other way around. Just be yourself is my advice. Show her your bags and dresses, surely if she likes them she will say so. She has remained your friend through her increasing wealth so your friendship is based on genuine affection. You say you are OK financially so be glad for her and be glad for you.

Preciousbane Wed 30-Jul-14 09:33:04

It wouldn't bother me, as long as people are kind and have some humanity I'm not bothered if their brassic or minted.

If you had a friend who was rather less well-off than you, would you feel completely unable to complain about things which you have and she didn't? I think you'd feel that your worries and problems were just as real and valid as hers, so long as she was able to meet the rent and put food on the table.

If she's a very old and close friend, and this money has come from a series of promotions, she presumably didn't grow up in the lap of luxury never having to think about money. Her worries come from the same place as anyone else's worries. You seem to have decided that 'ordinary' levels of income will now mysteriously be incomprehensible to her. That seems unlikely unless she has an ability to forget the earlier stages of her life before all the promotions.

I think you are the one who is making judgments about her now that she has money.

springydaffs Wed 30-Jul-14 09:46:48

This reminds me of Billy Connolly's jokes these days about scuba diving in the Bahamas. People don't find it as funny as jokes about newcastle shipyards.

It does put a strain on friendships, yes. She has to be extremely sensitive about what she discusses eg not talking at length about scuba diving in the Bahamas/£1k handbags.

Pagwatch Wed 30-Jul-14 09:57:46

It depends on loads of things

For example does she show you her 'new handbag' or her 'new £1k handbag'?
Do you chose not to show her your stuff because you assume she won't be interested or because she actually isn't interested?

My friends and I show new purchase sometimes whether it is a bargain or expensive. The price only comes up if one of us wants one too. It's a conversation that is only about money if you make it so.

I think I'm asking whether she is actually insensitive or if you are looking or things. We can all be uncomfortable about this stuff but with friends you should be able to talk about it really.

readrunraverelax Wed 30-Jul-14 10:00:45

I am slightly in this position too. My bff has married someone who earns a lot of money and put everything into his career before they got together, while my friend, my DH and I were having serious fun in our twenties.

My DH and I are doing okay financially-just normal, I would say, considering in the past 6 years we have had two DC and have bought a new build house. My friend now lives in a huge 6 bedroom house. She also complains abut the size of it and says she did not want a house this size. She also complains about how her OH does not help with her two DS and how he is always away working.

I feel we are equal because she has everything that money can buy but has an unsatisfactory relationship with her DH. He is selfish and lazy around the house. They do not have much sex.

My DH and I cannot afford holidays abroad, have a small house and car, but he helps out lots with the DS and we have a great relationship, cannot have sex enough and I feel I am overall luckier than my friend.

Maybe you can look at things differently OP?

At the end of the day I adore my friend and love spending time with her and she does with me. She has said things before about how she loves seeing something in a shop as a Christmas or birthday present for me and that she does not have to worry about the cost. She is kind and lovely.

CuteClematis Wed 30-Jul-14 10:01:14

I think what I am trying to say is that there is a huge gap between how we each live these days. We don't actually see each other that often due to location, though we do chat on the phone. As a trivial example though, if I buy a bag for say £150, which is a lot more than some people could afford, I would never show her it or expect her to compliment me on it, as my other friends would if they liked it, because I know she wouldn't buy it for herself- because she didn't, and chose one for £1k instead! She does notice things because once when she'd met someone new she said to me 'I noticed her clocking my ring and my bag and I did the same to her'.
I suppose I'm also trying to say that she annoys me when she moans about things other people would be thrilled about- they've just bought a holiday home for £0.5 million, and rather than be delighted and saying how lucky she is to have a high earning DH, she moans about the upkeep and things- and I'm expected to sympathise.
sorry if this comes over a being a cow- I'm not- I just think she's lost perspective at times.

Pagwatch Wed 30-Jul-14 10:28:09

I still don't get the handbag thing confused

Just because she chose a £1k handbag why does that mean that she woukdn't like yours?
I like loads of different bags from £5k to primark. I obviously don't buy them all but because I chose x bag doesn't mean I don't like y.

If she's become shallow then dump her by all means. Just make sure you are not making assumptions - if you value her of course.

Ninetysixpercent Wed 30-Jul-14 10:28:52

Hmm, well in answer to your question, yes i think money can affect friendships. I was thinking of starting a similar post as i am finding it increasingly difficult to be around my much wealthier friends at the moment. I am by far the poorest of all my friends. I'm normally pretty good at being thankful for what i have etc.. but it's ds's birthday soon and i can't afford to give him a party or buy half the stuff he's asked for which i think is magnifying everything at the moment as i feel like i'm letting him down.
I'm a LP and work f/t whereas most of my female friends don't have to work. Whilst i'm bundling ds of to childcare at 7.30am most days they're posting on fb asking who wants to go out their boat.
Saying that they don't really flaunt any expensive purchases or moan about their 'staff', i do think that's a bit insensitive. And i think you're right, it does sound like your friend has lost perspective. I don't begrudge anyone i know their lifestyle but i think i'd have to gently remind them how lucky they are if they were moaning about the 'difficulties of being rich'.

Pagwatch Wed 30-Jul-14 10:31:19

There is a huge gap between how I live and how some of my family and friends live. It doesn't mean we stop caring about each other. If issues arise we talk about it.

I have a holiday home. Some of the stuff we have to do is a pain in the arse. My friends don't mind me moaning because they know it's borne ofembaressment and frustration because I don't speak the local language well. Plus I lend it to them grin

venusandmars Wed 30-Jul-14 10:56:39

I don't really understand from your examples what the problem is... It sounds like YOU are choosing not to show her your new handbag, because you are overly conscious of the cost, and your are making assumptions about how she would react. I think most of the people I know would be more interested in having a discussion about how your handbag looked great with your outfit, or loving the colour or whatever, rather than looking to see if there was a designer label or price-tag. What do you do with the same £150 handbag when you are speaking to your friends who are much less well off than you?

Similarly with her holiday house.... For me friendship is about being able to share the delights and the pains of whatever is happening in life. My friends and I have made many different choices in our lives. Some work (and have more money) some are SAHP (and have less money but more time with their children). If my SAHP friend s feeling frustrated about being stuck at home and not having adult company, then I empathise and support her. If she's spent the summer splashing in the paddling pool with her dc, I am delighted and happy for her, even though I can't do the same. I would be really sad if she felt she couldn't share her feelings with me because I was in a different situation. If I moan about my commute to work, I expect the same understanding from her.

Of course, any of these differences (money, lifestyles, life choices, number and age-spread of children) CAN change friendships - sometimes to the point where they are not serving either of you well. But if your values and your genuine interest in each other and your enjoyment of each other's company remains the same, then whatever the differences a relationship can be sustained.

springydaffs Wed 30-Jul-14 11:50:11

You have to be there, Venus?

Some of my friends have 'riches' I don't have eg relationship riches, if you like, and although I am very happy for them, I make sure my friendships include people in a similar situation to mine. So, I can listen to and congratulate my friends who have kids who are doing marvellously but not for long because it's too painful but it's a relief to be with friends whose kids are doing shit like mine . it's not wallowing, it helps you to accept/bear your situ.

Not quite the same, admitted; but your friend could keep her moaning about staff to other friends who have staff. I've been both rich and poor in the past and there's an art to it.

springydaffs Wed 30-Jul-14 11:51:02

Terrible English, apols, hope you get my drift.

CuteClematis Wed 30-Jul-14 12:03:02

Venus it's hard to answer all your points without going into detail. My friend has almost always only had 1 bag- she's not 'girly' but always buys 'the best'. So talking about which bag goes with which outfit isn't the case.
I don't have friends who are much less well off than I am. We are the poorest! Another good friend always says she likes my clothes, bags etc and told me once how she had found a bargain designer bag on Ebay etc and was thrilled.

I DO listen to all she has to tell me but all I'm saying is that problems with 'staff' are quite low on my radar when I'm working and looking after our only home, so I find it hard to be genuinely sympathetic when her problems are 'caused' by money- if that makes sense- and could be solved instantly if she sold the homes.

I think in a nutshell I'm saying you lose common ground- several of her other friends are equally wealthy so maybe they talk about this kind of thing all the time.

Twinklestein Wed 30-Jul-14 12:19:33

I may be the friend with money in this scenario.

I can honestly say I get as excited about a friend's £10 handbag as a very expensive one, personally I think most £1k bags are not worth the money.

I'm guilty of having moaned about issues with second homes - plumbers, wild boar, lightning strikes etc - before I owned one myself, friends moaning about hassles at their other properties never bothered me in the slightest.

Tbh second homes & staff, while a privilege, are a huge amount of hassle and it may be that your friend doesn't find it as 'thrilling' as you imagine it should be.

If she was having problems with a small flat - presumably you wouldn't mind if she talked about that? I don't really see why the size or number of properties disallows someone from sharing quotidian hassles.

Perhaps your friend simply does not perceive the 'distance' between the two of you that you believe there to be.

Denton2406 Wed 30-Jul-14 12:26:18

I cut a friend out of my life due to a similar situation, finally after 4 years of her boasting about handbags that she spent �850 on and expensive dresses that her partner bought her (and the list goes on) I had enough. She used to put me down and make sarcastic comments about how she is classy (meaning that I am not because I buy tops in H & M!) - I defriended her on FB and don't speak to her when I bump into her in work and I feel so much better!! She was cluttering up my life with her insensitiveness and boastful manner and I have now DECLUTTERED!! lol

Pagwatch Wed 30-Jul-14 13:02:26

I still think it comes down to how much you like her and how good friends you are.
I love my friends. They tell me I'm being an arse if I'm being an arse. If my friend gets a handbag she loves I want to admire it because it's made her happy and it suits her, not because of how much it costs.

I think you just don't like her much anymore which happens. In which case move on.

holeinmyheart Wed 30-Jul-14 13:24:03

I am not sure this post is entirely about money as the OP has posted more stuff since her first post. As I said am pretty wealthy with second home, etc, but I have relatively poor friends and extremely rich one. Richer than me by far. I have kept hold of them all because we have likes and interests in common. What I love about the money is being able to treat my friends etc. I think you should just be yourself. Poor or Rich you will not be friends with someone whose philosophy, interests are not the same. It is a great temptation when you have been lucky ( I am self made, inherited money etc) and are now wealthy, not to boast. Perhaps this post has now outlived this friend. Too much boasting is boring to listen too. However I enjoy my millionaire friends stuff, such as holiday homes, and girly nights in posh spa's etc. If they offer to treat me then I let them. Life is too short to feel guilty. I just make sure that I always offer to pay. My advice is to give this friend up, not because of the money but because she is boring and boastful and any one who makes you unhappy cannot be regarded as a friend.

LittleMissRayofHope Wed 30-Jul-14 16:28:26

Money definitely can, and does, affect some relationships.
But I agree with some previous posters that I think it has affected you more then her. If she is as old and good a friend as you originally state then she should be free to talk about things that bother her, even if you think that she shouldn't be moaning about her new holiday home simply because she is lucky enough to have it. What if she couldn't have children? And then you complained that yours were badly behaved or driving you nuts? That would be very unreasonable of you by this standard.

I am no longer in a financial position to buy designer stuff but before I had children and became a SAHM I favoured Louis Vuitton. A friend who earned similar favoured Prada, a friend who earned rather more then us favoured Dior.
LV is one of the cheaper designer brands. But I liked it. I never felt inferior next to my friend who likes Dior, I love Dior, but I'm lucky that I actually prefer LV.
I don't think it's wrong of her to prefer more luxurious, more expensive things now she can afford them.
From your posts it sounds like you are the one uncomfortable with her new found wealth, and a little jealous. Which I don't think is wrong, id be jealous!! I am jealous!! Haha
It's how you let it affect your friendship, if you let resentment build you will lose her as a friend and she will be punished for being successful/wealthy and that isn't fair

Downtheroadfirstonleft Thu 31-Jul-14 08:18:09

You don't seem to really like and value your friend. That's not a criticism, people do move apart. If you were both good friends though, surely you would just be happy for each other's successes and sympathise with eac other's annoyances?

Holdthepage Thu 31-Jul-14 12:47:03

Your friend doesn't sound like she is boasting, she is treating you the same as she always has it's just that her problems in life are different to yours.

You are the one that seems to have difficulty accepting her for who she is.

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