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to let down a friend who won't stop offering help I have not asked for?

(75 Posts)
Blossomgirl Wed 24-Apr-13 22:10:27

I was due to work with a friend in September for a couple of days at a conference she is help organise, but told her no this week because she won't stop offering help that I have not asked for.

Came to a head yesterday when I told her that her last offer of 'help' had gone to far. What she did, knowing I am on a low income, was to send me a link to Oxfam dresses because she knew I do not have a dress for the conference dinner. I was gob smacked. I never ever asked her for help in getting a dress, it was completely uninvited.

This isnt the only incident but the one that bucked me into standing up and saying 'no more help unless I ask, please'

Since then I have been told that she offered me the work because she thought I would find the money helpful. I'm confident that I did the right thing in asking her to be a mate and be there ONLY if I ask for help

TBH I have a sick husband and 2DS's and it's my energy that keeps us on an even keel, me who has to be resourceful all the time and it wears away at my self-esteem so when I got the oxfam email I hit a downer and got proper introspective about how shit I must look to the world, and how hard getting by is etc. It took me a while to work out that I wanted the uninvited help to stop. I told her in a down-to-earth way.

Thing is this friend is also getting married in 3 1/2 weeks. I tried to keep my feelings to myself but she kept asking me if I had had her email and what did I think. Oh dear

I feel torn between my needs and hers.

She sent me a text earlier after turning away at the shops after I said Hi saying how hurt she is. She has taken massive offence. She says she cannot believe that I misunderstood her, and is very hurt at my lack of trust in her good intentions. She says she was only being a good friend and that I have let her down.

AIBU to stay firm to my instinct and say no to working for her knowing the stress it must be adding to her?

Blossomgirl Thu 25-Apr-13 00:46:12

I work late nights in a shop, and I like the midnight hour here too! Really insightful and straight forward.

Being hard up all the time has changed me and I survive by personal autonomy and being loving at home, I hold my head up my boys are good kids and we look nice, albeit with a small wardrobe and home-cut hair.

I found it really hard to have my world shook, to find out my friend actually offered me work out of pity and to have her treat me like I have not heard of Oxfam and to invite herself into my purse and assume that I did not have the answers, that she held the key.

We have to apply patience in our house if we need something 'new' and old sayings like 'everything comes to those that wait' have meaning to us. My kids choose toys to sell if they want new ones and that to me is not the stuff of ''woh is me" it's the best life skill I can give them given our circumstance.

But perhaps because I live outside mainstream I can be over protective of my boundaries and a well meant gesture can be mis-read as a put-down. Still naffed me off though.

You like her for her, and not for what she can do for you.

Thank you for that sage advice DIY, in terms of reconciliation that is indeed the place I will start from...our common ground.

Thank you again for all these posts, I love the range of responses and for the lift up too - I am very hopeful, but that may be lack of sleep. Off to bed now operation relentless continues tomorrow (our house word for small boys up early) xx

fanjoforthemammaries7850 Thu 25-Apr-13 00:57:36

She maybe just came across the link and was impressed by the dresses and thought 'that would do Blossomgirl for that conference she needs a dress for'

Sorry but you sound a bit snobby about Oxfam and a bit too touchy IMO.

LittleMissLucy Thu 25-Apr-13 01:04:32

I disagree with Fanjo - I expect you're not snobby about Oxfam, but perfectly capable of getting yourself down there for a look yourself without needing being led.

DIY gave the best, most balanced advice. But I think your friend is also being "high status" and patronizing you, unwittingly or not. That's my most extreme reaction to this, feel free to ignore it.

LittleYellowBall Thu 25-Apr-13 01:12:40

She's playing Lady Bountiful. It'd stick in my craw too. YANBU.

Thumbwitch Thu 25-Apr-13 01:14:02

I agree with LittleMissLucy - it feels a touch patronising, what she has done - as you say, she may think she is only trying to help but really she is, possibly unwittingly, indicating that she thinks you are incapable of dealing with the issues presented yourself!

Just because you're hard up, doesn't make you dim.

Jux Thu 25-Apr-13 11:23:03

To me, it would depend entirely on the relationship I had with my friend. There are a couple of friends from whom I would just take it as helpful. She was skating on thin ice there, wasn't she, and needed to be a bit more careful. At the least, she could have waited until she spoke to you and dropped into the chat that she'd seen a really nice dress online....

PearlyWhites Fri 26-Apr-13 00:18:05

Tbh she sounds really nice, I think you are way over sensitive.

RawShark Fri 26-Apr-13 07:15:45

Tbh I think she sounds ok. I don't understand why people think it is ok for you to drop out of working at short notice for her cos of your hurt feelings but then say they think she is overbearing for admitting she feels hurt!

And offering the chance to earn a little extra is a nice way for a friend to show practical support. It doesn't mean she thinks you can't cope just wants to make things a little easier.and maybe she sent you the dresses as you're busy?

Tbh I would sit down with her and have a good chat about how you felt and acted and how you read her actions. And then decide about the friendship

Fwiw I have a tendency to try and solve friends problems so have to watch myself to make sure I offer listening ear first

OrWellyAnn Fri 26-Apr-13 07:32:29

Your op worries me, because it's totally the sort of thing I do regularly for friends and I had no idea that it would be offensive to anyone in any way...which makes me kind of oblivious to others. Gulp.
It honestly comes from a love of other people and a desire to be a good friend...mostly because I am the sort of or person who would NEVER ask for help in any way and yet would occasionally love to receive it, so I assume others would feel the same and see the gesture as an act of love rather than an intrusion.

OrWellyAnn Fri 26-Apr-13 07:33:49

Also think the offer of work is MUCH more respectful than just trying to loam or give you money, it shows she knows and considers you have self respect?

ScumBag Fri 26-Apr-13 07:53:04

YANBU. It sounds like your friend has a real 'rescuer' mentality and that's why she offers people unsolicited help & advice. This does not make her a bad person but the problem is, for her to 'rescue' she needs you to have a victim mentality. That would mean that you would be grateful for her 'help', she would feel good about herself and you would both come out of the situation feeling happy.

The problem for your friend in this situation is that you do not feel yourself to be a victim & you are in control of your own life. Therefore you have interpreted her behaviour correctly - as being extremely patronising! I can understand how much it must have upset you and I think you did exactly the right thing by making your feelings clear.

Your friend is now upset. She's upset because the offers of help were about meeting her own needs, not yours.

I hope you can resolve things & that she will not accept that you will have a friendship with her that is on a equal footing.

cornydash Fri 26-Apr-13 08:02:45

there's helping and there's interfering
I have a family member that 'helps' to the point of interfering and it is very intrusive

Snog Fri 26-Apr-13 08:13:31

Agree your friend has been insensitive and you have been over sensitive.
What is needed is some honesty if you value the friendship.
I think your situation has made you defensive, inward looking and isolated and this is the main reason for your over sensitivity.

I don't know why your friend is insensitive, perhaps inexperience, perhaps ignorance, perhaps a desire to play Lady Bountiful.

If you like her then be straight with her, if not then end the friendship.
Do you have plenty of other good friendships? If not perhaps you are pushing people away?

purrpurr Fri 26-Apr-13 08:14:59

Fab post from ScumBag there, 100% agreed. I am a stubborn jackass, to quote, er, Donkey from Shrek, and really dislike being on the receiving end of unsolicited advice, sometimes to my own detriment. It really doesn't sound like you're stubborn or cutting your nose off to spite your face or anything like that. I really do think it's your friend who has the problem here.

BackforGood Fri 26-Apr-13 08:20:55

I totally disagree with ScumBag
When we were really broke a few years ago, a very good friend of ours offered my dh some work (in his garden - digging out a patio he'd not got round to doing) and it was just what we needed. Some cash for our family, a job that needed doing actually getting done. Win win all round. It's not patronising at all - it's "killing 2 birds with one stone" IMO. She needs someone to do a job, and would probably prefer someone she knows thought she could trust to not let her down, rather than a random agency person, and your situation would presumably be helped by a bit of cash for a few days work. Perfectly viable option when you were first offered to say "No thanks" if you didn't want it, it's not like she came round and stuffed a few ten pound notes into your tea caddy when you weren't looking.

ScumBag Fri 26-Apr-13 08:27:45

Will now accept a friendship that is on an equal footing (autocorrect, sorry)

badguider Fri 26-Apr-13 08:34:32

I think you've been too touchy. If you had lots of disposable income she might have sent you a link to a phase8 dress she spotted. But she thought that was insensitive so chose a cheaper option. I think it was done with good intentions.
If you want to mend bridges you will have to admit to some degree of oversensitiveness but you can also ask her to back off a bit in future too if you frame it as your issue/sensitivity rather than her "fault". If she is genuinely a nice person shell follow your wishes.

MadBusLady Fri 26-Apr-13 08:38:45

Taking her behaviour as a whole, I agree with scumbag.

I would add, though, that while she may have couched the conference thing in terms of "I thought it would help you to earn some money", she cannot have meant that was the only reason. You must also be competent and a good fit for what is required. I can't see that even a "rescuer" type is going to make themselves look bad by introducing someone unsuitable. In her position, even though I'm not a "rescuer", I would probably have thought over a number of suitable mates and asked the one who I thought would most appreciate the chance to work some extra hours. I think that's just normal human give and take.

adeucalione Fri 26-Apr-13 08:41:46

I recently offended a good friend by giving her a bag of DS's old clothes - I usually give them to a different friend, but she's travelling for 12 months with her family, so I thought I'd give them to someone else who had a son who is a couple of years younger than mine.

I thought she looked annoyed when I gave them to her, although I gave the usual caveat of 'if they're no good just put them in a charity bag or something', and her annoyance was confirmed when she text to say she had given them to the charity shop without even opening the bag. The next time I saw her she said I had insulted her by suggesting that her children needed hand-me-downs.

I am mortified, as she has genuinely misinterpreted my intentions - another friend gives me clothes for DD when her DD outgrows them, and it doesn't offend me at all. Anyway, I suppose my point is that my natural inclination is to assume that your friend had good intentions and is now reeling from your reaction. BTW I was called Lady Bountiful too and it hurt.

PicardyThird Fri 26-Apr-13 08:45:46

I think you have been slightly oversensitive, but I also think she is more in the wrong here. The sentence that jumped out at me from your OP is when you spoke about feeling torn between your needs and hers. Her behaviour is to a great extent about her needs, even if she doesn't realise that herself.

I often find myself on the receiving end of offers of help (practical rather than financial) that I don't want. I am happy to help people out now and again but I don't really want or need any myself except in the direst of situations. I think people want to offer me help so they feel they are giving something back, but I really don't need that. And I know I have caused mild offence and/or puzzlement by turning offers down. It mainly involves people wanting to take my kids and I don't always want that.

I do think your friend is overreacting or, rather, cannot see your POV. You two need to go for a coffee and talk. Tell her, using 'I' rather than 'you' sentences, how her behaviour has made you feel, and say it was not your intention to hurt her.

MadBusLady Fri 26-Apr-13 08:49:58

adeucalione She was VU, what a weird reaction! I am about the same size as a friend and we're always passing old clothes to each other. Neither of us are short of money, it just seems logical - and even more so for children's clothes. Some people are really hung up about money.

Ragwort Fri 26-Apr-13 08:51:01

I have had exactly that experience adeucalione blush - and it is mortifying. Personally I love hand-me-downs and always dress myself and DS in charity shop bargains - I would have loved that link to the Oxfam vintage site. But I have learned to respect other people's views and am very conscious not to offer second (or third grin) hand clothes to friends unless I am very sure they would like them.

I know my SIL struggles financially yet she always buys her DC clothes from Next etc, when I mentioned that I have had some great buys from charity shops she just says 'I would never put my children in second hand clothes'.

To me, the OP does sound slightly insensitive & her friend was just trying to be helpful, but it just shows how we are all different smile.

FlouncyMcFlouncer Fri 26-Apr-13 08:53:44

Some people have a 'listening' frame of mind and some people have a 'problem solving' frame of mind.

By this I mean that some people are able to listen to you talk, and then immediately forget what you said and go on with their day, knowing that you were just chatting. But others listen to what you say, pick up on the 'perceived' problems and then their brain gets to work on how to solve them.

I am of the second kind, and it took me a long time to understand that just because someone mentioned something to me, they didn't necessarily want a solution presented to them. Even now, I struggle to understand "why the heck you told me about this if you didn't want help solving it". It's a symptom of any overly-analytical mind, "If you didn't want my help, you'd have kept this to yourself surely, but you told me, so you must want advice, ok, what can I do/say/find that will help".

Your friend sounds like her mind works like this - and she might not understand until you say very clearly 'I prefer to find my own solutions, but thankyou for caring'.

LemonPeculiarJones Fri 26-Apr-13 08:58:32

OP I completely get where you're coming from. Your friend has completely over-stepped the mark and been very controlling and patronising.

I think you were very smart to have told her, nicely but firmly, that you didn't want any more help.

If she had an ounce of sense and empathy she would have twigged and accepted what you said without all this spurned, it's-all-about-meeeee crap.

Don't doubt yourself.

hackmum Fri 26-Apr-13 09:05:14

OP, YANBU. Obviously you have been good at managing on a low budget and you really don't need people pointing you in the direction of Oxfam dresses - you're clearly capable yourself of working out how to find an inexpensive outfit if you need to.

People like that are really annoying. I think most of us, when we have a moan about something, just want some sympathy, not advice for how we can sort things out. Because most of the time, anything a friend can think of is something we have already thought about ourselves.

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