Over the past week, I’ve been in an argument with a friend, A. (Not the A that I usually write about, a different A.) A and I became very good friends in graduate school, and, until recently, maintained close ties despite living in different states. The argument centers around the fact that she forgot my birthday, then when I discreetly pointed out to her that she had forgotten, she wrote me a pretty weak text message apology, which basically pushed me over the edge and I directly told her that I was very, very pissed. I’m a direct person, and A knows this. She feels that I’m overreacting and tried to turn the argument back on me, claiming that she feels we don’t talk often enough, so how could she possibly remember my birthday? A very weak justification if you ask me. But I digress.
In our nasty exchange, when she was asserting that we don’t keep in touch to a level that is to her liking, she made a comment about how we don’t see each other very much. I pointed out that since we left college, I have been to visit her three times and she has only been to visit me once. She hasn’t responded yet, but she’s made comments in the past to the effect that travel* is expensive and she just bought a house, implying that I should be more understanding, and also, (and maybe I’m reading too much into this) softly condescending me because she has “real” financial responsibilities and can’t fritter her money away on needless travel.
*And by “travel” I mean a two hour drive.
Now, I’m not totally sure that she’ll use this retort, but I’m bracing myself to get very, very irritated if she does. Because her parents still pay for a lot of her expenses, including her cell phone, her student loans (which are in her name), her car insurance, and they also provided the down payment for her house – which was a gift, not a loan. It’s true that I’m not a homeowner, but my parents don’t pay for my monthly expenses. In fact, come the end of this week, I will no longer have a single financial tie to my parents, and they’ve made it very clear that they are D.O.N.E. paying for anything for me. If I want a house, I have to save up my money for my own down payment. I’m sure they would be willing to help me if I came into some kind of true financial hardship, but they’re not paying for my cell phone for goodness sake! But I’m digressing again.
This is the issue: I understand that everyone’s money is theirs to use as they see fit, and it’s not my style to judge other peoples’ choices, especially when it comes to money. But if she tries to use money as leverage in this argument, how do I defend my position (budget for travel to see friends or don’t, but don’t expect them to always come to you) without making it sound like I’m looking down on her financial choices? The argument isn’t even about money, but I see it heading in that direction, so I need to be prepared. I really need advice because I’ve never had this type of argument with a friend before.
And don’t you think it’s pretty childish to text message an apology about a forgotten birthday? Or am I nuts here???