Friends in Low Places


Dear Dharma,

My girlfriend from out of town was recently laid off and decided to plan a surprise trip to visit friends, booking flights and telling everyone after the fact.

Her trip was scheduled at a very busy time for me, and she insinuated that she expected to stay with my boyfriend and me, in our very small space.

When we finally talked on the phone (previous conversations were via text) I explained that we were currently preparing our place to go on the market, and that as her trip coincided with the time we intended to paint, I would most likely not have any extra time off.  She decided that she would rather stay with other friends as they have a larger place and more flexible schedules and they were able to take some time off.  She made plans to rent a car so that she would be able to get herself around and we decided Saturday would be our visit day.

A few days before her arrival, she phoned to change the plans.  She was now against the rental car and needed to be picked up at the airport.  She said she had the feeling her friends would take advantage of her having a vehicle (neither friend has a driver’s license) and she didn’t want to feel like a chauffeur.

When she asked if I would pick her up, I reminded her that I was supposed to work, but not wanting her to spend a fortune on a taxi or 4 hours on a bus I told her I would see what I could do.  I shuffled my week around and worked extra hard to make myself free.

I chose to be the bigger person and didn’t mention that it was a huge inconvenience to drive from where I live to the airport in rush hour traffic.

I arrived at the airport to discover her plane had been delayed by an hour.  When she finally arrived all she did was complain about how early she had to get up, and then informed me that her flight home was at 6:30am which meant she needed to be at the airport for 4 AM!

We drove back to my place to visit and have a low key day.  However, I didn’t expect quite so low key… she spent 4 hours sleeping on my couch!  When she awoke, she wanted lunch and then went for a swim in our pool and then took another nap… and then asked if I would drive her to her other friends 40 minutes away.  After dropping her off I didn’t hear a single peep from her all week until she called to make arrangements for her airport pick up to go home.

I can’t help but feel slightly taken advantage of.  She plans this trip and expects ME to chauffeur her and I don’t even get time to visit? How should I communicate my displeasure with this treatment?  I find the whole thing so disrespectful.

Feeling Slighted

Dear Slighted,

You know what I find funny here is that it sounds like your problem is simply that you didn’t get in enough visiting time.

So… when you read this, you don’t hear loud and clear that she’s not really your friend?  I mean, she might like you and all, but really, who wouldn’t!  You sound great – would you be my friend too?  I’ve been looking for someone to drive me around for quite a while now, and hey, if you throw in lunch and a swimming pool, you might just get lucky!

While we could focus on how you should communicate your displeasure at how she treated you, I’m wondering if we could spend a little time talking about you, and why it is that being a doormat/victim is your schtick.  I’m betting this is not the first time you’ve found yourself in this situation – nice people with no boundaries often do, non?

You say you find the whole thing disrespectful, and you are bang on, of course it was.  You had to have thought so while it was all happening, not just after she left, right?  So as it was unfolding and you were choking it down, what made you not speak out?

You didn’t want to be difficult.  You didn’t want her to get mad.  I get that when it comes to a true friend, but she’s not in that category.  You know how I know?  Because she used you, upset you, and didn’t really care for anything more than how to get to her next destination.

If you are really set on keeping up with this façade of a friendship and truly want to address her, I would do it by telephone (NOT text or email) and say that you’ve been thinking about how her last visit went and it left you feeling a bit hurt.  You were hoping to spend more time with her, but all she did was turn you into a chauffeur with very little thanks and definitely no appreciation for your time or effort.  No matter how you turn it in your head, you’re not sure why it is she treated you like that.

And then close your lips.  Hear her out.  If anything she says resonates, you can then decide if it’s enough to keep you coming back for more.

But honestly?  I think your time would be better spent looking inward, my friend. There’s a reason you let people treat you like this and if you don’t know immediately what that is, there’s no shame in finding a counsellor to help you work through it.



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  • Anonymous says:

    i’ve had friends like this! i guess we all have. so important to learn how to set boundaries, and that its ok to say no sometimes.

    • Patricia says:

      I have had one like this too!! Communication is so important. I agree, she needs to know how you feel and what she did hurt you. She is probably one of those flaky people that don’t even realize how self absorbed they are. Don’t let them walk all over you!!! It’s great to do nice things for people, but it needs to be appreciated.

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