Dear Mary

Dear Mary: How do I stop my new friend leaving me broke?

5 March 2022

9:00 AM

5 March 2022

9:00 AM

Q. Recently I started hanging out with a new friend. We are both in our twenties, single, and usually go to gatherings and talks downtown. I’m working part-time and studying, she has graduated and is working full-time. We both live in the suburbs, not too close to each other. I drive, she doesn’t, and she refuses to use public transportation. The result is, she asks that I chauffeur her around, while normally I would use public transportation. She does reimburse me for petrol, but this is money I’d rather not spend. On top of this, she wishes to go out dining every time we meet up, and Mary, frankly I don’t have the budget for any of this. But how to avoid overspending just so that we can be friends?

– Name and address withheld

A. Consult a ‘financial adviser’ – even if just a maths teacher in your network. Ask for advice about saving for a new car/holiday/whatever and let the adviser tot up the meaningful savings you could make by using public transport and avoiding restaurants. Act daft as you communicate this ‘news’ to your friend in a non-accusatory spirit that assumes she will want to help you save. The disparity in your purse power need not restrict this budding friendship but, thanks to your revelations, your friend will remember, when planning social encounters, that the new boring diktats must inform the style of them.


Q. We were married during lockdown and only had a wedding party of ten. This summer we are holding a party for all those who could not make it. We sent out save-the-date cards in the autumn and will soon send out formal invitations. Since then, we have applied for planning permission for a farmhouse (we are local farmers) and some of our neighbours have objected to this. How, having already sent them a save the date, do I politely uninvite our objectors from our party?

– Name and address withheld

A. It is important to still invite the objecting neighbours. The party could be a game-changer. When they are embraced by your family and friends they could come to associate you with celebration and withdraw their objections. It is up to them whether they accept or not but, either way, they will appreciate that you are not grudge-bearers.

Q. How can I get my secretive brother to admit he is having an affair with my flatmate? I need to know for practical reasons.

– S.S., London SW6

A. Say to your flatmate: ‘My brother has told me your news.’ Then stay silent. If she admits the affair, say: ‘Oh I didn’t mean that. I just meant your news about (for example) the rugby tickets.’ If she says ‘What news?’, reply: ‘That you have both bought tickets to the rugby.’

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