How to Lose Friends and Alienate People

This post is presented by Beaker. If you want to see more posts written by him, make sure to check out Under Beaker’s Microscope tag at the end of this post.

Money is very important in our society. We are all working very hard for all the money we can get our hands on. Money brings out the worst in people as it has been blamed for destroying marriages, friendships, and even families. My opinion is that money is being used as the excuse to destroy marriages, friendships, and even families. Not in all cases is this true, but I think it is correct in my situation.

I was unemployed for about nine months. At the time, I was renting a room from my friend. A very good friend that I had known for over fifteen years. I did not have money for rent. It was not a situation that I wanted to find myself in, and I hope to never find myself in again.

I could not find a job in the little town that I was living. I decided to move to a bigger town to find work. I told him as I was moving out that I would pay him the rent that I owed him. Many months later I finally started working and trying to catch up with my bills and current rent. I was able to send him a tiny amount of money to start paying him back. I know he appreciated it, and I felt good about paying him back for the rent that I owed.

Unfortunately, as I was slowly getting back on my feet I met my wife. Don’t get me wrong, it was absolutely fortunate that I met my wife. It was unfortunate that I no longer sent my friend money because I was spending it all while dating the love of my life. My money went to restaurants and movie theaters, not to my friend. Next thing you know, I was moving in with my future wife and soon after that I was trying to save up for our wedding.

My debt’s importance was not high on my list of matters that needed attention. After our wedding we immediately started saving money for a house, so we could move out of the dump we lived in.

When I look back, I can see my friend’s frustration with me and how it may have looked like I had moved on and had forgot about my debt. A year and a half had past since my one payment, and my life had turned upside down. My priorities had changed but I still thought about the debt that I owed and it was important to me to pay it off.

It had been years since I had moved out of my friend’s house, and I was stable and ready to pay my friend the money I owed him. I was going to start looking for a second job to pay him back, but I heard that I was too late and that we were no longer friends. We have still not talked and it has been over six years.

I have no excuses, and it is unacceptable that I didn’t pay my friend the rent I owed him. I take full responsibility that my actions, or inaction had ended this friendship. I wish I had handled things differently. All of this being said, did our friendship really come to an end over six hundred dollars? This is too hard for me to accept.

I don’t think our friendship of over fifteen years was toppled helplessly by the debt owed of six hundred dollars. I have come to the conclusion that we weren’t as good friends as I had thought we were. Our friendship would have ended eventually, and I think the measly six hundred dollars was just the excuse he needed to not have to pretend to be my friend anymore. I believe this because I was never even giving a chance by him to communicate my intentions with the debt. I was not given the chance to grovel, apologize, yell, cry…nothing.

I know that someday I will be given the chance to pay him back and to apologize. Are we going to go back to being friends? It shakes me to my core, and it deeply saddens me to say that I don’t think so.

Six hundred dollars may or may not have destroyed my friendship, but money was definitely involved.


34 thoughts on “How to Lose Friends and Alienate People”

  1. I don’t think it’s the dollar amount that destroys a friendship, it’s the fact that it’s not a priority for the party that doesn’t pay. That doesn’t feel good for the owe-ee. You learned your lesson, though!

  2. I have to speak up for your friend here (and obviously none of us know about the situation as much as you do). It’s not the amount of money. If I let a friend into my home for months and then he moved out and sent me a tiny bit of money and that’s it, and I KNOW he has gotten a job, I would feel like a smack in the face. It’s not the money, it’s the message behind the money.

    And this might be an unpopular opinion, but it doesn’t matter that you guys are no longer friends. You still owed him.

    Can you send the money now? If he really was that great of a friend, it’s never too late to try to extend a hand. And you will feel better about wiping out that debt and trying to make good on your word. I think no matter how long it has passed, your friend will appreciate it.

    1. I am not going to give a lot of excuses, because I do not have a leg to stand on. My answer is that my “friend” ended this friendship because he decided that I was not going to pay him back. If the friendship was important to him he would have at least talked to me or ask me if I was going to pay him back. It is clear to me that the friendship was not important to him.

      1. Wow.

        Why was it up to your friend to track you down to find out when you’d pay him? That was your responsibility – and if I were him, I wouldn’t be too impressed with “I’m spending my money on dating instead of paying what I owe” – or with spending it on a wedding or a house. You clearly didn’t value his friendship or you wouldn’t have expected him to finance your lifestyle.

  3. I have to agree with the previous commenters. Your friend probably felt betrayed that you didn’t see fit to pay him the money back when you could.

    I’m not sure what your situation was, but it’s also possible you stopped communicating with your friend as regularly as you used to once you met your future wife. If I stick my neck out for a friend, I expect her to treat me with respect and be appreciative of what I’ve done. If my friend doesn’t have the money, that’s fine. But if she has it, and sh’es spending it on things that are not a necessity or even frivolous, I’m gonna get pretty ticked off.

    If you know where your ex-friend is now, you should pay him back immediately. Regardless of whether you’ll ever be friends again.

    1. You are right. We did not talk as much as we did when we lived in the same city. Like I said in my post, I have no doubt that I will pay my “friend” back someday. As far as when…what does it matter.

  4. Man, that’s rough. One reason I think money comes between people is lack of communication. Your friend should have been talking with you about his frustrations instead of you having to hear somehow that you were no longer friends! Having been in your position, I feel sympathy for the situation you were in, but having been in his position, I also understand how it feels to no longer be a priority to someone. LIke your rank in someone else’s life has dropped. Ouch. That’s probably the bigger problem that was going on.

  5. That’s why you should not lend money to friends and family.
    I gift the money instead and they can pay me back if they’d like. For friends, it’s just small amounts.
    I don’t think many friendship can survive a default of a loan. You probably should have kept paying him a little at a time. Even $10/month would have been better than nothing.

    1. I did not borrow money. I did not want to be unemployed. It was not a situation that anyone should find themselves in.

  6. This is such a sad story, but sounds like you learned a very valuable lesson. Some people are far less forgiving than others. I’m personally not a very forgiving person. I’ve completely severed ties with friends for similar crimes. It sounds like it was less about the money, and more about the lack of respect. I will not put you down for sharing your honest story (as I know what that feels like unfortunately!), but I will say that it sounds as if your friend felt that he wasn’t being respected. If you would have told your fiance that you had to stay in and cook for her instead of taking her to nice restaurants, I’m sure she still would have loved you the same. 🙂 Unless you’re just a terrible cook! Kiddingggg 😉

    1. Friendships are relationships. Relationships are a two way street. Did I not deserve the respect from him that I was going to pay him back. Or did I deserve the disrespect that he could assume that I was not a good enough “friend” to pay him back.

  7. While people do change and sometimes grow apart I think the principle behind it was a worse offense than the dollar amount. I’d still send your friend the check to have your mind clear, but maybe add some extra for all the trouble. You may never be friends again but at least you’d have it off your back.

  8. I agree with Daisy as well, it’s usually about priority and trust. My friend has rooms that he always rents in his house, and he runs into a lot of freeloading friends. One guy has lived there for almost a year without paying.

  9. If I was your friend I would also take that to mean that you didn’t value our friendship enough. It was very generous of him to offer you a place and I know people make mistakes, but maybe an apology was in order. It seemed like you were avoiding him possibly and he knew that. I would try to make amends…

  10. I think you should make it a priority to pay that back, even if it’s six post-dated checks of $100 each, enclosed in a card with some sort of Hallmark sentiment on the front.

  11. Karen Kidwell

    Definitely agree that you still need to make financial amends — regardless of whether you will ever be friends again, YOU will feel so much better about yourself when you repay this long overdue debt!

  12. I hope you will follow the advice of the numerous commenters to repay this debt. I believe you should also include a fair amount of interest given the amount of time that has elapsed since you incurred the debt. Regardless of your friend’s response, you will know that you did the right thing and your conscience will be clear. Both of you can move on.

  13. Money and friendship do not can bring down governments and empires. My policy when lending money is that returning it is your call. I don’t send reminders. I rarely borrow either. Money is too powerful in the way it controls people.

  14. I think you should find a way to get him the money now, with an apology. If money is owed, but spent on other things, it’s understandable that the lender would be hurt over it if he’s a friend.

    From what you’ve shared, I can see both sides of it – yours and your friend’s. Best of luck handling the situation, and don’t be too tough on yourself since you’ve learned a lesson and know your mistake. Pay him and move on, that’s my take. Sometimes friendships fade and new ones emerge, yet our best friends stay with us.

    1. This last comment I believe is the key to this whole awful situation. “yet our best friends stay with us”. Many of you that think I am an horrible person and need to go out of my way and find my friend,apologize and beg for forgiveness. You Need to realize that I was unemployed for almost a year. This “friend” was not the only person that helped me in my time of need. My friends that stood by me and respected me and believed in me were paid back in full and then some. I owed much more money to other people. I only had one person that did not believe that I was going to pay him back. And I believe that this is the point that most of you who told me that I was disrespectful and assume (like my “friend”) that I never planned on paying him back. Respect is a two way street. I agree that there are some people out there that will not repay there debts. Those are not your friends. I was given the chance to pay back my friends. As far as when I am going to pay him back…Like I said earlier. What does it matter. It did matter to him.

  15. I don’t think it’s really fair to put any blame on your friend, which is what you passively seem to be doing. Your friend felt completely left in the dark, so that he ‘chose’ to end the friendship does not speak about how strong the friendship may or may not have been.

    And when asked when you planned to pay the debt back in one of the comments, you asked ‘Why does it matter’. It matters because you should get the feelings that have built up out of this situation out of the way without letting them pass for another day. Do you have the $600? If so, send it today. End of story. It may not restore your friendship back, but it will relieve you of the debt and the burden on your mind that you carry, and it will let your friend close the chapter on what has had to be a troubling situation for him. It’s the right thing to do.

  16. This situation can always be tough. I have two uncles that haven’t spoke to eachother in over 15 years because of an ordeal of money. Money should be used as a tool, an asset to add to your life. If you are in a situation of surplus and someone is down for the count, lend them a hand. You will always be happy that you did.

    Like someone else said, when it comes to money with friends and family – GIFT IT. Don’t expect it back… You’ll feel better for being charitable to their situation, and they will feel better not having the burden of having a friend as a debtor.

    For peace of mind, I would pay the friend back with some change of interest on top just for kicks if it affordable. What you put out, you get back… and it never hurts to resolve old issues – kind of like confronting a bully. Good Luck Beaker!

  17. That was a bad thing to do. You were the one in debt to your friend who was there for you when you needed him.
    You should pay it back with a lot of apologies. You could track him down if you tried.

  18. Your friend is not at fault. You are. Pay him back a little at a time or the whole amount. Add interest and a sincere apology for taking so long. Don’t explain how you dated and married and put his debt on the back burner. Throw in another $100 for an “aggravation tax.” Maybe if you are generous now and place no blame on him or try to renew the friendship, he will talk to you again. He saved you when you really needed a safety net.

  19. Seriously?!

    I don’t care how you try to present it YOU ought to take those measly six hundred dollars and go out of your way to pay that ex-friend of yours back -the same way he did go out of his way back then to help you. If after that he is not your friend anymore WHO CARES? But at least you can see your friend straight in the eye with no shame for not paying back. Six years to pay back a favor is way too much.

  20. I have to agree with the previous comments. As a friend who has loaned money to friends, its uncomfortable to bring up the loan issue. How do you bring it up without seeming like someone who doesn’t care about your situation? I understand you were unemployed, but if there was an agreement, however informal, you would pay back, and you never did, it probably irked your friend. Especially since he could have been thinking “oh I could have used this money to buy this…”
    I know you are hurt that the friend doesn’t want to be your friend, but you also have to understand his/her side.

  21. I have made similar mistakes. Nobody likes being taken for granted. Your friendship was not an immediate priority, so your friend no doubt felt that it was time to end things.

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