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Dealing with a scabby friend and a man who finds his new mot irritating - it's time for Dear Fifi

We’re getting through January. Little by little.

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Coming at you from Laos! I’m in Pakse as I write this, having passed through Don Det and Champasak on my way. It’s a funny thing, getting your bearings in new countries and cities over and over – spotting the differences and similarities of neighbouring places under a traveller’s microscope.

Struggling to get your own bearings with 2019? I don’t blame you. January is arguably the worst month. Got a problem to share? Get at me right here.

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Having an issue with a friend for the last while. Basically we go to a lot of events together and always have a great time but money is becoming an issue and making me not want to do anything with her anymore.

Last time we went away I booked the hotel and when we got there she just said “Oh I gave you that money” but I knew she hadn’t. She is quite moody at times and pushing issues with her can just escalate, so for the sake of the 35 euro she owed me, I didn’t argue because I didn’t want to lose a friend for 35 quid.

But this pattern has continued – like if we travel anywhere I drive, pay for parking, tolls, petrol. I’ve often just said “OK I will drive and you can pay parking” but she still never does. She never even offers. The latest is we agreed to go to a gig towards the end of the year so I got the tickets for it over 3 months ago and she still hasn’t paid me back. I’ve dropped so many hints I don’t even know where to go now. But I don’t want to let this one go because it’s a continuous pattern.

We have the same job, earn the same money and she is a big, big saver so it’s not money issues at all. She has no problem spending money on herself. I just don’t know how to broach it as she is a very, very touchy person and any little thing she could just cut you out. She is a good friend in other ways though so I just don’t know…

This woman is, in a word, tight. She’s taking you for a ride, and the thing is: you’re letting her. She’s being scabby, presumably considers you a pushover who won’t talk back, and uses her looming temper as a way to control the way in which your friendship goes down. None of that is good news, I’m afraid.

Let’s rewind for a second. There’s an old saying “never attribute to malice what can be explained by ignorance”. So let’s assume she’s simply bad with money (despite her fastidious savings) and also perhaps very forgetful. That means, at the very least, you’re going to have to start being crystal clear and firm with her over money issues – because she’s liable to get things wrong and leave you short-changed, which will lead to simmering resentment on your end, inevitably. So start by tackling it based on this (frankly a bit overly kind) read of the situation first. Hints haven’t worked, so stop hoping they will. Be direct. 

Keep a paper trail – don’t ask for money in person, do it over WhatsApp. Send her your IBAN or use a handy app like Revolut to split cash. It will be easier to keep track, prove a point and also hold firm over text messages. If she’s a bit of a dragon, contradicting her in person will be difficult. Keep it breezy – and keep it written down. It’s more verifiable, and if she continues to deny that she owes her fair share for parking/hotel stays/whatever, then you can simply show her the records and defuse things. 

I truly think she’ll do this as long as she thinks she’s getting away with it. You say she’s a good friend in other ways, so I’ll take your word for that, but it’s not a positive sign that you think she’d cut you off at the drop of a hat or tear into you over a misunderstanding – friendships don’t normally get built on eggshells. Are you afraid of her?

As for the gig ticket, let this be the line in the sand. Text her and ask her for the cash for the ticket in a light way, with your payment details. (If you really feel the need, say you’re short as it’s January and you’d love it ASAP if possible.) If she flakes on that, take the tickets you paid for and bring someone else. If she asks why, let her know. If she freaks out, back off and pursue some other, nicer friendships with sound people who don’t stiff you or hold tantrums/the silent treatment over your head. 

We’re all adults here. Pay your own way and be nice, or there’s the door – that’s one thing that’s free to use, darling. 

I’ve just started dating a woman, and I find myself irritated by some of her behaviour. I’m not sure if I’m being unreasonable or not. She really craves attention, both on social media and in person. In a group conversation she’ll always seek to be the focus, even preening herself if not being noticed enough, her Instagram is mostly selfies, yet one to one she’s great. I’m not sure if it’s narcissism or insecurity, but I just don’t understand this attention seeking and find it off-putting.

Look at how many negative words you used to describe her versus the sole, bland positive term. That’s really not that fair to this woman, nor to you. 

Accept her for who she is, or let her go and find someone who will. If you find yourself put off and irritated by a new beau’s relatively innocuous behaviour at this very early stage, try to withhold judgement and/or condemnation on their character and just chalk it up to not being a very good match for one another. She’s not going to spontaneously change, nor should you enter into a relationship hoping that she will. 

Try to think “we’re not right for one another, I personally think selfies are a bit lame” rather than “she’s an insecure narcissist for posting those damned selfies”. It’ll stand you in good stead, I promise. 

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