Random Thoughts from a Restless Mind

Dr. Darrell White's Personal Blog

Cape Cod

Friendship And Money

Friendship has a cost. There’s a price for each friendship, a certain trading level if you will. Think about your friendships, where you are financially with regard to your friends, how you talk about money together, deal with money when you are together.

People are weird about money. I was reminded about a couple of stories last week that illustrate this. I grew up with two small groups of friends, one older and one my age. We were all sorta middle middle-class economically, and our folks made all of us work for our spending money. I don’t ever remember “owing” any of these guys any money, and I don’t ever remember any of them owing me. We kinda fell into this “it’ll all work out” kinda thing; whoever had money bought the beer and/or the pizza. Clan bingo dropped in on one of these guys en masse a couple of years ago and nothing had changed. I don’t remember, but I’m sure we bought some food or some wine or something; I’m equally sure that Tom doesn’t remember, either.

When I was a young physician in training, missing both nickels to rub, Mrs. bingo and I chose to live near some college mates, all of whom were doing very well, thank you. We received many very nice invitations to spend time with them at some very lovely places in and around NYC, Dutch treat, all of which would have required both nickels and then some. We couldn’t go, of course, and our invitations for them to join us in our very modest apartment for burgers and dogs always found them busy.

Only one friend understood, the one who had less when I had more as youngsters. His family accepted all of our invitations, and his invitations were either to his home or on his dime, making it clear that it was HE who was getting the better of the deal because we were together. He remains my closest friend on earth.

I’ve been fortunate as an adult in that I’m relatively free of needs, and there have been times when I could cover the wants of my friends, or cover my wanting to cover them even if my friends were able. What’s interesting is how difficult it can be to have it be comfortable when someone is “treating”. Think about it a minute: do you feel owed when you treat or that you owe when you are treated? It took 10 years AT LEAST for my closest local friend to stop keeping score when I was the one more able, to understand that I was actually the one getting more out of the deal because he and I were doing stuff together.

There’s a cost to every friendship, a trading range if you will, and the greater the range between those involved the more difficult it can be if you look at it that way. For me, with those friendships that have passed the test of time, the money involved is nothing more than a measure of how much that friendship is worth.

The more we ignore the cost, the more valuable the friendship.


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