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Dear Outblush: K's Friendship Fiasco

K writes: "We are friends with an absolutely wonderful couple. My husband and I normally spend several nights a week with them, and are very close. They recently asked us to go on a trip to Europe with them. We declined many times, not because we didn't want to, but because it wasn't something we felt we could afford. They begged and begged, and finally as an incentive, offered to let us stay with them in their hotel rooms. This was a very generous offer, but still we declined because it was just more money that we thought we should be spending. Finally, after one last impassioned plea from them, we decided to go with them and purchased our tickets. We had been on a few short weekend trips together, and though we knew it could be stressful to travel with other people, we thought that we were close of enough with this couple that we would be spared any drama. Unfortunately we were not. Halfway through the trip, the husband became absolutely furious with us (to the point that it made me cry) for something that we had not done, and though he later admitted as much, it still made the rest of the trip somewhat uncomfortable. During his rant, he had in part been angry about us "mooching" off of them, even though we had only agreed to go after weeks of begging on their part and had made it clear that we couldn't afford to go any other way. I tried not to take it personally though, as I know that it was just travel-related stress that caused the outburst, but I also couldn't help feeling like it was tainting our first trip to Europe that we still paid a lot of money for ourselves. We tried to be as good of guests as we could have been, and the rest of the trip was fun, but we were definitely walking on eggshells the rest of the time, afraid that he might get upset again. Anyway, here's my conundrum. They have not wanted to get together since the trip and I'm afraid that the friendship may be on its last legs. I want to do something to thank them for their generosity in letting us stay in their rooms, and hopefully set us on a more positive course. The other part of me though, doesn't want to say that it was okay to treat us the way that he did. Should we talk it out? Should we just move on? Or make a grand gesture? And as you are a shopping blog, and I think a thank you gift is in order, what would you recommend?"

Hi K! I'm Found of You, and I'm going to help you out here by telling you what I would do, throwing in some advice from the other Outblush ladies, and recommending a few purchases.

First, I have no idea why your buddies have seemingly stopped seeing you. Either they're embarrassed, or they're mad at you. You say that they were the jerks, and it certainly sounds like the husband is a big D-bag, but I only know your side of the story. Maybe you were really annoying without realizing it. Maybe you left wet towels on their bed and wiped boogers on their luggage. I just don't know. I wasn't there. But you know what? It doesn't matter. It's in the past. Unless what you did or what they think you did was unforgivable, which is unlikely, they will probably forgive you, and it sounds like you're ready to forgive them. If I was in this situation, I would send the couple a small gift with a note like this:

Dear Couple,

We wanted you to know how much we appreciate you sharing your rooms with us on our trip. It was so generous of you! We really enjoy your friendship and your company and we'd love to see you again soon. We know our trip was tense, but I'd really like to just put that behind us and continue our friendship as it was. We'd love to have you over for dinner and agree to let bygones be bygones.

Best,

K

If they don't respond to that, they're just not that into you anymore, and you should cut your losses. Sometimes, something can happen in a relationship, be it friendship or romantic, where you have the chance to see someone in a different light, and it's a terrible light, and even though you know it was only a temporary light, you just can't go back the feeling the way you used to. It's like when you eat your favorite pizza, come down with an unrelated stomach ailment, barf everywhere, and then can't even look at your favorite pizza ever again, even though you used to love it.

If you do resume your friendship, do it with caution. If this guy gets angry and blows up at your guys again, run away. Fast. Don't hang out with people who abuse you. If this was a one time blow up, fine, but repeated angry behavior is no good.

Other sage advice and gift ideas.... After the jump! (Read more...)

My husband: F$*& that guy. Don't be friends with them anymore.

Carlota: I wouldn't go crazy trying to please these "friends." I would simply send a thank you gift such as brownie basket (#1) or a gift certificate to their favorite restaurant (#2) with a thank you note enclosed.

Robin: Might be nice to give them a night at a nearby B&B or hotel (#3). A little tongue in cheek - thanks for letting us crash with you, now go enjoy a night on your own.

MP: I would just move on. A couple like this can't be repaid even with a grand gesture. They want to hold an expensive trip over your head. It's a power play. Find better friends and ditch the toxic big spenders.

One Ring to Rule Them All: Or have them over for a cheap spaghetti and salad meal with box wine (#4), duh. Although I put forth the "mature" answer, in reality, I'd probably just send them a FB message saying what a good time I had and if they wanna get together, we'd love to make time in our busy schedules. And then invite them to a wild and awesome party that I had a few months later! No wine and cheez, plz!

Layla: Sounds like our reader and her husband are definitely the mature ones in this couples group. If they're interested in salvaging the friendship, I do think a non-abrasive chat will help: "We had fun, we were sorry it seemed to get a little awkward there in the midst of an otherwise great trip, whatcha doing next weekend?" But if they're looking to make a graceful exit, I say kill em with simple kindness. Bake a batch of cupcakes (#5) or cookies and attach a sweet thank you message without any indication of plans for the future. No one can doubt the sincerity of baked goods! And then any future interactions will have to be initiated on their end.

#6 - Make some new and possibly nicer friends, maybe at a pub! This is a great gift to yourself.

Life: It's crazy stuff. Just when you think you've got everything settled and are sailing along blissfully, BAM! You get hit with some serious shiz. And, sometimes, you can't turn to anyone but a friend. Enter Dear Outblush, our substitute for not being able to join you in person for some girl talk over margaritas. Check out what Dear Outblush is all about, then email us to see if we can help!

Comments


Violeta

Posted on 05.24.11 at 12:21 PM

It sounds like a really unfortunate situation. What a lot of people don't realize (until it's too late!) is how difficult it can be to vacation with other people. Even friends we usually get along with act a little different while under the stress of being away from home, in an unfamiliar place, spending lots of money... and there's the whole part that if you travel with people you see a LOT more of them than usual. One should never make the decision to vacation with others lightly! Adding money to the mix, with one couple beholden to the other, would add extra strain, I'm sure.

As Found of You said, you were the ones there, so it's hard to judge whether the strain came from your friends' stress or something else. Sometimes you just need some cooling off time, and maybe the friendship can be resuscitated later. But if it were me, and I did want to resuscitate the friendship (which you seem to) I'd send them a bottle of nice wine or a gift basket or something (or bake em cupcakes, as said above) and a nice note. I'd probably include something like "I'm sorry that we had a misunderstanding about who would bear the cost of the rooms," or something. After all, in order to have a real friendship both parties need to take a little responsibility for something going wrong--them as well as you. Good luck with that!

Janetor

Posted on 05.24.11 at 4:03 PM

Agreed. Making a simple, but sincere gesture + apology puts the ball in their court to continue the friendship (or not), but at least K & her guy will have done the polite thing.

emily j.

Posted on 05.24.11 at 4:33 PM

Great response Found of You and the rest of the Outblush Team, as per usual.

Another idea -- If the friendship is worth the time and energy, many communities have organizations with trained volunteers available to help facilitate mediations. Conflict thrives off of underlying, unmet needs and often having the opportunity to truly listen and be listened to can be quite helpful and healing.

On a side note, I took a mediation training and realized very quickly that I would be a horrible mediator. I am a trained advocate and kept finding myself siding with one fictional character or another during the role plays. Whoops.

K

Posted on 05.25.11 at 8:34 PM

Thank you for the really great advice. It really helped me put the whole thing in perspective. Really. And thank you to your husband - that might have been the best perspective of all!

It's funny because this was one of the few times in my life that I truly felt like I was above reproach. Your response made me finally feel like I could stop feeling guilty. I think I'm going to go with a restaurant gift certificate, and thank you note. And from then on - it's definitely in their court. Thank you again!

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