I wanna be friends with your money…REALLY???

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By Kenneth Justice

So what you’re saying is now that your money is all gone so are the friends?”

~ Last week at coffee I ran into an old acquaintance of mine who I hadn’t seen in more than a year.

Where have you been dude?” I asked. He was such a fixture at the coffee house it was odd not having seen him for so long,

Well Kenneth, I picked up a second job this past summer and I’ve been rolling in money” he said,

Unfortunately, when I asked him if he’d built up a nice little savings account he got a frown on his face, “Actually, I spent every dollar I earned” he said, “The second job was at a golf course and all of a sudden I was Mr. Popular all summer because I could get everyone in for free rounds of golf. So we’d go to club restaurant afterwards and spend a fortune every night on expensive meals and wine. It was so much fun hanging out with the cool people……but now I don’t have a penny left and since the golf season is over so is the second job

The more we talked the more it became apparent that all those friendships he had developed over the summer were nothing more than skin deep; when my acquaintance could no longer spend the big money on expensive restaurants and pricey bottles of wine…..his ‘friends’ suddenly disappeared.

It’s a story that I’m sure many of us have seen in our own lives; some friendships are only as deep as our pocketbook. Remove money from the equation and we tend to find out who our real friends are.

I’ve also noticed that there are other factors involved in disappearing friends,

—-) If you quit working at a job most of the coworkers you thought were your ‘friends’ are suddenly no longer calling you to hang out after-hours

—-) If you quit attending a particular church or parish most of the church members you thought were your ‘friends’ will suddenly stop calling you to go out for coffee

—-) When your children become too old for soccer or extra-curricular activities, all of those parents you spent hours chatting with while sitting in the stands watching your children….are suddenly gone from your life

I guess what I’ve noticed is that our true friends tend to stick around whether or not we still work at the same job, attend the same church, or no longer have money. Are the people who hang out with us only because we have the money to spend on expensive meals or fun times at the bar really our friends?

My coffee acquaintance used to have coffee with me four mornings a week for years, “Kenneth” he told me a few years ago, “I consider you one of my five closet friends”. Yet after he got that job working at the golf course he literally dropped out of sight; he exchanged his coffee friends for a clique of suburban golfers….and that’s okay. I know so many people at the coffee shops I hang out with that I’m not losing sleep over someone who no longer comes around…..but what I found interesting is that when his money ran dry; he was once again coming back to the coffee shop to hang out.

The people at the coffee shop aren’t merely friends with you because you have money. It doesn’t matter if you’re rich or poor, famous or not…..the coffee house culture tends to be accepting of all people, all races, and all economic statuses. And so my acquaintance, having seen all those ‘friends’ he thought he had disappear when his money ran out…. quickly came back to the coffee shop where he knew the rest of us would still be hanging out.

Ultimately, none of us want to be lonely. It’s why so many people stay in abusive or un-loving relationships; they fear being alone. But I wonder, is it really worth developing friendships that are merely based on money? Is it worth it developing friendships that when a particular medium is removed (money, church, vocation) the friends suddenly drop out of sight?

I’ve had a lot of friends over the years drop out-of-sight. I can remember a couple people that I put a lot of time and energy into the friendships; and yet they returned all that effort by suddenly turning their back on me (and other people as well). I look back at those ‘friends’ and wonder if my time would have been better served in giving to people that weren’t so flippant in cutting themselves off from others.

Just a few thoughts as I sipped my coffee this morning,

Kenneth

I will be in Pittsburgh this weekend! I’d love to have coffee with you! I will be at Commonplace Coffee in the morning and for more details send me an email at kennethjustice@outlook.com



Categories: relationships

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109 replies

  1. Think we too often confuse ourselves.

    Acquaintances = people we spend time with out of similar routines, colleagues = things in common at that point in our lives, buddies = sharing both the former. And a Friend is part of us always = none of the former apply.

    Think that is why we end up counting real friends as a small number.

    ??? Putting a lot of time and energy into friends – somehow sounds like work rather than friendship.

    • Well said Paul….. but I wonder; is it possible to be ‘real friends’ with a larger number? After all, take for instance the biblical example of Jesus and the 12 disciples; all 12 of those disciples would have counted Jesus as his ‘real friends’, as well as Mary, Martha, and so many other people…….

    • I think it is. Except that “God Love” (I propose) supercedes the human needs and wants” definitions we operate with most of the time. And only if there is a shared commitment to God Love (which is very forgiving, no expectations, no debt and eternal kinda love). Church attendance is not, I think, the same thing.

      Scanning the comments below – I wonder how many of the “absent friends of friends” not reading this blog – might just make the same comments of the commenters. My thought is that we are all guilty of not providing for another’s needs all the time – and why should we beat ourselves up for that? 

      Nice post – and thought provoking as usual! 🙂

  2. Such a deep-cutting subject for me! The Boss and I are about to leave the church where we’ve been singing for the nearly six years since we settled here in large part because the relationships we’ve found there are so superficial. We’ve tried. We’ve given the time and talents we have to give to individuals and the organization, and we’ve had people to our house, but after all this time, there is not a single person I could call and identify myself by first name and have them know who I was.

    Sadly, this is the same experience we’ve had at other churches. We’re giving up.

    • Mrs Slocum,

      Totally feel ya on that; I’ve been in that situation before and it is SOOO annoying to say the least. Superficiality is not my middle name so I have a hard time with people like that

  3. This is what I wrote to an actual friend recently, “At any rate, there are very many people with whom I had a more substantial relationship (I thought), who turned their backs and walked away from me and/or Jim. I’ve actually gotten over that for the most part, though some bitterness lingers. I do not wonder about it anymore. But I know that anyone who does that is not my friend. And I have no use for them and will no longer make the emotional output that friendship requires. They do not deserve it, either.”

    It hurts. Being excluded and rejected is painful. But it has helped me understand a lot of things about them and about myself. And I’m okay and the pain has faded.

    Thanks for the post.

    • I’m sorry you have had this experience. But you’re certainly not alone. We’ve never had much money, but it used to be surprising how few people took any time to speak to us at our lowest point when we were driving nothing but an ancient pickup truck. It was almost as if they were ashamed to be seen talking to us. Maybe they were. I’ve spent too much time wondering why these things happen.

    • Thank you. Our issue had nothing to do with money. We were part of a group and … now we are not. All the questions of “why” that you and I have both experienced absorb so much mental energy. I experienced some abandonment anxiety, which seems to have calmed. And of course I still have some issues of trust, as perhaps you do, too.

      But we’re good, huh? We go on. Thanks again.

    • Melanie, wow that is a very intense letter and I think I agree 100% with what you said to your friend.

  4. there are people who just use you sometimes not just for your money. I don’t have many friends.

  5. Fair weather friends – who needs them?
    If nothing else, this has been a lesson hard learned and he sounds young enough to profit from that lesson.

  6. Friendship is a two-way thing and so is love.

    But genuine friendship/family/love is unconditional.

    How many genuine friends do we have?

    • “how many genuine friends do we have”

      Tough question for me to answer; can I get back to you on that one Vicki, I’ll let you know on my death bed, cuz I’ll count how many people are standing next to it!

  7. Except for one, those I call friends weren’t with me for the money. That one person has some major issues I was slow to see. My list of friends is pretty short. Who would come in time of need? Not many. That’s the way it is for most people. The ones who would come are priceless.

    What is painful is finding out someone you thought was a ‘friend’ was no where near that. You question why you missed it. Why you overlooked that quality in them that resulted in their departure. You begin to doubt yourself and your own judgement. It can get complicated.

  8. Completely agree. I broke my ankle 8 weeks ago and was unable to get out of the house. (complications) It was interesting to see who even bothered calling or e-mailing to see how I was. Let’s just say I was pleasantly surprised to have found some new friendships, but disappointed that other “friends” dropped completely out of sight. To quote Tolkien “Faithless is he who says farewell when the road darkens”.

  9. I guess everyone has experience with this kind of “friends”. Your article made me remember some of mine 🙂 Maybe I should also write about it on my blog, just as a reminder for me and my true friends… 🙂

  10. I guess I’m more a hippy than you, but I love the friendships you make on the Camino, where you meet someone, get to know them, share deeply and wave goodbye. Loved your article. Good things to think about this morning!

  11. Friends are hard to come by…a rare commodity…to know I have value to another person..regardless of how I look..or what I can give or do…is truly a blessing…those friends I can count on one hand..and I hope they count me..as one of those..they can count on one hand…

  12. I put a lot of time, energy and effort into my friendships. I have discovered that if you want real friendships, it takes effort. You can’t coast by and expect it to work. My friends and I make a point to get together frequently (we are all spread out over a pretty big city), once a month for dinner, every couple of months for something extra, (every couple of weekends once it’s warm enough to take the covers off the pools!).

    Also, I have a friend who started using the word Acquaintance. She said that she was using the word “friend” when it didn’t really apply. And she was right, there were people in my life I was calling “friend”, when that wasn’t the case. Very eye opening to start using the word acquaintance and helping to define those in your life!

  13. It is not that we base friendship on money. It is usually taken advantage off. and that is low as it does never become a friendship.
    When you drive a cool car they want to drive in it. just to have a feeling of owning it. breathing in he money so to speak. it is also why we look up to idols. they breath what we want.
    So we selfishly get close to those with money just to find a hint of essence of what it is like to be having money.

    And true friends stick by you through the worst of times.

  14. We make friends everywhere we go, but they sure are different.
    Now, that no longer own the business I use to, I understand true colors of my friends. It’s not about how many friends we make during r life time, but how many stay w/us the longest.
    I guess it’s the quality that matters, not the quantity.

  15. This is all to common. People often have many acquaintances, but few true friends, and they often confuse them. Take a look at most Facebook accounts and you can see it quickly. Some people have 500 plus friends, but they only get responses from their posts from the same two or three. I never had problem with losing friends do to money, but if you party every night, drink, and then stop, the party animals that hang disappear, but it is for the better.

  16. My baby’s extremely early arrival sorted my friendships and relationships for me.

    Many of my family and friends disappeared after saying the line, “If you need anything…” I did tell them what I needed and they said they were too busy, too tired, or whatever to follow through with their offer. They simply disappeared afterwards. I didn’t go chase after them.

    On the bright side, many of my good friends went above and beyond during that time. There were a lot of people who were mere acquaintances at the time (now friends) that did not hesitate to help where they could.

    Now that things have settled down, I make a great effort to maintain the relationships that survived. I really don’t miss the ones that didn’t.

    • “Now that things have settled down, I make a great effort to maintain the relationships that survived. I really don’t miss the ones that didn’t”

      I love that last sentence 🙂

  17. I really need to give a handful of college friends a call and see where they are at. I feel bad for having been so out of touch with some of them.

    Also, your post makes me think of high school. I guess we never really grow out of that. Where I went to school, you were popular if you had money or were good at pretending to have money. They were all shallow relationships and I watched at they talked behind each other’s back. Those of use without flashy cars or designer clothes had to make friends the old fashioned way.

    I don’t know what it is about money that is so attractive. I mean… I know you can buy a lot of things, but things don’t have a lot of value when it comes to relationships. The connection between two people is more important. More often than not, I think excessive amounts of money are little more than a distraction.

    • “More often than not, I think excessive amounts of money are little more than a distraction.”

      I totally agree TK, although I wouldn’t mind trying out the whole ‘having excessive amounts of money” to see what its like 😉

    • You’ll know I ever come into money. My apartment will be exploding with books and manga.

  18. I moved around so much during school, that I was used to seeing “friends” disappear. My biggest surprise was when one kept writing me and insisted on continuing the friendship. She’s still one of my best friends, and I even went to see her in Scotland at one point. So yes, true friends will stick around despite changes – and sometimes even despite you. 🙂

  19. Very True! I had to stop working…hear from none of those “friends.” No longer hear from spiritual group either. Can count the “true friends” on one hand… and I feel blessed!

  20. “—-) If you quit working at a job most of the coworkers you thought were your ‘friends’ are suddenly no longer calling you to hang out after-hours

    —-) If you quit attending a particular church or parish most of the church members you thought were your ‘friends’ will suddenly stop calling you to go out for coffee

    —-) When your children become too old for soccer or extra-curricular activities, all of those parents you spent hours chatting with while sitting in the stands watching your children….are suddenly gone from your life

    I guess what I’ve noticed is that our true friends tend to stick around whether or not we still work at the same job, attend the same church, or no longer have money. Are the people who hang out with us only because we have the money to spend on expensive meals or fun times at the bar really our friends?”

    I suppose this would easily explain why I haven’t had many friends in my life. By not participating in sports or church, people involved in those things don’t know I exist. I really like my job, but I do not know if anyone there would have anything to do with me beyond our time working. I want to know who my true friends are. Because of this I tend to isolate myself from other people. Not because I don’t want friends but I want people who would still care about me even if something tragic happened where I could no longer work my job.

    I don’t like big groups of people. I want only one on one conversation. Few have the guts to take that. I wonder often if I am the autistic, or if most others are.

  21. I am disillusioned with such friends who turn their backs on you, once your circumstances change. It is hurtful.

  22. This is a well timed read for me as I consider whether or how to continue blogging. I want to invest more of my time in the people who will be there no matter how much or little I have of anything, and sometimes I fear I am putting my limited time to poor use by throwing myself out there and waiting to see who bites. I don’t have answers now, but this does give me new avenues of thought for determining how to proceed with time and friendships.

    • 19 years of blogging? That’s almost as long as I’ve been involved with the Internet! I’m impressed, really I am, and I’m liking what I’m reading at your blog so far.

      I’ll understand whatever you choose to do as I am rather considering much the same myself… I’ve been blogging for 10 years and it’s certainly been a very mixed bag with many experiences that have left me rather jaded. Still, WordPress has been better than the last two platforms I was on.

  23. Here we have a saying “if you want to lose a “friend” or an annoyed acquaintance “lend” to that person an good amount of money, then you’ll never be bothered again…Then I read somewhere that people come into our lives for a reason, one may stay, others just disappear after they played their role. I don’t mind these days, if I can help, they are welcome to stay or go.
    I’m a user, Kenneth. Every time I have a chance I use your blog for disconnecting me from a routine. Or is your blog for me a routine ? 🙂

  24. I find that friendships only last if you have more than one thing in common. If you just work together or go to school together, and that’s it, when that common denominator is removed so is the friendship. Unless you share multiple activities together, the friendship rarely ever lasts. It requires more than one commonality.

    • I was thinking something along the same lines. Some of my best friends from the past I hardly ever see or talk to anymore as we have lost much of our commonalities, though we do get in touch now and then so as to not lose our connection built from when we had more commonalities.

    • That is a very interesting thought! I am on disability, and lack of employment removes that common element for many people– not really by any desire of my own, however. For the longest time, so many men I met instantly asked what I did as a trade/profession and some were absolutely stymied when I couldn’t give the answer they expected.

  25. Ha! I think people take friendships too personally.

    • How ironic that you should put it that way.

    • People generally do what they do for reasons. And reasons are cold things. 😦

    • The trouble I have is that my emotional and logical halves are generally very out of sync. I can understand a social situation fairly well logically, and be content in that way, but emotionally… it’s quite another story.

      My quip was that I think friendships are a personal thing, yet I’ll agree with you: reciprocity needs to be considered more logically sometimes. I just am easily hurt on the emotional side of things. There are days I curse my sensitivity.

  26. It takes two to keep a friendship going. You need lots of common interests and not material bonds. Time is the best test of strength of friendship.

  27. I have found this stuff out more than once. I guess over time I have realized that people are who they are and most of the time it’s not about the quality of the relationship, but it’s about the quantity of time that you spend together. What exactly I mean is, that you spend so many hours together that you think you are true “friends”, but just as you pointed out, after you lose whatever it is that held you together, you realize just how fragile the “friendship” was and really it was a mere co-worker. I guess all that we can do is hope that we do manage to find a few good ones and then let the rest of them go. People come into your life for a reason, a season or a lifetime right?

  28. I have a really good friend, probably one of my closest friends (we live 1000s of miles from each other now) that once said to me, “Every relationship we have is different.” So true. I can’t honestly say that I have any life-long close, by my side, stick with me through thick and thin friends. Why is that? Maybe because people are generally selfish? Or pleasure seekers? Or victims to their surroundings and circumstances? Or maybe it’s just the whole, ‘out of sight, out of mind’ thing. Hmmmmm.

    • “Maybe because people are generally selfish? Or pleasure seekers? Or victims to their surroundings and circumstances? Or maybe it’s just the whole, ‘out of sight, out of mind’ thing. Hmmmmm”

      All of those are things I ponder Staci….I simply don’t know what goes on in people’s minds and some times it can really frustrate me if I’m not careful.

  29. I think coffee houses are a very “equalizing.” I love to meet people whose path I would otherwise never cross. As I get older, I am more specific about whom I consider to be my “closest friends” vs. less close friends or acquaintances. My dear Irish neighbor and I have a weekly get-together. I explained to her that she is “on my hand of friends.” I am blessed to know a lot of great people, but when the chips are down, my neighbor is always there,

    • “As I get older, I am more specific about whom I consider to be my “closest friends” vs. less close friends or acquaintances”

      EXACTLY! Me too! Its been something that has helped save my sanity.

  30. I can count my actual FRIENDS on the fingers of one hand. The oldest friend has been a part of my life in person or long-distance for over 45 years. My friendships are intense relationships that involve a great deal of personal commitment, consequently one cannot manage many of them.

    It is not unknown for me to drop everything and drive an hour or more to help a friend who needs my help. If I have a bi-location problem (can’t be in two places at the same time) I have a network of acquaintances I can use to problem solve. Likewise, I have had friends drive through blizzards to reach me at my time of need. We’ve seen each other through troubles, tragedies, and travails – and we can still laugh about our lives.

    Because we’re such a mobile society sometimes we go for long periods of time using email, text, and Skype to keep in touch. We have found it is possible to celebrate elevation to SCA royalty being half a world apart.

    My few friends and I consider each other family of the heart. You learn who is there for the long haul and invest in those individuals rather than squandering your time, effort, and money on someone who is just an acquaintance who will soon be history. What most of us consider “friends” are nothing more than acquaintances who are there for only a time. A friend is a lifetime project.

    • SCA- Society for Creative Anachronisms?

    • Yes, sorry for the alphabet soup. Society for Creative Anachronisms.

      My dear friend had been a clothier for many years – making all the finery for the royalty and others. She was without a mate and thought she’d never be recognized (although she is a fantastically wonderful person) – so when she was made royalty there were celebrations in both greater Boston (where I am) and Anchorage, Alaska (where she is). I’m still dancing in the streets when I think of it. Happy, happy, joy, joy. This year it will be some other deserving soul.

    • Oh, I am familiar with them, all right, with some friends that belong to the organization, as well as Renaissance Faire– I just wanted to be sure.

      That sounds marvelous. I know that such clothes are often made by hand for authenticity’s sake and it’s a lot of hard work. I’m sure it was a great honor for your friend to be recognized and celebrated as such.

  31. I’ve had many “friends” come and go over the last few years and, while it has been painful to go through each loss, I found that those where the times that I learned the most about what it means to be a good friend. When I had no one to turn to, I found myself taking my own internal inventory. I learned how to be alone without feeling lonely. I learned how to listen more effectively and talk less. Silence can be such a good thing.

  32. I have always had a small circle of friends and these are the ones that have lasted through time. Great post…I liked the way you brought it back to the coffee culture.

  33. I enjoy your musings about coffee house culture– it really is a thing! I do think the perspective about friendships here is too narrow, though. I’m a person who appreciates deep, lasting friendships as most rewarding. But I have also learned to appreciate the friendships that last as long as we work with a group, sing with a choir, participate in a church community, or find a fun communal hang out. There are the friends I enjoy for certain activities and certain times who I suspect will not be my close, lifelong friends. But that’s okay. I hope your coffee house friend learns a constructive lesson from this painful experience– that deep, fulfilling relationships don’t usually start out with one giving much more than the other; nor do they usually start with partying. Partying friends are fair-weather friends. Real, lasting relationships take a bit more cultivating, like a beautiful tree takes water and sun and time to sink its roots deep.

    • I’m totally with you here! Over time, people change for one reason or another. Sometimes two people who were friends just aren’t anymore because life goes on and people grow/change/whatever. That doesn’t mean that the bond two people no longer have wasn’t real. It just means that it isn’t as strong as it was before. And that’s OK.

  34. Or in my case, I had twins and found out who my real friends are. I’m glad I did though, because they are the salt of the earth and I’ll look after them like they looked after me. When you’re young, single and have disposable income, you’ll always have a huge amount of friends and then as your responsibilities add up, they’ll steadily drop off. This upset me for a while, but at least my friends are true friends.

    • Yea I can imagine how having twins would really help determine who your real friends are! Everyone I know who had twins have shown me how much work it can be; and parents like yourself shouldn’t definitely be commended for all the sacrifice you make for your children 🙂

    • Aw shucks.. Thanks Culturemonk. You’re such a nice chap. Kids are worth all the effort though. :0)

  35. I read somewhere, years ago, that we should consider ourselves lucky if we are fortunate enough to have one or two people we can call friends over an entire lifetime…the rest, well, let them eat cake!

  36. Yea, its a vicious cycle we exist in; doesn’t matter if you are rich or poor you experience the same lack of morals for the most part in respect to users. As long as you are altruistic in your intentions that’s all that matters. VW

  37. Do you believe anyone is altruistic in life? VW

  38. I find I have had only a few “real friends” over my life time. Time tells us who is real. Presence is not always a factor. Relationships can survive long distance if they are real and substantial not greed or lust driven. I have a few friends!

  39. I came back to my hometown after being abroad for over 40 years – most of my old friends had moved away but some were still within about 30 miles. To my pleasant surprise, i have picked up with people I knew in primary school and we are still good friends!

    • “To my pleasant surprise, i have picked up with people I knew in primary school and we are still good friends!”

      That is so beautiful. To reconnect with people you knew so long ago 🙂

  40. My partner and I have always been careful with money and set our priorities for what we will spend our hard-earned income on – mostly things we enjoy while minimizing expenses that we don’t care about. This has meant that, in some social settings, we appear to “have money” when we are not really any “better off” than those around us. This led to many acquaintances expecting us to pick up the entire check at a restaurant, eating multiple dinners at our home without ever inviting us to their home for so much as a cup of coffee, hinting or outright asking for financial aid (gifts of money), etc. We finally realized these are NOT friends in any sense of the word and we divested ourselves of them. We now find we have only that “handful” of true friends you mention, but are much happier and fulfilled in their company than any others. We find that we even have friends who are much richer than we are, but who enjoy being friends with us because we DON’T have financial expectations of them (if they take us out for a day cruise on their boat – something we couldn’t afford – we will cook for them and give them a day in the country away from the stress of their city lives). It’s not about the money – anyone who thinks it is doesn’t understand friendship and will never be more than an acquaintance.

    • “This led to many acquaintances expecting us to pick up the entire check at a restaurant, eating multiple dinners at our home without ever inviting us to their home for so much as a cup of coffee, ”

      Gosh… that would drive me nuts VERY quickly for sure.

  41. I think you can be true friends with someone during a particular time in your life. I have developed true intimacy with people that I only knew for a few months or years. These people were real friends for the time we were together. The fact that we no longer stay in touch doesn’t take away from the connection we had and the way their effects on me remain today.

    • “I have developed true intimacy with people that I only knew for a few months or years. ”

      Very interesting thought….i’ll have to think on that one for a minute 🙂

  42. Maybe the language needs another word for people you enjoy spending time with. Maybe they are fun to be around, but are they really your friend? (no all caps, only one question mark)

  43. It’s a sad fact 😔

  44. friends??? are those the ones that move out of the way when you are falling so that you don’t fall on them?

  45. True friendships are a rare treasure. Sometimes I fear people confuse “Facebook” friends for real friendships. Of late I’m sensing an “all or nothing” mentality regarding friendships – if you’re not BFF’s then you’re simply NOT friends. Whatever happened to being acquaintances? I remember retelling some “almost” friends how I explained to my daughter when she began at a new school that not everyone in her class is going to be her BEST friend as such, some will be merely acquaintances – where you are still friendly to a person but simply wouldn’t be BFF’s with them. My then eight year understood this but these grown women went on to mock me and carry-on like fools. At least it simplified things for me, these two women and I were never going to be BFF’s which in their terms meant NOT friends at all, lol! 🙂

  46. I have had people become friends with me because they thought I could get them a job or because I always give people some food when the come to my house. I always hurts badly to know that I’ve been used. Friends who are skin deep aren’t friends at all by people who use each other.

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