If he isn’t all that, do you tell her? Read More...

Supporting your friends can be hard — especially when you think they’re heading down the wrong path. When that path involves a boyfriend you just can’t stand, things get even more complicated.

But like it or not, a friend’s relationship decisions are theirs alone to make. The only role you should be regularly taking in a friend’s romantic life is that of a supportive confidant. If only it were that easy.

Once it’s clear the new guy is here to stay, though, it becomes an issue of adapting or losing the friendship. So how can you ditch the negativity?

Hang out with his friends.

Meeting your significant other’s friends can be nerve wracking. Consider the possibility that your friend’s boyfriend is so nervous about hanging out with you that he comes across as aloof or arrogant when he’s really just anxious.

Try seeing him in a setting with his own friends, where he’ll be more likely to relax and be himself. If you want to learn what makes someone likable, there’s no better way than to observe them in a situation where they’re surrounded by loved ones.

My parents have a friend who went on a first date with a man she didn’t really like. He ended up convincing her to go out a second time to a party his friends were having. She says she liked all his friends so much, she figured he couldn’t be that bad. They went out again.

They’ve been married for 25 years now.

Examine your own feelings.

Disliking someone’s boyfriend can be a self-fulfilling prophecy. Everything he does turns into one more reason he’s not the right guy for your friend.

But what if the real reasons you don’t like him have more to do with you than him?

It’s easy to feel jealous and resentful of a friend in the middle of a new relationship if you’ve been single for a while. You might even start comparing yourself to her, wondering why you’re single and she’s not.

Or maybe you’re upset that she’s spending more time with him than with you, and that their dates are now cutting into the nights you used to spend together. That jealousy is a common sentiment, but it never leads anywhere worthwhile.

Dig deep into your own feelings and ask yourself: do you dislike the guy or the idea of him? It can be difficult to realize you’ve been acting petty and unsupportive of your friend’s happiness, but it’s better than continuing to hate someone for no reason.

Don’t tell her.

Unless your friend is being abused in any way, there’s likely no need to tell her what you think. She might already have a sense of how you feel, and if you do tell her, you’ll only risk driving a wedge between the two of you.

It’s hard to be quiet if you think your friend is dating someone below her standards. but you never know what happens behind closed doors. I’ve had plenty of friends whose boyfriends I didn’t like, only to come around on them at some point when I got the full story.

You also want to make sure if your friend does run into problems, she won’t hesitate to turn to you for help or advice. If you’ve been constantly negative about their relationship, they may avoid reaching out in fear of an “I told you so” moment.

At the end of the day, your personal feelings about a close friend’s significant other are just that — your feelings. Yours to know, yours to understand and yours to deal with. So deal with it.

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If you MUST lend money to friends and family, try to keep these 7 essential tips in mind. Read More...

The common advice about lending money to friends and family is pretty straightforward: don’t do it. It’s generally said that if you’re going to give away money to the people you care about, it should be in the form of a gift. The expectation of repayment can lead to resentment, guilt and the general dissolution of relationships — so why expect anything at all?

But unfortunately, real life isn’t always so straightforward. Sometimes a friend or family member desperately needs financial assistance, and the amount they need is just too much to part with permanently. It may not be an ideal situation, but it’s common enough to warrant discussion.

So how do you go through the fire of money lending and come out the other side with your relationships still intact?

1. Don’t let it affect your credit. It’s one thing to loan your sister $500, but it’s another to cosign on her car loan. Cosigning means you could become responsible for her debt if she fails to pay it. No matter how much you trust someone, this is a huge risk to take — especially if you can’t afford to pay off a $20,000 Toyota. Your credit score can also take a hit if they fail to make their payments in a timely fashion.

2. Write it down. Miscommunication can turn a friendly loan into a relationship killer. What your brother considers to be timely repayment could be completely different from the time frame you’re expecting to wait. That’s why it helps to write the details out, so everyone is clear about the terms of the loan. You can also set up late fees so they have incentive to pay you back on time instead of a few days after the fact.

3. Keep a record of the repayment. If your friend or family member sets up a repayment schedule with you, find an online method to track how they’re paying you back. Splitwise is a great option, but there are plenty of other sharing and debt tracking services. This way, there’s concrete proof that each payment has been made. This is easier than getting separate checks in the mail or random amounts of cash.

4. Find out what the loan is for. Just like a bank wouldn’t loan you money without a stated purpose, don’t give your loved one money just because they ask for it. Maybe they want money to invest in what seems like a scam or a legitimate business venture – you won’t know until you find out. Plus, if they have to explain their reason to you, it may help them come to a better understanding of how reasonable their request is.

5. Discuss it with your partner. If you share finances with someone else, you should get their approval before you lend someone else money. Being on the same page will ensure that you don’t ruin your relationship with them as well as the person you’re lending money to.

6. Let them know they can talk to you. If you set a hard deadline and your friend can’t come up with the money by then, they may feel too embarrassed to talk to you about it. Don’t be a pushover, but let them know you’ll be flexible. This can make it easier to preserve your relationship, and your friend or family member won’t feel the need to give you the silent treatment out of embarrassment or fear.

7. Don’t turn the loan into a gift. While there are exceptions to this rule, you generally don’t want to change the nature of the transaction after the details are set. It may be preferable to give a gift rather than a loan, but voiding your right to repayment after the loan has been given can make you look like a pushover — and could lead to you resenting the person you’re giving the money to. No matter what you do, make sure your decision isn’t heavily influenced by a pushy friend or relative.

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Wait a minute. I can afford this now. This is what it’s like when you’re adulting. Read More...

A few weeks ago, I finally experienced what it’s like to be the “rich” friend. A group of girlfriends and I, people I’ve just met recently, were talking about going skiing. The trip can cost almost $100, including gas, meals and lift tickets. That’s a hefty amount for me, but something I can afford.

One of the girls in the group said she couldn’t afford to go. The rest of us said we understood, and that’s when it hit me.

“Wait, I’m that friend that can afford things now.”

Things were different a couple years ago. I was trying to pay off my students loans and was putting any extra money toward my debt. I said no to parties, dinners, and cross-country trips. I said no to hobbies, concerts, and movies.

I remember feeling jealous and judgmental of my friends who could travel and not think about how they weren’t putting money in their retirement funds. Or people who gave to charity while deferring their loans. I gave $25 at weddings, lamenting even that amount.

While I was in college, most of my friends and I were on the same level. We spent money with abandon, even though we all claimed to be broke.

I keep thinking back to one of the first episodes of “Friends,” where Rachel, Joey, and Phoebe have to bring up that they can’t afford to go out to eat or buy concert tickets. I’ve never had that difficult conversation with a friend, but I have been the one to suggest hanging out at my place instead of going to the movies.

Starting to Afford Things

Now my husband and I don’t mind picking up the check when friends come in town — we’ve even treated his parents to dinner occasionally. If you want to feel like an adult, try buying dinner for your in-laws. That will make you feel like an adult faster than you can say “health insurance premium.”

I like this feeling. For the first time, my life has options. I just bought tickets to see one of my favorite writers, Elizabeth Gilbert, speak. When purchasing the tickets, I splurged on the VIP package, which includes a cocktail reception with Gilbert. A year ago, I would’ve bought the cheapest ticket and considered myself lucky.

The good news is that there are always alternatives to pricey forms of entertainment. You can watch a movie at someone’s house instead of going out. You can bake together instead of grabbing dinner. The same way that my friends compromised for me when I was unwilling to spend money, I need to do for other people.

It may mean that they won’t be able to come to ski trips or big concerts, but they’ll be available for drinking wine at home and rewatching a “Harry Potter” movie.

I’ve seen my parents manage friendships while earning differently than other people. It’s not about being ditching the friend who can’t afford to go to the restaurant you want to go to, it’s about being a friend and finding ways to bridge that gap.

The best experiences are the ones when you have the right people.

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