Why did she waste the money I gave her?; Dilemmas

Linda's friend, Teresa, is too proud to lower her prices as a cook, or to ask her ex-husband for support for her kids. When she was broke and worried about mortgage repayments, Linda gave her pounds 1,000 from a windfall. Now Linda's upset to find Teresa's spent the money on a holiday

VIRGINIA'S ADVICE

From the tiniest, fluffiest teddy to the most glamorous Rolex watch, gifts are rarely quite what they seem, especially if they come in a flat envelope. And perhaps Linda should first of all query her own motives in trying to bail out her friend.

Was getting rid of pounds 1,000 of her windfall a way to alleviate the guilt she felt on receiving it? Did she feel badly about herself, and think that she didn't deserve the surprise gift of money, and could make herself feel OK only if she gave some of it away? In which case, giving her friend the pounds 1,000 wasn't quite as generous as it appears.

Or was it a way of making herself feel superior? In other words, was Linda saying, at some level, to Teresa: "Here you are, my poor friend; take this paltry gift which means nothing to me and would mean so much to you. I am groaning with money while you, poor ragged creature, are scrabbling for pennies in the dust"? Or did she give it to her to shut her up? Sometimes people can't bear the pain of close friends and will do anything to "fix it" to stop the continual moaning.

Now, it may be that none of these motives applied in Linda's case. But it's quite possible that Teresa interpreted the gift as being given in some way that made her feel uncomfortable. And by blowing the money on a holiday she's really expressing her anger to Linda. She's saying: "See how much I think of your wretched gift. I'm just going to squander it on a holiday." Or she resents the fact that it came with strings to pay her mortgage. She wants to show Linda that she's free to spend it how she likes. She won't be dictated to.

Teresa, anyway, with all her "pride" about not lowering her prices and not pursuing her child's father for maintenance, sounds as if she herself has masses of hang-ups about money. Unfortunately, if you're too proud to take what's owing to you or too proud to lower your prices to get more work, you have to pay a price, and sometimes that price is poverty. In other words, it looks as if Linda's been funding her friend's hang-ups, and feeding her self-destructive habits, rather than being a real friend and delivering plain and honest advice.

It would have been better by far than a cheque to have sat Teresa down and made her see that not asking her ex-husband for money was a bad move all round. It's unkind to the father, because it denies him the chance to face up to his responsibilities. It's unkind to her children, who should have their mum fighting for their rights - for if she got maintenance, their lives would be better, too. It has nothing to do with pride and a lot to do with cowardice, I suspect.

Linda may not be able to repair this damage in her relationship with Teresa. But she will learn to examine her motives very thoroughly before she gives money away again. There is nothing as pleasurable as giving from the heart. It's a high like none other, almost a spiritual experience. But sometimes something funny happens when the cheque changes hands, and horrible thoughts such as "I shouldn't have given it", "She doesn't deserve it", start reproducing in the brain like cancer. Linda will have to learn that gifts given with any other motive than pure generosity won't be accepted with real gratitude. And sometimes they won't be received with gratitude, even if they are.

READERS' SUGGESTIONS

You misjudged your role

I have a friend like Linda's. She rings me regularly, usually at peak times, detailing how dreadful her life is, how little money they have, etc. I used to come off the phone after 40 minutes of this, panda-eyed with concern and worry. I had been in the same boat, but all my constructive and practical suggestions were ignored. The money for her much-needed divorce was spent on a car, but still the phone calls came, with her on the other end sounding so desperate.

Then I realised that she just uses me as a pressure valve. She and her new partner are quite capable of sorting themselves out if they wish. So now I just listen, let it go over my head and forget about it as soon as the phone goes down. I suggest that Linda gently tells her friend she thought the money was going on debt repayments, not a holiday, but that she must call it the way she sees it. And then, just let it all flow over. Be there to listen, but don't get involved. We all have problems of our own. Let the friend sort hers out in her own way.

ANONYMOUS

A holiday is helpful

Don't worry too soon that you've done the wrong thing giving your friend this money. You obviously wanted to help her out and although a holiday wasn't quite what you expected, look on the positive side. A holiday may be just what she needs. She may come back rested and renewed. Often a holiday gives us the opportunity to put things in perspective and make new plans. You may have done your friend a much bigger favour than you now think.

ANGELA THURSTANCE

Silsoe, Bedfordshire

Money is not the issue

It seems that the money itself is not important, that Linda could clearly spare the pounds 1,000; even her husband was not bothered about it. Perhaps she needs to accept that once she has given a gift, she's relinquished all ties with it. I would advise her next time to find a more deserving cause for charity. It seems odd logic for Linda to respect someone who won't lower their prices for work, or ask their ex for money, but will accept a handout from a friend (and then blow the lot on a holiday).

Alternatively, maybe she should ask Teresa about her motives. Her friend may have assumed Linda did not mind how it was spent. So, "Where did I go wrong"? It could be any combination of lack of communication, poor judgement and misplaced sympathy.

LOUISE LEE

Bournemouth

Next Week's Dilemma

For five years I was happily married, and my husband was a marvellous stepfather to my three girls, then 13, 12 and eight. But when spring-cleaning I found a hole in my eldest daughter's cupboard - my husband had built it. I'm afraid I immediately looked through his things and found he'd taken photographs of her undressing. I was so disgusted I threw him out. My girls were very upset. However, he's always kept in touch with them. The eldest is now getting married and wants him to give her away at the church. I don't think I can bear it. But if I told her what he'd done, surely it would ruin her life?

Yours sincerely, Nicky

Anyone with advice quoted will be sent a bouquet from . Send letters and dilemmas to Virginia Ironside, `The Independent', 1 Canada Square, Canary Wharf, London E14 5DL, fax 0171-293 2182; e-mail dilemmas@ Independent.co.uk, giving a postal address for a bouquet.

Suggested Topics
Arts and Entertainment
Call The Midwife: Miranda Hart as Chummy

tv Review: Miranda Hart and co deliver the festive goods

Arts and Entertainment
The cast of Downton Abbey in the 2014 Christmas special

tvReview: Older generation get hot under the collar this Christmas

Arts and Entertainment
Dapper Laughs found success through the video app Vine

comedy Erm...he seems to be back

Arts and Entertainment
Wolf (Nathan McMullen), Ian (Dan Starky), The Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Clara (Jenna Coleman), Santa Claus (Nick Frost) in the Doctor Who Christmas Special (BBC/Photographer: David Venni)

tvReview: No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Arts and Entertainment
Bruce Forsyth and Tess Daly flanking 'Strictly' winners Flavia Cacace and Louis Smith

tv Gymnast Louis Smith triumphed in the Christmas special

PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Rhys says: 'I'm not playing it for laughs, but I have learnt that if you fall over on stage, people can enjoy that as much as an amazing guitar solo'
musicGruff Rhys on his rock odyssey, and the trouble with independence
Arts and Entertainment
Krysia and Daniel (Hand out press photograph provided by Sally Richardson)
How do today's composers answer the challenge of the classical giant?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
News
Shenaz Treasurywala
film
News
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Watkins as Christopher Jefferies
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Star Wars Director JJ Abrams: key character's names have been revealed
film
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell Williams won two BBC Music Awards for Best Song and International Artist
music
Arts and Entertainment
Mark, Katie and Sanjay in The Apprentice boardroom
TV
Arts and Entertainment

Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites

Arts and Entertainment
Frances O'Connor and James Nesbitt in 'The Missing'

TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations

Arts and Entertainment
Joey Essex will be hitting the slopes for series two of The Jump

TV

Who is taking the plunge?
Arts and Entertainment
Katy Perry as an Ancient Egyptian princess in her latest music video for 'Dark Horse'

music
Arts and Entertainment
Dame Judi Dench, as M in Skyfall

film
Arts and Entertainment
Morrissey, 1988

TV
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that? The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year

    Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that?

    The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year
    Hollande's vanity project is on a high-speed track to the middle of nowhere

    Vanity project on a high-speed track to nowhere

    France’s TGV network has become mired in controversy
    Sports Quiz of the Year

    Sports Quiz of the Year

    So, how closely were you paying attention during 2014?
    Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry, his love of 'Bargain Hunt', and life as a llama farmer

    Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry and his love of 'Bargain Hunt'

    From Armstrong and Miller to Pointless
    Sanchez helps Gunners hold on after Giroud's moment of madness

    Sanchez helps Gunners hold on

    Olivier Giroud's moment of madness nearly costs them
    A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

    Christmas without hope

    Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
    After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

    The 'Black Museum'

    After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
    No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

    No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

    Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
    Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

    Chilly Christmas

    Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
    Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
    Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

    'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

    Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
    Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

    Ed Balls interview

    'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
    He's behind you, dude!

    US stars in UK panto

    From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

    What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect