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
Reawakening: can Jon Hamm’s Don Draper find enlightenment in the final ‘Mad Men’?
tv reviewNot quite, but it's an enlightening finale for Don Draper spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Breakfast Show’s Nick Grimshaw

Radio
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment

Eurovision
Arts and Entertainment
'Youth' cast members Paul Dano, Jane Fonda, Harvey Keitel, Rachel Weisz, and Michael Caine pose for photographers at Cannes Film Festival
film
Arts and Entertainment
Adam West as Batman and Burt Ward and Robin in the 1960s Batman TV show

Comics
Arts and Entertainment
I am flute: Azeem Ward and his now-famous instrument
music
Arts and Entertainment
A glass act: Dr Chris van Tulleken (left) and twin Xand get set for their drinking challenge
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
MIA perform at Lovebox 2014 in London Fields, Hackney

music
Arts and Entertainment
Finnish punk band PKN hope to enter Eurovision 2015 and raise awareness for Down's Syndrome

eurovision
Arts and Entertainment
William Shakespeare on the cover of John Gerard's The Herball or Generall Historie of Plantes

books
Arts and Entertainment

Game of Thrones review
Arts and Entertainment
Grayson Perry dedicates his Essex home to Julie

Potter's attempt to create an Essex Taj Mahal was a lovely treat

tv
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from the original Swedish version of the sci-fi TV drama ‘Real Humans’
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Hugh Keays-Byrne plays Immortan Joe, the terrifying gang leader, in the new film
filmActor who played Toecutter returns - but as a different villain in reboot
Arts and Entertainment
Charlize Theron as Imperator Furiosa in Mad Max: Fury Road
film
Arts and Entertainment
Jessica Hynes in W1A
tvReview: Perhaps the creators of W1A should lay off the copy and paste function spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Power play: Mitsuko Uchida in concert

classical
Arts and Entertainment
Dangerous liaisons: Dominic West, Jake Richard Siciliano, Maura Tierney and Leya Catlett in ‘The Affair’ – a contradictory drama but one which is sure to reel the viewers in
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Herring, pictured performing at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival two years ago
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
Music freak: Max Runham in the funfair band
theatre
Arts and Entertainment
film 'I felt under-used by Hollywood'
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.

    Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

    Sun, sex and an anthropological study

    One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
    From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

    Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

    'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
    'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

    Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

    This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
    Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

    Songs from the bell jar

    Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
    How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

    One man's day in high heels

    ...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
    The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

    King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

    The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

    End of the Aussie brain drain

    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
    Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

    Can meditation be bad for you?

    Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
    Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

    Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

    Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
    Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

    Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

    Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
    Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

    Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

    Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
    Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

    Join the tequila gold rush

    The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
    12 best statement wallpapers

    12 best statement wallpapers

    Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
    Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

    Paul Scholes column

    Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?