February 15, 2013 Is My Friend Taking Advantage of Me?
Hi, I'm Dr. Laura Schlessinger and welcome to our YouTube channel, where I get to answer your questions. And today the question is from Leslie:
"I am good friends with my neighbor of 16 years. [That's good.] She and her husband travel a lot (at least 15 days or more a month). [Wow.] I have been collecting their mail, taking out their trash, and watering house plants while they're gone. They do not pay me, but they do take my husband and me out to dinner maybe once a month. They have called me a handful of times while they are gone to go in their home to help them out with one thing or another.
I found out that the usual fee for these services is 20 to 30 dollars a day. I have one neighbor who pays someone to stay at their house and watch their dogs and pays 45 dollars a day.
Is it wrong for me to feel that I am being taken advantage of?"
I'm going to stop here. The letter goes on... No, because that was the agreement. You agreed to do it as a neighbor and as a friend. I wouldn't dream of charging a friend. I really wouldn't...wouldn't dream of it. Moving on:
"I really don't mind doing it, but I don't feel the appreciation. [Really? She doesn't say 'Thank you?' She doesn't take you out to dinner?] Is a 'Thank You' enough for all that I do? [It would be for me.]
I don't want to ruin the friendship we have had for all of these years. I pretty much voiced my opinion to her via text in a silly way [Uh oh.] and when I told her how much the going rate was, she said they couldn't afford that. Yet they travel all the time and go out to dinner and shows a lot.
Am I making a mountain out of a molehill?"
You know, you have to make up your mind. You're either going to help a friend or not. You can't turn it into a business relationship. It's a friendship or it's a business relationship - choose one. This other person who hires somebody... We often hire (because I've got 4 dogs) when we want to be out on our motorcycles for like 8 hours. We hire somebody; pay her by the hour to take care of the dogs. We're friendly but she's not my buddy. As a matter of fact, she's buddy enough that she said, "Don't pay me," and of course I did but that wasn't the relationship; we weren't friends. We just knew each other and liked each other. That's not the same as friends.
I did something for a friend. We made a business deal; he was to pay me to make something for each guest (300 people) who came to an event to celebrate the death of someone dear to him. And I said, "Of course I'll do this for you." And I did them all. I even have pictures of us...we look like little Christmas elves working on things (my husband and my friend helped me with gluing some things) and I didn't charge him because we're friends and he argued with me. I said, "We're friends. Friends don't charge each other, they just say 'Thank you.'"
Here's the key though: if someday you're needing some help with something and there's no desire to reciprocate, then you're not really friends and you should just go back to being neighbors. In which case, you shouldn't bother with their home; they'll need to hire somebody. But until then, this is what a friend does; it's part of the job description.