Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

After Downsizing, Reader Worries Friends Will Bail

DEAR HARRIETTE: I used to be the one in my friend group who paid for everything. I earned a lot more money, so whenever our group would go out, I would pick up the tab. I had no problem doing that. But times have changed. I got downsized at my job, and I don’t have enough disposable income to foot the bill anymore.

I created the expectation in the group that I take care of everything. I am embarrassed to say anything to them about it. Plus, I worry that I will lose my friends if I can’t pay for them anymore. I know that sounds weird, but I never thought about it before. What if that’s the only reason some of them have stayed my friend? I realize I’m losing confidence because of my situation. I don’t know what to do. -- Losing it All

DEAR LOSING IT ALL: Step back. Take a deep breath. Collect yourself. Your life has changed, and you need to come to terms with that. You have to own your truth before you let your friends know. There is no shame in not being able to be the bank for your friends. It was generous of you in the past, but those days are over. In terms of your concern about whether you will lose friends because your pockets aren’t as deep, watch how that unfolds. If you see that some “friends” check out after you aren’t rolling in the dough, good riddance to them. Don’t take it personally. That means you needed to weed them out anyway.

You will need to tell your friends that you can no longer pay for your get-togethers. You may be surprised to learn that some friends prefer that. Being equal to one another can be empowering to people. You do not need to feel guilty in any way for not being able to pay for the whole party.

DEAR HARRIETTE: I had a party earlier this year, and two of my guests ended up falling for each other. They told me a few weeks ago, and I am happy for them. I never considered myself a matchmaker before.

Now I worry about what happens if it doesn’t work out. From what I know about these people, he is super chill and she is a live wire. If it doesn’t work out, will I be held responsible? Yes, they are both adults, but still, they met on my watch. Am I freaking out for no reason? How should I react to these two being “in love” and claiming that it happened at my party? -- Feeling Responsible

DEAR FEELING RESPONSIBLE: You are being Debbie Downer. Lighten up. Your friends have shared with you that they are grateful that you created a space where they were able to find each other. This is wonderful. It is also not a guarantee of anything. You should feel no responsibility for the health or future of their bond. Instead, wish them well, and let them work out their relationship.

(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to askharriette@harriettecole.com or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)