• Keeping Friends

At Wit’s End: My friend lives from hand-to-mouth and I always need to bail her out

Published: January 27, 2012 | Last Updated: September 4, 2014 By | 6 Replies Continue Reading

A point can come in a friendship when you’re not only doing a disservice to yourself but also to the other person.


Hi Irene,

I am a 21-year-old female, full-time college student. I have had a very good friend since all the way back to pre-school. These past few years, I have been really questioning our friendship. My friend is also 21 and recently had her third child in the last three years. She never had a very stable home life so when she met the first guy who paid attention to her, she grabbed on to him with all her might.

I love her kids very much but these past few years I have been having a hard time watching her make the decisions she does. She is in debt because her boyfriend wanted stuff but didn’t want to work for it, so she got a whole bunch of credit cards and maxed them out. She is on full government assistance and does nothing. She calls me constantly asking for money for formula and diapers (which I can’t say no to because it is for the kids). Recently, she enrolled back into college and told me she took out around $4,000 dollars extra in loans for only 6 credits (She says she wants a laptop,
internet, and a new T.V.).

I feel as though she leans so heavy on me because I am her only true friend. Everyone else she has uses her for the little money she has. I honestly feel like I have lost my friend. She puts her boyfriend before her children for everything. My mother and I have bought all her kids their clothes, toys, and even groceries because she doesn’t have enough food for the month.

I feel selfish, but I am getting so tired of our friendship. At 21, the biggest problem in my life should be finals. I feel like I shouldn’t have to worry if they have enough food or if I need to spend my last bit of money on a winter coat for one of her kids because they don’t have one. Her boyfriend lives with her and doesn’t work (there is nothing wrong with him physically). He does drugs in the house with the children there, and she allows it and makes excuses for him.

It has come to the point that when I think of my friend, nothing but a bitter feeling comes up. I don’t want to give up our friendship, but I would really appreciate some advice on how to handle this. I am tired of the drama she brings to me and I am at my wit’s end.

Signed, Lilly


Dear Lilly,

If you are asking permission to let go of this friendship, you have it from me. I strongly suggest that you say “no” the next time your friend asks you for money—whether it is for her, her boyfriend or her kids. Explain that you are just starting out in life and need to take care of yourself. That isn’t selfish. It is realistic. You are not wealthy, don’t have an established career, and shouldn’t be placed in the awkward position of consistently being asked to bail out another adult at the end of the month.You need to complete your education and become financially independent, and this friendship threatens both those goals.

Aside from your long history as friends, the relationship seems completely unsatisfying and one-sided. You deserve to have friends who are more nurturing and giving to you. It also sounds like you question your friend’s values, rightly so, which are quite discrepant from your own.

While I understand your concern for your friend’s children, I think you are enabling her (and her boyfriend) to continue to live irresponsibly. I would suggest that you speak to your friend and explain this to her. Tell her that it pains you to see her neglecting her children, exposing them to drugs in the household, and you’re no longer willing to subsidize this lifestyle. It may be just the kick in the pants your friend needs to make
changes in her own life.

If you feel the children are at risk because of neglect, you need to speak to a professional, perhaps a counselor at your college, to see how to handle this and whether it should be reported to a child welfare agency.

I realize this is a very difficult situation for you. Hope this helps.

Best, Irene








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Comments (6)

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  1. LaTrice says:

    This is a one-sided friendship that is NOT a healthy! It seems that your friend is expecting more from you, by helping her support her children financially. The fact that her and her boyfriend aren’t taking care of their children is mind boggling! If your friend is willing to make changes, it’s something that she needs to do on her own.

    You need to continue to focus on your goals, and it’s NOT fair that your friend is jeopardizing your plans. I think it’s best that you end the friendship. You’re NOT wealthy, and you’re trying to establish yourself.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Personally, I would first try to get the children into someone else’s care. Your friend and her boyfriend are obviously unfit to take care of them and if I were in your situation, I would feel guilty for kicking out defensless kids because you’re pissed off at their parents (which you rightly should be). The children can’t help the situation they’re in, and the parents are unwilling to change it; but you, OP, can change it and you seem like you’re willing to do that for their safety. I mean, the fact that you already pay for over half of their basic needs is proof that you care about them. Only after the children are situated in someone else’s care would I kick your friend and her boyfriend out. Maybe you could report the abuses of your friend’s boyfriend to social services. Do the grandparents or any relatives of the children live close by? C’mon, you have a responsibility as an adult to report things like this.

  3. Anonymous says:

    your friend is an abuser not a friend. This is totally one sided. As an adult you have the right to remove yourself from enabling her. I’d shop her to social services too because ultimately she is neglecting her kids. I hate that people like this procreate so easily and some great would be parents out there can’t conceive.

  4. arches says:

    If your 21, you likely about to graduate college and start your adult life. I think you need to have a conversation with her that you can no longer loan or give her money because you need to save for an apartment, living expenses, and paying off what ever debt you incured during your schooling. I also don’t think your friend and her boyfriend is much of your business. If they are lazy and don’t work, then there is little you can do for them to change. You really need to think how much of your time is worth this investment.

  5. sepulveda says:

    Your mother should also be told to stop supporting this ‘friend’, and given the same reasons. She has her own retirement and self to think of; perhaps a local church/community center can help them out with clothes, etc.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Thank You Irene. I guess I just needed someone who isn’t close to the situation to tell me this. Thank You again.

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