Bad Advice On Brunching With Poor People

Welcome to our latest Bad Advice column! Stay tuned every Tuesday for more terrible guidance based on actual letters.
“I recently got a pretty good job and I live with my fiancée, who also makes a good amount of money. We’re living a pretty comfortable middle-class life. Many of my friends are still in school or not in career-type jobs. Several times it’s come up that I propose an outing or activity and they come up with something cheaper. Is it rude for me to insist for things like going out to a restaurant for brunch if they want to stay in and make food? It’s a nicer atmosphere and I think more fun not to have to do dishes afterward. Is it unfair for me to ask them to spend a little money?”
— From “Money between friends” via “Dear Prudence,” Slate, 9 May 2017

Dear Money Between Friends,

Friendships change over a person’s lifetime as people age and their life circumstances shift, but one timeless expression of loyal camaraderie is going out to brunch instead of making rent, paying the electricity bill, buying diapers, or some other similar bit of frivolity popular with the lower classes. It’s kind of you to continue to socialize with those who have chosen to be poor instead of not being poor, as you have so wisely done, but there’s only so many dishes a middle-class person can be asked to wash after a dumb and boring home-cooked meal with the poors.

It’s kind of you to continue to socialize with those who have chosen to be poor instead of not being poor.

A real friend will make just a little bit of an effort when it comes to hanging out with you, especially when all it takes is just getting more money than they currently have. What could be simpler than obtaining gainful full-time employment that allows for plenty of discretionary spending and establishing a mutually fulfilling romantic relationship with one of the 6 billion other people on earth in order to split the day-to-day costs of living? Your friends are holding themselves, and your eggs Benedict, back with their declassé insistence on not letting you dictate the terms of their spending on food. Letting them know that their poverty is an inconvenience to your lifestyle will almost certainly relieve you of the burden of their company.

“My husband has a formerly good friend ‘Paul,’ who has a history of domestic violence. The last three of his relationships have ended after violent physical attacks. We learned about the first two accusations second hand over the course of a few years. The most recent incident feels a bit different because it was relayed to me personally by Paul’s ex-girlfriend ‘Jenny,’ with whom I’ve become friendly.
My husband and I are appalled, and have actively distanced ourselves from Paul. It is inevitable though that our paths will continue to cross because we have many mutual friends. Some of these friends have heard the same rumors we did about past abuse, but we have not shared what Jenny told me. Do we have an obligation to make this information known, or to confront Paul about this pattern? I have no desire to ostracize Paul, but if he starts dating someone new, I’ll want to warn her. I have not a clue how, or what I might say. Talk about awkward!
Thanks and please keep me anonymous.”
— Via “Captain Awkward,” 11 May 2017

Dear Anonymous,

Golly! Deciding whether to make life even minimally unpleasant for a man who beats women is always a stumper, but your situation is especially complicated, since you’re running the risk of giving someone vital information about her personal safety — super awkward! There are no set scripts for warning a woman that she’s coming dangerously close to befriending a couple of people who have prioritized the social status of a domestic abuser over the safety of his victims for several years, but you might start with, “My husband and I are so appalled by what we’ve learned about Paul physically abusing his girlfriends that we’ll be standing anywhere from five to fifteen feet away from you two at all times at the church fete. It’s not personal, it’s just about our own strong moral standards. Do try the deviled eggs!”

It’s vital that you strike a balance between fantasizing about what it might be like to oppose domestic violence in theory and doing anything about it. It would be cruel to ostracize Paul for repeatedly putting his partners in danger; too many men have been relegated to the outskirts of civilization, forced to forage for food and beg for shelter, living like dogs in the wild just because they hurt other people on purpose. Forcing him to experience any interpersonal consequences whatsoever for his violent behavior could have a lasting effect on his and other abusers’ ability to beat the shit out of women and still go to fun cook-outs. Best to err on the side of quietly continuing to allow a creep to walk in your midst, otherwise something even more awkward — like a pool party free of the spectre of impending violence — might occur.

“My friend has decided she can no longer tolerate my husband. She feels he doesn’t ‘respect’ her. This is far from the truth, in my mind.
We have supported her emotionally and financially from time to time for many years. My husband does have a habit of making clunky jokes (anything for a laugh or to fill the void). But a real friend should see beyond that to the loving, supportive person he is at his core, in his heart, and forgive.
We are now banned from her social group. I find this very harsh — cruel even. I guess my friendship doesn’t count, as I’m being thrown out with the perceived trash as well. I’m depressed and angry, and I want some kind of revenge and to hurt her back. I was so happy with our little group. Now it’s been taken away from me. Advice? “
—From “TOSSED ASIDE IN NEW YORK” via “Dear Abby,” 15 May 2017

Dear Tossed Aside,

Some people are just determined to feel hard done by, aren’t they? It will be hard to hurt your friend enough to win back her friendship, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try. Friendships that can’t be built on financial obligation must be taken by vengeful force in order to restore your happy little group to its previous state of putting up with your husband’s shitty jokes because you said so.

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