Shirah Vollmer MD

The Musings of Dr. Vollmer

Archive for June 18th, 2012

The Cheap Friend

Posted by Dr. Vollmer on June 18, 2012

Maya comes in fuming about Lauren, age fifty-two. Lauren’s relationship to money, like her relationships to important people, speaks to a certain amount of withholding and selfishness. Maya, fifty-one, complains to me that her dear friend Lauren is “incredibly cheap.” “We go out to dinner and she always has to use a coupon, and then she never wants to contribute to the tip, and then, she thinks it is fun if we can go to an event, even one we don’t care about, if there is free food. I just hate it,” Maya continues. “I hate that each time we hang out, the focus becomes on how we can get something for free or for very low-cost. I just want to connect with her and have a really good conversation, whereas she is focused on having an evening where she can then brag about how she got something for a really good price.” “Is this a new problem?” I ask, knowing that Maya has been friends with Lauren for at least the last fifteen years. “No, but it is getting to me more. Now, I know you are going to ask me why I have become more sensitive to this, and of course, I have been thinking about that. My hunch is that as I get older, I am more and more focused on enjoying my relationships and so this makes me less patient with my friends and family who seem to be so neurotic that it detracts from our connection. Lauren may be having a good time, but I am not and Lauren knows that I don’t get pleasure out of getting something for half-price, so I see Lauren as being a bit selfish in those moments.” I pause to reflect on Maya’s analysis of her upset. “It sounds like you are saying that Lauren’s constant search for a bargain is a narcissistic act and as such, it takes away from the intimacy of your relationship.” “Yep,” Maya enthusiastically agrees with my re-stating her understanding of the disappointment that she experiences when thinking about Lauren. “I suppose you could talk to Lauren about this, or you could assume that this is an irritant to you, but that you will put up with it, given all of the other goodness that she brings to your life.” “Yea, I know that, but I am not sure what to do,” Maya says, acknowledging that she has already thought about whether to confront Lauren or whether to suck up her discontent. “Friendship can be hard when narcissistic forces dominate the interaction.” I say, making an overarching comment, not specific to Maya and Lauren. “Yea, I don’t think her cheapness dominates our relationship, but it certainly gets to me,” Maya says, reminding me that she has maintained perspective with regards to this irritant. In this session,  Maya has done most of the psychoanalytic work, while I sit back and appreciate her reflecting on this important friendship.  I have a deep sense of pride that I have helped Maya analyze her dilemmas in a way which is both balanced and authentic. It was a good day.

Posted in Friendship, Psychoanalysis, Psychotherapy | 4 Comments »

 
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