I am 60 years old (happily divorced for 10 yrs) and I have a (male) friend from college — we have been friends for over 40 years. There has never been ANYTHING romantic/sexual and I would never want there to be as he is a serial cheater and (my opinion) a sex-addict. He’s a narcissist who needs all the kibbles and he perpetually has “relationships” going with several women at a time. (He’s rich so he gets what he wants.)
As a friend though, he’s a good guy. We (and our whole college-friend gang) get together 2-3 times a year and go to our school’s football games together, or go skiing, or just meet for the evening in our old college town and go out. I enjoy this quite a bit. If he ever tells his tales of his younger women / serial cheating, I tell him he’s gross. He defends himself by saying he’s honest with all of them. I tell him it’s still gross.
ANYWAY— over the years he (multi-millionaire) has occasionally given all of us expensive gifts. He pays for everyone’s hotel rooms or he pays the tab at dinner sometimes, etc. When I first got divorced he sent me on a spa weekend, but other than that when he gives a gift he gives it to everyone.
Except in the past year he been offering very expensive gifts to just me. Cruises. Weeks in a resort. A car. Jewelry. I have said no because I feel that this is a way to “love bomb” me or make me feel indebted to him. He swears that that isn’t it… that he’s just trying to be kind to a single mom/grandmom. He points out that he already has more women than he can handle (true) and swears that he knows that I am about monogamy and not interested in what he has to offer in that way. But still… I am not comfortable. I feel like there would be expectations. I feel like it would be like being a whore.
I have 3 sisters and they ALL say I am stupid beyond belief to turn these gifts down; that even if he DOES have expectations, I don’t have to meet them. (They only know him casually though… they don’t know all of the (gross) things that I know.) I am increasingly creeped out by these offers — though admittedly also a tiny bit tempted.
So … AM I The Moron?
Am I The Moron
If something creeps you out, that is reason enough to say no. You don’t need to justify your (polite) refusal to him or your sisters, or anyone.
I’m just wondering about this set you hang with. Would you like this guy if he were NOT a multimillionaire? Skeevy? Narcissistic? Does shared history get you that far? I’m having a hard time squaring his reported character with “good guy.”
I don’t want to slam someone for their generosity. Even if he’s the biggest swinging dick on the planet, you’ve chosen to accept his gifts. If you let him pay and then disdain him afterwards, or make him an object of pity, “Oh poor Nigel, he has to buy his friends” that would make you a jerk. Now the acceleration of his attention (and his price points) is a problem?
Unequal resources can be awkward in relationship. And you don’t have to know a multimillionaire to have this kind of dilemma. I think if you’re the wealthier friend, if you make a gesture, like picking up the tab, you do it graciously, quietly and without fanfare. And if you’re the less-well-to-do friend, you reciprocate within your means. Someone buys you dinner? Maybe you cook them dinner. Or remember them in other ways.
Perhaps you could say to him, “Nigel, this is really unnecessary. I value our 40-year friendship. I don’t need these grand gestures, but thank you very much for thinking of me. That’s kind of you.” And see what he does.
Does he need it to be unequal? Are you a prop in his Nigel Is a Great Benefactor show?
Does anyone have an authentic relationship with this guy, or is it all transactional?
I have 3 sisters and they ALL say I am stupid beyond belief to turn these gifts down; that even if he DOES have expectations, I don’t have to meet them.
So, your sisters vote for transactional. Use him.
I think that’s appalling. And you can justify it like, oh he’s a narcissist, a pig, whatever, just cash the check. That’s not how you treat people you respect and care about (aka, the “Good Guy” your friend). And it’s not how you treat people you don’t respect either.
I suppose this is where I go down the rabbit hole about love bombing and impression management and Nigel being an insufferable baboon who tries to buy you sea cruises. And if you were dating Nigel, if he were a new person in your life, I would. But you have, metaphorically, cashed the Nigel check for 40 years. You did the calculus of kibble fiend vs. friend, and came down on the side of continued friendship.
You haven’t exactly made a compelling case for his finer qualities. It doesn’t matter if the gifts come with strings or from his chauvinistic little heart, just say no thank you. And if he’s really a pal, next time you and your college chums go tailgating, you guys pick up the tab.
Keep your conscience clear and your relationships reciprocal.