how can I stop resenting my friend who doesn’t have to work?

A reader writes:

I have a good friend, Arya, who has been taking some time off work for a few years now. Basically, she doesn’t need to work to get by like you and I do. Her spouse makes really good money at an international company, and his salary affords them a generous lifestyle of travel, a nice home in an expensive city, and seemingly few worries about making ends meet on just one paycheck.

Arya has started to bother me. She’s a frequent texter. She texts me throughout the day, when I’m at my toxic full-time job which barely pays my bills, about what she’s doing and eating and worrying about. Sometimes I legitimately can’t answer because I’m in meetings, but even when I do see her texts right away, it feels draining to write back, I think because it makes me conscious of the fact that she’s out doing whatever and I’m stuck in my office. The bratty part of me just wants to scream, “You don’t have to work, probably for the rest of your life! HOW HARD CAN IT BE!” I just fantasize about what it’s like, like her, to not be worried about climbing the ladder or meetings or strategy planning or bosses or five-year plans.

I want to be a good friend, and I think deep down I’m just resentful that she doesn’t have to stress about money and has full time to devote to her creative pursuits, a special jealousy spot for me because we have interests in the same creative field but I have to squeeze my work in on nights and weekends. But if I were to try to go full-time in that field, I’d have to take scores of crappy assignments just to try to pay the rent; she has the luxury of working on as many or few projects as she wants.

But how can I get past that resentment and not be bitter about the fact that I (like most of us) have to head to a 9-5 each day instead of focusing on our own creative pursuits? How can I not let my jealousy drain our friendship?

It sounds awesome not to have to work.

But there’s a pretty significant downside to it, which is that depending on what the future holds, Arya may find herself needing to work at some point and she’s going to have no work history to fall back on when that happens. It’s a precarious position to put herself in.

I say that not to imply that you should hope that befalls her or that you should take comfort in that possibility, but to point out that not everything about this situation is enviable or ideal.

That might not help with the jealousy, of course. It sucks to feel stuck in a job you hate, without the time that you want for other pursuits, and it’s tough to see someone who seems to have endless amounts of leisure time.

I think it’s Carolyn Hax who has pointed out that with jealousy, it can help to ask if you’d swap your entire life for the other person’s. What if it meant having that husband? Those in-laws? Not having your siblings? Your parents? Your particular talents? This method isn’t foolproof — your answer still might be yes! — but it can often get you to a different place than you’re at when you’re just focused on one thing someone has that you don’t.

Anyway. How close are you to Arya? If it’s a close, emotionally intimate friendship, ideally this would be something you can talk with her about. She may not realize that she could manage the situation a bit more sensitively. That doesn’t mean that she should need to hide what she’s doing from you or that she should never share her own worries because she has an easier life in some ways; that would be an antidote to intimacy, and it would be unfair to her and patronizing to you. But it might help think differently about how she says things and when she says them. Or it might help you feel better to talk more openly about the sometimes-weird disparity in your situations.

If nothing else, though, do ask her to stop texting you when you’re at work. It’s perfectly reasonable to say, “Hey, it’s affecting my productivity when I get so many texts when I’m at work. I love talking to you, but you can hold off on texting during the work day unless it’s an emergency?”

{ 505 comments… read them below }

  1. Sargjo*

    My mother used to do this, AND get affronted when I didn’t respond right away. While I couldn’t block her number, putting her conversation on the silent setting helped a lot to avoid those little pings throughout the day. It also helped me to figure out a time, usually back home, where I could scroll through and catch up and send one nice text back. Somehow having it on silent permitted me to not care as much until I wanted to. Maybe a similar strategy would work for you? Good luck!

    1. Gabriela*

      My mom STILL does this. She and I are in very similar fields, except that she is at the peak of her career and can make her own hours while I am still neck deep in paying my dues and climbing the ladder. Yet, she will still text a passive aggressive “HELLO!?” if I don’t respond to her texts within the hour.

      1. strawberries and raspberries*

        Oh my God, my sister does this horrible thing where if I don’t respond immediately she’ll write, “Cool, great story” or “Wow, I agree” and when I’m like, “Huh?” she gets all “SEE YOU COULD TEXT ME BACK BUT YOU’RE CHOOSING NOT TO”. The last time she tried this (at nearly midnight on a weeknight) we got into a HUGE fight because I flat out told her she was acting like a child and I didn’t have time for this on a work night or ever. She hasn’t done it since, which is good, because I’d probably stop talking to her altogether if she did.

    2. Slow Gin Lizz*

      Yeah, definitely stop reading to or at least responding to her work-time texts. That in and of itself might cut back on her texting, but if she really is a good friend you should definitely take Allison’s advice and talk to her about how difficult it is to be working for a living while she’s out doing the fun thing you guys both love to do.

      1. Slow Gin Lizz*

        (Sorry, that should say “stop reading or at least responding to”. Hit submit before proofreading!)

    3. Hills to Die on*

      I wondered about that. Putting her on mute or going into airplane mode during the day?

      For me, when I get resentful it’s not really the person I am jealous of. It’s that I want something in my own life. It sounds like you are in touch with that already and that if/when you leave ToxicJob you won’t be as jealous or frustrated.

      She also sounds a bit bored, actually. That kinda sucks, in a luxury way but it still can’t be fun to be sitting at home all day when your friends are all busy.

      The other thing is that I was jealous of my friends that got to take the kids to playground while I had to get a nanny and go back to a cube farm. Later, my husband’s job in the mortgage industry went belly up around 2008 and man was I grateful to have been working on my career! Now he can’t work, is disabled, and I am able to support us. That would not be the case if I had been off work with the kids the entire time. COnversely, we have a friend who got to stay home with her 3 kids, never work even when they were all in school all day, and do anything she wanted all the time. Now, 30 years later, they are divorced and she can’t get anything but entry-level jobs and she is miserable. She’s always hounding the ex for more money and he’s not having it. Her lifestyle has really, really changed. Point is, there’s a lot of truth in what Alison is saying.

      1. TheBeetsMotel*

        Very much this. When I find myself resenting people in my life who get to do whatever and don’t have to work, I remind myself that, in the cases of the people I know, the only way that happens for them is because someone else, usually a spouse, pays for everything.

        Never be jealous of someone whose good fortune could, in theory, be yanked away from them in someone else’s whim. In my book, that’s not really freedom.

          1. Jennifer*

            When a friend of mine who’s a SAHM’s marriage almost broke up, she hadn’t worked in over a decade and she was going to have to move in with her ex-husband in Oklahoma (why that one, I’m not sure, I guess he was the only one who would take her in) because otherwise she had no support system at all from her awful family.

            I am happy to report that their marriage did not end–the big stressor ended up being fixed–but that could have been really bad.

            I also had an ex-cousin-in-law, well. My cousin is a jerk and when I heard that she wanted to be a SAHM, I thought “don’t do it! Don’t trust him!” Guess what happened there.

        1. Plague of frogs*

          Yeah, that type of dependence has no appeal for me. I became self-supporting as quickly as I could because I hated having to depend on my parents (perfectly lovely people who I get along great with). Now that I’m married, I would hate to have that relationship with my spouse. (Not saying other people should feel this way. It’s just the way I feel).

        2. Specialk9*

          I used to imagine winning the lottery. But I don’t anymore because I’d miss working toward my financial goals, and being a team with my partner, and feeling proud for what we’ve managed to do. We’ve both made mistakes, and had lean years paying down debt, and learned lessons. Being suddenly awash in money would be disorienting, and weirdly sad. (Though I’m really glad we’re not in those hard years still.)

    4. What's with today, today?*

      My mom can hear me talking on the radio, and STILL call me! It’s happened. When I call back she’ll say, “Oh, I knew you were on the air, I was listening.” Then WHY did you call. She never has an answer, lol!

      1. Plague of frogs*

        She heard you talking to her so she assumed she could talk to you? That’s all I can come up with.

    5. Gadget Hackwrench*

      Yeaaaahhhh…. I have never been *jealous* of friends who weren’t working because it’s always been that they are unemployed or on disability, but I’ve certainly been quite irritated with them for not respecting my work time. Don’t call me at work. Don’t text me at work. Don’t get irritable when I don’t reply to your email at work. I have a job. I cannot be socializing with you every minute of every day. Sorry. Not happening. Also please god do not text me in the middle of my work day to complain about trivial crap like late pizza. That just makes you seem way out of touch.

  2. AdAgencyChick*

    I had a friend like this in college. Her parents were very wealthy and continued to subsidize a lavish lifestyle for her after we graduated.

    I stopped being jealous once I realized that I will always be able to support myself, and that is priceless.

    1. Amber T*

      I have a friend from college like this too, and she and her husband travel around the world basically doing whatever they please. She’s a freelancer, he’s a start-up entrepreneur… they’d both have a really hard time making it in the real world. She’s one of the nicest people ever, but I swear neither of them have any basis in reality.

      1. neverjaunty*

        Though nothing in the LW’s letter suggests her friend is a clueless Trustafarian who has no experience with the real world; “find ways to feel superior to her” might not be the right approach here.

        1. Amber T*

          Nope, you’re right. Was just commiserating with AdAgencyChick, sorry if that’s getting off topic. And if feeling like they have no basis in in reality because they don’t understand why I don’t just jetset out to Europe first class with them and then complain about $2 shipping in the same breath makes me sound like I’m claiming superiority to them, then sure.

        2. LouiseM*

          Completely agree, neverjaunty. I’m extremely bothered by the tone in many of these comments (not talking about Amber T in particular), which seems to be “I remind myself that I am actually better off than my friend because x and y things are bad about her” instead of “focus on what is good about your own life and on having a positive relationship with your friend.”

          1. LouiseM*

            or *will be bad, if she…gets divorced? Certainly not something I would wish on my worst enemy, much less my friend.

            1. boo bot*

              I think it’s less about “Imagine something bad happening to her,” and more about, “Considering all the facts, is this *really* something you would want for yourself?”

              It’s like, I wanted to be an astronaut once upon a time, but really I just wanted to visit outer space. I didn’t want to have to do all the incredibly difficult things astronauts do to get there.

              1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                Right, it’s about realizing that having what she has means that you’d also have a serious built-in vulnerability to life changes — that her situation includes putting yourself in a somewhat precarious position of financial dependence.

                1. fposte*

                  But would the OP be less bothered if Arya wasn’t working because she’d won the lottery or retired young? I’m guessing not, so I’m not sure that finding a vulnerability in Arya’s life choice is an optimal approach.

                2. LeRainDrop*

                  I’m with fposte. I don’t think that’s the right approach. People have to learn to be happy with what they have and strive for their own goals, regardless of what other people have. In this particular case, I do agree with Alison and others that OP does need to establish boundaries around her workday time (and whatever other leisure time she wants), as it’s not really reasonable for Arya to expect back-and-forth texting during that time.

        3. pope suburban*

          I’m not sure it’s about feeling superior so much as it is having pride in one’s own accomplishments. Like, sure, it’d be nice to have money, but sometimes having money means you lack other stuff. Feeling good about having life skills, or a problem-solving turn of mind, or concrete personal accomplishments can refocus one’s attention to what one does have rather than what one lacks. Which is way easier said than done, I know (I’m chronically underemployed myself, and my middle- to upper-middle class cohort got a lot more boosts from their parents than I personally did), but which is also a healthy way to look at things. For example, I tend to be the person my well-heeled friends ask for advice on fixing things or handling sticky situations. That’s pretty cool, and I should probably be proud of the fact that I think stuff through well enough that I can help people who have not had to develop that kind of mental process. And on the flip side, a lot of those friends are better at creative endeavors than I am, or have a different perspective on the world from traveling, which is also valuable and which makes them even more fun at parties because they have good stories to tell. I mean, I’d like to try life with that kind of cash, but I also know it’s important not to get in some kind of shame spiral over my own job and station.

          1. Emi.*

            Yeah, but you can have this good feeling even if the friend doesn’t exist—it’s not predicated on comparing yourself to others, which is usually a toxic path to go down.

            1. pope suburban*

              Sure, and I hope that people do. But when there’s someone in your life who’s provoking what Captain Awkward calls your jerkbrain to make comparisons and feel down on yourself, this is one way to interrupt that cycle. You’re not telling yourself that you’re better than your friend or colleague or relative, you’re reminding yourself that you’ve got value and life experiences in and of yourself, if that makes sense.

      2. Anonymoose*

        “She’s a freelancer, he’s a start-up entrepreneur…they’d both have a really hard time making it in the real world.” Um…those are both totally normal career paths and both take a huge amount of ambition and skill to be successful. What about those two roles means they can’t make it alone?

        1. Genny*

          My take is that there were invisible quotes around those professions. Like she’s a “freelancer” that only picks up the jobs that interest her most, and doesn’t understand that others don’t have the luxury of saying “no” to certain jobs. Similarly, he’s a “start-up entrepreneur” who is always starting a business that inevitably fails a few months later when he moves on to the next thing that caught his eye (kind of like the “ideas guy” who comes up with ideas, but has no idea how to implement them).

        2. Amber T*

          Sorry, I had started going into more detail and cut stuff out – that line alone definitely sounds super judgmental and not at all how I intended. Freelancers and start uppers have to work incredibly hard, especially when first starting out, including taking on some gigs you’d rather not (photographer friend HATES shooting weddings, but those were her bread and butter when she started out). She has some contacts through college internships and family friend that she’ll occasionally work for, and she’s made some connections on her own, but she’s selective of the work she’ll do. Which is great that she has the ability to do that! But she doesn’t get that most people don’t have that opportunity. (Without airing a lot of his dirty laundry, he had some start up idea that was going to make it big that ultimately didn’t, in part because of work ethic problems, in part from outside forces.)

          TL;DR – most freelancers and entrepreneurs work incredibly hard to become successful, but the two that I’m talking about don’t because they don’t have to, and I’m sorry that I let my jerkbrain (as someone else referenced) get the best of me before.

          1. Sally B*

            It’s still super presumptuous to assume she doesn’t understand reality. She CREATED her reality. I work in the photography industry and we ALL had to do some really awful and soul-sucking work to establish skill and reputation. Working that hard in the beginning puts you in a position to have higher standards later. That is literally the goal for every creative professional. Talk to any graphic designer, animator, florist, interior designer, etc. This is a very typical career trajectory for creatives. I think dismissing her achievements in this respect is really short-sighted. She’s living the dream that she clearly bussed ass for.

      3. E.*

        As a full-time freelancer and entrepreneur (who travels frequently because I work mostly remotely and can thus work from different places), I seriously resent the assumption that people who work for themselves “travel around the world basically doing whatever they please.” Or that doing so means you’re not “making it in the real world.” Being a freelancer and running a business is a real job, and often results in many more hours of work than a typical office job, even if that work is sometimes done from a tropical location. I bet if you could see your friend’s day-to-day life, you’d be very, very surprised.

      4. Joanna*

        this is exactly how I feel with one of my best friends who I know live with. she is LOVELY but talks about the most inane things… (her skin, her makeup running out etc) because she has an inheritance, she doesn’t have to work! Meanwhile I go in 5 days a week as a Registered Nurse it’s so hard because she doesn’t know what a real problem is.

    2. BadWolf*

      Yes, I have some friends who’s parents still do a lot of “adulting” things like taxes, make appointments, etc for them. Sometimes I’m jealous (I haaaate calling for appointments) but then I remind myself, do I really want to be the person “can’t” do their own taxes? Who complains they haven’t been to the dentist because Mommy hasn’t called?

      No, I do not.

      1. TGIF*

        It’s funny because I was just talking to my mom over the weekend about how I miss the days of her setting up doctors’ appointments for me simply because I’m so forgetful that months will pass by before I realize I’m late for my annual physical. She laughed and said she could barely remember to do it for herself, she sure wasn’t taking my appointments back! :)

      2. Specialk9*

        I know a grown family man whose parents still go over while they’re at work and cleans and does yard work. Which seems cool for like 2 seconds, and then just feels like chewing tinfoil.

    3. Gerber Daisy*

      My younger brother was enabled to pursue his dreams in a creative field from his late teens to late 20’s by my parents. All without having to work an actual job at the same time, so he’s now in his early 30’s, realizing it’s not going to happen in his dream career and with no work history/ethic and is now kind of, sort of working at the family business along with myself(but that’s a whole other long, ranty email/post).

      As much as I resented the opportunities he was given (and squandered), I’ve realized I’d much prefer having my work experiences and ability to find another job if necessary than being beholden on other people to support me and completely screwed if they don’t. He literally has nothing to put on a resume!

      1. AnitaJ*

        Would you mind elaborating on how you think working in a creative field is not an ‘actual’ job? I’m not being snarky, I’m genuinely asking your train of thought.

        1. all aboard the anon train*

          I don’t know if this is what Gerber Daisy meant, but I took the phrase “pursue a dream in the creative field” to mean being an “artist”, rather than working freelance or in an office job. Working in publishing, I come across a lot of hopeful authors who have someone funding their lifestyle so they don’t have to work and can just spend time on their writing. So they never have to pick up PT or FT jobs and all their time is spent pursuing their novel.

          Writing a novel doesn’t give you the same experience as working a job does, and I wouldn’t classify it as an actual job. Working a job in a creative field is different than pursuing your dream of being an artist in a creative field, in my opinion. The former gets you experience in the work environment, the latter is just a hobby you’re hoping to make into a career.

          I see a lot of “authors” who don’t have to work because their parents/spouse/etc. are paying for them to spend all day writing, and they have no other work experience and are a bit estranged from reality when it comes to the working world or the experience of everyday people.

          1. Tricksy Hobbit*

            As a writer, I disagree. If you get paid for it that makes it a “real job”. With that said, that does not mean I’m quitting my office job, moving back in with mom & dad to become a full-time writer. Becoming a full-time writer takes a lot of work and time. For example, big names like James Patterson and Steven King do not happen overnight. They build their careers over a lifetime. The problem with being a writer is that it is like being a singer or an actor; everyone thinks they can do it.

            1. Legal Beagle*

              Previous commenters are referring to a situation where the person is not being paid. If a parent or partner supports you while you work on your novel, that’s not a job. If a publisher gave you an advance to write a novel, that is a job. That’s my take, anyways.

          2. oranges & lemons*

            And even then, I don’t think it really comes down to what the dream job is, so much as the attitude of the person. If someone is seriously dedicated to being a published author and really hustling to build a social media platform, get stuff published, get involved with the writing community and build contacts, research agents and the industry, go to writing conventions, etc, I think that’s a bit different than someone who spends a few of hours a day noodling on their manuscript, even if neither one has a bill-paying job.

        2. NaoNao*

          Yeah I don’t know exactly what Gerber Daisy meant either but I can take a stab at it:
          Creative fields or jobs often have significantly different norms and expectations from professional office jobs in the corporate world, in a lot of ways.
          Things like the dress code, hours expected, social life and work life blending, being able to drink on the job or even having “entertaining clients” (meaning wining and dining them) be *part* of the job.
          Major perks that others would love, such as free products, advance services or products (for example, galley copies of big blockbuster novels, passes to Cannes, etc), brushing shoulders with celebs in that field, travel as part of the job (research or buying trips to exotic locales).
          Many creative jobs are dependent in part on your persona or “brand” in a way that corporate work may not be. So your style, flair, charisma, and charm may open doors, get you noticed/promoted/opportunities in a way that would be unusual in, say, government work or in a medical office doing patient billing.
          Finally, I would point to just the word itself: creative “work” in the arts is often one’s life’s dream and intensely fulfilling on a “soul” level. Creating Excel spreadsheets of payroll data may not be in quite the same way. It may be cool, fun, or interesting to some, but one usually doesn’t feel they are illuminating major cultural ideas, contributing to a discussion worldwide and through history on ideas, giving voice to the voiceless, or engaging in dialogue with the wider art world with their everyday actions.

          It’s not that creative works “doesn’t count”, it’s just that it’s so far different from 90% of the professional and service worlds that it’s its own world.

        3. Breda*

          I am guessing Gerber Daisy doesn’t mean something like being a freelance writer or a book illustrator or a symphony musician, but more like someone who was trying to be a rock star and writing music and playing local gigs, but who has never really had to be accountable to anyone and has no one to vouch for their work and skills, or someone who went to Hollywood but never got the kind of role that took more than a week to film.

        4. Gerber Daisy*

          Sorry, I didn’t mean to imply that working in a creative field isn’t an actual job, I don’t think that at all! I was trying to say (not very well apparently) :) that he was pursuing his dream while not having to support himself aka “actual job that actually pays the bills”(creative or not). I actually pursued a creative field when I was in my early 20’s but worked at a video store at the same time to pay my rent/bills.

          Thanks to everyone for helping to explain my poor choice of words.

          1. AnitaJ*

            Ah yes, makes sense. I, too, am jealous of those who are able to pursue their dreams with a financial safety net :)

          2. Indoor Cat*

            Thank you for clarifying.

            I actually feel like this is the subtext of a lot of jealousy / conflict among my friends, many of whom are trying to make it as an artist or musician of some kind. About half (myself included) have jobs that pay the rent, or even more than that, and that means our time to work on our creative projects is more limited than others.

            Others are supported by parents or wealthy spouses / significant others, and have most of the day each day to hone their craft.

            And a few are already making a living through their art! Not a middle-class lifestyle living, but a food-on-the-table, rent-on-time living, more or less.

            But this is the subtext of conflict, because those with “day jobs” inevitably sacrifice social time to work on our art, those who’re making a living on art alone are strapped for cash often and can’t socialize in a way that costs money at all, so the artists-funded-by-family try to initiate social events and they fall apart because we either don’t have the time or money to participate.

            There’s a lot more to it than that, including the fact that I actually like my “day job” a lot (I work in a non-911 crisis center and it suits both my personality and my night-owl tendencies) so I’m rarely jealous, which points to the whole “jealousy is dissatisfaction with your own life” thing, but it’s an emotionally fraught thing to talk about.

            1. Eliza*

              But this is the subtext of conflict, because those with “day jobs” inevitably sacrifice social time to work on our art, those who’re making a living on art alone are strapped for cash often and can’t socialize in a way that costs money at all, so the artists-funded-by-family try to initiate social events and they fall apart because we either don’t have the time or money to participate.

              Or occasionally the ones with money end up paying for everyone else, but that tends to create a weird social dynamic that not everyone is comfortable being part of. There’s going to be some friction no matter what.

        5. Alienor*

          I think there’s a distinction between “work” and “a job.” I’ve written a couple of novels and also worked full-time in a writing-related field, and writing the novels was work, but it wasn’t a job in the same way that going to an office every day is a job.

    4. Wannabe Disney Princess*

      I had a friend like this. Her parents did EVERYTHING for her. Still do. Including, making her executive management at the company they own.

      I periodically have a pang of jealousy when I see her Instagram posts about whatever lavish thing she’s doing. And then I scroll through my own.

      I see the trips I’ve taken with my best friend that were not expensive, but were priceless. The memories and experiences I’ve made would not be the same. I wouldn’t get to tell the amazing stories I have (finding the fish market only the locals knew about, narrowly avoiding three tornadoes, watching the Milky Way at Devils Tower, etc). My life may not have as much wealth as hers, but I’m pretty sure I’m richer where it matters. At least where it matters to me.

    5. Cookie*

      I have a friend like this from high school and at times I’m jealous/annoyed and at times I feel sorry for her. She tried to make it in fashion design, but when she had no success after a year, her parents gave up on her and established a trust for her to live off indefinitely as they don’t believe she’ll make it in her field. Then she gave up on herself too. That’s awful. Although I do get annoyed when she invites me to long lunches midday or to stay out super late and just doesn’t understand that I have a job need to be in the office.

    6. Fiennes*

      I have a friend whose parents did something even worse—they bankrolled her just enough to keep her quasi-comfortably afloat, and used that to assert authority over all her other choices: wouldn’t fund grad school, discouraged her from ever leaving her (initially promising) first job post college, urged her to buy a place at the height of the bubble so she’d be more rooted in the city next to theirs, etc. Fast forward twenty-odd years, and her career has stagnated; she’s still under water on that condo; and she’s never, ever been financially independent OR financially free. Every time she’d try to stand on her own, her parents would play the “refusing our money means you don’t love us!” card. It’s been years since she even tried. What she’s going to do when her elderly parents die is honestly unclear.

      Long story short: if you’re going to subsidize your kid as an adult, do it *all the way* so at least that kid can truly pursue their interests. Personally I don’t think it’s a great idea even then, but YMMV. Anything less than that is nothing but a leash and collar—one step removed from a noose.

      1. Pennalynn Lott*

        I have a friend from junior high (we’re now in our early-50’s) who has been wholly subsidized by her mother since about age 23 when she got fed up with her entry-level job and quit. Her mom is in her mid-70’s and still working a full-time job so she can support her daughter. I don’t think the mom has much in the way of retirement savings because all her extra money has been spent on her daughter’s rent, utilities, food, and car. My friend completely freaks out if I try to ask her what her plan is once her mom is gone. Like, if she just never thinks about it, then it will never happen.

        1. tangerineRose*

          “age 23 when she got fed up with her entry-level job and quit.” Wow. I don’t want to think about what my parents would have said if I tried that.

      2. AnotherAlison*

        I have a similar friend. Her parents were poor, but they encouraged her to finance a car instead of going to college, to quit a job because management were “jerks” and move back home, to drop out of nursing later because of her “health”, etc. Now she is 40 with her first job in 15 yrs, and it’s a very part-time, very low paid job. She got married 15 yrs ago and had two kids, but the husband didn’t earn much, so her parents continued to give them money and run her life. . .until they were tapped out last year, and she “had to” put up a GoFundMe.

      3. fposte*

        Though I also think adults, even young adults, need to consider the cost as well as the benefit of receiving financial assistance, whether those be grad school loans or parent gifts. What you’re describing doesn’t sound like hugely uncommon parental behavior to me–“You should buy a house near us! Grad school is on you! Are you sure you want to leave that nice job?”–it just sounds like this woman found it harder than most to make her way in the face of it.

        1. Fiennes*

          To get into why these parents were so much worse would involve my spilling details that are too identifying. I can only say that they extraordinarily manipulative and controlling, to the point where she was made to feel that the simple act of *making a monthly budget* was proof she didn’t love her parents—they’d claim that was proof she obviously intended to sever the relationship eventually. Believe it or not, I have actually known lots of parents and children during my lifetime, and nothing about this was even close to normal.

        2. BostoninTransit*

          Fposte, as Fiennes explains a bit below, there is parenting and giving advice to your adult child and then there is controlling your adult child with money. It’s hard to see from the outside sometimes, especially if you haven’t grown up in such a dysfunctional home or if the person does necessarily see it for themselves.

          Personally I was in exactly this situation where I while I didn’t “have to worry about money” for things like college and such, I did very much have to constantly worry about the state of that relationship as if I stepped a toe out of line from what was considered “the right way to do things” (even if they proved to actually hurt me at times because the info was outdated) the first threat was losing my financial security.

          Literally every summer before I went back to college, somehow I would find a way to make my parent so mad at me that I no longer deserved this thing I had been raised to and constantly reminded to expect. It took a few years of outsiders noticing that I never did anything particularly wrong, but somehow my parent was always level 10 pissed come August. It was a complete power play.

          And it still took me years to cut that emotionally abusive parent out of my life, because that was the only family I knew, so that was normal right?

          Now I might be much poorer and it might take time for my credit score to recover, but all the money is not worth the loss of control and definitely not worth me feeling like that ever again.

      4. Specialk9*

        Interesting. My husband and I are having to noodle through these ideas, since if we die we’ve made sure that our kid will get a lot of life insurance money. We want him to have money but not be a wastrel. We want him to make good choices and be set up for success, not hamstrung by too much money, or by overly prescriptive rules room the grave. It’s a whole lot of conundrums to sort through!

      5. Mad Baggins*

        Yes, often those “lavish gifts” come with strings attached: “I’ll pay for the wedding, but I get to decide the guest list.”

    7. Ann Furthermore*

      One of my friends from high school was a trust fund kid, although I didn’t know it at the time. In our 20’s, we ran across each other while we lived in the same city. Her family owned a really famous race horse — not Secretariat (the only famous horse I really know), but of that same caliber. She lived on her share of the family money.

      She wasn’t flashy with her money at all. She had a little one-bedroom apartment in the same downtown neighborhood I lived in, and drove a Honda Civic. One night we were hanging out at her place. She’d been going to art school, but wasn’t really feeling it, and was trying to figure out what to do next. She said, “Maybe I should get a job!” in the same way that someone else would say, “Maybe I should get a new haircut!” Like it was something that she should try instead of something that she needed to do in order to be able to support herself. Another time she mentioned that she’d had to go see her financial adviser that day and sign a check (or authorize a transfer or something) of $25,000 to pay her taxes — more than I was making in an entire year. I kind of shook my head and laughed to myself about how we were from completely different worlds.

  3. Luna*

    Another downside to not having to work, especially if all your friends do- she’s probably lonely. If she is by herself all day while most of her friends and husband are working, that can get isolating real fast. That might be why she is texting you so much.

    I understand feeling jealous of her, because it does sound awesome! In theory at least. But it might help to feel less resentful knowing that it probably isn’t as great as it seems. If it was, she would have better things to do than text all day (but you should still point out to her that you can’t always respond because you do have other things to do).

        1. Emilia Bedelia*

          It doesn’t matter to you though, does it? The point is that everyone makes those decisions for themselves, and even if it doesn’t make sense from the outside, that’s none of our business.
          Every single choice in life has its upsides and downsides (even if they’re hard to see), and the math behind our choices is always more complicated than it seems.

          1. sunny-dee*

            I’m not arguing that at all. I just find it odd that someone would choose unhappiness over happiness.

        2. AnOnYmOuS*

          {Miserable + Living in a mansion} > {Happy + Living in a manhole}.

          I’d much rather be living in a mansion than a manhole regardless my emotional state

          1. boop the first*

            That’s what’s so frustrating about the “famous people cry too” trope in pop music. They get to be depressed at the spa. I get to be depressed at my terrible workplace. Would you rather?

              1. Kj*

                I biked 20 miles one way to a soul killing job in the rain for years (ahh, Seattle). Trust me, it was easy to cry on my bike. Espically at 5am.

            1. Specialk9*

              My ex had this weird idea that rich people were ‘not allowed’ to be unhappy, because they had money. It was so baffling. Money is really important up to a point, and then it all just becomes a refinement of degree. The level of bitterness from someone who could afford Chipotle whenever he wanted (with guacamole!!) was really confusing, and sad to me. He had this well of resentment inside, and so little empathy.

          2. Khlovia*

            Yeah, if you live in a mansion you can probably afford therapy to help you get happier. Whereas all the “best things in life are free” philosophy in the world isn’t going to turn that manhole into a mansion. Or even a small hut.

            1. Plague of frogs*

              Speaking for myself, my depression was better when I had more to strive for. Plotting my way out of that manhole would help. In the mansion, I would know that my depression is “just me” and it makes it feel inescapable.

          3. Justin*

            I mean if those are the only two choices, sure.

            But most people live in neither, so happiness/fulfillment is probably more attainable.

            1. fposte*

              Right, real life is grayer, and we often, I think, like to imagine extremes for emphasis even though they’re not likely to be the differences we actually encounter.

              I think there’s a lot to the threshold notions, like the $70k income one, where beyond a certain level they don’t improve your quality of life but being below them can still impact your life. (I wouldn’t rather be unhappy in a mansion than in my current house, for example.) I also personally suspect that it helps that those thresholds tend to get met a little later on in life when people generally have a better sense of themselves; at 22, I wouldn’t have had any idea how much income would make me happy or be enough to make me happy, and I’d still have had tons of instability in my life that money wouldn’t solve.

          4. HigherEdPerson*

            IDK, living in a manhole means you get to hang out with Ninja Turtles and a Sensei Rat. Seems like a win/win to me.

        3. bluephone*

          Even as a kid, I always wondered why Princess Diana couldn’t just be all, “ugh do what you want, Dumbo Ears, I’m going to get drunk in this closet that’s bigger than most people’s homes, and is full of designer gowns that I didn’t even have to spend money on. #GOALS!”

          1. Autumnheart*

            Probably because SHE couldn’t do what she wanted, not to mention having your whole life scripted out by the hour, not to mention having the paparazzi up her butt speculating on her every move. That would be a hellish life no matter how nice the wardrobe.

          2. Specialk9*

            You could not pay me enough to be a British royal. Their lives are a living hell, surrounded by luxury that blinds everyone to the cage. The only way I would take on that life would be a credible threat to murder or maim my loved ones.

    1. Kittymommy*

      I was thinking this as well. It’s amazing how much if our social interaction we get from work (even if we don’t necessarily like all of it) and when that’s missing it can be hard to fill.

    2. Caboodle*

      I had this same thought. Having the luxury of not working may sound fabulous (grass is greener and all that), but I’ve found that when I take long vacations, I start to get BORED! In fact, I’m getting ready to quit my job and be unemployed for a bit, and I’m worried this will happen to me. So managing social interactions and possibly seasonal employment have to be part of my plan.

      1. Luna*

        Yes when I was unemployed after being laid off it was so boring! Granted I also didn’t have lots of money to be able to spend doing stuff, but going to places on your own does get old after a while. I did see a lot of movies though, and was in great shape because I would go on really long runs and lots of walks to kill time.

      2. hbc*

        Getting ready to do the same thing here, and I’ve already reached out to the animal shelter at which I used to volunteer. A few hours a week cuddling cats and chatting with potential adopters can give me a pretty good social interaction fix.

      3. Autumnheart*

        Not me, I had tons going on while unemployed. The down side was being broke as a joke and having to worry about keeping my bills paid.

    3. Roscoe*

      Yep. When I used to be a teacher and had summers off, it was lonely at times. I didn’t have a ton of teacher friends, so it was a lot of hanging out alone. Not that I’m complaining about being off for a couple of months, but I’m sure I did send a decent amount of texts to friends while they were working in order to have some conversaton.

    4. LBK*

      To each their own, I guess – I’m a pretty solitary person so having full days of quiet to just sit and read books, play video games, watch TV/movies, do puzzles, etc sounds heavenly. And then you can still have a social life outside of 9-5/M-F. I’m sure I’d get bored eventually but I think I could do that for a loooooong time before I needed something more stimulating to keep me busy.

      1. Tardigrade*

        I get that. I’m super introverted, only child, and am able to entertain myself. But the time it took me to get sick of being alone all day with no purpose in life was shockingly fast. I don’t wish it on anyone who doesn’t ask for it.

        1. LBK*

          I suppose I don’t think of my job as a “purpose” so much as a necessary means to an end – I think it’s the obligation of going to a job that causes work to motivate most people moreso than any particular meaningfulness, because it forces you to get out of bed, get dressed and go somewhere 5 days a week. It imposes structure and routine on your life, and I think that’s why most people need it rather than anything you do at most jobs being especially fulfilling.

          1. LBK*

            (Also, I definitely wouldn’t want to be completely alone all day every day – I would definitely still need my boyfriend coming home from work every night/being there on weekends and seeing friends regularly to keep me sane. But 40 hours a week where I had nothing to do but relax sounds great to me.)

          2. Tardigrade*

            I’d argue that there’s meaning and fulfillment in structure and routine, but I recognize that I’m strange. :)

            1. Anonygoose*

              I absolutely agree – I love love LOVE my downtime, and you can pry my netflix&knitting from my cold dead hands, but anytime I’ve had more than a week off without anywhere to go for the day, I sink into a bit of a depression. As much fun as my hobbies are, and as boring as my actual work is, my purpose definitely comes from having some type of routine and having to go somewhere every day.

            2. LBK*

              I don’t necessarily disagree – but I think I wouldn’t necessarily need a job to fill that role for me, it’s just a convenient and common option. If I could find another option that didn’t have the level of accountability as a job I’d rather do that, like taking classes or something like that.

            3. Sigrid*

              Yeah, for me, it’s not the lack of social interaction that gets to me with long periods without work, it’s the lack of structure. I’m embarking on a three month period between jobs right now and I have Lots of Plans to fill the time but…I know me and keeping myself to a schedule, rather than having the schedule imposed me from outside, is really difficult. I’m trying to figure out ways to make myself obligated to other people during that time just so I have something of a structure in place.

              1. Luna*

                That’s the key difference, I think- I can come up with all sorts of structures to occupy my downtime, but in the end they are optional and I know it. Which means I don’t have to stick to the structure, which means lots of time on the couch watching Netflix, until suddenly I realize I’m bored out of my freaking mind!

            4. Fiennes*

              See, I fare better now that I work alone, at home, than I ever did on a standard schedule. Maybe it’s ADHD, maybe it’s something else about me, but I’m happier and more productive with a lot of flexibility and variety in my days. There’s no one-size-fits-all “best” way to structure work.

              That said—I do work. I am accomplishing things. If I weren’t, the flexibility might come to feel more like emptiness.

          3. Specialk9*

            I find my job fulfilling. I’m not saying all of it, there is gruntwork, but I am honestly not sure I’d leave my job if I suddenly were rich. I think I’d work half time maybe.

        2. oranges & lemons*

          I think there is a difference between being unwillingly given a bunch of free time than willingly choosing it, though. When you’re sick or unemployed or whatever, you’re probably not able to make long-term plans, and likely constricted in some ways that you wouldn’t be if this was your full-time plan. If you choose to set up your life that way, you can do tons of volunteer work, creative work, pursue interests that take you outside of your home, and basically set everything up the way it works for you.

          1. Tardigrade*

            Of course, and I said before, “I don’t wish it on anyone who doesn’t ask for it.”

        3. Former Employee*

          I retired early from a demanding job. People were shocked when they learned that I had nothing much planned because I would often put in 10-12 hour days and would come in on week ends, too. The thing is that except for a couple of times when I temped (about 6 mos once and almost a year the other time), I haven’t worked in many years and am happy to putter around at home. I’m online, watch TV, read, try to clean the house more than I would if I had to work, etc.

          Sometimes, I get bored. Then, I remember the stress involved with work and realize that the trade off just isn’t worth it.

          1. Alienor*

            My mother’s like that–she had a job for a while when I was in my early/mid teens, and then she had another baby and never worked again. She cleans and decorates her house, reads, watches TV, and looks after her husband, and seems perfectly content with that. She also doesn’t drive, which would be the thing that pushed me over the edge–I love my quiet time at home, but wouldn’t want to be trapped there–but it doesn’t bother her, so who am I to judge?

        4. TardyTardis*

          But I have 30 books to write! Plus, I’m in a couple of clubs that keep me busy and several Trueheart Friends that we can say anything to each other.

      2. CTT*

        What works for you doesn’t work for everyone else, and it sounds like it’s not working for LW’s friend either.

        1. Squeeble*

          I mean, it might be, though! We’re all just speculating. At the end of the day it’s just making things difficult for LW, so it needs to change for their sake alone.

        2. LBK*

          Luna’s comment is just speculation, I don’t think it’s stated in the letter that the friend has said she’s lonely or bored.

        3. neverjaunty*

          We have nothing to suggest the LW’s friend is unhappy. Texting during the day could just was easily mean Friend thinks her texts take the LW’s mind off ToxicJob.

          1. LBK*

            Yeah, I have a group text that’s been active all day every day for literally years and we all have 9-5 jobs – frequent texting doesn’t really tell you anything about someone’s emotional state/doesn’t mean she wouldn’t keep doing that if she had a job.

      3. Katniss*

        Agreed. Sounds like paradise to me. I can hang out with my friends when they’re off work. As long as I have books and video games and TV/movies, I’m not gonna get bored.

      4. Aurion*

        Yeah, I’m kind of there too. I can get a lot of writing done if I don’t have to worry about a day job. I’d never trade the security of having a job though; I don’t like the idea of relying on someone else for my livelihood.

        But in fairness, OP’s friend is living this life every day and has probably crossed her boredom and loneliness threshold, which still do exist for solitary people like you and me.

      5. oranges & lemons*

        I’m with you–I have tons of interests that I don’t have enough time for outside of work. If I had no job and enough money to support all of my interests, I would be happy as a clam. It sounds like Arya might be in a similar situation.

        Also, my mother is friends with a few people who are independently wealthy (I’m not sure why this is) and they all have tons of friends who are similarly wealthy.

    5. Adlib*

      Besides all the things Alison mentioned, you are likely spot on about the loneliness. When I got fired 3 jobs ago, I thought it would be awesome having time off to do whatever while I job searched. That lasted for about 2 weeks, and it was 3 months before I found another job. I was so bored! I guess Arya isn’t working because she doesn’t have to, but I would have to do SOMETHING!

      These days, I see people (some of my friends included) living above their means constantly so it doesn’t mean that Arya’s life is always going to be awesome with regard to money. They may have very little savings or nothing at all for retirement so things aren’t always what they seem in cases like this.

    6. LadyL*

      A year ago I took a month off as I transitioned between jobs, and it was miserable. I had multiple anxiety attacks during that time, and I felt constant stress about the way I was using my time. I couldn’t wait to start working and to feel like my life had structure and purpose again. Now that I’m back at work and busy I can’t help but fantasize about how great a long stretch of time off would be. The real lesson I learned is that clearly I can find a way to be miserable no matter what my circumstances are, so I should just relax about it. A happier message might be, if I can find ways to be miserable no matter what I can probably find ways to be happy too.

      1. Tardigrade*

        The real lesson I learned is that clearly I can find a way to be miserable no matter what my circumstances are

        Haha! I think the rest of your comment is good advice, but this part was funny. Can relate.

      2. eee*

        makes me think of milo from the phantom tollbooth! “When he was in school he longed to be out, and when he was out he longed to be in. On the way he thought about coming home, and coming home he thought about going.”

    7. fposte*

      Yes, exactly. I’m getting closeish to retirement, albeit an early retirement, so that’s the lens I saw this question through. I hear the “OMG this person won’t stop calling/texting” from a *lot* of people whose spouses retired before they did, for instance. I’m taking very seriously the guidance to find things to retire to, not just to retire from. Arya may just need to find some shape to her life.

      1. Mananana*

        That’s my life-stage, too. Early-ish retirement (I’ll be 57 when I retire) is 5 years away. I’ve started making my post-retirement plans now, as I’m someone who thrives with a plan. Too much unstructured time brings out my inner sloth.

      2. LeRainDrop*

        I’m using the same lens as you, fposte, which is probably why I agree with so much of what you’ve been commenting. I don’t think it’s healthy for OP to compare her own situation to Arya’s because they are different people with different experiences and choices. It would be more constructive for OP to focus on getting out of her toxic workplace and taking time to really appreciate the awesome things about her life and to self-care.

        That said, it’s totally reasonable for OP to establish boundaries around texting and talking with Arya during workday hours (and whatever other leisure time OP wants to carve out for herself). I think if OP can discuss this issue directly and kindly with Arya, that should really help, as I imagine Arya does not intend to bother or hurt her friend’s feelings.

    8. Roja*

      Yes, this. I work several part-time jobs, one of which is from home, and it is quite lonely. I wouldn’t trade the convenience yet, but it would be nice to talk to people once in a while, and it’s very isolating in general. I’m guessing that’s part of this person’s reason for texting.

    9. BugSwallowersAnonymous*

      This was my thought as well! If she’s sending you lots of texts, she’s probably feeling kinda lonely.

    10. Namast'ay in Bed*

      It’s interesting to hear how many people got bored during unemployment or during long stretches of vacation. I was unemployed last year for about five months, and I was surprised at how I was never really bored.

      I considered myself highly invested in my career, strongly tied my identity and self-worth to my career, and yet when that was taken away, (ignoring the occasional waves of guilt and shame and a desire to get back into things) I was surprisingly content. I’m sure it’s a very personal thing, and maybe it has to do with the fact that it was only temporary and I was actively trying to not be unemployed, but I always found something to do. And even when I didn’t have anything I had to do, I was always happy to find a new project around the house, or just read a book or take some me time and loaf.

      It was honestly almost concerning how satisfying and content I was able to be while not working.

    11. many bells down*

      It’s true, I spent 10+ years out of the workforce and I got to the point where I was desperate for a reason to put clothes on and leave the house. I still only work part-time; my only other friend that doesn’t work has two toddlers so we don’t really get to do much together.

      1. Specialk9*

        “friend that doesn’t work has two toddlers”

        I’m not sure we agree on the concept of ‘work’. I have one toddler, and every day bless the daycare teachers who keep up with him and teach him how to human properly. I might actually melt away to a steaming puddle of goo with two toddlers at the same time, all by myself.

    12. Kelsi*

      This. I have to work for a living, and I occasionally get very envious of those who either a) don’t, or b) have a job where they can work from home. I would LOVE to be able to, say, not get up and deal with coworkers! Or (depending on the work-from-home hours) be able to do things like doctor appointments or Zumba classes in the middle of a weekday! Or whatever.

      But here’s a thing I’ve learned about myself: if I’m not forced to go out into the world–either by working a job, or going to school–I get lonely and depressed. And being an introvert, the more lonely and depressed I get, the less capable I am of forcing myself to go out and interact with people. I would be very bad at not working/not working outside my home! And yes, I could volunteer or something, but again…it’s the motivation of “I literally have to do this to live” that gets me out of bed most mornings. (And I actually really like my job, so getting a “better” one isn’t going to change that)

      I’m not saying wealthy people have it SO HARD or anything. I’m just saying, the kind of isolation that comes with not being employed can be difficult to break out of and take a significant emotional toll.

  4. ragazza*

    I always thought it would be great to not work until I dated a guy who didn’t have to and I saw the downsides. Having to support yourself builds self-confidence and self-knowledge in a way that is extremely hard to replicate.

      1. ragazza*

        Well, I don’t want to make too many generalizations based on this one guy, but he would just opt out of things if they got too difficult. He did do some work as a carpenter, but if the boss or the other people he worked with were annoying he would just never work for them again rather than figuring out a way to get along. Because he didn’t have to suck it up and go to work to pay the rent. (This habit of dropping out when things got tough also bled into other areas of life, and that is why he is an ex.) And so consequently he never was challenged to grow–not just with relationships but with his trade. When you work, you have to learn new skills to keep up. Sometimes you succeed at new things, sometimes not so much, and you learn what you’re good and and what you’re not, and how to work with that. You learn to deal with having to look failure and criticism right in the face, like after a bad performance review. Basically, struggle leads to growth (as in the old story about the butterfly struggling to get out of its cocoon).

        There were also a lot of issues with him not being very good at adulting, which maybe had more to do with his specific family dynamics–basically his father was in charge of the cash (although it was always forthcoming). He didn’t even deal with his own insurance and such–and he was in his 40s!

        I remember I used to complain about my job and he’d be like, “Yes, I’m really lucky not to have to deal with all that,” but seeing the patterns of his behavior and his avoidance tactics, I don’t think he is lucky at all.

        1. Manders*

          Yes, these are some things I’ve also noticed in my peers. Resilience isn’t a personality trait, it’s a skill you build over time. If you spend your 20s and 30s coasting, it becomes very difficult to catch up with people who’ve had decades to build that skill. Avoiding failure isn’t the same thing as succeeding.

          That said, having a rich family doesn’t doom you to a life of aimless wandering. I know plenty of people from well to do families who did find success–either because their parents understood the right level of support to give them without coddling them, or because they realized on their own that struggling and succeeding on their own terms was a worthwhile thing for them to be doing.

          1. fposte*

            I don’t know if there’s robust research on this or not, but certainly that’s one claim about the impact of helicopter parenting starting even earlier–anxious offspring who are afraid of failure because they have no experience with surviving it.

            1. Manders*

              I can believe it! This is only anecdata, but my husband is a teacher at a ritzy private high school and he’s definitely noticed that his (fairly lenient) grades are the first experience many of these kids have with failure.

              This is a bit of a digression, but I had one hobby in high school and college that I was just hilariously bad at, and even though it felt lousy at the time I do feel like literally falling on my butt in front of an audience prepared me for the metaphorical pratfalls of my 20s. It took me a while and I’m still not 100% calm and graceful under pressure, but I’m learning.

            2. Indoor Cat*

              I’ll have to look up the study, but I read a surprising article once that argued that girls are more anxious than boys because they “absorb” their parents anxiety– like, they pick up on the fact that their parents worry about them more than their brothers much earlier than they become aware of gender-specific dangers, so they internalize subconsciously “I’m fragile / the world is dangerous” more often than boys.

              One specific example was, if a 7-year-old girl is learning to ride her bike and falls down, her Dad will rush over to her right away to console her, kiss her boo-boos, etc. Whereas if his son falls down riding his bike, Dad will wait and see if he gets back up again or if he’s actually really hurt (broken wrist, etc) before going over to help. And the dads in the experiment didn’t even realize they were handling their sons and daughters differently until it was pointed out to them! They just acted on instinct.

              Anecdotally, as a woman who has dealt with anxiety, I can totally see this being the case. I love both my parents, and they both wanted me to be independent, and now I am; they were 100% good parents. But in retrospect, I can see a lot of ways I absorbed the message “you’re fragile,” when my brother got the message, “you’re capable and competent,” even if they didn’t mean to. I think this is also true for kids with disabilities or chronic illnesses versus their able-bodied siblings.

              1. swingbattabatta*

                I have a 2 year old daughter who is tough as nails, and we’ve definitely been on the receiving end of some judgy looks at the playground when she topples over and we just stand there and watch her. Obviously, if she’s actually hurt, we are all over it, but c’mon. Kids can fall, they are resilient.

          2. Genny*

            “The Millionaire Next Door” actually goes into how parental support post-childhood helps or hinders. Their conclusion is that parental support that builds skills or wealth (i.e. education and help with a down payment (or even outright buying a reasonable house)) gives the child a good boost, but parental support in the form of allowances, buying consumable goods, etc. (basically stuff that allows the child to live outside of what they would otherwise be able to afford) is detrimental.

            I have several issues with the book, but I did think it was interesting that parental support isn’t necessarily the problem, but the kind of parental support and the longevity of it matters a lot.

            1. Bleeborp*

              Hmm that is very interesting. I have a bit of guilt with how much my parents have been able to help me in my life since it is sheer luck that I have parents who could. They paid the down payment on my house and for my education but they also never paid for my daily expenses post-college and I’ve been a reasonably functional adult. So it checks out on a anecdotal level!

        2. Pmort*

          I also have an ex who is a trust fund baby. He has never had to work in his life, though he has held jobs from time to time, mostly out of cultural pressure, as far as I can tell. He’s had struggles in his personal life, so he does have personal resilience, but boy howdy, does he not know how to work. Conflict with boss? Quit. Job won’t give you time off for that vacation you want? Quit. Job didn’t promote you when you wanted? Quit. He’s not dumb or lazy, but since he has never needed to generate an income, he just doesn’t have any patience whatsoever for the very ordinary bull crap of the working world.

          Every now and then he has also tried self-employment, but so far that has never resulted in anything one could call a real income. Luckily, though, he doesn’t need it.

      2. Sins & Needles*

        I can speak to the downsides I experience, since I’m not in the workforce.

        – I am always “on.” The trade-off my partner and I decided on was that I would take care of the business of family. That means I plan the meals, keep the house acceptably clean, do all of the emotional work like remembering birthdays and keeping family members in the loop, etc. I don’t get off work at 5, because I’m preparing and serving dinner and then cleaning up afterward. Yes, my partner does do household work, but most of it is mine. I had to figure out when to just stop for the day, because there’s always more to do.

        -Related, I don’t get a weekend the same way my partner does, nor do my vacations look the same.

        -I worry about money. I worried about money when I was in the workforce, too, but now not only do I worry about our monthly budget, I am keenly aware that I am not contributing to social security, a pension, etc.

        -Sometimes, the emotional part of my job gets overwhelming. If a family member gets sick, has a major medical issue, etc, I’m the one to deal with the paperwork, the insurance, taking people to the doctor, and the one who deals with the tears and the troubles.

        -Dealing with other people’s assumptions can get old, sometimes, like the idea that all I do is play video games and lounge around in my pajamas.

        -Sometimes other people feel they have a right to judge what my partner and I do, like take a vacation. “How can you take a vacation when you don’t work?” They don’t see my taking in the recycling and rolling coins and the other things I do to make that work, and it’s none of their business, but the judgement gets old, too. And the “you don’t work” ignore the value of what I do.

        -I saw some other people talk about feeling lonely or isolated, but that’s not sometime I struggle with.

        I left the workforce to deal with my own medical issues, which have since been resolved (thanks for that phrase, by the by), and there were a lot of good reasons we set up our life the way we did, but it’s not without issues.

        1. Sargjo*

          As someone like you, I just want to add that what we do IS work. It’s just not PAID or VISIBLE work in a society that values both. Depending on how radical I feel, I respond to the “what do you do all days” with either “Capitalism depends on the free labor of women who opt or are forced out of the workforce” or “I paint my nails and eat bonbons before retrieving Bratticus and Samsonite from school.”

          Oh and to the “but what do you DOOOO for work” I fantasize about responding “oh, do you mean what do I do for MONEY?” as though they’ve said something quite rude. Usually I just fumble through it though (shrug).

          1. JoAnna*

            Yes, I was laid off a month ago and now I’m staying at home with my kids. My husband recently got a new job with much better salary, and it’s not crucial I go back to work immediately, so I’m taking some time with my job search. I think I work harder now than I did when I was employed outside the home full-time.

          2. Penny Lane*

            It depends. I live in a community of wealthy SAHMs. They have full time household help, their children are at school all day, they have enough money to take care of things so that they indeed can spend hours at the gym, spa, or lunching with girlfriends. It’s not “as hard” as the typical SAHM who does all the cleaning and cooking and needs to pinch pennies.

            But life’s not a contest. It doesn’t matter if the OP has it easier or harder than her friend. Maybe the friend is lonely and needy – or maybe she is enjoying herself just fine and needs a reminder that OP can’t answer texts during the workday.

            I’d focus on the behavior you want to change – the texting (or more accurately her expectation they are answered immediately). I would just not answer them til 5 pm (or whatever) and remind her you don’t have time during the day to answer them.

            I think it’s a pretty well developed social norm that non-business texts during the work day can wait unless it’s an emergency or maybe a quick yes-no type of thing.

      3. fposte*

        There was a British show a couple of years ago called “Jon Richardson Grows Up,” wherein Jon (a comedian, but this was a fairly serious show) explored a few key aspects of adulthood he felt challenged by by engaging with people who have really committed and extreme explorations of it. In the “Money” episode (which is on YouTube), he talks to adult children of a billionaire, and they were really poignant and honest about what it did to them. Not in an “OMG, it was horrible” way, but in what it meant for their goals and expectations, and how the drive that brought their father the money was virtually absent from them.

        1. TardyTardis*

          One thing I heard about Elton John is that his therapist made him go live on the economy as a normal working bloke for a solid year–yes, he still has some well-publicized problems, but he’s not dead, either, as so many celebrities in his position have become.

      4. Tomato Frog*

        I have a few friends who are from obscenely wealthy families, and some who are from medium-wealthy families, and sometimes they work or volunteer, but none of them ever HAVE TO. Here’s what I’ve observed in them:

        * Not having the structure of work can leave people pretty listless. I’ve seen it exacerbate depression and low self-esteem. Sure, you can volunteer or get a job anyway, but for many people, it’s hard to make yourself do things without that outside impetus, or to keep it up with any enthusiasm.
        * There’s more pressure to accomplish greatly — to do dream job-y, creative, or “important” things, since it’s not enough to just aim to work hard, pay the rent, and save for retirement. It’s that same “do what you love” pressure we put on high school and college kids in this country, but amped up quite a bit. That sense that you are supposed to do Great Things and are failing can be pretty insidious.
        * For many people (myself included!) the main barrier to creative activity isn’t lack of time, but lack of self-discipline/energy/drive/focus/whatever. These things not only don’t go away if you don’t have to work, but they can get much worse. I’ve also noticed my friends who don’t have to work blame themselves a lot more than I do when they fail to accomplish creative goals, because they feel like they have no excuse.
        * The US is a culture that really values the idea of working for your living. A lot of people unconsciously see not working as a moral failing. For one friend this has created a lot of tension with her (middle-class American) husband, and my friends also judge themselves all the time in subtle ways.
        * For some of these friends, their families are a lot more heavily involved in their lives than I would ever be able to stand. Money gives a lot of choice, but when it’s not strictly your own, it also takes away a lot.

        1. Thursday Next*

          Tomato Frog, this is a great comment. It explores some aspects of not having to work that I haven’t seen discussed elsewhere in the comments. Your insights about how it actually exacerbates pressures to achieve are fascinating.

            1. LeRainDrop*

              These are excellent insights, Tomato Frog. I’ve been taking a sabbatical from my career for a little over a year, and I definitely feel a lot of these things you mention. I have a huge amount of guilt, like I’ve had all this free time, so why haven’t I accomplished x, y, z? I have no excuse! That is something that eats at me. And there are people who look down on me for not working. Just a couple weeks ago, I heard from a good work friend that a couple of the ambitious partners at my last firm were talking about me, like, “What is she doing? She’s not going to be employable.” It never occurs to them that I do not have the same goals they do.

        2. Lissa*

          To add to this, there’s also the fact that I would imagine it would be harder to talk about these things – commiserating about money troubles, work annoyances and so on are typically things people can relate to, or at least understand there are “real” problems. With this kind of thing, you’re going to hear a lot of snarking “poor little rich kid” “I wish I had those problems” etc, even though the people complaining may also be better off than a large portion of the world, because we adapt to what we know. Hearing “you should be happy because you have X Y x Z” is just not something that works. Our emotions expand or contract to our circumstances – we don’t all compare ourselves to medieval peasants and feel nothing but joy we have running water every day of our lives.

          I mean, i say all this and still kind of in my heart of hearts believe like 95% of my problems would be over if I had enough money to not have to ever worry about it again, so I do get the impetus/annoyance at this kind of person.

        3. Autumnheart*

          In that respect, I have to admire individuals like Princes William and Harry, for their military careers, and, say, Chelsea Clinton, for her accomplishments in public service. They certainly didn’t have to work, much less learn to fly helicopters or be in active combat zones or run huge charity organizations–but they have done those things. Those families having strong traditions of service does a lot, I bet, to give members direction and a sense of duty where that otherwise might not occur.

          1. Gorgo*

            Not every billionaire’s kid is allowed/encouraged to live off inheritance, which IMO is the best thing a parent can do for them.

            Zuckerberg has said he’s not leaving a whole lot of his money to his daughter. Likewise, Bill and Melinda Gates. And, yes, those kids are still probably going to get enough to live off if they want to, but the parents’ are probably simultaneously encouraging work ethic and independence as well as demonstrating massive charity to the organizations they’re leaving their money to.

        4. TeapotAdvocate*

          Thank you Tomato Frog – really useful insights. I’m now in the position of no longer needing to work for an income, and as you say, there’s a lot of internal pressure to be creatively successful, to create really high quality work, and to accomplish in my creative life. Which is hard, because although I’m talented and hard-working, am I good enough to succeed in this field?
          I no longer have the small wins (and big wins) that I’m used to with work, and I miss the routine and the friendship of co-workers.
          Ive suffered from depression and I’m concerned that the lack of daily friendly contact and sense of purpose will exacerbate this.
          So yes, while I’m hugely fortunate that things worked out financially, it comes with downsides.

      5. Mr. Rogers*

        I know someone who doesn’t have to work because of their family’s money, and only does it as a “hobby” of sorts. And I agree, there are some serious downsides I would never trade for. They never seem to be able to be happy, even with all that money and a beautiful home and the ability to travel and do all sorts of activities. The second a job gets tough or has downsides, they leave it.The second a relationship requires work or compromise, they leave it. They don’t seem to have any real passions, goals, etc. It’s honestly kind of sad.

      6. Turquoisecow*

        A lot of what Sins & Needles says above applies to what I heard from my mom when she was a stay at home – there’s a lot of work to do, and you don’t get to just end at a certain period when you live that life.

        Also, a lot of what ragazza writes reminds me of a certain in-law of mine. He technically works, but runs his own business, and it’s….not very successful, from what I can tell. He started out working for his father, and when his father retired and sold the business, he didn’t last long under the new owners, because he didn’t really do anything substantial.

        He often expects other relatives to do things for him, despite the fact that he’s of an age to be expected to have knowledge of these things. He’s basically never had to really struggle – his parents gave him everything on a platter, did everything for him, and excused his failings. As a result, there’s a lot of what I’d consider basic adult life skills that he doesn’t know how to do, or has really struggled with (or, maybe, does know how to do and is too lazy, so he manipulates others into doing for him). Even to this day I think his father, who is in his 90s, covers a lot of his expenses. I have no idea how he’s (and his wife are) going to get by when his father eventually passes.

        1. ragazza*

          My ex’s dad wanted him to take over his business when he died and all I could think was, hoo boy, he is not prepared for that. At. All.

          1. Turquoisecow*

            Yeah, thankfully his dad was smart enough to see it wasn’t going to work out. If he’s really smart, he’ll put the inheritance into a blind trust, or entrust most of his money to one of his more responsible relatives, but yeah. It’s gonna be interesting when he finally dies.

    1. Nonprofit worker*

      I agree with the statement that working builds self-confidence and self-knowledge.

      My step-brother who is now 37 has not worked more than a few hours a week for the last 15 years. I think he did have a full or almost fulltime job at one point but I’m not actually sure. He came into inheritance money when he was in his early twenties and has more inheritance money that he will get in the future and when the pressure to work to pay bills was removed he just stopped progressing. Now he doesn’t pay rent, he “doesn’t do anything he doesn’t want to do”, and he works a couple hours a week at a centre that he is interested in but refuses to get a job. When the topic was broached in the past he compared people who work full time to conformists…

      This has stagnated his development and when dealing with him it actually feels like I’m dealing with a bratty teenager instead of someone who is nearing 40. He is completely unreliable, and though he lives with his grandmother free of rent he does the bare minimum to help her out so my step-dad ends up having to drive out to the house to do things that my step-brother could but won’t do. I definitely feel pretty frustrated that my step-brother is leeching off the family and is just not very nice to my parents/ grandparents and will continue to do so indefinitely. But on the flip side I know I feel more fulfilled than he does, and I would not trade spaces with him.

    2. TheBeetsMotel*

      There’s a UK show that can be found in YouTube called Rich Kids of Instagram (there was a documentary at first, then a show that followed), and for anyone who has seen it, one person, Timothy Drake, stood out as appearing pretty miserable, bored and depressed. He was an heir to a fortune, never had to work and so didn’t, and spent all his time filling in the emptiness with shopping and partying.

      As much as it might seem like an attempt to deal with sour grapes, I genuinely felt bad for him as he seemed so bored and directionless. I definitely didn’t envy the rootlessness and pointlessness of it all.

      1. fposte*

        Though it’s fascinating that there’s this whole industry of hateable rich/entitled reality shows–Young, Dumb, and Living Off Mum was another one–which might speak as much to what the rest of us *want* to see.

        1. Manders*

          Hah, yes, there’s probably a bit of a skewed perspective there–the people who grew up rich and now work full time are less likely to have the time or inclination to appear on reality TV shows.

          I’ll admit that stories about rich people doing odd things (Queen of Versailles, How to Murder Your Life, etc) are some of my guiltiest pleasures. I’d certainly hope that the majority of rich kids don’t behave like the subjects of those stories.

          1. else*

            Well, I know only one person who came from a super-wealthy background, and she is not listless or a waster AT ALL. She’s a biochemist. She does research, apparently very well, and is really contributing at a major university. What’s different is that she got to spend several years enjoying her hardcore and demanding sports hobby and traveling for fun before she got into a very competitive school on her own academic merits and went through all the normal channels to gain her academic position. She does get to take some pretty damn awesome vacations, when she has time. Growing up rich gave her a better educational background than many and lets her play when she wants to, but she sure does not sulk around without purpose.

            1. TardyTardis*

              Well, Emperor Hirohito was a highly respected marine biologist in his copious spare time (though he used a pseudonym to publish his papers, they were peer reviewed by foreigners just as much they did everybody else’s).

  5. Amber Rose*

    I get this a lot for people in better situations than me. I’ve been struggling a lot with jealousy of my husband, who gets double the vacation time I do, more pay, and does the kind of work I wish I could do. Plus he goes home over an hour earlier than me.

    Unfortunately, I have no advice, just a lot of empathy and some green fistbumps of solidarity.

    1. 2 Cents*

      I struggle with jealousy over my husband’s job too, since he’s a teacher and doesn’t have to worry about jockeying for time around holidays or the summer. On the other hand, he deals with 200 middle schoolers a day, can’t easily take a “mental health day,” and deals with other headaches that I know would just make me extra miserable.

      1. Total Angerball*

        Right with you, 2 Cents.

        For me it’s that I’m hourly and he’s full-time salaried with some flexibility (and health insurance, sick days, PTO, paid holidays, etc) plus a couple of part-time gigs he does for fun and fulfillment. And he’s valued in his workplace, while I am not. So I struggle with resentment of all of that as well as the anxiety of what to do with myself during my constant, irregularly scheduled down time. (Unpaid time off — there is always suddenly lots of it, or none of it.) The house chores always there, the home repair projects are always there, and the need to find a way to educate myself into a different career path is also, always, there. So I get a certain amount of vapor lock that is hard to manage, and the resentment exacerbates that.

        I have strategies, short term, for managing the feelings and doing the things, but the longer-term issues remain nightmarish. It ain’t fun.

    2. nonymous*

      does he do more to make the household “stuff” happen?

      Husband and I make within 10% of each other’s salary, but I don’t have to commute and vacation time, so I use the extra time to prioritize the icky chores. Husband comes home not having to do those chores and the knowledge that I don’t have to commute makes the chores palatable for me. I would expect that if the situation were reversed, husband would do the same for me.

      The advice I have heard when spouses that are at earning levels is to assign % to family vs individual. So it would be unfair for both parties to chip in $50K to household budget when one person makes $50K and the other earns $100K (because the low earner wouldn’t have individual money), likewise it would be unfair for that household budget to be set up so each person gets $25K for individual spending (because the high earner isn’t rewarded for a presumably harder job). The compromise is for each person to chip in 75% of their income to household budget ($37/75K, respectively) leaving 25% for individual spending ($12.5/25K, respectively), and I think that a similar approach works for free time.

      1. Amber Rose*

        I manage the money, he does most of the cleaning. We split cooking duty. The cat decides who feeds him.

        I don’t worry about the money thing much, since we never have any extra regardless. I think I’m mostly jealous that his boss isn’t a butt like mine. Also he likes and enjoys his job and is valued, where mine is consistently frustrating and stressful and I’m treated like an annoyance. Despite that, he gets two more weeks vacation time away from it than I do.

      2. Orangie*

        “it would be unfair for that household budget to be set up so each person gets $25K for individual spending (because the high earner isn’t rewarded for a presumably harder job).”

        This makes sense mathematically, but I don’t think that it makes sense in practice, mostly because money isn’t actually allocated based upon difficulty in the real world. Certain fields (often male-dominated fields) are more highly compensated and others (often female-dominated) are poorly compensated in a way that has nothing to do with difficulty, or even with their value to society. For instance, a sales job isn’t inherently more difficult than being a social worker, but they are certainly not compensated in the same way! Rewarding one person in a partnership over the other feels icky to me.

        1. Bowling with the gangstas*

          Yes, I feel that equal amounts of free time and equal amounts of scrutiny free spending money is more equitable and less likely to breed resentment.

        2. nonymous*

          > Rewarding one person in a partnership over the other feels icky to me.

          I can totally see how that might feel icky, especially if someone is coming from the “what’s mine is ours” perspective! But there are many, many people who feel just as strongly about the “everything should be totally equal: 50/50” perspective or would feel put upon if their partner’s salary went entirely to independent spending while they can only spend freely after paying bills. And a lot of times, while the sales job isn’t technically more difficult, it can involve sacrifices of ethics or lack the (periodic) emotional satisfaction of social work.

          Proportional budgets are a system for load-sharing the boring part of life, and also a way to set boundaries in a sustainable fashion. No one is freeloading or has a stronger voice in the household budget or left without the option of some financial independence. It’s pretty rare, ime, that two people from different childhoods are completely on the same page about every bit of spending – money is such a weird proxy for power, security and other big emotional issues, and it can take a lot of time/effort to even be able to communicate well about finances. Link in name to a neutral pro/con of the three major methods out there, which can certainly be customized further.

        3. Maya Elena*

          Also supply vs demand, risk involved, and upfront investment.
          Gender oppression might be part of the story but it is definitely not all of it.

        4. Mo money mo problems*

          I agree with the 25/75 idea, but also have to push back on the idea that more money = harder job. There’s a huge gendered element to the compensation for various jobs, and even without that, the idea that you are paid more for “harder” work just doesn’t align with reality. Nurse vs. hedge fund manager, for example.

          I have a very demanding job, as does my spouse. I have an advanced degree, he doesn’t. But he makes a lot more than me, because I chose to work in non-profit. We are both working hard to support our family, and we don’t make comparisons between whose job is harder or more worthwhile. That road doesn’t lead anywhere good.

        5. TardyTardis*

          We just pooled our money when we married (all $400 of it), and when we had more money, we still pooled it, but gave each other a Don’t Ask Don’t Tell allowance at the beginning of the month, which means we don’t resent the little things we buy for ourselves nearly as much we did when the allowance didn’t exist. It can be a really minor amount, but it can make a big difference in how you feel.

  6. Workerbee*

    I currently have a friend like this, to whom I have to keep reminding that yeah, yet again I’m working/about to go to a meeting/etc., when he wants to settle in for a nice cozy day of incessant “entertain me!” texting. I’ve been able to solve it from my end by stating, “Meeting coming up!” even if there isn’t one, and not responding any further for the day.

  7. CrystalMama*

    To a person with a hammer everything looks like a nail.
    A therapist or some other support outside of the workplace sphere will be of great help. Seems like this is not about your job but about a relationship.

    1. Jennifer Thneed*

      Almost every job-related question is really about relationships. A lot of interview advice and dating advice is interchangeable. I’m not sure what your comment is supposed to achieve? (I’m also not sure what my reply is supposed to achieve, but I’m making it anyway. My day started much earlier than usual today.)

      1. LouiseM*

        I’m curious, why single out this comment? I’m not sure what all the commenters telling us about the sad lives of rich people they have known (or about the moral dangers of not working, but that’s a whole ‘nother conversation) is supposed to achieve either and there are way more of those.

    2. Gorgo*

      I don’t think every “a thing this person does bothers me” or “I’m jealous of someone in a way I rationally understand” is really therapy material.

      1. LouiseM*

        Someone said something similar downthread and Recently Diagnosed had a very eloquent response. I highly recommend reading it. Anything in a person’s life can be therapy material.

  8. Tardigrade*

    When I was jobless (though certainly not due to luxury), I was home alone all day. Even if I wasn’t at home, I was still lonely and purposeless, and it felt very isolating. I texted as many people as would respond to me just to feel connected because I didn’t have those daily interactions with others like one has with a job.

    I don’t know if anything similar might be going on with Arya, and I’m not trying to imply you should have any sympathy for her, but this is one possible downside like Alison said, and it might help your jealousy to realize that maybe Arya doesn’t love everything about her situation either. I like Sargjo’s suggestion about silencing the texts – that would stop the constant reminder that your friend doesn’t have to work.

    1. boo bot*

      I relate to this! I freelance, and when I have unplanned down time (so, I can’t take a vacation!) I get really antsy and start commenting on blogs a lot :)

    2. LouiseM*

      It’s surprising to me to see so many comments about how Arya might just be lonely (you didn’t do this, but some other people stated it like it was a fact). My friends and I all work and are pretty social, and we are not lonely or bored, but we still text throughout the day because we love each other and want to talk.

      Agreed with your idea to silence the texts.

      1. Manders*

        I think it’s the texting about what she’s worrying about that’s making people think she might be bored or lonely. It doesn’t sound like light and friendly chatter, it sounds like she’s reaching out for some kind of reassurance or comfort on a regular basis.

        I do occasionally text my husband when I’m feeling really anxious, but my friends aren’t getting regular texts about my worries during the workday, because that’s not really an appropriate time and place for that sort of discussion.

      2. Tardigrade*

        I guess people can’t help but read their own experiences into things. So yeah, it’s also possible Arya wants to talk because they’re friends and they love each other (I text a few friends during the day too, come to think of it), which is also a good perspective for OP to have. Arya is not likely doing this to be hurtful.

  9. Washi*

    I have a few interconnected thoughts about this letter:
    1. It’s so natural to feel jealous of someone’s financial situation, especially when you’re struggling.
    2. As Alison says, your friend will be in a precarious position in the future should she need to work, and even in the present, will be judged by a lot of people for staying at home, especially if this couple doesn’t have kids. She may also be having some weird, private feelings about this that you may not be aware of.
    3. I find myself feeling most overwhelmed by jealousy when something is missing in my own life, and often taking steps to improve that area will also improve the jealousy. I don’t know your particular situation, but even just starting a job hunt or scheduling more time for your creative passion may help ease your feelings.

    1. Junior Dev*

      It sounds like OP knows their job is toxic… I really feel for them, because I’m currently in a position where my job is making me pretty stressed out and unhappy, but for various reasons I need to stick it out til later this year at least.

      1. boo bot*

        Yes, this struck me too. Even if the choice is between 9-5 Job A and 9-5 Job B, all such jobs are not equal, and the difference between a boring job where people yell at you, and a boring job where people don’t yell at you (or whatever) is huge.

        I say that because I find that when I am happy in my own situation, my friends could win lotteries and be chosen for space missions, and my envy would be easily eclipsed by how happy I’d be for them. It’s only when I feel miserable and constrained that other people’s happiness feels oppressive. I don’t mean to say, “Just be happy, it’s easy!” Only that it might be worth thinking about whether some of the constraints you have right now could be malleable.

        Also this is brilliant: “I think it’s Carolyn Hax who has pointed out that with jealousy, it can help to ask if you’d swap your entire life for the other person’s.”

        1. Adlib*

          So much this!! “It’s only when I feel miserable and constrained that other people’s happiness feels oppressive.”

        2. Dragoning*

          Ohhhh, that is spot on. When I’m happy with my life, I’m not jealous of my friends because, hey, I got my own good thing going on. But when I’m miserable, well, even if I don’t want my friend’s thing, I want their happiness and that thing is making them happy.

      2. JustAGirlTryingToMakeIt*

        I’m feeling the same at mine. My boss is toxic and demanding, and he enjoys screaming at me. At least, he seems to enjoy it based on how much he does it.

    2. Naomi*

      Point 3 is so key! OP, this isn’t really about Arya; the real issue is that comparing yourself to her is highlighting things you don’t like about your own situation (such as your toxic job). If you had a job you loved, would it bother you so much that someone else doesn’t have to work?

      There’s no point in comparing. You only live once, and the life you got isn’t Arya’s, it’s yours. All you can do is make your own life as good as you can with the hand you were dealt. Look for a better job, find ways to nurture your own creativity, and stop using Arya’s life as the benchmark you measure yourself against.

  10. MLB*

    It’s not really fair to your friend to resent her. They could quite possibly be living beyond their means, or have problems behind closed doors. But even if they are happy, and can afford the luxuries, being a friend means being supportive for both good and bad times. Sure it sucks. You’re working your ass off to live your life and she seems to be living the good life. But complaining or talking about problems is not a competition. Just because your worries are more significant to you, doesn’t mean her worries aren’t important to her (even though they may seem inconsequential to you).

    As for the texting, just keep your phone on silent and out of sight. You won’t be tempted to read all of her texts when you’re at work and busy.

    1. Sally*

      All of this. Plus, it pays to have rich friends – you can get invited to beach houses and boat parties and lavish holiday gatherings! :-) Seriously, being invited to someone else’s vacation home is WAY better than owning your own vacation home.

    2. Elephant in the Room*

      Just because you’re friends doesn’t mean you can’t be jealous of certain things.

      I’m jealous of my friend who is a dog trainer and gets to hang out with canines all day. Yes, I know the work is hard, and only part-time, which is putting a bit of a financial strain on their family but I can still be envious. Another friend is a teacher, and I can’t stand her going on and on about her plans for spring break and how glad she is for a week and a half vacation from her kids; I just want to yell at her that most of us don’t get regular time-off to recharge from their jobs. A third friend has a job that allows her a lot of travel; like monthly travel. Personally I wouldn’t want a job that has that much travel because I am a bit of a homebody but that doesn’t mean I still get an ache of jealousy when she shares photos from various countries.

      Even knowing there are downsides, we can still be envious. It shouldn’t get in the way of the friendship, otherwise it’s not a friendship worth having, but that doesn’t mean you should never ever feel jealous of your friends.

      1. neverjaunty*

        It does mean you should deal with that jealousy instead of just shrugging it off. Jealousy makes it very hard to be a good friend.

      2. kb*

        I think there’s a distinction between being envious of some aspects of your friends’ lives and being resentful enough that you want to yell at them when they tell you about their plans. The former is extremely normal and healthy. The latter needs to be examined. People can be oblivious and obnoxious about their privilege, but begrudging a friend for telling you what they’re excited about in their lives isn’t healthy for the relationship.

        1. fposte*

          Agreed, but it’s also pretty common for that to be challenging; I think that’s also why it can be hard to sustain a friendship between people of unequal privilege, success, or stages in life.

          (I mentioned Jon Richardson Grows Up upthread; another meeting he had was with a big lottery winner, who bought houses for his five best friends, which ended up killing the friendships.)

          1. K.*

            Ooh, why? A lot of my and my friends’ “what would you do if you won the mega-million” hypothetical conversations involves paying for friends in some way – covering their salary for a year so they can travel with us (and of course, covering the travel), that kind of thing.

            1. Dee*

              Without having seen it, I’d imagine that gratitude can be a really heavy burden to bear. Those friends may have felt like they were never able to forget what they owed to this person, which can skew a friendship.

              1. fposte*

                He didn’t go into detail, but I think that was a big part of it; I also think big lottery winners struggle with people who believe money is nothing to the lottery winner and therefore should be handed out to whoever wants it, so it’s possible it created an appetite for more.

                I don’t think it necessarily happens in every situation or that travel is the same thing as a buying a house, but I think a sudden asymmetry in any kind of privilege is a challenge to negotiate.

                1. Allison*

                  Right, and it’s not that ridiculous for them to figure “well they were doing just fine without all that money, why do they suddenly need all of it? how can they buy a house when they know some of us struggle with rent every month?” That’s absolutely a concern that pops up when I think about what it’d be like to win the lottery, I know plenty of people who probably would ask for money, and I’d certainly want to help at least some of them, but I probably wouldn’t make any big announcements until everything was planned out. It’s easier to enforce boundaries after you’ve set them.

            2. kb*

              I think because lottery money is very explicitly just luck money, other people feel very entitled to it. I was talking to my sister about what I’d do if I won the lottery and I told her I’d give her 2 million dollars. I don’t remember what the amount of the lottery was at that time, but my sister was offended I’d *only* give her 2 million dollars. Like, 2 million theoretical dollars she didn’t have before is nothing to sneeze at, but I think it’s easy to feel like someone should be more generous when they just lucked into some money.

          2. kb*

            Yeah, I definitely agree that it’s a challenge. I think it’s generally a worthwhile challenge. I’ve learned a lot about myself and become a more tolerant person by looking inward and unpacking things whenever I’m resentful/jealous/annoyed by someone else. Obviously sometimes people are just annoying or doing obnoxious things, but a lot of the time I realize I’m mad at myself or need to make changes in my own life. Obviously we can’t all look inward and make ourselves trust fund babies, but sometimes there are small steps that can put you on track to live life in the way that is most meaningful to you.

        2. Elephant in the Room*

          Obviously, I don’t want to yell at teacher friend; I was exaggerating. And I should say she’s the only one who truly gets on my nerves and that’s because she’s not a good friend. I am trying to extract myself from the friendship (for more reasons than just this) so her bragging about her spring break is very irritating. She was a bad example to include in the mix since I am done with this friendship.

    3. Lil Fidget*

      I think this can be true but you can also set limits for yourself. Healthy boundaries make good friendships sometimes. If your friend is peppering you with pointless texts at work, or not being sensitive of the fact that you are stressed out working a miserable job (going on and on about her great upcoming vacations, for example) – I think you can kindly suggest that you are not the right ear for this discussion right now. Friendship goes both ways.

    4. Work Wardrobe*

      Instead of keeping your phone on silent and out of sight, why not explain to her that you have very little time in the workday to respond, and could she please text in the evenings instead?

    5. Autumnheart*

      I dunno. It’s not fair to resent someone because they’re luckier than you, but on the other hand it isn’t fair to your less fortunate friends to keep talking about the privileges you enjoy, when you know they struggle just to maintain a decent standard of living. Respect and discretion goes both ways.

  11. DCompliance*

    It may help just to set some ground rules for yourself just to make yourself feel better. Just don’t respond to her when you are working.

  12. Lili*

    Being completely dependent on a spouse is a terrible idea. What happens if you get divorced or they suddenly die and you have to reenter the workforce? It sounds glamorous but really it’s pretty humiliating if the worst happens.

    Also, you don’t know what goes on behind closed doors. She could be bored, unsatisfied in her marriage, unable to work for a health reason, etc…

    1. I Love Thrawn*

      Exactly. How many women have been kicked to the curb for a younger, trophy wife? Not a good situation.

      1. LouiseM*

        There is NO indication that this will happen to the OP’s friend. This line of thinking will not help OP develop a healthier relationship with her own jealous impulses.

    2. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      I admit it works for a lot of people, but I personally wouldn’t be able to sleep at night with worry if I were in that situation.

      I want to share a story here that I heard back when I attended a Greek church. One Sunday during the social hour, someone introduced me to a woman in her late 50s – early 60s, who was visiting. The woman told me her life story, which I thought was fascinating. She met her husband in Greece when she was 18. He brought her to the US, they got married and had three children, he told her not to worry about money or working, he’d take care of everything. It was a happy marriage with the husband bringing in a decent income and doing a good share of the household work. Until one day he had a heart attack and died. The kids were in middle school. It turned out that he had no life insurance, I’m guessing he had not planned on dying in his 40s? (although the first thing I did when I became the sole income provider after my divorce, was get a term life insurance and make my both children beneficiaries. But oh well, he didn’t do that.) The wife had to find work. She didn’t have any work experience or skills, or education, her English was poor, she didn’t know how to drive. She didn’t even know how to buy groceries, they used to do that together or he’d do it on his own. She found a job at a bakery which was the only place she could walk to. That family went through a few awful years financially. She ended her story by telling me she’d made sure each of her children got a college degree, and encouraged her daughters to have a career; which they all did.

      So, no. No envy on my end. (Additionally, I was briefly financially dependent on my then-husband after our children were born, and it was terrible for everyone involved.) I know I’m the kind of person who needs a plan B, C, D, and probably a few more. I’d be beside myself with worry if I depended 100% on my spouse. If it works for OP’s friend, great, but my anxiety wouldn’t allow me to live like that.

      1. pope suburban*

        She remind me of my grandma and great aunts. All of them lived long, happy lives and stayed married to their partners (The youngest great aunt still is), but they made it a point to work once their kids were in school. Not for the money, but because they didn’t take it for granted, having grown up in the Depression/WWII era, that jobs would always be plentiful/well-paid enough, or that people would healthily live to a ripe old age. None of them ever ended up needing those part-time jobs, but it was important for them to maintain a work history so they could provide for their children if the worst happened. When I think of the downsides of not needing to work, I think of this family wisdom. Though I suspect that people who have generational wealth, a good portfolio, and life insurance probably aren’t facing that kind of concern, not unless they’re spending with wild abandon all the time.

      2. LouiseM*

        I’m sure all of us who grew up in heavily immigrant communities know someone in a similar situation, but this doesn’t sound anything like the OP’s friend’s situation.

    3. mf*

      Yes, this is basically what I tell myself whenever I feel envious of a friend: their situation may look great from my point of view, but the truth is I don’t really know everything that’s going on in their lives. They could be dealing with some really difficult stuff that I would never be jealous of.

    4. Lia*

      I know two different women who were stay at home moms whose husbands died suddenly, leaving them with small children. In one case, the wife had been a nurse and was able to renew her license and get a job. In the other, though, she had no work history and struggled financially for ages until she was able to get a job that she could support the kids on.

      Also, career-ending disability is more common than death (and divorce more than that) — everyone should be prepared to support themselves.

      1. Kj*

        I think about this a lot. My husband makes enough I could not work (it would change some stuff, but he has offered), but I would hate it and feel vulnerable. Plus, I put a lot of years into my job and getting degrees. I’m going to use what I have earned. I like my work and I like not being dependent.

        1. Julia*

          This. I would hate wasting my expensive master‘s and the years of grunt work I had to do.

    5. Former Retail Manager*

      This is what happened to my mother (death, not a trophy wife scenario). Dad passed away unexpectedly at age 48. Mom had been a housewife for 20 years with no education beyond high school. I was a young teenager when this happened. It is a precarious and difficult situation indeed. I now take care of my mother. As a result of that situation (and also because I love working and won’t justify my excessive shoe purchases to anyone), I will ALWAYS work.

    6. Phoenix Programmer*

      Respectfully it’s not a terrible idea anymore than working is. If you work you may get in a car accident, be too stressed to make friends, work yourself sick, be bullied by a supervisor into sucidal depression, etc.

      Both have risks and rewards. It’s a privelage to have the choice but one is not better than the other across the board. Very much a case by case decision.

    7. Drama Llama*

      When I was a SAHM this line used to really irritate me. Anyone can experience unexpected misfortunes that screw up your life, not just housewives. An engineer might go blind, a truck driver might lose a leg, a doctor might end up having a nervous breakdown and unable to handle stressful hours, whatever. I can think of several examples of successful people who experienced sudden changes in their life and ended up unable to work in their chosen profession.

      While everyone should certainly consider the what ifs and prepare for it as much as possible, we don’t all have to make our choices assuming there’s a lifechaning emergency just around the corner. I notice this argument gets thrown around a lot only with housewives and it seems pretty patronising.

  13. HeightsHeifer*

    I have a few friends who are like Arya, and I often feel like you do. However, I have to realize my frustration is with me, not with them. I’m upset that I’m “stuck” working, or unhappy in my current situation. It’s not their fault that I feel resentful when they text me a picture of their newly manicured nails before their dream vacation.

    I focus on the fact that I’m good at my job, am valuable to my organization, my dog didn’t eat my shoes while I was at work, etc. I agree with Alison that you should maybe direct her to not text or call while you’re working but otherwise I’d do some inward reflection.

    1. Temperance*

      FWIW, it’s super insensitive to text manicure and vacation photos to a friend who can’t afford that stuff.

      1. bonkerballs*

        I don’t think I agree. If you’re texting a friend to brag about the things you have that they can’t afford or when they’re in the middle of a financial crisis, yes, that’s insensitive. But I have definitely been the person who couldn’t afford stuff in the friendship and would feel someone was being way more insensitive for thinking I was so thin skinned I couldn’t handle seeing normal parts of their life like a vacation or a manicure.

        1. nonymous*

          I think it depends on the type of sharing that happens. I have multiple friends who spend a lot of money on haircuts. Like one cut/styling session is more than my haircut budget for 2 years! They don’t encourage me to spend the same, or even talk about the cost. What they share is how nice it is to take a break from whatever stress is going on in life and how happy they are to get out of a beauty rut – both activities which I can identify with and have low-cost options to explore. At the most there is a shout out to the talented stylist, and I am certainly able to admire that person’s skill without jealousy.

          1. Temperance*

            I see that as totally reasonable sharing! I’m thinking of someone texting photos of an expensive manicure before an expensive vacation to a person who can’t really afford either. Posting the mani on Facebook or Instagram would be different to me, FWIW.

            1. fposte*

              I think this depends on how you usually communicate. If you never text pictures and always post to social media, switching it up seems weirdly targeted. But if texting back and forth with stuff like that is a regular thing, I think it’s weirder not to do it than to do it.

              (Though I am constitutionally unable to appreciate manicures, so I’d be happy to be excused on that ground.)

            2. HeightsHeifer*

              For what it’s worth, I can afford a manicure so it’s not a cost thing for me per se. It’s mostly that I’m stuck in my office while she’s pampering herself before a vacation. But she doesn’t do it to show off – we’re close friends and that’s her way of sharing our lives via text message.

        2. Safetykats*

          I actually agree with Temperance. Obviously you shouldn’t be so sensitive that the mere hint that someone has been doing something you can’t afford is a problem, but a friend who can’t seem to talk or text about anything that doesn’t relate somehow back to money is being pretty insensitive if you are in a really different place financially.

          Perhaps a bigger problem is that someone who can’t talk or text about anything but the one thing (whether that’s shopping, or their kids, or their dogs, or their job) is pretty one-dimensional, and possibly pretty self-absorbed. Unless you share their specific obsession, it’s going to get old.

          1. Karo*

            But you’re assuming that all they talk about is how rich and fancy they are, when (in this case at least) it sounds like the occasional text about rich and fancy things, presumably mixed in with normal stuff. Just like with dogs, or kids, or their job, I’d expect occasional texts about topics I don’t really love as part of a normal conversation.

            1. fposte*

              Yes, agreed. I also think that “more expensive than I can afford” isn’t automatically the same thing as “rich and fancy,” either.

              1. Lissa*

                I wonder if income disparity between friends might be a good open thread topic? I have a lot of thoughts on this but worry about being derailing…. in short i do think it’s really individual and can be taken to extremes in either direction but it’s also so variable, because what’s normal in one friendship/social group isn’t in another, and I think being one person who’s really financially out of sync in either direction can lead to bad feelings…

                1. fposte*

                  I’d be game for that conversation, as I think it’s an interesting but underdiscussed topic (one episode of Friends does not count as discussion!).

          2. HeightsHeifer*

            To be fair, this friend was not showing her manicure to be “braggy” and we do talk about other things. She was just very excited about her upcoming vacation (fair enough) and wanted my thoughts on her bold color choice.

            1. Autumnheart*

              I would say that the clincher is to talk about things you have *in common*. Both people like manicures and tropical vacations? Go nuts. Your friend works two 35-hour jobs at minimum wage while you want to talk about dropping $500 at Sephora an hour ago? Nope.

              1. HeightsHeifer*

                I would slightly disagree depending on the friendship and knowledge of the other person. I agree that you shouldn’t purposely gloat about your money but are you supposed to hide your life from others? I don’t resent my friend for telling me how excited she is for her vacation, nor do I think another friend who is a busy SAHM would resent me if I talked about sleeping in over the weekend.

      2. fposte*

        I’m with bonkerballs in thinking it’s not that simple. Being considerate is good, but you also don’t want to have categories of friend that you withhold your daily life from on a long-term basis. Where it becomes a problem is when you assume that everybody can do it and you start advising them accordingly.

        1. oranges & lemons*

          I think the other problem is complaining about financial stress to someone with less money than you. My mother used to have a friend who vented to her constantly about her worries about money once her husband retired–the friend hadn’t worked for years, and their family had several vacation properties and went on lavish vacations, while my mum was a broke single parent.

          1. fposte*

            Yes, especially the “constantly venting” thing. Financial forums are great places to complain about your capital gains taxes or your being subject to IRMAA. Barista friends not so much.

      3. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        Nahh. We all have something in our lives some of our other friends cannot have. Should we stop updating our friends on our lives altogether? Can I text my cat photos to a friend who’s allergic? can I text about my kids to a friend who does not have them? OTOH, I cannot afford the stuff mentioned above, can they text me photos of theirs? Can my friend text me a photo of her and her husband if I’m single with no partner in sight? (the answer in my case is yes, they can.)

        1. Sloan Kittering*

          I think there’s some reasonable limits around this. Do I text pregnancy photos to my friend who just miscarried? Do I complain about my job frustrations to my friend who is out of work and desperate? Do I send funny boyfriend stories to the friend I know is sad about being single? Sure, long term you have to live your life and find friends your compatible with, but if OP is struggling with money problems and a toxic job, I would expect a good friend to be considerate about what she shares.

        2. Former Employee*

          Thank you.

          I mean, if someone is fantastically wealthy and their friend lives in a hovel, I question whether it is possible for that friendship to last.

          Otherwise, I think this can be taken too far. I can’t have animals, but love to see pictures of them. I never wanted kids, but am happy for those who have them who wanted kids; show me the pix/talk about them (just not about diaper issues or potty training). I’m divorced, but glad to observe that people I know have happy marriages.

          Let’s enjoy what we have in common and celebrate our differences.

  14. Skunklet*

    I had a Psych prof who said that the key to a good relationship (friendship, romantic, even familial) are communication and a willingness to learn… I’ve found it difficult to talk to my own spouse when either of us have been unemployed (two short times for me in the last 5 yrs, two slightly longer times for him in the same time frame – and we’re DINKS, but we have two cats)… Maybe that’s part of the issue too, is that if she’s not doing much, yeah, I totally get that it’s difficult to learn anything from her… (if I was in her position, I’d be a full time grad student, but that’s me)… good luck…

    1. Khlovia*

      That’s me, too. Throughout this discussion, I’ve been agog at the thought that joblessness = purposelessness. If I had the free money to throw at it as well as the free time, I’d find it pathetically easy to purchase a Mission in life: I’d go out and get me a PhD.

      And if somebody already has a PhD, they can go out and get another one.
      And then they can save the Earth or something.
      Oughtta keep ’em off the streets for a while.

  15. sfigato*

    I have friends whose spouses support them. They live in gilded cages. They have all the money they need, but no often no actual control over their finances – one friend got an “allowance” from her husband, and would resort to shenanigans to get more spending cash. Another has a husband who is never around, which leaves her really lonely. Another married into a rich family, which means her in-laws are involved in all of her financial decisions. Granted, all of that is preferable to being hand to mouth and not being able to afford health care, but it’s not all great. Some of them are pretty unhappy, too. Our society puts so much importance on wealth, but, at the risk of sounding cliche, money doesn’t make you happy. Money can make your life waaaaaay easier and give you much better health outcomes, but it can’t fill the gaping void in your soul. Plus, what if your spouse is cheating on you? all of a sudden, your livelihood is connected to staying with this other person, who you may fall out of love with, or who may be emotionally or physically abusive, etc. And then you are in your forties or fifties with very little work experience.

    1. sunny-dee*

      There have been studies that show that after a certain amount of income (like, $72,000 in the US, around that), money does not make you happier. Up to that point, the ability to pay for necessities and some luxuries really does make a difference in your general happiness and wellbeing, but after that point — nope, not the money. It’s all the other things in life.

      1. An Underemployed Millennial*

        Yeah but $72,000 is a lot of money. I don’t even make half that and most people in the US at least make less. So…yeah actually having more money would make most people’s life better and if that didn’t occur to you, you can probably relate more to Arya than OP.

        1. Tardigrade*

          That’s what sunny-dee is saying, a $72,000 income would increase happiness. But earning an income above that amount is not proportional to increased happiness.

        2. sunny-dee*

          It’s a ton of money in my home state (Oklahoma). It’s virtually nothing for my coworkers in San Francisco, where a studio apartment is almost $3000 / month. The limitations of a nationalized study is that a nation like the US is that there is a lot of regional variation. The point isn’t the absolute dollar amount, it’s that a relatively small / achievable amount of money is all that is required to achieve material happiness — you don’t have to have, like, $1 million or something.

          But way to be judgmental and sanctimonious. I’m starting to remember why I void the comment section here.

          1. Safetykats*

            Sunny-dee – you’re spot-on. Although the amount of money that it takes to be reasonable well situated varies, it’s absolutely true that more money beyond that point won’t “fill the gaping void in your soul” (thank you for that, sfigato). It’s pretty clear to me from OP’s description of her friend Arya that Arya’s money isn’t actually making her fulfilled and happy. Instead it’s left her in a place where she’s bored, lonely, and needy. I have friends who don’t work for money. Most are retired; some manage their households; one cares for her elderly mother. None of them spend their days texting me, because even those with a lot of spare time manage to fill it with rewarding activities (usually a combination of hobbies, travel and exercise, and volunteering).

            For OP – I would maybe ask yourself why you are friends with Arya. Are you getting anything out of this relationship, other than toxic feelings of jealousy? Are you only still friends because you used to have something in common? Do you have any reasonable expectation of having anything significant in common again? It’s okay to decide that there are friends you just don’t need in your life anymore, and maybe that’s the case with Arya.

            If there are good reasons to try to salvage the relationship, it will help to set ground rules about communication. Let her know your time is limited during the work week, and then stop answering texts during the work day – or even in the evening on work days. Trust me, once she’s not getting any response, the number and frequency of texts will decrease. Also you should feel free to decide – and communicate – whether there are subjects you just don’t want to talk about. For example, if it seems like she talks a lot about money (how much she has or spends) it’s completely fair to tell her that topic leaves you feeling bad about your own situation, and even feels a little like bragging on her part, and so you’d rather talk about something else. If it seems like she talks about being bored or not having things to so ornpeople to interact with, once you’ve made the reasonable suggestions (part time work, volunteering) it fair to tell her that you’ve tried to give her suggestions that would solve her problem, and you’re not able to continue commiserating about a problem that she won’t work to solve.

            I hope that if you want to keep this friendship, you can manage to rework it so that it works for you. If not, I hope you can be gentle and forgiving with yourself about letting it go.

            1. fposte*

              I don’t know that we can say that Arya is “bored, lonely, and needy” just from the fact that she texts a lot; there’s no indication of that in the letter, and she could just be a perfectly happy chatterbox with no sense of anybody else’s schedule. I totally agree that the OP can consider whether she wants this friendship or not, but I don’t think there’s any evidence that Arya’s in the wrong on her life choice, just on her texting practices.

          2. Lissa*

            Yeah – sunny-dee was talking about a study and research, it wasn’t necessary to make it about what her personal circumstances are or aren’t! Do people really have to preface their posts with all their lack of privilege in this area or have it be assumed they’re rich?

        3. Positive Reframer*

          I think that might be household income though, which is fairly attainable although of course not a given. If you have two people making 36,000 you get to the same place.

          1. fposte*

            The average household income was $73k in the last census, in fact. And while it likely varies tremendously when you break it down demographically, it supports your point that that’s not the unreachable star it may sound like.

        4. oranges & lemons*

          I think that’s a bit of an overly personal way to read the comment–I’ve heard that figure as well, and I don’t think it’s meant to imply that $72,000 is an achievable amount for everyone, just that there are limits to how much happiness wealth can buy you–obviously it makes a big difference when it makes sure you can afford necessities and aren’t stressed about money, but not much of a difference beyond that. I think most people would assume that someone who makes a million a year would be happier than someone who makes $75,000, but that might not actually be the case (in general terms, obviously).

      2. essEss*

        Agreed! I make enough money to pay my bills, and put some into savings every month, and pay for luxuries. My job keeps pushing me to take a promotion into a position I would hate. They point out that I won’t get any more raises at my current level at my job because I’ve reached the top pay level. I keep telling them, I don’t care. I like the work I do and I can live happily until retirement making what I make now so any extra money in the new position isn’t worth the grief I would deal with. On the other hand, I do buy lottery tickets because that would be enough money to eliminate the need to work at all. :-)

  16. Delta Delta*

    It sort of sounds to me like Arya is bored. She’s texting a bunch during a work day, possibly forgetting that LW is working since she’s doing whatever she’s doing. Her life might seem awesome because she doesn’t HAVE to work, but she might also be lonely.

    Ideas: tell her you can’t receive texts during the work day anymore. Make it seem like a boss-imposed thing. Or put your phone on Do Not Disturb for her number during the day and tell her you’ve been straight out if she asks why you don’t respond immediately. That should cut down on how drained you feel when you see her texts.

    Story: I used to work with an Arya who often had to do site meetings out of the office. The drive back was usually 45-60 minutes, and she’d be bored, so she’d call and want to chat. She had zero awareness of the fact that even though she was calling me – her co-worker – at the office, that I might be also working. Sometimes the call was about something urgently work-related, so I couldn’t really refuse the calls. I found myself silently stewing about the fact she just didn’t seem to care that I had work to do. This feels like a similar willful blindness.

    1. Safetykats*

      OMG. I have a friend who travels a lot, and used to have a really long drive from the airport, and would call late at night, driving, with the expectation that I would keep her awake. Of course, once she pulled into her driveway she couldn’t get off the phone fast enough. Thankfully she has moved, and the airport is closer to her new house. Because otherwise I was going to have to sign her up for a podcast and quit answering the phone.

    2. LouiseM*

      My friends and I text during the workday too. It’s because we love each other and want to talk, not because we’re bored or lonely.

      If your coworker called when you were busy, you should have told her you weren’t free to talk unless it was urgent work-related. It’s not fair to stew about something that the other person doesn’t even realize is a problem.

  17. Muriel Heslop*

    So many of my students have mothers who text them all day and they all say the same thing with few exceptions: my mom needs to get a life.

    I would find the constant texting annoying too. I totally get being jealous but perhaps you can just ask her to stop texting during the work day. Or she could spend her free time helping you search for a less soul-sucking job!

    Arya is probably lonely and/or bored during the day. Perhaps you could encourage her to find some regular volunteer work or something to fill her days with something more substantial. Hey, schools always need good subs!

    1. many bells down*

      This was my mother, when I went back to school. At age 38. I would tell her my class schedule so she’d know when she could NOT call or text me, and invariably those would be the ONLY times she’d call. And be mad when I didn’t answer.
      Happily, mom finally did get a life that didn’t involve pestering me at inopportune times.

  18. Emoji pizza unicorn*

    I quit my job to let me spouse support me for a bit and sunk into depression. I discovered I’m much happier with the structure and purpose work provides.

    Also, having my spouse be the sole breadwinner caused a lot of problems in our marriage.

    Ultimately I ended up making a career change, going back to work, and getting a divorce. I’m much happier now.

    Your jealousy is totally valid and legitimate- not trying to down play that. What I learned from my experience is that the grass isn’t necessarily greener.

    1. Manders*

      Yes, I think a lot of people underestimate how much of a difference structure can make in a person’s mental health. Sleeping in and lounging around the house feels relaxing for about a week, and after that, my anxiety goes through the roof. Once your brain gets the basic stuff it needs (enough sleep, a few hours of downtime, some passive entertainment) it actually feels better to have a daily schedule and measurable goals than a whole lot of empty time to fill.

      It’s still not fair that Arya’s using the letter writer as an outlet for complaints, but it might help the letter writer to realize that Arya may not be particularly happy with her life right now.

      1. many bells down*

        And as the stay-at-home parent, I didn’t feel like I could really ask for help with the housekeeping. Since that was my “job”. But it’s pretty frustrating to be constantly cleaning up after other people and always being the one to cook.

    2. Naptime Enthusiast*

      My mom felt this way after she retired. Luckily she had hobbies that she was able to throw herself into that got her out of the house and interacting with people. Otherwise, I think she would have visited me every weekend and drove me nuts!

      As much as I would love a long vacation, I can’t imagine not working at this point in my life. Even if I have kids I will definitely not be a SAH parent, I would go crazy without anyone but my spouse to talk to or any notable “achievements” throughout the week beyond chores.

  19. Autumnheart*

    I would actually recommend being a good person but not a good friend–not a close friend. First of all, if the friendship breeds resentment because Mrs. Rich is clueless enough to ping you throughout the day with her 1% problems when she knows you’re at your crappy job, well…that’s not a very friend-like thing for her to do.

    If this person is one you know well enough, I’d just bring it up. “Hey, Betty, when you text me throughout the day about yoga and shopping when you know I’m busy at work and that I can’t afford to do those things, it honestly makes me feel like I’m missing out and brings me down. Can we dial it back on that stuff? Thanks.”

    If this person isn’t close enough for you to say that, or if she doesn’t realize that the optics are bad and becomes more considerate about it, I’d just pull a slow fade. Put your phone on airplane mode during work hours. Respond at your personal convenience. Don’t respond or acknowledge texts about worrying about her portfolio or how they need to find in-home pet care for their upcoming month in France. Let her find some 1% friends with whom to discuss those things.

    And if you can channel any of these feelings into motivation to get what you can out of Toxic Job and move on to a better position, so much the better for you.

  20. Podfaster*

    Definitely listen to the ‘Opportunity Costs: The Class Slide After Divorce’ episode of the podcast Death, Sex, & Money. Like Allison said, you don’t wish anything bad on your friend, but this episode definitely highlights what can happen in situations like this. Also, my boyfriend and I go on ‘negativity diets’ when we feel the way you are. We consciously focus on the positive things we have in life and try our hardest not to complain which helps to shift our thinking in general. Best of luck!

    1. Manders*

      Oh, I love that “negativity diet” idea. Complaining really does turn into a toxic cycle if you let it.

    2. K.*

      I know a divorce attorney socially and she has really hammered home for me how financially ruinous divorce can be, particularly for spouses who don’t have careers to fall back on. She has two teenage daughters and she says if there’s one lesson she wants to stick, it’s that they should always, always be able to support themselves. I also know a SAHD who has said that he knows how screwed he’d be if he and his wife split up (there are no signs of that, thankfully, although I guess you never know what goes on behind closed doors) – he hasn’t worked in over a decade and he used to work in a field that has advanced a lot technologically and he hasn’t kept up. He’d be starting completely from scratch, in his 40s (at least).

      1. Former Retail Manager*

        I think it’s great advice for young ladies. My daughter is 18 and I have always hammered the same message into her. Even if it’s part-time work, 15-20 hours a week, it’s better than nothing. And stay current on your skills and licenses, if applicable. Maintain an income/savings (mad money to quote my mother) and contacts/network in case it all goes south.

  21. Penny*

    I have a family member in this position. She stopped working to raise her kids and never went back to work because her husband makes plenty to support the family. Of course, that’s not to say parenting isn’t a job; it definitely is! But years have gone by and the kids are now soon to graduate from college. When she tells me about her week, she’s been horseback-riding, painting/crafting, reading, on vacation, all sorts of that stuff.

    Again, she does plenty to keep the house running for her husband and the kids when they visit, but the rest of her day is full of all the things I struggle to enjoy and on the weekends. For me, I just try to keep topics off the day to day stuff and focus on other things. I don’t get daily breakdown text messages like you do, that would drive me nuts, but I still steer her away from giving me a play-by-play of her days and just stick to overall things.

    Good luck, I do feel your pain!

    1. Coffeelover*

      My mother in law is in this boat. She hasn’t worked in years. Their house is immaculate and she redecorates every season (like spring vs summer).

      I wouldn’t say I’m jealous of her, but I would quit my job to live like her in a heart beat. Maybe I would spend my time trying to start a business or learn a new skill rather than redecorating. Money doesn’t bring happiness but it sure helps.

      1. Joielle*

        My mother-in-law is the same! She actually does have a part-time job with summers off, but keeps a huge, immaculate house and redecorates every season. Every holiday, even. The decor is completely different for Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, Valentine’s Day, Easter, and 4th of July. It’s exhausting. But my father-in-law works and travels a lot, so it keeps her busy.

        In some ways, I do envy her summers by the pool… but I know she envies my education and fulfilling work. Ultimately, I wouldn’t trade, that’s for sure.

  22. PaigeRain*

    Delurking to say this is an awesome answer from Alison. Also to point out that, if you’ve got creative aspirations, it can only help you to be out there living in the world, dealing with both the good and the bad of making your own way. Which is not to idealize a toxic work environment, but everything you go through can teach you something you can use!

  23. Zip Silver*

    > But there’s a pretty significant downside to it, which is that depending on what the future holds, Arya may find herself needing to work at some point and she’s going to have no work history to fall back on when that happens.

    Yep, happened to my mom, who stayed at home for 11 years, after her and my dad split.

  24. LouiseM*

    OP, I think it will help you to realize that this is entirely your problem and not at all your friend’s. If you asked her to stop texting you during the workday and she didn’t, it would be another story, but it sounds like you’re just stewing in your resentment without saying anything. Tell her you can’t text during the workday…and then MAJORLY adjust your thinking. Realize that just because someone’s life is different or “better” than yours, doesn’t mean they have nothing to worry about. Consider talking to a therapist about the unhealthy role resentment is playing in your life.

    On a personal note, I’m in a small, crowded field and am often competing with friends and colleagues. When I started thinking, “this person has it so easy!” it helped me to think about all the reasons someone could think that about me.

  25. The Person from the Resume*

    What you can do is mute her texts during the work day and only respond at night. That way you aren’t interrupted and reminded of her luck if not having to work while you’re at your toxic job. You can still communicate with her about anything important she texts you but on your own time.

    If she can’t understand that (there’s no sign in your letter that she can’t), then she’s not a great friend.

  26. Manders*

    Oof, this is something I’ve struggled with for the last few years. I know lots of people who don’t have to work, or can afford to work low-paying “passion” jobs, while I don’t get to make those choices. Some of the things that helped me were:

    – Aggressively job hunting and finding a new job I liked more. Yeah, I’d still rather be working on my artistic side projects at home, but I don’t actively resent the fact that my hard work makes money for the boss and investors because I like them as people.

    – Committing to a hobby project (in my case, an online serial story) that I put out into the world instead of hiding away. Having an artistic outlet is important to me, and it was a huge mental shift to stop thinking “If only I were rich, I could write this story” and start telling myself “I’m writing this story right now.”

    – Thinking hard about the kinds of friends I was surrounding myself with and whether being around them actually made me feel good. I still have plenty friends whose lives I’d love to step into, but I cut back on seeing some people who really seemed to be abusing the kindness of their partners or families. I don’t know if your friend falls into that category or not, but it’s worth thinking about.

    – Coming up with a long-term plan for when I get to take a break, then aggressively working toward it. My husband is thinking about working overseas for a while, and if I play my cards right, I can use that time to focus on starting a small business or turning my hobby into a paying job. What would your dream career look like? Can you make a timeline of how long it would take to get from where you are to where you want to be?

    1. Lil Fidget*

      This is a great comment. A lot of my friends are taking a career break right now, while I keep slogging away – it also seems like they have gotten to the marriage stage where their expenses are halved while their incomes are doubled. Now, I know that’s not really true, but it’s how it feels to me on the outside. It says more about how I’m feeling about my life than it does about them – and the solution is to put all my energies into improving my own situation, not resenting them.

  27. Positive Reframer*

    It may help to explore how to get it so that you can see the light at the end of the tunnel. Sure some people luck into the “trust fund” lifestyle but there are plenty of people who make it happen for themselves. Articles pop up on my feed every week about this person or that couple who have managed to accumulate enough assets that they can “retire” in their thirties, or forties, or fifties (instead of the 75+ that some articles threaten). Even more people are able to transition to part time work or starting their own thing without worrying about covering their bills.

    You could let your jealousy motivate you to find ways to optimize your spending so that you are only spending money on things that bring value and happiness to your life, the more margin you build into your finances the more money you can put to work earning money for you. The lower your expenses are the less you have to have to replace your income.

    You don’t need a high income husband, or a wealthy relative, you could choose to do it yourself. It will take longer but hey you are already working anyway what do you have to lose? So you keep your car a few years longer, you choose to cut the cable you barely watch anyway, you shop around for those pesky recurring expenses, you move from the paying side of compounding interest to the earning side of it. Is that worth your freedom?

  28. Observer*

    Alison is right – either ask your friend to stop texting you or put her texts on silent during the day so you don’t have that in your face all day.

    I’m going to add that you should start building a plan for either getting out of your current toxic job or going full time in your chosen field, garbage assignments and all. Having a plan to shift your circumstances, even if it has to start with unpleasant or difficult baby steps will make you feel much better.

    Also, you really have no idea how easy her life is or is not. The fact that he has a career and she “just” does projects she likes can skew their relationship in some pretty negative ways. That’s just one example of the kinds of downsides to the situation that you would have no way to know about if she doesn’t mention it. And then there are other problems that are not necessarily related that still could make her life a LOT harder than you would know.

    Lastly, the fact that she is able to pick and choose jobs is not necessarily all that good for her development in her chosen field. While there are assignments that are truly a waste of time and energy, often people who don’t have as much freedom to pick and choose their assignments wind up being much better in their fields than people who do get to choose the “best” assignments.

    Of course, none of this is a magic wand. But bits and pieces can be helpful, too.

    1. laylaaaaaaaah*

      Seconding this! Also, I tend to get more hobby/creative work done when I’m in a full-time job, even if I have less time to do it in. Something about that structure makes me more inclined to get home and keep on getting stuff done, whereas when I haven’t been working, or I’ve been working part-time, I slip into a haze of ‘well I can do that later’ and then never actually do.

      1. Spooky*

        This exactly! I wrote a very long rambling version of it below, but you said it much more succinctly here!

  29. LBB*

    I work a side job where my clients are almost always wealthy well to do women of opulence (cleaning, organizing and paring down their Kardashian sized closets). These women have it all, money, freedom and the world at their feet yet so many of then are still profoundly unhappy and tell me so. I stopped looking at them through the lens of “They have the perfect life!” Because from my experience, it does not exist. I think OP should do the same, it does not change her situation, but it may help her let go of the toxic thoughts that are weighing her down.

    1. LouiseM*

      Such a good point. My line of work has also provided me with some insight into the private lives of the rich and famous and I think people would be shocked to see the inner thoughts of some of the people we all grew up seeing on the big screen. It really changes your perspective.

      I will add–this is not a case of being jealous of a celebrity, or even an acquaintance you barely know or a colleague you know from afar. This is a friend who is close enough to you to text you regularly. In this case a lot more empathy is required.

  30. someone else was using the same name*

    I have found the working is more than just learning the job and getting the benefits of a paycheck. I am the type of person who needs to feel useful and needed and my job provides me with an opportunity to do just that. I also like the social aspects of work, and overcoming small obstacles make me more resilient and a strong communicator, and other soft skills you don’t really think of. Everyone wants to feel useful and needed, and she might be missing out on that.

    Also, It’s so important to take some time for your mental health. Maybe make a point to do something fun or unwind each week, it doesn’t have to cost anything. You seem to be struggling a little bit and sometimes taking a bath, going for a hike with the dog, painting your toes, reading under a tree at the park, can make a huge difference.

  31. laylaaaaaaaah*

    My partner’s been an online grad student for the last couple years, with me at work supporting them, and at points they’ve been so isolated it sent them almost literally up the wall (although we are very much living paycheck to paycheck, with no spending beyond bills, transport and food). Is there any way you can- while setting up strict boundaries about contact while at work, and maybe also about what topics she complains to you about, ofc- maybe arrange to meet up on evenings/weekends as a semi-regular thing?

  32. nnn*

    I don’t think the swapping lives thought experiment is useful. Not only because the answer might be “definitely yes!”, but also because not every single aspect of your life is related to the jealousy-inducing aspect.

    For example: I have long, gorgeous hair, and my rent is atrocious. But if my rent were more reasonable, I’d still have long, gorgeous hair. (I might even have better hair, since I could afford to get it done more often.) Or, in the example, Alison gives for LW, if LW married someone who made enough money that she didn’t have to work, she’d still have the same talents she does now. It’s possible that the absence of certain talents might prevent you from marrying someone with certain qualities, but the presence of certain talents wouldn’t.

    What I do find useful when I’m jealous of a friend is to name it. “Arya, I’m finding my job really stressful and unrewarding lately, so I’m having some ugly feelings about the fact that you don’t have to work. Because of this, I might sometimes have to back off from our friendship until I get into a better place.” Then you can take the space you need, and wait until you actually start missing Arya. If Arya’s good at being your friend, she might modify her own behaviour to avoid rubbing in the fact that she doesn’t have to work, and if your friendship is the kind that will survive in the long term, she’ll still be there for you when you’re reading for her again.

    1. BadWolf*

      I think it’s more of “what comes with it.”

      To use your hair example. Yes, long hair can be beautiful. but it just doesn’t exist in isolation. Long beautiful requires a lot of brushing, planning washing/drying, lots of vacuuming/sweeping, getting stuck in random things like the car seatbelt, sometimes creepy questions (or touching) from strangers. Thinking about the whole package can sometimes mitigate the thing you are jealous about.

    2. grace*

      I can’t imagine telling a friend that I’m having ugly feelings about their life. If I am, it’s my responsibility to handle; maybe by backing off a bit from answering, or talking it out with my SO, or any other ways that doesn’t involve potentially guilt-tripping someone for having the life they do while I have the life I do.

      1. Chameleon*

        Really? I feel like that is absolutely a part of friendship. For example, I have a friend who always wanted a big family but it never happened for her (for a variety of reasons). She generally loves hanging out with and talking about my kid, but sometimes she tells me “hey, being around the kid is really bringing me down right now so I’m going to have to not come over for a while” and I totally understand; I spend time with her solo and I don’t talk about parenthood. I would feel awful if she felt like she couldn’t tell me things like this and I obliviously kept bringing up a painful subject.

      2. nnn*

        I’ve found it useful, because, from my friend’s perspective, it turns “My friend has gotten all weird for no apparent reason!” into “My friend is going through some stuff and I’m not the person to help her with it.”

      3. LouiseM*

        Totally agreed, Grace. Some feelings are better shared with a therapist than with a friend.

  33. Temperance*

    I would probably take a break from Arya, in your shoes. She’s making you feel bad about yourself, and it sounds like whining/complaining about not having any real responsibilities or bills. You’re starting to resent her. It might be worth a point-blank conversation where you tell her that you value her friendship, but it’s really difficult to hear her complain about not having to work when you have a crap job that you hate but can’t quit because you need money.

    1. bonkerballs*

      I reread the letter and it doesn’t seem like there’s anything to indicate what Arya is actually complaining about. In fact, OP never uses the word “complaining” at all to describe her text conversations with Arya. She says Arya will text her things she’s worried about, but that’s not the same as complaining. I think it’s somewhat telling that several commenters have read this letter and just assumed that Arya’s blowing up OP’s phone with complaints about her perfect life when that’s not what was described to us at all.

      I agree there’s probably value in a point blank conversation about boundaries and texting during the day, but OPs toxic job and the fact that she can’t peruse her creative passion aren’t Arya’s fault. And, quite frankly, there are few conversations more likely to show me you *don’t* value my friendship then telling me “I’m jealous of you, so only I’m allowed to have problems in this friendship.”

      1. Temperance*

        I reread the letter, and it seems more like Arya is just sending frivolous texts to LW throughout the day.

        I do see Arya as tone-deaf, which is why I was honestly assuming that she was just whining all day. It’s of course not Arya’s fault that LW is stuck in a job she hates, and that LW can’t spend as much time on her creative pursuits.

        I really see this through a different lens than you do. Someone complaining about being bored (or blowing up someone’s phone with ridiculous texts all day) while their friend is stuck working at a job she hates is frankly not a very good friend. I think it’s reasonable to let Arya know that a.) she needs to stop narrating her entire day via text while LW is at work, and b.) it’s causing some feelings of resentment because LW would love the chance to be as bored as she is (or whatever she’s nattering on about), and it’s making her feel some kind of way.

        1. Lil Fidget*

          I would say, Arya doesn’t have to be doing anything wrong for OP to need to take a little step back and re-center. Boundaries are good and healthy. If somebody makes you feel bad about yourself – even if its your issue – I think it’s okay to focus on other things for a little while and see if you can come back feeling better or not. If the alternative is secretly wishing them ill while pretending to be their friend, that’s not better.

        2. bonkerballs*

          Again, I don’t get where you’re getting that Arya is complaining about anything. People on this comment board are making assumptions that Arya’s bored or that she’s complaining, but it’s just as likely that she’s just communicative and sharing her day to day life with her friend just like so many other people do.

          I empathize with OP, but I think there are two separate issues. One – that Arya is texting when it’s inconvenient (and it would be just as annoying and inconvenient if she constantly texted because she was at home all the time because she was unemployed and broke). And two – the OP has a toxic job and not enough time to pursue her creative passion which, again, doesn’t really have anything to do with Arya other than OP projecting her unhappiness onto her. Arya’s not living her lief at OP. She’s just living her life.

  34. Madeleine Matilda*

    OP, based on your letter it sounds as if you are in a bad work environment (“I’m at my toxic full-time job which barely pays my bills.”) and Arya is making your feelings about work worse with her texting. Is it possible for you to begin job hunting for a better work place that won’t make you so unhappy?

  35. Spooky*

    Fellow creative here–marketing copywriter by day, poet/short fiction writer (published!) and artist by night. I used to be really jealous of the time other people had to devote to creative pursuits a lot. Then two things helped me.

    1. The story of the pottery class. The adage goes that a pottery teacher had two classes. He told the first that their final grade would be based on the quality of a single pot–they just had to make one pot all semester, but as good a pot as they could possibly make. He told the second class that their grade would be based on the quantity of pots they produced–they didn’t have to be pretty, just functional pots, as many as possible. He did this for several semesters. Inevitably, the class judged on quantity turned out better quality pots every time, whereas the ones focused on quality obsessed over unimportant details, didn’t practice, and never improved. It doesn’t matter if the story’s true or not–the principle is the same. So yes, I have to write all day at work, and it takes away from my time to write my fun projects, but just that action of having to write a set amount every day, whether or not I feel “inspired,” has helped me tremendously.

    2. The tenet that productivity begets productivity. I like data, so I decided to test this old saying when I was fresh out of school and still partially unemployed. I would set aside entire weekend days to work on something creative, and then I’d assign myself a similar task on days when I was busy with my internship. Every time, the work was easier, faster, flowed better, and felt more inspired when I had already been productive that day. When I had nothing but time, it was all too easy to let entire days slip away and accomplish very little. Tasks do expand to fill the time allowed, but more importantly, being more productive helped me make better art. Spending time with people in the office, being forced to think about things in different ways to solve work problems, et al ultimately made me a much better writer than sitting in front of my desk or in a coffee shop all day, waiting for inspiration to strike. Plus, after dealing with mundane things at the office all day, I’m dying for some kind of creative outlet by the time the evening rolls around!

    Does that make the jealousy disappear? No, of course not. But it does significantly help. Add to that the number of incredibly significant writers and artists who have had to work soul-crushing day jobs to make ends meet and then work on their passions only at night, and you’ll have a much happier outlook. True creatives can do wonders with the time they have, and a good number of them produce even better work when they have short timeframes and deadlines. You can do it, too!

    (sorry that this is so insanely long and ramble-y, I hope it helped a little.)

    1. Oxford Coma*

      This is cool, how did you make that jump from “doing a practical thing” for a day job to “doing it in a creative way” for a passion? I haven’t a creative bone in my body!

      1. Spooky*

        Do you mean how I made the mental switch at the end of each day, or how did I actually transition to making a living off of it?

          1. Spooky*

            I worked several unpaid internships (most notably at a magazine) in the morning and early afternoon to build my portfolio, worked evening shifts at a bunch of part-time jobs to support myself, and then came home after midnight to work on additional articles I thought could work. Then I’d go in the next morning and pitch the article, and if there was any interest at all, I’d say “great! it’s already written!” I got a lot of extra content published that way–sometimes because they loved the ideas, sometimes because they had a hole that needed to be filled and I had something ready to go, and sometimes because they were familiar enough with my writing at that point that they assigned me more pieces. I also tripled the length of the internship–it was still unpaid, but it meant that my portfolio was huge compared to most other people in my field.

            So basically the classic Millennial story–work constantly, work for free, work every hour of the day, work multiple jobs, never sleep, constantly do way more than what is asked of you, and hope you don’t collapse before you make it.

    2. mf*

      “When I had nothing but time, it was all too easy to let entire days slip away and accomplish very little. ” –> this has definitely been my experience when I’ve been between jobs and had entire days just to job hunt and work on creative projects. I get WAY more done when I have time constraints built into my schedule.

    3. Chameleon*

      “When I had nothing but time, it was all too easy to let entire days slip away and accomplish very little.”

      I’m a teacher currently on spring break. Thanks for the motivation to stop reading the internet and go do something!

    4. kb*

      Yes! When you have all the time in the world to do something, why do it today?

      I have an aunt who got her degree in interior design. Shortly after graduating, she married my uncle, a business dude who makes v good money. When you start out in design, you have to do a lot of the less-fun stuff and deal with clients who are picky and give you cookie-cutter, boring assignments. She was frustrated and bored, so she quit to focus on designing and redesigning their family home. She started her own business, but she ony accepted jobs that were interesting to her, which wasn’t many. Years later, she met for lunch with an old colleague who had stuck it out. She was now doing a lot of really cool stuff, like designing luxury hotels in far-flung locales. My aunt realized she had tried to skip to the fun stuff, but in the work world, that’s not really possible. No matter what field you’re in, you need to prove yourself by doing the nitty-gritty. Sometimes, having no choice but to stick it out yields the bigger rewards long-term.

      1. Spooky*

        Yes 100%! It’s exactly the same way with writing–sure, the bigger publications offer more prestige and higher pay, but if you don’t have several smaller publications already, many of them won’t even look at your submission.

  36. Alternative Person*

    I just renewed my work contract today, complete with wage-freeze and urgh, I wish I had the means to be able to work less/more flexibly. So I hear you and I hope your situation gets better soon

  37. She Who Must Be Obeyed*

    One of my sisters used to be like Arya, to an extent. Her husband is very conservative financially, though, so there wasn’t as much travel and play. He got her a credit card to buy a special saw because she was going to start a craft business, but she kept maxing it out on clothes and makeup. He finally got tired of paying it off and told her she’d have to get a job to pay it off. Anyway, when the economy crashed, so did his income (he’s self employed) and she suddenly had to start paying bills, other than paying off her credit card…and was *that* ever a shock to her system! I about *died* laughing! Things are back to normal now, except that hubby’s even more frugal, since he’s learned that they can live on a lot less than he’d thought, plus the kids are all married. They managed to keep their stocks and some of their savings, thanks to his financial wisdom, but it was a tough time. And the job she had to get was as a school lunch mom because she couldn’t get a different one…something else I found hilarious (I still do, and it’s been 15 years) since my extremely vain sister who never went anywhere without stylish clothes perfect hair, makeup and nails was suddenly wearing uniforms, hairnets, minimal makeup, and not allowed to wear nail polish (even clear) and had to keep her nails short.

    1. She Who Must Be Obeyed*

      The moral of the story is: Arya may end up in a uniform, wearing a hairnet. She’s also missing out on the fun of co-workers. Even toxic jobs have co-workers for entertainment. There’s always at least one you can laugh at (or at least I could, but I have an unusual sense of humor…).

    2. Emmie*

      I used to wish I had the same money as a woman I was close with. She worked as a stripper, making significantly more money than I did as an undergrad. She paid her tuition in cash. She took nice vacations. She had reliable transportation, and could buy the clothes she wanted. She continued that job many years after completing her degree, but never took internships or paid positions. She transitioned careers in her mid-30s and begun making the same money I did when I was 20 because she had no documented work experience. She also struggled committing to a regular 8-5 work schedule after working part time and making her own hours for years. I am not making fun of her, or trying to make myself feel better today. I thought she had an enviable situation then, but she thinks I have an enviable situation now with steady work experience and flexibility. What you admire today may be totally different after time passes.

      1. circlecitybelle*

        I work at a university and have had several student advisees who are coming to college to transition out of the adult entertainment industry for this very reason. They want to get ahead of the time when they can no longer be marketable as strippers or in porn.

        1. Emmie*

          That’s so interesting. I wonder how their post-degree job prospects look. She struggled because it was uncommon in her area to find jobs without prior work experience. I’m glad to see the advisees returning to school for a new career.

  38. Jana*

    Is Arya pestering you for replies to her texts? Or is she just sending a lot of texts? While it’s still annoying, if it’s the latter, I’d just ignore her messages during the day and then respond to what you feel like responding to when you have the time/energy.

    As far as overcoming feelings of jealousy, that’s obviously harder. It’s always good to remember that everyone has different problems and just because someone doesn’t have the same problem as you do, it doesn’t mean that they’re necessarily happier. That said, if she’s a good friend and you don’t want to lose the friendship, I’d level with her and tactfully explain your frustrations. Who knows, she might be happy to be a supportive listener and she might have an interest in using some of her free time to help you in your creative pursuits. If she’s not a good friend and is only a drain on you (and you don’t view the friendship as worth salvaging), you might consider explaining to her that you don’t have the time and energy for the relationship anymore.

    1. bonkerballs*

      Yeah, my mother texts me throughout the day because she’s retired and she texts me the questions she has as soon as it pops in her head because otherwise she’ll forget or she’ll text me the picture she just took because that’s when she took. I reply when I’m able or sometimes not at all if there’s no need to. But just because my day has stalled because I’m at work doesn’t mean hers has. So she texts me when she wants/needs to. Just like the other day when she was on an airplane and came off the plane to about 30 texts from my siblings and I in the family group text. Everyone has different lives and schedules and whatever and I’m not going to keep track of them to know when it’s most convenient to text.

  39. Irene Adler*

    IF I were the OP, I’d be pestering Arya to do something productive with her time. Like volunteering or going to school. For every, “Oh dear, the store doesn’t carry the shoes I’m looking for!” text from her, I’d respond with, “So, have you enrolled in school yet? A mind is a terrible thing to waste and yours is going downhill fast.” Or, “Which shelter will you be volunteering at: animal or battered women’s or homeless? Don’t you think you should give something back for being as blessed as you are?”

    My take: no adult should have 24/7/365 for play. Even if one does not need to work, one should devote some time to doing productive things to improve oneself, or in service to others. Doesn’t need to be 40 hours per week, but it does need to bring one into contact with others.

    1. JennyAnn*

      I… don’t love this. It’s not the OP’s right or responsibility to manage her friend’s time. And if someone tried to pull this on me because they were jealous of my situation? Easy fix, because they’d be distanced out of my life.

      Arya is doing things with her life, as seen by the OP’s resentment that she’s not having to schedule her creativity around work; she just doesn’t have to hold down a job.

      1. Viktoria*

        Yeah, this seems like a big overstep. OP is not the boss of her friend. Anyway it sounds like the friend has creative pursuits she spends time on. I don’t really believe in telling your friends what to do with their time.

    2. LBK*

      Whoa, those are extremely rude things to say to someone you consider a friend, especially in response to a casual text. That’s only a good plan if the OP doesn’t want to be friends with her anymore.

    3. Lissa*

      I mean, that’s a fair take to have, but we all have certain moral views and pressing them on friends who don’t feel the same way rarely is successful in getting them to see it your way. This is pretty similar to the stereotype of the vegetarian friend saying “Did you enjoy your dead flesh and suffering” to someone who isn’t veg – their take is definitely that nobody should be eating meat, and that’s fair, but to say this to people who don’t agree is unlikely to make them agree, or to help the friendship at all.

    4. Harry*

      People who have experienced trauma do not exist for others to fill their time. When looking for volunteer positions with charities, it’s important to put the needs of the recipients and organisation first.

    5. The Supreme Troll*

      “A mind is a terrible thing to waste and yours is going downhill fast”…this is not a very friendly thing to say to a friend.

  40. Wealthy Enough*

    Oh hey, it’s me, your friend!

    Ok, not really, but I can relate to her.

    It’s easy for her to forget not everyone has the same worries she does. I’d suggest having a heart to heart with her. Letting her know your own struggles. I’m kinda getting the idea that you aren’t that open about your own worries in life; maybe out of pride? Let the relationship be mutual in that regard. It sounds like you are the one person she feels she can be open with about these things (or maybe she is like this around everyone, and is a bit oblivious), and her relief at having an outlet has blinded her to any stress it may add to your life. Give her the opportunity to be a friend to you, rather than baring all the burdens of friendship.

  41. Jenn*

    I disagree with Alison on having a conversation with Arya about this. Instead, I think you should make more of an effort to manage your own feelings. Admittedly, I’m biased because when I got a new job with a nice pay bump, a close friend of mine got increasing nasty to me along with making mean comments on what I was spending my money on. Months later she wanted to talk to me about how she was jealous that ‘some people’ were able to afford nice things. Well, I won’t apologize for finally making a living wage. It’s not like I’m a robber baron – I work at non profit. She was so focused on comparing out lives that she couldn’t see what I was struggling with; she only saw and fixated on my successes.

    I think you need to realize that people have a rich inner life, along with highs and lows, that do not involve you and that she may be struggling with things you may never know about. You’re only seeing one side of her. Maybe she’s texting you because she’s lonely. Maybe she can feel the distance between you and is trying to make up for it.

    Also, I would challenge you to think of this: there is more than one way to be rich. It doesn’t necessarily have to mean time or money.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      To be clear, I’m not suggesting the kind of conversation your friend had with you! That sounds horribly done. I’m suggesting the kind of conversation that real friends should be able to have — “I’m happy for you, but it can also be weird on my end and sometimes I struggle with feeling jealous.”

      1. LouiseM*

        I would argue that that’s still OP’s baggage to be worked out between her and a therapist, or at least a third party, and not her friend. Making her jealousy her friend’s problem will likely lead to her friend feeling uneasy talking to the OP about her life or problems –which is not the basis of a healthy relationship.

        1. Luna*

          I’m not sure why people think the LW needs therapy just for experiencing relatively normal emotions.

          1. LouiseM*

            Well, first of all I don’t think “experiencing normal emotions” disqualifies someone from benefiting from therapy. For example, grief is a normal reaction to a loved one’s death but a therapist can help people deal with these normal reactions in a way that’s as healthy as possible. But I actually do not think OP’s emotions fall under this category. Holding on to a lot of resentment toward a loved one is not healthy (whether it’s “normal” or not).

            1. Luna*

              I’m not saying that therapy isn’t helpful for most people, but that doesn’t mean that “go see a therapist” is always good advice to give someone, for a variety of reasons. For one thing not everyone can access those services, and telling someone who is asking for your advice that they need therapy can come across as flip and dismissive, even if it isn’t intended that way.

              I also think your characterization of the LW as stewing in resentment is pretty unfair; it seems more that the LW’s resentment is being pinged over and over again by the friend’s constant texting. The LW doesn’t have the space she needs to let her feelings fade away. Maybe even after the text stops the feelings will still linger, but right now we don’t know that.

            2. Luna*

              I’m not saying that therapy isn’t beneficial to most people, but that doesn’t mean that it is always good advice to give someone, for a variety of reasons. Not everyone can access a therapist’s services, and telling someone who is asking for advice to just “go see a therapist” can come across as a bit flip and dismissive, even if it isn’t intended that way.

              It also seems unfair to characterize the LW as stewing in resentment; it seems more that her resentment is being pinged over and over again by the friend’s constant texts. She hasn’t had the space she needs to be able to let her feelings fade. Maybe even after the texts stop the LW will still have those feelings, but right now we don’t know that.

              1. Parenthetically*

                “Not everyone can access a therapist’s services, and telling someone who is asking for advice to just “go see a therapist” can come across as a bit flip and dismissive, even if it isn’t intended that way.”

                Sandwiches. Therapy is a good suggestion in lots of situations and shouldn’t be avoided as a topic because some people can’t afford or access it.

          2. Recently Diagnosed*

            I don’t think anything ever “qualifies” someone for therapy, or that someone has to “need” therapy to go see a therapist. I actually think every single human being on this planet would benefit from seeing a therapist at some point in their lives. There are plenty of “normal” human emotions that we could all use a little help getting through. Getting therapy doesn’t mean you are experiencing anything abnormal, and I would be careful of accidentally stigmatizing people or perpetuating the idea that seeing a therapist means you AREN’T normal. Everyone stumbles in this life. There’s no harm in seeing someone to ensure that your stumbling hurts as little as possible.

            1. LouiseM*

              Yes! So well said, thank you, Recently Diagnosed. This is exactly what I’m trying to say (and totally agree that everyone can benefit from seeing a therapist).

    2. Temperance*

      I’ve been on both sides of this letter, to an extent (the jealousy, not the excessive texting). I grew up poor and now have more money than all of my childhood friends, but I am frankly not as well off as someone who grew up in a middle class household.

      I’ve been in situations where someone whined to me about something I saw as trivial while I was so poor that I was washing my socks in the tub because I couldn’t afford more socks or more frequent laundry (college). I’ve also been the adult who regularly takes “nice” vacations and can afford clothes not only from a thrift store.

      I wouldn’t ever complain to my childhood friends about some of the minor annoyances that come up in my world now, even though I have some issues. And yes, I totally get that when you lack money, it’s more or less the only thing on your mind, because I’ve been there.

      1. Former Retail Manager*

        Same here…..same experiences. I think being a good friend is being keenly aware of where you are in your own life relative to those you care about and making an effort to enjoy your time together over common interests and joys, rather than burdening your friends with your worries if they are vastly different than their own.

        1. Gorgo*

          Yes! I don’t complain about a pimple to a friend with bad rosacea. Or a flooded basement to someone whose house is under water. Does it mean I’m not allowed to let a pimple or flooded basement bother me? Of course not. Do I need to know what they’re dealing with to know what I shouldn’t bitch to them with? Of course.

      2. OklahomaSpeaks*

        Same here. I have had to be careful with friends bc I went to a private university where kids had everything handed to them (and they would assume I had a full ride scholarship because I’m a black woman) but I was also married at the time (still am) so I would get a lot of snide remarks on how it must be nice to have someone supporting me from 20 year olds whose parents still paid everything

  42. Oxford Coma*

    I get that you’re jealous, I would be too. Asking her to tone it down (or at least to be understanding if you can’t respond to her during your workday) is definitely a good idea. But:

    The devil on my shoulder is saying to keep her in the loop regarding these creative pursuits. If she’s out there doing what you want to be doing, can you change your mindset a bit? Consider that she might be vetting contacts and gaining experience that she may be willing to share with you in the future. Maybe flipping your mental switch from “she’s living the bohemian life I want” to “she’s doing a lot of prep work that I would also have to do, and as a friend she may be willing to let me learn from her mistakes” will help you put a different spin on the situation.

    1. Manders*

      Oh, I love this way of reframing the situation. In a creative field, jealousy is definitely something you’ll have to wrestle with. There’s always someone who’s richer or more popular or more effortlessly talented than you.

      In a lot of creative fields, people tend to rise in groups–the first few people in a friend group start getting successful, then offer their experience and connections to help the others up. So having a friend who’s making it in a desirable field can help you.

  43. NicoleK*

    I had a friend from my high school days. grew up middle class but married a woman from a wealthy family. She hasn’t ever really had to work. She doesn’t work now. Their house is in a really nice neighborhood and it’s paid for. They drive nice cars. Their kids goes to private school. It is what it is.

    There’s always going to be someone richer, smarter, thinner, more attractive, taller, and etc. than you. Just ignore some of the texts or if it really bothers you, speak to her about it.

    1. Lil Fidget*

      This is true. I’d also say, you don’t have to be friends with someone who makes you feel bad about yourself! They don’t have to be doing anything “wrong” for you to decide you’d rather socialize with people you enjoy spending time with more.

  44. ClarkBark*

    To be very honest, not having to work would seem very attractive. Making your own schedule, having free time to pursue an interest or take care of other responsibilities. The idea of not going to work every single day and having the freedom to make your own decisions sounds nice.

    But it also looks like a lot of work to make sure you stay busy. Having known classic stay-at-home moms, a lot of them have lost direction especially when their kids grow up. While it was probably really neat to have your parent come up to school with cookies or volunteer for everything, as a kid I would have felt over watched and lacking independence that I got from having my parents work and have responsibilities outside the family.

    If ever presented the opportunity to not have to work, I don’t think I would take off 100% of work. Maybe use that freedom to get a profession that I’m interested in but wasn’t as lucrative. Also, I’d probably have to be guaranteed to have an income higher than what I’d be making if I did work for financial security. As we all know, that’s never certain! It’s a fun idea to entertain, but not something to ever likely happen for someone like me. *fingers crossed on the lottery!*

  45. Bee's Knees*

    OP, it may not be, but remember the old and annoying adage about green grass. My mother has stayed at home since I was really little, because she and my father are very careful with their money, and invest and spend wisely. I’ve heard even from family members that should know better how nice it is for her that she gets to just relax all day. The thing is though- she doesn’t. It’s rare that she sits still. She’s doing laundry, running errands for herself and my dad, working in her flower beds, volunteering at church, etc. While Arya may just be sitting around, it’s possible that she just doesn’t mention that she is working, that work is just housework.

    1. nonymous*

      It could also be that Arya might not find her household role to be a stimulating fit for her personality. I know some people who absolutely love (and are amazing) at juggling all the stuff of running a household/rearing children. I also know people who are much better suited towards working in a fast-paced environment their family gets better care if they can hire household tasks out. Both personality types are providing for their family and should be appreciated, but if Arya is engaged in the wrong one for her as an individual, that might be what’s prompting the text sessions.

    2. Temperance*

      FWIW, I think that at least some of that criticism is because your mom gets to make her own schedule and choose how she spends her time. Most people who work still have to run errands, do chores, etc.

  46. Aphrodite*

    Your feelings and resentment are completely understandable, but as many others above me have pointed out, her reality may be far different from your perception. And yes, she is at risk for things that may never happen such as divorce or husband’s job loss, but the risk is quite real.

    Though it’s not good for you now, you are actually in a far better position than her. You have your own income that you alone control, you have work experience, you have a strong position from which to continue should circumstances change. So since your work situation is not a good one, that is what you need to change. I hope you are job hunting and maybe updating your skills. These things will take you beyond the current toxicity you work in and they will be useful and valuable.

    I was a variation of Arya, given extra money by my parents, enough that I worked sporadically and didn’t develop a career until much later. I can tell you that no matter how much I said I loved that I didn’t have to work I really didn’t. I was jealous that friends to places to go and things to do. And they always seemed to have time to do fun stuff which, oddly, I would say I didn’t. There is a definite downside.

    Trust that so many of us know what we are talking about. There is a very real boredom to life that comes with having everything given to you. You don’t experience appreciation, you feel left out of it in many ways (unless you have developed a strong work ethic in the volunteer sector), you really feel at times distinct and separate and as if you never fit in. It’s an uncomfortable, nagging feeling that no amount of money / shopping / travel / etc. fills. I see this in my two sisters and one of my brothers who have spent between 15 and 35 years being unemployed. Now in their 50s and 60s they have nothing saved, no work history, no Social Security, no jobs well done and the resultant small satisfactions that come from the workplace.

    Take what you are feeling here and use that knowledge and understanding to change your current circumstances. And that’s all they are: current. You have the experience and ability to change them, even one small step at a time. Remember that if you do that one year from now you will have done a lot of steps–and your life will be very different. Your friend’s? If she’s lucky, it won’t have changed (for the worse).

  47. boo bot*

    OP I wanted to respond to this: “…if I were to try to go full-time in that field, I’d have to take scores of crappy assignments just to try to pay the rent; she has the luxury of working on as many or few projects as she wants.”

    I am someone who went full-time in a creative field, taking scores of crappy assignments just to pay the rent. In fairness, I didn’t have anyone else to support, and I wasn’t stepping out of a full-time career (I just went from low-paying work outside the field to low-paying work in my field). If you have a child or other expenses you can’t get rid of without being prosecuted, it’s very different, which I get.

    That said, for me it was 100%, 1,000 %, 1,000,000% worth it. Even when I was struggling to pay rent and working a million hours a week doing dumb assignments that I totally resented, it wasn’t soul-sucking like other things I’d done, because it was – albeit in a very marginal, diluted way – the work I wanted to do.

    Even the dumbest assignments were chances to practice my skills and get better. The worst projects still forced me to say, “okay, how do I make this terrible idea into something I can feel good about?” Even when I hated the specific jobs, I had the satisfaction of knowing that the time I put in wasn’t wasted – because I was getting better at the work I’d always wanted to do.

    So, my advice to you is, consider taking scores of crappy projects and struggling to pay rent for a while. You’ve thought about how it would work – that means that you’ve considered that it *could* work, even if it would be really hard. If your creative field is one where scraping together a living is an option, do it. Go all in.

    1. boo bot*

      Oh, I should also have said that this paid off pretty okay for me, in not too long a period of time. I still work my ass off, but on projects that pay a lot better, and that I actually want to work on (“working my ass off” is my natural and desired state).

      For a lot of creative fields, being reasonably successful is not a pipe dream, and I wish people had told me that when I was your age (generic you, generic age).

  48. Catherine*

    I didn’t work for several years after I got married, and it wasn’t that my spouse was rich–just that we were used to being poor, so it wasn’t a big deal. I’m from a rural area of the U.S., and I know lots of people who don’t work, again, not because they’re rich or lazy but because they’re too old, not well enough, or–in lots of cases–can’t get a job that offers much profit after the cost of child care and/or transportation.

    As for the downsides of not working that caused me to go back, mainly it was boredom and being tired of dealing of the low-level social stigma of not working. People would say, “What do you mean, you don’t work?”, and I’d think, “What do you mean, what do I mean? It’s a simple concept.” I’m not talking about the OP here, but in my case, honestly, most of the people I personally knew who couldn’t believe I didn’t have to work were maintaining a much higher standard of living than we were, so it was really more about differing definitions of “have to.” We have a higher standard of living now, but we’re saving a lot and planning an early retirement for both of us. And because we have a feminist marriage, we’ve always taken care that wealth is being transferred from the higher-earning spouse (not surprisingly, usually not me) to the lower-earning spouse so that we’re about even.

    My main career goal is still nothing more ambitious than having a job a like, and I remain pretty cynical and eye-roll-y about the concept that work has any inherent value. It’s been my experience that the more a job pays, the easier it is (not to mention, the more free stuff you get), and the people I know who are doing creative work or truly helping others are getting paid little to nothing.

    OP, if I have any advice, it’s to at least stop reading and answering your friend’s texts during the work day (you’re busy!). Focus on your own goals, and the best way to get there. It’s different for everybody. You have the talents you have, and the resources you have, and using them in the best way you can will be a lot more rewarding than worrying about how you might use somebody else’s resources better.

    1. Observer*

      OP, if I have any advice, it’s to at least stop reading and answering your friend’s texts during the work day (you’re busy!). Focus on your own goals, and the best way to get there. It’s different for everybody. You have the talents you have, and the resources you have, and using them in the best way you can will be a lot more rewarding than worrying about how you might use somebody else’s resources better.

      I think that this is an EXCELLENT piece of advice. Focusing on making the best use of whatever resources you do have is really the best thing you can do for yourself.

  49. SarahJ*

    On the flip side, if I learned that my friend was irritated by my trying to talk to them and dealt with that by imagining bad things happening in my future, I would not be friends with them any more.
    OP should deal with this by thinking about what is producing this response in her, not by fantasizing about all the ways things could end badly for her friend.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I’m certainly not recommending she fantasize about that and thought I said that pretty clearly in the answer. That would be horrible. My point is that the situation isn’t necessarily as attractive as it might look at first glance; there are reasons not to want to arrange your life the way the friend has.

    2. LBK*

      I agree – I didn’t see that so much in Alison’s response, but I don’t love a lot of the comments that basically suggest the OP should assume there’s bad things going on that the OP doesn’t know about, or that they’ll get divorced anyway so it will all fall apart so the OP shouldn’t be too jealous. It feels gross to me to basically hope that her life is worse than it appears or that it gets worse in the future just to make yourself feel better.

      I understand it’s hard not to do that especially if you feel like she’s rubbing it in your face (which I don’t think she necessarily is) but if she’s your friend, can’t you just be happy for her that she’s lucky enough to live a privileged life? Financial stability is such a huge stressor, in some cases for someone’s entire life, so I can’t bring myself to begrudge someone never having that problem again, at least when they’re not using that wealth and privilege against others.

      1. LBK*

        Also, what a weird way to comfort the OP – “don’t worry, even if you got out of the horrible job you hate, there’d be plenty of other reasons for you to be miserable!”

      2. fposte*

        Right. I don’t think the situation would be materially different if Arya won the lottery, or if she had raked in a billion dollars at 25 when she sold her startup and quit working for life. Now if the OP would *feel* different if that were the case, that’s something that might reveal more about the particular sore spot she has that’s vulnerable with Arya.

      3. Observer*

        I don’t think that anyone is trying to say that the OP should imagine all sorts of bad things happening to Arya. But when you start getting into “How hard can it be?” about someone’s life, you have definitely left the field of reality. Also, and more importantly, at this point the OP is upset because she’s focusing on what Arya has. That’s none too healthy. But IF you ARE going to focus on what’s in someone else’s life anyway, it’s useful to realize that there is always more to the story.

    3. Gorgo*

      The advice isn’t to fantasize about bad things happening to her friend!! It’s about thinking about the ways she has security that her friend might not, and trying to feel fortunate about things that haven’t occurred to her yet.

  50. Ros*

    I had a friend with a jackass abusive husband who stayed with him because, and I quote, ‘I can’t afford to leave him’.

    I look at another friend who lives pretty well on family money, and sometimes it’s hard to not be like ‘YEAH I could ALSO be slender and fit if I could spend 2 hours a day at the gym but SOMEONE has to pay the bills’, and I remind myself that money comes with strings, that if I needed/wanted to leave my husband I’d be ok and my kids wouldn’t go hungry, and my dad can’t say eff all about my life because I’m the one who is in charge of it and my subsistence isn’t dependent on anyone’s good will (because no matter how good his will is, if you’re dependent on it, you’re trading power over your own life and banking on his good will being consistent).

    It’s a bargain a lot of people make. Money is seductive, and living paycheque to paycheque is HARD, logistically and emotionally. But quite frankly: money comes with strings, and I don’t like how they’re attached. Realizing that they’re not attached on me makes me much less resentful of the advantages others enjoy.

    (And for the record: there was a 2-year period in my early 20s when my parents were part of the 1% and I was living on 20$ of groceries a week, and scrambling, and refusing to ask for money ’cause with my family the strings are a stranglation hazard that’ll last decades. It’s HARD. I get it. But, for me, the strings are harder, and they last longer. They might not be that tight for you, and no judgement if you make different choices in different circumstances.)

    1. Manders*

      Your first point is super important. Plenty of couples do make a one income relationship work, but there’s a lot of risk in putting your whole lifestyle in someone else’s hands. Financial abuse can go the other way, too–I knew a couple where the man was basically draining his girlfriend dry, and she felt like she couldn’t break up with him because he’d lay guilt on her about letting him starve.

      So: financial imbalances are unlikely to ruin a strong relationship, but they can make a situation that’s already iffy so much worse.

      1. Manders*

        I should clarify: I think the majority of one-income households are healthy and stable relationships. It’s a small minority that come with those kind of risks.

  51. Susana*

    Thanks to Alison for pointing out the downside of not “having” to work. I hate to be a Debbie Downer here, but life does change.. people get divorced, fatally hit by buses. I have an acquaintance of mine with 4 kids and a husband with a job that took care of all of them. She did some volunteer work at the church but otherwise did not work outside the home. Her husband died (suicide), and left the family with almost nothing – and because of circumstances of the death, no insurance. And she had no work history or demonstrable skills to use to find a job. I realize this wasn’t the question of the LW, but it’s a reminder that none of us can truly feel set for life, financially.
    Though I would find it irritating and insensitive if someone texted me all day with minutiae.

    1. nonymous*

      I had a coworker who’s husband was diagnosed with MS. 20+ years later, they are still happily married with two wonderful adult sons, but as a household they did have to make a switch to her being the primary breadwinner and he being the SAHD/on disability.

      In this economy, having two incomes is a necessary buffer against periods of unemployment or underemployment like we saw in the great recession, or just due to life circumstances. Or in case of really toxic work environments, it wouldn’t be the end of the world to just quit.

  52. JR*

    OP, I think your friend’s situation is not enviable. Imagine having to depend on one person for your entire life and well being. What happens if he decides to leave her, or if she wants to leave him? What if she wants to confront him about something, but she can’t do or say anything because she is afraid he will leave her and she will loose everything? Even if he is a great guy and they are the perfect couple, there is still a real power dynamic here. I would never want to be in that position.

    For what its worth I also know a person like this. His finances are all figured out because of his rich parents, so he doesn’t work. Despite his seemingly perfect situation, he’s not a happy person. I genuinely think that having a lack of structure and motivation in his life- the kind usually provided by work- is having a huge impact on him. He has talked many times about traveling the world, starting a business, or getting his MBA, but he hasn’t done any of it because his life has no direction and he has no confidence. I’ve got no envy for him either.

  53. Viktoria*

    Sometimes I can’t help but feel this way about my mom. I love her very much and frequently have lunch at her house… I can’t help but feel jealous when she talks about her afternoon plans to read, and nap, and walk the dog…

    But in her case, she quit her low-paying job when my younger brother was born to be a SAHM for both of us, which I greatly appreciate. By the time we were old enough for her to go back to work, my dad was doing well enough that it didn’t really make sense for her to try and find some entry-level job, and she didn’t have a college degree, much experience, or a career goal in mind. That’s not a life I want for myself- I don’t want kids at all, for one thing. So, I try not to indulge my jealousy too much. I’m very fortunate in many ways, and although her life of leisure sounds great now, it came only after many years of unappealing (to me) hard work.

    Obviously OP’s friend is a different situation, but Alison’s advice about really considering the whole picture is great.

  54. dovidbawie*

    OP, you need to heal your thinking. If you are in a toxic job, find a way out & make your life better. But you can’t blame your happiness nor misery on someone else’s situation. You’ll always be miserable that way.

  55. Ms. Ann Thropy*

    There’s no need to look for ways in which the friend’s life is actually worse. It doesn’t matter whether it is. LW is miserable in her own job/life. Once she makes the changes she needs to make in her own life ( a better job, finding time to devote to her creative interests, finding another way to make some additional income), her resentment of the nonworking friend will fade. In the meantime, she should text the friend and let her know she is too busy to respond to texts during work, and turn off text alerts. When she doesn’t have frequent reminders of the friend’s freedom she won’t stew over it so much.

  56. Hey Nonnie*

    To be honest, I would also invest some time and thought into a reality check on how healthy and reciprocal the friendship is. Not realizing that you shouldn’t text your friends multiple times while they’re at work is extra oblivious, and makes me wonder about the rest of the relationship. Can you go to her for support? Is she there for you when you need help? Would she help you move a sofa, clean the garage, pet-sit your cat, take you to the ER if you got spontaneously light-headed? Or does she constantly ask for your time and attention, but declines to show up when you ask her to reciprocate?

    Self-absorption is often disguised as thoughtlessness or obliviousness. They may otherwise seem to be “perfectly nice,” because sometimes what they want coincides with what you want (chatting over coffee, for example). However self-absorption isn’t likely to be a thing that person will be willing to change, while thoughtlessness might be. So take a look how much you are giving versus how much you are getting in this relationship. Is it unbalanced? Has it always been unbalanced? Have you asked for support and been repeatedly refused? If so, do you really want to continue putting energy into it?

    I say this because it’s so easy to blame yourself for “being jealous” when the root problem actually is that the other person is insensitive. I used to have a “friend” who complained to me for months how broke she was after paying off her two-week European vacation… while I was unemployed and in fear of losing my home (which she knew). I supported her when she asked; when I asked her, she “didn’t feel like it.” I finally had to confront the fact that she didn’t actually care about me; I was just a tool to be used. It took me years to see this because she was “otherwise nice”… she just was never there for me.

    I’m not saying this IS how your friendship is, but it’s worth considering, for your own mental health. Especially when you’re stuck in a toxic job, you need friends who support you, not “friends” who take from you and give nothing back.

  57. Retired Stay At Home Mom*

    I think your issue with her is that she is a clingy friend and has nothing to do with the fact that she has put her career on hold.

    Maybe deal with that aspect of the issue and not make it about her lifestyle choice.

  58. EB*

    Related but somewhat different question– I have an Arya in my life and she’s prone to texting a lot when she feels particularly lonely, she understands I can’t always drop everything to respond so that’s never been an issue…

    … but she’s been out of the workforce for several years and has taken to giving me work/career advice recently. Not talking about work doesn’t work because she always asks… and so far gently pointing out that certain software/standards have changed since she last worked doesn’t seem to phase her. (For background, she’s disabled which is why she’s not working)

    If anyone has dealt with this before I’d love some tips on navigating this without insulting her!

    1. Tuxedo Cat*

      I haven’t dealt with this specific issue, but I have had people try to tell me about my field and give advice. People I care about and see regularly.

      I default to I don’t want to talk about work in my downtime.

    2. Starbucks Girl*

      Just tell her you’re not interested in taking career advice from friends- you’ve got a blog for that :)

  59. Dust Bunny*

    I feel like pointing out that she might get divorced or that she’s “dependent” are kind of thin “downsides”. She also might not. She might be free to pursue her interests that don’t need to be a living for the rest of her life.

    But there is more than one thing going on here: The resentment, and also the fact that LW’s job sucks. LW’s resentment would fade if her job sucked less, I’m pretty sure. Although, job hunting while you’re overworked and exhausted will probably cause an uptick in resentment that will hopefully/probably be temporary, I hope LW does it so, even if her friend sails blithely through life on a well-to-do spouse and a magic carpet of hobbies, at least LW’s will no longer have a terrible job and no money.

    Meanwhile, LW needs to mute the phone and tell her friend that she can’t respond during work hours because *she’s busy*.

    1. fposte*

      I agree with you, DB. It’s not the model for me personally, but it’s one that’s worked for a lot of people just fine, and it’s not like the employment world doesn’t come with its own potential risks too. I think it’s fine to remember that everybody’s got troubles you don’t know about, but there’s a bit of a risk of sour grapes here, and the issue really is the OP’s feelings about her own life.

  60. Anonyna*

    When I was starting out in HR, I used to do interviews for a minimum wage employer. I can’t tell you how many women I interviewed for these minimum wage/no benefit jobs were women who had been stay at home moms whose situation had suddenly changed and they needed to work. I’m not talking about divorces; I mean their spouse got sick/lost his job/passed away, things that can happen to any one of us on any day. Unfortunately not much of the day-to-day work of a woman raising her family leads to a competitive resume (which I have my own objections to that I won’t get into here), so here were these bright and capable women applying for the same $10/hour job her kids’ friends were because it’s all that was available to them, and hoping to support their family on it. I’m not saying they deserve it or should have anticipated it, but on top of the wage gap being very real, women can really be (unfairly) put in a precarious position when they stop working for a prolonged period of time. LW I don’t tell you this so you can feel superior to your friend, but just so that you don’t have to be envious or resentful of them. Your earning power is only going to go up the more you work and your friend’s will only stay as is if she’s lucky but will most likely go down. Hopefully that will never be a problem for her but it’s not a risk I would take myself.

    1. boop the first*

      Some women have been working these jobs since they were teenagers and still have to apply for someone’s kid’s friend’s job to get by because these jobs often don’t lead anywhere. It feels weird to be used as a case study for “don’t be this loser” conversations. Society’s opinion is pretty much the only part of minimum wage work that feels bad.

    2. Retired Stay At Home Mom*

      These were women who had no business staying at home in the first place, if I may be so bold.

      1. fposte*

        Can you expand? I can’t tell if you’re singling out these women or whether you mean no women at all should stay at home and be reliant on somebody else’s income.

        1. Retired Stay At Home Mom*


          I am well aware that I come from a place of privilege by being able to stay at home. My point is this…

          Anyone who relies solely on their partner’s goodwill and paycheck for support is making a high risk choice. I made an informed decision 20 years ago to leave the workforce and parent.

          I wouldn’t have done it without my own assets and a crap ton of legal protection.

          1. Snyderwine*

            That seems unfair. You can make all the plans in the world but things can still change for the worse.

            My parents divorced when I was a baby and I was very fortunate that it was a mutual respectful divorce that my dad supported my mom financially so she could go to school for her degree and still stay home with me. Even that plan went a bit awry when she hated her job and she lucked out getting into a new business with her friend. The plan for my siblings was for them to complete school like I did but both of them had health problems that made them drop out for a number of years; they’re now picking up the pieces and beginning again.

            My point being that there were plans in place for my family, things changed, and it was only luck that things still worked out so well. My family has always taught me that you can plan out every detail in life and life can just laugh in response.

            So the judgmental tone for these stay-at-home moms is really unwarranted.

            1. Retired Stay At Home Mom*

              I was a stay at home mom.

              It is a luxury I could afford independent of my husband’s income. He could have dropped dead of any number of unfortunate things but my portfolio was enough to protect me and our children regardless of him. I fail to see how that is judgemental.

              I want EVERY woman to be aware of the risks and rewards.

  61. Rusty Shackelford*

    OP, is your issue the fact that she’s texting while you’re at work, or that she’s texting you about her fun leisure activities at all? Both are valid things to be unhappy about, but the first is easier to handle – just tell her “It’s distracting when you text me while I’m at work; can you please not do that?”

  62. BadWolf*

    This is reminding me of recently commenting on hoping my work would offer extra vacation time for reduced pay so I could have more time off. I was standing around friends who make much less money and probably think, “Gee must be nice” that I can so casually take less money for more vacation. But they’re good friends and ignore me eagerly trying to shove my foot in my mouth.

  63. H.C.*

    I would also set the boundary by not replying to her texts during the work day (and if possible, avoid reading it altogether & turning off text notifications from Arya specifically).

  64. Lily in NYC*

    Am I the only one who is happy for my friends who have lots of money? One of my wealthy friends annoys me a bit because she is not remotely grateful for what she has – but then I remember her parents are total jerks and she basically raised herself. She does not like herself very much. It’s helpful to remember the grass is always greener…our wealthier friends might have peace of mind when it comes to finances, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have the same trials and tribulations as the rest of us.

    1. TGIF*

      I think sometimes the financial difference between friends can be a strain at times. My best friend in the whole wide world is a freelancer who is struggling to make ends meet; I have a full-time office job with benefits making, while not boatloads of cash, at least double what she makes in a good year. We don’t talk about money but there are times she has to say no to outtings with our group of friends because she can’t afford it. During a recent venting session that she very much needed, she said she was dealing with the fact that she wants very badly to go on an even semi-nice vacation but can’t afford it while myself and other friends make regular vacations.

      My friend isn’t saying all this because she doesn’t want myself and our other friends to struggle financially like she is; it’s simply frustrating to her to not have the same opportunities.

      1. fposte*

        Yes, it’s almost marital in the way that there is no simple win-win. The person with more money is allowed to enjoy things that cost more and shouldn’t have to forgo those things; the person with less money shouldn’t have to feel left out just because she doesn’t have more money. The best solution is to have a variety of activities with a range of cost levels, but ultimately there are still going to be some activities whose price points exclude people.

        I actually think that her being able to say straight out that this is frustrating for her is a good thing; it’s something that people shouldn’t have to pretend isn’t happening, and owning the frustration isn’t the same thing as blaming anybody.

        1. TGIF*

          We do definitely do a wide variety of things cost-wise. Sometimes we go to the theatre, sometimes we have crafting nights; sometimes we hit a free museum, sometimes we go to an amusement park. So there’s always something she can join in for little cost; it just hurts her when she has to say no.

          This week, I’ll be sending my group an invite to celebrate another friend’s promotion at work. To celebrate, she wants to go to a pricey restaurant and then a wine-and-dessert bar. I know my bestie will probably opt out of it. Not because she doesn’t want to celebrate; she just won’t be able to afford it. We’ll all be hanging out the following week for a monthly craft night so it’s not like bestie won’t see us at all, but I know it will be a bummer for her to be at home and not out with the rest of us (obviously, she could tag along and not buy anything but she feels self-conscious about that so she just removes herself from the situation).

          She’s been struggling with her work/financial stuff a lot recently and she’s always honest with me, so I’m happy to be her venting friend. I think she’s getting on track for a better idea of her career aspirations that she might be able to get a full-time job still in the field she knows, so I’ve got my fingers crossed for her.

    2. Luna*

      I don’t think it’s about felling jealous of all wealthier or somehow better off friends. I have one friend in particular that is very well-off financially and generally has a great life- and I don’t feel anything but happy for her because she is a really good, nice person.

      Other friends are slightly better off than me in some ways, and the times I feel resentful towards them are the times when they are being jerks about it. It’s more about the behavior than anything else.

      1. Triple Anon*

        I agree! I don’t choose my friends based on how much money they have. Sometimes people choose to make it an issue, though. And that’s more about their approach to friendship than the financial differences.

        On the other hand, sometimes it can inadvertently put a strain on things. But you should be able to talk openly about it. Usually, there are other things that balance it out and it doesn’t have to be a big deal.

  65. AnotherHRPro*

    There will always be friends, family or others that seem to have it better. Better opportunities, better jobs, better income, more time off, the corner office, the perfect family, etc. Just remember that when you are focusing on how “unfair” it is that they have something you want, you are taking your focus off of you. You don’t have any say in what other have. You do have power over yourself and doing things that will benefit you in the long term. For me, it is wasted energy focusing on what others have. What I elect to do is do my best to make myself as successful as I can be, given my own circumstances. After all, “better” is all relative.

  66. Kaybee*

    OP, I understand where you’re coming from. One of my friends married a wealthy guy, which has given her the luxury of choosing when and how she works. She takes on consulting projects as desired. She works perhaps 10-20 hours a week on those, and schedules breaks in between projects for lengthy vacations. She has developed a good reputation in her field and stays on top of the networking – for fun. She and her husband buy rental properties, and my friend gets a real kick out of choosing fixtures, paint colors, etc. for them. And yeah, sometimes I’m busting my rear end to finish a project on time, and she’s texting me photos of countertop samples. There’s a lot on here about what happens if your friend gets divorced, but if my friend gets divorced, she’ll have a professional portfolio and a revenue stream from her half of the rental properties to fall back on. She’d be just fine. Which is what you want for your friends. And because her mom is retired, and several of her family members work non-traditional schedules, she has a rich, full social life with the people she loves. And again, that’s what you want for your friends, but it would be incredibly easy to be jealous of her life.

    So I don’t compare our lives. I work hard to create a life that’s happy for me. And right at this second, it’s not going that well. Work is really hard right now, my health isn’t what it should be, and I have caretaker responsibilities that are draining physically and emotionally. Money is tight. I’m certainly not going on long, luxurious vacations right now, or even short unluxurious ones. It’s hard not to compare. But I have to focus all of that energy on making my life better in the ways I can. And therapy really helps me with this. I know it’s not easy when you are working long hours for little money to run right out and get a therapist. People suggest it like everyone has access to affordable mental health care, which isn’t realistic at all, especially if you’re limited to after business hours and weekends. But I urge you to explore what options are available to you, whether there are community groups that can help if you can’t afford it on your own or with your insurance, because it really does help. If nothing else, it provides a safe place to vent everything you’re feeling.

    Another thing that’s helped me is letting my friend help. I’m not one who is good for asking for help or accepting it, so this has been really hard for me. I’m not suggesting asking for or taking an expensive loan from your friend, but if your friend wants to take you for drinks at the end of a long exhausting day to listen to you talk about your strategy meetings or five year plans, let her. If she wants to introduce you to the contacts she’s made in your shared creative field, let her. Is it fair that she’s had the time to develop these contacts while you’ve had to focus on paying your rent? Maybe not, but ignore that for a second and let her help you. Let her remind you why she’s your friend in the first place, and demonstrate the qualities you appreciated about her in the first place. That makes the rest of it a lot less annoying, trust me.

    1. Super B*

      Love this answer. Hope things lighten up for you, Kaybee – you seem like a good person and a good friend.

    2. Triple Anon*

      I think this is great advice. Let her take you out for dinner or introduce you to people who could be good professional contacts. And also talk about the things that are bothering you! A good, open conversation is worth a lot.

  67. A Bag of Jedi Mind Tricks*

    Like the saying goes…”Yes, the grass may be greener on the other side…But remember what it takes to keep it green”

  68. Tuxedo Cat*

    It sounds like Aria is bored and lonely if she’s continually texting you. Are you close enough friends with her that you could ask her about that? And perhaps suggest ways she could fill her time? She might not realize how often she’s doing this or really have considered how she feels about the situation.

    If you don’t have that kind of relationship, it is more than fine for you to tell her you can’t respond during the work hours. Good luck.

  69. General Ginger*

    I have a friend like this. And I find what I really resent and am jealous of is not the not working part, and not the vacations part — it’s the lack of worry about emergencies. When she is sick, she goes to the doctor and doesn’t have to explain it to anyone, nor worry about how she’ll pay for that. When I get sick, I usually still have to go into work. I don’t usually see a doctor unless I’m very sure I need antibiotics or I’m having symptoms I’ve never experienced before. I haven’t been to the dentist in a few years. I’m seriously considering crowdfunding gender confirmation surgery right now, because as it stands, I will never afford it otherwise.

    I would absolutely trade any of my experience or ability to navigate the world or whatever other perceived “benefits” or “happiness” we pretend that the wealthy don’t have for the ability to not be one emergency away from devastation, and be able to have decent preventive care, let alone be able to afford surgery I desperately need.

  70. Scott D*

    As others have pointed out, Arya’s life may not be as perfect as you imagine it to be. You’re comparing your insides to someone else’s outside and that’s not a fair comparison to make.

    I had a large period in my life where I worked, part time, at home for about 20 hours a week and, frankly, after awhile I was kind of lonely. I’d go out and do things, but there just aren’t a whole lot of people to hang out with in the middle of a workday.

  71. stitchinthyme*

    I think Alison’s advice to remember that if anything ever happens to her husband, his job, or their marriage she’s up a creek is good. That’s not to say you should hope for such a catastrophe, but I always think women who don’t work because their spouses support them are doing themselves a huge disservice. No one ever wants to think anything bad could happen to them, but there are many, many older women out there who’ve never worked in their lives and suddenly find themselves widowed or divorced with no job skills or experience, trying to figure out how to support themselves.

    So yeah, if I were in the LW’s position, it *would* be consolation for me to know that if anything should ever happen, I would still be able to support myself.

  72. Church Lady*

    “But there’s a pretty significant downside to it, which is that depending on what the future holds, Arya may find herself needing to work at some point and she’s going to have no work history to fall back on when that happens. It’s a precarious position to put herself in.”

    Um, yes, and I volunteer myself as Exhibit A. I was fortunate to be able to leave my Toxic Job when I got married to a guy who was able to support both of us and our kids. Unlike Arya, I didn’t share my care-free lifestyle with my working mom friends…I felt guilty of having the privilege of staying home. Fast-forward 20 years…marriage is over, angry ex dragged out divorce 8 years resulting in loss of assets from recession and real estate bubble bursting (but I still had to pay my divorce attorney something like $200k)…I’ve got to find a job, I’m over 50, no contacts in the work world…so yeah. Currently living hand-to-mouth on low-paying office job, no benefits, no retirement plan. So yeah. Be careful what you wish for.

    1. Former Retail Manager*

      I am sooo sorry. This is unfortunately a story that is played out too frequently. Hang in there. It can’t stay bad forever. I sincerely hope there are better things on the horizon for you.

  73. SophieK*

    Arya knows full well that OP isn’t capable of being happy for her and is poking the angry bear for her own personal amusement. Which is a perfectly valid response to someone trying to rip you down.


    1. NaoNao*

      Woah….that’s a pretty combative read on the situation. How is the OP trying to “rip” her? She hasn’t said or done anything directly to Arya. She admitted that she privately feels a little jealous and can’t always answer texts in the middle of the day.
      It’s totally fair and ok to have feelings besides “girlboss!” or “you go slay!” for your friends and family. People are complex and having feelings of frustration, jealousy, confusion, exasperation, or whatever negative emotions are not the same as actively trying to “rip” someone. Which I’m not even sure how you do that? Throw shade in a group text? Talk crap behind their back?
      Whatever “ripping someone down” is, it’s not going to an advice column and confessing your negative feelings and working through them.

    2. LBK*

      Which is a perfectly valid response to someone trying to rip you down.

      Only if you’re a huge asshole and/or trying to get yourself a storyline on a reality TV show. A healthier way to deal with someone wishing you ill is to just not be friends with that person anymore, rather than engaging in some kind of passive-aggressive Housewives nonsense.

    3. Gorgo*

      How on earth is LW trying to rip her friend down?

      Trying to police how people feel is really icky to me. The only thing that matters is what you do. And there is no indication that the LW has done anything unkind to Arya at all.

  74. boop the first*

    It’s kind of sad though… resorting to discouraging yourself from something you want, INSTEAD of using this jealousy to motivate you to take bigger steps toward your goal. Creatives get this advice all of the time: just give up, it’s not as good as you think, you’re just a cog in society so know your place, etc. Nevermind that people get to live their creative dream all the time, they’re just “chosen people” I guess? If wealthy friend is *running a business* as OP is suggesting, that’s not exactly leaving a resume empty. She can still get a job in retail if desperate. No reason to doom-and-gloom her, or fearmonger the OP out of continuing to (responsibly) follow her dream.

    ANYWAY. I totally feel you, OP! I have multiple friends who are in similar envious situations, whether it’s income related or daycare related, but I don’t resent them. I WANT them to be happy.

    And yeah, it’s annoying when you’re stuck at work, and such friend is demanding “why don’t you ever come visit me?”, and then when you offer to visit on the weekend she replies “oh but the weekend is family time, so no thanks.” and you just want to slam your head against your desk because you’re the one getting the blame even though you’re the only one putting any effort into the friendship in the first place. Yeah, I feel you. Honestly, I would just make a point to only text her after work. Or suggest she come take you for lunch once in a while. Maybe do some of those projects you don’t particularly like, maybe it’s not as bad as you think?

  75. Anonymousaurus Rex*

    Oh man. I have a friend like this. She’s unemployed and theoretically looking for a job, but she’s the kind of person who can afford to be unemployed (since mid 2017) without a whole lot of financial stress (family money). She’s got a new puppy, and she’s taking care of her health (which admittedly could be better, but I think she might also be a hypochondriac). She texts me all damn day. She’s also single, and I’m her “best friend” so there’s a lot of pressure to hang out when I’m not at work and respond positively to all her texts. She also gets very mad when I don’t respond appropriately/in the right amount of time. At the same time, my spouse is (temporarily) unemployed as well so I’m feeling very squeezed being the sole breadwinner and exhausted from my day job. This kind of friendship is totally draining. I feel bad for my friend because I know she’s lonely, but also I can’t fulfill all of her social needs!

  76. Barney Stinson*

    Not having to work sounds awesome, but it can create a bad power dynamic in your relationship. The one who’s working can feel like they’re ‘in charge;’ the one who’s not working may feel like they can’t direct how money is spent. While I would love not to have to go to a job every day, I wouldn’t trade it for Arya’s situation. You’re really vulnerable when you’re in her shoes.

    Disclaimer: not every relationship will have a dynamic related to who is earning the money. Your mileage can, and will, vary.

    1. MissingArizona*

      What you’ve said is so true. My marriage has a huge power dynamic, my husband makes all the money, but he’s not easy to live with. Literally had lunch with my SIL today because she’s noticed his drinking and wants to make sure I have an out. We got lucky to be stationed at the same base as my husband’s brother, so now if things go sideways, I have someone that will get him if he goes too far. But he always has the final financial say.

      If I could go back and have my low paying job, but also my freedom, I would take it in a heartbeat. We have no kids, and I’m closer to home now so I can take my dog and run, but lots if careful planning is happening.

      1. Emmie*

        I am really sorry you’re dealing with this. It must be extra tough if your SIL notices and talks to you. The drinking, and the safety issues are something that I’ve experienced too. I hope you do what’s best for you. For me, that meant leaving eventually, but I know it’s different for everyone.

        1. MissingArizona*

          My SIL dealt with her husband drinking, but he manages to keep it in check, so she knows how bad it can get. My exit plan is in motion, but it’s still a little ways off. I’m glad I have support from my SIL, and she doesn’t judge. I am well versed in abuse, so I see the writing on the wall, I just didn’t see it until it was too late.

  77. Sara*

    On a related note – what advice would you all give to a stay at home mom planning to re-enter the workforce in a few years? My husband’s income afforded me the choice not to return to work after having my son, but I don’t want to be not working forever. My baby’s only three months old right now, but as he gets older I’m planning on doing some freelance projects in my field and pursuing some volunteer opportunities that could go on a resume. If anyone has other suggestions I’d love to hear them.

    1. Anon just for today*

      In your position I kept my freelance business going, even if it meant I only took a gig every once in awhile. I hired a nanny to come once a week, so that it didn’t affect us too much financially, but so I could have some dedicated time to work, and still feel like I wasn’t abandoning my kid. Once the kid was a year old he went into daycare and I took on more projects.

  78. lawyer*

    OP, let me ask you this – do you feel like Arya is generally a good friend to you? I have been in a similar situation before and I realized that what was actually bothering me the most was that I didn’t feel supported by my friend. The fact that she lived an enviably carefree life wasn’t really what was bothering me – it was that she never seemed to pause in her endless worrying over the decor for her studio to ask how I was doing and what was going on with me.

    1. circlecitybelle*

      I had this same thought when I read the letter. Arya came across as very self-involved and a little needy in this letter. I have a longtime friend (for nearly 40 years) who is married to a dentist and has never “had” to work as such but always had a career of her own that she worked around their kids’ schedules. We became friends during a period of my life where I was struggling on just about every forefront of my life–career, marriage, etc. And never once did I feel like I was her charity project or not on her level. Once she retired, she got busy in community service (as a volunteer advocate for children who are in the foster care system, a board member for the local homeless coalition) and so on. It’s ALWAYS a joy to have lunch with her and catch up because while they do fabulous things like overseas travel, she always asks about my life (which eventually got much better).

    2. Nita*

      Yes! I posted about this below, but I’ve struggled much more with a one-sided friendship, than I do with a friendship where I’m just really sad I can’t live my friend’s lifestyle. I couldn’t hold on to the one-sided relationship in the end, it was too draining.

  79. Anon just for today*

    Going anon from my regular screenname so I can talk about what I do as a doc filmmaker. I’ve got a background in full-time video production jobs working for agencies, non-profits and then finally striking out on my own after my kid was born. I am super lucky that my husband can support my family. I do own my own equipment and I take freelance shooting and editing jobs semi frequently. I also work regularly for another filmmaker. None of this brings home any significant money. But I also have to stay home with the kid when he’s sick and can’t go to daycare. Because of my husband’s hours I take care of the house cleaning, meal prep, errands, dishes, laundry. He’s super involved when he’s at home.

    I imagine that my friends might feel the way this LW does but I hope they just realize I’m at a different place in my life. I don’t text them at all hours of the day while they’re working. I have time for the occasional gym visit or hike or something fun. I have time to pursue my creative passions. My creative passion and my career are the same – documentary production. It’s a slow going career because the story doesn’t always progress quickly, or it’s hard to find funding, or hard to get the pieces in place when you want them to be, or it takes a long time to build a relationship with someone in order for them to trust me to film them. If I added up all my work hours it wouldn’t add up to 40 hours a week. But my LinkedIn does not say part-time SAHM, it says that I operate my freelance business and I can answer the question of what I’ve done professionally to any future interviewers. I don’t experience many downsides to not being at someone else’s beck and call for 40+ hours a week in a workplace. I know it’s hard for my friends to hustle to make money and also work on their own docs. I feel for them and I was in their position before I had my kid.

    For me, for right now, this works, even though I don’t love household chores and even though I often miss more daytime intellectual stimulation. Especially as an introvert, after having a kid, I really enjoy having the day to myself. Now, I’m pregnant again, experiencing a ton of medical issues I didn’t have the first time around when I was working full-time throughout the pregnancy. I have time to take care of myself. And I’m so grateful for that.

    No one should be jealous of me. They get to sleep without a kid waking them up, probably don’t have in-law issues, don’t go to the dr 3 times a week, have time to hang out at happy hours with colleagues, I’m sure there’s a ton more in my life that people would want to be different. To the OP, I’m sure the life that you want for yourself will come to you. Forget about your friend for now (after asking her not to text you during work hours). I’m sure everything will even out eventually.

  80. Stranger than fiction*

    You know Op, it could be that your friend is also feeling lonely and isolated in her current setup. And that could be one reason she’s texting so much. You just never know what someone’s life is really like behind closed doors. Maybe her husband makes a lot of money, but isn’t all that attentive. I’m also thinking of my mother, who never had to work. Now, all these years later, she has a certain naïveté that makes her hard to relate to. IDK, just a few things to think about.

    1. Former Retail Manager*

      This might be a bit Debbie Downer butttt….if your friend is over the age of about 27 (in my mind you are a full fledged adult at 27, don’t ask me why) and doing this stuff, I believe your friend is a bit selfish and it sounds like the two of you are on very different pages in life. I personally would find it a bit ridiculous to have to have a sit down conversation with my adult friend to explain to her that she needs to stop texting me all day during the workday and perhaps quit whining to me, who has “real problems,” about her much less severe problems. If she is so self-absorbed and oblivious to other’s life situations, I don’t know that she would be worth keeping around. But I am quick to cut people loose.

      If this is some sort of longstanding friendship that has just slowly evolved into what it is now and she’s otherwise been a great friend in the past who has just recently lost sight of reality, then maybe Alison’s suggestion will bring her back to reality and make her think about her prior behavior.

      And of course, it sounds like you’re long overdue to move on to greener pastures. Best of luck!

      1. kb*

        As far as the texting during the workday thing goes, I think people have different mentalities about what is appropriate for texting/messaging. Most of my friends and I have our texting on silent and we only get audible notifications for phone calls during the work day. So we text each other whenever something pops into our heads, knowing the other person will get back to us whenever they have the time. I think a lot of people in their 20s are the same way. If a friend asked me to stop texting them during the workday, I’d certainly respect it and probably apologize, but if they acted as if I was ridiculous for thinking it was an normal thing to do, I’d be kind of put-off. And a lot of people do spend some of their work day on g-chat or texting, so if OP is responding to Arya’s messages promptly, I could see how Arya would not realize her texts are unwelcome.

        1. bonkerballs*

          Agreed with kb. Also, and maybe this is just me, but the minute someone starts comparing their problems with mine and saying they have “real problems” and I don’t is the minute I start seeing them as not a person to want in my life. There is literally no value in it. Because you wouldn’t tell someone who’s having a good day that they shouldn’t be happy about it because someone else is having a better day, would you?

    2. Former Retail Manager*

      My other response wasn’t supposed to go here….foo. Naivete…..YES! My mother was a housewife for 20 years during a period in which the world changed drastically 1975-1995. She is indeed very difficult to relate to and has some very dated and unrealistic views about a whole plethora of issues.

  81. Anonymous #1572387*

    If you resent her life so much, maybe you should take a break from her for a while? I’m currently taking an extended period of time off from my career while I deal with some health issues, and I *know* that some of my friends resent me for being able to not work because my husband earns plenty of money, housing is cheap here, we were able to eat tens of thousands of dollars in medical bills without any apparent problems, and so on. Regardless of my life situation, my struggles and my suffering are still real. If you can’t take your friend’s seriously, then you’re not really being a friend.

  82. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

    My story… I had the whole “class slide after divorce thing” (not so much a class slide, it’s just that the disposable income went WAY down, and then more down after the kids started college, my old friends were living lives and having experiences that I could not even dream to afford, etc.) The first serious boyfriend that I had after that, was not very helpful in that regard. He was a college professor, his disposable income was a bit higher, he had infinitely more vacation days than I did, both of his children were grown and living on their own in other states and he couldn’t understand why mine required so much of my time and energy. He used to talk about how he’d chosen a lower-paying career to do what he felt happy doing, and couldn’t understand why I’d have a boring corporate job (that I mildly enjoy) to pay the bills. On top of me already feeling bad about not being able to afford the parties and vacations that my old friends did, not to mention not being able to give my kids all the material things I wanted hem to have, or to send them to a higher-ranking school, he made me feel even worse about myself.

    Then, thankfully, after two years together, he left. (I wasn’t happy about it then, but I am in hindsight.) Then I met someone else that I also ended up spending two years with. This man was a small-business owner, formerly a single dad, and the opposite of my previous bf in many ways. He knew what it was like to have no free time, no money in your bank account, basically he knew what it was like to be me. One time (during a heated argument, no less), he gave me a talk I will never forget. He said something like “you do not understand how few people are able to do what you’ve done so far, for yourself, for the kids, giving the kids a life that’s, if not the same, at least not drastically different from the one they had before your divorce… giving them college educations. You do not realize how amazing it is what you are doing with your life, every day.” You could tell he was being serious too; that it was not just a pep talk to make me feel better. That talk really helped me. It’s been three years since it happened. I haven’t even seen the man since we ended things over two years ago. But what he said still stays with me. I cannot explain why, but it really helped me stop being so hard on myself.

    So, OP, since I cannot get hold of my ex and send him your way to give you the talk, maybe it would help you to think of the amazing things you do and are every day, and remind yourself of those? I’m sure there are many. Or maybe you have friends who are already telling you of those amazing things you do and are (maybe even Arya?), if they do, would it help to listen to them and tell yourself that they really do mean it? It worked for me. Hope it works for you!

    1. Observer*

      OP, try to get people in your life who tell you what BF2 said – and cut down on contact with people like BF1. He sounds like a jerk. And even if he isn’t he’s a downer.

  83. StillWork*

    Working in a creative field as a part-time freelancer is still work. I work from home for the most part. When people treat my life like one long vacation I see the disrespect they have for me and it sours me on them. I’m self-motivated, frequently work on weekends, start projects at financial risk to me, and have multiple income streams.

    Even when I switched back to a full-time job for a while, the work I’d done on my own, with no supervisor to force me, meant I still had a side hustle going on of passive income. Other friends of mine have tried getting into my creative field with my advice/coaching and completely failed to finish projects they started even with no other time commitments. You might very well have no day job one day and find that finishing even a few projects like your friend Arya is a lot harder than you expected.

    It’s understandable that you resent your friend because you’re struggling, but if you bring this issue up with her, I’d advise you not to treat her like her life is one long vacation. It sounds like she DOES work, and take on projects, she just doesn’t have a boss and a 40+ hour work week. That doesn’t mean she never has creative blocks or difficult clients that keep her home on a Saturday completing revisions/edits when she’d rather be relaxing. “How hard can it be?” You have no idea. So don’t assume if you want to keep your friendship.

    1. Stranger than fiction*

      I think the key difference is that the friend downstairs need to work, it’s more like a hobby. It sounds like you still need to support yourself, unlike the friend whose spouse supports them

      1. Tuxedo Cat*

        It also sounds like Arya is contacting the OP about non-work related matters unless what Arya’s job involves eating.

  84. Chatterby*

    Why not use the jealousy constructively?
    The LW seems most jealous about the her friend’s 1) Financial security 2) Free time and 3) Happiness level.
    Then the LW describes her job as toxic and one which barely pays the bills.
    A better-paying, non-toxic job would do a lot more to help out the LW’s financial security and happiness than advice about how not-working people have issues too. The LW may never have as much free time, but something with more flexibility or working from home options might do wonders.

  85. theletter*

    OP1, If you trust your friend, could you ask her to do some job hunting on your behalf? My friends and I have traded ‘scrolling the internet for openings’ tasks while the job hunter was stressed. Most companies now have a ‘share’ feature on their job boards that would allow your friend to quickly email you a link. If she’s a good friend and you’re honest with her about the state of your job, she’ll want to help you.

    Then instead of texts during the day, you could come home to interesting job leads that you will be excited to apply for.

  86. Llama Grooming Coordinator*

    I’m just imagining Sansa Stark sitting at a laptop rage-typing 500 emails to Alison in the past week.

    Anyway. First of all, LW, have you told your friend that she’s interrupting you at work? That’s the big thing, if she’s expecting you to be on call during the day. (Which she shouldn’t, but some people are oblivious.) If you are responding to her at work – don’t!

    I’m kind of dealing with a similar situation. My Aryas (Yes, two) work, but have time to message during the day. I’m usually unable to even look at my phone except in short bursts. They’ll complain about their jobs and stuff, and I’m usually thinking something like, “God, I just did a workout at 6 AM in freezing weather, literally ran home to get dressed for work, and walked in late to the usual minor disasters and I have to re-train four people because they’re making tons of mistakes. And my project is due today. Shut up.” But on the other hand, I probably have the best job of them, and although it’s stressful at times and there are quite a few ways it’s been a Toxic Job, they’ve been flexible with me and have given me quite a bit of leeway.

    I try not to be smug about it, but…even though I have my own issues and I often feel like I’m in uncontrolled chaos, all things considered I’m doing pretty well. And to be honest, I’m a bit of a drama llama, and they’re good friends anyway. I can deal with a bit of griping, and they know I hardly check the group chat during the day.

  87. tacocat*

    I have a good friend who has never held down a full time job for any stretch of time who thinks nothing of calling me at work every day and expecting me to have a full on conversation.

    I started ignoring it because WTF?

    I like the Hax advice in this… had never thought of it quite that way.

  88. Hey Karma, Over here.*

    Honestly, just tell her you can’t text during the day. It will make you feel so much better. Read her texts when you are at home, eating dinner and relaxing. Don’t think, “she sent this when I was on the phone and trying to print and late for a meeting.” Think, “wow, she really likes those endive salads. I should ask if she calls it enDIVE or ON-deev. I’m going to ask her that.”

  89. Mazzy*

    High income spouse does not equal set for life. Often those jobs can be somewhat temporary or end earlier than they planned for. I’d be jealous if she was living off of dividends and investments becaus that is a bit moare of a steady income even if the exact dollar amount changes. But you can still get dividends even if your disabled or move or can’t work.

  90. Jennifer Thneed*

    Alison: Yes, it’s Carolyn Hax who says that about switching *entire* lives. No time now to find a URL to prove this assertion, but I am confident in it.

    (Also, you have guided me to start listening to “Han and Matt Know It All” and thank you soooo much!)

  91. Tricksy Hobbit*

    I agree with Alison. I am in a similar situation with a friend of mine. Her parents lived an upper-middle-class lifestyle, while my family struggled to maintain a middle-class lifestyle. Her parents paid in cash for her cars; she wrecked at least 3 of them over the course of several years, both of her college degrees and even bought her a townhome.

    After my first visit to my visit to “her” new house, I was ssssoo jealous! After I calmed down, I realized that I would rather have parents who love me and don’t call me stupid. They use the money to control her. They give her money then call her a mooch when things don’t go their way.

    I can’t count the number of times I’ve felt their iciness. For example, they asked us to order takeout for them. We were supposed to order two meals of two different plates, so four meals total. Somehow, we ended up with three meals. OH. MY. GOD. You would have thought we murdered babies and tweeted about it, or something equally as awful. My friend was a completely useless idiot etc.… I’ve never seen anyone get so pissed over a simple mistake. It’s not like we didn’t offer to correct it, but good grief!

  92. DJ*

    Yeah get what you mean. I used to have what I called mon to fri 9-5 friends who did not have to work who would only get together during the week. Not so bad if I was working part time but truly I needed to work and there were nights and weekends. After I sorted through cancer treatment I set boundaries (as I was working full time after finishing treatment and was facing a possible reduced life span but no access to super should the worst happen so I had to save) that I WOULD NOT take time off work for those who did not make time for me outside of office hours.
    I saw someone said how annoying that ping would be. However silencing your phone would mean missing out on occasional texts by working friends. So can you change the tone or just silence texts from this friend?

  93. Hiring Mgr*

    Based on the letter, this sounds more like OPs own issues with a toxic job that barely covers her bills, rather than anything the friend has or is doing. OP, nobody should have to work an awful job that pays very little–I hope you can get out from under this. But it sounds like Arya’s situation is tangential to your problem, not at its core.

  94. Nita*

    Oh good lord OP I feel for you. I have a friend who doesn’t work and I feel so jealous. Not jealous in the sense that I wish her ill, but jealous in the sense that it’s so unfair that people in her life understand why she needs to be home with a small child, while the “people” in my life would peck me to death if I just tried to go part-time. (To add insult to injury, the same people judge me every time my kids go to school with the sniffles: “Shouldn’t they be home a few more days?”) I’m not sure what to do with these feelings, other than recognize that they’re not really about her. They’re about me and how I wish my life was, and I keep trying to do something about my situation one day at a time.

    The texting, now – I feel like that’s another story. I gave up a friendship over this. It was not much of a friendship anyway, mostly I was an emotional dumping ground for my friend’s insecurities and disappointments, which were many. The breaking point was when she decided to start texting me at work. Her part-time job was extremely boring and slow, and I was in a stressful, fast-paced job, trying to keep my head above water. I had to ask even my mom to never call me at work to “chat” because I was afraid I’d lose my temper. And this friend? I’d sit there staring at her texts, but struggled to bring myself to respond to them right away. Or an hour later. Or a day later. That’s when I realized this friendship has really run its course.

  95. GreenDoor*

    I’ve known quite a few wealthy people in my life. It’s important to remember that not all that glitters is gold. I know a wife of a rich guy who is rich because he’s always working, never home to be with her. I know a couple who appear rich but are actually deep in debt. My friend used to be the assistant to a wealthy business owner who threw lavish parties in their home. In reality, the expensive rug, fancy artwork, and beautiful dishes were all rented for show. Your friend probably texts you all day because she’s bored out of her mind. Yes, your job might not be the best right now, but maybe she daydreams of working somewhere, using her brain, having people interested in her, maybe going to school to get certified in something cool or jetting off to speak at conventions.

    The grass is always greener. Put your phone on mute and feel sorry for her!

  96. Joielle*

    Ugh, this is hard. I’ve been on both sides of it, but right now I’m one of the higher earning people among my friends and family (partially because of double income, no kids). My mom, of all people, is the most openly resentful, which is a huge bummer. My dad hasn’t worked in a decade because of health problems, and my mom makes more than enough for them to live on, but not enough for the things she used to have, like designer handbags and annual overseas vacations. So she’ll call me to chat, ask if we have any trips planned for the summer, and then act huffy when I tell her we’re going to Aruba in the fall. I get that it sounds fancy, but we’ve saved up for it! And she asked! I don’t tell her much anymore.

    I don’t think the OP is doing the same thing as my mom at all – but it’s definitely ok to pull back from a relationship a little for your own mental health. Maybe mute her texts and tell her you’re busy at work these days so you won’t see them until the evening. It sounds like you’re doing a lot of emotional labor in fielding her regular complaints, and you can scale back on that for a while without being a bad friend! When I was in school and broke, I muted a bunch of people on Facebook who were doing regular play-by-plays of their fabulous international travels, and it honestly did help. No need to subject yourself to that kind of thing if you know you’ll just feel crummy about it.

  97. MissingArizona*

    As a non working spouse, it’s not all that great. We aren’t wealthy, but I legitimately can’t work because of my husband’s job (active duty flyer). We are finally getting to a spot where I can start working again, and it is hard to restart. It is boring and isolating to be at home all the damn time. I’m glad we can afford for me to not work, but it wasn’t a choice, and taking years off work to support someone else’s career sucks.

  98. Michelle*

    I used to be jealous of a coworker. Her life seemed>/i> to be so great. Seemingly nice husband (a little money, attractive), good job, family, nice house, all her social media pictures looked like she really had it made! Then her husband was moved to an office approximately 6 foot away from my desk. He likes to discuss his life/home situation with his employees (roughly the same age as him but in different stages of life). What an eye-opener. I’ve heard more about his life, his marriage, his kids, his fiances, etc. than I have heard about my own close friends. Wife coworker tried to carefully craft a “perfect” life but the reality was different.

  99. The Other Side*

    I know that I fall in the minority on this one, but there sure is a lot of assuming going on here. A lot of you assume that her friend isn’t capable of realizing that it may or may not be difficult to get a job in the future. Or she hasn’t considered something happening to her spouse, prompting her to return to work (which she may not even have to do). The point being is that you don’t know. Perhaps her friend’s financial situation is such that these aren’t even considerations at all. People that don’t work aren’t necessarily lonely, either. As for the OP, it’s hard to decipher whether this is a friend, “close friend” or super duper best friend. I’d be hard pressed to think they are super close, since it appears the OP is exhibing strong feelings of jealousy. It’s ok to be a little jealous, but if it’s something that’s consuming you like this, take some accountability and bring it to the attention of the friend. As far as ghosting her as a friend, that’s a pretty petty way to end a friendship, especially over something that is petty to begin with (in my opinion, anyway). And just remember, the grass is always greener on the other side.

    1. Observer*

      No one is assuming any of those things. What they ARE saying is that all of these tings are POSSIBILITIES. The point is that no one really knows what the totality of the situation is, and harping on her “perfect” life is also based on a lot of assumptions.

  100. Gorgo*

    Do so many people really think experiencing jealously–in terms of what you think and feel, not how you act–is this monstrous, unacceptable thing?

    For me, it’s as simple as knowing people with happy lives and happy minds. There are days when knowing someone else has no trouble getting up in the morning and only gets sad when actual life events make them sad makes me seethe internally with envy.

    So sometimes when I’m witness to people who just…stay okay all the time, I can’t get past it’s-not-fair-it’s-not-fair-it’s-not-fair, and I honestly have to let myself feel that way and withdraw as much as I can. It doesn’t make me a bad person, or a bad friend, or any crap like that. And yeah, I need therapy, but being jealous of people is hella not the reason why.

  101. DoctorateStrange*

    I’m going to have to apologize for going to the Pollyana route on this one.

    One way to think about this is there is a reason that she is sharing her worries or whatever with you, OP. She wants you in her life. Unfortunately, it may not be executed quite well. She probably doesn’t see the struggles you have, but she probably sees the positive traits you have developed during your situation and she admires that. That is one way of looking at this. She clearly wants you in her life, she wants you to be the one to help her with her loneliness.

    Of course, I recommend everyone else’s recommendations that you create boundaries. Claim that your boss wants you to keep your phones away during work hours, use the “do not disturb” setting, etc.

  102. TheBeetsMotel*

    There’s a UK show that can be found in YouTube called Rich Kids of Instagram (there was a documentary at first, then a show that followed), and for anyone who has seen it, one person, Timothy Drake, stood out as appearing pretty miserable, bored and depressed. He was an heir to a fortune, never had to work and so didn’t, and spent all his time filling in the emptiness with shopping and partying.

    As much as it might seem like an attempt to deal with sour grapes, I genuinely felt bad for him as he seemed so bored and directionless. I definitely didn’t envy the rootlessness and pointlessness of it all.

  103. Triple Anon*

    I used to think it would be great to have a partner who supported you financially until I realized the down side – being dependent on another person. It sounds good in theory, but it can be really limiting. It also means that there are financial incentives to stay in the relationship, and I think that can make things confusing. At worst, it can put a real strain on things. During rough patches in the relationship, the supporter often wonders if the other person is using them for their money, and the supporter feels trapped and maybe financially manipulated. It’s obviously not always like that. But relationships have their ups and downs, and a financial/career disparity is one thing that can, in some circumstances, lead to dysfunctional kinds of power imbalances.

    And because she’s being supported by someone, she’s not free to do whatever she wants with her creative pursuits. She can only do things that her husband is ok with. Even if they have a great marriage and he’s really cool, that’s still a reality.

    Anyway, it sounds like the problem is more about the way she’s treating you. She’s not respecting your space, or your time. I would try to separate that from her overall lifestyle and circumstances. And say something about it. Tell her you don’t have time to text during the day, or every day, or whatever your preference is. And if the friendship is making you feel bad, step back from it.

    Sometimes, someone in my life will start to really irritate me for what seems like a minor reason. Or just not a justifiable reason to sever my relationship with them. On the surface, things seem fine, but every text from them leaves me feel weirdly sad or angry. Or I dread seeing them but can’t figure out why. Or I start to fixate on minor differences, like liking different music.

    With time, I always see that there was something more toxic going on that I had overlooked at the time. Sometimes it can be hard to identify what the real issue is; you just feel bad or fixate on something tangentially related to it.

    So this is my little addition to Allison’s advice. Consider taking a break from the friendship so you can reflect on what the real issues are. You could tell her you’re having a busy week and need some space. You can be nice about it. But give yourself a little time to think about what’s wrong and what to do about it.

    I hope things work out for the best!

  104. HigherEd on Toast*

    I think it helps to remember that not having to work/having lots of money isn’t going to fundamentally change someone’s personality. My brother is several years younger than me and making six figures; he has an incredibly strong work ethic. But he works sixteen-hour days, and when my sister-in-law was laid-off a while ago, he immediately said that he’d probably have to take a weekend job. (He absolutely did not have to. They were basically putting the whole of her salary for a couple of years in savings. But that was his first thought). He also worries about money a lot more than I do even though I’m making half what he is. Having more money has not decreased his anxiety, which has been a part of him for a long time.

    I’d like the money, sure. But do I want to put in sixteen-hour days? Hell, no. And I know that having more money would not change the personality quirks I have that make it sometimes difficult to live with myself. I’ve now had long periods of leisure, both when I was unemployed and supported by someone else and when I was employed and had summers off due to my job, and my happiness during them was comparable to my happiness when working. You still always have to live with who you are.

  105. buttercup*

    It’s funny because Arya is actually the total opposite of the type of person I would be jealous of. I’m more likely to be jealous of someone who is a successful professional, plus maybe well-rounded in other areas as well, rather than of someone who lounges around at home living off of their spouse’s money. (Though I understand the jealousy more knowing you work in a toxic workplace.) You mention that she has time to pursue creative pursuits, but how successful is she actually in this area? Besides, there are plenty of people who pursue creative hobbies while also working 9-5.

  106. Hannah*

    Sometimes, I’m really jealous of my best friend. She makes more than twice what I do, and in a job that she LOVES and is meaningful to her. As a result of her job, she gets to travel all over the world, and often on trips that she chooses, not that she is sent on. She has no set vacation days. She works from home most of the time (not counting traveling). She also has a lot of prestige and external recognition and respect in her community.

    Whereas I work at a job where I can’t afford a decent apartment. I have an hour+ commute each way every day and sit in a cubicle doing a job that makes me feel worthless, doesn’t challenge me, and am always told not to have ideas or contribute, to keep my head down and just do what I’m told. I get a raise each year, but it is less than the increase in the cost of living. My boss has told me I have no hope in ever being promoted.

    So yeah, I get jealous a lot. And it REALLY burns when my friend complains about her life. Or texts me during the day because she forgot I was working.

    One thing that has helped me is looking at all the ways my friend makes my life better. For one, she’s just a good person and friend. Also, she’s really interesting. Her work is interesting, she’s smart, and we can have great conversations. And sometimes, I get to join her on her travels (when I can afford a plane ticket, but sometimes I can crash in her hotel room without paying half).

    So focus on the awesome things about your friend and how they enrich your life. You have two choices–you can have your nose-to-the-grind 9-5 job and not have an awesome rich friend, or you can have that same job and not have her friendship. Which do you choose?

  107. Mary*

    Jealousy is guaranteed to make you unhappy, as you discovered. Two things that could help:

    1. Use this as a wake-up call regarding your dissatisfaction with your job, and use that energy to start the process to find a new one.

    2. This works — I’ve done it many times. Resolve to change your thinking by repeating—instead of “I’m so jealous”—“I’m so happy for Arya that she has all those great things.” Not just a few times—lots of times (like 100s) since you have repeated the jealous thoughts so many times. You’d be surprised how this will change how you think. You can throw in a few, “May I have those things, too,” if you want.

    Hope you get happier!

  108. Anna*

    I’ll pay my 2 cents and tell you that I’ve basically been Ayra. I’m independently wealthy through inheritance and working is completely optional for me. Younger me (teens/20s) loved this! I kept tight watch on my money, but for the most part I paid people to do the work for me and I did whatever I wanted; I went to all the restaurants and hot places in my home state…other states…other countries…but the grass is always greener on the other side.

    I quickly learned that Ayra’s lifestyle actually kind of really sucks. It’s true that I didn’t, and don’t, worry about money, but that carefree lifestyle of a fully-funded college student started to get real stale real fast to the point I became downright bored and I felt like I was just going through the motions. What am I really doing with my life?? Add in the fact that most people work during business hours? I was left to my own devices most of the time and missed that feeling of fulfillment.

    One of the most rewarding things I’ve done for myself was to go back to school; I earned a PhD in my chosen field, and currently work 60+ hours a week. At this point in time I have a regular job (with all the benefits…which is something so many people don’t realize the true value of!) and I also do contract work on the side that’s of personal interest to me.

    The point being that Ayra’s life may seem like the dream to you, but if she’s anything like me the reality is that she’s probably more miserable than you. Not worrying about paying bills is great and all, but there’s so, so much more to life than that!

    Don’t set yourself on fire to keep others warm. If you want to continue a frienship with Ayra you should set clear bountries and that she shouldn’t expect you to message her back right away becuase you’ve got your own thing going on.

  109. ZucchiniBikini*

    I have friends like Arya. People who, due to either a well-paid spouse / partner or family money or both, don’t have to work, and in some cases, don’t. My observation would be that people in Category A (spousal income) are leaving themselves horrifically vulnerable to life circumstances changes, and people in Category B (family moulah) are often quite dissatisfied / restless with their lives after a while.

    Work can be awful and soul-sucking, but it also, for a lot of people (and if they find a job they like at least a bit) provides interest, structure, human interaction, a sense of purpose, and a sense of self-worth in achievement. Most of us work to live but that doesn’t mean work gives us nothing but money. (Well, not all the time).

    My partner and I had no family money behind us at any time. Our early years together, going back 20+ years now, were lean – we never failed to make rent or eat, but there often wasn’t much left after paying for essentials. Working together towards our financial and career goals has been part of what has built our relationship and both of us as individuals. We haven’t always had an easy time, but the sense of partnership and shared labour has been an important cement in difficult stages.

    I geared down to part-time work when our children were preschool aged but never stopped working altogether for any period. What that means is that now, in my mid-40s, my income and my partner’s are basically exactly the same (although he has far more retirement savings – in Australia this is called superannuation – than I do). I am proud to know that, if I had to, I could support myself and my children on my income alone (although there would be a lot less holidaying and takeout meals!) To me, that is valuable enough that I wouldn’t give it up for all the leisure time in the world.

  110. Tricia C.*

    I just wanted to chime in with my own personal experience–I was like your friend. I was married to a man who earned six figures, we were childless by choice and were super comfortable. Plus he is military so at times it was less than convenient to work (but never impossible). THANK GOD I never took it seriously when my husband would tell me I “didn’t have to work”–his go-to response whenever I blew off steam or expressed anxiety about my job.
    Out of nowhere, he left me after 11 years of marriage because he met a 26 year old hotel worker in Singapore and decided she was worth bailing for. I was devastated and beyond shocked–this man was never the “cheating type.” Had I been a stay at home wife, as would have been so easy to do, I would have been utterly at a loss for where to find work. As it happens, I managed to get an offer in my hometown within a month of his announcement that our marriage was over. I continue to be utterly shell-shocked by the situation, but at least I have a wonderful job and can support myself! Continue to believe that working and being able to take care of your own needs are always the right position.

  111. Liz T*

    My first job out of college my trust fund friend gchatted me all day. It drove me nuts.

    I confess that, during periods of underemployment, I have also been that friend.

  112. TokenArchaeologist*

    I just finished a book that deals in part with this issue; comparing yourself to people, and feeling jealous (and broke), in comparison. The book is “Worry Free Money” by Shannon Lee Simmons. She makes a very important point; Do you actually know the intimate financial details of the people you are comparing yourself to? You say you know they make more, they love their jobs, they can afford to have extravagant lifestyles and not work… But do you actually know how they are doing that? If you don’t actually know the intimate details your comparisons might be wildly off base. We generally don’t talk about money, so people only tend to show their friends the good stuff. We don’t let our circle of people know if we’re drowning in debt, or have no emergency savings, or any of the other money worries that people worry about. I would highly recommend the book, especially if you are comparing yourself to other people, feeling broke, and feeling like you cant get by. I’ve definitely been making some of those comparisons myself, and the book gave me a great new perspective on things.

  113. KatieHR*

    I just made it through all the comments and wanted to leave my 2 cents.

    I suffer from feeling jealous towards friends who “seem” to have a better work/life balance then I do. I work in the corporate world while the majority of my friends, and my spouse are teachers. Because of this they get summers off, snow days, lots of days off during the school year and I get extremely jealous. The kicker for me is that I don’t ever want to be a teacher :) So I realize that I have to change things about myself but it is very hard to see posts over the summer of them at the pool, at the beach, etc when I am in my office working away. I am in therapy and this is one of the things I am working on.

    I have other friends that jobs offer them a lot more flexibility then my job does. They can work from home, have tons of vacation days, etc. I get jealous of this too. I try to look at the positives so I agree with OP with the issues she is dealing with.

    My final thing has to do with my SIL. She is 5 months older then me (will be 38 in April) and hasn’t worked in over 6 years. She has a lot of “issues” including anxiety, depression, lymes disease, and the list goes on and on. My inlaws pay for everything. SIL is working towards being able to get back into the workforce but who knows if that will ever happen. I’ve actually had the conversation with my MIL that I hope they have a plan set up for SIL because whenever they pass, I refuse to take on another child in my SIL. I also deal with anxiety/depression and still put one foot in front of the other and get to work everyday.

    Jealously is a hard beast to deal with. Factor in anxiety and a job you don’t like, can really make anything seems 100 times more then it actually is.

  114. I was a Jimless Pam*

    Late to the game on this one but I really like the advice Alison gives about evaluating their whole life. Maybe I’m not as good a person as the other commenters, but my husband went to grad school with someone who wasn’t exactly an Arya but always seemed to be getting exactly what I was lacking in my life seemingly without struggle, and I was miserable comparing myself to her. She bragged about her parents buying her a car when the one I bought with my savings from working 30 hours a week in high school was on its last legs. She bragged about going to school to do what she loved when I was miserable in whatever job I could get in the post-recession economy. She got engaged to her SO of six months four days after I got engaged to my boyfriend of four years, to whom I had been hinting for what seemed like forever. Most recently, she got pregnant a few month months before the time my husband was comfortable with trying for kids, a time during which I very much wanted a baby. I struggle (and still do) with the comparisons, but it really does help me a lot to remind myself that the car her parents bought her was 25 years old and had to be kept locally to school because it ran so badly, when the car I bought myself provided me with a nice down payment for a late-model used car with only 5000 miles on it that allowed me to travel across the country when time and money allowed. I waited to go back to grad school but after a few years in the workplace I knew what I wanted and had the initiative and skills to get it and have my dream job created for me at my dream organization. My husband and I have a lot in common and many shared hobbies, while hers supports her to stay at home with their kid but is her total opposite (and one of his interests is fixing cars and he drags her to car shows, which to me seems like a circle of hell). Like I said, maybe I’m a bad person, but reframing it this way helped me. Not only that, but the jealousy motivated and drove me to spend the 10 years since I met this person trying to achieve my own goals.

    1. I was a Jimless Pam*

      I should add that she never did get a JOB doing what she loved, she just got the degree and now has been so off track to do the academic job she and my husband were training for that she is financially dependent on her husband now. Sorry, I know I’m a terrible person!

  115. E*

    Jealousy will not benefit you in any way, as hard as it is to realize. Do your best to find what in your life is good, and focus on that.

  116. Papa Bear*

    Friend with all the time needs to find a way to fill their days. Tell her that you’ll get in trouble if you are texting during work hours – true or not. My old employer has a rule that your phone stays in your purase/drawer/backpack until lunch. My current employer doesn’t care.

    Yep shopping and daytime TV is entertaining for about 10 minutes. Time to find a buddy to exercise with, opportunities to volunteer, hobbies that require alot of time, day trips and opportunities to be active. All that time to practice learning something new! Time to earn a degree or learn about new things.

    In my time in this world I have had either have time or money. If had both I’d be dangerous. I’d hike the AT, bike the C&W canal paths, restore another old car, get my Master’s degree for the fun of it, read an hour per day, volunteer with the 100+ organizations around here looking for help, etc.

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