Folake* and Seun* (both 25) became fast friends after meeting at a party a year ago. Their lives revolved around having a fun time and elevating the other person’s stress, but money problems ended all that.
How do you become friends with someone you meet at a party?
Folake: The party happened in October 2019. I was there because I needed to have a fun time and life was stressful. However, for most of the party, I noticed she stood alone and looked uncomfortable. When I asked her what was wrong, she explained that she had followed her roommate, who had ditched her for a boy. I felt bad for her, so I stood there with her and tried to cheer her up. We danced, took shots, and eventually exchanged numbers. When she wanted to leave, I ordered her a ride and she texted me when she got home.
The following week, we met at another party and this time, I was the one who didn’t know anyone there. We had a good time together and I realised maybe we could build some sort of friendship. The next day, when I woke up with the most irritating hangover, there was already a text from her saying how much she likes partying with me and that she knows spending time with me will be fun. I thought it was fate.
Did you both get to hang out?
Folake: We did and it was the most fun I had. I met her at a point in my life when I needed new friends. Making friends as an adult is scary and I didn’t know how to do it. Most people have their cliques that have existed for years. Some of them are the ones you don’t even fit into because they’re of a different social class than you are.
I was down in the dumps and life wasn’t going so well. Seun seemed like the answer to my prayers. Once-a-week catch-ups became mandatory for us. There’ll be good food, alcohol and lots of gossip. We became really fast friends.
There was no event we attended alone. If Seun wasn’t going to be there, I wouldn’t be there and vice versa.
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When did the problems start?
Folake: In 2020, when the pandemic happened. They’d just announced a lockdown and companies were moving different. Seun’s job slashed her already rubbish salary in half. One minute she was paying for our brunch dates and the next, she could barely afford her rent.
It was a tough time for her and I noticed how much her behaviour changed. She wasn’t as lively or bubbly as she used to be. She was always tired because she had to pick up extra jobs. I tried my best to be there for her as much as possible. We couldn’t eat out because of the pandemic, but I’d sometimes get her food from the places she liked. Occasional gift deliveries to remind her that I care and love her.
I could afford to do all of this because I had a bit more money than she did. I always believed that in situations where one person had a more significant advantage, it is normal for that person to help and do more. It’s a rule I applied to all my friendships and romantic relationships. All of these things I mentioned are what set the tone for the actual problem.
What was the problem?
Folake: I started sending her money. ₦20k and ₦50k there. It wasn’t going to do much, but at least it was something she could manage. I’ll occasionally send her money to fuel her car or get some groceries. She never asked and I just did because I could, but then entitlement set in.
She started calling and demanding money. At first, it was small things like her card declined and she needed ₦5k to pay for something she bought, to asking me for money for her router because her bank app wasn’t working. Initially, the requests were so small I wasn’t bothered then the demands started getting more ridiculous.
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Folake: She once asked me for money for her rent. Rent she’s paying almost ₦2,000,000? How did she want me to do it? Where did she want me to see the money? Am I a thief?
Before then, it had been things like buying a new wig or changing her phone. She then graduated from that to asking me to borrow her money. I don’t like to borrow people money because they hardly ever pay me back, but I borrowed her anyways. Till today, I haven’t gotten a single kobo back.
So there’s the random money I’d send her, buying her expensive things and still borrowing her money she never paid me back. lt felt like I was going destitute. I am the last born so I never had siblings to send money to. There’s nobody I take care of except my parents and myself, but there she was. I started avoiding picking her calls because I knew she’d bill me.
That sounds like a lot for you
Folake: It was. Especially when I told her no. She’d give me the silent treatment for days and start shading me on social media. Things like how people aren’t there for you on your bad days. I’d feel so bad. I’d give her what she asked for.
How long did this go on for?
Folake: She got the slashed salary in July 2020. I remember sending her money till February of 2021. So, seven to eight months of her attitude. All the other friends I had told me to cut her off, but I couldn’t bring myself to do it. It felt like I was abandoning her at the time she needed it the most.
But you did eventually
Folake: I was scrolling through Twitter one day in March and I saw her reply to someone’s post about her getting a promotion and taking them out to dinner. I was so confused because she didn’t mention it to me. It was even more confusing when a couple of days after I saw the post, she called me to ask me for money to add to her grocery shopping money. Someone that was supposedly taking other people to dinner at this overpriced Lagos restaurants? That’s when I realised I’d been played.
I blocked her everywhere and cried myself to sleep. I thought of all the times I had sent her job opportunities and money, tried to be there for her when she was sad, never tried to make her feel less than because she couldn’t afford certain things. With all the kindness I tried to show to her, this was how I was repaid?
Did you talk to her about it?
Folake: No. I don’t want to hear whatever explanation she wants to give. She had so many chances to explain herself over the years but she didn’t. If you rate someone enough to constantly use them for emotional and financial labour, when things get better for you, they should at least be aware.