Buying Love 5/2/23

Thoughts with Richard Bleil

Recently, a young woman came to visit and stayed with me for a week.  The visit cost me about two thousand dollars.  It was my own fault.  I took her shopping, thinking that she didn’t have much money, and offered to buy her pretty much anything that her heart desired.  One of the first things that I did was to take her to a very nice department store in the region to the shoe outlet room and offered to pay for her shoes.  She wanted three pairs.  As it turns out, one of them didn’t fit, so I only bought two.  Then she wanted to go to a couple of stores in the mall, and I ended up getting her about a dozen tee-shirts. 

The truth is that I’m living on my parent’s inheritance, which has afforded me to live a life of luxury, but now my funding is out.  The cost of repairs to my car (a hybrid vehicle) will deplete about half of the money that I have left, and I’m uncertain that I’ll have the funds to pay for next month’s bills.

A friend of mine knows of my folly and asked me the obvious question; “why didn’t you say ‘no’?”  it’s a fair and valid question, and one that I’ve been asking myself of late, but it’s not just her.  This is my lifestyle.  I often tend to overindulge in my expenditures for other people.  I pick up the tabs at meals, I buy gifts, I give generously for friends in need, and I can’t help but wonder why. 

I manned up and spoke what I fear is the truth; I’m trying to buy friendship.  I want people to like me, so I spend money on them.  I guess money is my “love language”, but it’s a poor language indeed if it ends up leaving me destitute.  I wanted my friend to have fun, but even with the money that I spent on her, I don’t think she did.  I don’t blame her; she had been apart from her common-law husband for several months, and a week or two before she came to see me, she decided to go back to him.  I’m sure she was so excited to go home and resume her relationship that I was simply a week-long obstacle in her path, and all of the shoes and tees in the world would never change that perspective. 

It seems a sad and, frankly, pathetic statement to say that you feel as if you need to buy love, but there it is.  I was raised to believe that nobody loved me, and nobody ever would, and I’m definitely feeling that message today, and money was the love language in my family. 

When I was teaching in South Dakota, my mother made one visit to me.  She had decided to divorce my dad (a divorce I didn’t think would take, and it didn’t, because I don’t believe that either could have survived very long without the other) and came to spend dad’s money just to make him angry.  One day, she wanted to make a day trip from the eastern side of the state to see Mt. Rushmore, and then just come back.  Well, it’s a seven hour drive from where I lived, so, no, it wasn’t a day trip, but we drove out, mom got a hotel room and we returned the next day.  Before we went, she had already purchased an ungodly expensive painting with a fire theme for my brother-in-law, and on the way she wanted to stop at a Native American store in the badlands.  While there, she was merrily picking out jewelry and gifts for my sister and her entire family as I watched.  She ended up spending a huge sum of money, and by the time her shopping spree was near an end, she looked at me and said, “well, you might as well pick something out for yourself, too.”

Maybe it was in my imagination, but the tone was, in my mind, obvious.  She never picked up something and said, “Ooh, would you like this?”  The signal that I received from her was clear enough; she wanted to spend money on those people in her life that mattered to her.  I didn’t, by the way.  If she wanted to buy something for me, she would have, but in her language of love, I was simply left out.

Now, I spend money to show my appreciation and love, which probably comes across as pretentious and privileged, but it is the language I learned.  Sadly, of the languages of love, it’s not terribly effective.  And here I am, broke, and alone.


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