How to lose friends and alienate people

Joey Garcia

One of my friends is in sales and earns about $70,000 a year. That seems like enough money for a single person, but she is always hustling a sideline business. This year, it’s skincare products at house parties. Last year, it was cellphone plans through her website. And the year before that, it was sex toys at house parties. I always refuse and she always says, “I’m just asking you to support me.” I hardly hear from her anymore unless it’s about buying something. I earn $32,000 a year and am a careful spender. Should I host a facial party, but not buy anything, so I can show support but get her off my back?

Let me strip down to my bias: I’ve never met a multilevel marketing program that I liked. Over the years, I’ve heard dozens of get-rich-quick schemes. But I passed high-school math as well as life’s crash courses in common sense, so I understand that you have to get in at the very beginning to earn real money. Otherwise, when you break down the actual cost of earnings, you realize that you could have made as much cash working the counter at Taco Bell. And, at Taco Bell there is no need to trot out self-centeredness or use pals to earn a paycheck.

That said, your friend’s request for support is amusing. She is implying that your disinterest is a failure of emotional support. In reality though, what she desires is for you, quite literally, to support her lifestyle. Saying no to purchasing things you don’t need or want is sane. Be proud of having a backbone. After all, she isn’t raising money to, for example, save orphans in Ethiopia or to teach art to inner-city teens. So, host the facial-products party if it would be a blast, a pay-to-play girl’s night in. But don’t expect to satisfy her. Multilevel marketing programs train their devotees to be relentless.

The guy I am planning to go into business with spins manic: He’s extremely agitated, quick to anger, demanding and very controlling. He is creative, but we keep running into problems, sourced in his intense demands and his insistence that I be available whenever and do whatever. If I try to talk to him about his behavior, he quickly excuses himself by claiming that he has always been anxious. This business would also involve his wife (who tolerates his rudeness toward her for reasons I won’t go into here). I wonder if you might suggest ways to make our partnership manageable.

I’m not a psychologist, but any student of human nature understands the staggering difference between someone feeling anxious and a person experiencing mania. Your friend may have learned to tag anxiety as the source of his behavior because nervousness, worry and agitation are socially acceptable traits in American culture. Mania signals something that is serious and potentially dangerous for the individual, unless it’s treated by a competent psychiatrist. True mania includes impulsive behavior that wreaks chaos for the individual and those around them. Is this what you have witnessed? Or are you struggling with the realization that although you admire your friend’s creativity and are enthusiastic about the business idea, you can’t form a working partnership? His personality as you have described it means he must be top dog. That makes a successful business partnership with you doubtful. So regardless of what you have invested so far in time and money, be grateful. The stress you feel dealing with an agitated, demanding, controlling, quick-to-anger prospective business partner is nothing compared to what you would feel if your income depended on him. Yes, that means the best way to manage this budding partnership is to gracefully end it.

Meditation of the week
This holiday season, I am thankful for all of the people who are no longer in my life because their absence is a sign of my growth. And I am grateful for all of the people who have entered my life because their arrival is a sign of my growth. Most of all, I am delighted by the friends who have always been present, because each one is such a gift.

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