“How would two people of drastically different incomes even become friends in the first place?” you might ask. I’m talking about such different incomes where the amount of money one person spends on food in a week is what the other spends on one meal. Where would they even cross paths in a way that a friendship could form? I can tell you where: childhood. And childhood spans through college. From the time you’re born to the time you graduate college, money isn’t really a factor in your friendships. I’m speaking of course about students who aren’t completely spoiled and put up in penthouses and sent to Morton’s on daddy’s credit card, but who are actually made to live like a student and fend for themselves a bit.
When we’re still developing and finding our way in life, before we become whatever our success story is, the playing field is pretty even. We make friends in this pure, innocent way. But what happens after we make our way in the world and find our career paths, that can really change friendships. I have several friends I’ve known since elementary school who are now very, very wealthy. And it’s honestly resulted in some awkward dynamics. If your friends make much more than you do, then you’re familiar with this.
Gift-giving is awkward
When a birthday, wedding day, or any other day that traditionally involves gift-giving comes up, it can be very uncomfortable. Your wealthy friends might just give you a big fat check as a wedding gift, and it’s so big, you simply can’t give them money when it’s your turn to give a gift. Giving them money would immediately welcome a comparison of the two gift sizes and yours would fall very short. Let’s say they gave you a thousand dollars for your wedding and it’s stressful for you to hand over more than $100. You have to give them something, or you’ll look like a jerk who takes advantage of well-to-do friends. So you find something “thoughtful” and hand it over, knowing that everyone in this equation understands this is arbitrary. What you spent is pennies to them, and they really didn’t need you to buy them a gift. You quietly resent this because to you, spending that $100 was a lot. To them? A drop in the bucket.