Dear Carolyn: My friend of almost 40 years is also my financial planner. Recently, I’ve discovered she has made some questionable moves with my life savings. Although we live thousands of miles apart, we speak frequently on the phone. When she comes to town, we always visit each other. However, I have yet to be invited to her place out west.

Lately, she and her partner have gone on many trips, and I wonder if I have been funding them? She has left several messages and is anxious to speak to me. Not sure how to broach the subject. Is she really a friend? Can this friendship be repaired? Is it time that I find a new financial planner?

Anonymous: Well, yes to the last one — but the time to find a new financial planner hit peak urgency the moment before you agreed to a business arrangement with a friend. It’s just not a good idea to commingle friendship with financial management for every reason your letter encompasses.

It’s also time to start taking her calls again. You’re jumping to unsupported conclusions and thinking the absolute worst of a 40-year friend without giving her even a chance to explain her work.

But I’m getting ahead of myself: You do not want to pick up the phone only to demand explanations for all your worst suppositions. Merely accusing her of hiding her lifestyle from you and vacationing on your money is a friendship ender unto itself, so you don’t want to do that unless you’re beyond reasonable doubt and have all the smoking account statements in hand.

Since your information at this point seems to fall well short of that standard of proof and include some panicked speculation, start by securing the expertise of a fiduciary financial adviser. Investigate what your adviser-friend did and why, and, if necessary, what remedies you have available to you. Then make your next decisions based on what you learn — hard facts only. Then you talk business with your friend.

Whatever your decisions turn out to be, please make sure what you do with your money is unaffected by friendship. Ideally, your friendship also will be unaffected by money, but, depending on what she did, it might be too late for that.

Dear Carolyn: I’m new in the relationship thing, and I’m feeling like quitting already. My girl is free to say anything she wants but always corrects me in what I say, how I respond to people, whenever I say something. She does this to me anytime she feels like, and I don’t know if it’s okay.

New: Definitely not okay, in a general and objective sense. Unequal treatment between supposed equals is a clear warning to get out of that arrangement, stat.

In a relationship sense, though, each of us decides for ourselves what is okay with us. If deep in your heart you do want to be corrected every time you speak for the rest of your life, then it wouldn’t be my place to stop you.

Here’s something that is okay in a general sense: It’s okay to walk away from a relationship “just” because you’re unhappy with it, even when it’s the only one you’ve ever had, even when you still believe it’s fixable. (I highly doubt this one is, for the record.) It’s okay to see it as nothing more than a completed chapter in your education — the one where you learned that liking yourself matters more than your feelings for anyone else.


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