On genuine friendship

Buy me… buy me…

Image source

The other day, I was walking home from the bakery when one of Christian’s longtime friends waved at me from the door of her house. “Come over here and chat a minute!” she said. Seeing as one of my goals for this year is to develop relationships, I was happy for the opportunity.

But the “chat” had ulterior motives. After exchanging initial pleasantries, she pulled out a big plastic bag and said,

“Hey, I’m selling underwear, maybe you’d like to buy some?”

“Um, I’ll take a look,” I said – just to be polite.

“I have this model, which is R$6, and this one, which is R$3… and this one, which is R$7… well?”

“They’re nice,” I replied in a non-committal tone of voice.

“Christian’s sister already bought a whole bunch,” she pressed.

“Let me take stock of what I already have at home, and if I find that I need any more, you will be my go-to underwear source,” I reasoned.

“Come on! Underwear’s always useful!”

“Yes, but I’ve already got some.”

She looked at me like I was being unreasonable. I tried to circumspectly tell her that February was a brutal month for us financially and we’ve pretty much nixed all extraneous purchases for the time being.

“Ah,” she said. But her eyes weren’t sympathetic, they looked like maybe she thought I was making up an excuse to avoid a purchase. We chatted for a few more minutes, and as I headed out, she shouted,

“Don’t forget to let me know about the underwear!”

Here’s the thing – underwear isn’t the first thing she has tried to sell me. She’s also marketed cosmetics, perfumes, and tupperware containers, as well as tried to get me to wax my legs at her house. Because of this, I’m finding it hard to develop a real friendship with her, and I’m wondering if I even can.

I dunno, if it was a matter of helping her out by purchasing a few products to support the setup of her home business – and if I thought such a gesture might advance the friendship – I’d do so. But I just feel like the way she approaches me, from her expression and conversation and other non-verbal cues, is often from the point of view of “maybe I can get something out of her” rather than the perspective of “I like her as a friend, and if she happens to become my customer too, then that’s cool.” I also suspect that if I bought two pairs of underwear just to be nice, she’d try to persuade me to buy four.

What do you think? Could I be misreading her? Should I just buy the freakin’ underwear?

  • Ugh, I can’t stand people like that! It’s like people in multi-level marketing–all their friendships become means to make money and I feel one can never trust a connection with them again. Do not buy the underwear!

    • Shayna

      That’s one vote for “do not buy”! I almost cracked up when she said “Underwear’s always useful!” – well, I can’t argue with that, but I’m still not gonna purchase! 😉

  • nina

    People are always doing this to me. I get bothered. I won’t buy anything. If someone starts pushing me, I go on auto pilot no. While Ricardo is the opposite. We got into a huge fight about buying a baby crib. We paid 200 more, on basically the same thing. Just because someone pressured him into buying it. Really, I control most of the purchases, so I let it happen. He makes more money than me and wanted to buy it. But I was mad about bad budgeting and buying on impulse.

    • Shayna

      Yeah, pressure automatically turns me off too. I also control the budget (and stress about it, while my husband doesn’t). Fortunately, he’s the type to “cry” for a discount. He sometimes puts more pressure on the seller to lower the price than the salesperson puts on us to buy the item!

  • Don’t buy the underwear. You’ll only encourage her. If you continue to refuse she’ll eventually give up, or you’ll smartly run the other way when you see her. She doesn’t appear to be friend material right now because she’s thinking only of what you can do for her. Good luck!

    • Shayna

      Thanks! I’m hopeful that after a few more polite but firm refusals, it could morph into more of a friendship and less of a marketingship 🙂

  • Debbie

    ABSOLUTLEY NOT! Friendship should not be based on whether we help people by purchasing a product they are selling. If she is pushing you to buy her product of the month, she is only interested in making money on you by introducing you to each product and will probably only contact you to purchase stuff. If she really is interested in becoming a friend she will understand that you have set limits and the everytime she is selling something you are not going to be purchasing the merchandise just because she is selling it! I must say that she might become more of a friend after a few more refusals but don’t be surprised if that is not achievable. Always keep an open mind though that is a positive for the saying goes something like this: Do not look at a stranger with an evil eye because god may be sending a new friend by…….

    • Shayna

      Yeah… ::sigh:: it’s unfortunate. I don’t have *too* much contact with her on a day-to-day basis. We’ll see what happens in the future.

  • Women experiencing oppression (even more than I realize, I suspect), the large informal economy, and friendliness that looks the way an American would act if they wanted to be friends.

    Sigh. It’s a challenge.

    Don’t buy the underwear.

    I remember sitting at our kitchen table and my husband saying ‘No one in Brazil is your friend unless you know them.’ I responded, isn’t it that way all over? I mean, someone’s your friend…and you know them?

    But now that I’m here, I totally understand what he meant.

    Friendly with an agenda. (FWAA) It’s despicable in the US, but seems to be a cultural norm here, one that is navigated by natives quite nimbly.

    • Shayna

      My husband would agree with yours. It’s like his first instinct is suspicion (although he doesn’t show that in his interactions with people). On the bright side, it’s sooooo refreshing when you do meet someone who’s friendly with no agenda!

  • Don’t buy it!

  • luasol

    Resounding no, don’t buy it! Who can be trusted? Like Jennifer mentioned, friendly with an agenda. My husband said the similar thing. In fact, a so-called friend of my husbands, screwed us financially and is telling people in this town my husband sold him the wrong product. What happened is he gave us two checks for payment, which bounced. He has been trying to get a hold of this guy and is blatantly ignoring us. Yesterday, my husband talked to our attorney and apparently, this guy is known for bouncing checks. From the get-go, I told my husband never accept personal checks. This is the second time this has happened with this guy. Instead of owning up for bad checks, its now my husband’s fault! Unbelievable! The attorney told my husband there are good people who want to help, whom are sincere. On the flip side, there are those who want to bring others down. Be careful who you do business with. From now on, before we sell a product to a client, we are going to inquire with our attorney. Follow your instinct.

    • Shayna

      Yikes, what a nightmare! It stinks that he couldn’t even just slink off in shame after he bounced the checks; instead he’s spreading bad publicity about your business. How does your husband feel about the “friend” now?

      • Luasol

        He’s upset, but does not want to push this guy. I don’t want anything to do with him, but my husband said he will do business with him, meaning if he wants items, he will have to pay in cash up front…sigh…I don’t get it. To me, that is setting up more problems, but Brazilians are more tolerant and forgiving of those who do reprehensible things. I think, on some level, my husband wants to avoid more problems. I also believe because the town is so small, that is why he is treading lightly. I am a firm believer “First time shame on them, second time shame on you.” We’ll see what happens. Meanwhile, still have not been paid! At this point, I am stepping out and letting my husband deal with it. He could take him to court, but more problems could arise and it could take months to get this resolved. If he wants to badmouth us, let him, because people who know us, know we are legit. Things do have a way of coming back to bite people in the behind, so I will let karma take care of this guy.

  • Jenner

    People always have interests. It’s normal, but it must go both ways. My girlfriend used to sell costume jewelry when she was at college. At the same time, she also used to buy chocolates, honey bread and underwear from her mates. The concept here is networking, and not exploitation. So, next time you need underwear or want to surprise your husband, call her. You’re going to save money and build relationships.

    • Shayna

      “Networking, not exploitation” – I completely agree! Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  • I’ve had many friends over the years who have started their own businesses or have become “consultants” (i.e. sellers of products) who have invited me to “parties” where the services or products are presented, clothed in a patina of refreshments, party games, and social interaction.

    My answer to all of them is a kind but gentle, “Thanks so much for thinking of me, but since I’ve had difficulty with my purchasing “willpower” Iin the past, my husband and I have decided that it would be wise for me to decline ALL invitations. I hope you have a successful party/success in your business/success in selling your product or service. Why don’t you give me your card (or contact info) so I can let other people know what you’re offering?”

    I never feel guilty with this answer – and I’ve never had a friend give me the cold shoulder because of it.

    It sounds like your (potential) friend is trying to manipulate the relationship to fit her purposes. If all she wants from you is a sales relationship, then she’s not really seeking “true” friendship.

    • Shayna

      Luckily, those types of “product parties” don’t seem to have caught on here… at least not in the social circles I frequent!

  • This is easier said than done. i can tell you…NO DO NOT buy the underwear. But i would probably buy the underwear. i am weak like that sometimes. But if thisis not her first time of trying to sell me something i might build up the courage to tell her to stop trying to sell me things. I don’t know itls hard. You could be mischievous and turn around and say, ok, i’ll buy some underwear from you IF you bjy these (insert something here for her to buy) from me. See what happens. Think of it as an experiment.


    • Shayna

      Cultural difference: My instinct is to take the more direct approach and just say “Sorry. I’m not interested.” But my husband always encourages me to have more jogo de cintura – more “finesse” – in relationships and social situations here… so, handling her in a way that manages to convey the message that I’m not interested yet without offending her by being too blunt about it…

      • I would love to hear that conversation you have with her to see how you handle this in a more refined way.
        you could say …” i would love to buy these underwear, but when i wear underwear i get a horrible rash so i don’t wear them anymore”.

  • jan moy

    You have no idea where those panties have been or how and where she got them. No. No. No. No matter how much you need them.

    • Shayna

      I don’t need them… so I wish she wouldn’t pressure me to buy them!

  • Dave

    How many comments, yet no reference to “commando?”

  • Maureen (your mom’s friend)

    Dave, that’s a perfect answer! ha ha
    Shayna, I have been in your position a ‘gazillion’ times over my years…I am now ‘softly blunt’ and find it simplest to do as you say “I am not interested” while looking whomever in the eye. For me, it usually prevents the uncomfortable back and forth banter of trying to be convinced that I should buy….etc. And if that still happens then I change the conversation. Regardless, I always have a difficult time with sales folks and being in that position but I’ve learned to not allow that type of manipulation in my life. Good luck and keep your eyes on your budget 🙂 and pray for courage! 🙂

    • Shayna

      Thanks for reading and commenting, Maureen!

  • I have trouble making friends myself. I totally understand, especially living in a foreign country. However, I don’t think I would buy the underwear. It isn’t worth it to have to spend money in order to develop a relationship. Friendship should be separate from business.

    • Shayna

      I agree. At most, she’ll probably just be an acquaintance.

  • Joyce Stotts, your Mom’s friend from JFJ Ingatherings

    Shayna: I would echo the sentiments of the rest, which by now is approximately 98% who voted NO! I would NOT buy the underwear from her. That would be like rewarding a child who will not take no for an answer at the exact moment they are being pushy, demanding and rude! Certainly, the culture is different, but it is hard for me to even imagine someone begging me to come over to buy… UNDERWEAR??? None of her *&”%! business what type of underwear you choose! My goodness, that IS personal!

    Actually, we recently had a FOURTH family approach us to sign up for an electricity carrier that my husband did not want to sign up with. We have been so harrassed by friends and acquaintances about this company: Ambit, that my husband totally refused to even discuss it the fourth time. What happened is that I had to tell someone I AM friendly with, that my husband refused to even consider it anymore, after so many people pressuring us to buy. My friend got pretty upset with me at first (like I owed her since she signed up under me for something she DID want without me even asking her); but thankfully, she is a real friend and got over it fast enough. At first, though, she accused us of her missing out on a $100 bonus, like it was our fault she didn’t ask more people. It was really HARD, to tell her “Please don’t ask us again. The answer is NO.” Thankfully, my husband said it was him refusing due to undue pressure from so many people. In the end, she and I are still friends and regaining confidence in our relationship again. 🙂

    Sorry about the rambling, but I do agree also that you should NOT buy underwear, bras, etc. from just anyone. There have been may photos on the internet of people who wore underwear originating from China and they acquired toxic damage to their skin from pesticides, etc. You don’t need that! Preserve your health with reputable lingerie that you know is the real deal and non-toxic!

  • My husband always asks people ot sign up themselves (and their kids/other family members!) for English lessons when they are selling us on something. It’s hilarious!!!!