Friend Wants to Borrow My Clothes

Updated on February 22, 2011
R.H. asks from Lincoln, NE
20 answers

I have a close friend "Sue" who ALWAYS wants to borrow my clothes and sometimes does without asking. She is getting divorced and we live in different cities and she came to visit. While she was visiting I looked over and she was wearing my slippers. Later she had put on one of my sweaters without asking. Then she went outside to smoke and put my boots on! I realize with her divorce that she is wanting to look more cute, but I find her constantly asking to borrow one of my shirts or my shoes etc. I wish we weren't the same size!

We are just 2 different people. She had a sister growing up and so all of the clothes were theirs, in fact they still do that as adults. I didn't have any sisters and I never had to share my clothes. She tends to shop at Goodwill and I tend to shop at stores where I am paying full price for my new items. She doesn't get so upset if something gets ruined or not returned and I get upset. She is a smoker and I am not. This leads me to another point. She is not always careful with the clothes and I do not like my clothes stinking like smoke. I also am concerned that she will accidently burn a hole in something. I have mended her own clothing for her b/c she has burned it. One time I let her borrow a white tank top and it came back with a stain and it was gray. I love shoes and I own a variety of shoes, which again, I have paid full price for. I know I am weird but all I can think about when someone else wears my shoes is them sweating in them. Shoes also tend to mold to the owners feet and I prefer them to only be on my feet.

I am full time student (teaching) and single mom and any mom can understand what we give up for love and provide for our families. I feel like my clothes are one of the only things I have for me. I like my clothes to be in nice condition when I have to go to schools. It's a 2 way street and I never ask to borrow her clothes or anyone else's clothes for that matter. I will be the first to admit my own weirdness gets in my way, which is why I never shop at Goodwill or thrift stores. I realize I am missing out on good deals.

I want to be a good friend and I do plenty of kind things for her. Her grandma died and I made her a quilt out of her grandma's clothes for free. That was a good minimum $100 worth of labor. I am always getting her kids little treats and just being a good friend. This is one area where I just can not budge and don't feel I have to. Please don't reply with messages of how mean or selfish I am. I would prefer to get replies of how I can nicely tell her I don't want to share my clothes without hurting our friendship.

What can I do next?

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answers from Pittsburgh on

Well..if you're letting her borrow ARE budging! LOL
Seriously, I think you're just going to have to tell her...honestly...the truth.
Use the old positive, positive, negative method (twice if needed): "Sue, you're an awesome friend and I'm really glad you feel comfortable at my house, but you're going to have to stop borrowing my things because it drives me insane!" "I love you and you're an awesome friend to me, but it has to stop."
Then on her birthday, Christmas, whatever holiday...get her something cute!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

Yuck! My clothes are my clothes. I am not sharing. (Maybe in college but not as adults!) Be firm with her. She is crossing a line.

1 mom found this helpful

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answers from Las Vegas on

You are not weird and you are not mean and selfish. I don't even know why you should have to feel obligated to share your clothes with this woman. I know that she is your friend but if she truly was your friend, she would be more considerate with your belongs and she would ask first before taking (some would consider that stealing).

Just be honest with her and tell her that you are no longer loaning out your clothes anymore. I don't even think that you should even have to justify this to her but, if she asks or tries to pressure you to lend her your clothes, just tell her straight out that you have worked very hard to earn money for your clothes (that's a very valid reason) and you are tired of loaning them out to people who don't take care of them or return them.

If she truly is your friend then she will (a) apologize for being inconsiderate, and (b) still be your friend even though she no longer has free access to your clothes. If she gives you attitude about this then she just an opportunist taking advantage of your goodwill. Again, I don't believe that you should have to explain or justify your reasons why you no longer want other people borrowing your clothes. I haven't shared clothes with friends since I was in high school so I just don't get this grown women sharing clothes thing -- especially when it is entirely one sided.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Colorado Springs on

Just say no. Tell her that it's an odd thing about you - you don't like to lend clothes and you aren't going to do it. If she's offended - I mean really offended, not just embarrassed at her request being turned down - you are more acquaintances than friends.

If she thinks your refusing to lend clothes makes you weird, agree with her!

To take clothes of yours out of your closet and wear them, without asking, is something that would start a fight between most sisters, by the way.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Houston on

My sister and I shared clothes like crazy growing up. We did with all of our friends, until one day, we noticed our closets were practically empty. We had to go around and start asking people for our clothes back. One girl had a huge bag full of our clothes, and she was mad we wanted them back.

After that, I had a rule for no clothes sharing. Even in college we didn't share clothes unless it was for some big special event or something. Though I still had a roommate that took my clothes and even hid them from me b/c she didn't want to return them.

I would really just sit down and nicely... yet firmly tell her you aren't comfortable with sharing clothes... no need to get into specifics, and if she can please return the ones she has. If she presses the issue, you can just tell her it's one less thing to worry about when you are trying to keep your closet organized and your clothes in good condition and you don't like how the smoke smell is so hard to get out. I would tell her though, that when you are ready to donate something, she will be the lucky recipient.

I shop at Goodwill too, but I still think sharing shoes and certain things are gross too.

Really, her behavior is pretty juvenile and I do not think you are selfish at all. If she gets offended and it ruins your friendship, then she isn't a very good friend after all.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Chattanooga on

"I am full time student (teaching) and single mom and (as a mom, you) can understand what we give up for love and to provide for our families. I feel like my clothes are one of the only things I have for me. I like my clothes to be in nice condition when I have to go to schools."
"...So, I really don't want you to borrow/wear my clothes anymore...I really hope you can understand and that you are not upset with me because I consider you a dear friend and this is really hard for me to have to tell you."

This is what I would say to her. If she can't accept that, she's not really a friend.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

The best approach is to be straightforward about what you need or don't need/want. Don't make any excuses, give any reasons, make any comparisons between you, or blame. Just look her straight in the eye, and put it out there in a kind and friendly voice.

Perhaps something like: "Sue, I can see that you like to borrow my clothing and shoes. And that does not work for me. I don't want it to happen again."

If she pouts, wheedles, begs, storms, accuses, whatever, just keep the calm, friendly voice and repeat your mantra. Try it. It works, and usually without drama. If this simple, polite honesty harms your friendship, she has issues deeper than you can help.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

Be honest with her, if she's your friend she'll understand. If not, then you weren't friends to begin with. Tell her that you care deeply about her and you are here for her, however, you have a pet peeve about other people wearing your shoes and clothes. Say you've tried to not let it bother you, but it does, and that is why you are talking to her about it. She may get a little mad, but I'm sure she'll get over it. I actually had a friend like you. She had the greatest clothes, I loved to borrow them, then one day she told me, I never give it back in the condition I took it or when she wanted to wear it, she didn't have it. I told her I was sorry, every once in awhile I'd borrow her clothes, and she would mine, but for the most part, I stopped. I understood where she was coming from and there was no way I would ruin our friendship over borrowing her clothes.
You know, my mother has a pet peeve about brushes. I never knew this until about 3 years ago, neither did my 3 sisters. I was at her house and grabbed her brush, she got all mad. I was like why are you so upset. Then she told me, I understood, and if I really need to borrow it, I ask, then I make sure I remove my hair.
We all have pet peeves. Some people don't know our quirks, and it may take a little time to let people in on them, but if she's your true friend she'll understand.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Omaha on

I hate when people say they want to change something and not hurt a relationship. You can say it as nicely as you want it isn't going to not hurt your relationship. Even if it is just for a time.

But beings you can't budge on this I'd just try and tell her what you've told us. You understand that she had a sibling that she shared with as a child but you've never had this and you really just don't like sharing your clothes. I don't see anything nicer.

I mean I hate lending out my dvd collection. You usually can find any movie you want in there and everyone who comes over wants to borrow something. I usually say no. I don't play well with others and make jokes and laugh. But I know they are annoyed usually even though they shouldn't be because it's like a trust issue or me being selfish issue in their minds but I don't want to loan them out. I know it might come back scratched, or not at all. So I make joke and try and move along. Usually that works. But considering you already set the precedent with her I can't see this working for you.

I think you'll just have to be honest. I'm sorry you got in this situation though. Just be honest and maybe the hurt will be to a minimum. Good luck!



answers from San Francisco on

Hi, you sound like a wonderful friend and she is very lucky to have you as her friend! I would gently take her aside for coffee and say something like this...I know you are having a hard time with the divorce and your wanting to reinvent yourself. I fully support that and want to help you-- but I have noticed you have been borrowing my clothes and other things without asking and it really bothers me. My clothes are an extension of me and one of the only things I have just for me as a single mom. I want you to know I am flattered that you love my clothes and style, but this cant' continue. I don't want you to borrow them anymore. I don't want this to get in the way of our friendship at all, so I wanted to tell you before I got resentful. How about if you and I take a day and go shopping for you sometime and do a makeover-get your hair,nails done and some new stylish clothes? I know you will feel better having your own and I will be happy to have mine back-its a win win! I would say something like that--best wishes and if she is a good friend, she may be hurt for a little bit, but you are a better friend to tell her how you feel even if she doesn't like it. Clear the air and things will get better in time. Best wishes!




answers from Appleton on

It's not a matter of right or wrong here just different. Explain that to her, you did not grow up sharing your things and are uncomfortable with anyone else wearing your clothes, or shoes. I would never want anyone else wearing my shoes. I am also very picky about how I launder my clothes. I buy good quality things on sale or clearence. I don't want anyone wearing my clothes and then washing or drying them. I smoke too and though I am very careful not to burn my clothes I do undersrand my clothes probably smell from smoke.
One solution you may have is offer to make her some outfits. Next time you get together with her have her pick out a couple of patterns and some fabric and make her some clothes, or teach her how to make her own clothes. She can make nice new clothes for a fraction of the cost of ready made clothes.



answers from St. Cloud on

I do not share my clothes either...... You just need to be direct and honest. Tell her that you would love to go shopping with her and give your opinion on what she should buy if she wants your fashion advice.

If she doesn't want to be your friend because you won't lend her your clothes, she is not a true friend.



answers from Minneapolis on

It appears your in the ground seat even though you probably have more say of this. Make rules of your friendship what you and she will agree what you will and will not do. Friendship is all about sharing and kindness but when one party goes too far or into the others comfort zone there has to be an awakening. Tell her you are worried about getting cancer from second -hand-smoke as just the though of wearing clothes someone smoked is just not right. If I had a "friend" that smoked I would ask them to never smoke even in my car or house. As I dont like the chance to get Cancer and it has been proven many times more likely a second hand smoke does cause cancer. And She has not right to come in to your home to borrow your items without permission or even asking.


answers from St. Louis on

You are not weird at all!!! We are adults, get your own clothes!! Tell her you cant afford to lend out your clothes. Its so rude to smoke in someones clothes. It is so weird to me that adults "borrow" clothes. Oh, and I have two sisters, and I still dont borrow my friends clothes. I have a single friend that doesnt have kids and her parents pay half of her bills and she mentions before she comes over that she wants to raid my closet, ummm no!



answers from Minneapolis on

"There's something I want to talk to you about it. It isn't a big deal, it's just a small thing, but it is a small thing that is important to me. I didn't grow up with sisters, and did not grow up sharing clothes. I've realized that I am still not comfortable with sharing clothes with other people. I hope you won't mind that I will not be sharing clothes with you anymore. I do love you, and I love it when we get to spend time together."



answers from La Crosse on

Well- you have the option of being honest and frank and telling her you are heebbeid by clothes and shoe sharing, and would like to be honest because you are good friends and yo feel like she likes you enough to understand...
OR -
Tell her you are concerned you have bedbugs/lice/or fleas...She will stay away on her own. A few months down the road when she accidentally grabs something else, you just renmind her that these things go dormant, so it is probably better to stop the trend now because you would hate to see her have to deal with all the steps of eradicating them from her own home over borrowing a top.



answers from Oklahoma City on

You are from 2 different worlds. She is low income and you are at least middle class socio economically speaking. If you want to remain friends with her then do so by doing things away from your home. If she comes from out of town to visit then make sure you have something going on so that she cannot stay at your home. Pay for her an inexpensive hotel room then pick her up and go do stuff away from your home. You can eat out, do stuff at the hotel if it has activities like a pool.



answers from Philadelphia on

I know it's hard but I think you just have to level with her. Tell her you don't care much for sharing your clothes but that as you get new ones you'll let her have first pick at the old before you donate or put them on consignment.



answers from Columbus on

Tell her you have ringworm and it lives in clothes for up to 2 years so she better not borrow any of them! Honestly though... I agree... sit down and talk to her or somehow casually bring it up over the phone that you can't stand sharing clothes/shoes!



answers from Las Vegas on

My Aunt makes quilts and they run $600 and more, so you are right, you are a good friend. My daughter is trying to get a business started and I told her the pictures for her businees should be well lit and she very passive aggressively said, "Oh you can do that for me" and I stopped her and asked if she wanted to pay me to be her photographer. Of course she replied no, so my offer was to show her how.

This all should have been stopped long ago, but you will just have to reclaim your stuff. When she wears your slippers, tell her you need them. If she goes for your boots, ask where her boots are. If she wears your sweater, tell her you are going to do a load of laundry and need it, if she says she will wash it, tell her you plan to wear it tomorrow. You may also want to bring her one of her tops when you ask for your sweater.

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