How Do You Deal with a Friend Constantly Asking to Borrow Items?

Updated on September 29, 2013
J.N. asks from Lafayette Hill, PA
17 answers

Hi I have a friend. I enjoy our friendship. However I prefer not to lend my stuff out and not to borrow from others. She frequently asks to borrow items. I don't want to offend her. I have given her subtle hints. How do I deal with this? Thanks, J.

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So What Happened?

Everyone thank you for your responses. She ask to borrow my hair dryer,tshirt ( returned it stained) a yellow t shirt, house hold items. We are good friends she has a boy and a girl. Her kids are well behaved and easy to have over. We have them over frequently for playdates. She doesn't recipocate as often ..but I am ok with that. Not her comments though. Sometimes I invite both kids over sometimes just one at a time. She will say comments about me not including both kids and her youngest feels left out. Oh well. Sally was here just the beginning of the week. When she needs to watch her kids if I am available I am glad to watch I said they are sweet children. Which is more than I ask. I don't have family close by to watch my kids. Unless it is an emergency ,dr appt etcI am a self sefficent person. I am glad to watch her kids I really detest lending out my things. My house is fairly organized when I want to my items I want to use it
My neighbors on the same street and I borrow baking ingriendts from each other..2 t of baking soda, 1 egg , 1/2 sour cream whatever. This is not stuff I will be looking for so it doesn't me.

Featured Answers


answers from Hartford on

If you want to make her stop asking, then why can't you just say, "No, I'm sorry, I don't make it a habit to lend things out. I tend to prefer keeping my belongings where they belong. I appreciate it that you understand."

That way you're closing the discussion, and if she brings it up again later you can say, "I'm sorry but no. I thought you understood?"

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

If lending doesn't make you feel comfortable then just say no.
"Sorry Janie but I've just never been a lender. I know it shouldn't bug me but it's just something that stresses me out so it's just better all the way around if I don't get into it.".
Not everyone likes to lend things out - it's perfectly ok.
A good friend will/should understand.
Some people are ok with lending some things but not other things.
My husband doesn't mind lending shovels or rakes but never touch his drills or saws!

3 moms found this helpful

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answers from Grand Forks on

I am the opposite. I would rather lend an item to a friend rather than have a friend go out and buy an item that will be seldom used. For instance, my neighbour has an apple peeler/corer. It only gets used in the fall when we are processing a large crop of apples for the freezer. She does her apples, then brings it over to me so I can do mine. I have a food processor. She uses it when she needs to. The neighbours use our ladder, we use their rake. Every time you lend something to a friend you help the environment because you save your friend from buying another thing that will sit on a shelf and eventually end up in the landfill. Just insist that the items be returned promptly and in good condition. A good friend shares what they have. That's what we teach our children, right?

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

I'm kinda like Canuck. We've lent neighbors all sorts of yard tools, ladders, lawnmowers.... I am happy to lend most of my friends anything they need so long as it doesn't put me in a bind.

There is one family from whom I rarely get stuff back and then I either say "oh, sorry, we're using that" or just give it to them. This particular family is a bit scattered and disorganize, but they have done a lot for me. I have a lot of forgiveness for this sort of mistake in light of the kindness they have shown me.

If it was a friend and I didn't feel comfortable lending something, then I would just own it (my discomfort) and then suggest Freecycle. Or if I knew there was an issue about things not being returned, I'd add on "well, you can use it until X time, and then I'll be needing it back." Some folks are forgetful and giving them a reminder --Oh, "I need that such and such back" instead of waiting for them to remember. Heavens, if I let you borrow it and you forgot you had it, it's certainly okay to ask for it back!

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

The hair dryer is a little creepy to me. I don't use my brush on children's hair, so maybe that is a personal hang up.
Im not fond of all the shaming about sharing going on. You get to decide to lend your stuff or not. But as a grown up you do need to own your decisions.
It sounds like this woman has issues with boundaries at all. Maybe a coffee date would be a good way to start the conversation. Let her know hey somedays both kids are too much. Or we have a rule where son get a play day and daughter gets another one.
If the lending causes a big stink just say you know we worked hard and really can't afford to replace x and I dont want to create a rift over something getting broken.

Eggs flour etc is generally easy to lend and is what neighbors do.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Houston on

I like what Canuck's is doing for our environment.

I have a friend who always borrows DVDs when she visits. She never returns them without my reminding her or without my going to get them. It really irks me.

But, she also let me live with her rent free for a month when I moved out of state and my new home wasn't ready. So, I grin, grimace, and bear it.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

"I prefer not to loan my stuff out or borrow from others."

Be direct and suggest she get x and y from another source. But for yours, tell her no. I don't like to loan or borrow, either, because stuff always seems to go missing. I give what I can afford to lose.

There are many, many legit reasons to say no and you don't need to feel guilty about it. I can never borrow a kitchen item from a neighbor because we don't keep kosher but we are still friends.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Appleton on

It depends on what they are asking to borrow. Treasured heirlooms NEVER I don't care who you are. My clothes or shoes or make-up --NO. Lawn and garden equipment or my vacumm or carpet scrubber sure but if you break it you buy it. Making a recipe and need an ingredient no problem.

But if you are opposed to the idea --- tell her. Just say no. Tell her I have worked hard to have what I have and I do not like to loan it out.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

Lend her the stuff. What's the problem if she's a friend? Generosity is a beautiful thing. Being mean? Not so much.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Anchorage on

I would just be honest, but don't be surprised if she is a little put off by it at first because she may feel like you don't trust her, but hopefully she will see it is more about you then her and will not hold it against you. Personally, I don't really have an issue lending things out but only if it is something I don't care about or if I can trust the person to return it or replace it if they break it.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Melbourne on

I once had a friend who not only would borrow my stuff. She somehow got my spare key and entered my dorm room and took things without even asking. Not stealing, and not hiding it from me. Just borrowing because she was sure I wouldn't object. She borrowed a very special blanket I had brought back from Europe and I let her know it wasn't okay to go in my room and take my things. In her country, privacy and possession wasn't an issue like it was here, and she had no idea why I was so bothered. She never spoke to me again.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Detroit on

Sorry, I''m a lender. I just make sure they know if I am lending it or giving it!

What kind of "stuff" are you talking about? Books? Lawn equipment? A fancy necklace?

Unless this person is in a habit of not returning or damaging, I would just let her.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

You have to learn to be honest, direct and say No. If she is your friend, she will understand.

I personally do not lend out my things nor do I borrow from others. It is just not my policy. I've been burned in the past by "doing the good deed" and then having to go out and replace the item I loaned out because it either was not returned or it was returned damaged.

I've never had anyone get angry or offended because I said no.

I look at lending/borrowing just like I look at doing business... We do not mix business and friendships.

HOWEVER, if I really don't care if I get the item back or not, I will just give it to them.

It does not make you a mean and bad person if you choose not to lend out your personal belongings. TOO many people feel entitled to borrow and take advantage of others......that is where a major problem lies with me.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Colorado Springs on

I also suggest you ask yourself why you don't want to lend to a friend at all. Is she not really such a good friend? Have you had experiences which make you think your items won't be returned or well taken care of?

I agree with Shakespeare's "Neither a borrower nor a lender be," but occasionally I do borrow and sometimes I do lend. It's not too bad to help a friend when she needs something - a few eggs, or a lawn tool for a few hours, or a book I've told her about. If it's my car, that's something else, unless it were an emergency (but I might drive her someplace if I could). If it's money, that's a whole different category which must be talked about by itself.

Occasionally I am sorry I did the lending, but I would usually be sorrier if I hadn't extended the help and taken the chance.

At any rate, subtle hints aren't working for you. If you're really set on this, you just need to say no out loud: "Sorry, Olive, but I make it a principle that I don't borrow and I don't lend - ever."

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Denver on

Don't go for "subtle hints." A simple no is fine. Honest, open, clear, and direct communication is the kind and respectful way to treat a friend. If you don't like to lend stuff out, then just say so. If she is offended by your boundary then she is not a friend. If you lend things when you don't want to, you will eventually resent her and that will be even worse for your friendship.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Las Vegas on

Usually a few questions and/or a no will usually cure it. Just tell them no and after the 2nd time, they will begin to get the hint.



answers from Oklahoma City on

It's a personality difference. That's all. I'd say you're going to keep resenting this feeling that you have to share. I can come to all sorts of conclusions about someone who doesn't care to share.

If it were clothes and you don't do used clothing then I imagine that's really hard for you. If it's a tool/kitchen thing and she brings it back, well, it's up to you I guess but the time to sit down and talk to her about it is when she isn't asking to borrow something.

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