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What Should The Borrowing Policy Be Between Friends?

Published: September 26, 2021 | Last Updated: January 16, 2022 By | Reply Continue Reading
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A reader asks about the etiquette of a “borrowing policy” between friends. A friend who asked to borrow something from her got upset when her request was turned down. 


My friend’s check engine light came on in her car about the same time mine did, I have a code reader for my car but I don’t lend that kinda stuff out.

Am I being selfish? Now I’m being told I am and feel guilty about not letting her borrow it. I told her she is more than welcome to bring her car here and I’d put it on but then she said she’ll just take it to a repair place.

What do you think?

Signed, Jamie


Hi Jamie,

There is no firm etiquette about the proper borrowing policy between friends. It depends on what is being asked to be borrowed and for what reason; how the person feels about lending it; and the nature of the relationship between the friends.

To be honest, I didn’t even know what a “code reader for a car” was so I had to look it up. Just in case anyone else has been living in my cave, here it is:

From Lifewire: ​​A car code reader is one of the simplest car diagnostic tools you’ll find. They are designed to interface with a car’s computer and report trouble codes that can trigger check engine lights and other problems.

Reading about car readers suggests that some degree of mechanical savvy is required for using them and interpreting their findings. (They seem to range in cost from $20-50.)

This is what I think about a borrowing policy between friends: When someone asks a friend to borrow something, they should understand that it is a request that might not be honored. The lender should feel free to say no

I’m not sure why you didn’t want to lend your car reader (for example, perhaps you thought it might get lost or broken) but that’s your right. Another problem might be if she is someone who is consistently asking to borrow things from you and has a bad track record of returns.

I assume you explained the reason for your reluctance to your friend. Moreover, you met her halfway by trying to accommodate her request and inviting her to use the device at your place.

While your friend may be disappointed, calling you selfish seems like a hostile response given this particular situation. Is there something else that has been going on between you that has her upset?

I don’t think you should feel guilty about this particular decision, per se. If you do care about the friendship and haven’t already explained yourself, you may want to send your friend a text telling her you don’t want to end a friendship over something as minor as this.  

Hope this is helpful.

Best, Irene   

Have you ever been placed in an uncomfortable position when a friend asks to borrow something?

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Category: Apologies and forgiveness, RESOLVING PROBLEMS

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