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Borrowing Money From A Friend: What Could Have Gone Wrong With This Friendship?

Published: April 2, 2012 | Last Updated: October 26, 2021 By | 8 Replies Continue Reading
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Borrowing money from a friend can put a relationship on shaky grounds.

QUESTION

Hi Irene,

I love my friend but she is so much better off than me when it comes to money. She often puts my bill on her credit cards and I let her. When they come due, I pay.

Well, I owed her some money, gave her what she said I owed, and then left for vacation. While I was gone, I texted her but she didn’t answer or return my calls.

I asked if I owed her more and she sent me a bill but no response other than that. I said I was sorry if I had said something to hurt her. Still,  no response and it has been eight weeks since we last spoke. I don’t what else I can do.

Any advice?

Signed, Anna

ANSWER

Hi Anna,

It’s hard to guess exactly what happened because your friend hasn’t told you. Borrowing money from a friend can be tricky, especially if it is a regular thing. Here are some thoughts:

  • Since this breakup occurred around the time of your vacation, could your friend have been resentful about your spending money on a vacation when you seem to be always short on funds?
  • Could your friend have felt you were obligated to invite her to go with you since she pays your bills?
  • Could she have begun to feel used because you were always borrowing money–and that her generosity wasn’t being reciprocated or appreciated?

Sending you a bill in the mail may suggest she was too upset to speak. Maybe she doesn’t want to be placed in the position of being your banker any longer and doesn’t know how to say that to you.

If you do want to resurrect this friendship, try to remove money from the equation and only do things with your friend that you can comfortably afford. Inviting you to lunch or buying you a gift from time to time is one thing, but paying a friend’s bills on a regular basis can get tiring—regardless of the disparity in your incomes—and may lead her to question your motives in the friendship.

Best, Irene


Several prior blog posts on The Friendship Blog about friendship and money:

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Category: Friends and Money, Making up after breaking up

Comments (8)

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  1. Cherie says:

    From my own unpleasant personal experiences of being either the debtor or loner of money to a friend, I now have a small amount, short term loan policy. Currently, I have only one friendship that borrowing/loaning seems ok with both of us keeping it to $10 or under and having it paid back within a week.

    Both of us are sure to first check with the other to see if she feels comfortable with a small, short term loan. We never assume. I watch carefully for non-verbal cues and if her body language says she’s uncomfortable then in a genuine friendly manner I back out of my request by saying something like “Actually, you know what? I’m going to be shopping in that area next week so I’ll just get it then. That’s silly of me to get it now when I can get it next week.” And she’ll say something like, “Are you sure? I don’t mind it.” And then I say something like “No, no, I need to spend a few days deciding what color I want anyway, so I’ll just get it when I figure out exactly which color I want.” And then I’ll switch the topic to something pleasant.

    If I can tell she really is ok with it then I make sure I honor my commitment to repay her within the week. Whenever I want something that I’m short on cash, I always repeat to myself before and after I ask, “no material thing is worth the loss of a friendship.” And If it is something like not having enough money to go out to eat then instead of going to the restaurant knowing full well that I either I have to be in the one down position of asking someone else pay or having to sit there with a hungry stomach, eating a house salad while my mouth is watering as I watch her eat something delicious. So instead, I’ll ask her if she’d minds if we do it at a later date (when I’ll have the money) and come up with a suggestion of something else fun that isn’t dependent on money. I think paying for someone else’s meals is one of the fastest ways to lose the friendship. Good friends are hard to come by for me. I have learned the hard way that a loan of any more than $10 that can’t be paid back in a week leads to resentment and eventual loss of the friendship.

  2. Marisa says:

    You obviously did not pay what you owed and she is tired of what seems your frequent habit of expecting her to lend you money. She does NOT owe this to you because she has more money. Also if she ever has to remind you to pay her back, that is very wrong. You seem entitled.

  3. Anonymous says:

    if she won’t answer the door, her stance is pretty solid. Why not leave it a while and then write her a note asking if she would consider talking with you at some point and if she relents, hear her out. Don’t excuse yourself, just listen. I hope it works out for you…

  4. Anonymous says:

    Why do you wait until the bill is duefrom the credit card company. Why don’t you pay her when she puts it on her card?

  5. Anonymous says:

    Apoloize…make it clear the friendship wll have ANY financial aspect to it anymore, EVER…and stick to it….But to be honest, it seems money may have just represented deeper issues…her behavior sounds very decisive…

  6. Anonymous says:

    Can you make any suggestions on getting her to open up and talk to me again? I’m so regretfully sad about all this I have begged forgiveness in text and notes and still no response. I’m just heart broken over it all, but am at a loss in how to get her to open up. I went to her house and she wouldn’t even open the door. Everyone says to write her off but. I have 20 years into this friendship and I gave been really generous in grace when she did any thing to hurt or offend me and my family.

    I just want us to be friends again. Whatever it takes to make that happen.

    • Cherie says:

      From my own unpleasant personal experiences of being either the debtor or loner of money to a friend, I now have a small amount, short term loan policy. Currently, I have only one friendship that borrowing/loaning seems ok with both of us keeping it to $10 or under and having it paid back within a week.

      Both of us are sure to first check with the other to see if she feels comfortable with a small, short term loan. We never assume. I watch carefully for non-verbal cues and if her body language says she’s uncomfortable then in a genuine friendly manner I back out of my request by saying something like “Actually, you know what? I’m going to be shopping in that area next week so I’ll just get it then. That’s silly of me to get it now when I can get it next week.” And she’ll say something like, “Are you sure? I don’t mind it.” And then I say something like “No, no, I need to spend a few days deciding what color I want anyway, so I’ll just get it when I figure out exactly which color I want.” And then I’ll switch the topic to something pleasant.

      If I can tell she really is ok with it then I make sure I honor my commitment to repay her within the week. Whenever I want something that I’m short on cash, I always repeat to myself before and after I ask, “no material thing is worth the loss of a friendship.” And If it is something like not having enough money to go out to eat then instead of going to the restaurant knowing full well that I either I have to be in the one down position of asking someone else pay or having to sit there with a hungry stomach, eating a house salad while my mouth is watering as I watch her eat something delicious. So instead, I’ll ask her if she’d minds if we do it at a later date (when I’ll have the money) and come up with a suggestion of something else fun that isn’t dependent on money. I think paying for someone else’s meals is one of the fastest ways to lose the friendship. Good friends are hard to come by for me. I have learned the hard way that a loan of any more than $10 that can’t be paid back in a week leads to resentment and eventual loss of the friendship.

      Oh, and I forgot to mention that asking for a small, short term loan is the exception rather than the rule. It is very infrequent that we ask each other for help paying for something we want. Instead of focusing on making each other our banker, we are always looking for little things we can give each other when we get together…for example, a nice sweater someone gave her as a gift but she doesn’t like the color or style-would I like it? My spouse got too many apples when grocery shopping-would she like some? A beautiful handcrafted friendship card…it’s a mindset of doing surprise, sweet inexpensive things for the other instead of what we can get from the other one.

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