• Resolving Problems

How To Say No To A Friend Asking A Favor

Published: March 18, 2024 | Last Updated: March 18, 2024 By | 4 Replies Continue Reading
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A woman feels indebted to her friend asking for a favor. But she’s uncomfortable turning down her request to watch four pets for a week or two.


Hi Irene,

My friend is expecting me to watch her two large dogs for one or two weeks so her family can go to Costa Rica,

Due to a fire in my apartment complex two years ago, my boyfriend and I had to move into her home for three months while our insurance got sorted out. 

I paid rent, did chores, and prepared and purchased food for all of us. My boyfriend helped, too, although we both worked.

After we moved to a hotel, I watched her dogs at the time of her son’s wedding as a token of appreciation. 

She expects me to watch them again two years later, but I’m older and tired. I simply can’t. 

I have told her this, but she overtalks me. My tiredness means nothing to her. I’m now being told it’s her two dogs and her son-in-law’s two cats (he lives up the road). 

I feel so resentful. What do I do if she’s not hearing me? Help!

Signed, Sarah


Hi Sarah,

It’s always hard to say no when a friend asks for a favor, especially when the friend did a favor for you.

The fire in your apartment was an unplanned emergency. Yes, your friend graciously let you and your boyfriend stay with her, but she could have said no if she thought it was a big inconvenience.

In addition, it sounds like you tried to make it up to her by paying rent and pitching in with chores.

But her doing this big favor for you doesn’t mean that you are forever indebted to her and don’t have the right to say no. Although you would like to help your friend, it sounds too difficult, given your current physical limitations.

Caring for four animals is a big responsibility and a big “ask.”  What if one of the animals gets sick? What if they fight like cats and dogs?

You need to explain your feelings to your friend firmly and unequivocally by telling her, “NO, I simply can’t care for these pets during your vacation. I’m not up to it.”

Friends should feel comfortable saying no to a friend asking a favor if it feels like an imposition.

If you don’t, you’ll only grow more resentful. If your friend doesn’t respect your feelings and can’t accept your decision, you must question the quality of the friendship.

Hope this is helpful.

Best, Irene

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  2. Sarah says:

    The fact that you’re being”told” — not asked — to do this pet-sitting is what sounds especially worrisome to me. Nobody can be told to do a favor, and it seems wrong of your friend to make you feel forced into this situation. The fact that this feels so wrong to you is a signal that something about this friendship is off course.

    • Irene says:

      Great point! Thanks for sharing!

    • RJ says:

      APPLAUSE!!! As Irene pointed out, GREAT POINT!!!

      Wow, I used to be such a limp noodle, looking back, can hardly believe it. Our neighbor ALWAYS EXPECTED us to pet sit while they went off on their LUXURY vacation every summer!! (someone who can afford that should also be responsible enough to kennel their pets!) Again as Irene points out, what if the pet/s get sick?? Is that “on me”?? (Irresponsible neighbors would have thought so!!)

      This particular neighbor once even practically begged (and EXPECTED!!) us to roll over & take their cat INTO OUR HOME while they were away!! Now I like cats, but I’m severely allergic!! Did she bother asking? NOPE!
      Did we want a litter pan in our nice clean home? NOPE!
      Did we want her cat scratching our woodwork? NOPE!!
      Did she even bother thinking about our dog & how it would affect her? NOPE! Fight, scratch the dog’s eyes out… vet bills….??!!

      I hid in the kitchen (ha, wimp!) while my DH explained we just could not help her in this way!!

      Like to think I’ve grown a bit of a spine since then….

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