• Resolving Problems

My friend wants me to store her stuff: How can I say no?

Published: November 30, 2014 | Last Updated: April 2, 2016 By | 5 Replies Continue Reading
A woman feels uncomfortable telling her friend she can’t store her stuff.


Dear Dr. Levine,

I am having trouble setting boundaries. My friend and I have been friends for almost three years and she even helped me get a teaching job about a year ago. Out of nowhere, she decides to move to another state and needs to store things here in case she comes back.

How can I politely tell this friend that I don’t want to hold on to her electric bike for five months because my boyfriend doesn’t want extra clutter around and I have no need for an e-bike?

Thank you.



Hi Meg,

If you don’t have the room to store her stuff, the answer should be easy:

“I really would love to help you out but I simply don’t have the space.”

You can add that your boyfriend doesn’t want extra clutter and you can offer to help her think of other alternatives: e.g. finding rental storage space for the bike, selling it, arranging for it to be shipped afterwards. You can offer to help her in other ways, such as packing.

If you still feel ambivalent, remember that five months can easily turn into ten. And if you don’t say “no” now to what seems like an imposition, you may become resentful of your friend. Good friends understand and respect limits.

Please be sure to read this prior post on The Friendship Blog:  7 Tips for Saying No.

Hope this is helpful.

Best, Irene

Prior related posts on The Friendship Blog:

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Comments (5)

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  1. Maddie says:

    A polite no is all you need. Say you simply do not have the space. Be brief and do not be apologetic. Just because someone asks for a favor does not mean you are obligated to say yes.

    Don’t get into a long discussion about it.

    • Jan says:

      I like to help people when I can, but just because something is someone else’s idea (as in wanting to store her bike at your place), that is all it boils down to is what someone else suggested. Just because they opened their mouth and emitted a suggestion doesn’t make you the one that has to agree or become the pariah because you don’t want to go along with it. So if she can make her self the victim because you said no, then you are equally able to make yourself the victim of an ingrate accused of not being helpful if they don’t like the word “no.” It’s a two-way street and if someone wants to play a game, they may just end up with someone else who wants to play too. LOL, move on!

  2. mouse says:

    Here’s the thing, the small guilt you may worry about feeling is a healthy guilt and is way easier to live with than the electric bike for who knows how long! Saying no is empowering, resentment is a sign of victimhood. Keep yourself empowered.

  3. lottie says:

    Hi Meg,
    Just politely refuse saying as suggested you have no extra space. Also if anything happened to it like damaged or stolen you do not want the worry. Whose insurance would cover it. You could end up with it for years, plus if you decide to move what do you do with it? Lottie

  4. Amy F says:

    I like Irene’s advice, though I wouldn’t blame the bf because I’ve found that people take me more seriously when I don’t blame other people (and this is very low on the blame scale if you do use him). When I was less assertive I’d say things like, “so and so said that I should…”, because I didn’t feel strong enough to stand on my own. I also think bringing others into the discussion can sometimes feel like a made up excuse.

    Before you talk to your friend, get comfortable that you have a right to say no. Believe that, because it’s true. Remind yourself it’s a bike, a small thing to stress too much. You can help her in other ways and perhaps even suggest a mutual friend with a large basement. I’m sure you’ll be fine,

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