• Resolving Problems

Saying NO To A Friend Isn’t Easy

Published: February 24, 2011 | Last Updated: April 16, 2023 By | 1 Reply Continue Reading
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Saying no to a friend isn’t easy. But learning to say NO may be essential if friendships are to remain authentic and mutually satisfying


Dear Irene,

I recently had a break up with my close friend. We would speak on the phone at least once a day and our children would play together several times a week.

From the start, I felt as if my friend always wanted something from me. She would borrow clothes, ask me to babysit, and even ask to borrow expensive things that I wasn’t okay with her using. I chose not to say no to her because I didn’t want to have a falling out and I wasn’t confident enough to stand up for myself. The friendship always dragged me down emotionally.

The final straw was about a month ago. She was heading to a weekend getaway with some of her college friends on a Friday night. She asked me if I would babysit her 18-month-old daughter for two hours while our older children were at preschool. This was the only alone-time I would have all day but I said I would do it anyway.

Well, the morning of the babysitting I called my friend and said, “I would really love to babysit your daughter this morning but I just can’t. I don’t get a break and I need this time to take care of myself.” She said that she felt as if I were attacking her.

I feel good that I said how I felt, but I am not sure I did it the right way. Several hours afterwards, my friend called me back and was out of control telling me I couldn’t even spend time with her children before she goes to the spa all weekend. I said a lot of hurtful things to her, but I had let it build up so long that it just came undone. We have since said that we will squash the fight and move on but we never talk on the phone or spend time together. Should I apologize and try to clear the air or leave it how it is?

Thank you so much,


Hi Megan,

Since you live nearby and your kids are friends, I can see how this has been a close and comfortable relationship. Yet it sounds like your friend crossed the line many times by asking too many favors without returning them.

When she asked you to babysit before her weekend getaway, it’s understandable you might be offended (and even somewhat jealous) since you don’t have much alone time yourself. Yes, you probably should have told her you didn’t want to babysit right away, not at the last minute—and you should have said NO many times before—but I’m glad you finally summoned up the courage to turn her down this time.

I’m not surprised she went ballistic. She sounds self-centered and was pretty much accustomed to you acquiescing to her needs. I’m sure you said hurtful things to her because you had so much pent-up anger and frustration.

What can you do now? Apologize for losing your temper. You need to explicitly tell your friend that you feel taken advantage of and you’re willing to help out once in a while but she needs to respect your decision to turn her down, too. Tell her you expect her to reciprocate and be supportive of you as well.

This might help clear the air…although don’t be surprised if she backs off from the relationship when she hears these new terms.

My best,

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  1. Crazylove says:

    I Believe That Saying No To Anybody, Whether That Be To your Love One’s Such As your Family, Kids, Spouse, parents, It Dosent Matter It Can Still Be “HARD”. It just Pays To Do It Anyway, Especially Always Say [No] Up Front. Peolpes Are Going To Hate U No Matter What That’s Called Life So What They’ll Get Over It Or Not. U Always Owe Yourself To Be Good And Kind To Self, Obviously your Friend Is Got SELF Down Pack.

    I’ve Seen So Call Friends Like That Everything Was One Sided, When I Had Enough Of That I Proudely Walked Away With My Pride That I Always Refuse To Give. It Feels Good To Free Myself From The Wrong Peolpes. U Should Try It Without Any Regrets!!

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