You want to know the BEST way to destroy a relationship? When someone you really care about asks if they can borrow some money, lend it to them. And then sit back. Don’t worry, it won’t take long. At first, you’ll only think about it from time to time. A few days will go by, and then weeks. Weeks turn into months, months turn into years. All the while, you’re paying close attention and wondering, how is it that they can afford a new car, multiple vacations, a beautiful, expensive wardrobe and dinners out nearly every night of the week, but they cannot be bothered with paying you (me) back? And how do you know this, pray tell? Have you been going around to the neighbors and asking questions? Have you made inquiries at the borrowers place of business? Did you hire a private detective? How could you possibly know all of these personal things about this particular person? Well, it isn’t that hard actually. You just have to turn on your computer and google their name. It is actually quite amazing what you discover about people, especially the ones that have multiple social media accounts and love to post nearly everything (nothing’s off limits) about their lives.
I have fallen into this trap, as you can probably tell. I’ve lent people money and things and been really upset when a) they either don’t return it, or b) they return it and it’s essentially destroyed. I had a ‘friend’ about 20 years ago that was always asking if I had a cooler or a fan or a cd she could borrow. The problem was, she always conveniently forgot to return them somehow. These items weren’t high dollar but I didn’t have money growing on trees in my backyard so they had value to me. After multiple reminders, she’d eventually get around to returning my stuff, usually in worse condition than when I lent it out. But it all came to a head when I lent her a brand new DVD and when she finally gave it back to me, it looked like her kids had tied a string to it and dragged it along the sidewalk (without the cover on). That day I decided if she needs something, she can go purchase it from a store and do whatever she pleases with it, but she’s not getting it from me. I come from a family that taught me that if you do borrow something from somebody, you either return it in the condition you received it, or better. If I ask you for money, which I won’t because it’s just too slippery a slope, I will return it to you in full (with interest or at least a thank you card). If I borrow your car, I will clean it out and fill the tank with gas before I give it back. If I borrow your cake pan, I will thoroughly wash and dry it when I’m done using it and carefully guard it to ensure no harm comes its way until I am able to place it back into your generous, trusting hands. Anyway, you get the point.
I’m just not sure why or how some people can ‘borrow’ things with complete disregard while others do the complete opposite. But that’s the thing, you never really know what category people fall into until you actually lend them something. And if you do, I caution you because 9 times out of 10, you’ll never see it again. If you are counting on getting back whatever you lent out, I can guarantee the whole thing will not end well for you or ‘the borrower’. Promises won’t be kept, resentment and bitterness will take hold, and eventually the relationship will fail. You will have learned a hard lesson, no doubt. That is inevitable. But if you’d rather just avoid the fall out altogether, just don’t lend out your stuff. But if you insist, if you feel so compelled, go ahead and lend them whatever it is they’re asking for ($500, your golf clubs, your bicycle, your cast iron skillet, your time, etc.). Give it to them freely, with an open heart. Just don’t expect anything in return. Seriously. Think of it as a gift. And if you do get it back someday, fantastic! I totally understand the desire to help folks out on occasion. But if you’ve been ‘burnt’ a time or two and the idea of loaning out your hard earned money or your stuff makes your blood boil and your face turn red, just don’t do it again, ok?
In the future, should someone ask you for a loan, whether it be a friend, family member, co-worker or anyone else for that matter, just leave the money in your billfold/purse/pocket. And you don’t have to say anything particularly clever or thought provoking. You can simply say, “I’m sorry I’m not able to help you out but I wish you well, my friend”. You’ll be a much happier person as a result. And as much as I’d like to, I won’t have to say, “I told you so”.