Q: I have a friend who always borrows money but never pays me back. He tells me I’m wrong and am being selfish, but I am tired of lending.

A: Hi there,

I am sorry to hear you are having a difficult time with this friend. The first word that comes to mind when I read this is “boundaries.” Many times we have people in our lives who disregard or don’t understand boundaries. You are not being selfish when you establish and set boundaries with friends or even family. We often have to re-evaluate our relationships when it appears that there is limited to no reciprocity. Adult relationships should include mutual respect. 

I also encourage you to look at other situations where you might be challenged to set boundaries and explore this with a therapist. When we are unaccustomed to setting boundaries, it can feel as though we are being “mean,” especially if we grew up in a family or setting where boundaries were not present. I highly recommend the book “Set Boundaries, Find Peace” by Nedra Glover Tawwab.

Be patient with yourself, but do take care of yourself. This is a process that may feel uncomfortable at first. It may even involve the loss of some relationships, but you will have to reflect on how much those relationships were costing you emotionally. You may have heard the phrase… “If it costs you your peace, it is too expensive.”

Allow room for healthy relationships with those who respect you and respect boundaries.


Valerie Proctor, LICSW