How many times have I seen friendships fail because one friend
lent money to another and then didn’t get it back? And not only
money. Maybe it was a car that came back scratched, or a book
that didn’t get returned. Or a flat that a friend stayed in for a few
days and damaged somehow. Oscar Wilde (I think it was him)
once borrowed a book and then lost it. His friend got angry when
his book wasn’t returned and asked him, ‘Are you really prepared
to jeopardize our friendship over this?’ Oscar replied, ‘Are you?’
This applies to family as well as friends, but I’ve put this Rule
in this section because it’s more often friends that fall out over
such things. The fact is that you start off being generous and
wanting to help, so you agree to lend whatever it is. Then you
get angry when your friend doesn’t repay you, and you end up
losing the friendship.
If your friend is a decent friend worth having, they’re not doing
this on purpose. They just don’t have the funds they thought
they’d have, or an unexpected expense came up. So what can
you do? Well, right at the start, before you ever lend them the
money or the car or the flat, you have to decide in your head
that you’ve given the money to them, or that you’re expecting
the car or the flat to get damaged, or the book to be lost. If its
not worth it, don’t lend it to your friend in the first place. If it is
worth it, write it off mentally, and you’ll be pleasantly surprised
when you get your money back, or your car returned in perfect
condition. Nine times out of ten, you’ll get your money back,
but this way you won’t lose a friend every tenth time.
RULE 91
200
T H E R U L E S O F L O V E
Never lend money
unless you’re prepared
to write it off
RULE 91
201
F R I E N D S H I P R U L E S
If the friendship isn’t that good, that’s another matter and you’re
free to risk it over a loan and lose the friend if necessary. But a
really good friendship is worth more than youre lending so
you’d be crazy to throw the friendship away. What’s a few quid
or even a few hundred quid between friends? If you’re lucky
enough to have it and they need it, why not give it to them? Call
it a loan so they can save face, but you know you’ve given it to
them as a gift because they’re worth it. And if they choose to
give it back to you as a gift in a couple of weeks or months
time, well that just shows what a great friend they are.
Of course, if you ever borrow money from a friend of yours, you
will return it as soon as you can. What’s more, you’ll buy a new
copy of the book if you lose theirs, you’ll clean their flat impec-
cably before you leave it, and youll wash their car for them
before you return it with a full tank. If they’ve been generous
enough to lend it to you, it’s the least you can do.
A REALLY GOOD
FRIENDSHIP IS WORTH
MORE THAN YOURE
LENDING, SO YOUD BE
CRAZY TO THROW THE
FRIENDSHIP AWAY

Get The Rules of Love now with O’Reilly online learning.

O’Reilly members experience live online training, plus books, videos, and digital content from 200+ publishers.