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Modern Manners + Etiquette: Borrowing Money From Friends

Thursday, July 05, 2012


There are tricky shoals to navigate when you ask a friend for money. Etiquette comes to the rescue. Photo: 401K 2012/flickr

Summer simmers with relationship dilemmas about how to handle an alcoholic spouse, a new bride loses her dad, a long-suffering weekend house guest looks for etiquette, while a businessman asks the etiquette for borrowing money from a friend. All that and more at Didi Lorillard's NewportManners.

Dear Didi,
My new husband has two dreadful best friends, a married couple, who he has known forever. The woman, especially, absolutely drives me berserk. My husband, however, adores them. I can barely stand to have dinner with them but now they have asked us to their beach house for the weekend. My husband loves to visit Nantucket in the summer where he has many business as well as childhood friends. My problem is that I don't think I can keep my cool, if I have to be with this couple for a long weekend. What should I do? 
name withheld

Dear new bride,
You want to be a good sport but you can set boundaries. Tell him you will go along with this long weekend plan but no more than one weekend every other year. Encourage him to have lunch with these best friends on his own. In any new marriage, boundaries get established and the sooner you set this one the better. When he insists on you seeing the couple, suggest a busy restaurant where you know you will be in and out in a short period of time. That's your compromise. Take along a best selling novel or mystery on the long weekend and immerse yourself. In a marriage, love me love my friends is the code of conduct - just make it on your own terms.

A good house guest has a plan to go off on her own to shop, visit a local museum or book store, or take long exploratory walks. Find a place to read either in your room, a secluded beach chair, or hammock in which to escape. If they find you reading, they'll be less likely to prod you into joining them when you say, "I just want to read one more chapter."  ~Didi

Dear Didi,
I will be attending a wedding on Saturday where the bride's father passed away just yesterday, six days before the wedding. How do I address both the happiness of the wedding and the sadness of the bride's father's death when I attend the wedding? 
George, Newport

Dear George,
Say something such as this when you greet the bride: "Your father would be so very proud of you. I am deeply sorry for your loss but I'm sincerely happy for your marriage."  ~Didi

Dear Didi,
One of my oldest friends who is doing extremely well financially, recently mentioned that if I ever needed money, all I had to do was let him know. Our friendship is more important than the money, but my business supports my family. How do I ask him for a loan? 
T.G., East Greenwich

Dear T.G.,
Put together a clear business and payback plan to assuage any doubts about not being able to pay back the loan. Borrow the money as you would from a bank, ask for a loan and pay interest, have a lawyer draw up your agreement, and ask for more than you think you need, because you don't want to have to go back to your friend. Be honest with yourself and assume the worst, if the business goes under, you will lose the friend. If the friend means more to you than the money, then look elsewhere for a loan.  ~Didi

Dear Didi,
My wife is an alcoholic and recently went off the wagon after having been sober for four years. When she's drinking she flies into a really unattractive rage that's unbearable. When she's sober she's as sweet as can be. I've been thinking about recording her tantrums and playing them back to her. I know it will hit her hard when she hears how she sounds, but I'm desperate. What do you think?  A.F., Barrington

Dear A.F.,
Before recording your wife's drunken tantrums have a talk with her and ask her permission. Trying to fix the problem by recording her tantrums without her permission would probably enrage her. You want to get closer to her, not provoke her into a rage. Instead prepare for another outburst. Knowing it will take a lot of effort on your part for you to stay calm and keep her calm, don't stray into the familiar emotional traps. You'll want to get your power back by making a quick recovery. Tell her you love her and that you're here for her but you can't talk to her when she's upset. Suggest that you discuss this in the morning after breakfast for twenty minutes. By putting yourselves in a more sober and loving setting, you'll both be more receptive to trying to understand each other's point of view. Hopefully, you then won't need to resort to recording her tantrums.  ~Didi

Didi Lorillard tracks shifting trends in relationships, manners, dress codes and wedding etiquette at NewportManners, where she answers questions anonymously and personally. But first read Didi's previous GoLocal columns listed below.


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