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Ask Ellie: My friend borrows things, but won't bring them back

If you borrow something, the onus is on you to pick it up and drop it off

Dear Lisi: Two weeks ago, your mom answered a woman whose sister had borrowed a dress from a cousin, forgot about it and never returned it going on 30 years (Aug. 9). Your mom said that the sister should return the dress.

I agree with that response and now find myself in a similar situation, with a twist.

Last Labour Day weekend, I lent my friend my six-man tent for a camping trip she was going on with her sister and a few cousins. I didn’t need it and knew I wouldn’t need it for a while, maybe even the year. I made myself a note on my phone to get it back on the May long weekend, if it hadn’t yet been returned.

I completely forgot about it until the notification popped up. I reached out to my friend, who said she had also forgotten about it and it was at her cousin’s. I asked her to get it back, since I don’t know the cousin. She did and then texted me: “I have it. It’s in the garage. Come get it any time.”

Shouldn’t she be returning it to me, rather than my having to go pick it up?

Annoyed

I agreed with that response of my mom’s, too. She absolutely should have returned the dress, no matter that it was 30 years overdue. In fact, she could have made a funny thing of it.

And in your situation, I agree that your friend should be dropping the tent off at your house and you shouldn’t be chasing after it. That’s very lazy and thoughtless of your friend.

Unfortunately, you’ve learned a lesson: Never lend this person anything else unless you’re willing to be the one who drops it off and picks it up. We’re all busy people. If you borrow something, the onus is on you to pick it up and drop it off. Period.

Dear Lisi: I just moved from another country with my husband for work purposes. We only married a year ago and don’t yet have children. My plan is to help my husband get settled and then look for work myself. We have no friends or family in our new hometown, so we’re doing everything ourselves. It’s been a month and other than grocery shopping and picking up little things for the house, I have no idea how to spend my days.

Where do you suggest I go to meet people?

Lonely

I’m always so impressed with people who make big life changes with little to no support. Kudos to you for saying yes to the adventure! Now to finding people … first start off by being open and friendly. I always find that easier to do in the summer when people aren’t bundled up rushing to get back indoors. Say hi to people you pass on the street.

If you drink coffee or tea, find a coffee shop and go a few days in a row around the same time. If you notice someone a few times, strike up a conversation by saying something like, “we seem to be on the same schedule.” Be bold. Tell them you’re new and looking for things to do and a community. Ask if they have time to drink coffee together.

Do the things you love to do and you’ll find like-minded people. For instance, taking early morning walks; doing yoga on the grass; Tai chi in the park; or late-night ice cream runs.

Dear Lisi: My wife is kind, thoughtful and in everyone’s business. I see her stick her nose where it doesn’t belong, and the subsequent reactions from friends and family. But she does it with warmth, grace and a sincerity that makes it hard to be annoyed.

I’ve tried to talk to her after an incident occurs, but each time she has a well-thought-out reason behind why she did what she did, or said what she said.

The thing is, once or twice is one thing, but it happens all the time.

How do I get her to understand that not every situation calls for her help?

Loving Husband

By saying exactly that: not every situation calls for her to get involved. Some things need to play out on their own. If kids are involved, that’s one thing. But when the situation is between adults, it comes across as patronizing. Help her come up with a plan to hold back, say by counting to 10, walking away or changing the subject.

By removing herself from the situation, she may feel less self-imposed pressure to right what she feels is wrong.

Ellie Tesher and Lisi Tesher are advice columnists for the Star and based in Toronto. Send your relationship questions via email: ellie@thestar.ca.