I lent something to a friend for a while (several months) and I asked to get it back but I don't get it back. I asked again and again over the course of a couple of months, but the friend has various excuses (e.g. "I just have to find where I put it, but I don't have the time to do that.") and doesn't offer to pay me instead for the item's worth. This has gone on long enough that the friend gets aggressive when I bring it up ("I TOLD you you will get it back eventually!").

To the friend's defense I have to add that he really has to invest a lot of time into bureaucracy and health care to ensure his own survival (sadly I'm not exaggerating), but I know he also has time when he just relaxes (needed, I know), so I find it difficult to believe he really never has time to look. But I can imagine he simply lost the item somewhen and cannot admit it to me or himself.

So, despite his circumstances I find myself angry at him. I want him to know how strongly I feel. When someone takes something from me and doesn't give it back, that feels like stealing, even when the person talked me into giving it out of my "own free will".

How can I let him know how disappointed I am?

  • 3
    When lending becomes stealing is either a legal matter or a language matter, but not an interpersonal problem we can help you with.
    – Erik
    Oct 16, 2019 at 20:29
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    Are you mainly asking "how can I get my thing back?" or "how can I let him know how disappointed I am?" or "how can I feel better about being angry at a friend who needs help?" or something else entirely? Oct 16, 2019 at 21:31
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    @KateGregory "how can I let him know how disappointed I am?"
    – SK19
    Oct 17, 2019 at 13:04
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    Could you include a bit to add what are the constraints? I mean that, one can answer telling you to jokingly drop it in a conversation, someone else can answer telling you to make it a huge drama, or third letters etc.. How would you differentiate between the three? What problem can appear if you try to say something to him?
    – anki
    Oct 17, 2019 at 20:12
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    I'm a bit lost on your question too. The question being "how can I let him know how disappointed I am?", the natural answer would be "tell them how disappointed you are." So my question to you is, why is the simple/direct solution not possible? What help exactly do you need from us, what are the roadblocks preventing you from telling them how disappointed you are?
    – msb
    Oct 19, 2019 at 1:13

2 Answers 2


Take the hint, walk and forvige

There are two factors here: your stuff and expressing how you feel.

I've had friends take my stuff or owe me money and the ongoing debt weighs down everyone. Just forgiving the debt or letting go of the stuff has allowed those relationships to move into newer and better discussions and levels.

I've had other friends mistreat me badly many times, ignoring my repeated requests. By ignoring their calls after they ignore my requests, they either started listening to my requests or they stopped bothering me with their toxicity.

If your relationship is only on the other person's terms, but never yours, you are an employee, not a friend...

A psychologist identifies 7 signs it's time to let go of a friendship (Business Insider):

If you're doing all the work in the relationship, you're an employee, not a friend. Time to consider going on strike.

Not a friend

You've been cued out. A friend who respects you wouldn't treat you this way. My father often said, "That's what you call a 'clue."


At this point, you probably won't get it back anyway. By accepting that, resolving it in your heart, and truly moving on, you have dealt with the "frustration" part of your question.

Sending the message

Tell your friend you have decided you don't want it back anymore, say, "Just keep it if you find it." Then never call back.

This "friend" has send an unwelcome message through action. Nothing will send the message better than action in response.

  • Hey Jesse! We require answers here to be backed up by personal experience or external sources. So, could you edit to tell us about a similar situation you were in the past? Who was involved, what did you say and how did the other person react?
    – Ael
    Nov 2, 2019 at 21:00
  • And outside sources. Both.
    – Jesse
    Nov 2, 2019 at 22:24
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    Acception is no problem, but I have a problem with forgiveness. I WANT to forgive, because this is emotional baggage I don't need, but I simply cannot find it in me :( Any tips?
    – SK19
    Nov 6, 2019 at 7:56
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    @SK19 I really know what you mean. Forgiveness is hard for everyone. Two things: 1. Forgiveness is, partially, a mere "financial" decision not to collect on a debt, even social-emotional debt, 2. emotionally it is a little easier to consider times you were sorry and/or needed forgiveness, also consider that the other person might have enormous hardship you know nothing about. The emotional forgiveness must be daily, sneaks up on you, and you just need to stop hoping for reconciliation/change and just rent your mind time to something positive/productive. Hope that helps a little. :)
    – Jesse
    Nov 6, 2019 at 8:19

I, too, have had things I've loaned not returned to me.

Some were things I had expressly told the person that I was reluctant to lend because of past experiences with other people, but would trust them to be careful and make sure to return the item(s). Doing that did work with most people.

But, there was one person who I really thought would definitely return everything (I'd lent her several special children's books on the subject of a new baby coming into the family and one explaining how babies were made), and wound up letting me down.

The most important book to me - the one about making babies - she not only didn't return, she said (with a very cold tone of voice) that I'd never given it to her (btw, I had purposely written down the names of the books and who I lent them to, so I'd remember)!

I decided to still be friendly to her (especially since she belonged to a group I belonged to), but never trust her again by lending anything to her. It did put a distance between us because there was no reason for her to lie to me.

I think that if she'd said she kept looking for it but was unable to find it, I would have found that more acceptable.

A slightly closer experience to yours:

I have a good friend, let's call her "B," who I do have to make allowances for due to health and other issues, and if she would tell me what your friend did, I would not be that hurt or angry.

My feeling, with "B" is that, since I really like her a lot, and she has "issues," I can overlook some things.

One time "B" did want to borrow something I didn't want to risk losing (she can be careless or absent-minded), and I told her that, although I do trust her, there are a few things I wouldn't lend anyone, and asked her to understand.

I know she was a bit hurt, and tried to change my mind, but I stuck to repeating what I'd said and eventually she gave up.

For a little while she was a bit "cold" towards me, but eventually I guess she forgave me and decided our friendship was worth more than being angry at me.

Since you say your friend has personal issues, if you want to keep the friendship, you may need to just stop asking for the item and accept that you may never get it back. Then, you will have to decide whether you want to ever lend anything you really want back to your friend again, like I did.

  • I, too, would be more accepting if the person just admitted the thing is gone. I could get a new thing then without thinking that this may be unnecessary (the thing is a bit tricky to get).
    – SK19
    Nov 6, 2019 at 8:00

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