It’s a mystery in the Smith household - a beloved set of Ken Burns Jazz DVDs is missing. We continue searching and searching, and trying to remember who we may have lent them to.
Was someone borrowing without permission?
I’ll wager the same thing has happened to you. I’ll also wager that we’ve all borrowed without permission at some point or another, probably assuming it would be okay - just this once.
Let’s take a look at the boundaries (and etiquette rules) of loaning and borrowing.
Ownership implies that you have the right to gift or deny others access to your property. This also means that if someone takes what is yours without your knowledge, that person is stealing from you.
You probably have more gray area in your personal policies around lending than I’m giving in this explanation. My point is, as the owner of something, you decide who else gets to use it. You decide how long and where they use it if you choose to exercise this right. And lastly, you decide the consequences if the item is not returned, or is returned in worse condition than when you lent it.
As a borrower, you are indebted to the owner of whatever it is you’ve borrowed. This should be incentive for you to care for the item as if it were your own. Returning it in a timely manner and good condition will ensure the lender regards you as responsible and trustworthy.
You are also entrusted to:
The last responsibility of a respectful borrower is knowing when not to do it. This is when good boundaries come into play.
When it comes to borrowing from close friends and family, never assume anything. They are human, too, and may have personal rules on lending that you are unaware of.
Even though husbands, wives, and domestic partners definitely enjoy benefits of companionship and a sense of sharing, they still may have things they consider exclusively theirs.
The same is true of other family members. You may have a very close relationship, perhaps live in the same household, but assumptions on borrowing can easily lead to a necessary apology. “Oh! I didn’t think you’d mind,” won’t always get you very far.
Be willing to make up for any mistakes you make. For instance, if your sister said you could borrow one of her jackets and you take her favorite one, only to return it damaged, you’ll need more than an apology. Take her shopping for a new jacket – and a little bonding time.
There is a price for borrowing from someone. You pay by showing respect for the lender as well as the item you borrow.
Now, about those jazz DVDs . . .