Did you ever see your friend in a cute new outfit and wish it were yours? Of course, we all have. So why not borrow it from her, you think. You're BEST friends, so she won't mind. Besides, you've been a good friend to her. You were her shoulder to cry on after her last breakup. So you do borrow it: the off-the-shoulder shirt with the embroidered neckline from Abercrombie and Fitch and the Tommy Hilfiger jeans, and wear it to a big party on Friday night. They're serving this red punch that's SO good. You grab a glass but are careful not to spill any. But then as you're maneuvering your way to the bathroom —SPLAT! Some guy knocks right into you! "Sorry!" he says. Sorry is right. You rush to the bathroom and blot a HUGE red stain spreading all over the front of your shirt with cold water, but it won't come out. Later, your friend sees you and is horrified. You apologize profusely and she seems to calm down, but you know she's bummed that her shirt is ruined. Borrowing clothes or money from friends can be a normal part of any friendship. For many, it even enhances a feeling of closeness. The arrangement works fine if you return what you borrowed in good condition within a reasonable time span, or if you pay your friend back promptly. But if you give back her necklace with the sterling silver clasp broken or take months to return her $50, or you borrow 15 of her CDs to make a mix and then keep them for weeks, then there's definitely trouble ahead. If I can just find the time to tape those songs, THEN you'll return it, you think. But a month goes by and you still have them. She finally asks you for her CDs and you make a ton of excuses. But she doesn't want your excuses; she just wants her music back so she can listen to it. Stop for a second, and think of the last thing you borrowed, and the condition it was in when you returned it. How many times have you asked your friend if you could wear those brown suede boots of hers you covet? Do you borrow things too often? Are you disrespectful when you do? It's hard to admit, but if you have the courage to do so, read on to figure out friend ettiquette on how to curb a habit that might damage a friendship: Friend Etiquette Tip DON'T ever borrow something that's brand-new. Don't even ask. Your friend might feel bad if she has to say no. Think about it: there's too much risk of damaging or breaking it, and then you'd feel HORRIBLE. Even if you're careful, you can't always prevent something from getting ruined. Friend Etiquette Tip DON'T borrow something more than twice. If you use it too much, you'll wear it out!! (It might be time to get your own. If you can't afford it, save up your money.) Friend Etiquette Tip DON'T keep quiet if you can't currently afford to pay your friend the money you owe her. If you don't speak up, she might think you're never going to pay her back at all. Maybe you can work some sort of payment plan where you pay back a little at a time. Friend Etiquette Tip DO return something in the condition you got it. If you wear your friend's shirt, wash it or dry-clean it. If something breaks, repair it or replace it. If it's irreplaceable, then offer the money it would cost to buy a new one. Friend Etiquette Tip DO ask permission about how long you'd like to keep something. Be clear on when you'll be able to pay back the cash. If you wear her sweater and would like to keep it for a few days and wear it again, ask if that's okay. Then there will be no misunderstandings. Friend Etiquette Tip DO thank your friends for letting you use their stuff. Never take them for granted! Sharing with friends can be a bonding experience. It'll give you the warm fuzzies to know she trusts you and cares enough about you to let you use her stuff. So take a second to remember her generosity when she lends you something and don't betray that trust! Read about friend etiquette and how it affects your friendships at BeingGirl.com.