Q: You’re in a new relationship, and your partner asks for a loan. You don’t feel comfortable giving it. How do you say no without ruining the budding romance?
A: Express your feelings in a loving way. Saying, “I’m sorry, but I’m not able to help you in that way at this time” is a direct way to ease into a conversation about other ways you could offer help.
Purchase groceries or put gas in his or her car. This counteroffer could lead to a productive conversation about future financial planning, which is an absolute must if you two want a serious relationship in the future.
Your partner might push you for an explanation of why you don’t feel comfortable making the loan. It’s best to have given this some thought beforehand so you can spell it out succinctly. Perhaps you would harbor bad feelings if your partner couldn’t pay you back by a certain date. Or maybe the exchange of money would shift the power balance of the new partnership. Whatever the reason, express it calmly, not argumentatively.
A: Deliver the “no” with empathy and compassion, avoiding critical or judgmental statements. Say, “I care about you, but I’d hate to risk ruining our relationship by a financial agreement that goes wrong. I’m in no way suggesting that you wouldn’t repay, rather that it might change the nature of our relationship. I want to talk further about financial matters and another way I can help you.”
Acknowledge your partner’s courage to ask for help. You could say, “I appreciate your candor in coming to me. I know it was hard, it shows you trust me, and I’m grateful for that. I appreciate your honesty and willingness to talk with me. I’m saying no to the loan but yes to helping out in other ways.”
By coupling the “no” with the team approach, you’re offering strategies and making your significant other feel that there’s a partnership and that you’re on his or her side.