The problem: In my friend group of about eight women, I’m always the one who steps up when flowers or a gift need to be sent. The problem is that people don’t always pay me back. I just spent $120 on a thank-you gift, which everyone in the group agreed to buy. So far, only one person has reimbursed me. Do I remind them? Forget about it?

Low road: Call the receiver of that perfectly chosen gift and tell her that she needn’t address a thank-you note to anyone but you and Friend One because the other freeloaders didn’t pony up.


High road: You don’t say how much “reminding” has already been done. Especially this time of year, people are busy, e-mails get lost and well-intentioned people drop balls. Start by sending a group e-mail to let everyone know how much your friend enjoyed the gift, and how lucky you feel to be part of such a generous group of women. Then state matter-of-factly that the charge per person was X dollars. If, after a week or even two, you are still waiting for money, send out individual e-mails to your friends to remind them one more time. After that, you’ll just have to drop it and consider it a lesson learned.

I offer this advice to you as someone who also is recovering from the I’ll-do-it affliction. I am practicing the art of holding back to see if someone else might step up. Turns out that someone usually does if you create a vacuum. If that happens, you can be the kind of friend you’d want to have and get your check in the mail pronto.


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