We’ve all experienced a moocher— someone who conveniently “forgets” their wallet at home every time you go out to dinner, “loses” anything you loan them, and always manages to get out of their share of a chore. If you want to maintain both the friendship and your sanity, you will have to set firm but clear boundaries to stop the mooching behavior. The key is to anticipate potential situations where the mooching will occur, and address the issue with increasing degrees of confrontation.
Steps to handling a moocher:
Joke around about their “absentmindedness”. For example, if your friend chronically “forgets” her wallet, assume that she will do so the next time you go out to dinner. Before you leave for the restaurant, smile and poke fun: “You sure you’ve got your wallet this time?” If they want to borrow something that probably isn’t going to get returned, you can say something to the effect of “Pretty soon you’re going to have my entire wardrobe!” Maintain a cheery disposition – the moocher should register that you’re on to them, although that’s not always enough to make them stop.
At a restaurant, ask for separate checks when you order. If the moocher tends to not order anything, but then picks incessantly at your dish, cough lightly on your food and say something like “You might not want to eat these nachos…I think I might be getting the flu. Why don’t I order you a separate dish?” When you order, ask for that dish to be on a separate check. If your friends might think that’s poor etiquette, say something like “I’m writing it off as a business expense; I have to have separate receipts in case I screw up and get audited!”
Casually mention on your way out to eat that you only brought enough money to pay for yourself. Or say when you’re planning the outing that everyone will be paying for themselves. Make sure you stick to this when the bill comes!
Get to the root of their financial woes. Sometimes people are genuinely in a pinch, but if you’re reading this, the moocher in question is probably someone who chronically looks for a free ride, and who you suspect is too lazy or cheap to pull their own weight. Every time they’re short on cash, make it a point to bring up his or her money issues in private, shortly afterward. Approach the matter delicately, but make it clear that you’ve noticed their pattern, so that they don’t feel like their mooching can slip under the radar:
I’ve noticed, lately, that you’ve been having a hard time pitching in when we go out. Is everything OK?
I’m a little worried about you; you seem to be short on cash, even though you just got a job/raise. Did something happen
Assign the moocher a fair share in advance. If you’re planning a road trip or dinner party, sketch out who will bring what. Make a list, and ask the mooching friend what he or she will bring. If they lament their financial situation, empathize and ask them to bring one of the less expensive items, or suggest that they cook something (which is always cheaper, but at least it requires effort). Once moochers see their names on a list, it won’t be as easy to skimp. Just make sure that whatever they’re responsible for bringing, they’re the only ones responsible for it, so that if they don’t, it’ll be noticeable to everyone involved.
This will also work for that co-worker or sibling or friend who doesn’t chip in for a community gift (for a parent, boss, etc.) yet still wants to sign his/her name for the card. Make a list!
If you have a mooching roommate, put up a whiteboard outlining chores and costs. Cross off an item whenever someone completes their task or pays their obligation. This will make it obvious that the moocher never crosses anything off.
Mention that it’s the moocher’s turn to treat. This is where it starts to get a little more confrontational. If the moocher turns you down somehow, or seems to blow the question off, you must threaten to cancel the event, and mean it.
Since I drove last time, can you do it this time around? -Oh, you can’t? Well, OK. I’m having second thoughts about going, anyway.
I covered the tab last week, can you cover it this week? -If you can’t, that’s fine. Maybe we should find something else to do. Can you cover a game of pool?
Since last time we had lunch/dinner at my house, do you want to do it at your house this time? -Well, if we can’t pin down a host, we might need to cancel the get-together. I can host once in a while, but not all the time.
Turn the tables. Since there have been plenty of times when you helped them out, test them and see if they’ll return the favor. Mooch off of them. “Forget” your wallet, ask them to loan you money, borrow their clothes, and see what happens. It may feel unnatural for you, but you might really discover your friend’s true colors by doing this. Don’t wait until you’re really in a pinch, only to discover that your friend will leave you high and dry.
Address any mutual friends. If you have mutual friends with the moocher, you may want to speak with them about the moocher’s behavior in as diplomatic a way as possible. It’s best if you can present a united front. For example, say “Joe’s a really cool guy, and he’s a lot of fun to hang out with, but I’ve noticed he really doesn’t pitch in whenever we go out as a group, and I’m worried that it will put a strain on our friendship. It would be great if we could do something about it so we don’t have to have problems.” If you don’t want to (or can’t) drop the friendship, you might need to have some kind of intervention. Financial issues can tear people apart, so don’t let your friend’s mooching habits ruin your relationship.
Be persistent. It takes time to change a behavior, so you will have to be firm in modifying your response to the moocher.
Be clear that you like the person’s company and personality, but do not like a particular behavior.
If they ask to “borrow” money just say, “I don’t have any money on me.” Or to avoid a possible fib, “I don’t have enough money to loan.” It works. Moochers often ask to “borrow” money only to not pay you back.
Break your friendship. If they are only your friends to take advantage of you, it is probably better that you break your friendships with them.
Watch out for enablers, who are either oblivious to the moocher’s behavior, or actively encourage it. Make sure you handle their behavior diplomatically.
Be Careful These tips may in turn hurt your friend. If you really consider the MOOCHER a friend, you might want to help them out once in a while.
- How to Retrieve a Lent Item
- How to Get Adult Kids to Pay Their Share
- How to Stop Being a People Pleaser
- How to Spot a Gold Digger
More Articles Related to Boundaries on Skywriter:
- Neptune in the 2nd—Money, Boundaries, & Codependency
- Neptune in the 11th House–Setting Boundaries in Friendship
- Libra Alert: Personal Power & What It Looks Like in a Friendship
- What your Astrology Chart Says about your Boundary Issues
- Boundaries 101 ~ A Course for Neptunians
- Boundaries 201–Ten More Tips for Neptunians
- Neptune in the 2nd—Money, Boundaries, & Codependency
- Readers’ Insights into Neptune and Boundaries
- Neptune and the Cosmic Soup
- 6 Common Misconceptions about Boundaries in a Relationship
- Feeling Drained by a Relationship? Cut those Psychic Cords!
- Libra Alert: How to Stop Being a People Pleaser
- Saturn in Libra: How to Set Healthy Boundaries
- Download a chapter of my ebook Counseling Principles for Astrologers: ch7 – codependency.