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At a time when more and more of us are forced into financial difficulty, there comes a point when asking for a loan may become necessary to stay afloat. But who to ask? Banks, family, friends? While the bonds of friendship may seem strong enough to withstand a simple financial transaction, they are actually ill-suited to carry the emotional baggage associated with money, says author Anneli Rufus. "The size of a loan that one friend requests from another puts a neon price tag on that friendship.  Is a new iPad worth more to you than a roof over my head?"

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Unlike asking a bank to lend you money, friends typically have similar economic situations, meaning that the sum asked for will likely be considered a substantial burden by the person being asked. Ultimately, the weight that money has in our culture makes its exchange a loaded event. "Every human relationship has its boundaries and taboos. If sex and money are our culture’s twin obsessions, both wreak similar havoc on friendships. Asking friends for loans is not unlike asking them for sex: Whatever the answer, the relationship changes forever—typically in a haze of guilt, shame and regret."

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