Join the debate. Vote Now on the Dear Abby Poll of the week.

by Abigail Van Buren

Friendship Is Only Payment Neighbor Wants for Cat-Sitting

DEAR ABBY: I have dear friends and neighbors I really enjoy who have asked me to water their plants and feed the cat when they're away, which is not very often. I enjoy doing these things, and so I always feel awkward when they bring home gifts of jewelry or give me money. I would prefer that they let me do these things for love and friendship, but I don't know how to make them stop giving me things.

Is there something polite I can say to let them know that they should just let me be their friend? I would prefer that to feeling as though I'm being paid for my services. -- FOR LOVE AND FRIENDSHIP

DEAR FOR LOVE: Has it occurred to you that your neighbors bring things back for you because they enjoy giving as much as you enjoy doing things for them? If it hasn't, please consider it.

And afterward, if you still feel that their gifts are too much of a quid pro quo, explain that you like them very much and value their friendship, and they don't need to give you anything in return for the affection you feel for them. I don't think couching the message in those terms would be rude at all.

Read more in: Friends & Neighbors | Money