To Pay Or Not To Pay
There was a discussion on the radio this morning regarding etiquette after a couple parts ways. The female in this situation had borrowed $50 from her then-boyfriend to gas up her car. He ended the relationship later on in what they called a “horrible” way, and now the female feels that she does not owe him the $50 she borrowed and initially promised to pay back. Numerous people called in, most in support of the female’s decision to keep the money with a few, mostly male, supporters of paying back the cash and being done with the relationship for good. The female remained adamant that the cash did not have to be paid back and was holding firm for the few minutes my husband and I listened in prior to arriving at work.
The first time I loaned my significant other some cash was at some point during high school and wasn’t more than a few dollars. At that time, I didn’t care much about getting my money back because I was still in that young, dumb, puppy love stage of life. During college, I expected my boyfriend to repay me in some way if I loaned him money; he could repay the cash, buy me dinner, fill up my car, or something equivalent to the amount I loaned him. Even now with my husband, we try to keep things even; if he buys me an energy drink at work one day, I’ll buy him popcorn the next. The proper and fair thing to do is to reimburse the person who is taking money out of their pocket in order to benefit you.
Breaking up is hard to do and generally never happens clean with no residual hatred or bad feelings left behind. When I’ve ended relationships, I like to make sure my ex has the chance to get his property back, as well as any expensive gifts he may have given me (generally jewelry or things that have sentimental value that I won’t want hanging around). I also want to be paid back if I have loaned out money with the promise of repayment, but I don’t truly expect it. I had a short relationship end with the guy owing me somewhere around $40, but I let it slide because I didn’t feel like dealing with him anymore. I had another long-term relationship end with the guy owing me quite a bit more, but due to the fact that he obtained the money dishonestly and was deep in debt, I didn’t pursue it. If my husband and I part ways, I would prefer that neither of us start demanding funds from the other; I wouldn’t try and get spousal support out of him and I would appreciate it if he didn’t start pulling old receipts out of the closet and demanding reimbursement.
The easy route is to simply let it go and move on, assuming debts are wiped clean and property left with your now ex is now a loss. However, easy doesn’t equal fair and the party that loaned out the cash is out a love interest and a few dollars, receiving the short end of the stick even if they were the person who chose to end the relationship. The woman on the radio came across as a person acting in a petty fashion. She was bitter about the ugly end of the relationship and was taking the $50 loan as a sort of hazard pay for having to endure a nasty break up. Unless her ex damaged her property or performed some other action that cost her $50, there’s simply no way to justify the choice to keep the money that was previously called a loan. It shouldn’t matter if it’s ten dollars or ten thousand; a loan is a loan and you must pay back what you have borrowed.
The key is to ensure you are differentiating between actual loaned funds/property and gifts/communal activities. You’re not going to get paid back for that lavish vacation you surprised your boyfriend with last year, nor are you going to be reimbursed for gassing up the car when you both are traveling or that week where you bought all the groceries. To ask for things like that is shameful, petty, and outlandish. It would be nice to get that diamond bracelet back that you got your girl for her birthday, but she has every right to keep it, sell it, or trash the thing. When it comes to gifts, all you can do is hope there is still enough positivity between you two post-break up that the other party feels generous and returns things to you.
What it really comes down to is what type of person you want to be. Are you content being the person who seeks revenge after a bad breakup? The type who wants to hurt the other party as bad as they themselves have been hurt? Are you accepting of the fact that things don’t always go as planned and playing the blame game is a waste of time? Are you eager to move on rather than dwell in the past? I won’t lie and say it’s easy to be the bigger person, but at some point in life you simply have to do a little growing up, quit playing games, and act as an adult. The end of a relationship is also the beginning of something new and better. Don’t taint it with bad feelings, resentment, and petty games. Learn from the mistakes you both made, use that knowledge to grow, and focus on the coming sunrise instead of the darkness.