Ask Away Blog: Money and Trust

Money and Trust

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Dear Ellen,

I had a friend who I felt was like a sister to me.  We could talk about anything!  We met at work, and had a friendship that lasted over 25 years.
The reason I said "had" is that we are no longer friends and haven't spoken in over a year.  Two years ago, I lent her $ 4500.  She told me at the time, that she would pay me back as soon as possible, when she received her tax refund.  After I lent her the money, it seemed to me that she avoided any contact with me.  When I called her, I always got voice mail, and left messages that were never returned.  A year ago I did manage to talk to her, but she did not seem too concerned when I asked when I could expect to be paid back.  I had always told her that she could make small payments over time, but as of now, she hasn't paid anything.
It really hurts me that she doesn't seem to care.  Over the years, I have not only lent her money, but also gave her 2 cars and other things.  What bothers me most is that she has a mother and brother who could have helped her, but she turned to me for the loan.  Her brother couldn't help her at the time, and she didn't want to ask her mother.  When she first asked for the loan, I had misgivings and should have followed my gut feeling-but she was in a bind, and out of the goodness of my heart I lent her the money.
Sometimes, I feel so angry that I want to write her a letter and explain how I feel.  I can't call her anymore since she has changed her phone number.  I guess I just have to accept the fact that I'll never hear from her again.
I just can't understand how someone can behave like this-we had been friends for over 25 years, and now it's all gone.  I just would like to know how to get over this.  I just feel so used.   It's not so much about the money, it's more about the trust I had in her.  How do I move on, and let this go?
 I just would like others opinions on how to handle this situation.
Thanks,
Buffy

Hi Buffy,
Wow, you really have been dealt a difficult card.  I can understand why you did what you did, and why you feel the way you do now.  First of all, don’t feel guilty or angry at yourself for lending the money.  You did something out of the goodness of your heart and you can’t go back and change your decision anyways. 
Money can do a lot of things.  It can create riffs between people and it can change people.  That is what it did here.  I don’t blame you at all for being upset about the trust that you had in her.  I was in a situation before where someone I had been close with turned on me because of a job opportunity.  Regarding that situation, I was once told that I was too innocent to see the evil in the world, meaning that people can turn on you in an instant.  I do see that now, and I think you should too. 
One way I would try to get over it, is realize that it was a good chance for you to learn a lesson.  You will always be more cautious with people from now on and that is okay.  This set you up, so that sometime down the road someone else may ask you for something and you will be more hesitant, and will end up saving yourself from even MORE trouble.  It happens to everyone.  You are not alone at all. I’m sure everyone has a story they can share.  If it would feel better to write a letter, you could do that, OR you could write it all out but never send it.  That way you are getting your emotions out and relieving yourself more.  You know your friend better than I do, so you would know better as to if you should actually follow through with sending the letter or not.  I really hope some readers can offer more advice!  Just don’t be mad at yourself, and take this as a lesson.
Best wishes!
Ellen

2 comments:

  1. I have been in the same situation more than once, having lended money to 3 friends. It truly was out of the goodness of my heart, but looking back now (5+ years later) it was a mistake due to the economic times now vs. then and we're struggling to make ends meet these days. Someone once told me, if you ever loan money, don't expect to be paid back! Well, I have taken that advice to heart and instead of dwelling on my financial loss, I've tried to maintain good relationships with those friends because maybe one day I could be in a situation where they will be there for me. Even if it's just for moral support. This might sound cheesy or cliche but friendship is priceless.

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  2. I agree with Ellen and Sue. There are so many things wrong with this - a grown woman borrowing money from a friend instead of a bank, a verbal agreement with nothing written including interest or a payment plan, etc. I also think it sounds like you were a better friend to her than she was to you. You sound like someone who thinks of others to your own detriment. There were signs that things were wrong but you ignored them because you wanted to give her the benefit of the doubt. If you had listened to your gut, you wouldn't have lent her the money. You can use this experience to learn to listen to yourself so that it doesn't happen to you again. It was an expensive lesson but consider the loss of money an investment in your future, and don't let it happen again. Good luck!

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