How can I get my friend to pay back his loan?

The Jewish Chronicle - - LIFE -

QA FEW years ago, I lent a large amount of money to a friend to help him out at a tough time. We now live in dif­fer­ent cities, and, al­though I’d say we were still friends, we aren’t as close as we were — mostly due to the dis­tance, I think. There was no con­tract in­volved. I trusted my friend then and I still trust him now. We don’t speak reg­u­larly, but when we do, he doesn’t men­tion pay­ing me back.

I don’t know what my friend’s fi­nan­cial sit­u­a­tion is now, a few years on. I want to bring up the sub­ject with him of re­pay­ing the money, but I don’t want to put a huge deal of pres­sure on him. I’m con­flicted!

AAS YOU’VE dis­cov­ered, lend­ing money to a friend can be prob­lem­atic. Of course, he should, as your friend, have paid it back with­out need­ing to be asked. But the tricky sit­u­a­tion you’re in is all too com­mon. It’s highly un­likely he’s for­got­ten the loan. He ei­ther doesn’t want to, or can’t pay it back.

Ei­ther way, he is tak­ing ad­van­tage of your si­lence, hop­ing that you have for­got­ten or writ­ten it off. Maybe he thinks you don’t need the money. You say you’re not as close as you were.

Do you not think this dis­tance, rather than be­ing merely geo­graph­i­cal, is at least partly caused by an un­spo­ken ten­sion be­tween you over this money? Per­haps he hasn’t been con­tact­ing you be­cause he’s dread­ing an awk­ward con­ver­sa­tion. And it sounds like you don’t want to con­tact him be­cause you’re scared he’ll feel pres­surised.

But if you don’t talk, you’ll never get your money back, and you’ll also lose your friend­ship for good.

In an ideal world, you’d have agreed terms at the start, rather than re­ly­ing on trust. Now, you can only try to res­cue the sit­u­a­tion. Think about what you want and how you’ll feel if he says he can’t pay you back or, worst-case sce­nario, de­nies any knowl­edge of the money or says he thought it was a gift. Could you af­ford to write it off ? Could you still be friends? Would you sue him?

If he is will­ing to pay it back, but not in a po­si­tion to give you a lump sum, you could set up a pay­ment plan for him.

What­ever you de­cide, you need to com­mu­ni­cate with him, or this will con­tinue to hang over you .

QMY GIRL­FRIEND and I are planning our wed­ding. We’re ex­cited to be the first ones in ei­ther fam­ily to have a same-sex cer­e­mony. The only prob­lem is my teenage son. He lives with his fa­ther, and is un­com­fort­able with the fact that I’ve come out as a les­bian. He’s begged me not to get mar­ried, be­cause he feels that it’ll em­bar­rass him in front of his mates. I won’t change my plans — but how can I per­suade him to ac­cept us, and play the ac­tive role in our cer­e­mony that I would like?

ACONGRATULATIONS ON your forth­com­ing wed­ding! Of course you’re happy and ex­cited and in love, but per­haps your ela­tion is cloud­ing your abil­ity to em­pathise with your son.

Please put your own feel­ings to one side for a mo­ment, and in­stead think about his. He’s a teenage boy, with all that en­tails. He’s al­ready dealt with the breakup of your mar­riage to his dad, the rev­e­la­tion that you are a les­bian and that your re­la­tion­ship with his fa­ther was not as it seemed, the ar­rival of a new step-par­ent fig­ure… and now you are ex­pect­ing him to play an ac­tive role in your wed­ding, which he is al­ready feel­ing em­bar­rassed and con­flicted about.

Give him some slack. This is tough for him and he must be deal­ing with so very many con­tra­dic­tory emo­tions, prob­a­bly some that he can’t even ar­tic­u­late.

You can’t per­suade him to ac­cept your re­la­tion­ship. This is about emo­tion, not ar­gu­ment. He is wor­ried about his friends be­cause he’s at an age where their opin­ion is the most im­por­tant.

You say you won’t change your plans, and nor should you, but ask­ing him to play an ac­tive role in your nup­tials is per­haps an ex­pec­ta­tion too far.

Maybe you need to com­pro­mise and ac­cept that just hav­ing him there will be enough. Talk to him and lis­ten to what he says. If you pres­surise him, or try to make him feel guilty about this, you might end up not only not hav­ing him at your wed­ding, but in your life at all. The fact he lives with his fa­ther shows that there is al­ready dis­tance be­tween you. Don’t make it big­ger.

Con­tact Hi­lary via email at agony@ thejc.com, anony­mously or not. Or write to her at 28 St Al­bans Lane, Lon­don NW11 7QF

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