Is it reasonable to want my money back?
March 12, 2013 11:19 AM   Subscribe

My ex-partner owes me about two grand. Should I walk away from it?

We split on poor terms a couple years ago because Partner became infatuated with another person and wouldn't cut off contact, so I left. However, we kept in reasonably frequent contact and now chat by text or email every month or two. I don't think Partner is a bad person and don't want the money out of vindication.

However, I don't see why I should have to eat such a sum, when I was the wronged party here. During our relationship I paid for all household expenses besides rent, which was split, and did all of the cleaning and day-to-day house running that becomes necessary when two people live together. I did this because I loved Partner and because Partner's income was far less than mine and because Partner was horrible at managing life's little to-dos so I picked up the slack. I am NOT trying to get back any of the money I paid over that two years of cohabitation for household expenses, dinners out, etc. I'm just looking for the amount that I explicitly loaned to help Partner with personal debt.

The twist is that while Partner acknowledges the debt and in theory intends to pay, Partner has been off work for over a year and is not making any real efforts to find a new job. I see from Facebook that Partner is still enjoying an active social life with vacations, nights on the town, and such, so it seems unfair that some of that money (wherever it's coming from) can't go back to me.

I make more than enough to be comfortable. Two thousand dollars does not make a dent in my financial situation. Nevertheless, I would rather have it back!

Is this reasonable? How do I push it without seeming like a jerk? Should I at least wait til Partner finds some gainful employment? Ask Partner to get a loan from his family to square away my debt?
posted by Pomo to Human Relations (38 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
I think a) you're reasonable to want it back; b) you're unlikely to ever get it.
posted by lewedswiver at 11:21 AM on March 12, 2013 [30 favorites]


However, I don't see why I should have to eat such a sum, when I was the wronged party here.

This seems more like you're trying to extract vengeance or penance than that you simply want a party to make good on a debt. Relationships, their financing and extrication are always messy. Given that you've said "Two thousand dollars does not make a dent in my financial situation" I think you should let this go for your own good.
posted by DarlingBri at 11:24 AM on March 12, 2013 [6 favorites]


You split a couple of years ago and suddenly want the money? At this point, let it go.
posted by amro at 11:24 AM on March 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's reasonable to want it back. It's nothing but headache and disappointment and drama and continued entanglement to try to get it back.
posted by headnsouth at 11:25 AM on March 12, 2013 [11 favorites]


Have you broached the topic of a payment plan with partner at all? It's hard to tell how hard you are actually pushing for the repayment. It's unlikely that Partner will pay you back at this point, but how they respond to a reasonable payment plan would tell you more about their character than auditing their facebook activity.
posted by Think_Long at 11:31 AM on March 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


I agree that it's reasonable to want it back, and also extremely unlikely that you'll ever see it. If you can afford to let it go financially, I agree that the best option for your mental well-being is to let it go emotionally as well.

That said, if you really want to try, I would address it directly but with a tone of friendly problem-solving. Have a conversation that basically says "so what's the best way to set up a payment plan that works for you under the circumstances -- would $50 or $100 a month be feasible?" If he agrees, write up an IOU. You'll probably get a few token payments, and he may even surprise you and pay the whole thing off. Even so, be prepared to let it go.
posted by scody at 11:31 AM on March 12, 2013


I see from Facebook that Partner is still enjoying an active social life with vacations, nights on the town, and such, so it seems unfair that some of that money (wherever it's coming from) can't go back to me.

Don't count other people's money. Is it reasonable to want it back? Absolutely. Do you have any way of getting it back without a whole lot of time and effort (assuming he's not particularly cooperative)? Not really. Even taking the legal route and obtaining a small claims judgement (which it doesn't really sound like you have a case for, and would probably end up costing you more than $2000 in time and effort) would require you to collect on the judgement, which brings you back to square one.
posted by griphus at 11:32 AM on March 12, 2013 [4 favorites]


It's reasonable to want it back, but it's more reasonable to just let it go.
posted by 23skidoo at 11:33 AM on March 12, 2013


Sorry, I probably should have included more detail to address the questions that people have. Partner did for about a year post-breakup pay me back a small monthly payment. I had post-dated cheques that I would deposit after checking in with Partner that they would not bounce that month. I already recouped about $1,500 that way. Partner also offered to repay me from the severance package but it was not a very big one and I felt bad taking it at the time. I assumed a new job would shortly follow.

Since the job loss however I didn't deposit any of the cheques. They are now stale-dated anyway. The reason I am now more concerned is that Partner is making noises about going back to school, which would mean another several years of waiting, with no income.
posted by Pomo at 11:34 AM on March 12, 2013


How on earth are you going to force someone to pay you money when they don't want to, especially in a personal loan to an ex-SO situation? It'd probably cost more money to sue, right?

Answer: you can't. Let it go.
posted by jenfullmoon at 11:35 AM on March 12, 2013


I think you have to let it go at this point. It's been years and there were opportunities for repayment that you turned down.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 11:36 AM on March 12, 2013


....Wait, he paid you the checks but you didn't cash them?

It looks like it would be very hard to argue that he "didn't pay you", because he kind of did.

I mean, I hear you - I also was out several grand, by my calculation, by spending two years supporting myself and a live-in boyfriend entirely on my one single salary. But he did NOTHING to try to pay me back, and I still let it go. Whereas, you were receiving checks but were not depositing them.

You should have deposited them at the time, or just given up.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:37 AM on March 12, 2013 [4 favorites]


I agree with the let it go...and might I add you should unfriend or hide Partner on Facebook? You will never be able to let it go if you see pics of him on vacation.
posted by lil' ears at 11:38 AM on March 12, 2013 [4 favorites]


This may come down to how important your relationship with Partner is to you. It seems to me from your update that you are taking entirely too much responsibility for their own shit (holding off on depositing checks, etc.), but I may be a little harsher than most folk.

That said, you've recovered quite a bit of the initial loan, so the rest could be reasonably written off without a ton of ill will.
posted by Think_Long at 11:38 AM on March 12, 2013


Been there, right down to the people buying nice, not-cheap things they didn't need and telling me money-woes stories--which thoroughly pissed me off. I mean, if people ain't got it and they're living pretty lean....

With one, I finally said I needed it--remarkably enough, $3,000--immediately and the time for stories was over... and it magically appeared, after countless tales about how 10%-20% per month was not doable.

With the other, which by coincidence was $2,000, stories kept on coming after relating that I needed it or a serious payment plan immediately.

I spent a wee bit of time and money to file in small-claims court. Guess what? The money magically appeared.

I'd tell the guy you need a signed payment plan in 72 hours that will be followed or the next step may be small-claims.

Some people obviously see these sorts of things differently, but I've gown tired of being nice to people who are concretely and substantially not nice to me.

Put the screws to him.

(If you get the money and don't need it, heck, donate it to a good charity.)
posted by ambient2 at 11:39 AM on March 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


Based on your update, I think letting it go is the only reasonable option.
posted by scody at 11:40 AM on March 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


. I already recouped about $1,500 that way. Partner also offered to repay me from the severance package but it was not a very big one and I felt bad taking it at the time. I assumed a new job would shortly follow.

That's impressive. Partner has paid back almost half then? Let it go, possibly bring it up when they are employed again. (Also, I do have to wonder about your motive when you are asking for 2k from an unemployed person when it wouldn't put a dent in your pocket...)
posted by murfed13 at 11:40 AM on March 12, 2013


Stop being friends with this ex irl, stop the emails and the texting, block this person on facebook... and WALK AWAY.

You are never ever ever going to get repaid. Sticking around is useless.

Drop this drip and the money he owes you from your mind. Move on already! You'll be so relieved when you follow through. Trust:))
posted by jbenben at 11:40 AM on March 12, 2013 [4 favorites]


Also, I do have to wonder about your motive when you are asking for 2k from an unemployed person when it wouldn't put a dent in your pocket

That's not fair. A loan's a loan, and it's entirely reasonable for someone to want it back (interest free!) after an extended period of time.
posted by Think_Long at 11:46 AM on March 12, 2013 [4 favorites]


Since the job loss however I didn't deposit any of the cheques.

He paid you and you didn't cash the checks.

Partner also offered to repay me from the severance package but it was not a very big one and I felt bad taking it at the time.

He offered to pay you and you demurred.

I assumed a new job would shortly follow.

He got down to business and you kept it personal. He was your ex at this point, his job situation really isn't your business, and managing his finances for him (at the expense of your own) is inappropriate.

The reason I am now more concerned is that Partner is making noises about going back to school, which would mean another several years of waiting, with no income.

It's time to move on. He's not your partner, he's your ex. He doesn't have any money, so there's nothing financial to gain from this. But something is keeping you from walking away. It's not the money, what is it?
posted by headnsouth at 11:49 AM on March 12, 2013 [29 favorites]


You can try getting blood from a stone, but ultimately, there will be drama involved and you still might not get your money - ultimately, with no income, you may be punishing the person's family or driving them into bankruptcy.

Further, it isn't going to make the wrong they suffered you feel any less wrong - other strategies are much more beneficial there.

Given you don't actually need the money, it seems to me that life is too short to go through that - however, you could be full-well within your rights to do so. It seems to me if you're cordial now, at least giving them time during a difficult economy to get on their feet is being the best person you can be in the scenario.
posted by Rodrigo Lamaitre at 11:52 AM on March 12, 2013


You are using the debt to hang on to it and to him. Drop it and move on with your life. You've already wasted enough time on him.
posted by jaimystery at 11:54 AM on March 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


at this point file it away under the don't lend money you are not willing to give away.

I understand wanting it back, but per your details it isn't really about the money (I make more than enough to be comfortable. Two thousand dollars does not make a dent in my financial situation) but about making him pay it. Which he should... but you don't need it.

If keeping in contact with him is going to cause you increased heartburn about this issue then yeah, disconnect and distract. If you can let it go and still keep in contact that is fine too.
posted by edgeways at 11:55 AM on March 12, 2013


I will be the fuddy duddy lawyer. I do creditor's rights.

You say, "I did this because I loved Partner and because Partner's income was far less than mine and because Partner was horrible at managing life's little to-dos so I picked up the slack." That is not a loan even though you call it an "explicit loan".

But, let's pretend there was an actual loan agreement complete with a written contract. Here is where it gets good. He paid you with checks that you promptly did not deposit. He also offered to pay you on another occasion, which you refused. The fancy word for what he did is called "tender". When he tendered payment and you refused, you excused his debt in whatever amount he offered you. He offered you $500 and you refused? Congratulations, you just reduced his debt by $500. That also applies to the checks you let go stale.

You are not reasonable. In fact, if the offered money and stale checks add up to two thousand dollars, he doesn't owe you a dime. If you persisted, I'd tell him that he has possible claim against you for attempting to collect a false debt. Keep that in mind if you decide to follow the "small claims" advice. Telling the judge what an asshole your ex has been is not a legal argument.
posted by Tanizaki at 11:58 AM on March 12, 2013 [20 favorites]


This isn't really about the money, is it? It's you keeping an attachment to him. Now he's moved on with his life, you still haven't sorted it out emotionally. You're looking at his Facebook, you're keeping tabs on him. You need to move on because you're hanging onto him.

Let it all go, including the ex-partner. You made a mistake giving him money and postbreakup you made a mistake not cashing those checks.
posted by discopolo at 12:07 PM on March 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


I like money and it would be hard for me to walk away from $2K.

But, since you didn't cash the checks when you could, I'm willing to bet that your ex figures that you don't care about repayment, and thus, it's over. To quote Bill Ayers, "Free as a bird, guilty as hell."

Sadly, I'd agree with everyone else, but I guess I would make one last ditch attempt--send copies of the stale checks (not the originals) back to the ex and say that unless these are replaced by Certain Date, 2013, you'll go to small claims (the checks prove acknowledgement of the debt.) You might get lucky and get something back. If not, block the person, don't contact them, and get on with your life.
posted by Ideefixe at 12:20 PM on March 12, 2013


I'd just like to point out that the OP never said the partner was a man.

I would ask about it one last time. If your ex doesn't agree to it I would let it go.
posted by Enchanting Grasshopper at 12:21 PM on March 12, 2013


That also applies to the checks you let go stale.


I think we need more information on this. He gave you checks which were post-dated - which is also technically illegal, isn't it? So I don't know how it can be counted as legal tender as the cancellation of a debt. Did he give you these all at once? Why were they post dated?
posted by corb at 12:22 PM on March 12, 2013


send copies of the stale checks (not the originals) back to the ex and say that unless these are replaced by Certain Date, 2013, you'll go to small claims (the checks prove acknowledgement of the debt.)

That would be an attempt to enforce a legal right that does not exist. As I explained in my previous comment, when the ex gave payment to OP and the OP did not deposit them, OP excused the debt in the amount of the offered payment. The law is very clear on this point.

He gave you checks which were post-dated - which is also technically illegal, isn't it?

It is not illegal or even technically illegal. It is, in fact, legal. If OP was afraid that the checks would bounce, OP could have deposited them and when they did bounce, OP would have an excellent basis for a claim. Instead, OP decided to excuse the debt in the amount of the payments that OP did not deposit or otherwise refused.

I am assuming all of this is going on in the US.
posted by Tanizaki at 12:31 PM on March 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Don't follow your exes on Facebook.

I think it's kind of-- I don't know, cruel or capricious something-- to decline payments/not cash checks, and then turn around and pursue them for the full amount. Your actions gave them the impression that this debt was not serious.
posted by BibiRose at 12:54 PM on March 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


Eat it. Cost of the relationship. And unfriend your ex, for crying out loud.
posted by Dasein at 1:09 PM on March 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Is keeping this relationship alive worth the money? Hanging on to this issue is giving energy to a dead relationship. Let it go. Keeping this alive is keeping you from completely moving on.

Consider forgiving the debt as a gift. A gift you make to yourself. Close that chapter in your life and make room for something new.
posted by ambrosia at 1:11 PM on March 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


I don't get all of these comments impugning your motives and suggesting there is something emotional going on here (or that that's a bad thing) or that you shouldn't (or can't) collect the debt.

He/she owes you the money, and if you want to, you can make a final claim, sue him/her, and then collect on the judgment. It's a lot of hassle, but if it would make you feel better, why not?
posted by carolinaherrera at 1:25 PM on March 12, 2013


You say, "I did this because I loved Partner ... so I picked up the slack." That is not a loan even though you call it an "explicit loan".

That's not what OP said. OP loaned money to Partner to help Partner with personal debt in addition to paying Partner's living expenses.
posted by keep it under cover at 1:31 PM on March 12, 2013


Yes, it is unreasonable.

You want the money now is because you feel that your ex-partner is not making a reasonable attempt to get a job and is still having fun. That sounds more like resentment than grounds for repayment, and that's why others are questioning your motives.

I can give you at least three reasons WHY going after this debt is a bad idea:

First, because you are keeping tabs on the ex-partner at all.
You've had relationships since you two parted ways, yet you've kept him* in the picture, to the point where you regularly check his Facebook status. Why?

I'll bet you still think about getting back together with him, don't you? Probably even more any time your current relationship ends and you're a bit lonely. Look, we've all done stuff like that. It's natural. It's also really unhealthy.

Secondly, because you are making decisions about what is "reasonable" for that ex-partner.
This is no longer any business of yours. Doesn't matter if that was a problem when you were together--it's NOT YOUR CALL any more.

And finally, because ex-partner tried to pay you before but you did not cash the checks.
It's obvious that this isn't about the money. It's a connection between the two of you, the one connection you can still hang on to. Not cashing the checks is also something that would work against you if you did try to go after the debt, as Tanazaki already pointed out.

All of those things suggest that you are still hung up on the ex-partner and want some way to bring him back into your life or, failing that, punish him for enjoying life without you. The money, as you say, doesn't make a dent in your income. This is about your unresolved feelings for him.

If you want to get back together with him, be direct about that and just tell him so. Otherwise, drop ALL contact, because you are not just friends and you know it.

*I use he/him because the OP has asked questions about male partners before.
posted by misha at 2:03 PM on March 12, 2013 [4 favorites]


I ground an axe over similar debt for at least a year. I endured repeated promises of paying back, then excuses, then a bunch of drama and a screaming "you don't even deserve the money! you're a horrible person!" type stuff.

I realized after a little while that although the money would be nice to have, it wasn't an irreplaceable sum(which you yourself have also admitted) and i really wasn't fighting for it on the "principal of the thing" even though i told myself and various others that.

In the end it was a mixture of keeping contact and "having the last word", neither of which are healthy things. Being able to erase the thoughts of it from my mind and actually let it go, which was not an instantaneous process, was pretty freeing of brain-space for you know... shit that actually matters and is healthy to be thinking about.

This might sound kind of silly but here it goes: A couple thousand dollars is always cool to have, but think about how much time you've wasted sitting around doing nothing else obsessing about this, or battling with him in some way about it. You yourself said it's been years. How much would you be getting paid if that was a job(either at your current job, or if you do some self employed/art/music/crafty things then that too). You've basically wasted your own time on something that creates no value for yourself, and is essentially a chore/job that very few people would do without getting paid.

You held the carrot of possibly getting paid in front of yourself like an artist working at a startup waiting to get paid on the "back end" when the project was done. You got screwed.

Learn from this. Both when not to lend money, and when to write things off and bail before you've invested "work" you'll never get paid for.

That isn't necessarily the best take away from this. I think the points about it being emotionally unhealthy and such are good too, but that logic finally snapped me out of it.
posted by emptythought at 2:36 PM on March 12, 2013


Thanks for the answers. I realize now this isn't the sort of question that can be definitively answered and I probably should have held off posting. Unless anyone feels like adding more I'm going to mark it resolved.

To clarify on some of the speculation arising, I will just confirm that this isn't a matter of torch-carrying: Partner asked me back shortly after the split and I gave a resounding no, as I'm quite happy to no longer play nanny to a full-grown adult. Since then, we have been in friendly and regular contact, trading favours in our respective professional spheres, inquiring after each other's family, having the occasional coffee. Partner has consistently acknowledged the debt, and the reason I didn't cash the cheques or take the severance money before is because when I asked "can you afford that or is it going to cause hardship" they said it would put them in a tight spot and they'd appreciate holding off for a few more months if I didn't mind. Everything is papered and I am on good legal footing (though I do sympathize with the lawyerly instinct to turn every scenario into a bar exam fact pattern, jurisdiction be damned).

All I was looking for was a reality check about whether a "good person" would ask for payments to be re-started knowing that the debtor, while willing to pay, is probably not going to be earning a steady income for some time despite having some cash on hand as evidenced by ongoing discretionary spending. I think the best answers seem to suggest letting it go and then being happily surprised if the money should turn up at some later point unbidden.

Thanks again!
posted by Pomo at 2:44 PM on March 12, 2013


I'd just like to point out that the OP never said the partner was a man.

From the ask:

Ask Partner to get a loan from his family to square away my debt?
posted by payoto at 3:49 PM on March 12, 2013


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