feeling stupid, how to reframe this
August 19, 2022 10:54 AM   Subscribe

I loaned money to someone in need. New information has emerged about the situation. I feel foolish. Please help me reframe this so I can stop beating myself up.

An old friend of mine came to me last month in desperation. Their child needed a serious and urgent medical procedure and they were not able to pay the deductible. I hadn't talked to this friend in a long time but I am an empathetic human being and probably too much of a softie, and they seemed genuine in their fear and despair and so I agreed to help on condition that they repay me within a month. I knew at the time that loaning money like this comes with a risk and I should assume I'd never get it back, but a child needed medical attention and I felt that it would be a good deed/good karma/whatever.

I have since learned through mutual friends that the child was not sick at all, and this "friend" had been begging everyone they knew for money. I no longer live in the same town as this friend so I wasn't up on the local gossip around this (it's a SMALL town) so I am the sucker who loaned this motherfucking asshole $1200, which they apparently used to buy a new guitar amp.

I am livid at this person for exploiting their child this way. I am more angry at myself for trusting that this person was being honest with me without verification. (But how would I verify? I couldn't call the doctor and it didn't occur to me to text at least one mutual to see if they were aware of the situation, if the child was sick it's not my story to tell.)

I paid the asshole via PayPal, using the "friend/gift" option. I don't think I can recall the payment but damn I wish I could. I don't think I have any recourse. I feel foolish and irresponsible and so angry. And in the meantime, we are having some major plumbing issues in our house right now and that $1200 sure would come in handy for this unanticipated expense. I won't be destitute without it, but it's not a small amount of money for me either.

If no one can think of a way for me to recover this money, can you help me reframe what happened so I can somehow find peace with the fact that this money is gone because I'm a fucking idiot? I brought this up with my therapist yesterday but we didn't make much headway as I'd only learned about the guitar amp an hour prior to my appointment and all I could do in session was RANT LIKE AN ANGRY PERSON while my therapist kindly sat with me in my rage and waited to get a word in when I took a breath, which I apparently didn't for the full hour.
posted by nayantara to Work & Money (59 answers total)

This post was deleted for the following reason: posters request -- frimble

Best answer: nayantara, I don't know the solution but you aren't stupid. You're exceptionally kind. And you're the kind of kind that would help a friend that you believed to be in need, no questions asked. That's a pure kind of kind, and it's rare.

I know you'll be a lot more cautious in the future, and I don't know how to get the money back, and I know you feel just awful right now. But this situation says a lot of good things about you. It means you believe in trust, in goodness, in generosity, and that you walk the walk. The reason it never dawned on you that it might be a scam is because you'd never dream of doing that to another person.
posted by mochapickle at 11:07 AM on August 19, 2022 [128 favorites]

Best answer: It's not foolish to give a friend the benefit of the doubt and trust them when they ask you to help them.

You are not an idiot.

This person took advantage of your humanity and kindness. They are probably very good at manipulating others in this way.

The world would be a better place if there were more people like you. That is the simple truth of it.

I'm sorry your friend betrayed your trust.
posted by Zumbador at 11:09 AM on August 19, 2022 [31 favorites]

Best answer: In Howards End, E.M. Forster described this kind of experience as "rent." It's the price you pay for keeping a kind and open heart. If you are truly generous, you are going to get taken occasionally. Would you want to be the kind of person who didn't help in this situation, assuming the person hadn't been lying? It's still a good deed, even if the money didn't go where you thought it would go.

Note: I am definitely not saying you shouldn't be angry, you shouldn't freeze this person out, you can't choose to be more careful in the future, etc. I'm just saying this is what will happen if you err on the side of generosity, and on the whole it's better to be the kind of person who errs on the side of generosity.
posted by praemunire at 11:10 AM on August 19, 2022 [139 favorites]

Best answer: I am more angry at myself for trusting that this person was being honest with me without verification.

So I try to keep in mind, who would I rather be*? Would I rather be the person who made my friend document their child's pain and suffering, or the kind, generous person who got scammed by a jackass?

Which isn't to say you always unquestioningly hand over money. You now know not to trust this person. And if, looking back, you see some red flags you missed, maybe you pay more attention to red flags like that in the future.

But the reality is you aren't going to always make the right call. None of us will always be right. So if you make the wrong one, which one do you want to make?

And if in the future you decide you do want to be a little less trusting, I think that's perfectly fine! You can change that answer. Maybe next time you say "I'll write the check to the doctor's office." Or you now you only loan out money you won't stress about losing. You now have a better idea about your personal comfort and likits. And I'm so sorry it was a jerk who helped you find them. But that's on him. Not you.

*In my case it's who would I rather be with. My husband is the very generous and trusting person. There are times where I have a moment of "Dude, really?" But before I even finish the thought I remind myself that part of why I love him is how generous and thoughtful he is.
posted by ghost phoneme at 11:12 AM on August 19, 2022 [21 favorites]

In my circle we kinda shrug and call this paying the premium on your karma insurance. You showed yourself to be open, empathetic, generous. Someone else showed themselves to be greedy, dishonest, manipulative. I know which side I'd rather be on. Blessings to you for your warm heart; simultaneously, lesson learned re: this person.
posted by BlahLaLa at 11:20 AM on August 19, 2022 [36 favorites]

I'm concluding from what you wrote that the money is gone because you're a kind person who did the right thing. Which, everyone loses money sometimes, so it's better to do it for good reasons than for bad reasons, and now that you've gotten that out of the way, you're less likely to lose money for a bad reason next time. So, there's a lot of reasons to feel good about this. I can't think of any reasons to feel bad about it. Was anyone hurt? Only your former friend's reputation. Do you owe anything to anyone as a result? Nope, you're walking away.

What you should do next is just call your friend back and tell them you're having major plumbing issues right now and ask if they can help you. Remind them you helped them when they needed it. If they say no then you were wronged twice in a row, and that really sucks. If they yes, then you're all good.
posted by bleep at 11:26 AM on August 19, 2022 [13 favorites]

Your anger is totally justified! I'd be fucking livid too.

Maybe there will be justice? Fraud guitarist was begging for money all over town and may have scorched a lot of earth. Maybe make sure that the gossips in your town know how this went down. You can't get back the $1200 but maybe you can make this jerk pay a reputation price.

and I 100% back all the stuff above. You are a good person, that makes you vulnerable, but that's the rent for being generous.
posted by Sauce Trough at 11:28 AM on August 19, 2022 [5 favorites]

Karma. It will win in the end.

I was taught many years ago when someone asks to borrow money, give them half and tell them it is a gift. You will lose only half and you have a higher likelihood of getting paid back.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 11:33 AM on August 19, 2022 [5 favorites]

Best answer: Every person you know, who is worth knowing, would have done the same thing given the same information that you had. You are not stupid, you are _normal_.
posted by amtho at 11:34 AM on August 19, 2022 [11 favorites]

Personally, I'd try to sue them in small claims court. Even if you don't get your money back, it might help you feel a bit better. Unfortunately, you'll need to file the claim where your 'friend' lives, so if it's distant, that may or may not work for you.

PS: You are not an idiot. You are a kind person who was taken advantage of by an asshole.
posted by hydra77 at 11:35 AM on August 19, 2022 [11 favorites]

I'd rather be a "sucker" than a person that doesn't give a shit about people.

I am never. ever. going to stop trying to help people. Some lousy people aren't going to ruin this place for me. I'm not going to be here a long time. I am trying to make it ok as as possible for as many people as possible.
posted by beccaj at 11:39 AM on August 19, 2022 [9 favorites]

Best answer: So many others have said all the right things, that I'd just add - you might feel that you're even more stupid for trusting someone you'd not heard from for so long, but I'd say that that's a totally understandable turn of events. "This person has gone out of the way to ask me even though we've not been in touch for a while - they must be really desperate," is a natural assumption.

You're awesome and made a reasonable, kind decision, and this person is shameless.
posted by penguin pie at 11:49 AM on August 19, 2022 [4 favorites]

Best answer: The one who should be feeling shitty is the person who lied to manipulate you. But they are constitutionally not going to feel shitty. Your anger is the feeling of injustice at your kind heart being manipulated, and letting that anger work itself out in your body is important. But don't turn it on yourself. Honor your kind heart, maybe think about lessons learned about how to use your kindness wisely, but don't punish yourself for being a kind person.
posted by matildaben at 11:52 AM on August 19, 2022 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Said this before and I'll say it again: trusting people by default is not dumb. Keeping an open heart is the brave way to live.

I knew at the time that loaning money like this comes with a risk and I should assume I'd never get it back

See, if you were dumb, you would not have gone into this with your eyes wide open to that risk. And the fact that that risk has become an actuality through no fault of yours doesn't make you dumb either. It makes you a manipulator's victim, and that sucks, but it's nothing to beat yourself up for.

All of the beatings-up that are due here accrue to your manipulator, not to you.
posted by flabdablet at 11:53 AM on August 19, 2022 [7 favorites]

There are ways to be generous while mitigating risk of fraud.
One way is to make it a personal policy to pay the account directly.
Sick child - offer to pay the hospital.  School fees - pay the school. Lawyer fees - pay the lawyer, etc. Hungry - send food. Stranded - send Uber.
posted by dum spiro spero at 11:53 AM on August 19, 2022 [26 favorites]

Why are you angry at yourself? I recommend sitting down with someone who loves you and is a good listener and really digging in to this. You say you feel foolish and irresponsible--if things were different and somehow the friend's story had been confirmed for you, would you feel this way? What about this makes you a "fucking idiot"? Trusting someone who, to this point, had been a friend when they came to you with what they said was a desperate need? This wasn't someone on the street corner holding a sign. You weren't handing blank checks out to strangers. You believed a friend. Turns out your friend is a colossal manipulator, but *of course* you didn't expect that!

I completely understand being furious with the person who manipulated and deceived you. Have some compassion for yourself. If you lose the capacity to be manipulated and deceived, you also lose the capacity to trust and believe others.
posted by epj at 11:54 AM on August 19, 2022 [2 favorites]

The policy that dum spiro spero suggests is exactly how our household now deals with requests for money from the assorted unreliable people in our lives. Most of them simply no longer ask us any more.

But we had to learn the worth of that approach the hard way, just like you. I've filed all of that as an unanticipated education expense.

My own education involved a five figure sum, for what it's worth. I'm genuinely not cross about it, though, just sad that the person involved now apparently feels guilty enough to have avoided me for the past five years; I used to really enjoy their company.
posted by flabdablet at 12:00 PM on August 19, 2022 [2 favorites]

Best answer: For whatever it's worth, when I listen to your story, even as told by you, someone who thinks you are an idiot - I do not think you are an idiot. You sound to me like someone who is compassionate and caring, who can take decisive action when it is called for, who is pretty good at balancing compassion with practicality (knowing up front that you might never see that money again even as you decide to loan it), and who is also trustworthy and sensitive (knowing a friend's finances and ill family members were not necessarily your stories to tell.) You took a risk on believing the best of someone, and that was hard and brave of you.

I am so sorry that this happened to you. I understand why you are angry. Your wonderful qualities as a friend were preyed on and manipulated by someone who did not treat you with the respect and consideration you deserve. I think if you need to yell and be angry for a while, you should go right ahead and do that. If you want to write a furious email or letter to that person and let them know exactly how betrayed and hurt you are, I think you should go right ahead and do that, too. Don't send/mail it yet - sit with that until a bit of the initial fury has blazed out, and then go back and revise - but go ahead and put it all down.

I hope that with some time and space you can in fact reframe a little of this as something kind you tried to do that backfired, as kind things sometimes do, for reasons that were not your fault.
posted by Stacey at 12:08 PM on August 19, 2022 [4 favorites]

During the pandemic, I remained fully employed and my expenses actually went down. I put out of a few quiet offers to friends who I knew were having trouble because of the pandemic impacts on their income. Sent out a couple of payments to people who accepted the offer. One of those payments went to someone who very shortly after they got my help was doing very expensive things that someone in dire financial straits shouldn't have been able to do.

And I felt dumb, of course, because I had reached out to help someone make it past a financial crisis, not to help them do fun leisure activities.

So, I know where you're coming from.

But, the thing is, that's not on me. That's on them. They indicated they had a problem that I could help them solve and I helped them solve it. That makes me a good, kind person.

Could I have made them prove their financial crisis in some way? Possibly. Could they have faked that proof? Also possibly. Could I have made the payment directly to the person they owed money to? Sure. But money is fungible and if I had paid the bank, they still would have had all that extra money to play with.

So, in the end, all I can do is feel good about having wanted to help my friends.

And a little bit foolish.
posted by jacquilynne at 12:19 PM on August 19, 2022 [6 favorites]

I know exactly how you feel. Many years ago, I was the manager of a small shop that sold pet food (among other items). A woman came in and special-ordered about $500-worth of dog food. I didn't think to ask her how she intended to pay. When the order arrived, she came in with her checkbook. I balked at taking a personal check. She threw a big hissy fit and threatened to complain to my boss about me. I reluctantly accepted her check. And, of course, her check bounced. Ironically, I did end up getting in some trouble with my boss over it.

It's been almost 20 years and I still get angry when I think about this incident. On the other hand, she probably couldn't afford to feed her dog, so I can reframe the episode by thinking about the benefit to her pet (unfortunately, I'm not sure that the guitar amp is quite the same as the dog food).

Anyway, I don't know if I answered your question, but I can sympathize.
posted by alex1965 at 12:20 PM on August 19, 2022 [3 favorites]

This person has done you two wrongs. The obvious and arguably smaller one is that they've deprived you of a significant amount of money. That sucks, but as you say it was money that you could afford to risk, and in the end losing it won't do anything too terrible to your life. The worse thing they did, in my estimation, is that they've made you less trusting and less unconditionally kind. That's a really shitty thing to do to someone, because so many people do deserve trust, and you're not a fool for being generous with your goodwill and presumption of others' goodwill.

I hope that you can remain generous, and to the extent people's stories need to be vetted, you can do so in a way that continues to respect the honest.
posted by jackbishop at 12:44 PM on August 19, 2022 [3 favorites]

Best answer: What everyone else said. Just the price of doing business as a compassionate human in the world. You could choose to think of it as an ownership tax on your continued possession of a generous soul - well worth the cost if you ask me. The alternative is cheaper, but way way worse.
posted by catesbie at 12:49 PM on August 19, 2022

Best answer: The worse thing they did, in my estimation, is that they've made you less trusting and less unconditionally kind.

They don't have to have done either of those things, by the way, if you simply refuse to cede them that much power.
posted by flabdablet at 12:51 PM on August 19, 2022 [2 favorites]

I think the other advice on this thread is good. As someone who gives away money and inevitably gets lied to sometimes, I also find it helpful to remind myself that being a small time scammer is itself a shitty and immiserated way to live. This guy isn't Jared Kushner; he's not living the high life. Someone who has a life where he is ready to burn down his social network for $1200 is not in a good place - you really did give the money to someone who is suffering just like if you gave money to someone who needed it to buy heroin or else go into withdrawal.

I guess if I had to make an organized thought out of it, I'd say that the type of miserable precarity that makes people into petty scammers like this is in fact the result of a bad, alienated, fragile world and while obviously it's okay not to avoid being scammed, it's also okay to say that the brutality of the world isn't going to make you brutal and that this means sometimes you get cheated. I don't want to be an enforcer for capital and sometimes that means I get lied to. Sometimes people scam the welfare system too but the system itself needs to be open so that it can help the most people.
posted by Frowner at 12:55 PM on August 19, 2022 [19 favorites]

Best answer: Since it was PayPal, and you're due repayment this month, I'd send them a payment request for your 1200 and see what happens. This also gives you a paper trail if you decide it's worth filing in small claims over.
posted by ApathyGirl at 12:59 PM on August 19, 2022 [13 favorites]

praemanuire said "In Howards End, E.M. Forster described this kind of experience as "rent." It's the price you pay for keeping a kind and open heart. If you are truly generous, you are going to get taken occasionally. Would you want to be the kind of person who didn't help in this situation, assuming the person hadn't been lying? It's still a good deed, even if the money didn't go where you thought it would go."

That is such a glorious way of looking at it. I feel all soppy when I read it.

I've loaned money to someone. $2500. And while I knew I'd never see it again, and I could afford it, I still get a little angry about her situation/the money and how frustrating it is to watch.

But I loaned money because I wanted to help, and even if that help didn't do squat, I remember my motivation, to help a friend. And I'll do it again. But probably not to that one. Although I still do buy groceries on occasion for her.
posted by Ftsqg at 1:04 PM on August 19, 2022 [9 favorites]

Best answer: You knew the risk, and figured it would be good karma. It still is! You took a risk for an old friend - that is still a good deed, no matter what their intentions were or how it turned out.

As for how to move forward without feeling stupid -- Today and going forward, you get to be the kind of person who'd take a risk for an old friend, in hopes of doing good. Your old friend, on the other hand, gets to be the kind of person who'd burn a bridge with an old friend for greed and self-gratification.

You may be out $1200, but you definitely came out of this the winner.
posted by invincible summer at 1:06 PM on August 19, 2022 [5 favorites]

I'll second everything that people have said above. You weren't an idiot, you were being a good friend and a good person. Sometimes that will result in some unscrupulous asshole taking advantage of you. Fortunately, it appears that you did loan the money with the assumption that you might never get it back and so you didn't give them so much that you can't pay the rent or buy groceries.

That said, if you want to gain something from the experience, consider that there were probably some small clues as to the character of the person who ripped you off. I am not saying that you were stupid or irresponsible for not detecting those clues. The sort of person who would make up that kind of story to rip off their friends is (fortunately) pretty unusual. Whatever is wrong with them as a person is something you probably haven't encountered before, so you wouldn't have the experience to recognize that they might pull such a con. Now that you have experienced it, you might think back on how they approached you, consider previous interactions you've had with them, listen to the stories from the folks back in your old town who also got conned ... and you might detect some pattern, something that didn't seem quite normal in retrospect. If you realize something like that, do not blame yourself for not recognizing it previously. Just put it in your mental bank of observations of patterns in the world. Then if someone else in the future approaches you asking for some expensive favor and you get a little ping of recognition, like "I've seen this before", then you can do some extra due diligence and take some extra safeguards before giving them anything.

I was fortunate enough that when I got scammed a few times early in my adult life it was for relatively small amounts. (I didn't have much money, so that's all they could take me for. If I had been wealthier I probably would have been conned out of more.) After the fact I was able to think about the commonalities and it allowed me to greatly improve my ability to detect scammers. The jerk who ripped you off seems to be someone who has gone past the level of a normal professional or recreational scammer into something more pathological, but there will still be some sort of tell - even if it's only apparent in retrospect.
posted by tdismukes at 1:10 PM on August 19, 2022 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I can't word this as well, but I remember reading this story years ago.

A young man was walking down the street with his father, when they came across someone panhandling who said they were hungry. The father slipped them some bills and, after they'd moved on a piece, the son said, "You know they're just going to spend that money on booze or cigarettes, right?"
His father replied, "If they do that after telling me they were hungry, that says something about them. If I ignore someone in need of food, that says something about me."

You are completely on the right side of this transaction. Please give yourself a hug from me.
posted by kate4914 at 1:19 PM on August 19, 2022 [28 favorites]

You should confront this “friend!” Right away while you’re still good and mad! You want to feel like someone not to be messed with and you want the money back. Confronting them and confronting them HARD will accomplish the former and there’s a slight chance it could accomplish the latter.
posted by kapers at 1:23 PM on August 19, 2022 [10 favorites]

Best answer: The fact that your old "friend" is a liar doesn't make the fact that you are a kind, caring and empathetic person any less factual.
posted by ook at 1:57 PM on August 19, 2022 [3 favorites]

Ask this old friend if he has plumbing skills.
posted by Oyéah at 2:48 PM on August 19, 2022 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Oh, I'm so sorry, but also, trusting a friend to help a sick child is an incredibly good and kind impulse. At the end of the day, the world needs more people who trust friends and fewer people who wouldn't help out a friend in a desperate situation. We need more of you, even if that means that sometimes liars take advantage of us.
posted by bluedaisy at 3:38 PM on August 19, 2022 [3 favorites]

Seconding the good answers above, and also consider: There's a possibility that the small town gossip from mutual friends about this person may not be entirely correct, either.
posted by evilmomlady at 3:47 PM on August 19, 2022 [12 favorites]

Best answer: You showed yourself to be someone who cares about a sick kid, which is compassionate. You trusted an old friend, which is loving. You're being realistic about the current situation -- that you won't get your money back -- which is wise. You're expressing that frustration in healthy ways -- to us and to your therapist -- which shows emotional resilience. There's nothing you can do to change what happened, but you can try to not let this harden you.
posted by The corpse in the library at 4:12 PM on August 19, 2022 [6 favorites]

First, it's never stupid to be generous.

Second, you said you offered the money as a loan on the condition that it gets paid back in a month. So call that loan in. Let "friend" know that you know the truth of the situation and expect to be repaid or have the amp turned over to you so you can sell and recoup costs

Third, let the child's other parent (if they are in the picture) know that "friend" is exploiting the child in this way. No reason not to bring some additional accountability on their head. Feel free to share this info with grandparents as well.

Fourth, read the following Walt Whitman quote until you feel better.

"This is what you shall do; Love the earth and sun and animals, despise riches, give alms to everyone who asks, stand up for the stupid and crazy, devote your income and labor to others, hate tyrants, argue not concerning G-d, have patience and indulgence to the people, rake off your hat to nothing known or unknown or to any man or number of men, go freely with powerful uneducated persons and with the young and with the mothers of families, read these leaves in the open air every season of every year of your life .."
posted by brookeb at 4:20 PM on August 19, 2022 [6 favorites]

Anytime I "loan" a person something, whether money or a DVD or a book, I assume I won't get it back. I consider it a gift.

If they end up giving it back or paying back the money, then I am pleasantly surprised. If they don't, my mental state is clear because, as Jack Handey said about dropping your keys into a pool of lava, "Hey, man, it's gone."

It's too late for you to start with this mindset, but you still the opportunity to reframe the money as a gift and wash your hands of the whole situation.
posted by tacodave at 4:59 PM on August 19, 2022 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I'm mad at your friend but I'm proud of you. You tried to help someone in need, and you did it open-heartedly, without suspicion. You modeled how friends should relate to each other. I like to think if I did what you did and my friend lied to me, I would nonetheless do it again. Now maybe I wouldn't actually do it again, because I would be mad, and chastened by the pain of losing $1,200. But in my judgment, you didn't screw up, you did everything right.

To be honest, for an adult (a parent!) to lie about a sick child so you can buy yourself a new guitar amp seems not just wrong but psychopathic to me. You would have to feel that a sick child somehow doesn't really matter, or you'd have to have just no respect for the person you're lying to, or think they'd wronged you somehow. I don't know, that's how I feel. It makes me think the $1,200 might really be going to something else, something equally illegitimate but more desperate, like some kind of embarrassing debt. But that might just be me not wanting to think someone is psychopathic.

Anyway, the point is, there are some bad people out there, who will think nothing of taking advantage of the kindness of a friend. But the only way to completely protect yourself from this kind of behavior is to treat the decent majority with suspicion, to treat good people as presumptively bad unless they prove otherwise. And this I think is a worse cost to pay.
posted by grobstein at 6:20 PM on August 19, 2022 [5 favorites]

Best answer: You are better off by far being a kind person who got scammed once than you are being a scammer and penny-ante shitheel. There are more choices than that, but if those were the only two, you'd have made the right one and got by far the better end of the deal.

The cost of finding out you can't trust somebody can be a lot more than the price of a guitar amp.
And the value of having people who trust you is a great deal more than the price of a guitar amp.

The guy who ripped you off lost you, and all you lost was him. You came out way ahead.
posted by Sing Or Swim at 7:15 PM on August 19, 2022 [2 favorites]

Best answer: That wasn’t stupid, it was the right thing to do. Write that person out if your life and move on, you did the right thing.
posted by nouvelle-personne at 7:32 PM on August 19, 2022

Best answer: Your kindness and trust was exploited by a grifter. They blatantly lied in an appalling manner, knowing they were abusing your good faith. It's a terrible feeling, and anger is a reasonable response.

Still, it's better to be kind and somewhat trusting. I'd want to go ask for that amp.
posted by theora55 at 8:10 PM on August 19, 2022 [1 favorite]

I need people like you in my life. Not for the money. For the trust and generosity. As an autistic person, it's so easy for me to say something that people take offence too, like "You like XYZ band? I thought they were from [era that implies my conversationalist is old or has poor taste]?" whereas I'm trying to have a conversation (not a strong suit of mine) with someone and engage in their interests. A lot of people (you'd be surprised how many) write me off then and there as a bore or a boar. But the really good people in my life - they trust (even on first meeting) that I'm genuinely trying to connect and not insult. They generously continue talking with me until we find a subject or a rhythm or common ground. So, please keep on being your good trusting genuine generous self.

Part 2. That self-anger, rather than being angry at someone who used a child's life to steal from you, is it because, despite listening to the wisdom of the world "only lend what you can afford to give as a gift" and "neither a lender nor a borrower be", and EVEN considering the repercussions, you took a risk and now are in a difficult financial spot. "Fuck me, how could I be so stupid AGAIN? How can I trust myself? I'm probably going to do [something thoughtless and dangerous which will harm innocent people]." If that's what's going through your head, (and I hope it's not) and if it's on a loop (and I hope it's not), these things are intrusive thoughts, and given your finances, instead of suggesting a therapist, I'd recommend looking online for "10 cognitive distortions" or seeing if your local library has any of David Burns' books on Cognitive Behaviour Therapy.

Part 3. Can you ring a couple of plumbers and see if they will accept a payment plan? Maybe some mefites live in your area and have some contacts, or a wrench and other tools.

I hope you feel better soon.
posted by b33j at 9:01 PM on August 19, 2022 [4 favorites]

Oops, I see you have a therapist. I'm pleased you have someone else supporting you through this.
posted by b33j at 9:03 PM on August 19, 2022 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I mean, lying about this is pretty low. I think it's to your credit that the idea that someone you know and have trusted/liked in the past would pull something like this didn't really cross your mind. Definitely if someone I knew growing up told me their child was sick and they were in need of cash, the first thing to occur to me would not be that they wanted to use it to buy a guitar amp. What a terrible human being! At least now you know.
posted by knownfossils at 9:33 PM on August 19, 2022 [3 favorites]

Btw this isn't on the same scale at all but I was just remembering last year when I was sitting at an outside bar with some friends and a guy comes up to us and asks for money. I usually don't give people money on the street (and I usually don't carry much cash anyway) but I had a dollar or two on me and I figured, why not, so I gave it to him. He looked at me and said, "Is that all?" and then informed me that he was going to use it to go buy alcohol. You just never know what you're going to get sometimes...
posted by knownfossils at 9:44 PM on August 19, 2022 [1 favorite]

"A person I know asked me for a loan to pay for their child's urgent medical needs. I have since learned that this person did not use the money I loaned them for their child's healthcare. I am very concerned about the welfare of the child. Is there anything your office can do?"

On a more constructive note: all I can advise is that you remember that you are 1) a generous human being and 2) can afford to be generous. As you said, the money would be helpful now. But it's not a back-breaker. Better to have and to have lost some than to not have at all. And more will come.
posted by Stuka at 9:49 PM on August 19, 2022 [2 favorites]

I imagine the child’s life is better because you gave their parent the money. Maybe not “emergency medical treatment” better, but “unstable parent is temporarily stable again” better.

Thank you for believing your friend.
posted by samthemander at 9:59 PM on August 19, 2022 [3 favorites]

My community is also the kind-hearted sort who would rather get occasionally scammed than be overly wary/cynical about the motives of acquaintances asking for help. We like the saying/motto “Do good recklessly”
posted by itesser at 11:27 PM on August 19, 2022 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Oh nayantara, what everyone else has said. You were kind, not stupid. I am so sorry that you have been hurt in this way. Please try to direct your anger at the guilty party. That wasn't you. You are the wronged, innocent party who is generous and awesome.
posted by Bella Donna at 1:34 AM on August 20, 2022 [3 favorites]

Best answer: I don't think your story is complete here. Your own question implies that you haven't even asked for the money back yet. So, like the others above, I think you need to ask for it.

You've already resigned yourself to the idea that it may never come back and that's helpful. But you have a right to be angry about this situation. And not at yourself, but at Mr Guitar Amp. He took advantage of your generosity and compassion, especially because he used his own child as a prop in this. Your therapist will eventually tell you the same thing. It's part of the healing process.

There are many ways you can play it, going from completely innocent ("hey, you said you'd have the money to repay me in a month and I kind of need it now.") to firing a warning shot across his bow ("hey, word on the street is that you used the money to buy something else. I need my money back"). Don't mention lawyers or courts until you get a better idea of what is going on.

But ASK. You have nothing to lose and you can gain a bit of your peace of mind back knowing that you tried. Put a stake in the ground, if not for Amp Dude but for yourself, that you won't be taken advantage of like this.
posted by JoeZydeco at 6:53 AM on August 20, 2022 [5 favorites]

Best answer: I agree with what everyone else has said: the blame and shame in this scenario is on your so-called friend, who has revealed himself as a horrible person. You could only work with the info that you had, and you have shown yourself as the kind of person who helps a friend in need. Imagine how horrible you would be feeling if you had turned him down and then found out the story was true?

It does sound to me that you have already written off the money, though, and I think that might be a bit premature. In your shoes, I would contact him and explain your plumbing situation, and ask if he could repay you a bit earlier than agreed. At the same time, I would make it very clear that I expected the repayment agreement to be honoured. It might also be a good idea to hold your tongue about what you know until you either have the cash or know for a fact that he does not intend to repay you. If that did prove to be the case, I would have no compunction about blasting him, ruining what's left of his reputation, and taking him to small claims court to get the money back. (The advice above to send a payment request through PayPal in order to create a paper trail is a good idea.) He owes you the money regardless of whether or not he lied to get it, or what it was ultimately used for.

This approach also has the advantage of not escalating things too soon in case small town gossip about your friend is not entirely accurate. That sounds like a distant possibility given your framing of the situation, but it's worth considering just in case.
posted by rpfields at 9:19 AM on August 20, 2022 [2 favorites]

Maybe not "rent." That suggests a recurring series of errors. Maybe a better formulation is that it's the price of the education you've received about this friend.
posted by yclipse at 12:32 PM on August 20, 2022

I would suggest you have not been a fool so much as you have been robbed. Perhaps you left a window open, or a door unlocked, but someone else made the choice to walk in and look for things they could take from you and then take them.
posted by Lady Li at 5:22 PM on August 20, 2022 [2 favorites]

Mod note: A couple removed. Please don't argue with other people's comments. If you want to offer alternative advice or a different view, just address the OP with your own helpful suggestion.
posted by taz (staff) at 10:31 PM on August 20, 2022

Response by poster: Thank you everyone for your very kind and helpful words. It has made me feel less stupid and also better about how this went down. I have mental illness issues that manifest in rage, which I am working on in therapy and have made amazing progress on - haven't had a ragey meltdown in months. But I ruminate on how mean I am (or used to be) when I was in a bad place, and so it's been sort of a surprise - a welcome one - to see a nearly unanimous response from you all that what I did demonstrates a capacity for kindness and trust and that that is a thing to be lauded. I never even considered that once. I guess I have to work on how mean I am to myself, too.

I haven't asked for the money back yet, this is true. I'm going to start with a PayPal request and see what happens. The poster who suggested I take the new amp from Amp Asshole did make me chuckle. (I do need a new amp!!!) Word from mutual friends is that basically no one wants anything to do with this person anymore - they are apparently on a downspiral after losing their job during COVID lockdown and having trouble finding work. But they are not unique in that position so I DNGAF about that. I lost my job due to COVID, so did my partner, and it never once came to mind for either of us to try to grift from friends. One mutual friend who used to be very close to Amp Asshole has told me that he suspects Amp Asshole may also have relapsed into an old drug habit, but he can't say that for certain.

What I'm really struggling with now is that while the loss of $1200 won't make or break us (assuming Amp Asshole doesn't return the loan), I feel like I have robbed my family by losing this money. It was out of my personal bank account - not my joint account with my partner - but in the end, especially with the unexpected plumbing expense (which we can't pay from the joint account - said joint account is just for the mortgage and household expenses that we share 50/50 + so we both have to pony up extra this month), I feel like my actions here - even if they demonstrate kindness that you all consider admirable - have been disrespectful to the needs of my own household. Again, $1200 lost will not lead to ruin. But it does suck.

My partner knows what happened and is not angry - he says that this is a good lesson learned for me and going forward to "trust but verify" if this happens again (he agreed with you all that a better way to handle this would have been to offer to pay the hospital directly and that would have obviously blown up in Amp Asshole's face). We both make good money in the context of the COL where we are now and my partner also agrees with you all that I did a kindness here, not knowing better, and my kindness is something that he respects a lot about me. That was nice to hear because when I was Ragey McRagerson all the time my partner did bear the brunt of that and I carry a lot of guilt about it.

I will continue to work this through in therapy and hopefully the PayPal request will lead to a good outcome. I haven't ruled out small claims though this is kind of small potatoes for that. That said, I do kinda want to reach Amp Asshole a lesson. The only consequences they have reaped from their behavior is losing most of their friends, and apparently that's not a problem for them?

At any rate, thank you all again so much and I'll update you all as to whether I get this money back.
posted by nayantara at 8:03 AM on August 21, 2022 [4 favorites]

The only consequences they have reaped from their behavior is losing most of their friends, and apparently that's not a problem for them?

It absolutely is, but they might not have figured that out yet. Alienating the people in their support network for the sake of short term material gains is totally unsound as life strategies go.

What I'm really struggling with now is that while the loss of $1200 won't make or break us (assuming Amp Asshole doesn't return the loan), I feel like I have robbed my family by losing this money.

Again, no you didn't. You entered into an arrangement in good faith, which Amp Asshole has reneged on, and it's they who have robbed your family, not you.

The fact that the risk that something like this might happen was known to you when you first agreed to this arrangement merely demonstrates that your best judgement then said that waving goodbye to your $1200 would not break your family. Had it seemed at all likely to do so, you would not have done what you did. Still a total pain in your arse now that it's happened, though.

And maybe you did have an opportunity to do a bit more due diligence than you did before risking $1200 on the presumed good will of an old friend. And maybe you feel like it's only fair and reasonable to be beating yourself up for not having done that due diligence, now that it's all come unglued. But it's not all about you.

This is a lesson that Metafilter has taught me, and I think it's a valuable one.

The first time somebody told me that, I experienced it as nothing but a dismissive putdown, a rude and uncalled-for suggestion that I was behaving like some kind of narcissist. Perhaps it was. Perhaps I was. But having rolled those five words around in my head for many years now, they've proved to be a simple truth with extremely general applicability - a statement of the obvious, one that all of us seem somewhat wired to ignore, usually to our own detriment and often to that of those around us.

I hope and trust that you too will find your way past the instant bridling reaction of feeling dismissed or scorned or belittled by having somebody you don't know say that to you. With any luck it will be easier to do that than if it came from somebody closer.

Instead, please take it in the spirit in which it's offered: as a mnemonic and mantra to build and strengthen an acceptance that the world is full of other people, all of whom have their own lives and their own concerns and their own priorities - and all of whom bear full responsibility for the consequences of the choices they have made, just as you bear responsibility for your own.

That acceptance is especially freeing to those of us with tendencies toward trying to extend control into places where control simply can't go. It seems to me that it's exactly those tendencies that give rise to so much of the frustration that can so quickly bring on rage.

Other people's fuckups belong to them. They're not yours to claim. It's not all about you.
posted by flabdablet at 1:34 PM on August 21, 2022 [4 favorites]

Best answer: What I'm really struggling with now is that while the loss of $1200 won't make or break us (assuming Amp Asshole doesn't return the loan), I feel like I have robbed my family by losing this money.

Ask yourself, would you still be struggling with the loss of the money if it had actually been used as you intended, but still resulted in hardship for your family? If the child really had needed urgent medical care, would your friend have paid you back in time for the plumbing work? At all? I really do think this was a no-win situation for you (financially) and the money would have been gone no matter what. So don't be hard on yourself. And perhaps budget for your generosity in the future.
posted by Stuka at 10:42 AM on August 22, 2022

Best answer: Every time he posts a picture of his guitar amp or an announcement of a gig, get into his comments politely asking when he'll pay you back for the amp you loaned him money to buy. Shame works.
posted by spitbull at 10:48 AM on August 22, 2022 [3 favorites]

I agree with Lady Li. What this person did was robbery. The lie he told you was so far beyond what you, as a decent person, would think to suspect. It's also really hard to imagine that someone would be willing to burn all their friendships at one time to take money like that. You're capable of real friendship, so that kind of behavior is not on the table for you.

This reminds me of things people do when they are deep in the throes of addiction to drugs or gambling. When I've encountered this kind of behavior myself, I felt a bit embarrassed for being credulous but also, at first, hurt that that's how little our relationship meant, because they had to know this would damage or end it. But as people have suggested above, whatever is going on with him is nothing to do with you.
posted by BibiRose at 6:08 AM on August 30, 2022

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