Tender, Loving Credit

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Tender, Loving Credit
Protect yourself from the stress of lending money to loved ones.

MoneyclipRecently, while pursuing my unscientific study of relationships for this column, I came across a hapless pushover in his 40s whom I’ll call Hank. Hank had a bad habit of making loans to his girlfriends. “So, now,” he says with a weirdly amused sense of persecution, “all my exes owe me money!” He broods over the ethics. “If I broke up with them, do they still owe me? What if they broke up with me?!”

The lost dough would be bad enough, but Hank has discovered that the loans also have made him the butt of a good deal of bitchiness. The exes, it turns out, have a vested interest in being difficult, sometimes even in revising history so that it was Hank who precipitated the break-up, even when it was not, and then punishing him for it. They figure no guy wants to keep bugging an ex who hates him, for cash she doesn’t have. As Hank puts it: “Lending to girlfriends gives them a financial incentive to be bitter and find fault with you.”

Hank’s main problem, of course, is masochism, but he also suffers from a more common disease that frequently accompanies lending money to lovers, friends, or family members: resentment. Personal loans—whether brother lends to sister, a girl to her guy, or stepdad to stepson—come laden with psychology that can be hellish. And when a spouse is involved, it can get worse. Since Hank has finally married, he moans, “Now all my exes owe us!”

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