Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Don't Loan Money to Friends

I have just saved someone from a mistake I've made and I am here to save you as well, so listen up while I tell you a little story.

We had a young lady that used to work here. She was the one- you know the one. She came in every day and had some sort of problem or drama going on. Then she said that she had been harassed by an instructor here and was not being taken seriously in the department. I felt badly for her, as she seemed near the verge of tears many times, had a lot of financial struggles, was always having some relationship drama and just generally seemed to not be in control of her life. 

Then I started to realize what she was. She wasn't a girl with drama. She WAS drama. She was the creation, the center, the very beginning of it all. I don't know if her claims of harassment are true or not. It does not matter. That is the sad reality. Because the show is better than the story, so no one wants to dig too deep. I know this type when I see it. I've seen a lot of it. I know what will happen here. 

A kid working here gets a call from her and she is asking him for money. He was feeling bad for her and wanted to help so he thought about loaning her the money. It wasn't a lot of money and she had promised to pay him back with interest. Then he talked to his parents about it and decided that he better not get involved. He worried what if she is doing drugs? Drinking? What if something happens and he was implicit? What if this is just a bad move? The first of what could be many bad moves?

He tells me about it and wanted an opinion. I told him I had wondered about her lately. I told him that he should not lend money to a 'friend' and here is why:

Friends are not about money. Friends are about shared history, experiences, living through something together, having someone to bounce ideas off of and find support for what you are doing with your life. Friends are for lots of things, but they are not for money. Friends look up resources for you, help you get a job, give you a ride, sit with you in your dark hours, commiserate on how shitty life is treating you. Friends should not be expected to connect money to the relationship.

If you loan money to a family member, you are always tied to that person through bonds of blood, figurative or literal that are different than that of a friend. You will love them even when they never give the money back, you will begin making gifts instead of loans, as you don't want to even imagine you will get the money back. You know that they are coming to you because they need something. You are the closest. There is an opportunity to take advantage and you have to manage that within the confines of your particular family and personal feelings about money. With a friend, once you hand out money you become a financial institution. The relationship does not just change, it is gone, replaced by a new one. Sometimes it happens so fast, so sly, you don't even notice until its too late.

In the case of this young man, he had not heard from this girl in ages. She did not let him know how her life was going, stay in touch about school, or share her difficulties over a cup of tea. She called out of the blue. She ran out of people to ask. She is staying at a hotel and needs money.(Red Klaxons going off!) I told him he does not risk losing the friendship, as it does not exist. She already sees him as merely a source of cash. He has nothing to gain by engaging in the transaction, but sadly a lot to lose including his faith in humanity and his money.

He said that if it were a man he would not lend the money and that led him to examine what he should do or if he is a 'sucker'. I conclude that he is not a sucker or naive. He is a mark. He is a spot that you try to hit when you are shooting in the dark for a way to fix your situation. He is not a friend..

I've lent money to a friend. I once lent a good sum of money to a friend. I was never paid back in full and I believe it contributed to the loss of the friendship. Later I looked back on things and realized that the person was too busy to come to my college graduation, too busy to come out for my birthdays, always had to meet at his house, always had to do what he wanted. I didn't lose a friend, either. That relationship had been gone for a long time. I lost an acquaintance that liked to take my money. Oh, and the money...

I guess it bought me a lesson. One I've just passed along it seems.

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