This is a response to a post by Beaker on My Broken Coin, where he talks about the loss of a friendship due to financial reasons. This is a popular topic with many bloggers, but it is the first I have ever read that provided a perspective from the other side, the side of the borrower. Unfortunately it was also a perspective that left me pretty indignant.
The reply was too long, and too emotional, I felt, to post as a comment on Beaker’s post, so I transplanted to this blog.
I have been and still is, in the same situation as your friend.
My best friend of close to 20 years owes me close to $2500. He is also unemployed, has been for the last two years, and lives at home with his mother.
He has owed the money for almost 2 years. In these two years, he has made mention of this debt but one single time on his own initiative, and there was no indication of the intention to pay or any payment plan made.
I have also tried to be considerate and not add to his stress of unemployment by chasing him for payment.
In the meantime, he cobbled together enough money to go out for expensive meals, buy an iPad, attend expensive plays and performances, go on vacations….everything but pay me.
Like you, his debt’s importance was secondary to everything else that needed attention.
I was extremely pissed at his attitude towards the debt for some time. And I almost did end the friendship.
“I don’t think our friendship of over fifteen years was toppled helplessly by the debt owed of six hundred dollars. I have come to the conclusion that we weren’t as good friends as I had thought we were. Our friendship would have ended eventually, and I think the measly six hundred dollars was just the excuse he needed to not have to pretend to be my friend anymore. I believe this because I was never even giving a chance by him to communicate my intentions with the debt. I was not given the chance to grovel, apologize, yell, cry…nothing”
And in the comments:
“This “friend” was not the only person that helped me in my time of need. My friends that stood by me and respected me and believed in me were paid back in full and then some. I owed much more money to other people. I only had one person that did not believe that I was going to pay him back. And I believe that this is the point that most of you who told me that I was disrespectful and assume (like my “friend”) that I never planned on paying him back. Respect is a two way street. I agree that there are some people out there that will not repay there debts. Those are not your friends. I was given the chance to pay back my friends. As far as when I am going to pay him back…Like I said earlier. What does it matter. It did matter to him.”
Kudos to you for making me stop for a while and doubt myself. Could you be right? Would I have been the bad friend if I had terminated our friendship? Over a measly two fifty grand? Did that mean I had valued our friendship only that much?
I didn’t stop for too long. The answer was obvious.
NO. I would not have terminated our friendship over a measly two fifty. Your friend did not terminate your friendship over a measly six hundred. Your friend ended the friendship over:
1) The fact that you prioritised enjoying life (movies, restaurants, dating) over your friendship. Talk about being taken for granted.
2) The fact that you expected your friend to act like a debt collector with regards to your debt. No one locked you up and took away your computer, phone, or pen and paper. Did you need an engraved invitation to communicate your intentions with your debt? A phone call or email every 3 months, updating him on your latest situation and a heartfelt apology for not fulfilling obligations, followed by a promise to do so when you are back on your foot. Did you do that?
3) The fact that you again, need no special invitation to grovel, apologise, yell, cry….why haven’t you done that before?
4) The fact that none of your actions have shown your friend that you are not one of the “some people out there that will not repay there (sic) debts”.
5) That fact that you expected respect from your friend, when your actions haven’t merited any….but oh, that’s his fault too.
6) The fact that no one needs to “give you a chance” to pay back a debt.
7) The fact that you can actually say “What does it matter” as to when you are going to pay him back, and mean it.
Your friend didn’t let you down. You did. You took him for granted, and then, to add insult to injury, you wrote the paragraphs above, trying to make him out to be the villain in this whole situation.
No, I didn’t terminate my friendship, but thanks to you, I am now wondering if my friend thinks the same way. I am now wondering whether the mistake is in not terminating the friendship after all.
Lastly, there are enough people who had been in your friend’s shoes and had been burnt enough to never again offer a single cent in financial help. You are doing no one a favour, least of all those who really need the help, by casting these lender friends as the villain of the piece. Out of the money and being reproached as being a bad friend in the process? Thanks a lot, man.
For information, I have planned to write off my friend’s debt to me, but I am not going to let him know. He is able-bodied and well-educated; there is no reason someone like him should get a free ride. I am still hoping that with a full-time job, he would be able to make payments to me. Once I get paid, I will donate the money to a charity under his name.
It may piss him off that I would rather give the money to charity than to him. But in that event, maybe it will really be time to end the friendship. And you know, it will still NOT BE MY FAULT.