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Not Paying Debt Because He Doesn't Like How The Money Will Be Used? Is It Up To Him? Relationship Advice

Updated on March 17, 2011

Dear Veronica

I read an article you wrote about a business relationship and I perused some you wrote about dating relationships. I guess my question falls in the middle of the two. I am in a situation involving my exgirlfriend but I want you to know that we are on again off again all the time. I fully expect we will be back together at some point. But for right now we are broken up in the sense that we are dating other people as well as each other. I know this is confusing.

What happened is we were living together for our last year of college. I moved out about 6 weeks before our lease was up which is when she left. I had to go because I got a great job offer right away about 100 miles away. She also got a great job about 50 miles away and moved too. I told her I would split all the expenses for the apartment on that last month and half even though I wasn't there. That was our deal. Sometime during that year there was a point where she moved back in to her family home because her mom was sick and she was helping out, and even then we split the bills. Her mom passed away and she moved back in. That was our deal and we both agree to it, and I def owe her this money. It's about $800. I have the money in a savings account and have even showed it to her so she knows it's there.

I should mention that we both worked while we were in college and we had the money to have our place. Now we are both working and can afford out places. So it's not like she needs the money I owe her to live. She can support herself.

We agreed that we would see other people while we're living almost 3 hours apart and starting our careers. So far we have gotten together 6 times in the last 5 months and I do think we will eventually get back to a full commitment and one of us will move. But right now we're not ready we are young both of us are 24 - 25, and we want to spend some time like this right now.

OK here's the problem. I don't want to give her this money because I know she's going to blow it. She's going to spend it on clothes or stuff for her apartment and I'm sure she's going to go out and party some of it away. I keep telling her she needs to save for a rainy day but she just doesn't think that way. She lives in the now if you know what I mean. I have offered to keep it for her, invest it for her, but she says no that it is her money and it's none of my business what she does with it.

We have bickered about this but it hasn't gotten in the way of our friendly emails and phone calls and getting together when we can. But just this past couple of weeks she has said ok enough is enough it is her money and she wants it now. I really don't know what to do. I told her I will not send it to her until she tells me how she will use it and I will only send it if I approve. She said it's none of my business and I think just to piss me off she said she's going to spend the whole thing in a bar buying drinks. I'm only looking out for her. And to be honest for me too because I really do think her and I may have a future together and I hope she will be financially responsible. What should I do?

Evan in Nashville

Dear Evan,

I am actually very impressed with so much about you and your ex/girlfriend.

I am so happy that the two of you have the sense and intelligence to realize you are young, and should be enjoying time on your own, building yourselves, your careers, dating other people and experiencing independence. I really applaud you both for this.

I am also very impressed with how smart you both were with your living arrangement finances. Splitting all the apartment bills 50/50, even if one of you wasn't there. That really shows the capacity to be a partner.

I am so happy to hear that you both worked in college, and you both work now. In this economy that is certainly good news. Additionally, it says a great deal about the two of you as individuals. Being able to support yourself and afford the life you're living is not something we can take for granted anymore. It's something we need to celebrate when we see it. So, I am celebrating both of you right now. Good for both of you, making your own way in the world and not depending upon others to pay for you. 

I like that you said your financial disagreement hasn't effected your friendship. You two are really both very mature and bright to be the way you are with each other in all aspects. Kudos to both of you.

And yes, I agree with her, it's probably enough already with the money you're withholding.

Cutting to the chase, Evan, you are not allowed to decide how she's to spend this money. It's not up to you. She's right.

You gave me a little tell in your email that I want to talk about. You said your ex/girlfriend went home to live with her family for a while to take care of her mother while she was sick, and that her mother died. You also said your ex/girfriend lives in the now. I have the feeling these things are related.

This may be hard for you to wrap your head around if you haven't experienced some kind of major life lesson about how short our time here really is. Your ladyfriend experienced a loss that showed her how important it is to enjoy yourself today. Especially at the very young age of 24 - 25 she should be free to enjoy her todays. She may have watched her mother miss out on things she wanted to do because she was planning for a future she never had.

We all need to enjoy our todays and not live only for tomorrow. Too often, tomorrow doesn't come. It's hard to find that magic balance of paying past debt, living in the now, and planning for our future. At different times in our lives, the balance shifts. It may change for various reasons. You may wind up with a great interest charge percentage on some past debt so you can take that time to not worry frantically about paying the debt, and instead put more into your present, fixing your home or maybe enjoying a vacation. Other times, interest rates on savings are so low that planning for the future isn't the most beneficial thing we can do, so we pay that extra money on past debt instead of on future savings.

When we are older, we need to plan very well. And when we are younger, we get the luxury of having a little more space with that decision.

I really don't know what your girl's financial situation is. But if she could afford to split all living expense bills with you in college, cover you while you're gone at the end, move, and live on her own now, I am going to make the assumption that she is financially OK. You said she doesn't need the money to live, and I am guessing you're right about that. She's gainfully employed and making ends meet. Guess what, Evan. It's OK if she wants to blow $800 bucks.

Sure, maybe there are different decisions she could make for that money, but the bottom line is, it really is her prerogative. It isn't for you to say what is smart or better for her at this moment in time. She could be feeling like she's doing good in life, worked hard through college, finally has a good job and is starting her career, and deserves to blow some bucks on booze and decadence. I wouldn't disagree with that.

I also want to address the "clothes" comment you made. Not that it's your business or something you can control, but if she wants to buy clothes, it may be for her career. Guys get off a little easier with this concept than the ladies do. A couple of good suits in your closet and you can begin your office career. But a woman embarking on her professional career probably does not just automatically own a few business suits the way you did. That nice suit you bought for a wedding, you can wear to work. That cool suit your mother bought you for Christmas so you'd have something nice for church or funerals, can now be a work suit. But for ladies, her Sunday dresses and her formal occasion frocks are not work wear.

Your ex/girlfriend may be looking around her office and realizing she needs to invest in some career staples like conservative blazers or classic pencil skirts.

I find it a little odd that you put the word clothes in the same sentence as partying her money away, in regards to blowing this wad. Of course an $800 crushed pink velvet top hat may be considered "blowing" the money, or buying one pair of designer shoes with a high pricetag that you just can't understand. But taking a hedge from your age, I'm actually thinking this lady couldn't be out there supporting herself unless she had a clue how to restrain herself regarding fashion shopping. Additionally, judging by your ages, I'm thinking you probably don't realize how much money she really does need to invest in a decent career wardrobe to get started.

Of course, I don't know if she's working in a corporate environment or what. But these are things I don't think you've considered.

And one more thing I want to throw out there. There are a gabillion things you could spend money on that I personally would disapprove of. If you pay that tithe thing to a christian church, I think you're misusing your money in a very big way. If you donated money to a political candidate's election run that wasn't my candidate of choice I would disagree. If you bought a Wii or Xbox or Guitarhero Whatever, I would roll my eyes. These aren't things I would buy. 

The point Evan, is, that it's obviously not blowing the money if you supported a candidate you feel would do a good job, or if you enjoy a game console. You work hard, you pay your bills, you save for the future, you're allowed to spend some money on things that you enjoy. It's none of my business if you give money to the homeless, or have high veterinary bills for all your pets, or if you give the money to the church or to a stripper or to black jack dealer or to Breast Cancer Research...

For all you know, she is telling you she's going to party the money away because she wants to buy you a special Holiday gift.

Whether you happen to agree with her spending, or whether you understand that she's allowed to party like it's 1999, is really not the point. The point is, it's her money, honey. You have to give it to her. You have no control over her. Even up the road in the future if the two of you do wind up committed and together, you have to accept that you're a partner, not the final word. Period. That's the way it is.

I do understand that you're just trying to do the right thing. You don't use words that make me worry about your sense of control over her. You really just sound like a caring person that makes different kinds of choices, that's all.

By the way, did you thank her? Could she be giving you a little obstinacy for a good reason? You could do something like write her a check and when you mail it to her, include a nice card that says "Thank You for laying out the money for the final month of our apartment." Maybe stick a little Starbucks Gift Card in there too, or add the interest. Offer appreciation and a way of acknowledging her. She handled everything at the end, laid out money for you, and has been patient while you've attempted to be controlling. Let he know how much you appreciate what she did for you. That little gesture on your part may open the door to her wanting to share more about her choices with this money.

But even if she doesn't, Evan, that's OK. That's her right. It's her money, and it's just not up to you to decide how she should use it. Don't let this drag out and effect your relationship.


Submit a Comment

  • susannah42 profile image


    7 years ago from Florida

    Thanks for this good informaion.

  • Veronica profile imageAUTHOR


    7 years ago from NY

    Aww Evan, thanks so much for your comment. I'm so glad you were able to separate from the situation enough to read my advice with an open mind. She sounds wonderful, and I'm so glad you properly thanked her.

    Being able to identify your issues, and separate them from other people's lives is such an important thing to do. I'm glad you were able to do it.

    Your childhood is definitely a very vital part of what you were projecting. And the truth is, you're right, you were really very well intended and looking out for her. You're a good guy. You just have to let people make their own decisions. I hope you and your girlfriend are able to work things out. It sounds like you both have your heads on straight. I wish you many years of togetherness. Namaste.

  • profile image


    7 years ago

    Hi Veronica, this is Evan, I am the one that sent you this letter. Thank you for taking the time to email the link to your response. Well I have to say I was not surprised by your answer. When I read my letter online here I realized%20how it sounds. Your advice is good. I am trying to be less controlling about money. There is a lot that I did not tell you in my email. I was raised in a very poor position. My mother was a single mother and she was very bad about money. She would blow the little she had and then we went without for weeks. I have been careful and frugal my whole life because I had to be. But you're right. My ex is very good with money to begin with. One of the many reasons I was so attracted to her as a girlfriend was her strong work ethic and her ability to manage her finances. That means a lot to me after my childhood. You are right about her mother. I didn't think of that before. She really did suffer something when she lost her mother. I see your points. Well I read your response and I did what you said. I sent her a very long email just thanking her. It was all just telling her how much I thought of her and I said thank you to her for all she did for me. I apologized for not thanking her sooner like this. Then separate from that I sent her another email saying I would like to send her the money with interest now. I must say you were very right. When we talked she was more excited about the email thanking her then about the money. I think this was a very good experience. I learned a lot about myself and also about her. She is a wonderful woman. I was lucky to have her, and now I hope I will be able to have her again one day. Thank you for everything.


  • Eiddwen profile image


    7 years ago from Wales

    Your hubs are great and I am sure many will benefit from them.

    Thank you for sharing

    Take care



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