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Loan Shark

Emily Flake

By Mink Stole | Posted 1/26/2005

I left my husband a little more than two years ago because I found out he was having an affair with a co-worker. It broke my heart and I was sure I’d never meet anyone else I could love. But a few months ago I met this guy and I really like him. He’s not gorgeous and his body’s just average, but from the minute we met he treated me like I was the one he’d been waiting for all his life. No one, not even my ex-husband, ever made me feel this good. He told me that he’d had his own business, but that his partner had cheated him out of it and he was trying to get started again. I offered to lend him some money I had saved; at first he refused, but then he took it. Now he’s asked me to lend him some more. I told him I didn’t have it, and he suggested I could take out a loan from the bank. He says he wants to marry me, but he needs to get himself back on his feet before he can officially ask me. He hasn’t repaid the first loan I made him. I’m a little concerned about going into debt, but if it would help us to build a life together would it be OK? We’ll share everything once we’re married anyway. Right?

Lola the Lender

Wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong. Not another dime, LTL, not another minute do you give this guy. Don’t take his calls and stay far, far away from him. This is a classic con: make a lonely gal feel like a million bucks, then dangle a wedding ring in front of her nose and see how much she’ll pay for it. And we will pay. We get so hooked on the feeling that we finally really matter to someone that we’ll bankrupt ourselves to hang onto it. And then, when there’s nothing left to get, we get left.

The big clue is that now that he’s taken, with the token reluctance necessary to gain your confidence, all the dough you’ve got on hand, instead of repaying you he’s urging you to go into debt for him. No honorable guy would do that. Although this guy’s a shit dressed as Prince Charming, that doesn’t mean you’re not a wonderful gal who deserves the kind of guy you thought he was. You’re just going to have to keep looking. And don’t blame yourself for being taken in—guys like this are pros. Actually, it might not be such a bad idea to visit your local cop shop to check him out; he might have a long line of formerly solvent wives and wannabes trailing behind him that wouldn’t mind seeing him again—in court.

 

What’s the right way to handle splitting checks when you go out to dinner with friends? Most of the time I don’t mind just divvying it up into as many parts as there are people, but I have a couple of friends who, knowingly or unknowingly, take advantage of that system. They order appetizers or desserts, and expensive cocktails and wine, which really runs up the tab. And, of course, they’re the ones who want to split it up equally. If I made a fuss about it I’d look like a cheapskate and make everyone uncomfortable, but on nights when all I have is a salad and tap water I can’t help resenting carrying more than my load. I don’t mind as much when I’m flush, but lately money’s been tight, which makes me even more embarrassed to make an issue of it. I enjoy going out with my friends and I hate to make everyone feel like I need special treatment. Is there some graceful way to deal with this?

Frugal Frieda

The only thing you can count on when you dine out with friends, FF, is that someone’s going to be kvetching in the car on the way home about having to pay for someone else’s Ketel One martinis while all she had was a Diet Coke with lemon. For some reason—probably all that good breeding that taught us talking about money was vulgar—check splitting is one of those socially foggy subjects that is much easier to bitch about in private than to discuss in public. Thus, there’s no hard and fast rule to cover all check-splitting situations, but here are some tricks to try. Good friends shouldn’t mind if you tell them you’re on a fiscal diet, but it’s best to tell them while the plans are being made, not after the check arrives. If you’re with your known-to-take-advantage friends, either order expensively in self-defense or grab the check from the waiter and boldly state how much you owe, then pass it on. If you’re invited someplace pricey, say, frankly, that it’s temporarily out of your range, then suggest a place you like that’s more reasonable. If it’s the restaurant and not the company that’s the point, or if it’s not a close friend asking and you still want to go, be prepared to do an equal split and chalk up the extra cost to entertainment expense.

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