‘Do I still have to pay him back?’

Question: My boyfriend lent me $12,000, saying to repay him when I could. Six months later, when I broke up with him and didn’t pay the loan back right away, he e-mailed my friends, family and new boyfriend revealing secrets I’d told only to him. He also e-mailed prospective clients of my new business saying I was unreliable and untrustworthy. Especially since I lost customers because of Adam, am I still obligated to repay him?

Answer: Apparently Adam doesn’t take rejection well.

We hope you’ve talked to a lawyer and the police about whether you have grounds for bringing a civil complaint or pressing harassment charges against your former squeeze.

But don’t put your check book away just yet. After all, two wrongs don’t make a right: The fact that Adam’s behaved badly doesn’t cancel out your obligation to repay him. Even if you have a strong claim against him for money damages related to his contact with your business prospects, it’s not okay to declare yourself the winner of a lawsuit you haven’t filed and award yourself $12,000.

Plus, Adam wasn’t wrong to expect you to pay him back promptly once you split up. True, when he lent you the money, he didn’t set a repayment date. But in accepting his generous terms -– an unsecured personal loan with no repayment date and, probably, no interest –- you were also accepting the obligation to honor the spirit in which the loan was offered, namely, that it was a sweetheart deal (in this case, literally). Girlfriends don’t have to rush to pay back open-ended loans like this. But ex-girlfriends -– especially ex-girlfriends who dumped the lender –- do.

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