‘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.

Your browser, Internet Explorer 8 or below, is out of date. It has known security flaws and may not display all features of this and other websites.

Learn how to update your browser

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 46,481 other followers