About seven years ago a five-year, live-in relationship of mine ended. We stayed friends and, though I now live in a different country, we still keep in touch, albeit casually and not often. In real life we see each other perhaps once a year (since we share friends) and once or twice a year we chat over messages (like for birthdays). She works in a popular public place so I can always reach her in person if I wanted to and was in the country.

When we were a couple I loaned her money. Bits here and there. By the end it amounted to a non-trivial sum, like thousands.

She actually started paying a small amount back at the start, presumably when she had a moment of empathy, but then stopped after a couple of months. So she knows she owed me.

I'm normally a passive and non-confrontational person. However, I feel that, as she has rich parents, a rich partner, buy lots of clothes and goes on plenty of exotic holidays, while I have an almost opposite life to that, I wonder, just wonder, if I could get that money back, and use it towards improving things.

How can I maximize my chances of her paying back the money that she owes me? For example, what would the email or text message read like?

A bit of extra info. There is a good chance I will see her in person in a month, but I was planning to send her a message before then.

I think that if the money had less value or we were good friends, I'd write it off. At the same time, I'd rather remain on relatively good terms with them.

  • Do you have any proof of the amount? Even in previous messages between the two of you. Why are you asking about it now, after seven years? Is there a pressing reason other than just wanting what you're owed? Commented Apr 30, 2018 at 19:29
  • @LioElbammalf I have no proof of the total amount. I have an email where she says 'I am going to start paying off my debt to you, about time, eh?'. Basically I just value my time now, which money grants.
    – MW Millar
    Commented Apr 30, 2018 at 19:33
  • A few questions, just to help folks get a handle on the situation: 1. What form did the loans take—were you actually handing over cash to her, paying for things yourself, etc.? 2. What kind of language was used when you originally loaned the money, i.e. did she specifically ask for a loan, did you offer a loan, or was it just understood somehow? 3. Did you have any agreed plan for her paying you back before you broke up? 4. If you don't have any official tally, how are you calculating the total amount that she owes you?
    – 1006a
    Commented Apr 30, 2018 at 19:47
  • @1006a. Paying cash. She asked for the money. Yes she insisted she'd pay it back before we split up, but no written plan existed. We agreed on an amount at the time, so we both know what figure it is.
    – MW Millar
    Commented Apr 30, 2018 at 19:52
  • 1
    @Jesse The amount paid back is less than 10% of the total.
    – MW Millar
    Commented May 1, 2018 at 9:18

2 Answers 2


You have a simple problem. You do not have an actual figure in mind, just approximate. You have not agreed between you what the actual figure is.

You need to establish the figure and a way to resolve it. Once you have a written down figure and have broken it down, you know where to start.

You can then ask your ex how she views the situation, and suggest a way to resolve it. Putting it simply, you need to put forward what your need is, and also what you are happy to settle with. In most permanent relationships things split 50/50 so some movement is reasonable, but probably not everything. And keep in mind your ex's new partner will express an opinion, so this could be why the payments stopped.

I borrowed some money from my brother and agreed a certain amount to pay back with interest, which I fulfilled. I made sure everything was clear cut. It made everything simple and straightforward.


If she owes you money based on verbal agreements; that is, you gave her some money and specified it was a loan, not a gift, to be paid back at some later time; there are two ways to go about it.

You can remind her of the times you lent her money, and also tell her that you could really use that money now. If there is any way she could pay it back, you would be very grateful. You might have to come to some agreement as to the total amount, and work from there.

If she is well off financially, I think she would agree. But she also might think that she didn't really mean much to you while you cohabitated, because otherwise you would have willingly given her the money out of love, without wanting it back. Then your chances of recovering it drop significantly.

The second way is to file a lawsuit. I don't know how it works in every jurisdiction, but in the US she would be subpoenaed to court. If she doesn't appear, you would win by default. If she appears, and the two of you are in agreement that the money is owed to you and the amount, a judgment is entered to compel payment. The judgment gives the lender certain additional rights to further collection actions, such as wage garnishment.

Personally, I would just treat it casually. Things change over time. Your financial position might change a lot in a few years. I know when I split up with my ex it was supposed to be 50/50, but I basically moved out and let her have whatever she wanted from the house. I wasn't going to make a big deal about it.

She thought she made out like a bandit! But I knew I would have less problems if I didn't push the issue. In fact, throughout my entire life I have never loaned money. If someone needed money from me I gave it to them for the promised of a future favor from him/her if I ever needed it.

Now my ex is still underemployed, struggling, living in rental housing, alone, unable to enjoy life at all. I have more than I can spend, I only have to work 10 hours/week, so I can basically do as I please. Obviously I love imparting wisdom to others.

The bible says, "Lend and ask nothing in return." I've always done that and I've always had more than what I need! Plus, people love me for it!

  • Thanks for the detailed response. I won't go as far as a lawsuit but I will keep it casual like you say. Then I have to come up with a strategy if or when she refuses on the first try.
    – MW Millar
    Commented May 1, 2018 at 9:23

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