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I lent my brother over 700€ more than a year ago because he needed it more than me (I needed it to because I was going to get married), he told me he was going to return them as soon as possible, a year later he still has not returned anything, the worst is that during this year, he took two vacations that cost MINIMUM 1500€ each. On several occasions he told me that he would give me 200€ or 300€ next time that we see each other, and each time he forgets.

My brother had a child recently, he is not short of money, and, a few days ago, he told me that he now wants to buy a car.

Clarification: I am talking about my brother, with whom I am very very close, and I want to tell him that it's not cool to not return the money back even when he has it, I know that if I tell him that directly, he will get emotional and defensive and he may get offended.

I want him to know that this kind of behavior is not acceptable, and no one will lend him money in the future if you do not pay back, even if he really needs it.

How can I tell him that he's not nice to me by not returning the money when he has it?

  • Do you and your brother live nearby to one another (specifically, could you casually travel to visit each other for a day trip)? – Upper_Case Feb 18 at 17:27
  • Difficult but possible, it's a 3 hours trip – Dhon Joe Feb 18 at 17:35
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    Hi DhonJoe, have you checked THIS and all of the related topics on the right side of the linked page? Seems very helpful to me ;) – OldPadawan Feb 18 at 17:36
  • Yes i did, not an option – Dhon Joe Feb 18 at 17:41
  • @DhonJoe What is not an option exactly, and why ? What makes the answers to the other posts not possible ? Because situation wise, yours is very close to the other posts. – MlleMei Feb 19 at 9:32
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If I understand correctly, you'd like to talk to your brother about this so that he understands and agrees that what he has done is not okay. And you're afraid that he'll be upset and defensive during this conversation.

Some tips when having this conversation :

  • Keep a neutral voice. Don't sound angry, or annoyed. You have every right to be, but if you come of as aggressive in your tone, this will make him defensive real fast.
  • Instead of focusing on your brother's behavior and how he screwed up, talk mainly about you (you need the money, you were hurt) and on the possible problems he'll face in the future (people won't be as quick to help him in time of need).

Here's how you could start such a conversation with you brother :

Could we talk for a bit ? I'd like to talk about the 700 dollars I loaned you a year ago. I still haven't received anything back, and the fact that my own brother doesn't pay me back money I need is hurtful. Can we talk about how and when you'll pay me back ? I need that money.

I won't directly mention his vacations and others, because this risks to put him on the defensive. When he responds, probably again saying he'll bring some next time, here's what you can say :

That would be great, but it's not the first time I've heard that. You seem to have enough money to go on vacations and buy a new car, so why is it so hard to pay me back ? You must see how this looks to me. I hope you'll find a way, not just for me, or because it is the decent thing to do, but because people remember. If you ever have money troubles again, people will be a lot less quick to help you if they know you're slow paying them back.

EDIT (from comments) : the tips I provided are IMO your best chance to say what you want to say to your brother while trying to keep the conversation calm. There's a chance that he'll still get upset and defensive, but this is because you're going to bring up a sensitive subject (money), and you want to tell him how wrong he is (no one likes to hear that). I've tried to soften the scripts, but in the end you want to say some harsh truths to your brother.

If he gets upset during your conversation, I suggest to :

  • Keep a neutral tone, be calm and kind. People take their cues from you, so even if he gets agitated, if you don't, it should stop things from escalating.
  • Hear him out. Ask questions, like if you're mistaken about something (maybe the vacations were paid by his wife or his in-laws). Having a dialogue instead of you lecturing him will probably go over better. Also, since you're mainly in the right, it should force him to acknowledge what you said, which should calm him down a bit (some people it would wind them up more though).
  • When he's done, say you understand that this is a difficult subject, it's upsetting to him, and you don't wish to hurt him. But that it was important to you to have that discussion with him because his actions have hurt you, and you know that's not his intention. If you did the same, you'd like him to also tell you.

This isn't a guarantee that he will calm down and listen to you, you can't control other people's reaction (plus, I don't know your brother, this is just general advice that might not be applicable to him). There's also no guarantee your brother will end up agreeing with you. There are no scripts where you can be sure this conversation will go exactly as you want. I gave those tips because from your question, I got the feeling your primary goal was to tell your brother some things, and to avoid upsetting him as much as possible. If your primary goal is to not upset your brother, or the best way to get your money back, I'd have advised differently (namely, don't mention the vacations and the car, focus on the money you need, set a date on when your brother will repay you).


Some extra advice / piece of mind : after this conversation, I would let it go (unless you really really need the money). This doesn't mean forgiving the debt, but just putting it out of your mind. Because if your brother still hasn't paid you back now, he probably won't, and getting angry and frustrated about it won't help you. So after this conversation, just assume you won't get the money back. And if he does pay you back, it will be a delightful surprise. This doesn't mean you have to forget everything : you've now learned something about your brother, keep it in mind.

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    Although i like your answer, but i think that he will get defensive if i say what you said ... – Dhon Joe Feb 20 at 15:42
  • @DhonJoe Probably, if he's the type to get upset and defensive. I gave tips and a script that I think is the least aggressive while still telling him what you want to tell him. The thing is, either you have that discussion with him, and he'll get upset, or you don't. I don't think there's a specific wording where you will be able to say what you want, and he calmly accepts it. I'll add some extra advice to keep the conversation calm if he gets defensive, but in the end the subject itself will upset him, no matter how you phrase things. – MlleMei Feb 20 at 17:43
  • "I still haven't received anything back, and the fact that my own brother doesn't pay me back money I need is hurtful" is passive-aggressive (contains an accusation and resentful demand). "You seem to have enough money to go on vacations and buy a new car" is accusatory and disapproving of someone else's decisions; while related to the matter at hand, could be avoided. "or because it is the decent thing to do" more passive-agressive, indirectly calls other person as indecent. "but because people remember" makes assumptions about someone else's future decisions and is also threatening. – Marc.2377 Feb 25 at 1:20
  • Upvoted nevertheless because your idea is good. I just disagree with the suggested execution. – Marc.2377 Feb 25 at 1:21
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Just talk to him. Remind him of his debt, and explain that you need the money as well, since you are at the beginning of a marriage too.

He may get upset or angry, but it is not normal that you should feel bad about requesting your rights. He should not put you in this position in the first place.

Keep calm, polite and all the rest, like the brother that you are, and do it.

If he claims that he is short of money, it is OK to remind him of all the spending he had / he plans to have. Again, if he gets angry (e.g. because you keep track of his life), it is his problem - he only reveals his not so good qualities - again, not your problem, even if it hurts.

Normally, I would say that you can "forgive" him about it (although 700EUR is not a joke). BUT you have to think about your new family, your wife and to the fact that you may have children soon. You need to build your life, not to ruin your marriage.

You have a brother because "you have to". You have a wife because you made a choice. Therefore, while a brother remains a brother, you have a lot more responsibility towards the family you just started yourself. Especially if there is no significant fault in the behavior of your wife.

Over all, I am sorry for your (temporary) difficult situation. I hope you will fix this quickly and without pain.


Edited to add: I was in a similar situation myself. It is so weird (to say the least) to feel guilty myself for somebody else's improper behavior.

  • Since you state you've been in a similar situation, can you take a look at the citation expectations and how to write a good answer and elaborate on this? I'm mainly interested in how your situation was similar or different from OP's, in how you 'reminded someone of their debt' (perhaps some sort of 'I did/said this') and what the reactions to that where, and if you ever got your money back using that approach? – Tinkeringbell Mar 14 at 19:57

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