1/9/07

Dating Pitfalls: Predators


My neighbor broke down in tears when I wished her happy New Year and asked, ”How are you?” It seems she discovered her boyfriend with another woman. Like me, Joan’s divorced and over fifty. She’d been in the relationship for three years, way past the casual dating stage and just long enough to get comfortable and hopeful.

She and her partner had bought property together. Now their break up has become so messy and acrimonious that she’s had to consult a lawyer.

“This is as bad as my divorce!” she wailed.

Not only was Joan emotionally devastated, she stands to lose thousands in loans and legal fees.

Another acquaintance, Donna, has sworn off men forever. She fell in love with a handsome charmer about ten years ago. He was a ton of fun and their partying was legendary. They were inseparable for two years, and she was certain they would be married. So certain, she depleted her savings to help him purchase some land and a car. Both titles were in his name. As soon as her money was gone, he left her. This man is such a snake that he’s repeated this pattern with two other women as far as we know.

My long-term relationship with a man ended after four years, but two years later we’re still good friends. I had lent him large sums of money (around $25,000) which he’s almost paid off (about $2,000 to go).

What was the difference between Joan, Donna, and me? Legal documents that spell out the terms of the loan and conditions and dates for repayment. I had also inserted a clause saying that if payments stopped for any reason, I would retain legal and sole title to the property. Late payments were subject to penalties, and we even made provisions in case one of us died. These legal documents placed us on equal footing and preserved my trust.

Was I simply lucky to have dated a decent and honorable man? Yes and no.

The men I date are sterling. If they do not meet my strict standards, I won't even consider going out with them. I've also developed extremely sensitive self-preservation antennae. Having been married to an accountant for 26 years, I’ve learned to be smart with my money, especially around strangers, which is what a new love interest is at the start of a relationship. If I were to fall and love and remarry, I would expect my mate to sign a pre-nup. In turn, I would be willing to sign one for him as well.

Donna, who has only been on two dates in eight years, has sworn men off forever. So has Joan. In fact, Donna has become so bitter towards all men that they steer clear of her, even though she is an attractive woman. Joan, in her intense grief and hurt, wants nothing to do with men in the future. I suspect her attitude may change once she feels less raw.

As for me? I love men. I always have. And you won’t find me bashing them in this blog. In fact, as many women fleece men as vice versa, accepting all kinds of expensive gifts before dumping them, so I am not taking gender sides. Having said that, I certainly don’t need a man to complete me or make my life worthwhile, but if I happen to fall in love again, I’ll be open to the possibilities.

As far as I can tell, the primary difference between me and Donna and Joan in lending money to our boyfriends was the protection of that legal document! It really is worth taking the time and effort to draw one up.

If your new love (or unmarried partner) balks at signing a legal agreement, claiming you don’t love them or trust them, take that as a big WARNING sign. Every honorable person I know would not hesitate to sign a legitimate contract when large sums are involved. That little bit of legal insurance not only helped to preserve my small savings, it enabled me to retain my friendship with my former lover and keep my heart whole.

Cartoon from http://www.fishlikefish.com/cartoons/bad.php

3 comments:

Emmie said...

Thats really a nice and very useful blog... I like the way you think.... and well the idea of legal agreements or contracts is important... i do feel that a relationship must be friendly and trustworthy for sure... do drop by My blog sometime as well...hope u will like it....!!!!

BigAssBelle said...

wonderful advice i wish i'd put into practice upon financing the sale of my car for a young man who worked for me.

sometimes i feel like i am ramming my head into a wall with financial matters. no matter how many times i hit and shriek LEARNED IT! i do it again.

no more. i say. we shall see. wish i had all the $$ back my soft heart had extended to others.

as to the boy, we're off to small claims in a week.

btw, the worst thing, i think, about the cash/loss/boyfriend thing is the feeling of having been so stupid and foolish. the fact of there being a bad debt negates any genuine feeling that may have been there. sucks.

Vic's Still Standing said...

I agree, BAB. My friend is kicking herself in the foot.

Love your blog.