What to do when your boyfriend wants you to loan money to his family

K-Xengah asks: Hi Shirelle,

Once upon a time my relationship was great. I had an understanding partner who respected me and was always there for me. But things just slowly started changing ever since he started having intense family drama. He’s in the relationship but not there. He always wants me to be there for him but can’t be there for me. It feels like he is there for everyone else but me. And what stresses me out is that he never understands when I can’t help him out with something. Sometimes it just feels like I always have to be ready to always be more there for him than I am there for myself.  For instance today he was supposed to send money to one of his relatives but was short of a certain amount, and because of that his family kept putting him under pressure to send the money. So he asked me for a small top up, which I didn’t have. And he wanted me to credit from someone, and I made it clear to him that it wasn’t a guarantee I would find the amount because I already owe people money because of him. And I expected him to understand. He told me to call him at a certain time to tell him if I got the money but I didn’t do that cause I was still trying to find the money, and failed at it. Not knowing he had gone to get money from some drug dealer which “I was supposed to help him pay back” without me knowing or asking me. And now he gets upset with me because I don’t have the money when he didn’t even inform me of his decision in the first place.  I’m just really tired of this stagnancy and these issues. They are emotionally draining. Please advise.

Hi K-Xengah –

I have to say, my feelings about this guy changed throughout reading your letter.  At first my sense was that this was a great guy who cared about his family and you often felt “second place” in his consideration; that happens a lot, and there are very good ways to deal with it.  Then it got to being about money, and that made me a bit concerned; “he wants her to loan his family money?  I’m not so sure about this…”  Then it got to you saying you were already in debt because of money you’d given him, and then this whole thing with him getting money from a drug dealer and saying you’ll pay them back?

My opinion of him has turned completely.

My friend, the issue here isn’t about his family or how he deals with them.  It’s about how he treats you.   No matter how much pressure his family puts on him, it’s unfair of him to ask you to come up with the money.  And any guy who’d take a loan from a criminal and give them your name to pay it back is my idea of complete bad news.  All the way.

I realize that in the past he was great, but for whatever reasons there might be, now he’s not.  My advice – harsher than I usually give – is for you to let him know that your relationship is off for now, and that you don’t even want to hear from him until he’s paid the drug dealer off.  Then you two can talk about creating a better relationship – which likely does mean he’s going to need to tell certain family members that they need to find other sources of cash than him. 

But that’s a longer-term issue for him.  Right now I want you safe.  And as great a guy as he might be in other ways, or have been in the past, he’s breaking the one biggest rule any boyfriend has, which is to protect his partner from harm.  He’s putting you into harm instead.  And that just has to end.

Okay, enough of a barking rant on my side.  You said that you’re tired of the stagnation, while I’m responding to fear of you being in danger.  Both are true, and you deserve better, and my guess is that your boyfriend knows that.

Help him be better.  It’ll be good for both of you.

All my best,


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