Durban - A wise man once told me, if you want to destroy a friendship, just lend the person money. I suppose you could wreck a relationship with a family member the same way too.

Money is a funny thing and has a tendency to bring out the worst in people, which is why I think the most defining moment in a relationship is when a friend or relative asks you for a loan.

Lending money to someone you care about is never difficult; it’s getting the money back that’s the tough part.

In an ideal situation your buddy will borrow the cash and pay you back at the end of the month and that’s that.

But when the money doesn’t come back you can be faced with that awkward situation where you have to ask for it.

Of course, you could always forget about it and not ask. It is the easier, safer, happier way. But what if you really need that money and you’ve put yourself in a bit of a tight spot by lending cash to your mate?

So you find yourself rehearsing that dreaded phone call.... what’s most important is that you don’t destroy the relationship. The reality, however, is that the moment you have to ask for the money back, the relationship is at the point of no return.

So - let’s look at the different types of money borrowers out there. Are you one of them?

The Artful Dodger

People who borrow money and never pay it back. You used to hear from this person every day, but now that he owes you money he has suddenly become incredibly scarce. It becomes almost impossible to contact him and you find yourself using every medium of communication around. You end up leaving a record number of voicemails without a response. Even calling from a withheld number does not work. When, by chance, the two of you end up at the same place, he’ll make every effort to avoid you. Initially he’ll pretend he didn’t see you, but if you happen to make eye contact he will wave from a distance, whip out his phone and mouth the words, “talk to you just now” before putting the phone to his ear as if to take a call.

Of course, you’ll stick around hoping that he will come to you after the phantom phone call, but after an hour you’ll search the place and realise that he’s vanished.

And if you think going to his house is going to work, think again. The Artful Dodger doesn’t answer his door. Somehow people with a reason to hide just have a knack of knowing when not to go to the door. It’s a gift these bastards have.

If you really want to get your money back short of sending a bouncer who works part-time at the casino, be creative. Smoke out the dodger by writing on his Facebook wall for everyone to see. A message saying, “hey, been trying to get hold of you about that money you owe me. It’s been six months” should do the trick.

The Pretend Victim

So you finally come face to face, after months of leaving messages, with the friend of a friend who borrowed R500 from you that night you all went out for dinner. You raise the issue of the funds in the politest way possible, but he flips. Suddenly you feel like a low life extortionist and he’s the victim.

“You think I’m going to run away with your money, huh,” he shrieks, getting very excited. “I told you, you’ll get it!”

Before you can interrupt to remind him that it’s been almost a year, for dramatic effect, he pulls out his wallet, opens it up to reveal a lone R10 note, and shoves it in your face. “Here! Here! Just take it man!”

At that moment you’re so taken aback by the performance that you forget that he owes you R500 and not R10. Also, you make the mistake of not taking the 10 bucks because he’s succeeded in making you feel like scum. In fact, at this point you feel obligated to explain why you need your own money.

What you do instead is say, “It’s okay Brett, pay me when you have it.”

The result? You’re still waiting for the cash three years later.

Miss High and Mighty

Just like the pretend victim, Miss High and Mighty will avoid paying you back your money by making you feel guilty for asking.

When you raise the issue of the cash, she will say things like “Oh, if I knew you were going to harass me for the money I wouldn’t have asked you for help”.

Strangely, when you hear this it doesn’t occur to you to reply: “Well, if you don’t need my money then why did you take it?”

Mr Excuses

Mr Excuses owes so many people money he realises that it’s pointless trying to duck everyone. Make no mistake, he won’t voluntarily contact you or raise the issue of the loan, but he also won’t avoid your calls or hide under the bed when you’re knocking on his door. Mr Excuses’ strategy is to allay your fears of never ever being paid back by peppering you with excuses. He is usually a creative individual who will find it very easy to bamboozle you.

For example, if you call Mr Excuses, he will enthusiastically answer the phone and make idle chit-chat, and when you do raise the money issue, he will reassure you that it’s coming and will even set a deadline for himself. “You’ll get it at the end of the month,” he will say.

When you call him again a month later, Mr Excuses will know exactly why you’re calling and will immediately, upon answering the phone, say, “You won’t believe me, I was just about to call you….I was on my way to you with the money but <insert excuse here>.”

And somewhere between hearing about how busy he has been at work and his granny’s hip operation, which he had to pay for, you will realise that there is no way you’re ever getting your money back. - Sunday Tribune