Welcome to the first installment of our Q&A series.

Today we hear from a young woman who received monthly bank transfers over 6 years from an absolute stranger she met over the Internet in exchange for sending him daily diary entries. After breaking off communication with the man, she wonders if she should feel obligated to repay the money back to him even though he hasn't asked her to.

Let's hear what the Internet has to say!



Hi, I'm posting for the first time. I'm a female university freshman.

When I was a first-year junior high school student, I was bullied a lot. I couldn't say anything to my parents about it, and instead I confided in an older man who I met through the Internet. He was in his 50s and told me he had a strained home life.

My hobby was reading, and the man I met taught me more about how to escape into the world of books. He started sending me money so I could buy new books. (I didn't have a good concept of the danger at the time and freely shared my personal info. I wish I hadn't now.)

He was so happy when I started e-mailing him daily to talk about the things going on in my life or my thoughts about the books that I read. Soon he was sending me about 10,000 yen ($100) per month. I managed my own bank account, and my parents were always busy with work, so I was able to use the money without them noticing. I used it to purchase books and later even enrolled at a juku when it was time to prepare for high school entrance exams.

I became a high school student and got a lot of new friends. When I told the man how it was hard to ask my parents to pay for me to go on field trips with my school club, he sent me the money. My club went on a lot of field trips, and between that and the tuition of a prep school I attended in the evening, I was receiving 30,000 yen ($300) per month.

The man loved to hear about my daily events as a high school student, and he told me he thought of me as his daughter. The relationship reminded me of Daddy-Long-Legs, but I didn't think about it too much.

After high school, I moved to Tokyo for college. Other girls at the school were big into fashion and it was a bad influence on me. I started asking for extra money from the man, which I used to buy clothes and accessories. At some point I think he got fed up with the way I was acting because he stopped replying to my e-mails.

When I realized this, I rethought my spending habits. I feel like I've forgotten who I really am. And now I'm just overwhelmed with self-disgust.

From now on, so I can be truly independent, I'm going to start working part-time and use scholarship money to pay for school, no matter how hard it is. I don't want to accept any money from anyone else ever again. I see that the way things are now isn't good for myself, and my warped sense of money is only going to hurt me.

So I want to ask: If my benefactor demanded I return the money I accepted from him all those years, am I obligated to return it? We have had no physical relationship, and we've only met each other one time.

Maybe this story is hard to believe, but I really need an answer. Just assuming this kind of situation, what are my responsibilities in regard to the money?
Thank you.




First post. 

If you really wanted to give the money back, you wouldn't have made a post like this in the first place. I think you're just being inconsistent.

Sorry if I offended you.


It's OK. I'm not offended. When I first drafted the post, I didn't think it was very coherent. I felt like I needed to explain the parts that were hard to understand. So, that last question was me trying to be more clear.

You're right. If I'm worried about whether I'm obligated to return the money, that must mean I don't want to return it. I'm just making excuses now, but the total sum of money I received from this man is enormous. If I'm obligated to pay it back then there must be some kind of deadline to do that by, and if that's the case I have to think about stuff like revealing this to my parents or quitting school to work full time so I can pay it off.




The money was a gift and you don't have any legal obligation to return it. Besides, it's not like a guy with that kind of personality is going to demand you return it in the first place.

But, the way you feel means something. Are you a mooch?



There was a part of me that thought it was natural for him to be sending me money. I think that's why I was able to use it to buy clothes and stuff. I should have been thinking about what it meant that he was giving me his hard-earned money.

I want to become the kind of person that he can feel glad he invested in. I don't think I have any value to be thought of like that now.

That's why this is so painful for me!





Well, Internet, you certainly never fail to impress! I hope everything worked out OK for this girl, especially after everyone blatantly ignored the fact that she spent her entire teenage life supported by a man 40 years her senior and this arrangement was completely concealed from her parents and teachers. And she intends to keep the secret barring impending financial disaster.

I want to express nothing but support for the trending of her strong moral compass; I just wonder why it was so easy for everyone to get past the initial premise of her situation. It never dawns on the parents that she never asks them for money but goes on every school trip and brings home an armload of books every month. The secret benefactor, who was romantic in Judy's case (in the book Daddy Long Legs) because she didn't have any parents, is played down by all the respondents as if relationships between adolescent girls and middle-aged men are as a rule totally natural, innocuous affairs. (That's foreshadowing for a future Q&A post, by the way!)

If you have any comments or screams of outrage, please share below!

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