I recently reconnected with an old college friend after not being in touch for over twenty-five years. (We are both men.) As we were reminiscing over a few beers, we got to talking about a situation that was the cause of a lot of heartbreak for me back in the day, but that I had pretty much forgotten about. He cleared up an old mystery for me, though, although I’m not sure it wouldn’t have been better if it remained unsolved!
Back in those days, I had an enormous crush on a young woman I did a lot of idealistic volunteer work with through one of the groups on campus. I don’t think she was interested in me, but I was crazy about her, and, making up with humor what I lacked in good looks and charisma, I actually got her to agree to go out on a date with me. It was definitely the highlight of my college career. We had a lot of fun, a lot of laughs, and when the evening ended, I had high hopes for a follow-up. But that was not to be. Suddenly, this girl would have nothing to do with me. In those prehistoric days before social media and cell phones, it was relatively easy to disappear from someone’s life if you wanted to, and that’s what she did. She quit the volunteer group we were in, which was my only regular form of contact with her, and I didn’t even have a phone number for her once that year ended and she changed her living arrangements. I was terribly hurt – devastated – but it was obvious that for some reason, what had seemed promising was finished before it got started. I knew she had an ex-boyfriend that was always trying to get back together with her, and I assumed that’s what she decided to do and it was easier to just vanish than give me the bad news. I drank myself to sleep for a couple of months, then moved on. Eventually, I stopped thinking about her altogether.
Back to reconnecting with my old buddy. He revealed, in the course of our reunion, that another guy we knew – barely an acquaintance, certainly not a friend – also had designs on this girl and told her some truly crazy lies about me – fighting words kinds of lies – to undermine our relationship. Well, he not only undermined it, he got his way – all these years later, they’re married with a family! I still can’t believe finding all this out after so much time has passed.
I’m happily married now, too, but this has opened an old wound. I can’t seem to stuff it back into whatever mental box it was stored away in. Thanks to the wonders of the Internet, I have found out where this woman works and her email address. I’m way past the point of wanting to get back together with her, this isn’t about that at all, but I’m angry that there’s someone out there who thinks of me as some kind of deviant because she was lied to by the jerk she MARRIED! Seriously, I’m mad as hell about it when I think about it. I keep going back and forth in my mind as to whether I just write an email to say, “Guess what – the real deviant is your HUSBAND!” I just want to set the record straight and at least be on record as denying these things I was accused of. But then part of me says that’s just going to make me seem crazier and it’s better to just let it go. I don’t know what to do, if anything.
I can certainly understand how dismayed you must have been to hear this story. How galling! But think about what it would be like for you to appear out of the blue decrying the scurrilous lies that were told about you twenty-five years ago. And then, once your email has been read or your voicemail has been listened to, what’s going to happen: will the liar guiltily look at the floor and mumble, “Yeah, I did that.” Or will he say to his wife, “Wow, he’s crazier than ever! He’s becoming unhinged! If he contacts us again, we’ll have to get a restraining order!” Yes, if this is just about getting it off your chest, you can compose a thoughtful email to set the record straight. If it were me, though, I’d be inclined to forget about it. It has been an awfully long time, and you’re happily married now. (And by contrast, she’s married to a manipulative liar.) Let it go.
There is one positive thing that can come out of this if it helps you come to terms with it, though: remember what happened to you and promise yourself that from now on, you won’t make judgments about other people based on things you hear. Form your opinion of someone on your first-hand experience, or don’t form an opinion at all.
I’m a female college student. There’s this guy who likes me but the feeling is not mutual. We were lab partners and he got it into his head that because I was nice and friendly toward him, that there was something between us, I guess, but there wasn’t at all. It got to the point where I had to make this clear to him because he was getting kind of weird. But now, anytime I check in someplace on Facebook or whatever, what do you know, half an hour later he’ll be there, too. We’re not friends on FB or anything, but he must have another friend who is friends with me, because he has a habit of showing up where I am without fail! What can I do – tell him I know what he’s doing and to knock it off? Ignore him? He’s not creepy or scary or anything, it’s just not fun to be having a good time with my friends then to look over and see him moping around. Any advice?
Not His Friend
Dear Not His Friend,
If you left things on reasonably friendly terms with him, I suppose you could talk with him about this – perhaps if you remind him that he really has no chance with you, he’ll find better ways to spend his time. But the real solution here is to stop broadcasting your whereabouts. You can certainly let your friends (real friends, not social media “friends”) know where you’ll be in a way that’s a bit less public. If you insist on doing that, you have to be prepared for the consequences, I’m afraid, and one consequence is that people you’d rather not run into can use that knowledge, too.
I’m glad you say he’s not creepy or scary, because this is behavior I would consider pre-stalkerish. He has a right to hang out wherever he wants if he’s simply minding his own business, but if his behavior begins to worry you or you become the least bit concerned this may be changing from an annoyance to something worse, err on the side of caution and talk to someone in your school’s student affairs or security office about it.
What do you do if you accidentally find out something you shouldn’t know, but what you find out can’t be ignored? I’ve been seeing a woman for a while, and despite my making my desires known, she has maintained that she’s not ready to have sex with me far longer than any other woman I’ve dated. (She has also maintained that this is not unusual relationship behavior for her.) I’m pretty crazy about her, so I have simply accepted this, even though she has offered me no indication when she might be ready. The other day I was looking in her bag for a piece of gum (I swear that’s all I was doing because I knew there was some in there) when I found a condom way at the bottom! I was shocked, to say the least. I quickly put it back and put the bag back where it was. I didn’t mention anything, but I can’t get it out of my mind. Should I bring it up? It would be a good way to start a frank conversation I’ve been thinking is overdue – and I really think so now!
Dear Accidental Snoop,
In my experience, conversations that start out, “Hey, I was going through your purse…” tend to be really, really brief. Regardless of how innocent your motives were, you shouldn’t have been rifling through her stuff. And then to use that as a pretext for a conversation asking her to account for a condom? Not good. You shouldn’t have been doing what you were doing, so you can’t start a conversation based on anything you found. If you think a talk is long overdue, have a talk. But don’t bring up the condom. That’s none of your business, no matter how accidentally you learned about it.
Originally appeared at GoLocalProv.com.
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