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How do I deal with my ex-boyfriend's unhinged and insecure current girlfriend?
December 5, 2012 5:03 PM   Subscribe

My ex and I are still involved musically, and his current girlfriend is convinced that I hate her. She recently sent me an extremely creepy email. My ex is passive to the extreme and won't take responsibility. What can I do to keep the peace and minimize my involvement, while still enjoying my band?

I've been lurking on MeFi for a while, but now I need some advice of my own! I am a woman in my mid-20's living on the West Coast, FYI.


For a little background, I was together with my ex-boyfriend for 18 months. It was my first serious relationship, I was completely infatuated with him, and it seemed like we were heading towards marriage. I eventually started to have doubts about our compatibility, and the fact that I had really lost my sense of self in the midst of my infatuation for him. He let me know at the 18-month mark that he wanted to be married (in general) in the next 3 years, so we should be honest about our intentions. I knew I couldn't marry him, so I broke up with him. Our breakup was sad but kind, and we ended things while we were still very much deeply in love.


Now the complicated part: we are in a band together. We agreed to keep the band together, as we'd invested years of hard work to the project, and still had respect for each other. While the first few months post-breakup were awkward and touchy and a little overwrought, we slogged through rehearsals and shows and kept a very civil relationship.


Three weeks after our relationship ended, he started dating his current girlfriend (he is a serial monogamist). And two months into their relationship he brought her along to work on some of our band-related projects without prepping me ahead of time. As you can imagine, I was hurt and upset, she was beyond uncomfortable…and he was completely oblivious to the shit storm he had caused.


Anyway, my relationship with this girl started off on the wrong foot. And my ex never lifted a finger to introduce us or foster any kind of warmness between us. She kept coming back to shows or parties, and because I couldn’t figure out how to act around her, I kept my distance. After a few months, my ex starts telling me that she thinks that I hate her, and he requests that I make an effort to welcome her. I was still stinging from what had felt like the most grueling, dragged-out breakup in history, and let him know bluntly that, while I would try my best, it was ultimately up to him to be the keeper of his girlfriend’s feelings. I gave a shot at saying hello to her or striking up conversations a few times, but I was always met with glares or a cold shoulder, so I gave up pretty quickly and went back to keeping my distance. From this and a lot of other weird Facebook evidence, I started to gather that she was super infatuated with him in the way I had once been, but also monumentally insecure.


Even a year into this nonsense, my ex kept picking fights with me about my “rude behavior.” In reality, my rudeness amounted to my not reaching out to say hello to her. That was it. I finally promised that I would once again make a concerted effort to be polite and friendly, and in return he would never be allowed to bring up this topic again. For the last few months since we had that conversation, I have approached her at every show, said hello with a smile, and tried to joke around with her if the opportunity presented itself. It wasn’t easy for me, but I thought it was starting to work.


Until this weekend. While the entire band was in the recording studio this past weekend, she sent me a private Facebook message demanding to know why I had been so rude to her, and in essence threatened that if I didn’t change something she would have to take drastic action. This message was out-of-the-blue. It was creepy, inappropriate, and very upsetting. When I confronted him about the level of weirdness and inappropriateness of her message, he took her side on every single part of the issue, and refused to acknowledge that it was his mess that he created. He told me that I should talk it out with her, and that essentially it was not his problem.


This situation blew over earlier this week---she sent a tense and begrudging apology. I wrote her the kindest and most honest note I could muster, while assuring her I never intended to make her uncomfortable. But, now I don’t know how to act when we are in the same room! Obviously, she has some deep insecurities and even deeper issues that have nothing to do with me, and I can’t fix crazy. But I can’t for the life of me figure out how to deal with her at our upcoming events (we have a few next week!) I’ve been made the enemy in this situation by these two crazy, passive-aggressive people, and I don’t know what to do to minimize drama.


(And before you ask, yes, I realize this drama seems like it’s worth running away from. However, the actual band, as well as my personal relationship with my ex, is still a very positive part of my life that I don’t wish to give up just yet).


Help! Any suggestions on making sure I don’t make this any worse than it already is?
posted by lilypad to Human Relations (55 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
I don't see any way out of this except to sit down with her one-on-one and try to work it out. If it was me, I would start out by sincerely repeating to her the paragraph above about starting out on the wrong foot. You made some valid points there and they bear repeating. Ask her to meet you for coffee, explain the situation, and talk it out. You might gain a friend, and at the very least you will somewhat clear the air.
posted by raisingsand at 5:12 PM on December 5, 2012 [3 favorites]


I don't think it's your responsibility to make her comfortable. If she's uncomfortable she can stop coming to shows. Disengage. Do what you need to do to rehearse and perform, and if her shenanigans interfere with your abilty to do that, insist she stay away. Block her on facebook. Don't be dragged into some three-way drama triangle created by your passive-aggressive ex.
posted by Ollie at 5:17 PM on December 5, 2012 [5 favorites]


Aghk! Triangulation, I hate it.

It may not look this way, but you have at your disposal a very useful situation. Let me explain.

You and I both know it is not your job to make this girl feel comfortable. That is her job, and to a lesser extent your ex-boyfriend's. He failed. Ho-hum.

Your job is to be authentic and enjoy yourself with the band. The easiest way to do this is just ignore the whole drama. Stop thinking of your ex-boyfriend as, well, your ex-boyfriend and start framing him as your friend and bandmate only. That will remove one side of the dreaded triangulation.

Now, treat her as you would any bandmate's partner. Don't have some deep and meaningful conversation to preface this change of behaviour, just act as friendly as you would to anyone who was going out with a bandmate.

The utility of this plan of action is that you get to reframe your relationship with both these people without engaging with any previous drama. Clean break. New beginning. Good luck.
posted by Kerasia at 5:24 PM on December 5, 2012 [20 favorites]


and he was completely oblivious to the shit storm he had caused.

He might be enjoying the shitstorm. I hate to condemn all serial monogamists, but I find that a lot of twenty-something guys who always have a girlfriend are really into having girl drama swirl around them.

This question made me double-take - I know people exactly like this, and for a moment, wondered if I knew you. The details don't match up, though. Just ignore her, ignore him beyond necessary interactions, and take comfort in the fact that you are not the crazy one.

I think any sort of apology will make things worse. You didn't do anything wrong - SHE sent YOU a crazy email - and she will twist your words and you'll regret apologizing in the first place. Just blank, cool, friendly, whatever.
posted by ablazingsaddle at 5:25 PM on December 5, 2012 [23 favorites]


Ten years of watching tenured faculty with combative, insecure personalities and dubious grips on reality nevertheless get along tells me this is what fake smiles and empty small talk were made for.

And whenever you accept an apology, you're for the most part stuck pretending the stupid shit never happened.

So if these people have stopped actively causing you a problem, you may as well roll with it, pretend you're comfortable, treat everyone like friends, and own the situation as if you were the most easy-going, magnanimous person ever.

The fun part is, if you carry it off, you kind of are.
posted by Monsieur Caution at 5:26 PM on December 5, 2012 [8 favorites]


I think if you take Ollie's position you'll end up making it worse and she'll sabotage your band and any relationship you have with your ex.

Be the bigger person and apologise again, in person. It serves you, the band and generally humanity well, to be compassionate. Even if you're not completely in the wrong.
posted by taff at 5:26 PM on December 5, 2012


I am just a stranger who has never observed this situation or met any of you in person, but it sounds to me like your ex has deliberately created this situation on purpose from the get-go, and is getting some kind of gratification from having two women fight over him, or being able to covertly hurt both of you. I don't buy for a second that he was "oblivious" to anything. I think there is nothing you will be able to do here because I think he is egging this situation on to be worse and worse so whatever you do will always be undone by him. Who knows what he is saying to his current girlfriend behind the scenes to get her even more whipped up and upset with you. If you are the crazy rude bitch and the new girlfriend is the jealous psycho, he looks like a total innocent, but I think the reality is probably the opposite.
posted by cairdeas at 5:26 PM on December 5, 2012 [35 favorites]


You're not going to want to hear this, but:
"She kept coming back to shows or parties, and because I couldn’t figure out how to act around her, I kept my distance. After a few months, my ex starts telling me that she thinks that I hate her, and he requests that I make an effort to welcome her. I was still stinging from what had felt like the most grueling, dragged-out breakup in history, and let him know bluntly that, while I would try my best, it was ultimately up to him to be the keeper of his girlfriend’s feelings."

This is rude.

"In reality, my rudeness amounted to my not reaching out to say hello to her. That was it."

As is this. If you were working on things together, this is ULTRA rude.

You broke up with him, presumably so he could date other people, and you're acting in petty ways towards a new person he's dating. There is no new girlfriend in the world who would not feel threatened or at least indignant in her position, and it is not indicative of a pathology in either her nor your ex. It might be understandable for you to be feeling bad about the breakup but it's not acceptable for you to treat other people poorly, and if you can't be in the situation without doing so the burden is on you to remove yourself from it.

If you don't feel that you need to do that, then the answer you're looking for--how to behave--is like someone who has been a bit of a shit and is embarrassed and apologetic. Nothing in the tone of this post suggests that you're ready to do that, and I would suggest your first step not be a one-on-one talk or another Facebook message but rather an attempt to accept in your own mind at least some responsibility for the current icy climate.
posted by animalrainbow at 5:26 PM on December 5, 2012 [17 favorites]


Hey animalrainbow, did you miss the part in which the OP tried to be friendly and the new girlfriend snubbed her?

These situations are tough, and no one should be expected to immediately be super friendly to an ex's new girlfriend immediately after a tough break-up. And no one should ever send crazy facebook messages threatening "drastic action."

OP, look in the mirror and say, "I'm pretty cool," and then do something fun. Don't stoop to their - yes, your ex is part of the problem - level.
posted by ablazingsaddle at 5:34 PM on December 5, 2012 [17 favorites]


How do you generally act with people you dislike and whose behavior you find inappropriate, but with whom you are required to spend time? Because this is a hugely important life skill, so think of this as an opportunity to practice said skill. In my own life, my choices are cool politeness and feigned cordiality, depending on circumstances.

Another useful skill is refusing to get into triangulated drama. "I'm sorry she felt that way; that certainly wasn't my intention" seems like the right answer to your ex's complaints; "I'm sorry you feel that way; that certainly wasn't my intention" to his gf's. Agree with everyone who suggests that he seems to be stoking the drama.

You might want to read memoirs from the members of Fleetwood Mac, a group that did brilliant work together despite all kinds of relationships and breakups and conflicts through the years. There are lots of both positive and negative examples in the stories they've shared.
posted by Sidhedevil at 5:37 PM on December 5, 2012 [4 favorites]


Did you miss the part where OP ignored her for a year?
posted by animalrainbow at 5:39 PM on December 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


I don't get "ignored" from that. I don't think she was giving her the cold shoulder, it sounds like she was not trying to foster a deeper relationship is all. And that's not rude. She owes this woman civility and honesty, but she doesn't owe her a friendship.
posted by KathrynT at 5:41 PM on December 5, 2012 [4 favorites]


From now on, make yourself a new rule: when it comes to anything she says or emails to you, respond directly to her, not to him: stop the three-way drama fest in its tracks. And tell ex-BF that you will not listen to anything he has to say about your behavior towards her: she can come and talk directly to you instead.
posted by easily confused at 5:45 PM on December 5, 2012 [12 favorites]


But I can’t for the life of me figure out how to deal with her at our upcoming events (we have a few next week!)

Just act friendly. Had you done that from the beginning, it wouldn't be nearly so awkward. You mention that she kept coming to shows and parties, but you know what? She's his girlfriend; she has every right to.

However, the actual band, as well as my personal relationship with my ex, is still a very positive part of my life that I don’t wish to give up just yet).

(emphasis mine)

Nothing you've said about him is at all positive and I think that the desire to maintain a relationship with him after you've dumped him is somewhat selfish. As the person who decided to end the relationship, the onus is on you to be the bigger person in all ways here--to give him space if it's needed, to be nice to his significant others. Otherwise you create a situation where he's being strung along in one way or another. A year and a half after a break up is time enough to swallow your lumps and treat his girlfriend as you would any other friend's significant other. Because if you want to maintain a platonic and creative relationship, that's all he can ever be. He's your friend. Treat his girlfriend like a friend, too.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 5:48 PM on December 5, 2012 [7 favorites]


You decided to maintain a professional relationship after ending the personal one ... and then you reacted badly when your professional colleague entered into a new personal relationship. You don't get to both keep in daily contact with an ex and be shielded from evidence of his moving on.


What can I do to keep the peace and minimize my involvement, while still enjoying my band?

Behave professionally and without drama of your own, unless you can't, in which case you find a new band.


And two months into their relationship he brought her along to work on some of our band-related projects without prepping me ahead of time. As you can imagine, I was hurt and upset, she was beyond uncomfortable…and he was completely oblivious to the shit storm he had caused.

It would have been nice for him to tell you ahead of time, but it was 3 months after your relationship ended and not a surprise at all that he was in a new relationship. There shouldn't have been a shitstorm. It's fine to feel hurt and upset, but it's not fine to show it.


Anyway, my relationship with this girl started off on the wrong foot. And my ex never lifted a finger to introduce us or foster any kind of warmness between us.

You're adults, nobody else is responsible for fostering warmness.


she sent me a private Facebook message demanding to know why I had been so rude to her, ... When I confronted him about the level of weirdness and inappropriateness of her message, he took her side on every single part of the issue, and refused to acknowledge that it was his mess that he created.

So she contacted you directly, and instead of responding to her, you again brought the ex into it. Why? This is between you and another adult.


He told me that I should talk it out with her, and that essentially it was not his problem.

He's absolutely right.


(And before you ask, yes, I realize this drama seems like it’s worth running away from. However, the actual band, as well as my personal relationship with my ex, is still a very positive part of my life that I don’t wish to give up just yet).

You need to not have a personal relationship with your ex until and unless the presence of his new girlfriend doesn't cause you distress.
posted by headnsouth at 5:48 PM on December 5, 2012 [17 favorites]


I think your ex is being passive aggressive. He could have chosen to de-fuse her reaction to your coolness (which is imo entirely warranted and rational -- friends with your ex boyfriend's new girlfriend? Barf!) but instead he fed it and built it up into a mega-massive crazy reaction on your part. Why? because this puts him smack in the centre of a drama-storm. Wheee!
posted by lulu68 at 5:52 PM on December 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


two months into their relationship he brought her along to work on some of our band-related projects without prepping me ahead of time. As you can imagine, I was hurt and upset, she was beyond uncomfortable…and he was completely oblivious to the shit storm he had caused.


Nope. He was still pissed at you, I bet, for dumping him, and wanted to get back at you.

Our breakup was sad but kind, and we ended things while we were still very much deeply in love.

Three weeks after our relationship ended, he started dating his current girlfriend

Really? From deeply in love to dating in three weeks?

Everything I read of this, OP, is that this bandmate/ex of yours is intentionally stirring the pot. Whatever you decide to do vis-a-vis the his girlfriend, do it directly with her, and if he comes to you as the intermediary, don't go there. Either talk directly to her, or don't, but don't allow him to participate. Because I think he is really grooving on being the center of all this attention.

Look, if the band is an important endeavor to you, and to your fellow bandmates, then everyone needs to put their big kid pants on and behave like grownups.
posted by ambrosia at 6:01 PM on December 5, 2012 [3 favorites]


Help! Any suggestions on making sure I don’t make this any worse than it already is?

If she enters the room, smile and say "Hi, how's it going (her name)" If she answers, fine. If not, fine.

If bugs you about it, say "This is not my problem" and move on.

Be polite and civil and move on.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:06 PM on December 5, 2012 [3 favorites]


I swear I am stepping away from this thread, but the reason I think that the ex is stirring the pot is that he brought his girlfriend to a band rehearsal (or recording session or whatever). That is just the most awkward, shit-stirring thing to do, like, ever. No one likes when their bandmate brings their new girlfriend to a non-social, work-oriented thing. And when your ex-girlfriend is in the band - that is just dramasauce all over the place. Unless your exboyfriend is dumber than a box of rocks, he knows this and he is fucking with you.
posted by ablazingsaddle at 6:12 PM on December 5, 2012 [18 favorites]


I managed to get off on the wrong foot with my partner's ex. He didn't tell me they had dated, and didn't tell her that he was dating his 'friend' he had invited over.

It was very weird for quite a while until I decided to apologize for his rudeness. We're not especially close, but after breaking that ice, we were able to get over that stalemate where both of us felt entitled to feel wronged and be a little frosty.

If you want to have a close relationship with your ex, you have an obligation to make sure that your relationship doesn't interfere with his dating life. Acting as the spurned lover who isn't over the relationship enough to welcome his girlfriend with less than open arms is inappropriate. It's understandable. But it's incompatible with having a close personal and professional relationship with your ex.

She wrote the facebook message to you because she wants to have a relationship with you. Perhaps not as close friends. But at least to the point that she feels comfortable coming to shows. She is trying to address what has clearly become a sore point in her relationship. And look, her marriage-minded partner of over a year completely agrees it's a problem for them. The other option is for them to realize that this band is causing more drama in their relationship than is worthwhile.

So try to look past the weirdness and creepiness and the other labels. We tend to apply those labels not to objective behavior, but to any behavior that comes from someone we kinda wish would go away. She will not go away. And honestly, if you want your band to be a pleasant experience, you don't want her to go away. So buy the woman a drink, apologize for being rude while getting over a person you both clearly care about. If you're lucky, you'll realize that all this weirdness is situational and you might get along.

Otherwise you're nothing but unfailingly polite and kind, and often busy with band projects.
posted by politikitty at 6:23 PM on December 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


How nice for your ex that he's set up this dynamic of the two of you fighting over him. And doesn't that just heal his bruised ego. He really could have prevented this situation or helped heal this, but he decided not to do so. Your relationship with him seems much less healthy than you think it is.

You can't win with these people. Stop spinning drama here. You see her and you say hi and some random pleasantry. Then you go on about your day. You don't have to like her and you don't need to be BFFs. Treating her with the courtesy that one addresses an acquaintance is fine.
posted by 26.2 at 6:24 PM on December 5, 2012 [3 favorites]


Hi everybody, yes, I realize my ex is stirring the pot and likes the attention.

The reason her recent message upset me was that I had thought this issue was closed. While I can admit that I have not always been the most magnanimous person towards her, for the last 4 months, I've tried to find empathy towards her and make an effort to change my own actions even if I could not change theirs. I have psyched myself up before every event and every show, and made sure to walk up to her directly, put the most natural smile on my face possible, and thank her personally for coming to the show. This was not easy, because she (no joke) glares at me and won't verbally respond to me.

And while some may say the issue is between me and her, I personally feel that it is the person that is in the relationship who is ultimately responsible for their SO's comfort. This is extra true in this situation, because he insists on funneling the drama back and forth. I have asked him to keep me out of it. And I *have* told my ex in the past that she is welcome to come talk to me at any time, but she has never directly spoken to me in the past year and a half.

In general, I am a person who tries to be friendly and polite to everyone who crosses her path. I struggled deeply with my own inability to be friendly to her, but was also very frustrated that she has never once met me halfway. She has never said hello, looked me in the eye when I am trying to crack a joke in her presence, tried to speak to my friends, or asked my ex what she could do to improve the situation. And then she sends a very creepy message.

And, to animalrainbow-- I can see how I may seem like I've been very rude. I can admit I haven't been perfect. But in the 2 dozen times or so I've seen her, I've only avoided her for about 4 of those instances. For the other 20 meetings, I have genuinely tried to find an in with her to prove I'm not a massive jerk.
posted by lilypad at 6:30 PM on December 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


FWIW, I would also like the freedom from them to be left alone. I've already sent a heartfelt apology for any actions that may have hurt her in the past. I'd honestly just like for us to have the blank interaction of distant acquaintances. Do you guys think this is unreasonable, given the circumstances?

In a perfect world, we could meet and chat over coffee, but I can't think of anything I'd want to do less than spend time with her in private, and I'd rather not add to my own stress.
posted by lilypad at 6:50 PM on December 5, 2012


In reality, my rudeness amounted to my not reaching out to say hello to her.

Have you read this thread, starting from this update?

Apparently, not saying hello will be viewed by others to be "meangirl" behavior. This label is presented as rational, and an appropriate interpretation of the situation.

Honestly, I don't agree with a lot of the analysis and interpretation in both that question, and this one. But I think it would be interesting to check out that conversation, because there, someone got strongly condemned for the behavior that you, here, are being praised for. Not because I think you need to be blamed, but because it is another perspective on a similar situation.

Basically: shit like this is sticky.
And any user who suggests that you blame yourself, her, or your ex is really going off of their assumptions of this situation. From my view, we just don't have enough info (in either question!) to make a definitive judgement.

So - if you cannot assign blame to any particular party, how can you still figure out a solution to this problem? I think that is an approach that will be more fruitful than much of what you'll read in this question, or in the other.
posted by vivid postcard at 6:52 PM on December 5, 2012 [3 favorites]


It sounds like you're doing all the right things now then. Hold steady, but be patient. The last time circumstances required me to deal with someone so absurdly and unreasonably hostile, it took me several months of fake smiles, steadfast generosity, unfailing politeness, and refusal to take any bait on a daily basis to win their collegiality and respect (even some warmth). It sucked. It wasn't my fault, and I shouldn't have had to. But like you, I was in a situation that otherwise made it worthwhile, and now it's all good.

If it helps any, I suspect the "drastic action" meant something like, I dunno, getting your ex to leave the group, getting you kicked out, letting people have a piece of her mind, or whatever, based on the incorrect assumption she had more pull than she actually did. I can well imagine hearing that coming as a real surprise when you thought this was settled, but don't let it rattle you. I mean, if you get the sense she's going into stalker territory, I guess that's another thing--you have a lot more clues to her personality than we do. But so far, she just sounds really insecure, graceless, immature, and unfiltered--a difficult person but probably one who can be dealt with reasonably in time, if being in a band with her boyfriend is important to you.
posted by Monsieur Caution at 6:54 PM on December 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


Also...sorry for extra updates...but at all of these events where we are in the same space there are usually between 40-100 people in attendance, so I never thought it was that rude to just stay on the other side of the room for the night and not go say hi.
posted by lilypad at 7:02 PM on December 5, 2012


Look, go take her out to lunch or coffee, apologize for giving her the cold shoulder (and mean it) and don't give this another thought.*


This is not on your ex to fix, it is on you and this chick.


(*I have actually done this, and it worked.)
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 7:09 PM on December 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


If shes making threats, and i cant tell if she is or isnt, that might be a whole other level of escalation.
posted by Jacen at 7:26 PM on December 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'd honestly just like for us to have the blank interaction of distant acquaintances.

Well you can, but I smile, say hi, make quick small talk ("how's it going lately?") to distant acquaintances. I don't ignore them or pretend that they don't exist. I find that the more distant an acquaintance is, the easier it is to be cheerful and friendly, especially because I happen not to be talking about my deeper feelings or thoughts at the moment. So "distant acquaintances" is anything but a blank interaction, unless you mean the "blank interaction of total strangers."

It's pretty rude not to acknowledge or at least to not say hi to your bandmate's SO/GF/cloes friend, yes.
posted by suedehead at 8:18 PM on December 5, 2012


Easy: tell him that his relationship is his rresponsibility, not yours, and he has a choice to make: keep her and her insane insecure behavior away from you, or say goodbye to the joint music project because she's causing drama that's ruining it for you. Then stick to your guns, because this isn't the only guy in the world you can do music with, so there's no need to act as if he is.
posted by davejay at 8:22 PM on December 5, 2012


Suedehead and davejay...your suggestions are the tacks I have been taking for the last few months. I have been overtly friendly and warm to her on purpose. In her message she characterized my friendliness as "aggressive." This leaves me wondering...if she doesn't want me to ignore her, and she doesn't want me to talk to her...what does she want?

I have also repeatedly told the ex that she is his responsibility-- especially given that I can seem to do nothing to please her.

I can certainly try apologize to her again in person, but this has consistently felt like a situation in which I can never win.
posted by lilypad at 8:40 PM on December 5, 2012


Who gives a shit what she thinks of your behaviour? Nothing you do will ever make her feel better because you're her boyfriend's ex and it's hella shitty for her to have to see you. It doesn't matter. She wont stop bitching about you to her man until you're out of his life regardless what you do. Ignore them both outside of being civil. Seriously, you can't resolve this by engaging in it.
posted by windykites at 9:00 PM on December 5, 2012 [3 favorites]


If you turn the situation around:

You're in a new relationship, you really really like this guy, he's in a band with his ex (red flag!) with which he dated really intensely for a good amount of time (red flag!) and they didn't break up the band and still practice together (red flag!) and the one time you tagged along to say hi it was super awkward (which is understandable but weird) and his ex/bandmate doesn't really say hi or acknowledge you at shows (red flag!).

And maybe things aren't going perfectly, or you have a small argument with your new SO, and you can't help but wonder if your SO still has the hots for his ex WHO HE IS HANGING OUT WITH ALL THE TIME, or vice versa, and even though you're a pretty openminded person it still kind of feels pretty weird on a gut level. She's clearly standoffish and doesn't really give a shit about you, which quite frankly makes you angry because clearly you have nothing to do with your SO and his ex's relationship, but you feel like you're getting all this drama dumped on you even though you came into the picture afterwards. So in a heat of being pissed-off you sent a kind of shitty email about how she's being rude, because, well, quite frankly, she is. (Can't she at least say hi from time to time?) Afterwards you kind of sent her an apology after your SO said someting to you about it (but that still felt weird because it seemed like he was defending her, even though you know that you're in the wrong) and she sent you one back, which was nice I guess, but it still feels weird. You're insecure about your relationship with your new SO also, so it doesn't help things to have this nagging worry in the back of your mind.

==

In the end - seconding St. Alia. Just go get lunch and hash things out. If it's awkward, even better, because what's most important is that it's an honest attempt at reconciliation -- and that it feels like one. That's what people really want; the feeling that the other person is INTERESTED in being friendly. Try that once, and if that doesn't work, then carry on, be friendly, and detached, etc. You don't have to be friends, just not-rude acquaintances.

And if you feel really discontent to do so, that you REALLY feel that it's not your responsibility to do anything, then you might want to stop for a moment and examine why that is the case -- because it also sounds that there's some latent/unresolved anger or frustration towards your ex that might be manifesting in the situation. The whole "it's not my problem" sentiment perhaps stems from a desire to push the whole situation to arm's length, which is totally understandable in the context of a breakup, but to be honest? Your ex's SO is another human being, and while it may hurt like crazy to see her, it sounds like you're acting differently towards her than the way that you'd act towards your ex's roommate, friend, etc.
posted by suedehead at 9:13 PM on December 5, 2012 [5 favorites]


That FB message sounds to me like something he egged her to do. I know there's no evidence of it but... why else would it have happened after four months of apparent improvement?

Two choices:
1. Ignore. Disengage from him as a friend (he doesn't sound like much of a friend); just be bandmates. Cordial and arms-length with both of them; it will get boring and they will stop the drama when there's no response from you.

2. "A latte sounds good! Hey GF, want to come with me to the coffee shop?" and then ask her, one on one, alone, what's up. This might give you better insight; but it is less likely to ultimately calm the drama down, as he will be intensely curious and will probably stir shit up again.
posted by fingersandtoes at 9:17 PM on December 5, 2012


Yeah, what windykites said. Clearly, she is determined to take offense at whatever you do, so just do you being gracious and it will be clear to everyone else who the asshole is.

Just detach with compassion and don't get into it with either of them.
posted by Sidhedevil at 9:25 PM on December 5, 2012


Thanks to everybody for the thoughtful feedback. Honestly, I needed to hear a lot of this.

Regardless of where the blame lies, it is inescapably true that this situation needs some kind of solution. After a lot of thought, I just took the brave step to invite her out to coffee as my treat. I would have never done that without Ask MeFi prodding. Hopefully she will accept.

I just realized that I didn't want to end this year with any kind of resentment, and no matter what happened in the past, it's time for both of us to let it all go. Wish me luck!
posted by lilypad at 11:38 PM on December 5, 2012 [6 favorites]


Do your homework to prepare for rehearsals, show up at the rehearsals and work hard. Show up at the gigs and rock. That's the part that relates to the band. That's all you have a right to ask of him, and vice versa.

About the other: He's not your boyfriend anymore. She's not in the band.

She's his girlfriend, not yours. Her problem isn't with you, it's with him. His problem isn't you, it's her. Tell him you don't want to be friends with his girfriend. Let him work it out with her as best he can. Be prepared to discover whether his asshole quotient is going to get in the way of your friendship.
posted by mule98J at 12:22 AM on December 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


so I never thought it was that rude to just stay on the other side of the room for the night and not go say hi.

That's because it's not. There's no rule that you have to go around saying hello nicely and being friends with every person there particularly when said people never even try to acknowledge you in any way. Whereas how she is reacting, glaring at you and refusing to talk to you? That is flat out rude. Aggressively so even. And weirdly several people here seem to be accusing *you* of behaving this way. If she wanted to say hello to you at the start she could have walked right over and said hello, even introduced herself. She's a grown women, presumably able to actually speak, there's no reason why you have to keep falling over yourself trying to do whatever perfect thing she (and everyone else) thinks you're supposed to be doing while she sits back and does nothing.

She's addicted to the drama as much as he is, although probably for different reasons (I'm sure he's loving it whereas she's just stuck and unhappy). Your coffee date is likely to lead to more drama and awfulness, I totally would not have advised you to go that way.

If she wants to approach you you can be polite and friendly, just as you have been. If she doesn't then just keep on keeping on with whatever you have to be doing otherwise. Going over to her is just giving her an excuse to continue with her breathtaking rudeness, so what's the point? You don't need to keep letting her treat you that way. If he approaches you about it then cut him off, any problems coming from her can come directly from her (and even then if they're about you directly, you don't want or need to care about their relationship issues). Also, block all of them on facebook etc. Facebook is a total feeding ground of drama and any communications they require can be done directly and in person. And since that's clearly not going to happen from her, problem solved.

This is a situation you can't win because she's making it that way. This isn't your fault, there is nothing you could have done better or differently. You're just a convenient outlet for her insecurities and if you weren't around it would be something else. Glaring at you and refusing to speak when you're outright trying to make conversation? Yeesh.
posted by shelleycat at 1:29 AM on December 6, 2012 [8 favorites]


(Also it would be rude for you not to say hello the first time is there were like five people there but 100? No. Also: how many of the other 98 people are still stirring up shit over a year later because you didn't go specifically to say hello to them that one time?)
posted by shelleycat at 2:06 AM on December 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


Oh god, I could swear I was you, except it was work instead of a band. Which maybe is actually exactly the same. Let me save you some pain.

First: GF is, as a few people have mentioned above, likely insecure about the fact that your ex still has feelings for you. (And let's face it, he does. You broke up with him while you were both still in love, you didn't get to get annoyed enough to the place where you don't love each other, which means at least once in a while, you both are aware that if circumstances were different, you could jump on each other in a heartbeat.)

Now, legitimately, this can bug even the nicest GF - the fact that they are essentially putting their BF into an area which tends to lead towards cheating. Not that you would, or he would - but man, is the opportunity there.

There is no good way to deal with the situation, either as the GF or as the ex-GF - or even as the ex. As the GF, you want your boyfriend to love you most, but you have no guarantees this is the case, other than making your boyfriend take your side in bullshit, petty arguments. As the ex-GF, you want the drama to be over, but also really value your Special Friendship (which maybe has some romantic components that nobody's being honest with themselves about) and hate the sight of her face, because she's a reminder that you could be where she is. As the ex, you have the situation of being around two women you love, with the knowledge that whatever you do, you are going to be hurting one of them.

This shit is fucking poison.

Even befriending the GF is not going to help - because I guarantee you, the GF does not want an honest friendship with you. She wants a friendship to protect her interests, where you tell her everything she needs to know, and you turn out not to be a threat. That's not going to happen. The instant you two are talking like humans, she's going to bring up your ex, and stare really intently at your reaction. Or ask you questions and then get mad at the answers.

When I had this going on, I actually thought I had succeeded in befriending New GF, and was trying hard to make it work, but she freaked out and ended up sending me crazy Facebook messages for months and making work events unpleasant to be at by attempting to screw with me, twist the knife, and otherwise harass me.

The solution I took was this:
"Hey, Ex, your new GF is causing drama at my workplace and at work-related events, where I am required to be for my livelihood. This is not okay, and I either need it to stop, or I need her to stop coming to work-related events. If you can't come without her, that is very sad and I will miss you, but she is not a part of our work and needs to not be at our workplace."

For you, I would add a bit of, "You confronting me about her feelings about me is not appropriate, and I am not going to deal with it. If you bring up this conversation with me, I am going to walk away from you and refuse to engage on it. Your girlfriend's feelings about me are not my problem, deal with it on your own."

Some other useful questions: does she know the reason for the breakup, or has he fed her a line of shit? Also, what do the other bandmates think about this situation, or do they not know?
posted by corb at 6:05 AM on December 6, 2012 [6 favorites]


This woman owes you an apology.

What instrument do you play? Its critical because at some point its her stopping this shit or you leave the band. I ask because drummers have more leverage. Are you the frontwoman? Maybe he can leave the band.
posted by Ironmouth at 6:32 AM on December 6, 2012


Why does this guy need to bring his GF to work?

What possible reason could he have for doing that?

Especially three weeks after breaking up with you?

Why don't you bring your grandma to work and call him out for not being nice enough to her?

Most of all, why are you both taking the bait to be in conflict with each other, rather than with him?
posted by tel3path at 7:20 AM on December 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


Even a year into this nonsense, my ex kept picking fights with me about my “rude behavior.”

If you go out to coffee with the girlfriend and make a good faith effort to communicate the salient points - that you didn't mean to offend her by your distance, that you have no wishes to have any kind of romantic thing with the ex, and that you would like to be friendly going forward, then in my mind you have discharged any past or present rudeness. If the ex continues to stir up drama about your behaviour (and probably stir up drama with his gf as well), I would have a strong talk with him and possibly your bandmates about him leaving the band, since he apparently is dead-set on causing drama. He is without a doubt the one being a dick here - the gf is not handling things very well, but as others have said, the situation he put her in was a pretty bad one.
posted by permiechickie at 8:03 AM on December 6, 2012 [4 favorites]


@corb-- you hit the nail on the head in describing the situation. Get out of my head! ;) Thanks for all the great analysis, that helps...

@Ironmouth-- I wish! I have no band leverage, besides being fucking awesome, haha. I'm keys. He's lead.

@permiechickie-- yes, that is my thought process as well. If I am sure that I have done everything in my power to defuse to the situation, then I can confidently walk away from the drama without any guilt or regret.

If this does not end, I know I will probably have to quit for my own sanity!
posted by lilypad at 9:41 AM on December 6, 2012


I think you're doing the right thing by going out to coffee and clearing the air. You don't have to become friends at all, but I think just saying "look, I felt awkward, I didn't really know what to do, blah blah blah". Try to keep him out of it as much as possible, especially since I think he's contributing to the drama. It would be great if there was nothing his current girlfriend could go back to him with, i.e. "lilypad said you were heartbroken/passive-aggressive/awesome/whatever!" That will just feed into any weird drama. Keep any remarks about him to your professional band interactions if you must make them. Otherwise just say, "hey, sorry, I don't want things to be weird between us". It's debatable whether you truly have any behavior to apologize for, but extra apologies never hurt in this situation. I think by taking the initiative to straighten things out you can walk away knowing that any future drama is all on them.
posted by oneirodynia at 12:43 PM on December 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


I haven't read all the comments yet, but I completely agree with animalrainbow. You need to own your own part of this drama. She is not crazy. He is not an asshole. You didn't acknowledge her presence when she was in the same room?! What are you, five years old?

I don't think her messages were passive-aggressive or creepy or inappropriate. How else was she supposed to let you know about your rudeness without being confrontational in person?

I think you should think carefully about your own role in causing these interpersonal difficulties. Apologize for it. Then be polite. Treat her like a distant relative, or SO of someone you barely no. Say hi, engage for a few minutes, hug goodbye, and don't get into it anymore.
posted by 3491again at 12:55 PM on December 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


3491again, you say you didn't read all the comments, but did you read the updates from lilypad? She's apologized: I've already sent a heartfelt apology for any actions that may have hurt her in the past.

I have been overtly friendly and warm to her on purpose. In her message she characterized my friendliness as "aggressive."

posted by oneirodynia at 1:08 PM on December 6, 2012


A lot of people seem to be missing what's assholic about the guy's behaviour here, which is bringing his GF to work. Often.

Bringing the new GF to work three weeks after the OP dumped him is overtly provocative behaviour, but it doesn't even stop there!

I think that if I had been dumped by someone who I unfortunately worked next to every day, and then just happened by fortuitous chance to acquire a new SO a mere three weeks after being dumped...

...I wouldn't start bringing the new SO to work every day. Because, like, SO doesn't work there.

If a conflict arose between the new SO and Dumper, I would stop bringing the new SO to work, because my boss wouldn't be sympathetic to the argument that "Dumper started it!" Dumper started what?!? A conflict with a personal associate of mine who doesn't even work there? Oh, turns out I used to have a personal relationship with Dumper too. Boss would be thrilled.

[If you ask me, I think new GF is so hostile because she senses that she was brought into Ex's life for the purpose of getting into conflict with the OP, and is continuing the conflict because it's a condition of her continued involvement with Ex. But that is beside the point, which is that Ex has no business bringing GF to the workplace to fight with coworkers who have no professional reason to interact with her.]
posted by tel3path at 2:20 PM on December 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


Also, I have a strict protocol that I use for the people that *I date* in regards to this situation. I have explained my set of rules to the ex, and firmly suggested he use the same process to prevent any drama:

1) If I really like a guy, I date him for a few weeks before mentioning that my bandmate happens to my ex, and that, just so he's aware, this is not a dramatic situation that he ever should waste an ounce of his energy worrying about, because that chapter of my life is closed.

2) I wait at least a month to invite new guy to a show, so that he knows me well enough to trust me. At said show, I make sure he is the center of my attention, and always feels like the guest of honor. If my ex crosses our path, I introduce them as casually as possible, but I never force interaction.

3) If new guy has any questions about my past with the ex, I answer them honestly and without drama. If new guy has any problems with my ex or any weirdness, he can come directly to me for assurance, or to request I change my own behavior. I leave the ex out of that conversation, because new guy's feelings are none of his business.

4) If new guy shows irrationality, manipulation or jealousy regarding my ex, then he probably isn't a good fit for me, and I will move on. (this has yet to happen. If you treat people with respect, they'll usually return the favor).
posted by lilypad at 2:37 PM on December 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


On your update, I thought I'd add another piece of personal information that may or may not be relevant to your situation.

With me, one of the reasons why it was very hard to interact with my ex's new GF is because I thought very poorly of her - that she was jealous, controlling, and manipulative. I thought he deserved better than her. For a while, it really ate me up - especially that he went from a healthy relationship with me, to an unhealthy relationship with her. At least a piece of me wanted to save him from that, so I'd try to talk about what healthy relationships were like.

But the thing is, that worrying and concern about whether or not his relationship was healthy was not healthy for me. It kept me involved in the situation. Kept me thinking about the dynamics of his relationship instead of my own life.

Nothing against you, but I think your giving him advice - advice that might contain the seeds of "and if she's terrible, you should break up with her" - keeps you in the situation more than is healthy for you.
posted by corb at 3:19 PM on December 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


[OP, others, this is not an anonymous question, if you need to have a sidebar discussion take it to MeMail. Otherwise please just answer the question, and OP do not turn this into a longer discussion about this topic, thanks.]
posted by jessamyn at 3:20 PM on December 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


I did read the updates -- I think I can really understand where the other girl is coming from. From her perspective, as corb describes really well, the OP has been erratic, rude, and aggressive. (Not that this is an objective view, but I can see why she might feel that way.) This isn't about blame, but about taking responsibility and then smoothing things over so they work in the future.

Also, your ex is not required to use your personal protocol for dealing with breakups. That works for you. Maybe it doesn't work for him. Show him the respect of letting him choose how he handles breakups, friendships, and relationships with exes. How would you feel if he told you that you should use his "personal protocol"?
posted by 3491again at 3:33 PM on December 6, 2012


Yes, I have to echo that telling your bandmate how to manage his personal relationships is also not likely to help.

Your personal and professional lives are completely enmeshed. It shouldn't matter what your bandmate's SO thinks of you, and you should be seeing this Facebook feud for the wildly inappropriate intrusion that it is. The response to "and you are being rude to me when I visit BF at work, and if you don't stop I'll take drastic action" isn't "here are all the reasons why I think my behaviour hasn't been rude and I think this is a misunderstanding and I will take my bandmate's SO out for coffee to have a detailed personal discussion in which I defend my actions and appease your feelings". It's "stop coming to my workplace, demanding my attention, and sending me threatening messages".

His GF is not your boss, and not your coworker. You don't report to her. You don't have any obligation to butter her up and stay on her good side. She's welcome to think you're a psycho as long as she isn't interfering with your work.

The response to your BF's bringing his GF to work so she can fight with you isn't "here is how I think you should handle your GF and what process you should use to select and discard girlfriends so that they can interact constructively with your bandmates," it's "please don't bring your personal associates to work, we need to focus on the work here".
posted by tel3path at 4:01 PM on December 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


A few points:

1. In your rules regarding relationships, you clearly put your band before any significant other. Not having a music career, but specifically your right to be in a band with your ex-boyfriend. You've firmly suggested that your ex-boyfriend put you (the band) before his relationship.

2. He waited two months to bring her around, three months after you broke up. He has clearly discussed the issue with his girlfriend, and thinks her issues with you are valid. His rules don't seem that different than yours except that he expects his friend will be nice to his girlfriend of, what, a year and a half?

Unless this band is successful enough it's a significant source of his livelihood, it should be a given that you get along with your fellow band members. And it should be a given that you don't spend a lot of time with friends who actively dislike your relationship, and give unsolicited advice that's tantamount to DTMFA.

There are musicians who treat being in a band as a 9-5. If you guys are going to parties as a band, you are blurring the line. The more you guys blur that line, the "But I'm a co-worker who only has an obligation to behave professionally" argument ceases to hold water.
posted by politikitty at 4:15 PM on December 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


Update: His girlfriend never responded my invitation to coffee. Good try, I guess!
posted by lilypad at 12:00 PM on December 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


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