"So, about that thing I did..."
August 29, 2013 6:48 AM Subscribe
A person from my Past has friended me on fb out of the blue. I haven't seen him in around 15 years. We didn't part on good terms and I've had a lot of regret and shame over the years. He sent me some general messages. Now, should I apologise for the past or leave it alone? Many details below.
posted by outoftime to human relations (35 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
In my early 20s I went through a bit of a rough time where I was quite self-destructive and didn't make the best choices especially in terms of alcohol. There was a guy in my extended social circle and we liked each other, and had a really special night together before he went travelling for a year. At that point he was only the second guy I'd slept with (which he knew) as I'd just come out of a long relationship with my first boyfriend.
While he was away we emailed a couple of times, but we weren't an item or anything. Then he cut his trip short after about 6 months and came home, which was generally believed by our friends to be because he was missing me. In the meantime, long story short, and assisted by a lot of alcohol, I'd had sexual encounters with basically all the guys in our circle. It was partly free love (in my head, anyway), partly a need for affection/attention and partly stupidity. It also pre-dated the concept of FWB, at least where I'm from, so it wasn't exactly condoned by people I knew.
After he came back we hooked up a couple of times. We never went on an actual date, but I knew he liked me a lot. I had a feeling he wanted the relationship to develop. I though he was very cute and sweet, but my feelings about him were more ambivalent. Then there was a New Years party and I was drunk and I was sitting with him and I looked around the room and realised "I've been with every guy here". Except I said it out loud. To him. (I'm so mortified even writing that.) And it didn't occur to me that it might bother him. Until he didn't contact me again and I later found out why through a mutual friend. I was really upset that I had hurt and humiliated him, and I was also really embarrassed that all our mutual friends knew why. Around that time his dad was diagnosed with an aggressive terminal illness. I wrote him a letter apologising for my behaviour, and telling him I'd support him if I could but before I posted it his father died. I didn't want to bother him when he had bigger things on his mind so there was no further contact. Not long after he moved away.
I had heard about him over the years through friends, and often thought about contacting him, or wondered what I'd say if I bumped into him when he was visiting home, but it never happened. Then at the weekend I got a friend request from him. I accepted and then wondered whether to message him or not, but he sent me a message first. It was quite enthusiastic "Hey! How the devil are you? It's been a long time" so I replied back and forth a couple of times, just about his family and my sister's (who he knew much better than me) etc and then it stopped when we'd finished exchanging pleasantries. The tone was very upbeat and friendly - he joked about losing his hair and said I hadn't aged a day - and I can't tell you how much of a weight its lifted from me that the ice has been broken. Any time I've thought over the years about how he must have felt when he heard me say that, I have just cringed with shame. There was an innocence about him and I felt like I was some tramp who had stomped all over his heart and/or ego. There is a part of me that really, really wants to apologise, and to explain I was having a hard time and I didn't mean to hurt him. I'm worried that as he has opened the door to communication, he might even be expecting me to bring it up. I'm afraid that now he's thinking - ok, I said hello, now where the hell is my apology?
As a disclaimer, I have a therapist (as my relationships with men have always been problematic, and continue to be so) so this isn't about that, or alcohol (I rarely drink now). I just want to know should I contact him to say sorry, or let sleeping dogs lie?