She's mine
August 8, 2010 3:37 PM   Subscribe

Advice needed regarding a "don't ask out my ex-girlfriend" communication from an ex-boyfriend.

I asked someone out on a date. She is the good friend of a good friend. It was the good friend who suggested that I ask her out, and after she mentioned to him a flattering thing indicating her interest. I'm told she's excited about the date by good friend.

Today on the facebook comes a friend request from her ex-boyfriend. He is the brother of good friend's roommate. We do know each other, see each other in our larger social circle in our city, and we are friendly, although we aren't friends. It is my understanding their relationship ended when he repeatedly cheated on her with a former girlfriend whenever she was visiting in town. However, I am not really privy to details of their relationship, its duration, or how they currently feel about each other. I haven't made it my business, and I haven't felt it pertinent to my asking her out. It's possible they have been dating, perhaps on and off, for maybe a year and a half at most if that's important.

His message reads: "i'm in the process of getting her back. Please don't be a dick and ask my ex-girlfriend out a month after we broke up."

Really, I don't think I owe him any explanation or even an answer. I also do not agree with his assessment of my behavior here, perhaps because I think it is a little shitty to call me a dick. It just reads to me like the intimations of a possessive ex-boyfriend, not happy about the further romantic adventures of his ex.

However, I'd rather avoid confrontation over this, and without giving him any of what I assume he wants from his message (whether it's "leave my girl alone," "I'm itching for a fight," "acknowledge my entitlement here," or whatever), I do think in the interest of keeping the peace in this tangled social circle, it might be best to let him know that while I appreciate that our going out on a date might not make him ecstatic, his relationship with her is between them, not me. It was also my understanding it was in their past, and I have not been close enough to either of them to know otherwise. If she didn't want to go out on a date with me, she wouldn't. I haven't "betrayed" him or been actively plotting against him with his feelings or intentions in mind either. As far as I'm concerned it has nothing to do with him.

So I guess I'm looking for some advice about how to navigate this situation now that this communication is in play.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (54 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
You don't owe him anything. He is being ridiculous. I would tell him most of what you said in your second-to-last paragraph. Then proceed to do what you want.
posted by Jaltcoh at 3:41 PM on August 8, 2010 [4 favorites]

My inclination would be to ignore him completely, but if you want to respond, I agree with Jaltcoh--tell him what you said in your second last paragraph.
posted by purplesludge at 3:43 PM on August 8, 2010 [3 favorites]

I should add that you'd be entirely justified in not responding. But I get the impression you would rather respond in order to not give the silent treatment to someone who's in your general social circle.
posted by Jaltcoh at 3:44 PM on August 8, 2010

Nope. You owe this person nothing. Ignore the tactless note & live your life. I'd even take the high road and not mention it to your date.
posted by felix betachat at 3:44 PM on August 8, 2010 [11 favorites] already feels like too much drama, and as a person who goes out of her way to avoid drama, I would personally pass on this woman and look for someone else to date. YMMV.
posted by dzaz at 3:46 PM on August 8, 2010

How annoying on multiple levels. Though it must be very tempting to give him a big piece of your mind, you'll only feed the fire and give credence to his assholishness if you engage. Don't. Focus on rising above and enjoy your date.
posted by mynameisluka at 3:46 PM on August 8, 2010 [2 favorites]

Ignore. She's not his possession, she wants to go on a date with you.. if you respond it could be taken as negotiation, and there's nothing to negotiate because he has nothing to negotiate with.
posted by L'Estrange Fruit at 3:46 PM on August 8, 2010 [29 favorites]

Ignore the message. Let the girl know her ex contacted you, and then see what happens. If she runs back into his arms, well, at least you know.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 3:48 PM on August 8, 2010 [2 favorites]

She gets to decide if she is going to go out on a date with you, not him. Since she agreed to go out with you and she is excited about it, he does not get to stop her from doing what she wants by trying to guilt-trip you. I understand not wanting to completely ignore someone who is in your general social circle, so if you'd rather respond to him, tell him what you just said. ("while I appreciate that our going out on a date might not make him ecstatic, his relationship with her is between them, not me.) Personally, though, I'd ignore him.

I would not mention this to your date, though. That's a bummer of a conversation on what should be a fun night out, plus by doing so you are allowing him to insert himself into this situation. Like you said, this is between them.
posted by DrGirlfriend at 3:51 PM on August 8, 2010

I wouldn't respond to his message. Do not accept his friend request. I might even go so far as to outright block him; if you and this girl start seeing each other regularly, I could see stupid facebook wall harassment happening, and it's better to just avoid that altogether.
posted by phunniemee at 3:51 PM on August 8, 2010 [9 favorites]

If he really was in the process of getting her back she wouldn't be excited about going on a date with you.

I believe the term for what he's doing is "cock-blocking". He wants her back, she's moved on. Instead of accepting that like a mature adult he's sending messages on social networking sites trying to eliminate any and all competition. Maybe if nobody else wants to date her she'll go back to him.

I wouldn't even dignify his message with a response. I'm pretty sure there are no social rules about staying away from the ex-girlfriend of "the brother of a good friend's roommate". The guy is barely in your social circle. It's not like you're hitting on your best friends recent ex.
posted by TooFewShoes at 3:53 PM on August 8, 2010 [3 favorites]

i'm in the process of getting her back. Please don't be a dick and ask my ex-girlfriend out a month after we broke up.

If his ex-girlfriend is really that interested in getting back together with him, then you asking her on a date is not going to change that. This request of his is inappropriate and disrespectful to her and to you.

I actually think it would be quite gracious of you to ignore this request and give him the chance to pretend that he did not do something inappropriate. However, if you really do feel it's better to respond, Jaltcoh's advice (about repeating your second-to-last paragraph) is good.

Have fun on your date!
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 3:53 PM on August 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

And don't mention it to your date. Rise above the immaturity.
posted by TooFewShoes at 3:55 PM on August 8, 2010

The Liz Lemon in me wants you to call him up, shout "Suck it, loser," and then hang up on him. So, yeah, don't do anything and ignore that email.
posted by pickypicky at 3:57 PM on August 8, 2010 [2 favorites]

The fact that he appears to believe in a process at work here that can override her own desires in the situation is creepy enough. Don't engage creepy.
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 3:58 PM on August 8, 2010 [11 favorites]

I'd ignore it, but I wouldn't block him (I wouldn't friend him either). He'll notice if you block him (he'll see that he can't see you on FB anymore or send you messages) and that could be interpreted as a "thing." Keep the message and any other messages he sends you, just in case, but don't expend any energy on this guy unless he gives you a reason to (i.e., threats, whether veiled or explicit). And yeah, don't bring him up to your date, unless she brings up the subject herself.
posted by Gator at 4:04 PM on August 8, 2010 [5 favorites]

Ignore it and take no action. He's looking for a reaction - either to get in a fight with you and to prove his manhood or for you to get his ex-girlfriend upset enough to contact him so he can try and reel her back in.

If he follows up with you directly, I would have a statement along the line one you wrote at the end of the second paragraph ready to go. Actually, I'd probably say something like "Oh, I just assumed you were ... under the weather when you wrote that message to me and upset and would realize later that it probably wasn't was the best move on your part. Consider it forgotten!" but I can often get away with an insouciantly oblivious tone, and it might not work in man-to-man context.
posted by julen at 4:20 PM on August 8, 2010

Another vote for ignoring it. Nothing good can come from responding.
posted by monkeymadness at 4:26 PM on August 8, 2010

I would totally ignore him. But I would ask around about his level of... stability.

I'm not here to scare you, but I've known guys like this and they don't tend to want to let go. Ever. Ever. At the least, you could be in for years of low-level annoyance and harassment (or however long you date "his" girl for).
posted by drjimmy11 at 4:29 PM on August 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

(I think what's setting off my alarm bells is the phrase "don't be a dick." That made me go... whoa. It's one thing to be possessive and make unreasonable requests, if you use polite language like "can you help me out?" But throwing the insult "dick" at a stranger, even if it's enclosed in a weird conditional, that's a little scary.)
posted by drjimmy11 at 4:33 PM on August 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

Hey - I dated a guy like that once.

He's fucking with her head through you.

Please don't mention this message to your social circle or your date.

He's harassing her. Don't help him.

(and he probably has her semi-convinced his harassment is "caring," even more reason to please please ignore this and don't mention it - ever!)
posted by jbenben at 4:37 PM on August 8, 2010 [22 favorites]

Any response I thought of could also be taken as fighting words. I'd delete the message and let the whole thing die with you. I wouldn't say anything to her, your friend, anything. If it gets back to him that you're talking about the message, that creates drama. Your silence means no drama for you, nor for anyone in your extended circle.
posted by salvia at 4:37 PM on August 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

Tell him to go fuck himself. She isn't his property.

Actually no, just ignore. His feelings aren't your problem, and again, she isn't his property. And she also isn't his girlfriend. She's his ex-girlfriend. So she's single. She has expressed interest in you. You seem to be interested in her.

Go for it.
posted by idiomatika at 4:41 PM on August 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

A guy who's repeatedly unfaithful in a relationship, and then tries to continue to control his ex after she calls him on his bullshit is, at best, a child who should be ignored. However, his message is veering into psycho territory, so watch your back. He may view your date as a personal insult and take further action against you, like gossiping to mutual friends or worse.

Tell someone else what's going on--a best friend or two that you trust to keep their mouths shut if bad things don't happen, but who will respond to nasty gossip with "no, that's not what's happening". Keep his messages for the paper trail.
posted by fatbird at 4:44 PM on August 8, 2010

He's fucking with her head through you.

Please don't mention this message to your social circle or your date.

He's harassing her. Don't help him.

This. A thousand time this.
posted by fshgrl at 4:49 PM on August 8, 2010 [5 favorites]

Run away. You'll probably date her anyway -- and it's appealing to be Moral High Ground Guy here -- but you're being put in a position of fighting for something that's a complete unknown quantity at this point.

The biggest red flag here is that 1. she dated this guy. He's a jerk, and she dated him. That's the very definition of baggage. 2. She hasn't sufficiently cut him out of her life completely enough that he knows it yet. Even if this guy is delusional about getting back together with her, it takes time to get delusional exes out of one's life enough to be free enough to date a great guy.

Back away from the date -- and tell her why. It isn't about giving in to the crazy guy's demand, in fact -- having him think that you are giving in to his demand is exactly what makes following this advice so difficult -- this is about you avoiding 1. ridiculous amounts of drama and 2. being drawn into a chivalrous role that casts you as much more invested in this woman than you are, at this point.

Having said all that, my first reaction was that you should simply reply to him with: Game On. But that's Bad Idea Jeans -- for all the reasons I've stated above.
posted by vitabellosi at 4:50 PM on August 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

Having been in endless drama with my ex, having extricated myself from the drama, and currently enjoying a peaceful ex-minus life, I have only one question for you: is this girl worth the headache of dealing with drama before you've even asked her out?

If the answer is yes, go for it.

Anecdata: I have a friend whose ex ended up dating another girl from our own social circle. Because everyone knew everyone else, the things people said; things people inferred; and things people implied... everything contributed to issues between them where there should have been none. Dating is hard enough without having to deal with extra sources of potential drama.
posted by Everydayville at 4:53 PM on August 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

He's a jerk, and she dated him. That's the very definition of baggage.

Please don't listen to this, because it is cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs. If everybody who ever dated a jerk was never allowed to date again, the world would be a very lonely place.

Seriously, do not blame the girl for this, or punish her for making a poor relationship choice in the past. If anything she should be commended for not staying with the jerk, the way so many girls do. That would be baggage. She has cut him out of her life sufficiently to the point where she's willing to date you, which is as sufficient as it needs to be.
posted by Gator at 4:58 PM on August 8, 2010 [31 favorites]

He's fucking with her head through you.

Please don't mention this message to your social circle or your date.

He's harassing her. Don't help him.

I agree that he's harassing her by this behavior, but I disagree with keeping it to yourself. When my ex was stalking and harassing me, it was very helpful to know that he was contacting my friends and our mutual friends about me. You don't need to make a big deal about it, and I wouldn't respond to him at this point, but I would mention it to one trusted friend, and eventually to her (maybe after a couple dates, if that's where this goes). This protects you in case he gets all kinds of crazy-vengeful, and lets other people know he's unstable so they'll be unlikely to disregard whatever nonsense he tells them. And if nothing ever comes of it, well, you told one trusted person and maybe her, so it's not like you went around trashing his reputation.
posted by peanut_mcgillicuty at 4:58 PM on August 8, 2010 [5 favorites]

I disagree with vitabellosi- you can't blame her for an ex's inappropriate behavior. A lot of people act nutty after a break-up.
Ignore his message. However, I think maybe you should mention it to the girl, just to give her the heads up to be on her guard in case his irrational behavior escalates.
posted by emd3737 at 5:00 PM on August 8, 2010

Your argument will not be compelling to him - he's too emotional to be convinced of your position.

Ignore his message. Do not respond. Leave it up to your date to decide her own actions.
posted by serazin at 5:02 PM on August 8, 2010

Ask your good friend who set you guys up what the deal with this guy is.
posted by rhizome at 5:14 PM on August 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

When we first started dating, my fiancé's ex contacted me with a huge spewing email full of reasons why I shouldn't date him. It was off-putting, to say the least. I don't know her from anything, and couldn't tell how much of it was true (turned out to be 0%) and how much of it was her own bitterness (in this case, 100%). In any case, my attempts to engage with her didn't make anything better - I was trying to do the "right thing" and talk to her like an adult, but the only thing that helped was setting up a filter sending her emails straight to the trash can and blocking her from FaceBook. Relatively sane email number one turned into crazier email number two turned into stalkerish FaceBook messages within a week. Not any fun.

This is his problem, not yours. Not hers. I would advise just blocking him now - no explanations to anyone. If mutual friends ask about it say "He was sending me these weird messages, I don't really want to talk about it" and leave it at that. Certainly don't tell this woman that her ex boyfriend has been in touch with you.

There's no "process" of getting someone back. That's one of the most ridiculous things I've ever heard. If you need a whole process, then there's not much to get back in the first place. The relationship obviously didn't work out and what's done is done. She's accepted that, and the fact that he can't isn't your problem - or even hers.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 5:18 PM on August 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

He doesn't seem to realize that pulling this shit is incredibly demeaning and immature-- and implies that she doesn't have the right to decide for herself who be with.

If you do respond, I would suggest telling him that instead of telling YOU that he thinks he's in the process of getting her back, maybe he should tell HER that he thinks he's in the process of getting her back. Then let her make up her mind. You said it well in the end of your post-- just say something like, "Hey, I really don't want to put myself in the middle of a relationship that isn't really over, but I was under the impression that it was. If she feels the same way that I do, then I'm going to go ahead and pursue this. If she wants to be back with you, then that's her choice."
posted by karminai at 5:50 PM on August 8, 2010 [2 favorites]

IIRC, if you respond to someone on facebook, they have access to view your profile (unless you somehow tell it to limit access). So, keep in mind that if you do decide to respond, he may end up being able to monitor anything you put up on your profile -- especially about the girl. This might actually be part of his intent.

My vote is for no response. His interference does not deserve anything from you.
posted by Simon Barclay at 5:56 PM on August 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

Don't respond AND don't date her. Why start OUT with this much bullshit? There have to be women you are interested in that DON'T come pre-loaded with asshole ex's... By all means, tell the woman, so she can deal with cleaning that part of her life up, but don't sit around waiting for the smell to clear.
posted by OneMonkeysUncle at 6:15 PM on August 8, 2010

I think that This guy sounds determined--if you don't tell this girl, the chances are near 100% that she'll find out that he contacted you anyway. I think that kind of omission is not a great way to start a relationship.

If I were you, I wouldn't respond, but i would tell the girl, letting her know that it didn't phase you, that you have no interest in engaging with him, and that you don't want her to feel the need to talk to him on your behalf. Any subsequent attempts at correspondence from him can just be ignored.
posted by orville sash at 6:24 PM on August 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

If someone wrote me a note that said "Just because she(he) is pretty, cute and attractive doesn't mean that somebody somewhere isn't sick of her(his) shit." I'd say that person was looking out for my best interests.

Given that the message said that they want her back, they are looking out for their best interests - not yours.
posted by Nanukthedog at 6:32 PM on August 8, 2010 [2 favorites]

Um.... How does he know? I agree you shouldn't judge someone based on their past bad luck in love but how does tis guy know to harass you? I'd be somewhat concerned that she's not talking to this clown and getting you dragged into things. I'd say you should let her know the guy reached out to you.

Him? Ignore that shit. It's inappropriate for him to bother you much less impugn your character. If you feel like you HAVE to respond (why???) you should say nothing more than "this sounds like something you shield bring uo with her, not me."
posted by phearlez at 6:33 PM on August 8, 2010

The set of valid responses has three values: "Fuck off," "Piss off," and silence. Anything other than "Fuck off" is evidence of your diplomacy.
posted by NortonDC at 7:35 PM on August 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

2. She hasn't sufficiently cut him out of her life completely enough that he knows it yet.

I'll call bullshit on this one too. She doesn't control his actions.

I disagree that this is immediately drama. If you ignore him, there is no drama to be had. However, when in a similar position - a woman hacked into her ex-husband's email, read it, got my phone number and called me claiming that they were still married when they were not - I chose to not continue dating the man involved because at the time I had too much of my own drama and couldn't risk taking on any more.

This is not that. This is a Facebook message. Dont block him, just ignore him, don't accept his friend request. For all he knows you don't log on FB very much. Tell the friend who suggested that you ask her out and see what he thinks about all of this - let him be the one to tell her, not you.

But go out with her. It's not her fault he's a jerk - she broke up with him, didn't she?
posted by micawber at 7:56 PM on August 8, 2010

Ignore. Any response from you other than "sorry bro, I'll back off" is going to be read as escalation by him anyway.
posted by Ragged Richard at 8:23 PM on August 8, 2010 [3 favorites]

I agree that you should ask her out and then at some decent point let her know that he sent you that message. In the interests of full disclosure only, obviously.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:10 PM on August 8, 2010

If I were the girl I'd love it if you told him to fuck himself, and I would want to know about it, so that I could also tell him to fuck himself. He sounds like a real creep.

However, I am not the girl and she may be a lot more conflict-avoidant than I am. So, I agree with everyone else. Ignore, and don't mention it to her.

A few people have said you should reply to him what you said in your post, or part of it. I disagree. I think dignifying it with ANY reply almost tells him that he was at the minimum entitled to a reply. He's not. Don't encourage him.
posted by Ashley801 at 9:11 PM on August 8, 2010

I'm kind of horrified at the implication by some that she's somehow tainted and no longer dateworthy because her ex is possessive and being a dick.

Anonymous, you're totally in the right, and dude is indeed being a dick. My first inclination would be to ignore this pissing contest.

If you feel like you must respond, perhaps go with something overly polite and to the effect of "I'm not competing with you, I don't have anything to do with your past, present or future relationship with her, and as of now, I'm respectfully refusing to continue any discussion about her with you whatsoever. None of my business."

If he does confront you, whatever you do, DO NOT get baited into a discussion with him regarding his alleged cheating or your opinion about his relationship with her. Just repeat "None Of My Business" over and over until he gets bored and goes away.
posted by desuetude at 9:24 PM on August 8, 2010 [7 favorites]

Just nth-ing the whole don't respond, don't repeat it to her or your friends responses. And, as mentioned earlier, I agree you shouldn't necessarily block him (yet) but don't friend him either. He is hoping you will tell her (perhaps he has no more avenue of communication with her--she may have blocked him in many mediums), and is trying to get under her skin through you. Ignore, ignore, ignore. And have a really great date, because he deserves it for being a dick and she deserves it for having to put up with a guy like that.
posted by 1000monkeys at 11:59 PM on August 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

Also: if he starts to get creepy, threatening, or stalker-like, read the book "The Gift of Fear" by Gavin Menzies(?). It's a book I recommend to men and women (but especially women) regarding dealing with stalkers/creeps/and people that generally give you the heebie-jeebies. As Ragged Richard said, any further communication will be seen as an invitation to escalate the confrontation; The book recommends for victims of stalking and celebs/politicians to ignore any communications (and, incidentally, to refrain from tactics like restraining orders unless absolutely necessary as they can be seen as another means of escalating the conflict).
posted by 1000monkeys at 12:04 AM on August 9, 2010

Uh, there's clearly a reason she broke up with him.
posted by effugas at 2:25 AM on August 9, 2010

Well, I would talk to her about it and see what she thinks. The "responsible" thing to do would be to ignore it, IMO.
posted by delmoi at 4:01 AM on August 9, 2010

I'm kind of horrified at the implication by some that she's somehow tainted and no longer dateworthy because her ex is possessive and being a dick.

I'm not. The majority of people do not want to live out their life as if it were a soap opera.

If I came as part of the package with a ex-girlfriend who had a penchant for sending passive aggressive messages via Facebook, I think many women would consider it too much drama and bail. I wouldn't blame them either.
posted by mr_silver at 6:21 AM on August 9, 2010

Self centred doesn't even cover it. "EVERYBODY STOP! My plans come first! And my plan is to get her back! Regardless of what she thinks!"

He's a dick. Ignore.
posted by marmaduke_yaverland at 8:03 AM on August 9, 2010

All the folks warning you to "stay away!" sound like they have more baggage than this woman. Sheesh.

Ignore. There is no response that is better than no response at all.

I wouldn't mention it to the woman now, but if there was a second contact from him, I would feel it was time to let her know.
posted by the bricabrac man at 8:41 AM on August 9, 2010 [2 favorites]

At the very least you should let her know that he is doing this; she should know the extent to which his manipulative tendencies reach. If in response to that conversation she blocks him/cuts him off, then I'd see that as a positive thing. If she remains in contact with him beyond a single 'fuck off or I'll report you for stalking' conversation then I'd see it as some part of her is still engaged with the drama and I'd suggest not dating her until she's had more time to process and disengage.
posted by 8dot3 at 8:55 AM on August 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

Definitely do not engage the crazy. Also, If I had an ex that was telling guys to stay away from me, I'd really want to know and would be somewhat annoyed if this had been going on and no one told me, so please consider telling her.
posted by Kimberly at 10:26 AM on August 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

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