Whatever works
December 20, 2010 8:50 PM   Subscribe

Guy has fling; now guy wants to rekindle things because it works for him. How do I handle this?

I had brief fling with a guy who worked at my company. We are in the same department, although he is higher than me in terms of pay. After a short while, he started a relationship with another woman he met online, and moved in with her. As a result, he went from being very kind and sweet to cold and business like, which made me feel like a whore.

So now the company is going through re-structuring, and many employees are leaving. I am currently fishing around for jobs, though it is difficult in this economy, especially in my line of work. I heard from him recently that he was doing the same, and started dropping hints that he wanted to rekindle things., and leave his girlfriend behind. It would work out great for him--as a British citizen, it would be impossible to stay in the States unless he married someone or found another job that would sponsor him, and it would be hard to find the same kind of work at the same pay rate alone. Two for the price of one, right?

This makes me very angry. Although it's just a suggestion and I can walk away from it, I can't seem to do it without wanting to release two years' worth of resentment towards the guy. I feel like all I am in that situation is a pawn, that he doesn't really like me, that I am just notch in his belt. How can I walk away with this without losing my temper on him?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (22 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Uh, really, I think you'd be perfectly justified at telling this guy to go fuck himself. That's a shitty way to treat anyone, as a means to a sexual or occupational end.

I suspect subsequent answers to this thread are gonna be pretty cathartic on your behalf-- what a bounder! a cad! a scoundrel!-- so perhaps you can just tell him that you're sorry, you have no interest in being his pimp.
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 8:57 PM on December 20, 2010 [8 favorites]

You remind yourself that walking away is the best revenge of all. Imagine yourself walking away, laughing to yourself, while he dumbly watches you go. THE BEST!
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 8:58 PM on December 20, 2010 [1 favorite]

Tell him to "go bugger yourself, doss cunt" and he will understand.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 8:58 PM on December 20, 2010 [5 favorites]

The one very good reason to not unload and tell him what an asshole he is:

He is such an asshole, he'd start working over-time to prove you wrong and get back in your good graces, and this would extend the Drama even longer.

Keep silent and secretly look forward to his permanent exit from your life!
posted by jbenben at 9:01 PM on December 20, 2010 [1 favorite]

Cue brittle tinkly laugh accompanying a "so sweet of you, but it's really quite impossible."
posted by cyndigo at 9:02 PM on December 20, 2010 [11 favorites]

Here are the two things not to do:

#1: go for it. I don't think you're in danger of going for it, but I'll put it here just the same.

#2: let him have both barrels. All it will do is make him feel important and powerful, and why would you want to do him that favor?

Brush it off in the most "oh, haha, that's hilarious" way possible. If he's just dropping hints, just ignore them until they become blatant, then brush it off. Once. Quickly, like you don't give a fuck, and never did. Then you're free to ignore him if he's stupid enough to keep trying, or feel important and powerful yourself if he suddenly begins lashing out.
posted by davejay at 9:16 PM on December 20, 2010 [1 favorite]

How can I walk away with this without losing my temper on him?

You remember that in this situation you have all the power AND that you know yourself to be a much stronger, healthier person than he thinks you are or than he is himself. Sure, it's appalling that he'd try to use you for a green card, for stability, for sex - but you are well aware of his base motivations and you're not falling for that. It's insulting that he thinks you're that gullible - but he'll soon figure out just how wrong he is.

It should be pretty easy to refrain from losing your temper once it sinks in that he is crawling back to you looking for favors.
posted by gingerest at 9:19 PM on December 20, 2010 [4 favorites]

Sometimes it really is perfectly reasonable to tell someone quite plainly what you think of his or her behaviour. I'd keep to within certain boundaries, though. Say what you have to say only to this guy in private, not behind his back or in front of anyone else from the office. And I'd wait until he gave you something definite to respond to. Is there a possibility that he may not be trying to start things up with you again, that his hints might have meant something else? If he, say, asks you to dinner, you can say "No, I am not interested in spending any time with you after the way you've treated me," and it's a slap down for him. If he just means he's ready to move on from his current girlfriend to someone new and you tell him off, that just gives him a chance to reject you again.

I'd avoid him as much as possible, but if he tries to start something with you, go ahead and speak your mind.
posted by orange swan at 9:20 PM on December 20, 2010 [1 favorite]

You've got the upper-hand in this one, and I think you should hold on to it. Say nothing. Ignore him. Don't give him the satisfaction of any response, be it a 'no thanks,' a 'hell no,' or a 'go fuck yourself.' As some have noted above, that gives him a clue that he's in your head. Don't let people live in your head rent-free.

He screwed up by messing around, and you go bye-bye now. He made his bed.
posted by Gilbert at 9:36 PM on December 20, 2010 [5 favorites]

To play devil's advocate, what you interpreted as "cold", he may have interpreted as "business like" -- that is, he thought he was doing what two professionals who are no longer in a relationship should do to one another when they are no longer involved. To continue to treat you "special" would have been inappropriate in a business-setting and especially since he was no longer available.

Your frustration over this whole time period may be warranted -- and you certainly don't need to justify or explain your feelings -- they are yours -- but that's it -- yours. You've been resenting him for a long time, but near as I can tell, he wasn't entirely a skeez until he came sniffing around again in a self-serving manner.

If his suggestion comes about again, dismiss it like it's the most ridiculous thing you've ever heard.

Because, to you, it is.

Giving in on the resentment will only return the power to his court, which if he's an asshole, is not something you want to do.

If he keeps pressing it in a way that makes you uncomfortable, he's acting unprofessionally. At which point you should probably remind him of that.

Good luck.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 9:51 PM on December 20, 2010

Ugh, what a dick! I feel for you. I recently got out of a relationship that was ostensibly exactly what has happened to you, except it was a thousand times stupider and I was not as observant/intelligent as you and I really should have killed it long before it got to the implosion phase that it did.

When I was faced with this kind of opportunity/scenario, I, in my infinite wisdom, went the "I'm going to vent my spleen on you come hell or high water" and as satisfying as it's been to know that after 2 years of shit from this guy I was able to finally say what I wanted to say, I've discovered something rather peculiar.

I've still got more to say.

And instead of ridding myself and my mind of this jerk's face, my memories of him, his good points and his bad, I've inexplicably given him purchase in my brain and I can't seem to get him out of there. I actually crave interaction with him because I want to keep venting. It's SICK. And what the flying hell, how is this possible?! I raved! I ranted! I told him exactly what I thought of him and where he could stick it in no uncertain terms! I SHOULD HAVE THE UPPER HAND AND STILL HAVE THE UPPER HAND EVEN 5 MONTHS LATER.

But I don't. And it eats at me. And I've determined, sadly, that the kindest thing to do for YOU (which is really what matters here, as the other person is always some kind of tool who doesn't deserve any attention regardless of what kind of attention you're wanting to throw at them) is to do the gentle disengage, rather than the forceful expulsion we're naturally inclined to do whenever someone pushes our buttons in every possible way.

The method that now works for me is this:
  • Cut off all contact with the person you are longer able to have a functioning relationship with. Avoid. Defer. Deter. Just do it.
  • Each time said person runs across your mind, try to envision them (yes, them) in light, in happiness, in harmony, but moving away from you. If it helps, actually get yourself in a place where you can pictyre them on a boat, on a plane, in a car, just so the imagery begins to solidify and imprints itself on your mind.
  • Mentally wave this person off and say, "Thank you for the good times we had. I wish you well, I wish you happiness, and I wish you away from me. There is nothing left to say that will heal me, there is nothing left to do that will fix me. All I ask is that you go, and go peacefully."
  • Take time to honor your feelings, and your anger. I like screaming into a pillow. YMMV.
  • Keep breathing. Imagine that you are gently wresting your fingers from around their wrists and theirs 'round yours, and that you are letting them go. Keep breathing.
  • Focus on other things, like how awesome you are and how petty little twerps like the creep you're fondly waving goodbye to are insignificant in the grand scheme of things.
And in doing all of the above, you are pragmatically and productively starting to move beyond the shit this person has brought into your life, and systematically positioning yourself so it no longer affects you.

It may sound hokey, but as someone who is rather known for their lengthy and loud spleen-venting sessions whenever sincerely wronged, I would encourage you to try the gentle reframing method rather than give into the RAWR mode that seems so initially satisfying, as it heals rather than continues to prolong the hurt and irritation from the original problem.
posted by patronuscharms at 10:01 PM on December 20, 2010 [101 favorites]

Patronuscharms reminds me of something my shrink told me to do. When I was still in my venting mode, I wrote a letter. Well, I typed it -- it's still on my computer. I never sent it, I never will, and I will probably delete it at some point, but composing it really helped. Try it.
posted by Gilbert at 10:06 PM on December 20, 2010

He sounds kind of pitiful actually. I could see why you would (in retrospect) be angry with yourself for getting involved with him at all.

That's the way I'd deal with it. You got involved with a jerk and you're ashamed of it. Learn the lesson, forgive yourself, and do better next time.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 11:06 PM on December 20, 2010

This sounds almost exactly like Bridget Jones's Diary. Do what she (eventually) did.
posted by 4ster at 12:07 AM on December 21, 2010

posted by hapax_legomenon at 12:26 AM on December 21, 2010

"why would I want to do that?" - said with a puzzled look. Then move on your merry way.
posted by Omnomnom at 12:29 AM on December 21, 2010 [2 favorites]

Or you could do it and have some fun with it in a really evil way. Highly doubtful anyone would ever do this but it may make you feel better to think about it so here goes. String him along and say you'll do it but he has to prove he really loves you first. Watch him go all out trying to impress you all in an attempt to take advantage of you. Let him wine, dine, and spend money on you. Don't sleep with him once. Name the wedding date so he thinks it's happening. String it out. When the day finally comes, stand him up at the courthouse but send a messenger with a note that says, how dumb do you think I am, I've notified immigration and you're about to get escorted out of the country for attempting a fake marriage. Enjoy Britain!
posted by Jubey at 12:45 AM on December 21, 2010 [2 favorites]

Why is it a choice between swallowing your anger and walking away silently, or unleashing two years'-worth of spleen on him? If it were me, I'd let off the better part of the steam in the privacy of my home, gym, jogging path or wherever you go to sweat and punch things. Then I would face the guy with whatever's left, and be direct with him: No, I'm not interested, because I don't like the way you behaved with me in the past.

Anger doesn't have to be violent. It can simply be a very direct way of setting your limits.
posted by Paris Elk at 1:27 AM on December 21, 2010 [2 favorites]

ugh, I am in a slightly similar situation right now. When I have to deal with the guy, I'm finding it useful to silently meditate on the wise words of Jay-Z:
If you having girl problems I feel bad for you son
I got 99 problems but a bitch ain't one
posted by koakuma at 2:05 AM on December 21, 2010 [1 favorite]

How can his businesslike behavior, in a business setting, make you feel like a whore? Are you sure you just aren't happy about the relationship, and aren't just projecting some of those feelings onto him?
posted by gjc at 2:41 AM on December 21, 2010

Ugh. It might help to remember that people like this get their comeuppance, and that the INS works for karma. At least, I was acquainted with a guy who tried running a very similar game who ended up losing his job and visa and girlfriend(s) and American contacts and goodwill and had to return home to where he had nothing. I was only an observer, but it even made ME feel better to see someone so sleazy get what he deserved. I'm not sure if he's allowed back in the country, he was breaking his visa rules on working and even tried for an "anchor baby" with the idea he could create a company in the baby's name and then have the baby hire him. Thank God none of the women involved fell for that, for her sake and the baby's!

Anyway, his game is unlikely to work and he's likely to suffer the consequences. (And, having just filed affidavits for a married friend's permanent residency application based on marriage to a citizen, the INS takes that whole "real marriage" thing pretty seriously!)
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 2:54 AM on December 21, 2010

I'm confused. Is the "current" girlfriend not an American citizen? Based upon your info, if it was me I still wouldn't take him back, but I'm missing the logic jump. Why doesn't he marry her to stay in US-according to your suspicions. He's probably not good enough for you, but it's possible the cad came back because he does like you. Unless the girlfriend isn't a US citizen.
Also, only you get to make yourself feel like a "whore", whatever the heck that is anyway.
posted by atomicstone at 5:52 AM on December 21, 2010

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