Should boy talk to girl via girl's husband or not?
March 21, 2011 1:32 PM   Subscribe

Maybe I'm overthinking this...about 15 years ago, boy meets girl, becomes good friends with her, tries to take the relationship to the next level, is rejected, loses touch with her. 15 years later, boy is happily married, watches all the news about Japan, thinks about/is concerned about girl (she's from Japan, works/worked near Tokyo for some time, and her family lives/lived in Osaka), and Googles her. Boy finds out that girl appears to be married and living in the U.S. Boy would like to send her an email to ask if everyone (family/friends) is ok, but can only find her husband's email address. Boy thought about emailing her husband to pass along a message...something like "was an old friend but lost touch. Just wanted to say hi and make sure everyone's ok". That's it. No ulterior motives, no sneaky emails behind anyone's back. But then boy thought twice and wondered if that would be awkward or weird and if he should just drop it. Hive mind: what should boy do?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (41 answers total)
Boy should forget about it.
posted by Electrius at 1:34 PM on March 21, 2011 [46 favorites]

I would be really happy to know that you were thinking of me and my family at this time. Reach out and say hello.
posted by jennstra at 1:35 PM on March 21, 2011 [2 favorites]

Bad idea.
posted by TheBones at 1:35 PM on March 21, 2011

Don't do it. Been there, done that. Same kind of deal, too. Just wanted to check up and make sure everything was 5 across the board.

Didn't end well, even though it started with the best intentions. It's been over for a long time. You want it to stay over, obviously so does she ... let it go. She already has a whole new circle of friends and family checking in on them and she isn't interested in hearing from a 15 yr old relationship, regardless of how chummy it was.
posted by damiano99 at 1:36 PM on March 21, 2011

Every three years, at full moon (or another appropriate moment) boy might Google her again. Or not. Since everyone is in their own relationship, this is the happy ever after, and Google is that alternative universe where you normally don't belong. In short: what Electrius says, really.
posted by Namlit at 1:38 PM on March 21, 2011 [2 favorites]

lots of folks need positive support and energy and help in japan. instead of potentially stirring up trouble (unintentionally), do something to help out the situation in japan. your way of giving to her and her family and extended communities, without needing her to know it. (isn't it often the best when you do things and think of people/care for them, without needing anything in return?)
posted by anya32 at 1:39 PM on March 21, 2011 [13 favorites]

It could be a great idea, if it weren't already obviously causing you a lot of stress. Consider that the stress you seem to be feeling now is but a drop in the bucket compared to the potential stress that that the contact could cause.
posted by gurple at 1:39 PM on March 21, 2011 [2 favorites]

Nice idea, but too many ways it could go wrong.
posted by adamrice at 1:39 PM on March 21, 2011

Boy should be relieved that she's okay here in the states and drop the whole thing.
posted by cosmicbandito at 1:40 PM on March 21, 2011 [2 favorites]

I've had this kind of thing happen to me where I was contacted from out of the blue by someone I hadn't spoken to in years, and even when intentions were good, it's always been more awkward than anything else. My vote would be to just let it go, and if you still feel like you need to do something, show your support by making a donation to the Red Cross.
posted by Diagonalize at 1:43 PM on March 21, 2011 [1 favorite]

This is a very nice idea that will (in my experience) likely end in bitter disappointment. It has been one of my hallmarks of the last 10-15 years that "Hey, person-from-the-way-past! How's it going? Do you talk to person-X anymore?" is greeted with silence 99% of the time. I don't know what it is, but I do know that I've just had to learn to live with other people not giving a crap about this stuff and I've decided in the last 6mos or so not to even try anymore unless someone pings me first.
posted by rhizome at 1:43 PM on March 21, 2011

There's a reason you made this askme post. Trust your instincts.
posted by Salvor Hardin at 1:43 PM on March 21, 2011 [3 favorites]

Too much possibility it will affect you in ways you didn't think it would. You might not want to feel guilty or a rekindled affection, but if you do it will be uncomfortable, unsatisfying and more unpleasant than what you're currently feeling.
posted by malaprohibita at 1:44 PM on March 21, 2011

This reads like the equivalent of drunk dialing an ex.
posted by empath at 1:45 PM on March 21, 2011 [1 favorite]

What does your wife think about this idea?

And what if things aren't okay with Girl, for whatever reason?
posted by Metroid Baby at 1:46 PM on March 21, 2011 [4 favorites]

It would be pretty borderline to contact her like this (especially when it's more about you not quite being over it, it sounds like); contacting her through her husband is definitely out into the no-fly zone. Don't go there. I don't want my wife's exboyfriends emailing me to say they are thinking about her, you know? They are welcome to email her directly; I am not interested in being the go-between.

So no, don't do this.
posted by Forktine at 1:47 PM on March 21, 2011 [3 favorites]

This door is closed. Don't reopen it, especially through the husband. She's in the US and is safe. Asking would be for you, not for her. She already knows how her family is.

So just no...don't.
posted by inturnaround at 1:50 PM on March 21, 2011 [1 favorite]

Yeah, the husband being the go-between is the reason this is just bad.

Facebook's an interesting phenonmenon because it's a still-murky outlet for all this stuff we want to do but couldn't before: pinging old exes, peeping in one what mighta been. Since you can't find her on Facebook, I think you've lost the one venue where this kind of outreach might have been appropriate.
posted by meadowlark lime at 1:50 PM on March 21, 2011

Listen to Metroid Baby: you say you want to 'make sure everything's okay'. What if everything isn't okay? You have no real way to help and would just be an additional stressor during a tumultuous time.

On the flip side, if everything IS okay then she is doing fine without you in her life. Leave it alone. Agreed with the poster above that this would be more for you than her.
posted by amicamentis at 1:54 PM on March 21, 2011 [2 favorites]

I think the courteous thing to do is afford this person the option of ignoring you without complication.
posted by phaedon at 1:55 PM on March 21, 2011

This reminded me that one of my first long ago loves is a Japanese Studies Professor. I just googled him to see if anything indicated that he was in Japan. He's not. But oh gosh is he cute and so smart and successful and. . .

don't do it.
posted by rainbaby at 1:57 PM on March 21, 2011 [1 favorite]

I think you should drop it. You don't have a relationship with her any more, this isn't a good reason to get back in touch with someone who wasn't interested in you in the first place.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 1:57 PM on March 21, 2011 [3 favorites]

Haddock's Law
posted by Jahaza at 2:00 PM on March 21, 2011 [5 favorites]

There's a reason some people are in our past and not our present.

The internet makes it easy to reconnect with people, but just because you can doesn't mean you should. I vote no.
posted by The Deej at 2:02 PM on March 21, 2011 [2 favorites]

If some woman my boyfriend rejected 15 years ago was sniffing around again in the wake of a disaster that may have affected us, I would be extremely weirded out. I would be even more weirded out if she tried to contact him through me.

Let it go.
posted by futureisunwritten at 2:04 PM on March 21, 2011 [1 favorite]

Think about her, be concerned, but don't pursue it.
posted by mleigh at 2:43 PM on March 21, 2011


What if everyone isn't okay with her family? Does she want to have to talk to someone she had a casual relationship with 15 years ago and have to explain that she either has lost someone close to her, or was frantic for days while waiting to get news? Even without the awkwardness of going through the husband it's a bad idea.
posted by saffry at 2:57 PM on March 21, 2011 [2 favorites]

Anecdata: All the Japanese people I know are somewhat annoyed by the calls/emails/facebook messages of concern from distant friends/acquaintances. For their sake please don't do this, especially with the additional layers of awkwardness your circumstances would add.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 3:00 PM on March 21, 2011 [3 favorites]

Dear Husband_Doe, the news from Japan is deeply distressing, and I have been thinking about my old friend Jane_Smith_Doe. Some googling suggests she's your wife. Would you please convey my best wishes that her family in Japan are safe and well? I hope this isn't an intrusion; if it is, just discard my email. Sincerely, Me.
posted by theora55 at 3:12 PM on March 21, 2011 [1 favorite]

No way, don't do it. I am quite possibly the least jealous/suspicious guy around, but even this would make me uncomfortable.
posted by nevercalm at 3:22 PM on March 21, 2011

I did a similar thing after 9/11, and one person was nice, the rest were weird. Don't.
posted by Ideefixe at 3:42 PM on March 21, 2011

What the hell kind of sad "Don't do it" world is this? Do it, but only if you can contact her directly.
posted by doublehappy at 3:43 PM on March 21, 2011

As innocent as your intentions may be, contacting her through her husband puts the burden of explanation on *her*. So, she gets a, "Honey, who is this guy who says he is an old friend emailing you?" and she has to explain, or downplay, or lie. And she is human, so she probably would make a strange, tell-all face, when there is nothing to tell.
posted by shortyJBot at 3:48 PM on March 21, 2011

Oh boy.

Despite the passage of time, it is clear that you are still stinging from her rejection of you. If you can say to your wife "I'm just going to email the husband of a Japanese girl I was interested in 15 years ago to see if she's okay" without flinching, then you have my blessing.
posted by smithsmith at 4:24 PM on March 21, 2011 [3 favorites]

You must've been wearing your Bad Idea Jeans when that thought crossed your mind. Drop it.

No matter how pure you insist your intentions are, it will just seem weird and icky to use this as an opportunity to contact your old flame 15 years later. Doing so via her husband will be even more so.
posted by LuckySeven~ at 5:32 PM on March 21, 2011 [5 favorites]

I was gonna say what LuckySeven~ said. It might seem like you're taking advantage of the situation to try to catch up with her.
posted by elpea at 5:33 PM on March 21, 2011

What are your plans if they write back "Yes, we're OK"? "Um, well, great then..." If you'd really wanted to catch up with her, you should have done so before the quake. It'd be a lot less awkward.

What are your plans if they write back "No, Girl was injured/killed in the quake"? There's nothing you can do about it except feel badly about it, and the sympathies of someone they've never met probably don't matter much right now. Plus, what husband wants to think about his wife's old boyfriend while he's nursing her back to health or mourning his loss?
posted by desjardins at 6:13 PM on March 21, 2011

Sounds pathetic to me. Give it up, dude!
posted by surewouldoutlaw at 7:53 PM on March 21, 2011

You forgot to mention if your wife thought it was a good idea...
posted by soymilk at 7:54 PM on March 21, 2011 [3 favorites]

Boy, is this a bad idea.
posted by armage at 8:52 PM on March 21, 2011

Oh, it's *so* tempting, I know.

Long-ago love, memories of the excitement and passion. Sure, you've moved on, but there are those lingering thoughts of what might have been, right? And there's this terrible disaster - it's a way to reconnect with her without being creepy, right? After all, no one can impugn the motives of one who selflessly asks about some family members who've been through a catastrophe!

And then, who knows? Maybe she's unhappy with her husband! Maybe your expression of sympathy will remind her how great you were and still are! Maybe she'll reach out, and ....

(cue triumphant lovers' reunion music)

tl;dr - don't do it. Enjoy your memories and send a silent prayer that she and all her family are doing happy and healthy.
posted by jasper411 at 9:13 PM on March 21, 2011

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