Should I tell someone that her new boyfriend is a horrible person?
December 15, 2011 6:18 PM   Subscribe

Would it ever be OK to warn someone (whom you don't know) about about her new boyfriend, who is your ex friend with benefits? For reasons of jerk-ery, not safety.

My ex FWB was a bad friend and a bad lover - played hot and cold, was often insulting, selfish in bed, and didn't make much of an effort to learn what was going on in my life. I put up with all of this because I found him incredibly intellectually stimulating. I ended contact with him after I became pregnant and he said incredibly hurtful things to me, offered no support, and refused to help me pay for an abortion.

I'm aware that he now has a girlfriend, whom I've never met. I do, though, see her around campus sometimes, and feel an overwhelming urge to warn her about what an ass her new partner is. This urge feels similar to a wish to warn someone who has a flat tire on her car. But - is such a warning ever OK?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (34 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

Or: No, unless he has a contagious disease or other danger that he has not disclosed to her.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 6:20 PM on December 15, 2011

Sadly, no.

The part about the lack of support when a pregnancy was initiated and terminated swayed me briefly, but the best response for that is to be part of the campus education force for safer sex, encouraging open discussion of the possibility between partners, and establishing a support system for people in that situation.

I'm sorry he treated you that way.
posted by batmonkey at 6:23 PM on December 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

Someone whom you don't know at all? IMHO, no. The situation may be different if there are super major safety concerns involved, but being an ass doesn't rise to that level. How would you feel if he popped up and started trash-talking you to your boyfriend? She's a grown-up and can determine her own tolerance for jerks according to whatever preferences she wishes.
posted by zachlipton at 6:23 PM on December 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


You don't know what their relationship is like, whether it is going better than yours did or pretty much anything else. While your intentions may be good on certain levels, at the same time they could be very hurtful if this ex fwb has made a turn for the better. Just let it go and resist the urge to get involved.

It is over between you and him. Let it go.
posted by lampshade at 6:24 PM on December 15, 2011

It won't be welcomed or heeded and you'll just look like the obsessed ex. If he's this big a dick she'll find out on her own soon enough. I'm so sorry to hear you were treated so poorly.
posted by everydayanewday at 6:25 PM on December 15, 2011 [10 favorites]

No. Also, she would probably ignore you as a 'bitter ex/girl who wants my boyfriend' so it wouldn't do any good.
posted by jacalata at 6:25 PM on December 15, 2011 [7 favorites]

No, it won't do any good. Condolences on your soured relationship, this guy sounds like another Newt Gingrich.
posted by benzenedream at 6:27 PM on December 15, 2011

unless you're looking for your ex to share every "bad" detail about you to her to prove you're just crazy (i don't think you are but that's how he'll paint it), i'd stay out of it. you can't save friends and family from their choices, much less a stranger.
posted by nadawi at 6:28 PM on December 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

She's a big girl, she'll figure it out for her own. Besides, would she really take whatever you had to say at face value and think "oh, in that case, I'm dumping him!"? She would more likely think "this psycho ex-whatever of my boyfriend sure is psycho."
posted by litnerd at 6:29 PM on December 15, 2011

Unless there's a disease issue (i.e., you realize he gave you herpes or something), then no.

However -- if she asks YOU for some reason ("hi -- um, you don't know me, but I'm dating Sid now, and I heard that you used to sort of date him, and I was hoping you can give me some advice?"), then okay.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:29 PM on December 15, 2011

She's a friend - yes
He gave you an STD - yes
He's a physical or financial danger - yes
She's a stranger, and he's a worthless asshat - sorry, no
posted by tyllwin at 6:37 PM on December 15, 2011 [13 favorites]

I'll add to the nopes.

Perhaps you can consider him a gift toward her future wisdom?
posted by peagood at 6:40 PM on December 15, 2011

What would you have thought if someone "warned" you? You'd probably write her off as just some sour-grapes jealous psycho trying to spoil your new relationship because she wanted to be his girlfriend instead of a random disposable FWB, attention whore for sympathy, and cause drama.

If he was an ass to you, he's probably an ass to her too--so if she has any spine at all, she should find a veritable cornucopia of reasons to dump this loser on her own without your "help". As you know firsthand, red flags don't mean a thing to someone who's willfully blinded herself to them.
posted by aquafortis at 6:40 PM on December 15, 2011

Anyway maybe he'll be better if he's really dating this new woman. You don't know. FWB situations can bring out the worst in people; there can be a tendency to feel like that arrangement gives you license to do whatever selfish shit you want without consequence.
posted by dixiecupdrinking at 6:42 PM on December 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

For all you know, she's an even bigger ass, or she knows full well and doesn't care that he's a jerk. You're done with him - move on.
posted by gingerest at 7:03 PM on December 15, 2011

He is not the same person he was back then. Nor are you the same person you were back then. Nor is the new girlfriend the same person you were back then. This won't do her, you or even him any good.
posted by Etrigan at 7:07 PM on December 15, 2011

I understand why you'd feel the urge but this is definitely a bad idea. It could easily backfire and make her even more into him. Reverse psychology. He will probably depict you as a crazy, jealous ex and she will probably accept his characterization.
posted by timsneezed at 7:12 PM on December 15, 2011

The first two answers in this thread are entirely sufficient. 'Everything else is intrigue.'
posted by LonnieK at 7:27 PM on December 15, 2011

Is it polite to tell her? No.

However, given his extreme actions, I would say that if you feel that there will be no repercussions for you personally, then go ahead and tell her. I say this only because I would want to know. At first I probably wouldn't believe you, but when he inevitably started to show his true colors, his background would help me make the decision to leave him sooner (possibly).

Again though, it is impolite to do and may have social repercussions that would negatively affect you. Proceed with caution.
posted by Shouraku at 7:34 PM on December 15, 2011 [2 favorites]

To add: he insulted and abandoned you when you were pregnant with his child. This is a bit more extreme then "he is a jerk" IMO. Hence my above answer.
posted by Shouraku at 7:37 PM on December 15, 2011 [6 favorites]

It is perfectly fine and in fact recommended in my book to warn a stranger that their new SO might be very shitty. Particularly if you were the person he was being shitty to.

But you can't do it for your drama or feelings of revenge. Give'em a head's, but be sure to stipulate that it was different relationship and he may have changed. Then get on your life and butt out of theirs.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:38 PM on December 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

I TOTALLY get where you are coming from here.

Almost 15 years story short - yeah - I sometimes wonder about my ex-BF (now stalker's) ex wife. She knew him kinda concurrently with me. (So complicated! They broke up, moved to the otherside of the country, we dated and broke up, she thought they had gotten back together during that time, although, I was unaware of this - he eventually married her, I married someone else, we both divorced, tried it again, he was always the instigator in our dealings, I found out later HE was a SUPER DUPER CHEATER - like was cheating with her best childhood friend throughout their relationship and marriage, I was just one of many women, I was one that had some extra morals, but the story changes naught...)

I didn't worry so much when they were married and he initiated contact with me a few times because I didn't follow through. But after they divorced and he confessed what a piece of shit he really is? OMG. I felt so bad for that woman. I dumped him. But I knew via some stories and intersecting friendships how twisted up her life had become via her devotion to this guy. I felt really really bad. FOR YEARS. I had info that might give her clarity and let her fully process the doubts, intuitions, and lies she had been told ... All That.


Just after my son was born in April, I had a weird and unexpected opportunity to reach out to this woman and clear the air. While I had not cheated with her then-husband, I know now how my existence in his life was used against her to "keep her in line" by him. Plus I know of other very deep and direct betrayals she is likely (I guess, don't know) beating herself up over.

Do I speak up? Or do I shut up?


I decided to shut the fuck up and move on. The denoument of this drama was very slow and I contemplated some positive but maybe not action for at least 4 years.


You know what?

If you were this girl's friend - YES.

You are not her friend. If he is as you say, he'll paint you in a poor light and she might likely keep on with him.

People get the partner they deserve. The one that hurts them and teaches them about TRUST, the one who fulfills their childhood deficiencies - whatever.



I agree this guy is a using piece of shit - but wow - you might have a hard time making that case here. Direct knowledge of cheating is a different story. You don't have that. I didn't, either, at the time. Exactly. When I could have made the case, way back when.


There is something called "re-victimization" and I want you to google that and be aware down the road that you don't fall for the same shenanigans this guy hooked you with. That's your BIG JOB now. Live a better life with better choices.

Other people will learn on their own time.
posted by jbenben at 7:43 PM on December 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

Why not? is the better question, and I can't answer that for you.

If you do, just go for straight facts. I wouldn't do it in writing.

Good luck.
posted by the young rope-rider at 7:50 PM on December 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

I did this to a dude that cheated on me. It was a one or two sentence blurb just telling her to be cautious given his history as a serial cheater with me and every girl he'd been with (which he'd played dumb about), citing the very predicament we were in. I sent it to her MySpace account. Guess who replied on the other end because he'd made her give him her social networking passwords within a week of dating? Joke was on her already at that point, but it also felt good to be able to call him out on his crazy to his face. It's just too bad she probably never knew about that exchange.

If he's truly an insufferable ass, you can try. There are ways to say things to make you look like the big sister and not the jealous, ragey ex, but it's hard to do, you never know how she's going to take it* and -- despite what I've seen -- I still believe people can change.

I just hate when there's this rush to say "no" in these threads because sometimes what it takes for them to "learn on their own" is getting themselves into extremely uncool situations that could change the way they interact with men, how they feel about themselves for the rest of their lives, leave them with a baby without a father and/or cost hundreds of dollars in therapy or medical bills thereafter. So yeah, sure, sometimes I feel like a warning is actually the sane thing to do.

But what it boils down to again and again? Women need to be lookin' after each other. We need to trust one another. The no's in this thread represent a time when it is easier to blame a victim than it is to point the finger at a legitimate asshole, while simultaneously, women find themselves staring each other down to the bone. Why was it in middle & high school we immediately knew which girls to avoid but not guys? Why is it we would rather assume someone is being selfish and psycho then legitimately fearful and wary?

There are times to be silent and strong, but this kind of irresponsible, high & dry stuff we always hear about needs to get called out and it needs to stop. These isolated incidents of domestic abuse need to stop. I did what I did because ultimately, I hoped that someone would have done the same for me.

I'm a big girl and I've learned plenty of crap the hard way, but I have too much to live for to let another person harm my health and happiness again. I didn't have a dad that treated my mom right. I didn't grow up knowing my own worth. It took too many abusive jerks for me to 'get it' and I would never wish those feelings on my worst enemy. Be honest with her at that sort of level if you really think he doesn't intend on changing his ways.

*Definitions of abuse are impossible to define for other people. If you want to say something, say it like you're willing to be a shoulder to cry on in the future pending crap hits the fan. Hopefully you won't have to make good on that sort of promise and she'll recognize the sincerity. Maybe not then, but sooner than she would've without your support.
posted by june made him a gemini at 9:41 PM on December 15, 2011 [9 favorites]

I would actually second the "why not". I see no compelling reason why you shouldn't - especially if you absolutely don't know her. What's the worst that could happen? She thinks you are crazy? I'd say that is a small price to pay, if there's a chance you could help her avoid a world of unpleasantness.
posted by xdvesper at 1:51 AM on December 16, 2011 [2 favorites]

Hm. Based on the compelling arguments presented by Shouraku, Brandon Blatcher & june made him a gemini, I'm switching sides.

Tell her.

Just be brief, kind, and positive. And don't feel hurt if she doesn't take it well or believe you.
posted by batmonkey at 4:02 AM on December 16, 2011 [1 favorite]

Would you sign a binding legal document preventing this guy from ever dating or being involved with anyone ever again? Would you like to keep tabs on him so that you can swoop in and warn away any and all future potential victims of his jerkiness?

How long must he wait until he is allowed to get on with his life and date again? Or, what does he need to do to prove to YOU that he deserves to date other people without interference?

Oh, wait! Those are crazy questions. Leave him alone.
posted by General Tonic at 7:03 AM on December 16, 2011 [1 favorite]

He sounds terrible, but any smart girl knows that any guy she meets might be terrible. And a girl who isn't already aware of those odds isn't going to listen to you.

Conclusion: she's already prepared for things to turn out badly, or she never will be. You're off the hook.
posted by celilo at 7:17 AM on December 16, 2011

posted by brand-gnu at 7:24 AM on December 16, 2011 [1 favorite]

My ex has a severe mental illness that he downplayed and sometimes lied about when we were together. It took me years to figure out that the problems in our relationship were not all my fault, or a result of my unreasonable expectations, as he encouraged me to believe. Not because I wasn't a 'big girl', or I had low self esteem or I deserved or wanted his abuse somehow, but because no one who claimed to love me had ever treated me so blatantly poorly before and I just could not bring myself to think it was anything but a big misunderstanding that would straighten itself out any day now.

If I ever learn that he has a new serious girlfriend, I plan to contact her and tell her all of this. I don't expect her to take me seriously. In fact, I imagine she'll go straight to him and say, "your ex is so crazy!" and he'll agree. But later on, when he starts pulling the same shit on her, I want her to have what I didn't have--the knowledge that, no matter what he tells her, it's not all in her head, she didn't create the problem and she doesn't deserve it.

For this reason, I don't think contacting the girlfriend is necessarily a bad idea, but be cautious about what you say. Be supportive rather than vindictive. Describe the bad behaviors but leave out gruesome details, ackowledge that he may have grown since you were together but that his behavior towards you was so egregious that you felt you had a responsibility to make sure she is okay. If that's not an accurate description of your feelings, though, I don't think you should contact her.
posted by milk white peacock at 8:54 AM on December 16, 2011 [3 favorites]

I think the big "why not" is that people in love tend to draw closer to their lover when the relationship is questioned. The new girlfriend might actually put up with more or stay longer just to "show the crazy ex that she's wrong".

I think I might have a less disgusting personal history if I'd actually listened to what other women were saying about the men I was pursuing. But I had to make the decision to listen myself. I still wonder, though. . . this one girl tried, very subtly, to discourage me from hooking up with this one guy (who turned out to be a real rotter.) I wonder what I would have learned if she'd said, "Hey, listen, if you ever want to talk about [Rotten], I'm available."

That's the language I would use -- "if you want to talk, I'm here". I think the information is more likely to sink in if she has some agency in seeking it out, rather than you dumping it on her.
posted by endless_forms at 9:00 AM on December 16, 2011 [3 favorites]

The no's in this thread represent a time when it is easier to blame a victim than it is to point the finger at a legitimate asshole

Disagree entirely. I say "no" because when I've been in FWB situations, I've BEEN an asshole. Let's face it: If I had any caring for those women I would have dated them. Being in a real relationship is whole different ballgame.

On the other hand, the whole pregnancy thing implies he may just be a bad person. But the answer's still "no."
posted by coolguymichael at 12:28 PM on December 16, 2011

[folks, take side conversations to MeMail.]
posted by jessamyn at 7:24 AM on December 17, 2011

I agree that FWB and, uh, actual dating are totally different. I mean, he still sounds like a jerk, yes, but not enough to justify giving her a Big Warning.
posted by anaelith at 2:16 PM on December 17, 2011

« Older My Droid is low on space. What? Halp.   |   Help me help my friend Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.