How do you handle an intrusive ex boyfriend?
July 8, 2017 11:29 PM   Subscribe

My high school ex and I dated for three months some 14 years ago. He broke up with me because I wouldn't have sex with him, and then spread rumors about what a whore I was despite the fact that I was a virgin. We all live in the same hometown, so I ended up dating a couple of his friends over the course of the 9 years since I've moved back home, one of whom is my current Boyfriend. I'd always carried guilt for hurting him that way, even if it wasn't intentional. But he still throws out jabs and backhanded jokes about it, and I'm kind of fed up now.

I consider my high school ex to be a good friend of mine. We dated for three months, some 14 years ago, and remained friends after the fact. I'm dating someone else right now, (who I love and adore), and since we all currently live in our hometown, they live very close to each other.

One day, while out running errands, Boyfriend runs into HSEx, and they chat for a while. Then, HSEx says:

"She just loves dating my friends..."

HSEx is a joker, and a lifelong comedian, so I wasn't sure I should think anything of it. But there's a history here, which I've told Boyfriend about, so when he mentioned it to me, it bothered me more than I let on.

Basically, 14 years ago, we broke up because he wanted to have sex and I was saving myself for marriage (at the time). We went to different colleges and became friends again after a few years, but then I found out he'd spread rumors all over town about me being a whore and a slut and how I "broke his heart." Six years after our relationship ended, he asked me out, to which I declined, and about 5 months later started dating someone else. I found out later that they were actually very close (best) friends, but I was still pretty angry about what happened, and after expressing my sincere apologies, continued to date him anyway. That 2.5 year relationship ended up being emotionally (and otherwise) abusive, so no happy endings there. Another 5 years later, back in my home town after living abroad, I met Boyfriend. We all graduated together, but I'd never met him; a mutual friend hooked us up after five years of being single. Turns out HSEx knew Boyfriend since kindergarten too. Therein lies the problem with dating in your hometown, ugh.

I carried a lot of guilt about the way the last relationship played out, for close to ten years. Even if HSEx did dump me for not putting out, and then spread those lies about me, I still recognize that the pain he felt was real, and my having played a part in it doesn't just go away because I said "sorry." Even now if we're out at a gathering and HSEx is there among friends with me and Boyfriend, he seems uncomfortable. I bit my tongue on a lot of things because I felt badly about what I had done to him. I don't blame him at all for feeling the way he does.

But when he said that to Boyfriend, I got upset. Because "She just loves dating my friends" implies that who I date has anything to do with him whatsoever. I didn't date any of my exes in an attempt to get back at him. By the time I came back home, I had just gotten out of a 4.5 year relationship with someone else. I apologized before and after that whole debacle for hurting his feelings. He has never apologized to me for lying to everyone about me, or the fact that I'd had to answer those questions and correct those assumptions for years afterwards.

Boyfriend knows about all of this because I told him, months ago.

That may be the reason he mentioned it to me. But what really bothers me is that I'm happy with him, and we've come though a lot ourselves, and for HSEx to say that in some off-hand manner, and also mention how drunk I was at a wedding we'd just gone to, just seems...underhanded. Fourteen (14) years after our three-month relationship, 9.5 years after he asked me out and I said no, 9 years after I started dating his friend who I didn't know, after all of those lies and those rumors, after 5 years of being single, and 1.3 of being in a new relationship, just how long am I supposed to keep paying for this? And why does he get to be the victim when his actions are what placed him firmly in the friend-zone to begin with? Why should I want to date someone who lies about me like that? And how dare he in the first place?

But now I'm not sure how to handle this. Do I tell Boyfriend how upset I am, even though a part of me feels like I'm just thinking too much? Do I confront HSEx, even though all he's gonna do is deny it? The crazy part is, the guy from the emotionally abusive relationship has apologized for his part, we had closure, we moved on as friends. Nothing else to it, no salt, no guilt trips, at least not at this point, 6 years after the breakup. I never guessed, it would be HSEx I'd have to worry about. Smh.

What do you think?
posted by Socolime to Human Relations (34 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
You do not have a friendship with this guy. He's to be avoided. (Also, you had nothing to apologize for in the first place when you broke up with him (in HIGH SCHOOL, after dating for THREE months, FOURTEEN years ago), the friend zone is not a real thing, and I think you may benefit from examining some of your mental framing around this guy in particular and men in general.)
posted by Iris Gambol at 11:42 PM on July 8, 2017 [110 favorites]

Wait, what role in what? You didn't do anything to hurt him (either, obviously, in not having sex with him or in dating someone he was friends with), and I don't understand what you apologized for. He's an asshole who treated you terribly and is acting like a baby because you still don't want to sleep with him. Whether you talk to Boyfriend about it depends on how much you trust Boyfriend (which is a different question). But while you may be friendly with HSEx, you are not friends, and it's probably time to turn that relationship a little more "politely icy" if he's going to continue to be an asshole to you (which he clearly is). He doesn't deserve a "confrontation" or a conversation about this, he's spent 14 years treating you like trash. Tell Boyfriend that dealing with him is exhausting you and you don't want to talk about him anymore, and move on in your headspace.
posted by brainmouse at 11:45 PM on July 8, 2017 [74 favorites]

Just wanted to second that you have NOTHING to apologise for. That guy is a total creep. He sounds a bit obsessed with you. Stay far away.
posted by drunkonthemoon at 11:50 PM on July 8, 2017 [21 favorites]

HSEx is an immature asshole.

Not sleeping with him way back when was a fantastic decision, even moreso in retrospect.

In no conceivable way do you owe this asshat anything even in the neighborhood of an apology. It is he who has perpetrated all the wrong in this;
this small person has chosen to spend the last decade-and-a-half bad-mouthing you.

He is a small, pathetic little person, and toxic.
posted by blueberry at 11:52 PM on July 8, 2017 [70 favorites]

Nthing all of the above. You can play it one of two ways -- either blank him completely, or come back with more of the same... "Man, it turned out I really dodged a bullet back then didn't I?". Depends which way you're comfortable with.

He's not a "joker and lifelong comedian", he's a dick.
posted by tillsbury at 12:04 AM on July 9, 2017 [44 favorites]

I'd always carried guilt for hurting him that way

You don't "hurt" someone by not wanting to have sex with them. Just because you're dating them doesn't mean you owe them sex. People take offence at all kinds of things, some of which are justified and some of which are most certainly not. This falls in the latter category, and really shows how self-entitled he is.
posted by aielen at 12:33 AM on July 9, 2017 [72 favorites]

I bit my tongue on a lot of things because I felt badly about what I had done to him.

What on earth are you talking about? From your description, you have done literally nothing to this guy.

He, on the other hand, has been a tremendous piece of shit for the better part of two decades.

He does not own his friends. They make their own decisions.

When making decisions on who to date, you are not obligated at all to consider the bizarre entitled feelings of your high school ex, who, if I understand correctly, went out of his way to hurt and humiliate you back then.

This guy is not your friend. I suggest that you never speak to him again, and avoid him in future. Don't bother confronting him, it's not worth your time. He'll never apologise. And you have done nothing to be forgiven for.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 1:13 AM on July 9, 2017 [68 favorites]

He is neither a "joker" nor your friend: he's just a mean, petty, and warped little boy who has never grown up, and who has been emotionally abusing you for damn near half your life. You have nothing to apologize for now, just like you had nothing to apologize for back then.

One thing that might help is to stop thinking of or referring to him as your "friend" and especially not as your "ex": he proves, every time he opens his mouth, that he isn't your friend; and continuing to call him your ex just keeps you emotionally tied to the jerk.
posted by easily confused at 1:24 AM on July 9, 2017 [16 favorites]

Don't pay for it at all. You have nothing to feel guilty for and nothing to regret. You dodged a bullet breaking up with the HS boyfriend and he's done nothing at all to earn your compassion or even your friendship.

Even though you live in a small town just don't interact with him at all. If he comes up in conversation, change the subject. If you see him on the street, give him a casual "hey" if you need to.

Because "She just loves dating my friends" implies that who I date has anything to do with him whatsoever.

Keep that in mind. Nothing you do has anything to do with him whatsoever.

Enjoy your boyfriend and don't waste another second worrying about HSEx or his feelings.

All the best. ❤️
posted by bendy at 2:11 AM on July 9, 2017 [7 favorites]

"She just loves dating my friends..."
(emphasis mine)

This guy is not your friend. He sees you as something that's happening to him, to his friends. He literally does not include you in the 'my friends' portion of that statement.

There is very little here for you to do anything about, be responsible for, or "own" in any way. That you're even spending this much time being aware of and sensitive to this history is emotional labor that he has successfully manipulated you into perpetuating, for the sake of his side of whatever "relationship" he thinks he has with you. You get nothing positive or fulfilling from him or from this situation. It does not need to continue. You will keep "paying for this" for as long as you keep showing up to it. But you don't need to be there at all!

I would let this guy fade away from your life. That is, do the bare minimum to engage with him, which includes the bare minimum of thinking about engaging with him in any way. It will be hard at first, but soon thinking about him for any more than a fleeting moment won't even occur to you. For now, if you catch yourself thinking about what to do about something concerning him for, say, five minutes then draw a line under it — "I will think about this for one more minute only and make a decision and move on." It doesn't have to be the "right" decision, it really, truly doesn't matter. Trust me on this. You are trying to break a habit — a bad dynamic that you are caught up in — and there is no involvement or decision outcome that is going to be important enough to justify any more time on this than you've already invested.

You've got your own life, your boyfriend, and all the things you do and look forward to. Everything else is the past and not worth any more of your time. Go forth and enjoy the hell out of everything ahead of you!
posted by iamkimiam at 3:35 AM on July 9, 2017 [8 favorites]

> He broke up with me because I wouldn't have sex with him, and then spread rumors about what a whore I was despite the fact that I was a virgin.

Why do you even still interact with this guy?
posted by empath at 3:51 AM on July 9, 2017 [28 favorites]

I'm also not seeing anything for which you ought to apologise.

"She just loves dating my friends..."
Two people in a decade out of a very small dating pool is not exactly a strong pattern. On the other hand, perhaps it is remarkable that he has 2 people he can call friends given what a jerk he seems to be.
posted by Cheese Monster at 3:53 AM on July 9, 2017 [7 favorites]

we broke up because he wanted to have sex and I was saving myself for marriage (at the time).

The only good reason for two people to maintain an intimate and sexually exclusive relationship is that it benefits both of them and continues to give both of them what they want from it, and that includes intimate and sexually exclusive relationships where the partners are not currently having sex with each other. Unless and until there have been vows exchanged, there is no reasonable obligation whatsoever to stay in such a relationship if it isn't working for you.

The end of an intimate relationship is usually emotionally painful for both ex-participants, but that doesn't mean that either of them has hurt the other by breaking up; the pain comes from the fact of the breakup itself, not from either ex-partner. There may have been hurt and betrayal that prompted the breakup, and guilt on the part of the perpetrator of that is entirely appropriate, but for the breakup itself none is ever called for.

When an intimate relationship becomes unsustainable because the people involved want fundamentally incompatible things from it - for example, as in your case, one wanting premarital sex and the other not - the ensuing breakup is definitely nobody's fault. So while there will generally be some degree of emotional pain for both, and while being associated with the emotional pain of a person you'd formerly been intimate with doesn't feel at all good, it's absolutely no cause for guilt because nothing wrong has been done.

Incompatibility is a sad thing, not a wrong thing.

I found out he'd spread rumors all over town about me being a whore and a slut and how I "broke his heart."

There are decent ways to handle the end of a relationship, and there are petty spiteful immature ways. The decent way is to own your own choices, manage your own pain, and wait until you can see the ex-partner as a whole person with their own life rather than a hideous rip in yours before deciding if and/or how to resume any kind of relationship with them. The petty spiteful immature way is to carry on as if the breakup must have been somebody's fault and clearly wasn't yours, and attempt to save your own ego and reputation by badmouthing the ex-partner to all and sundry.

However, such badmouthing only has the intended effect on people who are every bit as petty, spiteful and immature as the badmouther. To anybody else, it's repulsively unimpressive and reveals the badmouther to be somebody badly in need of growing the fuck up.

about 5 months later started dating someone else. I found out later that they were actually very close (best) friends, but I was still pretty angry about what happened, and after expressing my sincere apologies, continued to date him anyway.

The only reason you could possibly have felt a need to issue those apologies is that you believed a filthy lie that children of all genders are socialized into swallowing by the patriarchy: that being a woman carries an inbuilt obligation to soothe and smooth the feelings of upset men.

That 2.5 year relationship ended up being emotionally (and otherwise) abusive, so no happy endings there.

Anybody who remains besties with a spiteful immature little prick like HSEx is, as noted above, quite likely to be one himself.

Therein lies the problem with dating in your hometown, ugh.


I carried a lot of guilt about the way the last relationship played out, for close to ten years.

If I were you, at this point I would be fucking furious at every prick who ever even hinted that such guilt was in any way appropriate or called for. Ten days of undeserved misery is too many, let alone ten years.

But now I'm not sure how to handle this.

Internally I'd be inclined to deal with it by writing HSEx off as a petty spiteful little prick who had ten years to grow out of that and still has not had the gumption to do so. He deserves nothing from you, not even the steam off your shit if he was dying of hypothermia. Put him behind you and move on.

Do I tell Boyfriend how upset I am, even though a part of me feels like I'm just thinking too much?

If Boyfriend is a keeper, he's somebody you'll get comfort from by talking this out with him. To my way of thinking, that's a big part of what intimacy is for.

Do I confront HSEx, even though all he's gonna do is deny it?

Nah. That guy can just fuck off out of your life and stay there. No point you dragging him back in on purpose. Shit is for scraping off your shoe, not sticking your finger in to see if it still stinks.

the guy from the emotionally abusive relationship has apologized for his part, we had closure, we moved on as friends. Nothing else to it, no salt, no guilt trips, at least not at this point, 6 years after the breakup.

People can change when they want to. Sounds like this one chose to grow up. He can have some marks.

What do you think?

I think it's worth keeping on reminding yourself that tying yourself in knots over the tiny mind of this worthless little prick is a waste of your time for as long as it takes for you to stop doing it.
posted by flabdablet at 4:49 AM on July 9, 2017 [20 favorites]

You had already paid for this too long the moment it even crossed your mind.

It took me three reads of this just to figure out how you were supposed to have hurt him before I realized you meant 'by dating his friends'. A 3 month relationship in high school does not preclude you from ever dating anyone he is friends with ever again. If he's hurt by the fact that years later, you and a close friend of his dated for awhile, that his own water to bear. This is triply especially true in a small town.
posted by jacquilynne at 4:52 AM on July 9, 2017 [20 favorites]

Break-ups happen. If you had immediately dated several of this guy's friends after breaking up, he could potentially have a few whining chips for that ... but they would have expired about 13 years ago. This stuff happens in small towns, and he's choosing to make it all about him.

There is absolutely nothing you've done that you've described here that you should feel guilty for or that requires an apology.

This guy is not your friend. It may be difficult to completely cut off contact with someone in a small town where you have many friends in common, but you should limit your exposure. And the next time he brings up anything at all about you dating his friends, you could say something like "Dude, it was 14 years ago. I don't understand why you're still talking about it and I'm done listening." And walk away.
posted by bunderful at 5:33 AM on July 9, 2017 [5 favorites]

If he is still suffering, it is suffering largely of his own making, perhaps partly the making of friends or relatives who told him stories that cast him as some kind of romantic hero with you as his destined one true love or that cast him as a passionate rogue who should always get the innocent girl he likes, or, that make it so shameful for him to admit his mistakes that he felt he had to put the blame on you for the end of the picture of the relationship you were in.

Now he's got a story in his head that prevents him from telling the truth about your past, about his untruths, and about the fact that the only reason you guys keep crossing paths is that it is such a small town.

These stories make normal life events much more painful for him than they have to be. Unfortunately, that pain is being passed to you.

In this place that is your home, and that may be your children's home someday, you are surrounded by people who believe things about you that aren't true. You might want to fix that.

I love you for your compassion, and I won't tell you that it's wrong to want to help others as much as we can. I do think you should be careful not to cast yourself as the responsible party for this, or as somehow in control of his feelings. More importantly, if you had a daughter, or a young friend, or even an older friend, and she was in a relationship with a sweet but imperfect boy who wanted more with her, would you want her feeling guilty for saying no? Would you want everyone around her to feel it was her responsibility to control his feelings at the expense of her own?
posted by amtho at 5:57 AM on July 9, 2017 [3 favorites]

Some people never leave high school behind. And it continues all through their lives. i don't think you are one of those people, but your ex is trying hard to keep you there. Don't let him. As for how to handle it personally AND publicly, I would just keep repeating that.

Some people never leave high school behind.

Silently to myself, with pity. Out loud to anyone who gets caught in his blowback, with humor or surprise or sympathy or matter-of-factly or whatever the situation calls for. And leave it at that.
posted by raisingsand at 6:09 AM on July 9, 2017 [6 favorites]

Do I tell Boyfriend how upset I am, even though a part of me feels like I'm just thinking too much?

I think everyone above is spot-on. Look, just because the guy has a bad feeling doesn't make you responsible for it. You have got to let go of that. Secondly, you should have a frank one-time discussion with your boyfriend: "Sharing with me what [asshat] said brought up a lot of bad feelings which I need to lay to rest. He and I briefly dated and it didn't work out and while I tried to maintain a friendship, I realize that he has actually been a whiny, entitled, dick who spread untruths about me and has been anything but a friend. I need him out of my life and I'm done with him. Can you help protect me from his bullshit and help me keep my distance? I don't want to know anything he says or does about anything because it causes me pain and I don't deserve it." Any good man will do that for you.
posted by amanda at 6:11 AM on July 9, 2017 [16 favorites]

When you dodge a bullet, you don't have to go looking for it so you can apologize to it. It has no good intentions towards you, you don't owe it anything, its problems are entirely its own, and the farther you are from it the happier you'll be. Thank your lucky stars and/or congratulate yourself on the fancy footwork that got you out of its path, and stay out of it.
posted by Sing Or Swim at 6:29 AM on July 9, 2017 [7 favorites]

Let me write for you the only apology it is remotely appropriate for you to make:

"I'm sorry that I put up with your shit for this long. Boy, bye."
posted by bile and syntax at 6:42 AM on July 9, 2017 [12 favorites]

I think if you try and confront HSex about his shitty behavior, he will just be pleased that he still has the ability to hurt you. So I think the best course of action is:

1. Remember that your HSex is an asshole and you don't owe him a damn thing.

2. Try and be kind to yourself and stop beating yourself up for doing perfectly normal things like dating a 3 people who know each other in a small town over a period of 14 years.

3. Cut contact down to a minimum with HSex. Unfriend him from your social media (he's not your friend; he's been abusing you for 14 years). When you see him in person, keep the conversation as bland as possible and leave the conversation as quickly as possible. Some good exiting lines are (depending on the context): "Well, I've got to finish up the rest of my errands. Have a nice day" or "Oh! I just saw Cathy over by the barbecue. I've got to tell her I can't make it to lunch next week. See you around" or "I'm going to go get a drink. I'll see you around."

4. I feel like Charlize Theron's advice about how to walk like a queen is relevant somehow: "You've got to come from your core--really tight. Shoulders down, neck long. And then just think: 'Murder,' and walk."
posted by colfax at 6:45 AM on July 9, 2017 [13 favorites]

In many smallish social circles it is incredibly common for people to date each others' friends. A close friend in college dated, like, two guys from our immediate social circle in the course of s couple of years and then married a third on graduation, and no one said boo. In queer social circles, too, this is ridiculously common. It's just...normal, because we all tend to have social circles of people we're compatible with. His narrative that you should find completely different people to date or else you're "dating his friends" and that's sketchy is not a legit narrative.

Also, you are not responsible for his feelings. He is the person who has decided that a three month relationship ten years ago - when you were kids! - is still something he gets to feel angry and entitled about. This is sad, and honestly it suggests that he needs therapy, but it's not your responsibility. It's his responsibility to manage his feelings. We all do go on feeling sad and angry about events of our youth for a long time, that's true, but that's different from feeling like we should act out about those events all the time.

There's a difference between regret and responsibility. You regret that you hurt him (even though he then acted horribly, far worse than you) and that's legit - you don't like to hurt people. You can feel sad that you weren't compatible and couldn't make each other happy. (Although honestly, the whole "lying about you" thing would burn that sadness right out of me if it were me.). But you're not responsible for fixing his feelings. Not only are they his feelings and only he can fix them, but you did nothing wrong.

I really feel you on this one, because it is very hard to say to yourself, "I am sad that circumstances meant that [something happened], but I don't feel guilty because that's how it had to be, and I'm not going to rush in and fix it.".

I think that women are taught that if they feel sad, it's their job to fix the thing that's making them sad, even when it doesn't deserve to be fixed. You were sad because you hurt this guy's feelings by doing something that was necessary and appropriate. That's legit. That doesn't mean that you have to fix his feelings, or put up with his shit for years while he fixes them.
posted by Frowner at 6:55 AM on July 9, 2017 [13 favorites]

You wouldn't have sex with him, and he called you a what now?

The only reason I can fathom that you would excuse this is if he has somehow gotten into your head and convinced you that he knows you better than you do. Or something along the lines of "mindfuck." Sorry to speak so brutally, but you sure wouldn't let a stranger treat you like that, which tells me, on some level you accept his ugly definition of you. No more. Re-evaluate how he's treated you, ruthlessly. Then sit down and write a letter telling him what a jerk he is and how hurt YOU are over how he treated you. You may or may not give it to him, that's up to you. But the point I am trying to make is, you need to get his words and ideas about who you are and who he is out of your head and replace them with your own, created in the light of all the life experience you have gained in fourteen years.
posted by Crystal Fox at 7:16 AM on July 9, 2017 [5 favorites]

I dated a wonderful young lady many years ago. Then I dated her best friend. This was in a smallish city where social groups are long lasting and densely connected. When I say she remained my friend, what I mean is this: she made our wedding cake. She is my friend.

By giving into the narrative that you are somehow to blame for dating his friends is to give into the narrative that he somehow owns you because you dated him so, so very briefly. He does not own you, he does not own your sexuality, he does not own his friends, and he does not get to decide what other people do with whom or when.

In my view, this is a time to measure the quality of the relationship with your current boyfriend. It is entirely reasonable to ask him to not discuss you with your piggish ex, and not to discuss your piggish ex with you. If he wants to maintain a friendship with someone who has been abusing you and his friends for years, that's fine, but I don't think you should be a party to it, and definitely not on the piggish ex' terms. If your current boyfriend does not or cannot understand this, you have learned a crucial thing about him, too.

Please carry with you, from now on, the knowledge that you did nothing wrong, ever, at any point. Nobody owns you. You get to decide to whom you share your worthy and desirable affections, and only on your terms. Anyone who tells you differently is trying to control you. And you are entirely within your rights to jettison that person through the airlock and into space.
posted by TheNewWazoo at 7:44 AM on July 9, 2017 [12 favorites]

Most people are better at handling rejection than your high school ex.
posted by amtho at 7:49 AM on July 9, 2017 [1 favorite]

Feeling guilty for ten years for not having sex with a teenage boy is not okay. It's your body, every day of your life, and you owe it to nobody ever, without apology, without punishment, you always have the right to say no.

Him tormenting you for ten years is not okay. Nobody is justified in this behavior ever, there is no loophole that makes this okay.

Your boyfriend being okay with it is not okay. People who really care about you - not even love, just think you deserve to be treated like a human being - would not think this was okay. He's extremely poor quality as a person, there is no loophole that makes that okay.

You are surrounded by abusive assholes, and you've convinced yourself that you deserve it. Cut off the ex forever (and it doesn't matter if he's a comedian or whatever other excuses you're making for him, that's not a license to be an abusive piece of shit), strongly eyeball the boyfriend, and at least start with a book on self esteem if not a therapist.

You deserve better than this. Everyone deserves better than this.
posted by Lyn Never at 9:59 AM on July 9, 2017 [17 favorites]

This ex of yours is taking up way too much real estate in your head. He's making you miserable and that's crazy. Because A. you did nothing wrong--literally, not a single thing--and B. he's an asshole. You only have control over yourself, not him. You need to move past this guy in a big way. It's been 14 years since you broke up with him. He treated you badly and yet you feel guilt and, finally, anger. What's up with that? It's time to evict this guy from your brain and your life. I'm not sure why you still give a shit what this guy does or says. Do you know? Hope you figure out how to give him the emotional boot.
posted by Bella Donna at 11:04 AM on July 9, 2017 [3 favorites]

Please note the above answers and how many times they were favorited.

When people on the internet care more about you and worry more about your well-being and happiness than a supposed 'lifelong friend' then it's time to kick the jerk to the curb.
posted by BlueHorse at 12:04 PM on July 9, 2017 [9 favorites]

So, when you were a child, you hung out with a boy for 90 days. That is not an "Ex", it is somone you experimented playing grown up with. For a very short amount of time. I would first question why you seem to think it was at the same level as an adult relationship.

Also, he said abusive crap to/about you and so did your adult 'ex' that you dated when you were an actual adult, and they are best friends? That has got to tell you something about both of them.

Listen to the advice above, but this might be a good time to do a bit of introspective work as well.

And feel free to tell him to "suck it", really.
posted by Vaike at 12:32 PM on July 9, 2017 [6 favorites]

I agree strongly with all the advice above that you did not do anything that needs apologizing, and definitely not anything that you should be "paying for" almost two decades later. This has the bitter stink of gaslighting.

But I am also curious how your social circle views this whole situation. It sounds like a pretty close-knit community, and sometimes that kind of environment can lead to warped groupthink. I hope your boyfriend, family, and other people close to you are supportive of YOU, and haven't bought into this man-child's delusional thinking.
posted by basalganglia at 4:37 PM on July 9, 2017 [6 favorites]

I believe that metaseekers [EDIT: now deleted] advice has the potential to backfire in a horrible, misogynistic-fueled manner. If you want to go the route of embarrassing him in public I think you would do best to stick closer to the truth... something like

We dated for a couple of months back in 2000 and three!

You really need to get over it!

Honestly, find a therapist, because you are a f'ing STALKER who's been whining about this for over fourteen godamned years!

That's not something healthy 30-year-olds do.

Everyone else grew up after high school,
it's time for you to do the same."
But again, if this guy is this much of an asshat, I would worry he might go from whining to actual stalking or violence.

My suggestion would be to not speak to him at all, and if people ask you why, just say that he has behaved in a stalker-like way since you knew him in high school.
posted by blueberry at 12:30 AM on July 10, 2017 [1 favorite]

I didn't ready any of the comments, so I'm sure this is already said, but I just need to type it out. I hate your ex with the fire of a thousand suns. He owes you a serious apology for lying about you when you were younger (I don't give a shit about you having sex with whoever you wanted when you were in high school, but it's major league wrong for him to lie about it to hurt you). If he was really your friend, he'd never make these asshole jokes, jabs, or backhanded comments, and he would apologize and make amends for being a fucking asshole then and now.

I'd tell your current boyfriend because why not? Don't let loooooooser change how you choose to communicate with people who actually love, support, and appreciate you.

Lastly, "guilt for hurting him that way"? That is bad guilt, you have nothing to feel guilty for: it's you who gets to decide who you fuck and who you don't, you owe no one anything, and should never feel guilty for your decision. A thousand suns of fire to burn the shithead who would tell you otherwise.

FWIW, I was a dumb teenage boy at one point. Fuck the patriarchy. Sorry for swearing so much.
posted by history is a weapon at 6:22 AM on July 10, 2017 [5 favorites]

I have an embarrassing story about high school me. It's relevant, I promise.

I dated a dude for like three months when I was a freshman in high school. Started off okay, but we never really hung out or anything, so I was feeling like it was time to call it quits. However, having never broken up with anyone before, and being something of an awkward kid, I had no idea how to actually go about DOING that. So the conversation went something like this:

Me: "Are we still going out?"
Him: "Yeah."
Me: "...Do we have to?"

Yes. Those are words that left my mouth. Yes, I realize now how shitty a way that was to break up with someone, even for high school when no one knows anything about dating yet. This could have easily blown up into A Thing if he or his friends had taken it upon themselves to make it so, and honestly, I probably would have deserved some cold shoulder for a breakup line that egregiously terrible.


After a few weeks? We were cool again. He didn't spread any rumors, he didn't badmouth me to all of his friends, he didn't seem to be sulking about it, and we were even able to eventually look back and laugh at my social incompetence from a genuine place of no-hard-feelings.

When I was a senior, I dated his best friend. Do you know how his best friend got my number to ask me out? He was already dating one of MY friends, and he asked her to ask me if I was cool with sharing my number. (Because high school--you could never just ASK directly, ya know?) He was, in fact, a facilitator of my dating his best friend.

We are still, to this day, friends on Facebook, despite my eventual terrible breakup with his best friend. I met up with him for food and hang time when I was visiting the city he now lives in a few years ago and we had a blast. He's a good dude. He's engaged to a woman we were both friends with in high school, and they're adorable together. The only time our brief high school relationship comes up is when we both need a good laugh.

Contrast my story with the scenario you have described here. Look at the way a short-lived high school relationship can play out in the long run, even when dating an ex's friends. Look at all of the ways it DIDN'T go that way for you because your high school ex is a selfish nightmare human who thinks he's entitled to any part of you and can't take rejection like a grown up.

Now ask yourself if you still want to waste even a second feeling anything but contempt for this person before you cut them as out of your life as you can given the size of your town.
posted by helloimjennsco at 2:12 PM on July 11, 2017 [4 favorites]

All I could think while I was reading your ask is, fuck that guy. Why on earth would you think you ever needed to apologize to him? You didn't owe him sex then and you don't owe him apologies now. Eliminate him from your life and anyone who takes his side in this.
posted by poppunkcat at 2:18 PM on July 12, 2017 [2 favorites]

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