Friend + kiss = now + history
October 26, 2006 1:22 PM   Subscribe

What do I do about an old friend who wants to get back together with his old girlfriend, who I am now pursuing? They broke up a long time ago.

Over the weekend, an old friend (call her Ann) and I went out, snogged a bit, and I spent a while later on combing through the "Should I make an old friend my girlfriend?" questions here. Suffice it to say that the jury is still out and who knows what will happen yet. We get along very well but don't hang out very often. We've known each other for a long time, back to high school. I like her, we're both single, I've always been attracted to her, and so on. We've both always been in long-term relationships, so it's kind of a coincidence right now. Basically, I'm in the middle of deciding on the pursuit.

This is complicated a little (more later) by the fact that back in the old days her first long relationship was with a very good friend of mine (call him Bob). They went out for many years, I never understood what kept them together, and it was all very dramatic all the way up until he left her for her best friend (call her Cathy). He has been married to this woman for ~7-8 years and they have a 5 year old girl together. He also went from being a skatepunk to being a born-again Christian living happily amongst his close-knit-but-damaged family (long story).

Really, this seemed like the crux of my issue until last night, that our getting together might be too complicated given his presence in both of our lives and her humiliation in their breakup. She does not refer to him in positive terms, to say the least. I don't speak to him much at all, maybe an email or phone call once or twice a year to catch up and some flaky plans to get together (he lives about 1000 miles away) that never pan out.

Last night I received an extremely dramatic email from Bob saying that he needs Ann back, needs to speak to her, to pass the email to her, that she is the one, etc. It is very badly written, many misspellings, and is completely out of the blue (sample line: "Tell her thatr I know she was the best, she is it./ Tel her I would give my live for"). I have to wonder if he's stopped taking (or has started taking) some kind of meds, but that's just an inkling.

So now I see myself being caught in the middle of an old friend, and older friend, two emotional situations and an email. I'm pretty sure this isn't one big triangle but rather two separate but connected situations, but it's the first time I've been in anything this soapy and thought I'd ponder the hivemind to see what kinds of suggestions y'all might have.
posted by rhizome to Human Relations (30 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Nothing good comes of jumping in the middle of someone's love life. E-mail Bob back and tell him he'll have to deal with Ann himself. If she picks him over you, it was never meant to be.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 1:29 PM on October 26, 2006 [1 favorite]

Meds may be it, but it's also possible Bob had a little drinky before writing that email.

If it were me, I'd follow up with Bob to find out if his intentions are still the same in the light of day.

If this was a transient event, there's no triangle, just your funny pal Bob.

That Bob!
posted by o2b at 1:30 PM on October 26, 2006

Plus, looks like Bob may have been intoxicated when he wrote the e-mail (he's married to someone else, right?). So you could e-mail him back, and the subject will never ever come up again. Again, I say, not your business, stay out, pursue your thing with Ann completely separately.

Your real question here is, do you tell her? I would say no, never, or at least not for years and years and years and years. Let Bob deal with this issue himself.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 1:32 PM on October 26, 2006 [1 favorite]

Pass Bob's email along to Ann (maybe with a note that you are simply doing as Bob has asked, but other than that are staying out of it) and let her decide for herself what she wants to do about it. From what you've said about how she feels about him, she won't be interested in getting back together and may not answer Bob at all. Let her deal with it the way that is best for her, and keep your budding relationship with her separate from this issue. If Bob presses you for information as to Ann's whereabouts or to intervene on his behalf, you can respectfully decline.
posted by Nathanial Hörnblowér at 1:37 PM on October 26, 2006

He's not in the same geographic area, he's married, he's not a close friend, and it sounds like he's not really a friend at all. You don't really have a responsibility to him here. Seconding TPS -- tell Bob you're not going to get in the middle of that and let him sort that out himself.

I think there's a separate issue of whether you mention it to Ann, since if you do want a relationship with her then you do have some sort of responsibility to her. If Bob contacting her is going to upset her, and she finds out you knew he might and could have warned her, would she be upset with you? Would you feel she had the right to be?
posted by occhiblu at 1:37 PM on October 26, 2006

Unless Bob has Ann's contact info already. If so, tell him to leave you out of it and communicate with Ann directly.
posted by Nathanial Hörnblowér at 1:38 PM on October 26, 2006

Email, especially possibly-intoxicated late night email, is not a reliable communication avenue. That specific piece of correspondence is yours to do with what you will -- think of it as you would a needy ramble from any friend who isn't currently in the right state of mind. While it's not particularly great, I think it's fair to "lose" it.

If you think you have a good thing going, keep going with it. I have a hard time believing that it's your responsibility to pass on a letter that likely has no good repercussions and works against your own intentions.
posted by mikeh at 1:48 PM on October 26, 2006

Delete it. If it wasn't stoned ramblings he'll bring it up again and you can honestly and straightforwardly tell Bob the situation at that point - when you hopefully have more idea what it is.

With five years, marriage and kids as water under the bridge you certainly don't owe him anything more than plainspoken honesty and you should feel no guilt or reluctance to do what you want to do.
posted by phearlez at 1:58 PM on October 26, 2006

Great advice already as always. It's perfectly acceptable to tell Bob that you don't want to get in the middle of whatever he has with Ann and to tell Ann that you like her and want to hang out more one-on-one.
posted by muddgirl at 2:11 PM on October 26, 2006

Ignore the E-mail. Take what's yours.
posted by Ironmouth at 2:12 PM on October 26, 2006 [1 favorite]

This guy sounds completely insane. Ignore the mail, him, and go for it. What a loon. It seems apparent too that she'd have no interest.
posted by xmutex at 2:16 PM on October 26, 2006

Take what's yours.

Yeah, rhizome, just hit her on the head and throw her over your shoulder like the piece of meat she is. She has no say in the matter, right? She's just a possession!
posted by Nathanial Hörnblowér at 2:18 PM on October 26, 2006

Response by poster: Ah yes, "ignore it," was my first reaction, simply because I'd rather not have anything complicating my life like that, budding relationship or no. Then I wondered if I had some greater responsibility, that's all. Believe me, I have enough trouble jumping into the middle of my *own* love life already.

I'm certainly not going to play any part in breaking up a marriage, but the timing of the email was just too perfect for me to pry beyond it being a coincidence. He does know that I'm in touch with her, which means I'm likely the only bridge to her that he knows of (really I should have told him I didn't know where she is when he asked). I do consider him to be a good friend though, and we were basically inseperable from adolescence to early college (when he quit to go out with Ann).

That said, I have suspected that which I know have proof for, that Bob regrets what happened with Ann, but with all he has in his life now I would suggest he get help moving on from it than trying to get back to it.
posted by rhizome at 2:19 PM on October 26, 2006

It seems apparent too that she'd have no interest.

But why not let her make that decision herself?
posted by Nathanial Hörnblowér at 2:20 PM on October 26, 2006

Best answer:
The guy sounds like a fool. Do not toss away the potential for much happiness with a great girl for some drunk, married, cheating fool that lives a thousand miles away and who would only hurt her more anyway.

He had his chance. As they say, you snooze you lose. (But, just make sure you're not the one snoozing.)
posted by milarepa at 2:20 PM on October 26, 2006

Response by poster: This guy sounds completely insane.

Funny thing that, he's like a "VP Sales" kind of guy. Not a bad provider or anything, he's just the "too sensitive" kind of Born Again Christian. Which probably carries a healthy dollop of guilt.
posted by rhizome at 2:22 PM on October 26, 2006

If you could only choose one of them, who would you rather have in your life? Take your answer and run with it.
posted by milarepa at 2:25 PM on October 26, 2006

I'd delete the email, but I'd also mention to her that you got a crazy, possibly drunken email from Bob about her. More than likely, she'll roll her eyes and you can both laugh about it. If she wants to talk to Bob or wants to know what was in the email, she can contact him and ask him herself. This way, you're honest with her, you don't get yourself involved in any mess between the two of them, and you can move forward with her without any guilt or weirdness.
posted by decathecting at 2:27 PM on October 26, 2006

Response by poster: >It seems apparent too that she'd have no interest.

But why not let her make that decision herself?

On the extremely rare occasions (twice, maybe three times since they broke up) that he comes up in conversation she does things like refer to someone we've both formative relationships with since teen years by his complete name, "back in the Bob Smith years," stuff like that. Sure, she could be masking her love by maintaining a consistent rhetoric of dislike toward the guy, but knowing (and having been there for) the story of their breakup, I tend toward trusting her attitude.
posted by rhizome at 2:27 PM on October 26, 2006

Best answer: What is more likely:

Someone genuinely interested in rekindling things with an old flame sends out an out-of-the-blue, crazily-written midnight email to an occasional-contact friend, determined to abandon his happy family of 7-8 years for a toxic relationship that broke up in bad terms quite a while ago


Someone getting a wee bit intoxicated, ruminated in the deep night alone on past relationships and the good ol' days, entertaining little dissatisfactions with their current life, works himself into a nostalgic frenzy and contacts a formerly very close friend from his youth about a former long-term relationship from his youth, with the drunken determination to escape the doldrums of married life. Upon waking up, he immediately banishes these thoughts from his head, if he ever reminded he had them in the first place.

For the love of God, ignore the email, pretend nothing, and certainly don't forward it to Ann (because, you know, it would do wonders for his relationship with his wife and his non-relationship with Ann). Eliminate the email from your musings about a future relationship with Ann, and only revisit this thread if further, less nutty emails are received from Bob.
posted by schroedinger at 2:35 PM on October 26, 2006

Er, remembered he had them in the first place.

Also: Whether or not Bob knows about you and Ann doesn't matter. To me, that email is still not evidence of a legitimate complaint.

Anyway, he's married. He's 1,000 miles away. The only way this could possibly be shoved insensitively in his face is if you or Ann call him up, waxing long on how happy you are, or send him recordings of the two of you making out until you have welts on your lips. I am all for being sensitive to friend's emotions regarding past relationships and whatnot, but Jesus, something that happened nearly a decade ago? And the friend is married? Let's be serious here, the time for him getting back with Ann has long passed the expiration date.
posted by schroedinger at 2:39 PM on October 26, 2006

Tell Bob that if he feels that way, he has to tell Ann himself.

This way you've carried out any duty to Bob what so ever.
posted by drezdn at 3:00 PM on October 26, 2006

The timing's too perfect, as you said. I'd lay money that Bob's got wind of what's going on (were you in public? has she told someone? have you?), and he's hoping to guilt you into dropping her. Ignore.
posted by Leon at 3:31 PM on October 26, 2006

Response by poster: I'd lay money that Bob's got wind of what's going on

The thing is, I highly doubt that as he's been out of the area for a long time, is a bit of a persona non-grata due to the circumstances of the breakup and wife-accrual events, and he comes to me to find out what's going on with people. To a certain extent he's cut himself off. I mean, it's possible, but that would involve some real behind-the-scenes weirdness to which the last 5 years of my sense of this group.
posted by rhizome at 4:11 PM on October 26, 2006

So now I see myself being caught in the middle of an old friend, and older friend, two emotional situations and an email.

There's nothing to get in the middle of here. He's married, has kid is a 1,000 miles away and royally screwed Ann. I doubt they have much of a future.

You and Ann, on the other hand, are both single, nearby and have great relationship.

Just be prepared for Bob getting pissed if you start dating Ann.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:15 PM on October 26, 2006 [1 favorite]

Ignore it. If asked "Man, my spam filters catch all sorts of stuff they shouldn't..."

All this "Confess!" bullshit is people trying to talk you into drama that no good will come from. In ten years you can tell Ann and chuckle.
posted by klangklangston at 8:46 PM on October 26, 2006

Report it as spam.
posted by flabdablet at 11:06 PM on October 26, 2006

Fortune favors the bold.

A married guy who drunkenly emails an old friend with a poorly spelled, incoherent rant; indicating that he wants YOUR girlfriend - that's bold, but in the wrong direction. It's a bold step forward into stupidness land.

Be bold yourself - toss the email and forget about it. Never mention it to either of them.
posted by ikkyu2 at 12:44 AM on October 27, 2006

You could tell Anne you have an email from Bob and ask whether she wants it. If she says 'no' then you can bin it and email Bob back saying she didn't want to know.

Downside is that you'll have to show her if she says 'yes' but at least with my advice, the probable option (ie. the other one) will mean you haven't lied, witheld or done anything wrong.

Unless of course, you and Anne are properly going out, in which case email him back and tell him that and you're done.

After all, if you delete Bob's email and he finds another way to get through to Anne, then you're going to have to do some explaining.
posted by mr_silver at 12:51 AM on October 27, 2006

Tell Ann about your email from Bob and them let her know that you have feelings for her.
posted by onepapertiger at 7:23 AM on October 27, 2006

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