Why bother getting back in touch?
October 8, 2007 5:53 PM   Subscribe

Help me figure out the intentions of an ex who briefly got back in touch with me and invited me for a visit. What was his agenda, if any?

Back in my early 20s I was pretty attached to one friend where we'd hooked up, but it never panned out. Mostly I hung in there hoping he'd stop juggling multiple girls and finally realize that what we had (and he usually referred to me as one of his closest friends) was as good as it was going to get. Eventually I wised up that this wasn't going to happen and moved on, including cutting ties. He wasn't happy about this and I finally told him that I didn't want to see/talk to him anymore in a manner that was pretty blunt and harsh. I go on with my life and in general don't think about him for years.

Fast forward ahead to the age of social networking and we end up bumping against each other on Friendster. I did feel bad about being really nasty in my last communication with him, so I sent a simple note saying that I'd always felt bad about how I ended it and that I wanted to apologize for being a little harsh/blunt with him. A year passes and I get a long note back from him saying that he'd been shocked and excited to hear from me and was curious given all the comments I had in my profile about what I'd been doing with my life.

So we exchange a couple non-committal e-mails and then he expresses an interest in meeting up with me sometime when we're both back in our hometowns. We both have elderly parents in ailing health, so we start talking on the phone a lot about that. However every time we're supposed to meet up, he ends up canceling out on me.

Finally about 3.5 years after the first initial message, I have to go to the town he lives in for a work related conference. He ends up asking me to come visit for the weekend to hang out. I have no expectation of anything other than just as friends, but considering that we've reconnected in such a great way, I'm totally excited. Anybody I mention it too says that he's got to have some kind of agenda to invite me for the weekend.

I go to visit for him the weekend and get the Third Degree from him about all the places I've traveled, cities I've lived, where I've gone to school and worked et cetera. He's intensely curious about what I've been doing in this interim time, especially because it seems like our lives are on parallel paths.

Anyhow, one of the days I was visiting we were going off on a day trip when he announces that he's invited along a coworker of his. Who was a very nice person and a very good sport considering some of the car problems we ended up having that day! However in the back of my mind, I was wondering why if he hasn't seen me in many many years, why would he invite along somebody else whom he sees everyday at work? Is my personality that grating?

The following day it gets even more strange because I was introduced a woman where he's mentioned having a really close friendship with. Who is clearly not happy to meet me and I think pissed off at him. It's actually the last week that she's in the US before having to go back to her home country because her visa has expired. Also, their "friendship" seems to be based on him bending over backwards to take care of her every whim and need (which she never seems to thank him for). They drop me off at the hotel I'm staying at for my conference and I literally have not heard from him since then - other than to say he's going to visit this gal in her home country for Christmas.

Anyhow, the thing I'm still baffled by is why he made a big deal of inviting me down for a weekend and then dropping me again? Especially after making a big deal about what a cool person I'd become in our time apart. The majority of my friends have said that he had some kind of agenda or curiosity in inviting me down. So I know that it wasn't meant to be a casual situation. The best explanations so far are:

1) There's something going on between him and the "close friend" whose visa was expiring. So he probably backed off because of her unhappiness over my visit.

2) He's pretty unhappy with his own personal/professional situation and seeing me happy/settled makes him feel insecure about himself.

I don't know, mostly I just wonder what the point was of going out of his way to invite me to be his houseguest, drive me around, say lots of flattering things about how I've turned out, and then drop me again. But fortunately having long moved past the point of pining over him, I'm just more curious about what his motivation could've been, rather than obsessing over why he won't call me back.
posted by gov_moonbeam to Human Relations (17 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
He was probably involved with the foreign hoochie mama, witness his visit to her. Sounds like she found you threatening and was annoyed. Sounds like he was in the doghouse and knew it. Perhaps he invited his coworker as a buffer/chaperone because she was pissed that her SO was hanging out with someone he found just abit too compelling. Sounds like he is still having messy relationships that cause other people pain. No idea why he invited you, except he sounds like he is always looking at the greener grass.
posted by zia at 6:16 PM on October 8, 2007

He would be the best person to ask this question to.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:19 PM on October 8, 2007

You are totally overthinking the situation. Even though you say that you had no expectations about the visit, I think your reactions towards hanging out with the co-worker and meeting the girlfriend totally indicate that you had some kind of hope that something was going to happen.

Consider the possibility that he had no ulterior motives in inviting you to visit. He may have just wanted to connect with an old friend (you) and hang out, nothing else.

You are being pretty harsh about his girlfriend, when you don't really even know her or what her relationship with your friend is like when you aren't around.

It's entirely possible that that he really loves his girlfriend, and that she was pissed off by having you (a cute, successful female friend with whom he has previously hooked up) come visit. Your friend may be blowing you off in order to keep a harmonious relationship with his girlfriend. Another thing to think about: an expired Visa can really, really suck and stress a person out, so maybe she was more upset about that than about meeting you.

Try to quit thinking about it. It sounds like you had a nice time hanging out. Keep checking in with him a couple of times a year. Old friends are more valuable than failed romances.
posted by pluckysparrow at 6:22 PM on October 8, 2007

I just wonder what the point was of going out of his way to invite me to be his houseguest, drive me around, say lots of flattering things about how I've turned out, and then drop me again.

He sounds like a nice guy who probably couldn't conceive of the fact that you'd see his invitation as anything other than a "hey let's get together next time you're in town" thing. Everything else that seemed hinky to you is just looking that way because you had some sort of expectation or hope that things might turn out different. I agree it's not totally clueful to invite an old flame out for a weekend without being clear about what you were intending [pro or con] but maybe that's his deal.

So, he didn't drop you, he never actually picked you up. Seems like he reconnected, figured out what you were up to, caught up and then you returned to a place in his life sort of like where you were already, a distant (but now not entirely MIA) acquaintance that he ued to have a thing with a long time ago. The fact that you see this as some connected string of occurrences when they took place over three and a half years seems to suggest you are seeing it differently that he is, at the very least.

So, to be more specific, there are many reasonable explanations for his actions.

1. I was wondering why if he hasn't seen me in many many years, why would he invite along somebody else whom he sees everyday at work? Is my personality that grating?

because you weren't on a date with him.

2. I know that it wasn't meant to be a casual situation.

maybe it was and your friends are wrong

3. There's something going on between him and the "close friend" whose visa was expiring. So he probably backed off because of her unhappiness over my visit.

Or he's dating her and not dating you.

There are a ton of plausible explanations, but if you look at his actions, they seem normal assuming you were one of his closest friends but not some sort of ex-girlfriend. You've both theoretically moved on and you were clear way back when that you didn't want to see him so he's likely still more or less in that mode of having a life without you even though you were sorry that you treated him badly. Again, the scenario as you described it seems pretty normal, your reaction seems less normal, to me.
posted by jessamyn at 6:25 PM on October 8, 2007 [2 favorites]

He's confused about his own intentions and wants attention.
posted by desuetude at 6:29 PM on October 8, 2007

Maybe he was hoping for a really over the top "I was such an asshole and you are such a perfect person" apology, and is now ticked that you didn't fulfill his need for an ego spa weekend?

Although really he sounds like your average used car salesman/"IT guy"-type. They just get off on having more plans than time lined up, hence multiple cancellations, last minute "oh, so-and-so is also coming along"-ness, and generally making people get in line to see them. Other signs include incessantly talking on bluetooth headsets, random namedropping about the people they've spent time with recently, hordes of "but he's so well spoken, I thought he would settle down once I made it clear I was serious" women following them around, and the strong smell of hair oil.

(On preview, I see other people are being a lot nicer than me, but some things jumped out... He took a year to reply to your original message, and then spent another two and a half years setting up plans to meet and then canceling? Despite sounding interested in talking to you [even just as a friend]? Wtf?)
posted by anaelith at 6:34 PM on October 8, 2007 [2 favorites]

I'm tougher...he's keeping you hanging in case things don't work out with his current girlfriend. I keep thinking of a quote I heard once - men don't jump unless there's somewhere soft to land.
posted by TorontoSandy at 6:49 PM on October 8, 2007

He has apparently spent the intervening years polishing his juggling skills.

He was using you against the woman who is leaving the country (in the mind of a person so self-centered, this is indistinguishable from leaving him, whatever her real motives and the constraints on her life may be, and deserves to be punished), and clearly, it worked. He asked you all those questions about yourself, by the way, so that he could repeat it all to her, thereby raising your value as an object of jealousy.

He invited the co-worker along on your picnic to forestall any embarrassing and sticky declarations of love from you, and to stave off any evidently equally unwanted physical intimacies, and to be sure your looks would not be marred by puffy, cried out eyes during the all-important physical presentation of the rival scene the following day.

Count yourself lucky that he was merely careless of your feelings, rather than determined to crush them and leave you bleeding, as he was with her.

Avoid him in the future.
posted by jamjam at 6:54 PM on October 8, 2007 [6 favorites]


Maybe he just wants to be friends? And you're reading too much into this?
posted by ysabet at 7:27 PM on October 8, 2007

Second what jamjam said. This sounds exactly like the kind of ego trip I would plan for myself, if I were an immature, vindictive asshole. I'm just guessing, but here's my interpretation of this scenario.

He was playing you and the foreigner off of one another, and getting off on the drama. He was leaning back and enjoying the mess, and using the two of you to feel better about himself. He didn't feel bad about doing that because you jilted him and hurt his feelings in the past. The woman who is moving to a foreign country is also jilting him, by leaving. He probably loved the awkwardness and wished you two would come to fisticuffs over him.

I'll bet he invited the coworker to hang out with you probably because he'd been talking about you to that person. He may have been saying something like "I can't figure out what's going on with me and this girl". And then when you were in the same town, he invited the coworker along on the pretense that the coworker could "help him figure out" the nature of your relationship. But really, he was just showing you off, and again, getting off on the drama.

I hope I'm wrong and it was all a big misunderstanding.
posted by Lieber Frau at 7:37 PM on October 8, 2007

The majority of my friends have said that he had some kind of agenda or curiosity in inviting me down. So I know that it wasn't meant to be a casual situation.

What a majority (not even all) of your friends said constitutes knowing for you? When all they have to base their opinions on is what you told them? Really?
posted by juv3nal at 7:43 PM on October 8, 2007

Ugh. He likes attention and drama. And when things get weird, he likes being able to say, "Whhhhatt, it was just a friendly invitation, why are you thinking anything else?" (I disagree with the posters who think it was just-a-good-ole-friendly invite.) Go back to not having contact.
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 7:49 PM on October 8, 2007 [2 favorites]

In high school I was completely crushed out on a girl there. Ended up asking her out and was turned down point black. Five years pass and I'm at a birthday party for a friend that she's at as well. We end up talking, getting along, she's telling me all about her exciting life and seems pretty keen to hear about mine.

There's a brief lull in conversation and I see her open her mouth to ask a question. Without planning it I say "Anyway, I'll see you round" and walk away to my friends.

It's not the most noble thing, but it felt really good to walk away from the girl I obsessed about for years. Instead of being the one I never got, that action relegated her to just some gal from the past. Perhaps your fellow (intentionally or not) found it redeeming to meet you again on an equal footing and end it on his terms.
posted by twirlypen at 8:12 PM on October 8, 2007

Wow, creepy. He was absolutely playing a drama game with you and stroking his ego simultaneously. Yuck. Stay far away.
posted by pywacket at 8:27 PM on October 8, 2007

Maybe your intuitively picking up on something off in his actions, but what you describe isn't all that odd. I think you're over reacting because you wrongly read his intentions in inviting you to visit him.

People like to catch up with people they haven't seen for awhile. Often, they can quickly fall back into their old interaction patterns, which leads to all night D&M's and much hilarity. After all, there was a reason that they got on so well in the first place, and there's a lot of years to talk about.

He probably invited the co-worker along because said co-worker had expressed interest in going to where ever it was your day trip was. Or, he enjoys the company of both of you, and thought the combination of the three of you would make for a good trip. Or, he thinks that you're cool, and his coolness quotient with the co-worker would be improved by introducing you to him. Or, he was trying to set the two of you up.

The only thing that seems odd is that he would invite a guest the week that a close friend is leaving the country. Unthinking, or manipulative. Your choice.

Note that given his past behaviour he probably won't be much of a consistant friend, which you sound like you would have a problem with. However, I think he would be up for a beer and a chat next time you are both in the same town. If this is not the case, then feel free to call him a dick and manipulator and don't bother with him anymore.
posted by kjs4 at 4:42 AM on October 9, 2007

He's broken.
posted by letahl at 11:47 AM on October 9, 2007

pywacket and ClaudiaCenter are completely right. He's one of those guys who lets life just happen to him and takes no responsibility when it gets messy. That's what frustrated you to the point of telling him off in the first place.

Still, either one of you could have started the conversation. It's almost always awkward meeting up with exes years later if the air hasn't been cleared. If you want to keep him in your life I'd advise you to be crystal clear and straightforward from here on out.
posted by MiffyCLB at 9:46 PM on October 11, 2007

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