Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

Updates: “Scumbag?” Responds

It’s time again for “Dear Wendy Updates,” a feature where people I’ve given advice to in the past let us know whether they followed the advice and how they’re doing now. Today, we hear from “Scumbag?” who wrote in way back in February 2011 wondering if he was a scumbag for kissing a co-worker he was attracted to even though he’d been dating someone else for a couple of months. He decided that he’d break up with the woman he’d been seeing and see where things might go with the co-worker. Keep reading to see how that worked out for him.

The answer to “Am I a scumbag?” is an unequivocal “yes,” sadly, as I had defined an exclusive relationship with J (which, as your commenters noted was probably my biggest error to begin with). I broke up with J shortly after my letter, and started a relationship with C. About three weeks later, in a move compounding how much of a bozo I’d been to this point, C and I became official on Facebook. J immediately emailed C saying there must have been overlap, creating a new round of drama. Overall, for about a two-month period, starting just before I first mailed you, I was a real jerk.

Outside of my macro-level jerk qualities, though, C and I developed a pretty good relationship, up until a few months later. We went across the country to celebrate the graduation of one of my best friends from law school, which turned into a debacle at dinner. This might be an interesting question for you and your readers. I invited C, since the party was going to be held in a great destination and I wanted her to meet my friends and get to enjoy a knockout dinner at my favorite restaurant in the world. I believe I split her costs with her either 50/50, or paid two-thirds, since it was my event. At dinner, I swapped seats with friends at the other end of the twenty-person table, leaving C in her original seat, so that I could say hello to the friends on that side, and so that other friends could meet C — due to timing, the dinner was going to be most everybody’s only opportunity to see either of us on this trip, and, due to geography, I only get to see these friends every other year or so. C told me quietly she was upset about it after the first swap, but I felt like it was an argument we should wait to have after the event. Then, after the second swap, just before dessert, she started arguing with me about it fairly loudly, which continued through dessert and outside the restaurant. This culminated in a rather large shouting meltdown — with several of my closest friends still present. She hopped in a cab for her flight, and I thought that would be the last I would see of her.

I ended up accepting her apology the next day (she assigned a lot of blame to the wine at dinner) and we carried on, leading us to another aspect your readers keyed in on quite well: the issue of us being co-workers. While our relationship wasn’t the only reason in my being passed over for promotion, it certainly didn’t help. But I found a new job at the level I would’ve been promoted to with a different company, although in a new city, and, to be honest, it’s been a much better situation for my career than trying to get promoted at Cutthroat Consulting Co. anyway. The job change came about five months after the dinner debacle.

C and I made long distance work for almost a year, but we broke up about four months ago. We ended up with an immense muddle of intense and polarized feelings for each other, and eventually the negative ones outweighed the positives and culminated once again in a huge blowup at the end of a night of drinking. I wasn’t willing to accept an apology based on booze again this time (there had been other, smaller instances where I pretty much just put her to bed, suffered through her hangover the next day, and let it go), so that was pretty much that.

On the upside, I feel like I’ve learned quite a lot since I wrote you two years ago. If nothing else, I know the solution to the original question I posed — don’t be exclusive before you’re ready to be faithful. I regret screwing that up with J, but other than that, I’m happy I went out with C even though things ended poorly.

In any event, thanks to you and your readers for your advice. – Original Scumbag

 
Wow, I guess a lot can happen in two years. Thanks for the thorough update. As for the whole seat-swapping dinner debacle, you were a jerk. You don’t bring a guest to a dinner where she knows no one and then ditch her — twice!! — to fend for herself while you mingle with other people. And knowing she was upset after the first swap, it was your even-bigger mistake to swap again. Next time, when a woman — or anyone, really — starts making a scene in public about something you’ve done, stop doing it if you don’t want the scene to escalate.

***************

If you’re someone I’ve given advice to in the past, I’d love to hear from you, too. Email me at [email protected] with a link to the original post, and let me know whether you followed the advice and how you’re doing now.

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If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at [email protected].

69 comments… add one
  • avatar

    lets_be_honest March 18, 2013, 1:21 pm

    Loving these way old letter updates!

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    MMcG March 18, 2013, 1:26 pm

    I love a detailed update, and some Wendy snark in response. WWS!!! Seriously… how hard is it not to know that you don’t invite people to where they don’t know anyone and then leave them! At least if you haven’t taken the time to introduce them to a few folks and get a conversation started over similar interests.

    Good: C, this is my friend D, y’all have so much in common together because you both went to X University (or whatever)… then wait and when conversation has taken over, excuse yourself to go to the other side of the table for a few moments, then return in a timely fashion…

    Bad: I needed to catch up with my friends, and despite me saying that I want C to meet people, I had no intention of doing anything to make her feel comfortable, and repeatedly left her at the end of the table with people I didn’t even want to catch up with anymore (hence I “swapped” seats twice) and after saying that it made her really uncomfortable I still put my needs to catch up before hers.

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  • avatar

    GatorGirl March 18, 2013, 1:27 pm

    I would have been pissed if you had seat swapped away from me when I didn’t know anyone either!

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    kerrycontrary March 18, 2013, 1:30 pm

    I think it depends on the personality of C if he was a jerk or not. I’ve been in plenty of places where I know no one and I end up finding someone to talk to (and I’m an introvert and would prefer to stare at the wall). That’s one of the skills necessary to function as an adult. Is it the most comfortable thing ever? No. But if it meant my SO could catch up with old friends instead of babysitting me I would do it. Obviously her reaction wasn’t appropriate. I’ve even gotten upset with my SO on vacation, with his friends, and he held the conversation until 3 days after we were back home.

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    • avatar

      kerrycontrary March 18, 2013, 1:32 pm

      Also I agree with MMcG that a quick introduction needs to be made and he should return/check on her occasionally. But hasn’t anyone gone to a party with a SO and made new friends? Or gone to a wedding by themselves where they only knew the bride/groom?

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        Lindsay March 18, 2013, 1:39 pm

        I think it’s fine to an extent, but both parties should be comfortable with the arrangement. Mingling is one thing, but if you’re actually going to seat yourself at the other end of a 20-person table, you should probably invite the person to come with you or something. Since they’d only been dating a few months, he should probably have not invited her if he knew that he was going to be spending the entire time catching up with that many people.

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      • rawkmys0cks

        Sarah March 18, 2013, 3:11 pm

        My boyfriend invited me to attend a cast party for a show he’d been working on about a year ago. He played this GORGEOUS grand piano in the apartment and sang show-tunes (ugh) all night while I chatted with all the weirdo theater people (I can say that, I’m dating one!) who I have nothing in common with because I work in law. He gets fixated whenever he gets to play a real piano so I cut him some slack. It did kind of suck, so nowadays I leave him to go do those kind of things on his own where I know I’ll be forced to hold my own with theater people…

        BUT, the point is: it didn’t suck enough for me to yell at him in the middle of the party.

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    • lynn

      Lynn March 18, 2013, 4:25 pm

      I agree with kerry. The first time I met my ex’s friends, he ran off at the bar we were at because he ran into another friend of his… leaving me there with all his friends (including another ex-girlfriend of his that happened to show up)… and it was great. I’m a complete extrovert and enjoy meeting new people. My ex felt bad, but said he thought it was so cool that I got along with everyone and that his friends liked me. I thought it was nice that I got to interact with his friends without him being with me. They were able to legitimately see my personality. I got along with his ex and her friends too. I didn’t think he was a jerk AT ALL.

      It is never, in my opinion, good form to cause any sort of scene or argument in public. That’s so trashy. Alcohol involved or not.

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    Lindsay March 18, 2013, 1:33 pm

    “C told me quietly she was upset about it after the first swap, but I felt like it was an argument we should wait to have after the event.”

    Um. What’s the argument there? You were a jerk, and she was trying to let you know quietly how she felt. So, you didn’t listen to her at all and turned around and did it again. Then you accepted HER apology? Geez. I hope you did learn something in the past two years.

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  • iwannatalktosampson

    iwannatalktosampson March 18, 2013, 1:37 pm

    Yeah I guess it was slightly jerky to seat swap her but what did she expect? If I went on a trip with someone who was catching up with old friends I would assume there would be a certain amount of “making it on my own” involved. Also I can talk to a plant and entertain myself so maybe that’s the issue.

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    • iwannatalktosampson

      iwannatalktosampson March 18, 2013, 1:39 pm

      And if he didn’t introduce her to anyone does she not have lips? Can she not say, “Hi my name is X, it’s nice to meet you. This is a lovely city – are y’all from here?” I challenge you to start a conversation that way and not be able to stretch it into 30 minutes.

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      • theattack

        theattack March 18, 2013, 1:43 pm

        Maybe I’m just really non-social, but that sounds like the last thing I would want to do. It would definitely work if I had to, but I just hate trying to talk to people I don’t know. The value of human interaction with someone I’m probably never going to see again isn’t enough for me to struggle through trying to come up with enough socially-acceptable things to say. Anybody else like that?

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      • KKZ

        KKZ March 18, 2013, 1:53 pm

        Probably won’t surprise you considering how similar we are with most things, but I’d probably lean this way too. If someone nearby to me gave me an opening to jump into conversation (like, they started talking about Doctor Who or something) then I’d likely take the plunge, but I wouldn’t feel immediately comfortable initiating conversation beyond small talk.

        But like iwanna, I wouldn’t necessarily be really upset if my date bailed to catch up with friends in a situation like this. At least, not “I’m angry with you” upset, more like “Ugh, I’m bored, why did you bring me here?” mild irritation.

        It’s kind of a crappy thing to do to someone, but it doesn’t make you an instant jerk in my opinion.

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      • theattack

        theattack March 18, 2013, 1:58 pm

        Totally agree. My fiance is very social, so I wouldn’t be upset with him if he made the mistake of assuming I could hold a conversation with other humans. I’m perfectly happy spending the night staring into my spaghetti plate anyway, but if I felt unhappy about it, I would just blame myself for being unsociable. Maybe I would ask him in the future to be a little more sensitive, but it doesn’t seem like something worth getting this angry over.

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      • Fabelle

        Fabelle March 18, 2013, 2:38 pm

        This is kind of how it is in my relationship too—my boyfriend is a chatterbox with no sense of time, so it’s very easy for him to get absorbed in a conversation across the room for 45 minutes while I’m bugging out over what to say to people in the meantime. Sometimes I’ll be like, “Hell-oooo, why did you even bring me????” but mostly, I blame myself for being awkward.

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      • KKZ

        KKZ March 18, 2013, 4:27 pm

        I’ve mentioned here before that my husband is a homebrewer. Well, like many hobbyists, if he and another beer enthusiast start talking, fuhgeddabouddit. Go find something else to do for the next hour – unless you really like hearing about yeast.

        But then again, I do the same thing to him when my poledance friends are hanging out and all we want to talk about is pole-related stuff. He tunes out and starts making beer recipes in his head. And that’s OK, because when he launches into a beer lecture, I’m daydreaming of new trick combinations or choreographing a routine to a song in my head. It all balances out. 🙂

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        GatorGirl March 18, 2013, 2:03 pm

        I HATE talking to people I don’t know. When I go to acedemic events with my fiance it bugs me to no end when he doesn’t introduce me to them. I have nothing in common with them, which makes small talk even MORE difficult (most of the people in his acedemic circle just want to talk about their research).

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      • rawkmys0cks

        Sarah March 18, 2013, 3:15 pm

        It’s the same with me and my boyfriend with his theater events. As soon as I say “I work in law” his colleagues run in the other direction. I also can’t add anything to a conversation about theater unless I’ve seen the specific show in question, and I’ve barely scraped the theater barrel. So there’s that.

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      • avatar

        Caris March 18, 2013, 5:56 pm

        @theattack im like that too 😀

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      • Kate B.

        Kate B. March 18, 2013, 7:22 pm

        I agree with you. I wouldn’t be happy at all in this situation. Not that I’m incapable of talking to people; I’m not good in strange crowds. And I feel that good manners dictate that if you bring someone to a party where they don’t know anyone, you spend the majority of your time with them until you’re sure they are completely comfortable. In this case, I would have preferred to stay home and let him catch up with his friends without me.

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        kerrycontrary March 18, 2013, 1:48 pm

        Yeh I agree with IWTTS. I think this is something invaluable that going to a large college taught me. I can literally talk to anyone if I have to. Like “where are you from? where did you go to school? do you have siblings? what do you do for work? do you like it?” All you have to do is ask questions! And you might find someone you really hit it off with.

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        bethany March 18, 2013, 2:08 pm

        We used to play a game at the bar in college, where my friends would pick a person and a topic, and I’d have to go up and talk to whoever they picked about said topic. It was awesome!

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        kerrycontrary March 18, 2013, 2:25 pm

        yeh this would not seem unusual to me haha. Like now I go to parties and I get absorbed into a 45 minute conversation with a astrophysicist PhD talking about how the universe is expanding. Totally normal.

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      • Skyblossom

        Skyblossom March 18, 2013, 3:10 pm

        I think it would depend on the conversation going on around her. If it was all remember when we did… and so and so said….then it is hard to jump in and join the conversation. If they were talking past her in a way that didn’t include her it would be rude to leave her sitting there. If the people around her were chatting with her and including her in their conversation then she should be fine.

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    • avatar

      ktfran March 18, 2013, 1:49 pm

      I wholeheartedly agree with you iwtts. I don’t think he was a jerk at all. This is one of the few times I disagree with Wendy.

      We was at an event to catch up with old friends. If a person is so afraid to be left alone for a while, then he or she should not accept an invitation to an event where this is possible. Granted, he should have made a few introductions, but for all we know, he could have. It doesn’t say. I’m also going to guess he did because they were seated at a table. I can’t imagine sitting down at a large table with someone and not being introduced to the others close to me. That would be super weird.

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        ktfran March 18, 2013, 1:55 pm

        Also, this is why I don’t like to invite friends or boyfriends to large group outings if they don’t know how to fend for themselves. Call me a bitch or whatever, but I don’t want to spend the entire night talking to that one person.

        Or course, I would make proper introductions at the onset.

        But I’m drawn to more confident and outgoing people, so this usually isn’t a problem.

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      • lynn

        Lynn March 18, 2013, 4:29 pm

        “Also, this is why I don’t like to invite friends or boyfriends to large group outings if they don’t know how to fend for themselves. Call me a bitch or whatever, but I don’t want to spend the entire night talking to that one person.”

        Completely agree.

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    • iwannatalktosampson

      iwannatalktosampson March 18, 2013, 2:17 pm

      Hmm I have an observation based on this conversation. I think there’s a difference between being outgoing and knowing how to be social as a skill. It’s just like anything else. It actually kind of scares me that so many people can’t hold a conversation with strangers. And how do you know that you don’t have something in common with someone if you don’t know them?

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      • theattack

        theattack March 18, 2013, 2:24 pm

        Interesting observation. I think you’re right. I’m very outgoing with people I know, but I can barely even speak to people I don’t know. Sometimes I struggle speaking to people I do know too, unless I’m telling a story or something.

        Social skills are HARD. I know I’m skipping over a lot of potential friends that way, but I make a fool out of myself trying to hold a conversation with someone. If they say something first, I either can’t come up with something that’s an appropriate response, or my response somehow shuts down the conversation. If I say something first, they answer and then stop talking, and I have no idea what to say next. And if I do somehow manage to end up in a conversation with someone, I almost always say something inappropriate when I’m trying to be witty, or I try to stay on the safe side and come across as dull or snobby (far from the truth). It pains me to end up in those situations so much that I usually prefer to just not even try.

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        GatorGirl March 18, 2013, 2:34 pm

        There is also another layer here- the stranger you’re trying to talk to.

        It’s possible these friends were completed engrossed in themselves that they made no effort to include the GF. It happens to me all the time at acedemic events- they all just chit chat about their research and ignor the fact that I’m there. I often ask question/try to engage but get little response.

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      • iwannatalktosampson

        iwannatalktosampson March 18, 2013, 2:38 pm

        Why do you go then? I mean it sounds like this GF went because it was a trip so maybe she knew she had to go to this one dinner and then they’d have the weekend to be tourists. But why do you go to these dinners. I’ve never made Ethan come to any company functions even when dates were allowed.

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        GatorGirl March 18, 2013, 2:44 pm

        Because it’s “accepted” in his program that spouses come and looks weird on him if I don’t. I’m not forced to go. It’s often things like a speaker or presentation that is semi-interesting to me, but the reception after is dreadful trying to mingle.

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      • iwannatalktosampson

        iwannatalktosampson March 18, 2013, 3:44 pm

        I don’t know… I’m wondering if some of this expectation is in your head. I mean would he be fired if you didn’t attend? What if you had a cold? And then the flu? You can always get out of stuff if you really don’t want to go. I would rather a date not go then go and have a terrible/uncomfortable time – because being uncomfortable is always written across people’s faces.

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        GatorGirl March 18, 2013, 3:51 pm

        Oh no he wouldn’t be fired. And if I was truly sick it would be fine. I missed a function in February because I was out of state for work. I definitely try my hardest to make small talk, ask about their research, talk about the weather or an event we’d all just attended but there comes a point where I haven’t read the book they are discussing or could give to shits about indian and free slave interactions in rural FL is 1700 and it gets a little awkward. I’m not usually uncomfortable at this point unless he forgets to introduce me. Or I met someone “up there” in his field as I’m not always great at carrying detailed conversations about it.

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      • KKZ

        KKZ March 18, 2013, 4:13 pm

        That “it looks bad on him” factor probably carries more weight than you might think. No, not a fireable offense, but who likes to be the object of idle gossip? One event may not cue it, but if Mr. GG shows up at one event after another after another and is alone every time, people will start to joke/speculate about whether GG even exists.

        I used to work a third-shift job that had me working a lot of nights, weekends and holidays, and would miss events like family holiday get-togethers or events with family friends (not all of which I wanted to go to – sometimes, work was a welcome excuse). Believe me, my SO got tired of being asked “Where’s KKZ?” all the time.

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        GatorGirl March 18, 2013, 4:19 pm

        Yeah, I think it’s more expected in different industries that spouses show up as a sign of support. If I just flat out stopped going to things, people would be like “what happened” “why isn’t GG here??” and then the gossipy stuff starts. It’s easier for me to just go and be uncomfortable for an hour while drinking some free booze.

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      • theattack

        theattack March 18, 2013, 4:30 pm

        I’m stuck in the same sort of networking web of obligations for my fiance too. His firm is small, and SOs are really involved there, so if I’m absent from something (even when I’m on the other side of the state!) people talk, and it’s easy to tell they think it’s horrible I didn’t come. His boss has actually said to me before that he appreciates how supportive I am, and that it makes him more comfortable letting P rise in the company. He has a theory that employees with unsupportive SOs aren’t willing to give their all to the company, so there is a direct correlation between my fiance’s promotions and my attendance. I’m just lucky that his boss encourages me to drink lots of alcohol. That makes it easier.

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      • iwannatalktosampson

        iwannatalktosampson March 18, 2013, 4:36 pm

        I wonder if it’s a geographical thing. Denver is pretty up and coming. It is the most educated city in the U.S. and there’s a huge trend in bringing rising industries here. There are young professionals everywhere – and it’s not exactly a state that encourages marrying young. Whereas I think you both live in the south where if you don’t have a kid by 25 you’re considered past your prime. Here I can’t imagine Ethan coming or not coming ever affecting my job or vice versa with his job. Those two things have absolutely nothing to do with each other.

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      • theattack

        theattack March 18, 2013, 4:47 pm

        Maybe, but surely this isn’t uncommon all around the country? Honestly, I understand where his boss is coming from, even though it’s unfair. If I’m unsupportive of his job there, I could put negative things in his head and talk him into quitting or not spending as much time in the office, etc. They probably wouldn’t have trusted him enough to move him into the leadership roles he’s in if they thought I might detract from that. It seems like that would be a pretty common consideration for employers.

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        GatorGirl March 18, 2013, 4:57 pm

        My fiance’s field it’s a “fact” that married men rise through the ranks faster than single men and women married or single.

        http://www.theatlantic.com/sexes/archive/2013/01/being-married-helps-professors-get-ahead-but-only-if-theyre-male/267289/

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        BreezyAM March 19, 2013, 12:20 am

        My husband’s boss actually came and talked to me to make sure I was supportive of him taking the job she wanted to offer him because if I wasn’t supportive he wouldn’t be able to be useful to her or their organization.

        She heard through the grapevine I did not want him working at his present place of employment. And she was right; I didn’t! But it was a different position I was all pissy about, not the one she was offering him. I was fine with that one.

        I get a pass for not showing because we have very, very young kids (most of the people in his field are grandparents). But I never turn it down when I can go because I enjoy free alcoholic beverages and can manage to find *something* to talk about.

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        ele4phant March 18, 2013, 11:43 pm

        I don’t know, building that social capital IS really important to building careers. In a lot of organizations being seen as someone who can not only do the work but also relax when approppriate and gets along with others carries a lot of weight. And seeing as our spouses reflect on us…sometimes their participation is implicitly required too. This is true more in some fields than others, but if that’s the norm for GGs fiancé, then there you go. Of course she doesn’t have to go to every single one, but you don’t want to be the odd one out with the antisocial spouse who can’t make an effort.

        Is it fair for SOs to have to take an active role in building careers? Yes. Is it unfair that good socializing skills an putting in face time helps further your career? Yep.

        But that’s just the way it is in a lot of careers. Your ability to do the work in the 9 to 5 hours isn’t the only thing evaluate you in, at least not unconcisouly.

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        ktfran March 18, 2013, 2:39 pm

        Ooh, I’ll give you that one gg. That sucks when you’re in that kind of situation. I would be super annoyed too and I think I would try to limit my presence at these events, if possible. Or, I would people watch then make fun of everyone with my friends over lunch the next day.

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      • theattack

        theattack March 18, 2013, 2:42 pm

        That does make it really hard. I recently decided to make a big effort to talk to people at a dinner with my fiance’s law school friends, and it really discouraged me. We were at an Ethiopian restaurant, and the girl next to me was struggling with trying to eat her food with her right hand only, so I tried to bond with her over it. She turned out to be disinterested in anyone but her husband, and she just looked at me, didn’t say a thing, and then started talking to her husband again.

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        ktfran March 18, 2013, 2:45 pm

        I’m eating at an Ethiopian restaurant for the first time ever on Thursday. It’s where my cousin picked for her birthday dinner. I’m a little freaked out. How was the food? Do I really have to eat with my right hand because I’m left handed? Details please!

        And I’m sorry you were with crappy people.

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      • theattack

        theattack March 18, 2013, 2:49 pm

        I loved the food, but I made sure to order something that wasn’t too spicy. If you’re sensitive to that, make sure to ask the server for recommendations! It’s a custom in a lot of African countries (maybe others too, not sure) that the right hand is used for “clean things” like eating, while the left hand is used for “unclean things” like using the bathroom. Our server specifically asked us to use only our right hands because it was a common courtesy for them. Most people tried to follow the rule, but some people were party poopers and had a bad attitude about it. There was also no silverware. It is challenging, but I absolutely loved it!

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        ktfran March 18, 2013, 2:53 pm

        I heard that, about the no silverware. I’ll give it a shot. I’ll even try eating with my right hand. Maybe I’ll wear something that I won’t care if food is spilled.

        My two cousins, sister and I all live in Chicago now and for each or birthday’s, we treat the birthday girl to dinner. The cousin wanted to try this place, so we’re giving it a shot.

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        Lily in NYC March 19, 2013, 11:49 am

        Just don’t do what my former idiot boyfriend did – he thought the bread was a napkin and put it on his lap! It will make more sense to you when you see the bread. I’m left-handed as well and didn’t use my right-hand. I would have made a huge mess trying to eat with my right hand. I wouldn’t worry about that unless you are actually eating in Ethiopia.

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        kerrycontrary March 18, 2013, 2:47 pm

        law school students are weird, so that’s not on you. I have 3 lawyers in the family, and all lawyers are a little weird. And they CAN be stuck up, so it sounds like you got stuck with a crummy conversation partner. Keep trying!

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      • rawkmys0cks

        Sarah March 18, 2013, 3:19 pm

        I stopped going to my boyfriend’s theater functions because of this problem. He doesn’t mind, though of course he wants me there, but I always end up feeling like an awkward social outcast at these things, even though that’s far from the truth!

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      • Copa

        Copa March 18, 2013, 4:35 pm

        Yeah. As much as I think that socialization is a skill that can be learned (I was SO shy until I went away to college, but finally learned how to function like a normal, friendly human being when I left home), sometimes being around groups of individuals who know each other from a particular setting (academic settings/professional settings), it can be tricky. I think I can get along with and make conversation with most people at least for the duration of a dinner, but a few months back, I accompanied one of my girlfriends to the bar to meet up with some of her fellow ER residents and I have never felt more out of place in my life. I left for the bar excited to get to know new people, and then spend the evening just smiling and being useless and contributing nothing. Ha. It was difficult to even make DULL conversation/small talk and I’d never really experienced that before. Those were a few of the most painful social hours of my life because the conversation naturally kept going back to life in the ER.

        That said, I feel like dealing with an awkward function/dinner on ocassion for a boyfriend isn’t a huge deal. It’s just one night and if it were me, if my boyfriend were having fun getting caught up with friends he only sees every other year, it’d be worth my having a mediocre time or feeling awkward for the duration of dinner. I’d NEVER publicly throw a tantrum or pick a fight about something like that. Seriously. Who does this?

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        kerrycontrary March 18, 2013, 2:46 pm

        Yes, I think it’s definitely a social skills thing. Which only comes with practice! I was so shy before I went to college, but like I said, being around 40 thousand people I didn’t know brought me out of that real quick. theattack, have you considered something like the toastmasters club (if this is something you would like to actively improve upon)? It helps you get better at speaking, talking to people on the spot, etc…They are all over so there is probably one nearby you.

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      • theattack

        theattack March 18, 2013, 2:53 pm

        Well oddly enough I’m an excellent public speaker, and I’m even better at leading groups of people. I just can’t carry on a ten minute conversation with a stranger. It makes no sense. I don’t know if Toastmasters can help with regular conversations. I might look at it sometime. Thanks for the tip!

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      • iwannatalktosampson

        iwannatalktosampson March 18, 2013, 2:57 pm

        Haha you are totally backwards. It is interesting to hear about things from your perspective though. I’ve definitely had conversations with strangers before and I felt like I was pulling teeth to get them to engage. I will try to be less judgmental about it in the future.

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        lets_be_honest March 18, 2013, 3:23 pm

        Talking is overrated. Mingling is even worse. I’m going to become a shut in. So sick of listening to blabbing people.

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        d2 March 19, 2013, 12:38 am

        Yeah, I’m the same way. In my professional life, I am outgoing, vocal, take a leadership role and feel completely comfortable doing that. But when the conversation turns personal or to small talk, I struggle.

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  • bittergaymark

    bittergaymark March 18, 2013, 1:59 pm

    Eh, the seat swap wouldn’t have phased me nearly as much as somebody who blames all their public misbehavior of their over-drinking…

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    • iwannatalktosampson

      iwannatalktosampson March 18, 2013, 2:18 pm

      See it’s not even the drinking that weirds me out as much as the temper tantrum in public. I could be having a silent world war three with my significant other and there’s no way in hell i’d ever let anyone around me know about it until we’re in the privacy of our own home. Public fighting is really gross to me.

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        bethany March 18, 2013, 2:21 pm

        Yeah, that stuck out to me, too. The few times my husband has been mad at me while out in public, no one would know it, but me. I can’t stand when people fight in public. Worse if it’s in front of their friends.

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      • bittergaymark

        bittergaymark March 18, 2013, 2:33 pm

        I dunno. Causing a massive fight in public and then blaming it on wine is such a freaking cop out. And I don’t even see the logic in it. It’s like — “LOVE ME! DON”T BLAME ME! I JUST CAN”T HOLD ME LIQUOR. I’M A MESS…”

        Gross. Learn to drink like a fucking grown up already. But yeah, public scenes. The HEIGHT of immaturity. Almost like becoming loudly OFFICIAL in three weeks on Facebook. Oh, wait…

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    • the_optimist

      the_optimist March 18, 2013, 2:28 pm

      Yeah, this is exactly what bothered me the most. True, it was incredibly inconsiderate of him to ditch her without warning TWICE, but that doesn’t really warrant or explain the repeated (over the course of their relationship) alcohol-fueled tantrums on her part.

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    bethany March 18, 2013, 2:06 pm

    I love these updates!

    But I have to say, I don’t think the seat swapping made you a jerk at all. Maybe I’m picturing it wrong, but it’s not like you ditched her at a party or something. You got up from your seat for what, 15 minutes max and caught up with some firends? Big deal. She could have walked over with you and talked to them, she could have gotten to know the people around her, or if she was that uncomfortable, she could have excused herself and taken a bathroom break or gotten some air. A grown up should be able to mingle with their boyfriend’s friends for 15 minutes!

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  • Fabelle

    Fabelle March 18, 2013, 2:33 pm

    I agree that someone shouldn’t be floundering to make conversation with strangers at a dinner if the only other person they know happens to, I dunno, go to the bathroom or something BUT— isn’t it also a social skill to *not* leave the person you came with by herself at a table full of strangers? It goes both ways.

    Anyway, I don’t remember the original letter at ALL, but this whole relationship sounded like a learning experience & I love the updates, as always.

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    cdobbs March 18, 2013, 2:44 pm

    I would have to say anyone who would invite someone to a get together, where they know absolutely nobody and then ditches them to hang with their friends (not once, but twice after knowing after the first time that they were being a jerk) is a scumbag in my book (LW’s term, not mine)…guy that was so selfish and insensitive of you (not cool)…having said that, if that is the LW’s biggest crime, then I think he is probably an ok guy and would not be the first person guilty of having overlapping relationships…at least he recognizes his behaviour

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    Boosker March 18, 2013, 2:25 pm

    I think it depends on the friends as well. Some people are really good at politely included a new person in a conversation. Some people suck at it–intentionally or not. But your gf did the right thing by trying to quietly address your upsetting behavior. You are the one who choose to ignore her perfectly valid request to not be ditched. Couldn’t you have taken her with you as you swapped. I can’t believe she ended up apologizing to your over the whole situation. What you did was really poor form and not very compassionate.

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    Trixy Minx March 18, 2013, 3:37 pm

    Dude. Ditching her when she already said she wasn’t comfortable is not cool. Why didn’t you at least take her with you in the seat swap that way she can be introduced to your friend and be involved in the conversation?

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    Dennis Hong March 18, 2013, 3:39 pm

    I’ve learned to ALWAYS clarify with my date beforehand if she’s okay with me leaving her alone every now and then to fend for herself. Some people are perfectly comfortable with it, and others just aren’t. At the same time, if I’m meeting up with friends I haven’t seen in a while, I think it’s legitimate for me to want to catch up with them and not spend the entire evening babysitting my date.

    If they’re friends I haven’t seen in a long time, and she’s not comfortable with being left alone, then I’m better off attending by myself. Otherwise, it could be a fun opportunity for her to meet new people.

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  • kaluu

    Katia March 18, 2013, 5:37 pm

    Seat swap is fine. You should never have accepted her paying her own way though, to hangout with your friends and fend for herself. U pay!

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    Lily in NYC March 19, 2013, 11:45 am

    Boy oh boy, is it obvious to me that you work in consulting – you sound like every guy I work with. All I came away with from this is that you are too self-centered. There’s no need to analyze every little detail of what went down (consultant behavior!). Seriously, nothing out of the ordinary happened here -it just seems like par for the course early 20s relationship drama. Your reasoning for the seat swap is terrible, so I get why she was annoyed, but there is no excuse for fighting loudly with your girlfriend at a work event. My advice to you is not to date coworkers, and to learn to communicate better with the women you go out with.

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