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Your Turn: “Should I Warn His New Girlfriend?”

In a feature I call “Your Turn,” in which you, the readers, get to answer the question, I’m presenting the following letter without commentary from me:

At the beginning of this past winter semester, “Jay” and I started hooking up. He initially asked me out and seemed really into me (he once loudly and clearly moaned “I love you” while we were having sex). I made it pretty clear that it was just sex and that I was not his girl if he was looking for a relationship, but he kept coming back. Eventually, he started to pull away, and we went through periods where he would be super close and friendly and then push me away and be hurtful. He was extremely unkind to me during those times. While never physically abusive, he did threaten to hit me twice, and I sincerely believe he would have done it.

This fall, he abruptly ended our relationship for the final time because he met a freshman girl he wanted to date. Within a week of ending our FWB relationship, they were dating. He won’t introduce his girlfriend to any of his friends. He spends a lot of time in his room alone. They eat dinner separately. He won’t talk about her. It’s a pretty bizarre situation –they spend no time together (I am friends with his roommates who are just as perplexed as I am).

Most everyone involved (friends of mine and friends of the girl’s and friends of his) are perturbed and worried about this relationship on her behalf. It’s clear that this freshman is flattered to be noticed and has wanted a boyfriend for some time. She is sweet, naïve, and very very quiet. She’s very much the “more into it” party in the relationship.

My question now is what do I do? Do I tell her what happened and that she should look out? Do I just hope for the best? Do I confront Jay? I feel a lot of responsibility to keep someone out of the nightmare I went through, but I don’t want to seem jealous and controlling. Nor do I want to seem like I am trying to sabotage his relationships out of spite or jealousy. — Worried For The Frosh

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avatar Morgan December 14, 2011, 3:04 pm

Weird, I knew a guy who was just like this, and his name was Jay.

LW, I’ll type up a more full response later when I have more time.

avatar Morgan December 14, 2011, 4:07 pm

Okay, sorry, things had been super slow all day and then I had to do ten things at once.

So here’s the deal. Jay? Probably a pretty crappy human being. When a guy won’t get meals or be seen in public with his girlfriend, its usually because he wants as few people as possible to know she exists, because it leaves him free to be less than faithful. This is solely based on my experiences in college, so there could be another explanation, but I saw it enough to suspect it might be the case. And then in your case, the hot and cold act and the threat of violence? He’s probably not the best guy to be involved with. And yet, you kept going back, despite not even being in a relationship with him. This suggests three things to me: a)he has a magic penis b) You actually did have feelings for him or c) after his crappy behavior, he was pro at turning on the charm, maybe a little manipulative even. First two-all the more reason not to get involved, because she’ll think you’re just jealous or miss the sex. The third-even better reason not to get involved, because it puts him in a position to keep manipulating you.

It sucks that you are good friends with Jay’s room mates, so you’re by default still at least part of his life.DO NOT MAKE YOURSELF AN EVEN BIGGER PART OF HIS LIFE. Look, you had a bad experience with this guy, but unless you think this girl is in immediate, physical danger, there isn’t really anything you can do. You don’t want to get yourself even more tangled up with this guy and his life.

You are friends with his room mates. The most I would do if I were you is confide in one of his room mates about what happened between you two, if they don’t already know. Because of your history with him, she’s not going to believe it coming from you, and even if she did, he’s in a position to dismiss it as “crazy jealous girl.”

avatar Melanie December 14, 2011, 3:06 pm

If “He won’t introduce his girlfriend to any of his friends”; then how do you know she’s “sweet, naive, and very very quiet. She’s very much the “more into it” party in the relationship.”?

bittergaymark bittergaymark December 14, 2011, 6:02 pm

Yeah, for somebody who is worried that somebody else is far too secretive about his new girlfriend, you sure do seem to know a lot of details.

Just drop it. It’s none of your business. Really, it isn’t.

You aren’t REALLY trying to save this girl, instead you are pissed that he has found somebody else, I think. Much of your damning details aren’t all that damning. He ended your FWB relationship because he wanted to START dating somebody else? Heck, that is all very up front and very above board. Even I have kept an older FWB relationship going a while during the first few dates with somebody new…

I’d love to know WHY he threatened to hit you. I’ll catch hell for this, but there is a method to my madness here. Heck, a guy from my past could sincerely claim that I threatened to OUT him to his family. And yes, it would be completely true. Of course the one part he’s leaving out is that I did so only AFTER he threatened to out me to my family… At any rate, the reason I am so suspicious here is so much of your letter simply doesn’t jibe well with me.

They eat separately… (Gasp!) He spends a lot of time in his room… (Double gasp!) He chooses NOT to gossip about his relationship with her to other who will clearly (no doubt) faithfully report all the details back to you…

Seriously. What is going on here? Stop caring so much about this guy’s life. He ended it. It really wasn’t much to begin with. Move on already… You sound very Glenn Close through out your entire letter. Which is ironic as the thesis of the piece is about what a creep “Jay” is, but really, the one who seems the most creepy is you. And what’s especially creepy is you want to justify your creepy actions under the guise of nobility…

Walk way, LW. Just walk away…

avatar cporoski December 15, 2011, 6:18 am

there is a glenn close vibe here. and even if what she had to say was true and she would be saving this girl alot of pain, there is no way this girl would listen.

avatar mcj2011 December 15, 2011, 10:20 am

you got that right BGM!

avatar milli December 14, 2011, 3:07 pm

You already are jealous. Don’t be also controlling and just let them be.

avatar iseeshiny December 14, 2011, 3:17 pm

1) No. Cut off contact as much as possible with Jay.

2) For a girl who didn’t want a relationship with this guy you sure gave him a lot of power in the not-relationship and let him get away with more than I’d let a real boyfriend get away with. I would do a little soul-searching to figure out why that is.

avatar iseeshiny December 14, 2011, 3:17 pm

Oops, sorry, didn’t mean that as a reply.

avatar atraditionalist December 15, 2011, 8:14 am

I was thinking this too – it’s not a relationship and yet you constantly let him mistreat you because you felt so…casual about him? You were into this guy and for whatever reason you told him you just wanted sex. And now you’re jealous because he only just had sex with you and has decided to date someone else.

If he’s such a creeper why do you keep talking about him with his friends? Drop it. Move on.

avatar amber December 14, 2011, 3:13 pm

As bizzare as it may seem to you, it’s not your relationship. Do you want to warn her that he threatened to hit you twice? If his friends and her friends already notice this issue, she has plenty of people looking out for her. And they are both adults, even if she is young, and as you say naive. I’m guessing you’re getting that she’s more in to him and naive from her friends? There’s no need to introduce more drama in to the situation. Stay away and be glad you’re not dealing with him anymore.

Public Pearl Public Pearl December 14, 2011, 3:14 pm

Not your business. Stay out of it.

Budj Budj December 14, 2011, 3:22 pm

How do you know she isn’t the one secluding him? Definitely not your business. If both of their friends are monitoring the situation then you don’t need to poke your nose in it. Not to mention you will just be labeled the crazy ex-FWB accusing him of being an abuser…whether he actually is or not.

Also, you told this guy you didn’t want to date him….yet he stayed in a FWB situation with you. He or you should have called it off at the point because, to me, it’s obvious his perceived emotional swings were due to blurring the line of FWB and wanting a relationship with you. Something you made perfectly clear that he couldn’t have….he moved on.

avatar artsygirl December 14, 2011, 3:24 pm

What will come out of you speaking to this girl? Chances are if she is as excited about the relationship as you indicated she will probably dismiss any comments you make or will think you are intentionally out to get Jay back. It sounds like your relationship with Jay was not healthy, but how can you be sure that it isn’t healthy for them? Yes, it sounds weird but it is most definitely not your place to step in unless you know about abuse.

avatar runnerchic December 14, 2011, 3:25 pm

As much as you want to “warn” this new girl I think it’s stemming more from you being hurt for being placed aside. Their relationship and how it functions is none of your business. If she is in no immediate danger (violence) there is no reason for you to meddle in their business. Even if you did try to warn her she would probably blow it off as a “jealous ex-lover.” Just let them go, the relationship will run it’s course. It’s not your relationship – none of your business.

avatar Yammy December 14, 2011, 3:26 pm

What should you do? Mind your own business. Any attempt to “help” the poor defenseless freshman will be interpreted as you being jealous and controlling. I’m not even going to get into the many holes in your story as they are ultimately irrelevant. Stay out of it. You rejected him, he moved on, you should move on as well.

avatar bethany December 14, 2011, 3:32 pm

Unless you know for a fact that she’s in physical danger, or are asked your opinion by one of the parties directly involved in the relationship, stay out of it.
You’re not good friends with either of them, so really, why are you putting yourself in the middle of this mess? Regardless of what your intent is, you’re going to come across as jealous and they won’t listen to you anyway.
MYOB and MOA.

Jess Jess of CityGirlsWorld.com December 14, 2011, 3:34 pm

One of the (negative) side effects of college life is that you have front row seats to EVERYONE’s business. In the post-college life, when you break-up, you walk away and that’s (usually) the end. In college, that isn’t possible.

Nonetheless, I agree with the other commenters who recommend that you simply stay out of it. For many reasons, but not least of which is that it will do no good. Not only is it unlikely that she will listen, YOU will come across as mean-spirited, a bully, a jealous ex, a condescending upperclassman, or all of those.

Take the high ground here by detaching from it entirely. You have no responsibility to anyone except yourself and your own friends. Were he a criminal or a murderer, yes, there would be a warning to give (um, to the police). But in this case, I think just stand clear.

Plus, I’m thinking surely there’s a cute freshman GUY to perhaps shift your focus?? After all, college has its perks. And what’s good for the goose is….

Lili Seattle _lili December 14, 2011, 3:40 pm

Hmm. While I think the LW may be coming from a place of mixed feelings more related to HER relationship with J than the relationship J has with his new girl I too wonder about what the appropriate level of concern is in situations where you feel the need to protect someone?

Its easy to say its none of your business, but sometimes people are just that empathetic that it does a number on them to just know about the situation. So I guess i’m wondering how does one cut back on this feeling and adhere to not my business, not my concern mentality?

avatar moonflowers December 15, 2011, 6:31 pm

I have this problem too. In fact, I just had a near-miss with a smooth suave seducer commitmentphobe type who’s left a trail of broken hearts behind him and I want to shout his damn name off a rooftop or fly a banner behind a plane with a warning for all of my sisters who might be his next victim.

But the real deal? Sometimes people just won’t take your advice. They feel insulted when you offer it instead of appreciative, and then when something bad does happen and they’re in trouble, they’re definitely not going to want to eat crow and say you were right. You’d be mighty tempted to do the whole “I told you so,” but that’s not good either. It just doesn’t end well, as much as it comes from your most noble and altruistic intentions.

I’ve learned the hard way not to offer help unless previously asked, or to at least ask if they need my help before I offer it and to take refusals seriously. Otherwise I’m setting myself up for the no-win situation described above.

bagge72 Bagge72 December 14, 2011, 3:43 pm

I think it is weird that you want to warn this crazy little freshman about how bad this guy is, but you would still be with him if he didn’t break it off with you. I think there are other reasons you don’t want them to work out as a couple, but I guess you didn’t really ask that at all. So I think you need to stay out of there business, and let them be.

avatar ReginaRey December 14, 2011, 3:43 pm

I get where you’re coming from LW, and you’re not wrong for feeling like you should help in some way. But, frustratingly, there’s no real “good” you can do here.

I’m currently in a similar-ish situation. A friend of mine, who used to be a much better friend years ago, is not in the healthiest of relationships. There’s no abuse, mind you, but they’re clearly not right for each other. I see it, the rest of our social circle sees it, but we all choose to stay silent. I choose to stay silent, for the most part, because…I had a fling with her boyfriend years ago before they met and began dating.

Doesn’t matter that I’m not into him anymore. Doesn’t matter that I’m not attracted to him. Doesn’t matter that my intentions in telling her the unhealthy things we’ve all seen would be pure and good and not motivated by selfish desires……anything I do is going to be interpreted negatively. She’s going to think that I’m jealous. Or that I’m meddling where I don’t belong. Or a thousand other things.

So I say nothing. Because I don’t need the drama, and because frankly, most unhealthy relationships will end themselves, eventually. And you know what? The ending will be much more final if it doesn’t come from exterior influences…if the couple has no one to blame but themselves, well that makes the breakup that much more legitimate in their minds. They can’t place blame on you!

Let it ride. This girl has people looking out for her. This relationship, unhealthy though it could be, will probably erase some of that naivete and teach her some valuable life lessons. Unless there’s proven abuse going on…watch and wait, LW.

Lili Seattle _lili December 14, 2011, 4:06 pm

Good advice RR, and I too am going through something similar (no physical abuse but a unhealthy relationship all around) however I am getting increasingly frustrated because in this case she is trying to end it, but he isn’t letting go…despite the fact that he is married. Hey it didn’t stop him from entering INTO the relationship, so why would it stop him from ‘not accepting her breakup’…My unwavering advice to her has been the same since she decided to end it with him. Cut off all contact. Period. The End. However she keeps hoping he will just ‘get the message and stop’ but after reading The Gift of Fear (thanks for the recommendation LOVE the book !) I don’t necessarily agree. What frustrates me to no end is that while she doesn’t heed my advice, she is still telling me about his escalations in attempts to contact and his refusal to accept the breakup. Hearing all this ties my stomach and knots an I have seriously talked about nothing else to my other-unrelated-friends for the past two weeks…so i guess i’m wondering how does a good friend accept the fact that her friend is in harms way, but not be wracked with worry about it?

I debated telling her she can no longer talk to me about him and his behavior, but I fear that since its a secret affair and i’m one of the few who even knew about the situation that she will be more alone after i draw this boundary…but I do need to protect myself first and foremost right?

avatar ReginaRey December 14, 2011, 4:16 pm

Wow, this is a tough situation. So glad you read The Gift of Fear, btw! It’s awesome.

My best advice is as you mentioned, tell her that “I’m here for you, but I’ve given all of the advice and guidance I can think to give about this. I understand your need to talk about it, but I’m not sure I’m the best person to help you anymore.” Then, perhaps guide her toward someone who CAN help her – a therapist, abuse hotlines, anything.

I agree that you don’t want to cut her off and then isolate her, making her easier prey for this guy, but you do need to preserve your sanity. I think your best course of action is getting her to seek guidance from a more professional outlet. Definitely emphasize that she’s doing the right thing by wanting to cut contact and by trying to move on, but that she may need more help than you can offer her to make it happen.

I feel for you, and I hope this works out well for her.

Lili Seattle _lili December 14, 2011, 4:41 pm

Thanks for the quick response :) I think she does have a counselor and I will just have to keep repeating what you and Caitie advised! The thing that further complicates this issue is he is a person highly involved in our friend circle and a person I was friends with until I realized that he fits the definition of a narcissist and felt disrespected by him to the point that I am happy to cut him out completely. Anyone who doesn’t hear the word No is dangerous in my book ( and in Gift of Fear too!)

Eeesh, the drama going on in my life-that I have no control over and did not create- is exhausting.

caitie_didnt caitie_didn't December 14, 2011, 4:20 pm

yikes! that sounds like seriously bad news. You do need to protect yourself first….but, it’s so hard to leave a friend in a sketchy situation.

Maybe say something along the lines of “I’ve made my opinions of so and so clear, and told you what I would do in this situation. You are capable of making your own decisions, but hearing about his behaviour is extremely frustrating for me and I’d appreciate if you not talk about it anymore. I am your friend, and I will always be here for you including if you feel like you are in danger, but it’s driving me crazy to hear about all the sketchy things he is doing”. Something that makes it clear that you don’t want to hear her complain about his behaviour if she’s not willing to change her actions, but so that she knows she can still count on you. I don’t know.

Lili Seattle _lili December 14, 2011, 4:46 pm

Thanks for agreeing! Yeah I have this case of extreme empathy and a often unwelcome and automatic need to protect my friends issue I am working on…She def brings it out of me more than most thought because of how incredibly naive and trusting she is. Everyone has good intentions always and people never want to hurt one another in her world…eye roll.

avatar AKchic December 14, 2011, 4:55 pm

She needs to be talking to a professional. And documenting everything. Keep phone records, texts, emails, IM logs, etc. She needs to completely stop the contact on her part. It will be hard because it’s habit to answer someone. It’s respectful to reply. But, she needs to stop. Save anything he sends, but she needs to stop replying. If he escalates or sends threats, then she needs to contact the police, and maybe even get a restraining order.
Yes, it would be embarassing, but she needs to remember that she also had a hand in this mess. She didn’t need to engage in the relationship at the beginning. Now she needs to do whatever it takes to get herself OUT of the relationship, and he is manipulating things to ensure that SHE doesn’t look bad either. By keeping control and keeping her in it. He doesn’t really have that power unless she allows him to have it.

Lili Seattle _lili December 14, 2011, 5:55 pm

Thanks AKchic for the good advice. I’ll pass along the message and hope it sticks, but I’m afraid she’ll prolly downplay the situation and go..oh he hasn’t contacted since yesterday see he’s gotten the message…and my personal favorite ‘we had such an epic love that its hard for him to move on, it just takes time.’ Uh huh, and yet he couldn’t leave the wife for your ‘epic love.’ So how’s the weather in La la Land sister? <—sorry mean I know. Its just how frustrated I am.

avatar AKchic December 14, 2011, 8:15 pm

*laugh* 24 hours isn’t “time”. If his contacts are less than 72 hours apart, and/or multiple times in a row (in an attempt to frustrate the person into answering the phone/replying to the email/text/IM), then it’s manipulation. It’s seen as a “see, she can’t get over me, and she’s just trying to play ‘hard to get’ to tease me, so I’m doing her a favor by opening communications first”. They actually think they are being the bigger person by opening the lines of communication, not being the stalker who can’t drop a dead relationship.

She is trying to rationalize something that isn’t rational. She’s trying to save face. Her own. For her own sanity/mentality. She doesn’t want to admit (to herself, or anyone else) that she’s really scared, and what she did was a bad idea, and that if it were anyone else, she’d be disgusted by the entire thing. So, she hypes it up with the whole “epic love” line. The more grandiose a rationalization, the worse a person feels about it deep down.

Lili Seattle _lili December 14, 2011, 10:06 pm

I am buying a lottery ticket. I am on a psychic spree. EXACT quote from an email she sent 45 min ago…I haven’t heard anything from him yet today so I am hoping that means he is tapering off. . .

Whats the powerball worth these days?!! And if I win I promise to send everyone tootsie rolls!

avatar AKchic December 14, 2011, 3:43 pm

His and her friends are already monitoring it. If you have no mutual friends, then stay the hell out of it. Period. He was getting abusive (emotionally since he threatened you with harm but didn’t physically commit it) and you didn’t even have the sense to get yourself out of it – you let him walk away from it. Stay out of whatever it is he’s doing, even if he’s doing it to another girl. She needs to learn from her own mistakes, just like you need to evaluate yourself and figure out why you care what the hell he’s doing now.
Are you just steaming that you finally realize what happened and that YOU didn’t end it like a rational person should have? If so, recognize that it’s done and over with, irregardless of who actually walked away.

JK JK December 14, 2011, 3:45 pm

I love the “Most everyone involved (friends of mine and friends of the girl’s and friends of his)”. The only truly involved people here are the ex FWB and his new GF. Not their friends, not LW and definitely not LWs friends!!!
LW, as pointed out above by others, you need to stay out of this. If you need to find a new guy to do so, so be it.

avatar ele4phant December 14, 2011, 3:48 pm

I don’t think you are necessarily still jealous or interested in Jay. However, if Jay never threatened you until the end of your time together, I am inclined to give him the benefit of doubt. People behave poorly when they are hurt; it doesn’t necessarily mean he ever intended to actually cause you harm.

And while the relationship seems weird, a lot of college relationships are very insular. That alone is not cause for harm.

I guess my advice is to stay out of it for now. If you are genuinely concerned for her, does your campus have a domestic abuse hotline or women’s center? They may be a good forum for you to go to and help you evaluate what or if you should do anything.

avatar GatorGirl December 14, 2011, 3:49 pm

Stay the heck out of it!

The only instance I would say get involved is if you hear him abusing her or see physical signs of abuse. And by get involved I mean call campus PD, local PD, 911, what ever- but do not go in there yourself or send his friends to get in the middle. I was in an abusive relationship and when his friends tried to stop him he would get more violent and seclude me even more.

avatar Beckaleigh December 14, 2011, 3:57 pm

He may have had feelings for you at one point, but you rejected him. Then, he hurt you and had the potential to physically abuse you. Yet, he was the one to end the relationship for the final time?

I’d have a better time handling that you are truly concerned for this girl if you ended things with this guy because of his behavior. But, he ended it, and it probably hurt you. So, if you do say something you will come off as being jealous (which you probably are).

caitie_didnt caitie_didn't December 14, 2011, 3:58 pm

Once upon a time, I was involved with a guy with whom I shared a lot of mutual friends. He certainly was not abusive, but he was manipulative in the sense that he viewed all girls as objects to be “won”…basically, he was only in it for the thrill of the chase and once he had you, he’d say all the right things to your face, but be chasing one, two or three other girls behind your back. While we were “together” but non-exclusive (although everyone in our mutual friend group knew we were an item), he started putting the moves on another girl while maintaining face with me, and one of our mutual friends told me about it.

This is quite different than the LW’s situation: firstly, I knew and trusted the girl that told me as she was a very close friend. So I knew her desire to tell me was primarily motivated by concern for me AND I trusted her to tell the truth. Secondly, I had heard rumours about this type of behaviour from him before, so this didn’t totally come out of left field. Eventually, the truth would have come out, but because my friend warned me I was able to save some of my pride and call him on his shitty, shitty behaviour (which he proceeded to deny despite plenty of evidence to the contrary). The moral of the story is that he was not a very nice person, but also that in THIS situation, I was really glad that someone told me what was happening. So “mind your own business” is *usually* good advice in situations like these, but not always.

I still think this LW should mind her own business though.