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Man discovers the ex-GF he ghosted is about to be his new boss. AITA? UPDATED

Man discovers the ex-GF he ghosted is about to be his new boss. AITA? UPDATED

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"I ghosted my ex, and she’s about to be my new boss."

Here's the original post:

I was hoping you would be able to help me with a conundrum I got myself into. I have been an expat since graduating and have been moving a lot. More than a decade ago, when I was still young, I was in a relationship with a woman, Sylvia, in a country where we both lived. Sylvia wanted to settle down but I was not ready to commit so young. We clearly had different expectations from the relationship.

I did not know what to do and, well, I ghosted her. Over the Christmas break, while she was visiting her family, I simply moved out and left the country. I took advantage of the fact that I accepted a job in other country and did not tell her about it. I simply wanted to avoid being untangled in a break-up drama.

Sylvia was rather emotional and became obsessed with the relationship, tracking me down, even causing various scenes with my parents and friends.

Anyhow, fast forward to now. I now work as a math teacher in an international school.

I have been in other relationships since, so Sylvia is a sort of forgotten history. Sadly, till now. This week, I learnt that our fantastic school director suddenly resigned due to a serious family situation and had to move back to her home country over the summer. The school had to replace her. We are getting a new director. I read the bio of the new boss and googled her and was shocked to discover it is Sylvia.

We have not been in touch and do not have any mutual friends anymore. I am not a big fan of social media and had no idea what she had been up to since the unpleasant situation a long time ago.

I have no idea what to do and how to deal with this mess. It is clear this will be not only embarassing but I will also be reporting to my ex. I am not in a position to find another job at present. There are no other international schools so finding another job in this country is not an option. Even finding a job elsewhere is not possible on such a short notice.

These jobs usually open for school terms so I have to stay put for few months. But more importantly, I am happy and settled here so do not want to move. To make the situation worse, the expat community here is very small and tightly knit so teachers also socialize a lot.

Do you have any suggestions for me how to handle it and what should I do? I understand that this would not have happened if I did not ghost her back then, but I cannot do anything about it now. I gathered from the comments that readers usually have a go on people like me for “bad behavior” but I am really looking for constructive comments how to deal with the situation.

Additional comment from OP when asked how long they were together:

We were together for three years and lived together for two of those years. I know that ghosting is not a way to end the relationship but I cannot do much about it now. I appreciate the trouble you are taking with getting back to me.

Here are some of the top comments:

Anonymous said:

What an unenviable situation. First, kudos for recognizing what you did was not ok and being up front. Alison’s right that this is something you should attempt to head off before it becomes even worse and be up front about it. It’s the mature, professional thing, and sets you both up to figure out where to go from here in a calmer environment, and not in the hectic first few days of a new school year.

It’s also highly likely that this is a situation where you will need to look for other employment, especially given the presumed depth of your relationship and how it ended. Good luck. I hope you’re able to land on your feet.

Candy said:

Seriously. After 3 years together he moved out and left the country without so much as a note and still thinks her trying to track him down was her being “obsessed”?? Hell yeah she deserved to cause various scenes with his parents and friends. I don’t get the feeling he recognizes just how not okay what he did was.

I don’t know how he can deal with this professionally, but I feel really bad for Sylvia having this overshadow the excitement of a new job.

Engineer Girl said:

This wasn’t immaturity. It exposed a severe character flaw. Sylvia would be right to wonder if this flaw was still there. Short of traumatic incidents, these types of things don’t change.

Kitty McFurball said:

I was in a 2 1/2 year relationship with someone who essentially ghosted me — failed to show up at the airport for a trip we were supposed to be taking together to visit my family (a ticket my FAMILY had paid for), left me a voicemail saying “I can’t do this”, and then ducked my calls for weeks until he finally answered and told me he had met someone else(!).

That was 9 years ago, and I still think that if I saw him bleeding on the side of the road I would simply stop to say “karma’s a %*!@&” and walk away. (And call 911. But that’s it.) If I had to supervise him? Even if he apologized? I would avoid and ignore him as much as possible which would probably have adverse employment effects on him — and that’s the best case scenario.

OP later shared this update:

Those who blamed me for ruining Sylvia’s life for good were wrong. She has done very well for herself. She is married, with kids and her husband is originally from here. They relocated because of his business opportunity, not because she would be stalking me or would orchestrate this in some elaborate vendetta.

It is a crazy coincidence but as some commenters pointed out, our professional world can be very small. I immediately reached out to Sylvia, along the lines of your kind advice and also offered to discuss the way forward in person. Here, I appreciate many useful comments on what to write. She did not get back to me.

I was not sure she was still using her old email address and with a return to school day fast approaching, I re-sent the email to her new work email. I also dropped a short message to the HR, without providing full details. Next morning (Sunday!) I got a call from the chair of our board of overseers, asking me to meet him as soon as possible.

I met with him, together with Sylvia, the same day. As you can imagine, this meeting was incredibly embarrassing for me, personally and professionally. Fortunately, unlike some of your readers hope, they did not think the past failed relationship was a sackable offence. At the end, there is not that much interaction between the director and employees on daily basis.

The chair was more worried about possible gossip and related implications for the organisation. Ours is an expensive enterprise, this is a conservative place and nobody wants any scandal. At the same time, they considered it was necessary – as they framed it – to put some measures in place to avoid possible problems in the future.

I was also told in no uncertain terms that although the schedule for the year was already set, it was far more difficult to replace the director than an employee (me).

I do not want to go into too much details but I found the proposed measures rather excessive. It would make my position unattainable, even in a short run.

Therefore I resigned on the spot. My resignation was later accepted. In a summary, as many of those self-righteous people on the Internet hoped, I came out of this with no job, no severance and no prospect for another job in this city. Obviously, I have to leave as I need to make a living. I will be shortly moving back home for several months to work as a substitute teacher, with an agency.

I will see what next later. So I had my comeuppance. I am most certainly not asking for pity. I only wish there were not other individuals bearing the blunt of my immaturity in the past. (My partner cannot join me due to visa issue and family situation.)

OP’s response when asked how Sylvia seemed and what were the measures the organization wanted to put in place:

I do not know how it was for Sylvia. I have not seen her since. She seemed fine. She was not gleeful, very matter of fact, saying it was possible to work together and etc. The chair did most of the talking. I found out later that her husband comes from a prominent family here, everyone knows them. Nepotism is prevalent in this culture and family status really matters.

The chair knows them. I just do not understand why she had to get him involved. We could have tried to sort this out between us first, no need to go to the top immediately. The measures included things like we are never to talk to each other without a third person present, all meetings documented, no discussion about her and the management with my colleagues,

not even in watercooler chat, limit our interactions beyond the school, meaning no socialising for me. I do not understand how this could work. It would be very much out of character for me and my colleagues and friends would get suspicious. Although not presented at such, it felt very punitive.

What do you think about how this situation was handled — both by OP, and by his (now former) employers?

Sources: Ask a Manager
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