update: I ghosted my ex, and she’s about to be my new boss

Remember the letter-writer who had ghosted his long-term girlfriend 10 years earlier and just learned she was about to become his new boss? Given the outrage of much of the internet over the letter, I didn’t expect to receive an update, and I’m grateful that he sent one in. Here it is.

I admit I wrote my original email in a state of panic. I was on my holidays when I found out and a friend of mine gave me your email. I did not realize my message would be fully replicated on your blog. I am sure you get tons of requests and I thought I would be lucky to get a reply within one of those short scenarios at max. By the time the blog was posted and I was returning home, my initial panic started to dissipate as I found out more about Sylvia’s situation. Just in time to discover the story going viral, both online and offline. I can say that in no way I expected that writing to a very popular but a niche professional blog would result in such Internet s*t storm. I am sorry for not engaging with your readers, but given the toxicity of many commentators, I did not seem much sense in doing it. I am still very much freaked out about the whole experience but since I promised to give you my update, here it is.

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 readers 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 from your readers 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.)

I wrote back and asked if he’d share how Sylvia seemed, as well as what measures they’d proposed. He said:

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.

As you said in your initial response, it was unlikely it would somehow work out. It is very difficult to come to terms with it. The Internet craze just added an extra bizzare layer to it. 

{ 1,532 comments… read them below or add one }

  1. Ask a Manager Post author

    Hi. The comments are coming on in this post too fast for me to moderate in any meaningful way (and definitely not with any consistency), so I’m going to simply remind people to read the site rules before commenting, particularly the ones about being constructive and staying on-topic. (I know people won’t follow those rules 100% without heavy moderation on a post like this one, and I don’t think there’s any way around that perfectly, but I hope people will try.) Thank you!

    Reply
    1. DancerInTheSnark

      There are already more than a thousand comments here, but I just had to add my $.02. In terms of this whole scenario as a management issue–as so many have pointed out–the conditions put in place protect *both* Sylvia *and* the OP from negative workplace repercussions. Sylvia can’t retaliate against the OP and the OP can’t sling baseless accusations at her, either. Since the OP was the one to contact HR (although Sylvia may have done the same on her own, once she got his email at her professional address), his pearl-clutching shock that HR actually got involved is, frankly, baffling.

      As for the restrictions put in place on their interactions, the only one that raised a red flag for me was “no discussion about her and the management with my colleagues, not even in watercooler chat”. I understand it was a measure put in place to prevent him from undermining her authority by gossiping and spreading his version of what happened to her subordinates, but if this were happening in the United States, that would be a violation of labor law. That said, the OP is clearly not a reliable narrator, so who knows how this condition was framed to him in reality? He interpreted his own email to HR as *Sylvia* going over his head, the other measures put in place to protect both of them as punitive, and the involvement of the chair as merely evidence of nepotism, so it’s not hard to imagine him taking an injunction not to undermine his boss with personal gossip as an all-encompassing gag order.

      So those are the workplace issues. As for the larger moral universe in which all of this is taking place: whatever the dynamic of their relationship may have been (provided she wasn’t abusive to him, which he makes clear she wasn’t), however much the whole thing may have run its course or he may have needed to move on, there’s an honorable and a dishonorable way of leaving a relationship, and he chose a profoundly dishonorable path. This whole bananas story is proof positive of the old adage that you should be kind to people on the way up, because you might meet them again on the way down.

      Reply
      1. Ego Chamber

        “I understand it was a measure put in place to prevent him from undermining her authority by gossiping and spreading his version of what happened to her subordinates, but if this were happening in the United States, that would be a violation of labor law.”

        Really? Discussing working conditions with coworkers seems like a different thing than telling people you used to bang your boss/were in a long term relationship and abandoned her/other interpersonal situations that could affect working conditions but aren’t entirely appropriate for idle discussion with coworkers.

        Reply
        1. DancerInTheSnark

          That’s exactly what I meant. If (and that’s a big if), the chair had issued a blanket directive that he couldn’t discuss his boss or management *at all* with his co-workers, then presumably that would also preclude him from discussing working conditions or asking about salaries, which would definitely be a violation of labor law in the U.S. But as I said, the OP is hardly a reliable narrator, and it’s entirely likely he interpreted a requirement not to share this personal history with his colleagues as an all-encompassing gag order–or presented it that way to AAM to gin up sympathy.

          Reply
      2. Annonymouse

        I took this to mean that he should be neutral or non committal in his answers.

        What do you think of new director?
        *They seem ok
        *I don’t know, I don’t work closely with her
        *Hey, how about that sportsball/ tv show/ new movie?

        Are all reasonable answers

        Reply
  2. AvonLady Barksdale

    Wow, I didn’t expect an update! My first reaction to this is that if Sylvia got the chair involved and strict measures were put in place, then she’s not as “fine” as the OP thinks she is. For what reasons I will not speculate (meaning, I will spend a lot of time speculating, but I don’t want to make assumptions here), but I hope the OP’s communication with her included an apology.

    Reply
      1. AvonLady Barksdale

        She likely has a wonderful life beyond him– but that doesn’t mean she’s “fine” with him. Someone who has completely moved on and forgiven would not require a third party present during all conversations. Something else is up here.

        Reply
            1. Rusty Shackelford

              I don’t know… he seems happy to blame *anyone* as long as it isn’t himself. I don’t know why it would matter whether Sylvia or the chair came up with them.

              Reply
              1. Snark

                My feeling is that he wants to minimize his sense of responsibility for Sylvia’s feelings about this by telling himself that she’s actually totally cool with everything, it was just that meddling director jumping in and screwing everything up with those punitive stipulations. And so he’s telling himself, hey, she’s married, she has kids, she didn’t even say much, she’s good, why can’t we be good?

                Reply
                1. Annonymouse

                  As one of the commenters who wrote if you had to look for a new job it wouldn’t be unreasonable let me point out why:

                  1) even if your ex did get over it and could work with you she would have SERIOUS questions about your judgement

                  2) if she had difficulty working with you, as your discussion with the chairman pointed out, it’s much easier to hire a new teacher than a new director. Meaning any choose me or her scenario would not work out in your favour.

                  3) if she couldn’t keep it professional then she’s in a position to make your life hell. Not good for you.

                  The reason so many people weren’t on your side is because you didn’t acknowledge how bad what you did was, tried to make yourself the victim and tried to paint her as the bad guy, calling her “emotional and obsessed” because she got upset that her live in partner just disappeared.

                  Even in this situation after the talk – where I am looking at these actions as actually PROTECTING you (so no one could accuse you of being unprofessional or she couldn’t do anything vindictive) you make yourself a victim.

                  The conditions didn’t seem that bad to me – I also read it as “don’t socialise with her out of work” not “don’t talk to your coworkers outside of work.”. If the latter is true then I can see how that would impact you.

                2. Annonymouse

                  Also if you’re the one that sent an email to HR they would have had ask her about it and once the history came to light of course higher authority was going to get involved.

                  So actually you’re the one that got him involved.

              2. Elizabeth H.

                I cannot believe the insane moralizing that commenters here are still perpetuating. Is it so possible to believe that some people can move past unpleasant or sad experiences without lifelong trauma and PTSD? It seems like such a lack of imagination about how adults normally behave, and an excess of imagination of the lurid type for picturing OP as the most heartless villain of all time.

                Reply
                1. Elizabeth H.

                  Yes, at you, Rusty Shackelford, Not Yet Looking and others. I do feel that many, many commenters here are doing this, that’s why I posted it.

                2. NotAnotherManager!

                  I don’t really think it’s unfairly moralizing to express that OP treated his ex quite badly and in a way that violated significant trust. It’s perfectly normal not want to work with someone who treated you quite badly in the past. It doesn’t imply trauma or a failure to move on, more of having an experience, learning from it, and not being interested in a repeat.

                  I have my share of crappy exes (including one who probably rivals the OP’s behavior), have moved on to lead a fulfilling life and rarely, if ever, think about them. Doesn’t mean I’d hire one of them onto my team at work or be thrilled to have to see one of them every day.

                3. Snark

                  Then, Elizabeth, you are well and truly off base. To the point that you need to either reframe how you’re approaching us to include just a bit of benefit of the doubt, or exit this conversation entirely, because I neither said nor implied anything about trauma or PTSD or lurid moralizing.

                4. Snark

                  And whether or not she continues to be traumatized, I think OP is constructing a narrative where he is the real victim here, where it all could have worked out and he could have worked with her if not for the director and his stipulations that forced him to resign. I think the restrictions were practical and considered, and I think Sylvia had agency in this matter that OP is deliberately minimizing.

              3. Moose and Squirrel

                Pretty much. He doesn’t get that what he did was a big deal and a crappy thing to do, even if she’s moved on to a good job and happy family life.

                Reply
              4. Alice Samsaral

                Thank you for bringing that up. He still maintains a ghoster’s mindset. Very willing to manipulate, play the victim card and the blame game. Maybe 10 years did not seem like enough time for him to mature.

                Reply
            2. Specialk9

              This one is a professional chaos demon – breaking things and then framing himself as the perpetual victim.

              That single marginal nod to his having been a total tool – ‘my immaturity in the past’ – was diluted by the machine gun of blame elsewhere – at Alison for putting it, ‘the toxicity of many commenters’, ‘self-righteous people on the Internet’, ‘I just do not understand why she had to get him involved, no need to go to the top immediately’. And his utter concern with himself (embarrassing for me, excessive measures, unattainable, – he meant untenable, no severance) and utter unconcern for her (she’s fine, she’s married with a kid, and anyway she benefits from nepotism, why’d she have to be so mean and get the chair involved to hurt meeee).

              Chaos demon and perpetual victim.

              Reply
              1. lokilaufeysanon

                This is a great update. LW has all the classic signs of being a perpetual victim, too. He made his ex seem like some crazy stalker in his first letter – and come to find out, they had been dating for three years and living together. He still doesn’t seem to understand how what he did was wrong and that he hurt someone. He bellyached in his update as much about “toxic comments” as he did offer an update – gotta be a victim!

                LW, at present, you are a buffoon. You need to do some serious soul searching to understand why people felt the way they did about your letter. I think it’s great that your ex has married, has kids, and a new job. However, that doesn’t erase what you did to her and I seriously doubt you actually tried to genuinely apologise to her at any given time. You should have done that. And of course your old place of employment are going to want to keep their new director – especially after the previous one had just left. That was a smart decision on their part, not nepotism. Their rules weren’t that onerous, in fact they might have offered YOU some protection, too. (Even without such a rule in place, you don’t need to participate in “watercooler chat” about the ex you ghosted.)

                Reply
                1. lokilaufeysanon

                  This wasn’t meant to be a reply to anyone’s comment, but a stand alone. I even clicked the link to make a new comment and this is what it did. This site seriously needs a better commenting system than this one.

              2. snuck

                And this is why, even if she was over the relationship, she agreed to the measures.

                The watercooler talk requirement might sound restrictive… but water cooler comments are where the most innocuous comments can create the most damage… I get the impression that they are making it very, abundantly clear he’s not to talk about her… anywhere. Dr Seuss… not here, not there, not over here, not over there, not ANYWHERE. It’s odd to be so specific, so I can only guess they are questioning his ability to follow this reasonable request.

                Reply
        1. a1

          “..she’s not as “fine” as the OP thinks she is..”

          I took this as a general “fine” and not specific to him. I also got the feeling that the chair was the one requesting the restrictions, not her.

          Reply
        2. Katie the Fed

          Actually she did the right thing by alerting the chair that one of her new employees had previously been in a relationship with her. That’s pretty normal. The chair came up with these restrictions.

          Reply
          1. Anononon

            Right? I was going to say, it is absolutely professional and appropriate to alert your supervisor (in this case as the director, she could only go to the chair) or HR about a previous relationship with someone you’re supposed to manage. The conditions don’t seem bad, and to me they sound like the chair came up with them to protect the employee from potential retaliation or the appearance of retaliation!

            Reply
            1. Jesca

              This is exactly what I was thinking as well. Companies do not want exes working with each other especially in a manager-subordinate level. Its bad.

              And I’m sorry the OP feels like everyone believes he got his come-uppance, when really its just life. Its the same for that woman who could not get a job at the place where an ex school friend worked due to their past issues. Sometimes you do something to someone who later on has all the power, and then their comfort and retention in that situation becomes more important than yours. Its just life. I mean yeah, the way it turned can be viewed a pretty karmic, but in the end, its really just life!

              Reply
                1. motherclucker

                  Indeed. Often hard to find those in parenting.
                  One could also frame this consequence like, “Revenge is a dish best served cold.” Glad this woman doesn’t have to deal with this guy.

                2. snuck

                  I don’t think this is revenge Motherclucker… this is just the reasonable outcome of what happened a few years ago.

                  Even if the breakup had been handled more ethically… morally… the outcome could still be the same… “Don’t hash up old stuff, don’t create new drama, in fact just don’t talk about each other and pretend this never happened” is a pretty reasonable outcome. Even if they’d parted well, and were still amicable… I’m not sure I’d want them in the same line of command.

              1. Trekkie 1701

                “This is exactly what I was thinking as well. Companies do not want exes working with each other especially in a manager-subordinate level. Its bad.”

                Now, now. It works out so well on the Orville.

                Reply
            2. Umvue

              Yes, exactly.

              The situation worked out exactly as I think it should have. I’m so used to reading about organizations who assess risk weirdly that it’s kind of refreshing to see a case where it seems to have been handled well. It seems the OP hasn’t quite come to grips with the situation he was in or his role in it, but maybe that will come with time.

              Reply
            1. Taco Salad

              Exactly.

              Frankly, I’m still getting an immature/everyone’s-out-to-get-me vibe from the OP (as I got with the original letter). I think it’s probably best that he no longer works there. It’s a shame he can’t find other work in the country and his partner can’t move with him, but it also sounds like he still needs to grow up a bit.

              Reply
              1. Alli525

                I’m definitely getting this vibe too. He simply does not care about Sylvia’s well-being, which, ok, we’re all selfish when it comes to “do I care about my coworker more than I care about myself?”, but it’s always disappointing to see updates that seem clear that the OP hasn’t learned anything or grown from the experience.

                Reply
              2. Dust Bunny

                This.

                ‘ . . . the self-righteous people on the Internet . . . ” etc. Whatever, man. You made this bed. I’ve never not gotten a job, but then I’ve never pulled anything anywhere near this heinous on somebody, either, romantic or otherwise. I don’t care if you get yours personally, but, yeah, I think you earned a professional blow-up.

                Reply
                1. JanetM

                  I’m sorry — I am going off on a tangent here, but — you’ve never not gotten a job? You’ve gotten every job you’ve ever applied for? That’s impressive, and I’d love to know how you did it.

                  (For the record, I’ve gotten most of the job I’ve applied for, and I’m happily in year 24 at the university, but I’ve certainly been rejected in the past, including when I applied for a promotion here a number of years ago.)

                2. Ego Chamber

                  @JanetM The secret is either being very selective as to which jobs you apply for, or Dust Bunny meant they’d never not gotten a job they interviewed for, which is still tricky but easier than getting a job out of every application.

                  I’ve been offered every job I’ve interviewed for except one (I applied at a Halloween store when I was a teenager and didn’t realize wearing a Halloween-themed t-shirt under my blazer with nice slacks was underdressing for an interview at a place where everyone worked in Halloween-themed t-shirts and jeans. The other person I saw interviewing showed up in a full suit with a pencil skirt and stiletto heels: that’s when I realized I was tragically underdressed.)

                  My secret is selective applications, because I have the luxury of a savings account that lets me be more selective than I would if I didn’t have savings, and I grew up poor so I know how to live on next to no money if I have to.

              3. Managed Chaos

                So much this. From acting victimized by his letter (that he sent in willingly) going viral to the rest of it…. yuck.

                Reply
                1. la bella vita

                  Seriously! Maybe it wasn’t the OP’s intent, but I read the beginning as blaming Alison for the fallout for publishing his letter. That he chose to send in. To a very public advice blog.

              4. Lissa

                Eh, I actually disagree. I think it would take a much better person than me not to react defensively to having that level of Internet outrage directed at them, anyway.

                Reply
                1. fposte

                  I agree with you and therefore cut him slack in his reaction to the comments; however, his reaction to the situation at his school is still suboptimal.

                2. Gurl

                  Same!! We’ve all done bad things (and anyone who says they hasn’t is lying. Sometimes it happens unintentionally. It’s just life. Those who haven’t done wrong, throw the first stone…). It doesn’t necessarily make you a horrible person who deserves to be lambasted. Yes, maybe he’s immature and yes maybe he should be more remorseful, but we don’t know for a fact that he’s not sorry for it in some respect. I would definitely struggle with not being defensive to this kind of thing, too.

                3. Sick Of Jerks Like LW

                  Well, sure it would be tough not to be defensive, but then again you and I would be experiencing that from the level of “hurting people in ways that are probably kinda shitty but we are all human and sometimes make really stupid & thoughtless mistakes and also thoroughly regret it” not from the level of “making pre-meditated plans to hurt someone in such a spectacularly heinous, heartless, and callous way that most people would be totally shocked and appalled to hear about it”
                  The whole thing went viral, and LW got the backlash from the internet that he did, precisely *because* what he did was so astonishingly cruel, and a decade later not only does he still refuse to own up to it, and go out of his way to minimize it, he actively tries to portray the person he did something HORRIBLE to (and their reasonable reaction) as the asshole and himself as the victim…and DGAF about anything else than CYA and not disturbing his current comfy life.
                  Maybe he should start reflecting on the fact the THE WHOLE INTERNET has just told him that what he did to Sylvia and how he presents it is pretty flipping awful behavior instead of getting all butthurt about hearing the truth.

                4. Anion

                  Yes, I’ve been the subject of much smaller, more localized internet outrage (over something essentially made-up by others). It’s incredibly shocking and painful.

                  And I’m sorry, but I do believe it’s toxic. The rush to judgment by others, the declarations that one is some kind of sociopath, the condemnations and eagerness to see someone else feel pain, the insistence that someone does not feel sorrow or guilt simply because you’re (the universal “you,” not any one individual) not “seeing” it in a single letter/video/comment…and so many other things. I absolutely believe it’s toxic. It’s creating an environment where people are afraid to reach out for help or admit to feelings for fear of being the target of condemnation themselves. It encourages people to think that ALL “good” people think and feel the exact same way. It encourages people to get swept up in a mob mentality; it discourages basic human kindnesses and things like giving others the benefit of the doubt.

                  I’m not saying this specifically happened here over this letter, but I don’t know what sorts of things the OP was seeing said about himself elsewhere on the internet, either. And while we all have the right to judge others based on our own feelings etc., I also think it’s important to remember that we’re judging people we don’t know based on very little, that everyone makes mistakes, that we were/are not personally involved in whatever situation so we can’t know what it was/is like, and that it can be very easy to misread tone in letters or comments.

                  I read this update and see someone who’s got every right to feel punished, to feel like he’s lost everything and like what he’s lost is disproportionate to the “crime.” I’ve been the perpetrator of a badly handled break-up or two myself (admittedly none as bad as the OP, but still); I’d hate to think that one of those could not only come back to cost me my job, my home, and my significant other, but would also earn me the sneering condemnation of thousands of internet strangers, who, after hearing of my losses, would declare that I deserve it for the crime of handling a break-up badly years ago. This is the OP’s actual, real life we’re talking about here; what he did was bad, but he hardly deserves to be made homeless for it. The fact that no one else is saying this, and that people are still sniffing that he hasn’t “learned his lesson” and rolling their eyes at his pain–like he should have expected the abuse of thousands when he asked for advice on a blog–is just…really sad to me.

                  So yeah. I’m sorry, but I think “toxicity” fits. And I think it describes what’s happening to our entire culture, frankly, when other people’s lives are treated as sport on such a grand scale and everyone is eager to find another outrage to join, another opportunity to gang up on a stranger, without even considering that there’s another side to the story (think of all the internet hoaxes we see; it seems like every month there’s some new viral outrage that turns out to be entirely false, but the fact that they all turn out to be false doesn’t seem to make people reserve judgment until the facts are in. They just keep leaping in with both feet) or even just that there for the grace of whatever gods might exist go we, and it almost never hurts us to try to be kind to others even if we feel they’re wrong or behaved badly or unkindly themselves.

                  Sorry, /soapbox now.

                5. Minorty voice

                  Fully agree with Anion. I feel very sorry for the LW and for everyone involved – the new partner and Sylvia. We should all be mindful that there are real consequences for all these people. The mob mentality does not help and is also against the rules of engagement on the site.
                  I wonder what Alison thought of the restrictions they proposed. To me, they also look rather severe, especially in the context of expatriates and foreign culture. Maybe one is expected to attend social events with co-workers in that environment and it would be odd if the LW suddenly declined the invites. It all seems to be construed in a way to push him out.

                6. Denise

                  I disagree Anion. Frankly I find your extreme level of sympathy for a person whose shown no true sympathy or respect for others is twisted and honestly

                  He wasn’t “made homeless”, he resigned because he didn’t like the reasonable restrictions that had to be put in place largely because of his past actions. Basically he did exactly what he did 10 years ago, didn’t want to lay in the bed he made and blamed everyone except himself.

                7. cee gee

                  “This is the OP’s actual, real life we’re talking about here; what he did was bad, but he hardly deserves to be made homeless for it.”

                  are you forgetting that sylvia is also a real person who very well could have found herself homeless as well as a result of her partner moving out unexpectedly and refusing all contact? this by default means that along with all the “emotional” attempts to reach him that he essentially blocked her from, he was also refusing to acknowledge things like shared bills or bills that might have been in his name or income she was expecting to split.

                  i agree that joining in on an internet manhunt fueled purely by emotions and virtual pitchforks of outrage is inappropriate and potentially, frighteningly exaggerated, and outright abuse from internet trolls is not deserved.

                  however.

                  this is still a real thing he did in real life to a real person, not just some imaginary internet viral sensation.
                  the people reacting solely to the viral internet sensation obviously are out of line.
                  the people considering the real-world consequences to sylvia are NOT out of line.

              5. Belle

                Agreed. Relationships are hard especially when you’re young but if you can’t accept responsibility for your actions and admit you were in the wrong, you aren’t going to go anywhere.

                Reply
                1. Sahura

                  It won’t let me reply directly to Snark but…haha, no he didn’t. He never thought to apologize to her before ending up in a situation where it could affect his professional life, and then it was still all about him. When introducing the situation he said it was “obsessive” when his live-in partner of 3 years LOOKED for him after he moved out without a word. This guy has no concept of “wrong.”

                2. Snark

                  No, I meant that as an overly literal and joking reference to the fact that OP did actually go somewhere – he left the country to ghost Sylvia.

              6. Elizabeth

                What’s great is we have no idea that he truly can’t find other work in the country – he’s ditching his partner to go to another country AGAIN! BTW, did he talk to that partner before resigning on the spot? Could something else have been worked out? He is still exhibiting extremely selfish behavior in his relationships!

                Reply
                1. Bartlet for President

                  In fairness, he may be obligated to leave the country due to his own visa issues. It sounds like he’s not a permanent resident of the country he was living in, and therefore his visa in that country was likely tied to his employment – no job = visa rescinded. Some countries don’t give a huge window of time to find a new job before the person has to leave. [I think the last country I lived in only allowed six weeks between ending a contract, and producing a new one that had to start within a certain period of time – or, the visa was gone.]

                2. Elizabeth H.

                  This is so ridiculous – how can you possibly infer this? Your comment is wildly speculative and seems motivated by the desire to be dramatic. In addition to speculating about whether or not he discussed this with his spouse, are you going to speculate that he didn’t brush his teeth that day either?! I feel like this is pettiness and lurid fantasy at this point.

                3. Oryx

                  Elizabeth H., I don’t think the spouse thing is speculation. He says in his letter he resigned on the spot. That doesn’t usually mean he had time to talk this over with anyone beforehand.

                4. Zillah

                  Are broad statements like this really helpful? We have no idea how the OP conducts himself in his current relationship, and there’s more than enough to criticize about the OP’s conduct without accusing him of voluntarily “ditching” his current partner to go to another country because he didn’t go into detail about his prospects of finding other work in that country in a timely manner.

              7. Winger

                How interesting. I didn’t see the original message until just now. I am actually quite taken aback at how many people are commenting on OP’s “everyone’s out to get me” vibe, and saying he needs to grow up, and he’s bitter, and lacks self awareness, and so on. I didn’t get that vibe at all. I didn’t read into the comments under the original article so I dunno how messy the discussion got (I’m glad to see that he evidently didn’t wade in) but for me this is an unexpected reaction.

                Reply
                1. Georgia

                  Agreed, and something else I considered is that we don’t know what led to his “ghosting” her. Could have just been a jerk move, or she could have been someone who simply made breaking up impossible. The fact that she hunted him down and had several confrontations involving even his family suggests that she could well have been resistant to breaking it off. They wanted different things at the time, perhaps she wasn’t receptive to his reluctance. I’ve been in situations where a friend or family member wanted more than me out of our relationships and wouldn’t hear of my avoidance or parting ways, wouldn’t hear that we had different ideas that made our relationship impossible, and made it very difficult to move on with my life—in one case I felt like a hostage to what my family members wanted even as I faced personal danger from a narcissist and another predator. Maybe he didn’t know how to handle it. I can see a forgiveable act of immaturity in that case especially. In any case ghosting is cruel, a letter would’ve done, or at least some follow-up, but just that she hunted him down/there were confrontations tells me she probably would’ve made it difficult for him to move on anyway.

                2. Dot Warner

                  Really, folks? They’d been living together for years and he just vanishes, and she’s the irrational one because she tried to find out where he was and if he was OK?

                3. Working Hypothesis

                  Georgia: If someone I lived with disappeared with zero word, my first step would be to contact their family to find out if anyone knew where they were. Not as a “confrontation” or because I was unwilling to accept their choosing to break up with me, but because I’d be terrified that they were dead or kidnapped or something, and I’d be frantically trying to learn whether anyone knew if they were SAFE!

                  If somebody vanishes without a word of explanation after you’ve been living together for two years, the idea that they’re doing this in order to break up with you is so far out that I don’t even think it would occur to most reasonable people for quite some ways into the process of trying to find out what the hell happened to them. The first several thoughts would involve their lying dead in a ditch, or unconscious in an unknown hospital after an accident, or something like that… and of *course* you would contact their family and any close friends in order to find out if anyone knew anything about where they were likely to be found if one of those things were the case. It’s got nothing to do with being unwilling to accept a breakup, because a breakup just isn’t on the radar as one of the possibilities that might be happening, at that stage. Only if you later find out somehow that they’re alive and well and off in another country doing their own thing might it slowly start to occur to you that this vanishing act was their really bizarre way of breaking off the relationship… by which time you’d already quite likely called, not only their friends and relatives, but the police.

                  If, on the other hand, someone I’d been living with for two years vanished without warning, but left me email, or a note taped to the refrigerator or something, saying, “I’m breaking up with you. Don’t expect me home,” I would think they were an impressively horrible jerk, but I wouldn’t go looking for them. I think that’s also true about most people.

                  The upshot: just as, in this case, the LW brought his consequences on himself by sending that letter to HR (which then had to notify the top boss), in the original incident he brought the consequences of having his family and friends contacted on himself, by refusing to do something so basic as leave an effing note to tell his partner of three years that he wasn’t dead.

                4. Candi

                  Winger, Georgia, the ‘she might be the problem’ thing was discussed, dissected, and analyzed in the comments of the first letter.

                  General consensus, based on the LW’s words, was that he was 99% likely to be the actual problem in that relationship.

                  He didn’t just ‘ghost’ her; he packed up, left town, and didn’t contact her until the directorship hit him in the face. His family had to fill her in.

                5. Lauren R

                  Agree with Working Hypothesis. It would be weird if she DIDN’T try to find him. When someone you love and live with just disappears with no trace that’s a big deal. She cared for him and he vanished. After 3 years I’m sure my head would spin when I realized the truth because who on earth just leaves the country without telling their girlfriend and expects them to get the hint?? I don’t think anyone would jump straight to that conclusion because if you think highly of someone you’d want to believe they’d never do that to you or think of you so coldly.

                  I’m generally anti-contacting family members when it comes to break up drama but he didn’t actually break up with her and he didn’t even leave a note. She was probably just scared and not actively trying to drag other people into it or cause problems.

                  I can’t imagine the pain of realizing your partner of three years left with no warning, leaving you to cope with all the loose ends they left on your own. Who gets to deal with the rest of your stuff, telling concerned friends where he is (presumably he didn’t notify everyone but her), not to mention the potential of falling behind financially if you were counting on their income for rent/utilities/etc. Moving your life to another country can’t happen overnight so he had time to show her consideration and didn’t, and all because he couldn’t deal with a “we want different things” talk. It’s sad some people are treating her like she’s irrational for reacting with hurt and confusion to a hurtful and confusing situation.

                6. Wilhelmina Mildew

                  Winger- I have a brother who is a LOT like this guy, in that he does terrible things to people constantly and then whines about how awful and mean everyone is when they get justifiably angry, cut him out of their lives (like a did a LONG time ago), seek revenge, or react however they react to being betrayed, lied to, used, stolen from, cheated on, etc. He just CAN NOT seem to understand why everyone is so unfair to him. And this LW right here? All his blaming, minimization, excuses, justifications, gaslighting, etc as to why he isn’t to blame, it’s not his fault, everyone is so unfair, etc. are exactly- and I mean EXACTLY, like they learned it from the same textbook- the same techniques my brother uses when he whines and cries that all the people that he has seriously screwed over are such jerks to him. And there are people who STILL take him seriously and have sympathy!
                  If you’ve never been around people who act like this, sometimes it can be really hard to see it because it really is hard to believe that such remorseless assholes exist, or that they will bend the truth or outright lie any way they feel like to always make themselves look like a sympathetic victim.
                  I mean, look what this jerk did! Rather than take his (very mild) lumps and submit to the chair’s VERY reasonable, VERY professional, and VERY easy to follow measures, he had a tantrum and took the nuclear option- resigning on the spot. And here he is, ONCE AGAIN, whining and crying because he does not like the results of HIS OWN, FREELY CHOSEN ACTIONS (no job, having to move out of country, being separated from his partner.) He COULD have chosen to put on his big boy Pull-Ups, kept his head down, done his job quietly for the rest of the year, then looked for a new job somewhere he could easily take his partner, etc. No, he CHOSE to sabotage his life and is AGAIN putting the blame on others- The Impossibly Draconian Measures! Nepotism! I contacted HR but it’s HER FAULT the chair got involved! and so on.
                  NO taking responsibility for any of his actions, either in the past or now. This is a grown man in his 30s or possibly even 40s. It’s way past time he start acting like it.

                7. Wilhelmina Mildew

                  Georgia: Dot Warner, Working Hypothesis, Candi, Lauren R., (and so many others) have made their points- she didn’t even know she was being broken up with, there was no reason for her to assume that was the case, and her reaction to coming home to “missing live-in BF” was reasonable, rational, and justified.
                  But we live in a culture where any kind of normal emotion in women is seen as something pathological, especially negative ones like worry or anger, so it’s really easy to classify her frantic, panicked efforts at trying to find out if her BF was alive or hurt or whatever as “hysterical and obsessive”. I mean, in a realistic world, once she found out the truth- that he had dumped her in a spectacularly shitty, callous, cruel, and coldhearted manner- no one would bat an eye if she ripped him a new one in an email or phone call, which would be a reasonable, rational, and justified reaction to that level of shitbaggery. But the one we *actually* live in would classify even a one line email saying “EFF YOU, YOU SCUMSUCKING DIRTBAG” as obviously the crazy ranting of an out of control, irrational, maybe hormonal female, because female anger always = crazy lunatic insane person in our society.
                  It really, really bothers me (and I think it’s really telling) that we have an LW here who, even while trying to minimize his actions and deflect blame, has still fully admitted that, due to his own immaturity and cowardice, he did a really, truly, objectively horrible thing to someone who loved him. And even though he pulls the really ugly “obsessive and hysterical” card out of the misogyny deck, he describes her as that way AFTER he abandoned her (and when it was totally legit behavior), not before. Despite bending over backwards to make himself look good, he still does not ONCE mention anything weird or out of line his girlfriend did during the relationship that made him want to leave, just his own cowardice- and I will tell you that FOR SURE if there had been anything, he would have seized onto it like a drowning man clutches a life preserver, because people who work that hard to avoid blame and consequence for their own actions will grab onto anything they can to twist it out of shape in their defense. And especially after the backlash he got, you’d REALLY think he’d be all “I didn’t mention this before, but I ditched her because she did [weird, creepy, boundary violating thing]. BUT STILL with ZERO evidence at all of the GF doing anything wrong people are still picking this thing to pieces trying to find reasons why she MUST be at fault and why LW MUST have been justified in doing something so fucking hideous to her.
                  I’m going to add that I have seen this a LOT IRL even in cases where the man is an obvious socio/psychopath; actively abusing, terrorizing, or stalking someone; an objectively terrible partner and/or father etc and the woman is NORMAL. Somehow, someway, people have to look for ways that it is always the woman’s fault. I, personally, have an abusive ex that I broke up with in 1989 and have not seen in person since then, and have been completely NO CONTACT with since ’91 or 92, who lives in another state 1000’s of miles away, has a wife and three kids, and TO THIS DAY stalks me, tries to pump mutual friends from back then for info (which creeps them out), who kept in touch with my late parents for decades just to get info about me (they weren’t close AT ALL when we dated), who tells people he “is still in love with me”, who found out my cell # and crank called me for weeks until my husband picked up and told him to back off, whose made several FB profiles trying to friend me (blocked them all)…and there are still a few people that think I am delusional or making it up, or wonder what I am doing to encourage it. Some of these people are women who have themselves been stalked and harassed by abusive exes and it just blows my freakin’ mind. There are a lot of shitheads in this world, who don’t need any more reason to treat people badly other than that other people exist.

                8. Bea

                  People who think she should have been like “Oh he’s gone, guess we broke up then, on with my merry way then!”, you need to watch some stories about people who vanish because they’re kidnapped or murdered. A spouse/partner who acts like that is the first suspect and most likely involved. o.O It’s not normal to be ghosted by a long term partner, at least grow a set and leave a Dear John letter. Even then it’s odd behavior and most people will want more answers and seek them out but at least it’s not as suspiciously psychopathic.

            2. Jadelyn

              That was my assumption – I’m in HR at my org and if we got notice of something like this, then we’d absolutely be bringing in the EVP or President over whichever SVP or Director had the issue. That’s like…the first person we’d reach out to to tell them we have a Situation that needs to be addressed. I rather doubt she was the one who brought in the chair, tbh.

              Reply
          2. Fiennes

            Agreed. It shows an effort to be thoroughly professional and avoid even the appearance of retribution — not some kind of escalation as the OP seems to think. If she’d genuinely had it out for him, she wouldn’t have brought the matter to the chair’s attention.

            Reply
            1. Jadelyn

              This is a good point – if she’d wanted to screw with him, she’d have kept it quiet and just used her position to undermine him over time, or whatever. As I said above, I don’t think she brought in the chair, I think it’s more likely HR did that, but even if she did it wasn’t for purposes of retribution – if anything, bringing the chair into this limits her ability to get retribution if that’s what she wanted.

              Reply
            2. Beckie

              Exactly — many of these restrictions are put in place to protect him from any perceived or attempted retribution by her. OP, I hope you realize that the workplace did make a good-faith effort to make this situation work for everyone involved.

              Reply
              1. Mel

                That’s exactly what I came here to say! In a situation even vaguely like the OP’s I would *definitely* want all my meetings with my manager recorded and I would *definitely* want a witness present every time we talked. That’s all definitely for the OP’s protection.

                Reply
                1. KK

                  I personally do think trying to limit his social contact with other coworkers is going too far (and yes, would definitely raise suspicions), but everything else seems normal.

                2. Bartlet for President

                  K – I read it as the OP had to limit their interactions with Sylvia outside of work – not their coworkers as a whole.

                3. FortyTwo

                  That reveals a bit about what OP *thinks* the power dynamic is vs. what it really is. He needs the protection from Sylvia because she is his superior. He seems to believe that Sylvia requested a witness because she might feel threatened by HIM. He doesn’t get it.

                4. Lynn

                  Yes, exactly FortyTwo. He’s upset that *she* brought in a third party, because he sees it as something only for her benefit. He failed to consider that the third party is also for his benefit, to protect him from retaliation, because he still thinks of himself as holding far more power and importance than he actually does (despite emailing AMA).

                  This carries through the entire situation. He felt he had a right to be free from “drama,” so she had no right to expect an actual break up. He wanted to disappear, so she had no right to followup and find out what happened. He wants to keep his behavior “between us,” so she shouldn’t have brought in the director (even though it was likely HR after his email). He must be able to socialize freely, so of course he’s leaving his partner behind. It’s all him, him, him all the time, which is ok in a small child, but appalling in an adult.

          3. Jesmlet

            I think if all she had done was just alert the chair, they wouldn’t have put so many crazy restrictions. Clearly there were at least hints of a bad ending to the relationship and she likely implied that they couldn’t just be cordial and normal on their own. They really do seem pretty restrictive – don’t talk about the directer ever because you had a relationship with her 10 years ago? That’s not a condition you impose on a standard breakup so clearly something more was said

            Reply
            1. Halster

              It’s not unusual to put restrictions between the interactions of a manager and a supervisor if they had a past relationship – it actually seems quite important to minimize the appearance of unprofessional behavior

              Reply
              1. Anion

                Yes, but it wasn’t just “Don’t be alone with Sylvia.” It wasn’t even just “Don’t discuss Sylvia at all with any colleagues.” It was, “Don’t discuss Sylvia or any other member of management with any colleagues.” It specifically said, “Not even water-cooler chat.” So in effect, he’s right–it meant he couldn’t socialize with his colleagues at all (could barely speak with them at all) because how many casual or social conversations between co-workers *never* bring up any member of management in any way? What was he supposed to do, go out for drinks with his co-workers and immediately leave the table if someone said, “Bob said he wants us to get new office supplies, but I don’t want to?”

                Reply
                1. Halster

                  I feel like you can definitely discuss many things that don’t involve management! Weather, politics, sports, your home life. And it says “don’t discuss”, which means that likely he wouldn’t have to walk away, just not *comment*

            2. Perse's Mom

              Depending on where the school is located (the original letter says “international school”), if they’re particularly conservative in that area, it could be in large part because of their previous involvement – if there’s always a third party present, that’s a gossip-shield.

              Reply
            3. lawsuited

              I don’t see how restricting LW from gossiping about the director is at all problematic. It would not impact any of his work duties, and would limit gossip in general which is a positive thing. Quitting a job because you really want to be free to gossip about your director behind her back is soooooo weird to me.

              Reply
          4. Isonomist

            Agree completely. She would have been making a mistake to discuss with him without at least HR present. She’s the one in the management position, so it’s up to her to make sure there are no misunderstandings or misinterpretations.

            Reply
        3. Temperance

          I don’t necessarily agree. He has shown himself to her to be untrustworthy, so it’s entirely possible that she was just protecting herself.

          I also don’t think that it’s necessary for her to have forgiven him to have moved on with her life. Some things are not forgivable.

          Reply
            1. Ms Jackson

              God, I wish more people understood this. Sometimes people don’t change and aren’t sorry, so why would you forgive that?

              Also, the world is a big place. It’s entirely possible to simultaneously believe a person could have grown and changed and also believe that the opportunity cost of finding that out so you can forgive them is too high! You could be using that time to meet other people, perfect the violin, play with your kid, fix the toilet, organize a relief effort for Puerto Rico, you know? It’s perfectly fine to decide you’d rather spend your time doing something else you enjoy than spend it letting somebody prove themselves to you again so you can forgive them. Like, “I never want to see you again, hope you grow up, good luck” can, with a little time and distance, be a sincere wish.

              Reply
              1. Kate, Short for Bob

                Yes! All of this! No one who’s been “wronged” has any responsibility for the other person’s redemption, and forgiveness is only meaningful if there’s to be a continued relationship.

                Reply
                1. Alli525

                  I’ll quibble that forgiveness is only meaningful for the OFFENDER if there’s going to be a continued relationship. The offended party should pretty much always try to find some measure of forgiveness, just as a part of the grief and moving-on process. Otherwise a grudge can turn poisonous (I speak as a Taurus with lots of family trauma).

                2. Snark

                  And sometimes, apologies aren’t currency you feed into the “I screwed up” machine until a forgiveness drops down the chute. Sometimes you apologize and it creates no closure, no absolution, and no resolution. And that’s okay, it’s worth it anyway. But forgiveness is not transactional.

                3. Specialk9

                  @Snark “apologies aren’t currency you feed into the “I screwed up” machine until a forgiveness drops down the chute. Sometimes you apologize and it creates no closure, no absolution, and no resolution. And that’s okay, it’s worth it anyway. But forgiveness is not transactional.”

                  *Yes*. FORGIVENESS IS NOT TRANSACTIONAL.

                  My parents like to hound me about forgiving a person who has never apologized, recognized their wrong or tried to fix it, piled on new wrongs, and in the process destroyed two kids I love. They can unicorn-rainbow their way to being ok with this person, but I won’t.

                  I was hurt as a child by their unicorn-rainbow inability to assess risks, so I have no tolerance for it now. I don’t owe forgiveness on demand.

                4. Mina

                  In all honesty, I don’t think any measure of forgiveness is necessary, at least for me. I think not stewing in the negativity is absolutely critical to healing, but at the same time, I’ve made peace with the fact that I’ll always have some small amount of ire toward some people, and use that ire to sniff out others who would try to pull the same crap. I’d rather find some way to transmute or sublimate that into something productive.

                5. Temperance

                  @Alli: I vehemently disagree with the idea that forgiveness is for the victim. You can move on without absolving the aggressor.

                  I hate one of my SILs for something that she did that she can never make amends for. It doesn’t eat at me as much as “forgiving” her would.

              2. Mina

                Yeah, forgiveness is not mandatory for healing, and I highly resent folks who push that on me, especially since in this particular case of mine, I forgave willingly and nothing changed. And past experiences of mine with others have indicated that time and distance are essential, not forgiveness. I view those people with little rancor, and the only time they take up brainspace is the blue moon whenever I see their names. I still have not forgiven them, I probably never will. Despite this, life has been pretty smooth and the opposite of bitter.

                Reply
                1. Specialk9

                  Exactly. There can be real peace and tranquility in declining to forgive. But you can never convince forced-forgiveness-pushers.

                2. Mina

                  Yup. Also, it can be a way of choosing yourself first, by honoring your anger and accepting it. For me, forgiveness usually entails premature letting go/burial of those feelings, and it adds undue pressure. I don’t owe my offenders that extra emotional labor, especially if they’re not changing or apologizing.

                3. Georgia

                  I completely agree. Forgiveness was never for me, but for my offenders. It never gave me relief, instead it created a sense in my offenders that they could repeat their aggressions. There was no consequence for them, there was no accountability—all I had to protect myself was my resentment. I learned my grudges protected me from repeated offenses. Forgiveness is *mine* to distribute and I reserve the right be conservative with it. I owe it to no one, I don’t just give it freely.

              3. Cactus

                A very good point. One of the last things I said to a particularly bad ex-boyfriend was “I hope you have a good life, but I can’t be part of it anymore.” I don’t feel vengeful toward him….but I also don’t feel the need to forgive him.

                Reply
          1. Annabelle

            I agree, especially with your second paragraph. I’m also happily married, but that doesn’t mean that I’ve completely forgive past partners for their reprehensible behavior.

            Reply
          2. Jen S. 2.0

            Agree totally. It’s been 10 years, so of course Sylvia has moved on and continued her life, but that has nothing to do with whether she has forgiven OP. Personally, I feel like OP is shirking his own responsibility with the dismissive observation that she is happily married with kids. What does that have to do with OP’s cowardly behavior? “She eventually turned out all right after I wronged her terribly” doesn’t mean “… so my wronging her terribly should have no consequences for me.” A wound heals, but doesn’t mean there isn’t a scar. I’m sure Sylvia has the therapy bills to prove it.

            I mean, haven’t many people had bad break-ups, where you’re not still actively hurting, but you still aren’t yet indifferent toward that ex? Just because you’ve had successful relationships since, and maybe even ended up in a much better place, that doesn’t mean you now have nothing but happy great feelings for that person who treated you terribly. (Note: this applies to jobs, too. Just because you now have a much better job doesn’t mean you’re happily indifferent to the place that treated you terribly and fired you unfairly, or not still experiencing post-traumatic stress from that place.)

            Reply
            1. Mina

              I think there’s this misconception that when someone’s “turned out all right” or “moved on,” they’ve been restored to who they were before they were wronged/abused. This is not the case. You’re not going to be the same person you were prior to that, even if you’re overall happy.

              Reply
            2. Wheezy Weasel

              “She eventually turned out all right after I wronged her terribly” doesn’t mean “… so my wronging her terribly should have no consequences for me.”

              +1 right here.

              Reply
        4. Hc600

          I am “fine” three years after a breakup with an ex, but because he lied to me and about me in ways that were financially and personally harmful, and could have had negative professional impacts if I hadn’t discovered his duplicity when I did. I would not want to give him the opportunity to twist any of our interactions to suit his needs so never being alone would be important to me.

          Reply
        5. Kateshellybo19

          It might simply prove she doesn’t trust him and doesn’t want to give him the opportunity to cause a :he said she said” drama.

          Reply
        6. Leslie

          No half way competent HR department would do anything but require a third party at meetings. The potential liability if there were a complaint would be too great. Given the information he provided HR it was a necessary logical step to protect everyone involved.

          Reply
        7. Disconoo

          It could be entirely possible that the stipulations were designed as a preventive measure in case of future workplace disagreement. As the wronged party is now his boss, the chair may have been concerned that any future discilpinary action etc could turn into a nightmare he/said she said scenario. Could you imagine that sylvia has to reprimand him for something, and him blowing up that its all because of their past. As was stated the school does everything to minimise chance of scandal. Having a 3rd party in for discussions and documenting them seems like reasonable measures to me. I don’t think its an issue of her not being ‘over it’ per se. But rather an issue that understandably she doesnt trust the character of one of her employees. He frankly owes her an apology and i think he needs to move on. Karma is a thing.

          Reply
        8. Grecko

          I disagree. She needed a third party to protect herself. She had a prior relationship with OP and knew him to be a dishonest person who doesn’t take responsibility for his actions. If she keeps it to herself she opens herself up to future potential accusations that she is treating him unfairly.

          Reply
      2. Partially Bigoted Zealots

        She can have a good life and still be incredibly upset by what happened. I agree with AvonLady, she doesn’t seem “fine” about the situation–and that’s okay! If you had a longterm partner who abandoned you when you went out of town it’s okay to hold a grudge even if you’ve moved on.

        Reply
        1. KHB

          Agreed. There’s kind of an insidious myth out there about survivors of abuse and other terrible behavior, that if they’re doing well for themselves/are happy sometimes/are able to function in the world/aren’t a sobbing emotional basket case huddled in the corner, then they must be fully healed (or must not have been hurt all that badly in the first place). But it’s not true.

          Reply
          1. Rusty Shackelford

            And even if they *are* fully healed… if you physically batter me, that experience doesn’t go away after my broken bones mend. Emotional battering isn’t any different. The fact that you’ve healed doesn’t mean it never happened in the first place.

            Reply
            1. Mazzy

              But Sylvia isn’t a “survivor” she got ghosted not abused. And it wasn’t last week, it was years ago. In the self-help program I attend, the vote would be unanimous – Sylvia needs to move past this by now

              Reply
              1. Oryx

                She wasn’t ghosted in the “the guy I went on one day with didn’t call me back” kind of way. The man that she dated for three years and LIVED WITH just up and vanished to another country without a word one weekend while she was on vacation.

                Reply
                1. Prost!

                  It sure seems like mental or emotional abuse to me. If my boyfriend of three years just up and DISAPPEARED one day, with all his stuff, I’d probably be questioning my own mental health and wondering if I’d just made him up out of thin air.

                2. Managed Chaos

                  I can’t even imagine the mental anguish, not from the ghosting itself, but the torment of thinking your loved one was in trouble, maybe hurt or killed, and then compounded by learning it was intentional to cause that distress.

              2. Rusty Shackelford

                Some people would consider his treatment of Sylvia emotional abuse. And we don’t know that Sylvia hasn’t moved past this. Either HR contacted the chair, or Sylvia did, because having a past romantic history with one of her reports is A Thing That Should Be Reported. Did Sylvia suggest the constraints? We don’t know. It might have been all the chair’s doing. All I’m saying is, what happened to Sylvia happened to Sylvia. No one gets to say it shouldn’t influence her now, even if she “got over it.”

                Reply
              3. Observer

                Firstly, he did more that the standard “ghosting”. Secondly, “moving on” doesn’t mean “forgive and forget”, it means to stop stewing. This is a significant difference. And it looks like Sylvia HAS stopped stewing, at least sufficiently to get on with her life.

                But, it doesn’t mean that she will ever trust the OP in the least bit. And, if she saw the letter (hard to tell), she’d know that she really SHOULD NOT trust him, because he still clearly doesn’t take responsibility AND he also is twisting her reaction in a way that could harm her. Why would she expect anything different going forward? It may be 10 years after the abandonment, but it’s weeks after his attempt to portray her as a needy flake.

                Reply
              4. Detective Amy Santiago

                The fact that the LW even called it “ghosting” is a huge part of the problem. He abandoned a woman he lived with for two years without so much as a letter.

                Reply
              5. Partially Bigoted Zealots

                1. She was abandoned by a long-term, live-in partner. That easily qualifies as emotional abuse (a real thing.)
                2. Sylvia can move on (and indeed, sounds like she has) and still be influenced by what happened, and not want to deal with him. Forgiveness isn’t about repairing a relationship–it’s about not letting someone live rent-free in your head. She moved on and got better that doesn’t mean she is required to build bridges with him.

                Reply
              6. Jen S. 2.0

                I also wouldn’t be surprised if OP’s final disappearance wasn’t his first time exhibiting bad behavior, and that goes double because of OP’s continued lack of desire to take responsibility, as evidenced in these letters. So, no, we don’t know whether there was emotional abuse … but the action that precipitated this situation likely did not live in a vacuum.

                Reply
                1. Sahura

                  The feeling when she got home must have been extraordinarily painful. thinking he’d show up in a couple hours, wondering if he was kidnapped, realizing his belongings are all gone, imagining him having an affair, freaking out over whether he was dead…unbelievable cruelty.

              7. Turquoise Cow

                The members of your self-help program don’t get to decide, nor does anyone else, whether Sylvia was emotionally traumatized by the experience, or whether she ought to get over it. She was the one who experienced it. Even if the rest of the universe thinks it was no big deal, it doesn’t matter if she thinks that.

                Reply
              8. Bloo

                We don’t know anything about their relationship beyond what the LW told us. He’s the kind of person who will abandon the partner he lived with without a word. Who knows what else was going on there. He’s certainly not a reliable narrator. We also don’t know what wreckage he left behind – financial entanglements, etc.

                Reply
                1. Salamander

                  Bloo’s right. For all we know, she might have been trying to contact his family to get half of the rent he owed for that month.

              9. jennygadget

                I’m not sure how you call what he did anything other than emotional abuse, but even putting that aside for the moment…

                The ghosting was years ago, but him showing up in her life – at her workplace – is super super new. And there’s nothing here to indicate that she hasn’t already “move[d] past this” in any case.

                Reply
              10. Bess

                But your comment seems framed as if Sylvia is actively seeking out some kind of retribution for this, when she’s not. Her partner of 3 years left the country without even telling her where he’d gone. You don’t have to be actively holding onto any kind of grudge for that kind of abandonment to affect every relationship you have for the rest of your life.

                Reply
              11. Jesca

                Ok here is the thing I have noticed with these self-help concepts. “Self-help” concepts are used quite successfully in cognitive behavior therapy and the like, yes. Re-establishing your inner affirmations to yourself, forgiveness, and living more in the moment. Yes. All beautiful things. But forgiving is for 1)your own benefit and 2) to establish inner peace with the situation so you are not tormented by it any longer. Forgiveness takes a long as time and a lot of self reflection. But EVEN WHEN you reach forgiveness, its doesn’t mean you just effing forget! When you have experiences with other human beings that are negative, letting it go is healthy – anger can be destructive. BUT that doesn’t mean you have to allow that person back into your life or that you just suddenly forget who they are as a human. You do not have to like everyone.

                I have had some people do some pretty vicious things to me, and they are out there in the world. I do not think of them much. But I also don’t wish them ill will. I accept who they are, that its nothing to do with me anymore, and I move on. In that same token I don’t want them in my life. Trust is broken and I hate drama and whatever else.

                And even with all that said, do you not understand that healthy management sees and addresses early on the concern of exes being in a power dynamic? LOL nothing is crazy about how this situation was handled.

                Reply
              12. Anion

                Yes, thank you. The OP’s behavior was wrong. He did the wrong thing. Sylvia was right to feel wronged. But the idea that he abused and traumatized her to the point where she’d need extensive therapy just seems like…a little much to me.

                I said above that I’ve been the “bad” one in break-ups, but I’ve also been the one badly broken up with. All painful experiences at the time–and I admit, once or twice in the last twenty-odd years I’ve started thinking about one or two of them and felt, for a moment, a faint twinge of that same pain–but that was years ago. And quite frankly, as I said to my beloved SD just the other day, I’m glad for those break-ups now because without them I might not have ended up with my super-beloved husband. I think it would be pretty upsetting for him if I still needed therapy, or if I referred to myself as a “survivor” of some kind of “abuse” (isn’t that pretty insulting to actual abuse survivors?) because an ex broke up with me in a less-than-optimal way.

                And that is honestly all the OP did. He broke up with his live-in girlfriend poorly. He did something that, honestly, other live-in-couples and spouses have done to each other and still do. He moved out of their shared home without telling her. It was wrong. It was irresponsible and selfish. But that’s kind of it.

                He didn’t actually *owe* her anything but a conversation or letter telling her he was leaving. They weren’t married. They didn’t have a child. He didn’t force her to have an abortion against her wishes. He didn’t beat her. He didn’t spend thousands of dollars on her credit cards and then skip town. He didn’t post nude photos of her on the internet. He just moved out of their shared home. People do it every day. Married people, people with children–people who actually do owe each other more than just a conversation or note–do it every day. Heck, a friend of mine’s mom did it to her husband (my friend’s stepdad) when we were twelve; he came home from work one day and they’d packed up everything and left. I thought it was lousy then and I still do, but I don’t think it made my friend’s mom an abuser or that she never deserved to be happy again, and she was *proud* of what she’d done–she hadn’t done it out of fear or not knowing how to have the conversation, she’d done it because she just didn’t care enough about him to bother and didn’t “feel like” having some long boring talk with him. And she wasn’t a kid barely in her twenties, either, she was a full-grown adult with children.

                Reply
                1. Decima Dewey

                  That Sylvia may or may not have needed extensive therapy is speculative. What is not is that OP broke up with her by apparently disappearing from the face of the Earth, at least as far as Sylvia knew. Even a Post-It note on the door reading “See You Never, Sylvia” would have been kinder.

                2. Denise

                  Your intense defense of this type of shitty behavior indicates that you are probably one who commits or would easily commit these types of behaviors yourself. Instead of trying to get the rest of us to stop thinking these behaviors they the LW, and presumably you, think are a-okay, ask yourself why you’re so okay with these type of behaviors and work on fixing yourself. You & LW are the ones with the poor mentality here, NOT the rest of us.

                3. Denise

                  Your intense defense of this type of shitty behavior indicates that you are probably one who commits or would easily commit these types of behaviors yourself. Instead of trying to get the rest of us to stop thinking these shitty, unacceptable behaviors are no big deal and a-okay, the way LW and you apparently think they are, ask yourself why you’re so okay with these type of behaviors and work on fixing yourself. You & LW are the ones with the poor mentality and moral compass here, NOT the rest of us.

              1. Mina

                Awww. ::hearts:: I’m blushing over here.

                And here, have some hugs, because healing is a long and arduous journey. I hope you have a good day today.

                Reply
            1. Temperance

              Mina, your comments here are making me constantly nod my head in agreement. Thank you for representing the often-ignored perspective of the abuse victim.

              Reply
              1. Mina

                You’re welcome, Temperance! The pressure to forgive can be overwhelming, and I’ve found that it’s just made me beat myself up more. When I read comments on other blogs from people who also didn’t forgive, I noticed that they weren’t bitter or angry, they were FINE. Forgiving offenders is up to the individual victim, and nobody else gets a vote.

                I hope you’re doing well tonight.

                Reply
          2. Allison

            It’s true. I’m in a mostly good place after an emotionally abusive relationship in high school, and a sexual assault at 19, but I still have battle scars from those things, and emotional wounds that may not have healed fully or correctly.

            Reply
          3. Specialk9

            It’s a self serving myth by abusers and enablers, and by people who want to sing happy songs and not think of bad things.

            Reply
          4. Candi

            Cinderelly, Cinderelly
            Night and day it’s Cinderelly
            Do the dishes and the mopping
            They always keep her hopping

            But it’s fine because she got to marry a prince, right?

            Reply
        2. The Cosmic Avenger

          Yep, this. It’s possible to totally move on, and yet still not want to deal with someone who turned your life upside-down ever again. It sounds to me like she (or the board chair) was making sure that, if she did have to deal with him professionally, it would be kept professional and there would be zero drama, because she shouldn’t have to worry about the OP causing more drama in her life.

          What the OP is failing to see is that she’s not trying to get him fired from a workplace where she does not work; at worst, she is trying to keep her workplace as drama-free as possible. (And that’s assuming the stipulations were hers, not the chair’s.) In my opinion she has that right, at his expense, since the former issue was totally his responsibility, and she was willing to put up with his presence to a limited extent as long as it was kept professional.

          Reply
          1. Jessie the First (or second)

            And it hardly even seems to be “at his expense”! Don’t seek out Sylvia outside of work, don’t gossip about her, don’t go have private conversations with her.

            That was about as mild a response as possible, it seems to me, but he quit on the spot!

            Reply
            1. JB (not in Houston)

              Yes, I’m wondering if there were other conditions, or if these conditions would be so out of the ordinary in that work place that it would some unmentioned problem, because these don’t seem that big of a deal and perfectly reasonable steps to put in place under the circumstances.

              Reply
            2. Annabelle

              Yeah, these seem like pretty doable conditions to me. Unless people are constantly gossiping about higher-ups, I don’t really see how any of that was worth quitting over.

              Reply
              1. sam

                me too – and even if they turned out to be untenable in the long run, OP could have worked through them in the short term while he job searched, rather than resigning on the spot, which is an abrupt, rash action that seems to have put himself and his partner in an even worse situation.

                Reply
                1. me2

                  It’s almost like OP has a tendency for impulsive over-reaction without any thought of consequences merely to protect his immediate feelings or something.

                2. JB (not in Houston)

                  That’s where I am on this. It’s quite possible that the restrictions would have effectively isolated him from his coworkers and his main social support in the country, which few people could handle, in which case I would blame him for quitting–but you don’t quit then and there! You start looking for another job first!

              2. Jess

                They do, right? How hard is it to not gossip about or hang out on weekends with your boss? Most people manage it fine. And the ban on 1:1 meetings is as much for his protection as hers; that way he has protection from retaliation. And he quit on the spot over this?

                Reply
                1. Kathlynn

                  It’s not just not gossiping, it’s no discussion of anyone or thing about management. And because of the socializing restrictions, he can’t even ask if she’s going to be attending in order to follow that restriction. If someone talks about her or management he can’t even say something positive.

                2. Steve

                  If I were the OP I would have been glad for the restrictions. Having a chaperone at meetings (which are few and far between) and documenting them protects OP just as much as Sylvia and the company. Keeping your mouth shut is a small price to pay for knowing that Sylvia is keeping her mouth shut, too. And overall, having a clear set of rules set out that you can follow, makes it easier to know that you’re meeting expectations. Unless we’re missing something (was OP banned from any chatting at water cooler? socializing with any coworkers, not just Sylvia?) this seems like it was a huge win for OP!

                3. Kathlynn

                  But we don’t know that Sylvia will keep her mouth shut. I had a similar restriction (no talking about a relationship), and I dealt with it. But then both of the other people involved corned me and asked me about it. (a discussion of this would be off topic) I also do not know that they were ever told not to discuss the incident, or not to bad mouth me.
                  And he’s not just not allowed to talk about her. He’s not allowed to talk about management at all (which would violate multiple laws in canada and the US iirc). He could get in to trouble for asking if she was attending something, or agreeing with a positive comment about management.

                4. AnonAnalyst

                  Honestly, these seem like pretty normal ground rules even if their relationship had ended amicably. I frankly don’t understand why they were so onerous that the OP had to quit on the spot.

                  I am really curious as to what the OP expected to have happen since it sounds like he was appalled at the measures that were proposed.

                5. Specialk9

                  Well, this is the only part I’m going to agree with chaos demon on – at international schools, your co-workers are the only friends you have, and they often stand in for family too. You celebrate national holidays together, like Thanksgiving, and birthdays, and go out drinking or to the pub to watch the soccer game. If she does those things, he can’t, and he can’t contact her to ask if she’s going, add he can’t explain why he can’t do anything.

                6. Observer

                  @Kathlynn, it didn’t say he’s not allowed to ever be at the same social event, it said limit socializing WITH HER.

              3. Gadfly

                And you have to wonder if perhaps becoming a brief international sensation made the powers that be inclined to dot i’s and cross t’s VERY carefully…

                Reply
            3. ss

              I agree. All the stipulations seemed to be quite basic to avoid any he said/she said flareups that could result in potential legal harassment issues. And all basic behaviors you would have expected a civil person to do on their own anyway.

              Reply
            4. Dust Bunny

              Yeah, this is pretty much how I treat my coworkers, anyway, with the exception of a very few with whom I happen to share some interests and whom I count as friends aside from work. Nothing against any of them; I just don’t have any reason to contact them. This almost seems like a flounce on the LW’s part. Another way to feel victimized by the situation.

              Reply
            5. Genny

              It’s possible this is a tight-knit expat community that frequently hangs out together outside of work. In which case, if she hangs out with the group, he wouldn’t able to hang out as he used to. That might explain him saying it would be out of character for him (not to hang out with the tight-knit group) and that his friends and colleagues would notice.

              Reply
              1. EJ

                Yeah–not that I’m saying OP is being totally reasonable and handling things well, or anything, but having lived/worked overseas myself, I feel like the commenters going “What’s the big deal? How hard is it to avoid seeing your boss socially outside of work?” don’t quite understand how small expat communities can be. It can be next to impossible to avoid ever seeing someone at social functions. Outside of certain big cities with a significant presence of people who come from other countries for business reasons, which doesn’t sound like OP’s situation, it’s entirely possible that every expat in a 50-mile radius knows every other one and will invite literally all of those people to their parties because there’s like twenty of them total. That being the case would pretty much cut OP out of anything that’s not one-on-one hanging out with a friend (especially since, as someone else pointed out, he’s not allowed to ask if Sylvia will be there or not).

                OP screwed up badly in his initial relationship with Sylvia and seems to be wallowing in self-pity and blaming everyone else for everything, so I get why people aren’t willing to give him the benefit of the doubt on anything whatsoever, and the other restrictions seem reasonable, but I can see why he thought that particular one would destroy his social life.

                Reply
                1. Specialk9

                  Exactly. Unless you’ve been an expat, esp in a small community, this doesn’t make sense. It would virtually eliminate his social life.

                2. Lynxa

                  But surely he could have toughed it out for a couple of months until he had another job lined up, or a way to take his partner out of the country with him.

                3. ReanaZ

                  I am an expat and I understand what you’re saying here.

                  But also…I don’t know what country the OP is in, but likely there are literally millions of other people in that country he could be friends with other than the 50 expats at his school. The horribly insular (and often bizarrely racist) exclusively of expat communities isn’t the only way to expat or to have friends?

                  Losing your social group in a break up sucks. It’s also super survivable, and a natural consequence to treating your partner like crap.

                  And it’s definitely not such a death sentence than you’re going to be able to convince a bunch of people that you were being so severely persecuted by a handful of reasonable protective restrictions that the decision to quit your job on the spot (!) even though it lost you your home, life in your current country, and your current partner was so a reasonable thing to do that it is above any criticism.

                4. Numenaster

                  Recall that Sylvia has married into a family that is prominent in this country. She is now well connected in the larger society and not limited to just the expat community for her socializing. The chances that her presence would foreclose OP from all socializing are between slim and none, even if she were childfree.

                  I have also taught overseas as a long term resident, and I second ReanaZ’s point that OP is displaying some racism in his concept of who is fit to socialize with.

                5. HR Pro

                  I’m confused… why couldn’t OP ask if S would be at a social function? All he needed was one other person present. Or could ask the person inviting him “hey, who have you invited!” or, upon learning of a social event he really wanted to attend but S would also be in attendance…ask for a quick conversation with HE or Chair. ANY of these options were open to OP but would require both effort and discretion on his part.

          2. Turquoise Cow

            It seems like the “never be alone” stipulation protects him as much as it does her. What if there’s a performance review or something similar – on her own she might decide to be rather vindictive to him. It’s unwise for part of a couple to supervise the other; it’s equally if not more unwise for part of a former couple to supervise the other. In the first, because there might be favorable acts; in the second they are likely to be unfavorable. If I were the OP, I’d certainly be concerned that an ex would be professionally unfair.

            The fact that he didn’t agree to these conditions indicates to me that he doesn’t quite realize that she is the one with more power than he in this situation. She can hurt him professionally, she could make his life miserable at the school in many ways. The chair and HR are protecting him as much as Sylvia.

            Reply
          3. Witchsistah

            Actually, it’s good for Sylvia that the OP left because he’s Nay have tried to cook up some bullshit and drama on her it he’d have stayed.

            Reply
      3. Kitty McFurball

        I have a great life 11-years after my ex did something similar — beautiful apartment, beautiful child — but I would do exactly the same thing in her shoes.

        Reply
      1. Jadelyn

        That’s what I was coming here to say. I’m still seeing a lot of defensiveness and framing it as “the internet piled on me unfairly” rather than “I did a really reprehensible thing and people are calling it what it was.” Not to mention, he’s framing the very reasonable repercussions he’s facing as if they’re some awful punishment, and again there’s a strong undertone of “this isn’t fair, I’m the victim here!”

        Sadly, I don’t see any indication that OP has taken responsibility beyond the most superficial level.

        Reply
        1. me2

          Yeah, some people try to deflect criticism by loudly beating themselves up before others can do it. I get the sense that he’s saying how terrible he is as deflection only, not actual remorse.

          Reply
            1. Jadelyn

              I don’t think it’s about an appropriate amount of self-flagellation, so much as it is the rest of the context surrounding it – if a person says “I did something terrible”, and their actions reflect a mature understanding of what they did and an acceptance of the consequences thereof, then that is probably genuine remorse. But when “I did something terrible” is accompanied by “but everyone’s being so unfair to me!” and the person is trying to brush off or minimize what they did, then that “I did something terrible” starts looking awfully performative.

              Reply
            2. Genny

              I think the person who got fired for calling out sick to view the eclipse is a really good example of someone who understands why what they did was wrong and why the consequences were what they were. I don’t recall that LW trying justify their actions or cast blame for being fired in either her initial letter or her follow-up. This LW, however, is still casting blame on everyone else while only taking a little of it for himself.

              Reply
              1. Not So NewReader

                I thought credit card guy did okay too. This was the guy with $20k (?) on a company card. And he had a few punches in the comment section. When he came back with his follow up we found out he did great. I loved how he turned things to work for him, a food budget meant eating better, an entertainment budget meant freebies like taking walks. He use his unfortunate situation to take a look at his life in total. He let his poor choices thoroughly teach him in good ways.

                We have had a few other OPs who have just decided “this is it. I need advice and I am going to find some pearls of wisdom here to fix my job/life.”

                Reply
                1. Mina

                  I was impressed by the LW who was jealous of her co-worker and the other LW who was bullying her subordinate for not fitting in with the rest of her team. Both realized what they did was wrong, and while I found the latter REALLY frustrating in both her letters and in the comments on the first one, the second one showed some promising introspection and wanting to correct course.

          1. Sylvan

            At this point, we ripped him a new one in the comments on his first letter, he quit his job, he’s moving back home, and his SO isn’t able to travel with him. If you were him, would you want to do anything that looked like an opening for more criticism? I wouldn’t. If I felt remorseful (and I’m not sure how much insight he has right now, so who knows what he’s feeling), I still wouldn’t want more trouble.

            Reply
            1. Tiger Snake

              See, I don’t follow the logic here, because the letter writer doesn’t have to send a follow up. Sure, we all like to know what happened, but its not like agreeing to provide updates is a contract of entry to get Alison to answer your first letter. He’s not being forced at gunpoint to tell us all what happened.

              So, given that he knew how strongly people felt from his previous letter that he’s made his own bed, this all reads like a combination of “Well I hope you’re all happy, I lost my job and I’m suffering for my supposed ‘crimes’ now.” and “No, you just don’t understand – let me show/correct you, and then you’ll see I’m the victim here.”.

              Reply
        2. Wendy Darling

          Also it all happened because of nepotism and why did Sylvia have to go get her powerful husband involved because otherwise none of this would have happened!!!

          OP comes off like exactly the guy people thought he was from the first letter.

          Reply
          1. Yep, me again

            No, the LW is actually someone given to rash decisions and doesn’t recognize it. He abruptly decided to leave Sylvia without telling her, hence making rushed decisions about his future. And now he’s abruptly quit his job because of bad decisions in the past.
            Also, he’s got an attitude of entitlement when it was his fault this mess started to begin with. Sorry, not sorry for him.

            Reply
          2. Elizabeth

            Especially since he “resigned on the spot” without consulting his current partner who he now is ditching to find another job in another country!!! Learned nothing!!!

            Reply
    1. TK

      Yeah I think whatever emotional immaturity allowed him to do the sin the first place is giving him a totally skewed concept of the traumas people keep with him (and I don’t think that’s too strong a word to use to coming home to find your live-in partner missing). She can be married with kids and still not be fine! It could have taken a lot of hard work to get to a place of trust with her current partner. (And what an odd thing, to note that she wasn’t ‘gleeful’).

      Reply
      1. ImogenQ

        You can also be, on balance, fine and that still doesn’t necessarily mean you’re fine with what happened. Just that you’ve moved on.

        Reply
        1. Matilda Jefferies

          I saw a meme the other day that says “You don’t have to rebuild a relationship with everyone you’ve forgiven.” Sylvia may well have forgiven the OP, and she may well be fine with her life as it is right now, but that doesn’t mean she has to be, or will be, fine with working with him every day.

          Reply
          1. Countess Boochie Flagrante

            Yep.

            And at least in my experience, sometimes it’s much easier to forgive after you’ve decided that no further relationship will exist. It helps the wounds heal without being reopened.

            Reply
            1. Alli525

              That is true to my experience too. I have one parent I’ll never speak to again, and I’m pretty decently recovered from that one… but the parent with whom I had to start a “this has a start date but an undefined finish date” no-contact rule–that relationship is much more painful now because I know I’ll have to go in and do the work at some point soon to try to salvage it one last time.

              Reply
              1. Countess Boochie Flagrante

                Yeowch, yes. I have a parent and step-parent from whom I’m happily estranged; my life got so much easier once they stopped trying to force their way back into my life. The thought of trying to salvage something with someone like them again would be… urg.

                Good luck, friend.

                Reply
      2. CoveredInBees

        Yes. Her life doesn’t need omnishambles for her to still be hurt or simply mistrustful of him. I certainly would want distance from an ex who treated me this way despite having a pretty great life today.

        Reply
    2. Regina Phalange

      I wouldn’t count on it based on the victimy update and utter lack of self awareness. And if there was an apology, it certainly wasn’t sincere being he’s still referring to his horrible actions as “immaturity.”

      Reply
        1. Anna

          I think I’d be a bit snarky if what I thought was going to be a straight-forward request for advice blew up into an Internet viral thing where everyone and their neighbor had an opinion and none of it very nice to me. He may have had a bad attitude, but I’m not sure it’s fair to say he deserved every bit of vitriol the Internet threw at him.

          Reply
          1. President Porpoise

            Yeah, a lot of people commenting here totally disregarded the ‘be kind’ rule with great glee. And it did not reflect well on many of them. It’s possible to give painful advice and condemn bad behavior without being nasty.

            Reply
          2. Karen D

            Yeah. When it blew up on Buzzfeed (and yes, the update is ALREADY on BF as well) the piling-on became utterly epic. I can’t imagine any human being enduring that without feeling bruised.

            Also to be fair, I think people are downplaying the circumstances that led to him quitting. When you add up everything they spelled out, it would have resulted in him being on a very short leash indeed.

            I do believe the bad professional outcome is definitely a case of actions having sometimes unforeseen, and sometimes horrific, consequences. Did he “deserve” to lose this opportunity in this way? That’s up for debate, certainly, but it is something you could definitely see happening.

            I don’t think anyone deserves the kind of brutal, public raking-over-the-coals that he got from a bunch of strangers who were basically piling on for their own entertainment/amusement.

            Reply
            1. Karen D

              Also, I am a little annoyed with Buzzfeed that they are basically taking the copyrighted material off this blog and reposting the entire thing on their site. They do link to AAM but then they reproduce pretty much his entire post, which is a no-no for bloggers (the rule is you can use a short excerpt but not the entire post).

              Reply
              1. Jane

                Buzzfeed has a lot of very questionable business practices, a lot of which center on how they do — or mostly don’t — remunerate their content producers.

                Reply
              2. music

                I’m pretty sure they did that with Alison’s permission and consent, though. It was certainly advertised as a co-production.

                Reply
                1. Candi

                  Snort.

                  BF has said before they totally had permission from Wakeen to post their original articles on teapots. Turns out Wakeen never heard from them, and his site restrictions say don’t repost without asking.

            2. Sahura

              I don’t think calling his disgusting, selfish behavior disgusting and selfish is unwarranted. He has done nothing to deserve coddling and he shows barely a touch of remorse unless it’s for the sake of his own career. Maybe if he didn’t come off as such a sociopath, people could relate. Nothing he felt from the Internet’s reaction is nearly as bad as what he did to Sylvia the day he moved out unannounced.

              Reply
            3. Night of the Lepus

              He knew this was a public forum. However brutal his detractors have been, they haven’t lied. Until he gets past his adolescent blaming game and understands that Sylvia was being wise and professional and correct in her actions, he is going to look like a petulant and silly man. The scorn of strangers is the least of his problems.

              Reply
            4. Anion

              Especially when said people are pretty much outright saying he was likely abusive to Sylvia throughout the relationship, and that he’s clearly an unrepentant user and all-around scumbag who thinks everything should be handed to him on a silver platter and that he should suffer no consequences, ever, for his own behavior.

              Jesus Christ.

              “Take the OP at face value” has been completely discarded here, and everyone is deciding nothing the OP has said is true and interpreting every action he describes in the worst possible light for him, simply because they don’t “feel” like he’s sorry based on his email, which he did not have to supply, and which understandably reflects some shock and horror and pain at the fact that he asked for advice and got called an abusive scumbag all over the internet for the evil crime of breaking up with his girlfriend badly.

              Reply
            5. barelyprofessional

              yes to the changing of the job being extreme- this is a leadup to constructive dismissal but it’s almost like people don’t care since they don’t agree with his personal life…

              Reply
          3. Schae

            He sent a request for advice to the internet, to a site where people comment (a fact he was well aware of as he mentioned in his original email) and is surprised by comments? lol.
            If you put your hand in the fire, do not complain that you got burnt.

            He then also insinuated that the woman he abandoned got her job because of nepotism. And is surprised by the vitriol? lol again.

            Reply
            1. Anna

              Yeah, um, the existence of the Internet does not give you permission to be a jerk. That sort of attitude makes it seem like we aren’t responsible for what we put online because the Internet is not people. Does that mean you don’t think you’re responsible for being shitty online? lol, I say, and lol again.

              Reply
              1. Layla

                I agree with you Anna but I also think that applies to the OP. If a real life acquaintance told you that story, would you nod and smile and provide neutral advice? Or would you tell him he was a jerk?

                Reply
                1. Mina

                  I mean, I could probably nod and maintain a neutral expression, and tactfully tell that acquaintance it wasn’t exactly the best idea while internally screaming. And then go all WTF as soon as I was alone and distance myself.

              2. Temperance

                If someone that I knew, or met, told me this story in person, my reaction would be less measured and far less kind and polite.

                Reply
              3. Candi

                You don’t get to be a glassbowl, but you do get to point out what’s objectively wrong with someone’s actions as they describe them, and state your opinion on why what he said he did was bad behavior, and point out that his attitude, expressed in his words, is not helping with the perception of the situation.

                Reply
              4. Traffic_Spiral

                Honestly telling someone “what you did was deeply messed up, and what’s more messed up is the fact that you are both trying to minimize it and seem to really not care about it except for how you personally might be adversely affect by it,” isn’t being a jerk. That’s just being honest.

                Reply
                1. Karen D

                  It’s gone pretty far beyond that, though, and everyone seems to feel compelled to get their licks in.

                  It puts me in mind of that old Steve Allen short story we all read in junior high – “The Public Hating.” As others have noted, the guiding principles of this site have been pretty well trampled. Granted, some of the worst offenders here are not regulars, but regulars are doing it too … and things are 100x worse on BF.

            2. Jen S. 2.0

              In addition to the nepotism insinuations, it’s not for nothing that he’s framing this as “losing” his job.

              No, he quit. Of his own volition. Before even trying. Because it might have been a little bit tough to stick to some strictures. To avoid difficult situations with his boss, whom he abandoned.

              Reply
            3. Anion

              Yes, people who ask for help and advice deserve to be raked over the coals for the crime of doing so. As Anna so succinctly puts it, the existence of the internet does not give you permission to be a jerk. I find it incredibly sad that the response to a person in pain is to laugh at them for being stupid enough to reach out for help to other human beings.

              Reply
              1. Layla

                If you write in about something dreadful you’ve done and are completely remorseless, you will get raked over the coals. He’s not a ‘person in pain’, he’s a person who has caused pain, and does not care. And on top of that has described the person he hurt – who has been incredibly gracious – as a crazy, obsessive ex, who only got her job due to her powerful husband.

                As I said to Anna, the ‘jerk on the internet’ factor goes both ways. Writing into an advice column isn’t a free pass on terrible behaviour.

                Reply
                1. Anion

                  I know some are interpreting his “nepotism” comment as implying she only got her job because of her husband; I did not interpret it that way, and I’m not alone there. So I don’t agree that he described her that way. And none of us were there after his ungracious and unpleasant dumping of her, so we can’t say if she was obsessive or not.

                  The rest of my comment was replying specifically to the idea that if you ask a question on the internet you should expect to be insulted over and over again, in quite nasty terms; the idea that you somehow “deserve” to be insulted over and over again because you reached out for advice. The idea, basically, that it’s okay for people to jump on a stranger like wolves because that stranger dared to put him- or herself out there. I find that idea incredibly upsetting on its face.

                  Of course asking for advice isn’t a free pass on terrible behavior; of course people have every right to tell this young man he behaved badly and should feel bad about it. But calling him four-letter-names and saying he’s a liar who probably abused Sylvia throughout their relationship goes beyond constructive comments about his behavior. Refusing to give a person the benefit of the doubt over even the slightest details, insisting they feel no remorse, and nitpicking their wording to prove them wrong, goes beyond that. I read the above letter and see someone feeling dazed and upset–someone in pain, even if you think that’s not possible, and even if he deserves that pain. Perhaps it’s because I’ve been in a very similar situation, and I know that what one says in that frame of mind isn’t always the best reflection of what one is feeling, that I see it that way. But I have a right to do so, just as others apparently have a right to claim he is a serial abuser because they themselves were once abused.

                  I believe in being kind to others, and even meeting rudeness with as much kindness as possible. I believe sympathy and empathy and assuming good (and good will) in others is the way to be the best person I can be. I believe if we all did so, the world would be a better place. So that is what I try to do, as much as possible. And I believe this young man would be–as almost every person is–more inclined to analyze his behavior if the criticism wasn’t so vicious.

                  Again, I am clearly not the only person here who sees some of the comments here this way. You said you agree with Anna, but disagree with me for saying the same thing?

                2. Denise

                  I find it funny that people are seeing him as the person “in pain”. Moved on and married, or not, I highly doubt this was particularly fun for Sylvia or something she has enjoys revisiting. I doubt that when she landed this big position an e-mail from a shitty ex was the way she wanted to celebrate. I highly she enjoyed having to share this information with her superiors. And if, or more likely when, this begins to leak to some other people I doubt she’ll enjoy them knowing this information. But, no, LW is the only one who has suffered or felt any pain. Sure.

                3. Layla

                  What I said to Ann, Anion, was that I agree with her – but I think it also applies to the OP. I said the same thing to you.

                  The OP characterised his ex as ‘obsessive’ because she looked for him after he abandoned her at Christmas without a word. He didn’t even have the courtesy to break up with her.

                  He behaved badly, expressed ‘jerk on the internet’ behaviour and was criticised for it.

              2. Night of the Lepus

                No-one is giving the OP a bad time because he reached out to other human beings. He is being given a bad time because he behaved atrociously and doesn’t seem to care beyond lamenting the consequences to himself. He is being given a bad time because he caused immense pain and refuses to look at his actions without blaming others. As to your lovely belief that we should all believe the best in people, well that is not quite true, as you point out: ‘none of us were there after his ungracious and unpleasant dumping of her, so we can’t say if she was obsessive or not.’ So your benefit of the doubt and thinking the very best of everyone does have limits doesn’t it? You are quite prepared to believe less than the best of Sylvia.

                As to this idea that ‘this young man would be–as almost every person is–more inclined to analyze his behavior if the criticism wasn’t so vicious,’ I see no evidence of any readiness to analyze at all, and would remind you that your initial advice to him was to ‘walk away’ which some witty and wise commentators reminded you was basically all he does anyway! He walked away from Sylvia years ago, he walked away from his job now, and your answer is that he should walk away from the responses to his question! I do not think it is kindness to recommend to him that he continue in exactly the same behaviour that brought so much misery. I think you are indulging him, and actively encouraging him to avoid thinking about consequences.

                Reply
    3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

      I don’t mean to be contrarian, but did she even involve the chair? It’s unclear from the letter if Sylvia notified the chair or if HR did. Regardless, if I were in her position, even without any feelings of animosity, if OP had emailed me several times, I would probably refer the issue up the chain, as well. Whether that means others above me escalated it, too, isn’t always knowable.

      At any rate, I’m sorry that OP and his partner are having to deal with finding new employment. Although I felt his original letter lacked introspection (the update seems to continue that theme), I wouldn’t want to wish ill to anyone.

      Reply
      1. designbot

        I don’t think she did, he said “I also dropped a short message to the HR” before hearing that the chair wanted to speak with him immediately. I think he did that to himself, and I have no clue why he’d blame Sylvia for getting the chair involved.

        Reply
        1. Anononon

          Ding ding ding ding ding!

          The letter writer obviously didn’t think through the consequences of his actions here. Of course HR is going to alert the chair to a potential conflict with this brand new director they’ve hired.

          Reply
          1. designbot

            He also didn’t think through the potential consequences of writing to a highly popular, very public blog. Does thinking this is a pattern make me a ‘toxic commenter?’

            Reply
            1. Candi

              Well, in this letter, he calls AAM niche.

              Guess he missed the way intern dress code and graduation boss posts last year went viral.

              And U. S. World, and Inc, and The New Yorker…

              Reply
        2. breadandbutterfly

          I want to make #blamesylvia a thing for when people blame others for the consequences of their actions.

          Poor Sylvia. I hope she writes into AskAManager (or anyone, really) to give her side of the story!

          Reply
        3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

          Agreed. In general, OP seems to attribute a lot of intense behavior to Sylvia when it’s highly likely/probable that his actions caused whatever came next. I hope he’s able to reflect on that, because it will keep coming back to bite him otherwise.

          Reply
          1. Jen S. 2.0

            True. “I have no idea why she went straight to this crazy strong powerful action!!! (…that ultimately caused all kinds of inconvenience for me!)” Because it was a REACTION, that’s why.

            Reply
          2. Not So NewReader

            It’s pretty intense for a person to stop speaking or seeing another person, that is an intense action.
            This one bumps up a few notches because the other person was his SO.

            What baffles me is doesn’t OP understand that if your SO is MIA that you call the police and notify family pronto? If his SO/kid/dog was missing would he just say, “Oh well. Life goes on.” We get news headlines about stuff like this.

            I think that she had a third person in the room so she would not strangle him. Just my thought.

            Reply
            1. designbot

              I think they dragged her there as well as him. After all, he’s the one who roped in HR. At that point all she can do is display that she is the more professional party here, which it sounds like she pulled off with ease.

              Reply
        4. DArcy

          It’s clear that the only reason he’s blaming Sylvia for supposedly “getting the chair involved” when her rank inherently means going to HR means escalating to top management is because he pretty much is going with “automatically blame Sylvia for everything”.

          Reply
          1. Agatha_31

            What he did to Sylvia – a selfish and thoughtless move – was no biggie. What Sylvia did to him* was totally overboard and mean. When he left Sylvia, it apparently didn’t occur to him to consider the impact his actions have on her life but he felt it was really unfair of Sylvia to try and FIND HIM, but when he quit because he didn’t like the rules being put in place (because of his past actions), it’s Sylvia’s fault that his current partner is suffering for his decision/actions. It’s nepotism that’s at fault for him deciding to quit rather than deal with a super reasonable consequence of keeping his job but just needing to agree to specific guidelines that were being put in place to protect Sylvia, the employer, AND HIM. Man… cognitive dissonance is a hell of a drug.

            * Assuming she did. Like many others I suspect that even with a vague explanation, HR spotted the red flags from a mile away and it was them that sounded the alarm. I mean it’s part of their job. And the rules mentioned reinforce my suspicion because they smell like typical HR precautions when personal relationship issues might be a problem.

            Reply
    4. Sketchee

      I also didn’t expect an update. Remember this person lived with Sylvia and wrote “I simply moved out and left the country.” That’s a very extreme thing to do, even though I realize it happens. Given that circumstance, I don’t find any of the measures to be extreme.

      If you’re going to have the opportunity to have a job with the person you moved out, then it’s a great plan to keep you on a really short leash.

      I also looked for mention of an apology and hope he told her clearly and directly that he accepts responsibility, regrets what happened. and would make amends. I think resigning – even if it was possibly for his own comfort – was the best option for everyone

      Reply
    5. Halster

      I think it’s quite possible she was concerned about her reputation, given the other information! The ban on watercooler talk etc indicates that she didn’t want this getting around, and if the information was out, any interaction between the two of them would likely lead to a lot more gossip. It seems very reputation-protecting, which is entirely fair

      Reply
      1. kb

        I think it’s especially fair considering it seems the OP has mischaracterized her and their past before by not mentioning the gravity of his actions. If I were in Sylvia’s shoes, I would be worried about him introducing his narrative to coworkers first– where she is an ex who had issues letting go and tracked down family members– and Sylvia, being the superior, could not really professionally counter with her side of the story that makes her actions completely understandable.

        Reply
        1. winter

          Agreed. As a superior, she would not have any reason to talk with her employees about their shared past, it would be weird. OP however could float whatever version of events sounds most flattering first, potentially causing a real hit to her social standing and authority.

          Reply
          1. pakeha

            And in a conservative country the fact that she’s a woman may well be something that already counts against her, so his version of events could be even more damaging than it seems on the face of it.

            Reply
      2. Gadfly

        And there might even have been an element of her (or management) thinking “crap, if this gets out people are going to know I’m THAT Sylvia” and not wanting to deal with that getting out right away.

        Reply
    6. greenbellpepper

      I took involving upper management (if it was her who did so) as very much a professional decision rather than a personal one. If I were in Sylvia’s position, I’d absolutely get upper management (whoever that might entail) involved — she hasn’t seen this guy in years, and has no idea why he left. How can she possibly feel comfortable managing him without protection from a third party? She has no way of knowing that he’s not going to go to the chair on *her* if he doesn’t like decisions she makes and say that she’s retaliating against her for how the relationship ended. From OP’s letters he doesn’t necessarily seem like he would, but how does she know that?

      That said, totally understand if she isn’t entirely “fine.” As others have said, she can be happy and better off and still have feelings about this relationship and how it ended.

      Reply
    7. Kate

      I don’t know. She could be “fine” working with OP, but realized the optics of the situation might not be so good. The restrictions may have been put in place to protect Sylvia’s reputation rather than her emotions. If her and OP had a conflict over something in the future, people could point back to this history (particularly since the original letter went viral so everyone knows just how horrible OP’s actions were). It was also unclear to me if Sylvia even involved the chair. OP sent a note to HR about the situation, so they may have decided upper management needed to step in.

      Reply
      1. JB (not in Houston)

        Exactly. If I were in Sylvia’s situation, I’d want to loop in HR, at the least, and talk about measures to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest.

        Reply
        1. JessaB

          Exactly, is a good review because she’s worried about his reaction or fearful of him? Is a bad review revenge? This cannot go well. No matter how her behaviour might shake out, which side she’d go to, even if she was being as objectively honest as she could be, how would anyone know if she was being fair? In either direction. The conflict of interest is real, and it’s a big deal.

          Reply
          1. Lady at Liberty

            Agreed- I don’t think he would ever have been able to see anything she did objectively, and the situation would have been horribly untenable.

            Reply
      2. JessaB

        Particularly since this seems to be occurring in an area of the world where reputations are incredibly important especially women’s. She’s married to someone high profile. Someone socially and possibly politically important. It’s not a nice thing to say but in a lot of cultures this kind of thing getting out in a way that positions HER badly, reflects on her husband too. And her kids. And it sucks, but it’s a major deal. This has the potential to erupt way larger than just water cooler gossip. In a culture that values nepotism (for good or bad,) this kind of thing can spiral out really, really fast.

        I bet the restrictions were very much to protect her reputation, both as a boss and a teacher, and as a person living in the spotlight of a very important spouse.

        Reply
    8. INTP

      She could be “fine” with him emotionally but still not feel inclined to inconvenience herself or endure gossip for his benefit. It doesn’t sound like she went out of her way to make anything difficult for him, she just also didn’t go out of her way to protect him from the consequences of his actions. It would be weirder if she had concealed this from HR and her husband to protect him, imo.

      Reply
    9. Anon HR

      She did exactly the right thing. He’s demonstrated that he’s not mature enough to work for her without gossip and characterizing her negatively – not only the way he handled the breakup of their relationship, but also the way he described her in the original letter. He’s trying to point the finger at her for the difficulties here, but he’s brought this on himself with both his past and current behavior. If he’d acted fairly and professionally, he’d still have a job and be living with his family.

      Going to her supervisor/HR to say that she had a previous relationship with someone who would be reporting to her is 100% correct. The stipulations may well be a reaction to his “freaking out” since he’s admitted that wasn’t confined to this anonymous forum. Why believe that will change now?

      Reply
      1. Cathie

        She knows him, and I suspect she thought he would try to undermine and sabotage her leadership. Even his update shows a lot of hostility and victim-blaming on his part — notice how he slides in the “nepotism” remark, implying she got the Director job because her husband is an influential person in that country.

        Reply
        1. Sahura

          He also manipulates his descriptions of her, but his actions were so inexcusable that he comes off as the bad guy even in HIS OWN version of the story. Saying Sylvia was obsessive…for trying to find her partner of three years after he disappeared? Imagine how else he’s described her fairly reasonable behavior in order to diminish his own faults. That hasn’t stopped here and I imagine it wouldn’t have if he’d gotten the job.

          Reply
      2. JessaB

        Also though the stipulations could be the same they give for any potential conflict of interest – don’t blather about each other, don’t do anything important face to face alone, don’t deliberately hang out after work, etc. It’s a reasonable set of restrictions for ANY set of people with conflicts (unless they’re married or otherwise coupled, but that should be a “not in the same chain of command,” issue.)

        Reply
    10. KEM

      My ex fiance ghosted me way back when and while I may have moved on in life, I would NOT be fine working with him.
      I’m glad this guy gave an update but I don’t think he really sees what he did. It is obvious in his last sentence: “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. “

      Reply
      1. Mina

        I love how that last sentence completely neglects how he was the one who chose to resign, *on the spot*, without negotiating or consulting his partner.

        Reply
        1. TWanon

          Exactly. And I don’t really see how the measures proposed were so unreasonable. Document meets, don’t gossip about management, don’t hang out with her outside the workplace. How is that worth a resignation and an end to future prospects?

          Reply
          1. Mina

            There’s some good discussion among (former) expat commenters here about how not socializing with her might exclude him from the community. Since I was only abroad for a year, I’m deferring to their judgment.

            Having said that, I wonder why OP couldn’t have taken a couple nights to discuss things with his partner and put a plan in place. My sympathy for him is limited because he had options that were less extreme than immediate resignation, and he didn’t consider those nor the impact on his partner.

            Reply
        2. TWanon

          Exactly. And I don’t really see how the measures proposed were so unreasonable. Document meetings, don’t gossip about management, don’t hang out with her outside the workplace. How is that worth a resignation and an end to future prospects?

          Reply
      2. Not So NewReader

        But no one won here. This is a part that OP is missing. If any one person fails that does not mean that others have won by default. This is not how the world/life/workplaces operate.

        No one won here, OP. No one.

        Reply
      1. constablestark

        No, I read that the same way too. I was actually thinking that HR knew nothing, then they got the notice from LW, and then they might have done either one of two things:

        a) Asked Sylvia about it, at which point she’d have to be forthcoming about the fact that he tried to contact her twice, which sends a signal to HR that there *is* something to talk about, or

        b) Saw the email, considered the power discrepancy, and just scheduled that meeting as a precaution.

        It’s more likely that it was OP’s own email that triggered the meeting. HR would wonder why this employee had such keen interest in making sure that things were right between him and the new director they just hired.

        Reply
    11. Jess

      If Sylvia had a brain in her head she would have pushed those conditions to protect herself from accusations of bias against the LW and the administration would have been grateful if she did.

      The LW was offered the best imaginable outcome for himself. Instead he decided to uphaul his life because he didn’t have the moxy to deal with his situation. That’s not karma. Or comeuppance. It’s a pattern.

      Sad trombone.

      Reply
    12. Elizabeth West

      Someone else may have already said this (I expected zillions of comments before I got back from an errand), but Sylvia may have realized this could get ugly in terms of gossip and brought the chair in on it as a preventive measure.

      Reply
      1. Not So NewReader

        You know we talk about examples of “good boss behaviors” and this is one. Sylvia’s boss knew he had to step in so he did. While the rules may have been stringent, they may have been necessary to keep the situation from escalating.

        Reply
    13. Former Hoosier

      Or perhaps she wanted to make sure that this was all above board so that she was protected later. There is no erason to assume her actions were vindictive.

      Reply
    14. Faye

      My guess is that she got the chair involved because she wanted to stave off any potential appearance of impropriety, considering she’s his superior.

      Reply
      1. kb

        Yeah and honestly, even if OP had ended the relationship in a better way, Sylvia probably would have needed to notify HR or the chair to give a heads-up that she and OP were formerly involved. If it came out by accident later there could definitely be an appearance of impropriety.

        Reply
        1. Jess

          Exactly, I really don’t know what better outcome he could have imagined.

          The positive thing about this having gone viral is that Sylvia’s staff will take about five minutes to find out OP wasn’t pressured out of his role because of her, but chose to d-bag himself out of it. Not so much by what he did ten years ago (though I’m sure that’ll increase sympathy for her) but by the incredibly poor way he has handled Sylvia’s and his school’s efforts to make the situation work.

          The only impact this will have on morale is irritating all of OP’s former co-workers when they have to cover his hours until he’s replaced because he quit without notice at the beginning of the school year despite the woman he abandoned and gaslit a decade ago trying her best to participate in a reasonable plan to keep him employed.

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tKdcjJoXeEY

          Reply
    15. EverFabulous1

      I see it’s still all about him and he continues to dwell in his own bubble not accepting any responsibility here. He’s upset that she married well and told her husband (i.e. The man who truly loves her and more importantly PROTECTS her) “Guess who is my new employee?” He’s upset that this situation that he created is causing him great embarrassment among prominent people who can pretty much end his career.

      I also see why he initially declined to mention the ‘measures’ put in place at this job. Why all of a sudden would he need to talk to Sylvia without a third person present?; have undocumented meetings with her and discuss her and the management (I.e., Sylvia’s husband & inlaws) with colleagues?; or interact beyond the school, and socialize with her?

      He is angry that the internet called him exactly what he is, a self absorbed F#*kboi. He seems to forget he wrote in asking what he should do while omitting key details because he knew it would make him look badly. He writes in again playing the victim card. I’m glad he had sense enough to resign. Hopefully his partner reads this and has the good sense to ghost on him because he has not demonstrated that he has changed his horrid ways. And shout out to Sylvia for living her Oprah best life with a man who is worthy of her, has his own money and his wife’s back. Glad she came out on top and hope she can someday laugh that this loser’s rejection was truly her protection.

      Reply
  3. TK

    ‘They relocated because of his business opportunity, not because she would be stalking me or would orchestrate this in some elaborate vendetta.’

    I will have to go back and wade through the comments but… I don’t remember this ever even being suggested. Perhaps somewhere else on social media? Or in his mind’s eye?

    Anyway, the consequences for him don’t seem particularly great or close to terrible, all things considered… Perhaps karmic justice can only take the form of heartbreak! (Kidding, kidding.)

    Reply
    1. CMDRBNA

      Some comments on the original thread leaped over several more plausible explanations (like, duh, some professional circles are pretty small, and smaller still if you’re an expat) and decided that obviously Sylvia had planned this whole thing in some elaborate, decade-long revenge scheme to get back at this guy.

      Reply
      1. MCL

        From the original letter: “Sylvia was rather emotional and became obsessed with the relationship, tracking me down, even causing various scenes with my parents and friends.”

        But, keep in mind – this is his description of her behavior after he suddenly left a 3 year serious relationship with zero explanation or warning. Her behavior seems perfectly reasonable to me! But that’s the only information about her behavior post-relationship that was provided in the original letter.

        Reply
        1. fposte

          That’s not a suggestion that she moved to this school to stalk him, though; that’s the conjecture that’s being referred to here.

          Reply
          1. MCL

            Right – I was just quoting the extent of the information about her post-breakup behavior provided in the original letter. I believe that the stalking conjecture came from commenters.

            Reply
        2. sunny-dee

          Ah, I remembered that he was accusing her of stalking and being obsessive, but I didn’t remember he limited that only post-break up. I thought he was also hinting that she may still be following him. My bad.

          Reply
        3. Specialk9

          It’s hard not to read “stalker” into his word choice (“obsessive, emotional, tracking me down, scenes with parents and friends”), and he did it deliberately. He’s smearing her character with carefully described interactions that are normal for a live-in partner disappearing without a trace.

          That’s not some commenters going off the rails… that’s him renting a road roller, gravel truck, and mallet to move those rails so they point into a ditch.

          Reply
          1. Elizabeth H.

            As I said in the comments in the previous post, no matter how terrible what he did was, it is STILL POSSIBLE that she was stalking him. And if so, she isn’t exactly Simon Wiesenthal here

            Reply
            1. Jessie the First (or second)

              “it is STILL POSSIBLE that she was stalking him”

              Well, I suppose anything is possible. Our entire universe could be located in a marble that is being played by an alien race, just as in the end of Men in Black.

              But we should deal with probabilities here, yes? Rather than speculating about ways we can contort a situation so that it is opposite what the plain narration here tells us?

              Reply
                1. Jessie the First (or second)

                  In THIS update. Elizabeth is talking about this update as well as the first, that it is still possible she is stalking him. Really? That’s what you get from this?

                2. Anion

                  @Jessie the First (or second), I did not get the impression from Elizabeth that she thinks Sylvia was *still* stalking the OP, at all. I would not agree with that assessment if it was indeed made. I’m saying it’s not impossible that she did so in the aftermath of the OP’s poorly done breakup with her.

                3. Elizabeth H.

                  No, of course I didn’t mean that I think it’s still possible she is stalking him! I meant immediately after the breakup, years in the past. What he referenced as causing scenes, involving his family etc. in his first letter. What Anion said.

            2. Anion

              Yes. My mom had a boyfriend she really loved; I’ll call him “Keith.” They were together a couple of years. Keith talked about marriage. He was buying a house and borrowed money from her to help make the down payment, because it was going to be “their house” as soon as they got engaged.

              We all figured Keith would be an even bigger, official part of our family soon, so we had a big birthday party for him one year and we all bought him really nice gifts–my mom especially.

              Two days after his birthday, he broke up with her. He’d been seeing another woman for several months (he did not give back any of the expensive gifts we’d just given him two days before). And that was it. He never said goodbye to my brother and I, he never answered another of my mom’s calls, nothing. He mailed back a box of her stuff.

              He never paid her back the $10k or so she’d loaned him. She used that to start chasing him down. She’d show up at his work at all hours. She called incessantly. She called and wrote letters to his boss. For like a year after their break-up, she did this.

              I think Keith was a total jerkweed. I think if I ever ran into him somewhere I’d give him a dirty look and tell him I don’t have anything to say to him. I don’t think my mom deserved to be dumped like that at all (with the admission that he’d been cheating for months while talking to her about marriage), much less two days after giving him a great party and presents. I certainly don’t think it was cool of him to basically steal ten grand from her. I think she was absolutely wronged by him, *absolutely.*

              That doesn’t mean she wasn’t stalkery and obsessive, though, or that I think she was justified in any of her actions toward him (writing letters to his boss?!?!). The fact that he wronged her didn’t give her carte blanche to behave like a lunatic, frankly. And if Keith had written to AAM and called her “obsessive,” I wouldn’t expect people to decide Keith is obviously lying about her behavior to make himself look better, either.

              It’s possible for the OP to treat Sylvia badly in his method of ending the relationship AND for her to have become obsessive and weird about it beyond what might be termed “normal” upset/angry behavior. I get what people are saying about her calling his family etc. to make sure he’s alive, but why is she calling them beyond that? Why is she causing “scenes” with them? They had nothing to do with it; what does she expect them to do?

              Just as his apology doesn’t mean he deserves forgiveness, his method of leaving her doesn’t mean she deserves anything from his family and friends.

              Reply
              1. Jessie the First (or second)

                Although you say he broke up with your mom. In this situation here, OP didn’t break up with his live-in girlfriend and then leave – he disappeared, with no note or call or anything. I’d expect a few scenes, certainly, because I’d expect her to panic. Where was he? What happened? It’d take a while for her to figure out that his disappearance was deliberate and that he was breaking up with her that way.

                But the idea that we are going to litigate here that she may have been awful is bizarre. Why? In this update, what awfulness is on display from her? OP doesn’t mention any. OP says she seems fine, in fact.

                Reply
                1. Mina

                  I find it really upsetting that others are trying to find some way that Sylvia’s behavior in the relationship may have justified OP going to such extreme measures, when so far, she’s shown herself to be professional and gracious. Enough.

                2. Anion

                  @Mina Who is doing that? I’m certainly not. I don’t think Sylvia in any way deserved to have her live-in SO just take off on her like that, and I honestly don’t see anyone else here claiming that, either.

                3. Mina

                  Upthread, where people say that Sylvia might have done something to provoke his leaving, and also still pursuing the angle that she may have been stalking him, here.

            3. Working Hypothesis

              us to believe they do. For example, the accusations of having gotten her job via nepotism are totally not supported by any facts. Neither is the claim that she’s the one who contacted the big boss, instead of HR doing so.

              So because, of the several times in which the facts given don’t match the interpretation, I have to regard the LW as a low-accuracy witness where Sylvia and her action are concerned.

              Reply
            4. Sas

              But dear what reasonable man would do what he did to someone and then, and now years later, label Sylvia a stalker? Having your cake and eating it, much?

              Reply
        4. EverFabulous1

          And based on everything he’s said, his descriptions of Sylvia are questionable at best. Unstable women, don’t go on to become Directors of businesses or schools (and remain- as they made it clear Sylvia wasn’t going anywhere, but he was easily replaceable); nor do they marry into wealthy families with clout like she obviously has.

          Reply
  4. Regina Phalange

    This was everything I hoped it would be, and more.

    xoxo,
    Self-Righteous Person on the Internet Leaving a Toxic Comment

    Reply
      1. Editor Person

        Same. As much as we are happy for people who see the error of their ways, our Ghoster friend and the Subway Seat Hogger updates are more fun to read.

        Reply
    1. Rat in the Sugar

      So, do we just ignore Alison’s rule about being kind to letter writers when it suits us? This isn’t directed specifically at you, Regina, but just at people in general (you mentioned toxic comments so I left my reply here). It’s one thing to say that the letter writer seems unaware or immature, but there are comments now calling him a dick and an asshole and hoping his current partner leaves him. I mean, the rule isn’t “be kind to letter writers because they may actually be a nice a person and you shouldn’t be mean”, it’s “be kind to letter writers because unkind comments discourage people from writing in”.

      Reply
      1. No Sympathy Here

        I’m thinking the fact that even his update has already gone viral would be the bigger deterrent from writing in. This guy still doesn’t seem to grasp that what he did is absolutely heinous and is still whining about how unreasonable everyone is being toward him. Since we’re 500 comments deep; I’m sure Alison will point out the rule when she decides things are taking a nosedive on her blog.

        Reply
      2. Frozen Ginger

        I don’t think a lot of the comments on the first post were unkind. I think people were just pointing out that dropping out of a long-term relationship with no notice is not “ghosting” and is a much bigger deal than OP had given the impression it was.

        Reply
      3. M Bananas

        I have to disagree with you here. Being kind does not necessarily mean be sypathetic and in some cases (in which this one, I think, can be included) it doesn’t even have to mean be gentle.
        Being blunt with a person so ridiculously un-self aware, deflective and self victimizing about the reality of consequences can be a kindness, in a ‘wake-up call’ sort of way. Though from the tone and rhetoric of the update it doesn’t seem to have had any effect.
        Nevertheless I agree that the sheer amounts of critic LW got due to the virality of the post is daunting to anyone, but that’s not on AAM or any specific commenter, it’s simply another consequence.

        Reply
      4. Jen S. 2.0

        It’s not automatically unkind to call a spade a spade. There’s also a difference between things that are cruel and / or mean, and things that are wrong. OP seemed not to like that a LOT of people told it like it is … but that wasn’t mean or wrong. He did a terrible, reprehensible, selfish, hurtful thing, and behaved in a way that made it unsurprising that karmic revenge was barreling toward him at highway speed. But he was acting like he had no idea how this terribly inconvenient and unfair thing could be happening to him, and wrote to ask for advice on how to continue avoiding responsibility. Here, he now has up and quit his job rather than be inconvenienced (…again, as a direct result of having selfishly hurt someone else), and is acting like it’s anyone else’s fault he “lost” his job.

        I don’t think it’s unkind to state those facts in a way that describes how most people see these actions, and not how the OP is trying to position himself.

        Terrible, reprehensible, selfish, and hurtful are not unkind words; they are factual words describing an unkind action.

        Reply
    2. laurelz

      I love that he petulantly resigned on the spot over not being allowed to socialize, leaving her and their employer in the lurch, thereby recapitulating his earlier offense.

      He’s a piece of work.

      Reply
        1. Jadelyn

          I don’t see that at all. They put into place very reasonable guidelines to try to avoid or preempt the possibility of conflicts of interest and get ahead of the optics of the situation. Those guidelines actually protected both parties. I really don’t see where you’re jumping from “we’re not firing you, but we need to have some restrictions in place to protect both of your professional reputations, as well as the organization’s reputation” to “clearly they wanted him gone”.

          Reply
          1. laurelz

            Right? All of that sounds perfectly reasonable to me. And yet his objection is no talking about her to colleagues, “not even in watercooler chat”, and his interpretation of limiting the9r interactions outside the school as a total ban on socializing at all?

            He’s a petulant flouncer who has now left yet another girlfriend behind while he leaves the country.

            Reply
            1. Anion

              Not just “no talking about her.” It was “No talking about any management at all, not even watercooler chat.”

              How long do you think you could go at your job without ever discussing any member of management with any co-worker, even in passing?

              None of us were there at that meeting. We don’t know in what way these restrictions were laid out, so to claim the OP is definitely wrong in how he interpreted them seems unfair to me. I read them the same way Trout Waver did. It’s not unreasonable to do so.

              Reply
          2. Trout 'Waver

            You don’t see the obvious Catch-22? “You’re prohibited from saying anything about Sylvia, but we’re going to make you act in such a way so that everyone asks you about her. Oh, and document everything.”

            Also, “It’s tougher to replace a director than a regular employee”, though true, is not something to say to someone you intend to keep around.

            Reply
            1. Jadelyn

              Clearly the catch-22 you’re seeing isn’t as obvious as you think it is, because no, I don’t. It’s entirely possible for him to simply say “I’d rather not talk about it” and change the subject if someone asks. And what’s wrong with asking someone to document everything, exactly…? It protects both of them.

              Look. There was no really good way to handle this, especially since the previous post went viral. They were never going to be able to keep it under wraps enough that they could pretend it never happened. The organization, it seems to me, was trying to make the best of a bad situation, and they made a good-faith effort to try to set guidelines that would allow everyone to continue working there. Was it ideal? No. But nothing was going to be ideal, not really, because the situation itself is tangled enough and with enough visibility to be the sort of thing you can’t really make ideal solutions to. It was at a point of having to look for ways to reduce the damage done, rather than solving anything.

              I read “it’s tougher to replace a director than an employee” not so much as having an implied “…so get out” attached to it, but as a simple clarification that they’re not going to let her go in order to prioritize his employment with them. More like “look, we’re not firing anyone, but if you can’t behave according to the guidelines we’re putting in place to protect the both of you and the organization from the potential repercussions of this situation, you’re going to be the one who needs to go, not her.”

              Reply
              1. Jen S. 2.0

                “…you’re going to be the one who needs to go, not her.”

                Agreed. Again, they’re calling a spade a spade. It’s less that this sentiment is mean or cold or whatever, and more that sometimes the truth hurts.

                Reply
              2. Trout 'Waver

                We’re going to have to disagree on this one. It’s obvious to me. Also, the letter writer said it was the case, and we’re asked to believe letter writers.

                Reply
                1. Jadelyn

                  Yeah, but we’re talking about a known unreliable narrator, so I’m not particularly inclined to prioritize his unavoidably subjective read of the situation and what it really means over reviewing what the OP conveyed was actually said to him and what else that might really mean. I’m taking him at face value that they told him a director is harder to replace; I’m just not buying that that inherently means they were trying to get rid of him.

                2. Mookie

                  No one’s doubting that those were the conditions set forth. We are expected to treat those as a fact. His interpretation of them as overly strict is subjective and there’s no harm in disagreeing with him there.

                3. Anlyn

                  This writer is the very definition of an unreliable narrator. There’s some serious “woe is me” in this update.

            2. Working Hypothesis

              Well, it’s not something you say to someone you’re planning to bend yourself wildly out of shape for the purpose of keeping around, but that’s pretty different from necessarily being someone you actively want gone. My read on the situation was that they were cautioning him, “This is not an easy situation for anyone. If you behave responsibly and avoid making it worse, we can keep both of you on, and would prefer it that way. If you insist on making it worse, be aware that you are not irreplaceable and will be replaced.”

              He chose to make it worse by resigning in a huff, and they accepted his resignation because, well, he *isn’t* irreplaceable. If he wants to resign in a huff, he’s not someone they really want there anyway. But it doesn’t necessarily follow that they wanted him to leave, let alone that they somehow engineered these horrible, terrible, impossible restrictions — which are actually pretty easy for anyone with reasonably good boundaries to keep — for the secret purpose of *forcing* him to resign in a huff.

              If they had really not wanted him there, they’d doubtless have simply fired him, rather than offering him a chance to show he was capable of responsible behavior and then watched as he proved that he wasn’t.

              Reply
            3. TWanon

              How gossipy do you have to be that avoiding speaking about a particular person at the water cooler registers as irregular? And no one would notice him not interacting with her outside of work, since as far as anyone knew they were strangers with no reason to socialize. Sylvia could have simply documented her meetings with all employees and LW’s situation wouldn’t have stood out at all. I’d certainly have tried negotiating for that before resigning on the spot.

              Reply
              1. Siaynoq

                I totally understand why leadership would tell him not to talk about management as a blanket requirement – so it doesn’t turn into watercooler Clue that still targets Sylvia. “Well, the stalker harpy who ruined my life ISN’T Claire, and it ISN’T Marco…”

                Yes, I think the OP would be this childish, especially considering he’s demonstrated no comprehension that these restrictions are being put into place to protect HIM, that they are trying hard to keep things civil and professional, that how he treated Sylvia (or even them having a relationship) would warrant firing and they are trying to keep him on anyways.

                Reply
      1. Alli525

        I wonder what Sylvia and the other meeting attendees said once he got up and left? (Other than “well, that’s more information than I got from him the LAST time he left me.”) Would’ve loved to have been a fly on the wall in that room.

        Reply
        1. Casey

          My bet is that Sylvia is mortified that she’s brought all this drama to her new job – drama which is absolutely not her fault. It sounds like she was willing to do what it took to deal professionally with him and to bear the burden of the additional work (scheduling ever meeting with a third party, documenting etc – all require extra effort!).

          Reply
      2. Elizabeth

        Plus not consulting his partner about his decision to resign, and now he is leaving the country (which she/he cannot join) to look for a new job! No lessons learned! Toxic!

        Reply
      3. Your Weird Uncle

        He’s like a teenager who broke his Xbox (or Playstation or whatever the kids are playing these days) because his parents told him he needed to get off of it. ‘SEE WHAT YOU MADE ME DO, MOM?!? YOU’RE WHY I CAN’T HAVE NICE THINGS!!!’

        Reply
    3. LSP

      I mean, I get that OP is embarrassed by his story going viral the way it did, and some people were definitely quite harsh, but his level of defensiveness seems misplaced.

      Dude, just own it, fully, and without all the snide comments and equivocations. That’s the only way to move on from this with any dignity in tact.

      Reply
  5. Euchre

    Thanks for the update!

    The restrictions they wanted to place on you don’t seem that onerous to me, but I guess you’re the best judge of that.

    Reply
    1. CB

      Agreed – if they don’t have much daily interaction in school, how likely is it that limiteing interactions outside of work would mean he couldn’t socialize? Unless the entire staff usually socialize at the school director’s house – which seems unlikely – or he expects her to be hanging out with them a lot – which given her children and her prominent husband’s career also seems unlikely? If he is the sort of person whose entire identity is ruined if he can’t engage in water-cooler gossip about management, that’s another thing to reflect on as he rebuilds his life in a new place. Nobody wants that in an employee.

      Reply
      1. Jill of All Trades

        Expat communities are extremely small in some parts of the world. When I lived abroad, if I wasn’t able to socialize or be around a particular person I worked with, I likely wouldn’t be able to visit with a number of my friends (who overlapped substantially with my colleagues). If his expat community is just as small, I could see it essentially ruining his social and work lives.

        Reply
        1. BPT

          But is that worth leaving the country and your partner over? Like yes, it would really suck to have the bulk of your social group taken away. But you can’t deal with that for a year while you job search to stay in the country with your partner? It wasn’t just him leaving, he’s leaving another partner behind. People’s social groups fluctuate all the time – friends move, you might move to a new place, people get busy with families, etc. Most people are able to deal with this – maybe not to this extent, but I can’t say I would have quit and moved away from my partner because I had to have a third person in meetings, couldn’t gossip, and had my social circle shrunk.

          Reply
          1. Genny

            In one expat community I was in for a bit, it would be a big deal. The community was in a place where on a good day, you were restricted to the small, nicer parts of town and everyone went to the same handful of places. Then the security situation rapidly deteriorated to the point where the community was basically only basically allowed to go to work, their home, or their coworkers homes. If what happened to the LW happened in an environment like I just described, even waiting a year could be really difficult (and in fact, a lot of the expat community left because of the restrictions). I’m not saying the LW was right, but I can envision some scenarios where sticking it out for a year could be really, really difficult.

            Reply
            1. BPT

              I’m not saying it wouldn’t be a big deal, but even the way OP presented the stipulations didn’t say that he couldn’t ever run into coworkers or socialize with them. Had to “limit his interactions with her outside of school.” And quitting on the spot just sets you up for a harder job hunt. And he LEFT HIS PARTNER AGAIN because he didn’t want to deal with limited socialization for a time. Like I said, people often go through times in their life when they’re limited in socialization, whether its because of illness, kids, work, family, etc. He would have still had his partner. Nobody is saying it would have been super easy, but to me it just seemed like he was throwing a tantrum because he had any consequences to his actions.

              I mean, in your situation it seems like people left because of security concerns and almost being under house arrest. That does not seem like the case here.

              Reply
              1. Lauren R

                It’s also worth noting that since he quit and has to leave the country he’ll lose ALL this social relationships anyway, including the relationship he has with his partner. So it’s not like he actually came out better socially by leaving on the spot, especially when the restrictions definitely don’t sound so harsh that he’d never be able to enjoy time with his coworkers or need to cross the street if he saw one in public. I saw it as that he’d simply need to avoid having social or one-on-one interactions with the director herself when possible and that he wasn’t allowed to discuss his former relationship or management’s handling of the situation with any of his coworkers.

                He can definitely make new friends in his new country but I’m not seeing how the restrictions on socializing with his coworkers would have been lonelier than just leaving everyone and everything you know behind completely and very suddenly, without the promise of employment elsewhere and after likely burning a bridge with your former employer.

                Reply
                1. Working Hypothesis

                  A back corner of my brain is wondering whether there’s some reason why getting out of the country and away from the current partner would be to the LW’s advantage… and therefore it’s convenient to use Sylvia and the Dramatic Resignation as an excuse. “I’m not breaking up with you on purpose — those big meanies made me leave. MADE me, I tell you!”

                  (Is it just me, or does Sylvia and the Dramatic Resignation sound like the title of a Nancy Drew-style mystery?)

                2. Decima Dewey

                  I wonder if the restrictions became “too onerous” because of things he said in the meeting:

                  Chair: There must be a third person present whenever Sylvia and OP meet.

                  OP: But I can tell everyone we used to live together.

                  Chair: No.

                  OP: But my coworkers should know how Sylvia—

                  Chair: No. Don’t go there.

                  OP: But–
                  And so on.

          2. Mookie

            But is that worth leaving the country and your partner over?

            Well, he did it once before. So I guess he knows what he’s doing.

            Reply
        2. Anonymous Poster

          Yeah, this is why I could see these restrictions being really harsh. It could even be to the point where he couldn’t go to the grocery store – the only American grocery store in town – because of these restrictions.

          We don’t know enough details about his situation to know just how harsh or lenient the socialization restrictions are.

          Reply
          1. Countess Boochie Flagrante

            It’s not a restraining order. He can’t go to the same parties she does, but I don’t see ‘must maintain 500+ feet of distance’ in that.

            Reply
            1. BPT

              Right? People are reading so much into that. It’s never presented as a restraining order. He says he has to “limit our interactions beyond the school.” Then he jumps to “no socialization for me ever,” which if his first phrasing is correct, seems like an overreaction. The restriction to me says “don’t visit her home, if you’re at a school function don’t be overly friendly, maybe think twice about going to a party she’ll be at.” It says “LIMIT”, not “we’ll fire you if you get within 100 yards of her.”

              Reply
        3. Leslie

          But they’re not expats. He’s a local and they’re moving to be closer to friends and family. There’s no reason to expect that she’d want to join his social circle.

          Reply
          1. Humble Schoolmarm

            I’m glad I’m not the only one who noticed this! If Sylvia is happily married to a local resident (and one of some importance as well) it would seem likely that she would have a social circle beyond the teachers in the school.

            This might also be a good place to add, although it may be different for international schools, there are a lot of school directors or principals that prefer not to socialize extensively with their staffs. I’ve worked with more than one who only shows up for the dinner portion of the Holiday party and never joins the less formal events.

            Reply
    2. tl

      It says a lot that the organization was like “ok, you can have your job as long as you don’t 1) talk shit about the director of the organization to your colleagues, 2) corner her one-on-one, or 3) try to fraternize with her outside of work” and he resigned on the spot because he can’t conceive of a job in which he’s not entitled to do these things with/to a manager far above him.

      Reply
      1. Rusty Shackelford

        Right? And he’s actually leaving *another* romantic partner behind after losing this job, and even then, it’s apparently a more acceptable choice than those three very reasonable restrictions.

        Reply
        1. Emma

          From what I’ve heard of international schools, it seems like coworkers are often a social hub. So since Sylvia is a new employee, and I’m assuming planning to hang out with them, it would probably make it so that he wouldn’t have friends/social opportunities, or they’d be very limited.
          I can understand why she’d want that limitation, but I can also understand why it would be challenging for the letter writer (moreso than if he weren’t working at an international school).

          Reply
          1. fposte

            Yes, that’s what I thought; either he or Sylvia has to isolate themselves from the whole social group, and the school reasonably decided it wasn’t going to be the director.

            Reply
            1. Anna

              Honestly, it’s not really reasonable to ask either one of them to do it. It is kind of untenable to refuse either one of them the first line of support in a new country. Take it from someone who has known people who taught overseas and who has lived overseas, if you’re told you’re not allowed to socialize with anyone from your new job, you’re probably not going to last anyway.

              Reply
              1. J

                Except it’s not *really* a new country for either of them. He is established enough there to have a partner and he didn’t want to leave. She has in-laws in the area. Neither of them were in a situation where they just landed and had no other options for a social circle.

                Reply
              2. Mary

                But it’s not a new country for either of them: she’s married to a local with kids, and he’s also got a partner who, if they are an expat, are an expat from a third country. It sounds inconvenient, but not “life will literally be unlivable so I’ll quit and leave my job, my community and my happy relationship behind.”

                Reply
              3. Observer

                And, it’s not clear from what the OP says that the restriction meant NO socializing – he said “limit interactions” not “don’t ever be in the same room with her.” So I’m a bit confused here.

                Reply
            2. Jesmlet

              Right, honestly I don’t blame him for resigning over this stipulation. Telling him he has to essentially give up all his friends in a foreign country really sucks since I’m assuming the circles are pretty tight knit. Not saying it wasn’t a reasonable thing given the circumstances, but if I were him, I’d have quit too. This is obviously not something they would’ve asked had it been an amicable breakup.

              Reply
              1. Safetykats

                I’m not sure why we are assuming he would need to give up all his friends, or that his or her only social support would be other school employees. He says he has a local partner with family. He also says that her husband is from a prominent local family. Neither case sounds like the kind of expat who has no social options outside of coworkers. In fact, if her husband is from a prominent local family I would assume that she probably has no need to build a social life around subordinates she has never met.

                Reply
              2. Tuxedo Cat

                He wasn’t told that. He was told to limit socializing with Sylvia outside of the school.

                Sylvia has a family, with kids. While I’m sure she’s going to socialize sometimes with people from the school, I can’t imagine she’d be out and about with them all the time. If the OP were worried about someone inviting Sylvia, he could take the initiative and organize outings with like 4 people so that it’s not suspicious Sylvia was excluded.

                I have friends who work at an international school. There are a lot of friendships formed within the school, but the ones I know have other friends too.

                Reply
                1. Mookie

                  Exactly. If they hadn’t met up before in all this time, they don’t have a lot of mutual acquaintances.

              3. Working Hypothesis

                But he wasn’t told that. He interpreted it as being told that, but there is no evidence to suggest that it’s really true.

                What he was told was, we are informed, to “limit” interactions with Sylvia outside of work. He wasn’t told he could never be at the same events she attended; he wasn’t told that he couldn’t see their mutual friends when she wasn’t there (and if she’s married to someone who doesn’t work at the school, there WILL be times when she isn’t there); he damn sure wasn’t told that he couldn’t see his other people who aren’t part of the school… and we know he HAS other people who aren’t part of the school, because he has a partner who’s local, and *their* family and friends.

                So he’s trying to make like he’s being forced to give up aaaaaaaall his friends tooooooootally, and it’s sooooooo unfair… when the more realistic description is, “You’re expected to stay out of her way, in terms of work-social group stuff. There are a whole lot of ways you can do this. You can spend more time with your partner and their family and friends, who aren’t connected with the school anyhow. You can invite your friends from the school to spend time with you, in ones and twos, rather than general parties to which the whole gang gathers. You can attend the bigger parties, which have enough space and people that it’s possible for you to stay on the other side of the room from her without making a big obvious show of it. What you can’t do is to keep ostentatiously showing up at every work-social event that happens and getting in the way of the new director when she’s trying to get to know her staff, because that’s more important to this school than your social life going exactly the way you’d like it to.”

                Reply
                1. Denise

                  Exactly. People are acting as if they took out a restraining order. What makes the “omg this is so unfair, they’re forcing him out of his social circle” stuff even more odd to me is that limiting interactions with exes when the break-up was bad is the norm. Most people don’t walk into an event or bar and see an ex they had a bad break-up with and go sit at their table or join their conversation etc. Both sides usually prefer to keep their distance.

          2. Fiennes

            Though as OP had already been there for some time, it seems like he might’ve already had social ties, local friendships, etc. and maybe I’m misreading the conditions, but it looked to me like he could’ve socialized with other employees on a one-on-one basis, just not with the group when Sylvia would be present.

            Reply
            1. Bagpuss

              yes, that’s how I read it. It might limit his social life, given that the ex-pat community may be pretty small, but it would not stop it.

              I thought the restrictions seemed fairly reasonable, and while they might well mean that OP felt hi position would be untenable long term, it rubs me the wrong way that he chose to resign immediately, meaning he had to leave the country and his current partner to find work, rather than, say, sticking it out for a few months while he looks for another job in a different city, or a different country where his partner could accompany him, or spend some time planning what steps would be needed for his partner to be able to move back with him.

              It says a lot that rather than face some potential embarrassment and social restrictions, he is willing to give up a job and leave his partner, and without, apparently, giving that partner any input into that decision. And that he sees that as “It’s a pity other individuals bear the brunt of my immaturity in the past” rather than “I made a further decision which has a big negative impact on my current partner” – I don’t think the immaturity is all in the past!

              Reply
              1. AnonAnalyst

                Yeah, I can certainly see how it might make for a sucky few months, or however long it would take for new opportunities to open up or for OP and his partner to come up with a longer term plan. And I don’t blame the OP for deciding that he isn’t going to stay at this job under the current circumstances.

                But there’s a world of difference for me between “I definitely cannot live with these conditions long term and will be moving on when the time is right” and “I can’t live with this and am quitting immediately, consequences be damned (but which happen to include having to leave the country and my current partner).” That’s a pretty extreme step to take right off the bat.

                Reply
                1. Working Hypothesis

                  And one which shows just as little regard for his current partner as the original offense showed for his previous one.

          3. CB212

            I agree that international schools tend to have a very close expat social community, but I’d also say that the director of a conservative prep school in the Philippines isn’t going to any happy hours or other hangouts with her teachers. She isn’t a fellow employee who needs that or probably (as manager) is allowed that contact. She’s going home after work to her respectable family and maybe planning a faculty tea. And the restrictions weren’t a blank wall between them, it was “limiting their interactions” – that wouldn’t mean he couldn’t attend the school prize dinner or holiday party at her home or whatever would bring them to the same room.

            Reply
          4. Amy

            I mean, that’s likely true, but he could always socialize by planning his own things and inviting only the people he wants to/can hang out with to them. Which isn’t to say he should set up a social environment that includes everyone but Sylvia–that would be a problem in and of itself. But I’m guessing he has some close friends in his school and some people who are, you know, casual acquaintances and decent coworkers but nothing too close. He could easily host gatherings, set up movie outings, etc. with the former group to get his socializing, and just tell the latter group that he’s really busy lately to excuse any absences they might notice.

            Reply
            1. Kathlynn

              And if he hosted an event, and someone invited Sylvia along with them, especailly if they didn’t tell either party that the other was going to/hosting the event. And the LW wouldn’t be able to say anything, and would have problems even dealing with that situation (unless he was “suddenly sick” and canceled the event, but I could see the rules being used against him even in that situation)

              Reply
              1. Fiennes

                I can’t imagine Sylvia agreeing to come to an OP-hosted event. This seems like the ideal time for “another commitment that evening.” And as others have said, socializing between the head of a conservative prep school and her teacher employees probably wouldn’t be extensive in the first place.

                Reply
              2. Rusty Shackelford

                That really sounds like a straw man argument to me. You can worry about him crossing her path in the hall or people bringing uninvited guests or finding out she goes to the same gym, but basically, they were told not to socialize together. There seems to be almost no chance that she would then show up uninvited to an event he was hosting.

                Reply
              3. Amy

                There are plenty of ways to frame an event as ‘small thing I’m organizing for a couple people’ and not ‘open thing, invite whoever you want!’. This also isn’t actually a legal restraining order–it’s an employer’s request, I’m betting if this chain of events somehow happened and the person who brought Sylvia confirmed that they didn’t tell OP who they were bringing, OP wouldn’t be fired for something obviously outside their control. My original point–that there are ways to maintain a social life other than work-organized events–still stands, I think.

                Reply
              4. Working Hypothesis

                What kind of world do you live in, where it’s impossible to host the kind of event at which everybody knows you don’t bring along uninvited guests?

                I mean sure, there do *exist* types of events to which it’s all right to bring uninvited guests, and some communities hold more of them than others. But I have literally never heard of a social group in which it was ALWAYS, no matter what the specifics of the invitation, regarded as totally cool to bring along uninvited guests without even checking ahead with the host. At very least, “I haven’t seen you in a while and I’m dying to catch up, just the two of us. Want to come to brunch with me, and we’ll have a long talk?” is the kind of thing which virtually everyone can identify as meaning “Outsiders not welcome.”

                Reply
          1. bikes

            Whoops – was replying to the Rusty Shackelford comment in particular, not Emma’s follow-up. I also think it’s weird he is willing to bail on his partner so easily–he seems much more concerned about getting to socialize with colleagues.

            Reply
              1. SignalLost

                To be fair, it’s possible that the visa issue is partly his – I’m not an expert but if he’s in country on a teaching visa, wouldn’t it expire automatically if he resigns voluntarily?

                Reply
                1. Jeanne

                  Yes. If he has no job, his visa is not valid. If he is teaching, it may not be possible to get another job until next school year. Therefore, he must leave.

                2. Working Hypothesis

                  Which means that, by choosing to throw a tantrum over the rules and resign in a huff, he was making a unilateral decision to leave his partner. That doesn’t strike me as any more mature than it was the last time he did it. They didn’t make him resign; he decided to resign. He doesn’t have a right to do that and then complain that they forced — forced, I tell you! — him to abandon his partner and flee the country. They didn’t.

                3. The Other Katie

                  It depends on the country. In some countries the visa is tied to the job, and you might get a few weeks or months grace period to transfer to another employer (if you can find one, having resigned on the spot from your last one). In others you get a visa for a set period of time.

                1. Managing to get by

                  He did have the option to work there until either he was able to find something else or his current girlfriend was able to sort out her visa issues or he was able to find a position in a country they could both move to.
                  I’m not referring to his girlfriend as his partner, because he doesn’t sound capable of partnering with someone.

            1. EddieSherbert

              We didn’t get much context for how/what is up with the current partner besides visa issues (maybe they found that out after they/he moved? Maybe they’re working on getting the partner there?), but it is definitely easy to jump to conclusions after this whole drama.

              Reply
      2. a1

        I didn’t take it quite this way. If you work in the same place, even if you don’t interact a lot with each other in day to day circumstance, you will pass each other in a hall, or find yourself waiting for the coffee pot. In that context it does seem odd or hard to make sure there is always someone else with you at all times. As for fraternization, I didn’t take it as just the two of them either. That would mean no after work happy hours, or other social events. And that, too, would seem odd.

        Look, what this guy did was crap. Really horrible. But why not just say he can’t be employed there and be done with it? I guess they got the same result, so maybe it doesn’t matter.

        Reply
        1. MuseumChick

          She had a full-time job, children, and a husband who it sounds like has a busy work schedule. That is not the type of person that goes to a lot of work happy hours or other after hour events. And even when they do it’s usually a quick thing “Hi Everyone! Sorry I can’t stay long. Kids at home/date night with hubby/catching up on some paperwork.”

          The rules they set were completely reasonable but this guy can’t handle anything being outside his control.

          Reply
          1. Steph B

            Eh. I’m a full time working mom with a husband that has a busy work schedule and I totally LIVE for work happy hours / after hour events.

            Reply
              1. Steph B

                The whole point of my comment is that what seems obvious to someone (oh, so-and-so has kids + husband with busy job, and so will not want to do happy hour) isn’t always the case, and I actually think that line of thinking can be totally detrimental in the long run if one adopts it in their workplace/after work events. Especially because I’ve seen it happen where I’ve worked, and seen it happen WAY more to moms than dads. I am sure it is mostly well intentioned, but it happens.

                Reply
        2. Partially Bigoted Zealots

          I don’t think we need to be completely literal here. They don’t need a 3rd person present when they pass in the hall or get to the coffee shop at the same time. They’ll need one if they have a meeting about work, or some other official thing, but not as two ships passing in the night.

          Reply
          1. Alli525

            This is correct. When the founder of my previous (Wall St) company decided to open up an investment banking arm of the firm, he had to put up a Chinese wall (this is an actual term in finance) due to SEC and other regulatory bodies. He wasn’t allowed to meet with our IB head *about business* unless our head of compliance was present, but if they ran into each other in the hallway, they were perfectly free to talk about the kids or whatever.

            The only difference here is that Sylvia has no reason to ever want a “hey how are the kids” conversation with OP, so those conversations just… won’t happen… because she won’t want them to.

            Reply
      3. Kathlynn

        Actually, to take the OP at his word he is not allowed to discuss management (not just his ex) at all. It’s also not stated that he only has to limit his interaction with only her. It sound like he has to limit any social interactions with work people. And even if it’s just her, if the environment is small, then he would have to withdraw, because he would never know if she’s going to them, especially since he isn’t allowed to talk about her,

        Reply
        1. Observer

          Why would you say that- it’s pretty explicit that he needs to LIMIT his interaction WITH HER.

          I don’t know if it’s really as bad as he says, but there is no reason to invent restrictions that the OP didn;t mention – he’s not shy about downplaying negative effects to him.

          Reply
      4. Kathlynn

        He said that he isn’t allowed to talk about managment or his ex at all. That is a lot more then just not bad mouthing them.

        Reply
        1. Julia

          But he isn’t exactly a reliable narrator. He keeps trying to spin this like he is being put upon, we don’t know exactly how the higher ups worded it.

          Reply
          1. Jess

            Oh my goodness, can you imagine if he is actually an unreliable narrator and already managed to make himself look so absolutely atrocious as a partner, colleague and employee?

            Reply
      5. JessaB

        It really looks totally different when you phrase it that way, right? I mean fairly neutrally. This is NOT an outrageous set of requests.

        Although depending on the culture of both the locale and the job, I would worry about being squeezed out on any grounds they could find, so if I did take the job it’d be just until I could get myself another one. And I’d certainly go home and think about it rationally and talk to my partner before I outright quit. I wouldn’t do it in the moment at any rate. I mean it’s even possible that despite the stuff that happened in the past, they do think he’s hire material, if he’d been apologetic and realised how he’d been, they might have been willing to work with him to move him somewhere else, or help find him another place, while he worked for them until they could also begin to replace HIM. Now he’s got no hope, and certainly no assistance, he left them high and dry without someone in the job at all.

        But I guarantee whatever grapevine is in place in his job field in the area, is going to be buzzing like a hive of bees about how they were reasonable and he just up and quit. With a side order of “just like he did to her” years ago.

        Reply
      6. Creag an Tuire

        I mean, reading between the lines I can see how what seems reasonable on paper could quickly make his workplace an awkward and uncomfortable place in practice (if the professional community is typically close-knit and social, than OP will become conspicuous by his absence, and given that the first post ‘went viral’ word would have probably gotten around that OP was Casper the Unfriendly Ghost even if Sylvia never breathed a word about it).

        That said, OP made the choice to leave with no severance, no job lined up, and no partner rather than take his slings and arrows for a while while getting his affairs in order. Make of that what you will.

        Reply
      7. anon for this

        In a previous workplace I saw precisely this tactic used to get rid of an employee who had behaved inappropriately towards another employee (but in a way that did not rise to the level of a contract-terminating offense). He couldn’t be fired, but they didn’t want him to stay, and obviously the other employee was not comfortable around him, so, he was barred from any meetings where the other employee was present (so, all of them) and from any sort of on-site function or gathering. He was not permitted to be in any hallway or in the breakroom or in the copy room or in any other room when the other employee was present. He had to make sure he didn’t end up in the elevator with the other employee. And so on. Other employees avoided him because they didn’t want to have to play the avoidance game and because being seen with him in any capacity quickly became viewed as being on ‘his side’ — if no one was supposed to know, in this instance, maybe that’s not an issue, but it was one at my old workplace.

        Reply
    3. sunny-dee

      Yeah. And she really had to involve HR — there are rules, or at least conventions, about managing family / friends / lovers. If she didn’t reveal it, she could have gotten in trouble.

      And the rules were basically “don’t gossip about her, don’t socialize with her, don’t have private meetings with her.” The private meetings thing is strict and I could see being a pain, but the other two are entirely reasonable and should be obvious and easy.

      Reply
      1. CB

        Also, he’s the one who wrote to HR, that we know of! If this place is as closed and conservative as he suggests, I’m sure they called in the director to avoid any hint of scandal. Private schools don’t take these things casually.

        Reply
      2. breadandbutterfly

        But she didn’t involve HR- he did! I’m sure HR sent the Chair because it was involving a Director and her future subordinate.

        Reply
        1. Anna

          And, well, since they director and the new subordinate had a previous relationship, it makes absolute sense to have another person (like the director’s boss) there to be another party to the conversation.

          Reply
      3. JessaB

        But no private meetings also protects HIM from her coming back and saying things that are not true. That protection actually flows both ways. She can’t say he’s acting unreasonable and he can’t say she’s treating him unfairly.

        Reply
    4. Gingerblue

      Yeah, that all seemed pretty minimal and common sense to me? Don’t be alone with Sylvia, don’t badmouth Sylvia or management, and don’t intrude on Sylvia outside work? The OP seems to think that, having created this incredibly awkward situation and having approached Sylvia and HR to officially put the awkwardness on record, it’s outrageous that any of the burden of mitigating the awkwardness should be on him.

      Reply
      1. SarahKay

        That was how I read it too. He went to HR – did he think they wouldn’t do anything? Okay, as we’ve seen from previous AaM’s that *can* be true, but I certainly wouldn’t assume it was likely that HR would just shrug and let them both carry on.
        As far as the restrictions go, I can see that in a smallish social circle in a foreign country they are perhaps tougher than elsewhere, but they all struck me as eminently reasonable and what you might expect a business (or, in this case, school) do require in such a situation. The ‘no meetings without a third person present’ in particular I would expect if one person had to supervise a long-term ex, even without a bitter break-up – you’ve got to protect both sides, and the company itself. Add in a bitter break-up and the other restrictions again seem only reasonable to minimise any future gossip or potential harassment.
        I have some sympathy for OP for the way this all blew up on the internet, and quite a lot of sympathy for his current partner being stuck due to visa restrictions, but none at all for the actual outcome as regards his employment.

        Reply
        1. JessaB

          And it kind of is possible to go to places she might be while not interacting with her. If it’s the kind of culture where you have to go to a bunch of places you find someone you like (even your partner,) and you make sure you stay on the other side of the room and don’t talk to her.

          But that only happens after you’ve proven you can do your job thoroughly and properly and not make a whisper of an issue for anyone for a decent amount of time, like months not weeks. Once you’ve a track record of being mature and handling things, THEN you go to the party and stay the heck away from her. At a distance that anyone taking a photograph could not possibly frame you both in one unless it’s a forced together department thing.

          But the idea that you can’t stay away at all for any reason? No that doesn’t work. If you can’t stay away long enough to prove that you’re not a problem, long enough to prove that you respect her and her space and her need to not be around you, then you really can’t do the work. And quitting was probably a good idea.

          (NB “you” meaning the OP not any prior posters.)

          Reply
    5. Collarbone High

      The restriction on socializing does seem to me to be potentially unmanageable.

      I spent several years as an expat and our community was extremely small and close-knit; co-workers at all levels of our organization socialized *constantly.* A typical week might involve a movie, four or five lunches, a couple of dinners, Sunday brunch and at least one party, all with colleagues, and for many people, that was the only social life due to language barriers. So excommunicating someone would be incredibly awkward for everyone and would drastically limit that person’s activities. If there’s one expat bar in town and everyone in the workplace goes there for happy hour, the one person who doesn’t go is going to be asked why, and since they’re unable to give an accurate answer, that’s almost certainly going to cause speculation as well as ostracizing the OP. I’m not terribly sympathetic, but I do see how this would be an untenable situation.

      Reply
        1. CMDRBNA

          I’m been an expat and yes, those social circles are really tight, but I read it as no socializing with him and Sylvia outside work, not him and everyone else. Especially with Sylvia being the boss and having a husband from that country, and apparently family in that country as well, I really don’t think she’s going to be at every happy hour or social gathering because she likely has her own social/family circle already. I think it would have been more onerous if Sylvia had just been a coworker, not the boss.

          Reply
          1. Umvue

            Think about the logistics of that, though — how is he going to know whether she’s coming to happy hour without (1) asking her (which I don’t think he can do) or (2) stalking her? I think in the end he’d wind up treating this like a restraining order, because he wouldn’t have much choice.

            And I think that’s okay! It’s a limitation, yeah, but better than the school exposing itself to a lawsuit of some kind.

            Reply
            1. Working Hypothesis

              Still seems pretty simple to me:

              -Don’t show up at events which are likely to be small enough that it’s impossible to be simultaneously at it without interacting significantly.

              -Don’t interact with her significantly if you happen to show up to the same large event.

              -If you’re not sure whether something is an okay event to attend or not, err on the side of skipping it… there will always be another.

              I’ve been in the position of the person being blamed for horribly wrecking somebody else’s social life by going about my own business while there was a no-contact order preventing them from being around me. A similarly close-knit, small community in which everyone showed up at all the events, and nobody had much in the way of friends outside the community. And that was a legal, formal order with criminal consequences involved, due to physical abuse… but it was still considered my fault for being so terrible a person as to show up to the events I’d planned to go to, because that prevented her from attending them.

              But you know what? She managed just fine. She called up individual friends and invited them out with her, one or two at a time, so there was no likelihood of running into me the way there might be at a group event. She showed up at group events she thought I was less likely to have an interest in, still understanding that, if I appeared, she would have to leave. It worked out… without making it impossible for her to keep any of her friends.

              If she could handle it, despite kicking and screaming, I have a difficult time believing the LW couldn’t have done *something* more effective in the way of maintaining a social life within these strictures than to drop it all, dump his partner, and run away with zero warning. If he *didn’t* do better, it’s because he didn’t want to — for any of several possible reasons. But that’s hardly either Sylvia’s fault or that of his former boss.

              Reply
              1. Umvue

                Yeah, it’s possible I’m wrong here. I’m certainly persuaded by the critical mass of comments here that even if the OP is right that the situation is untenable in the long run, the wiser decision in the short run would probably have been to finish out the year. I’d been interpreting the rules pretty strictly (i.e. that it would not be enough to do as your abuser did and plan to leave an event if you showed up), in which case I still think it would be wisest for him to quit before that happened. But most people don’t seem to think that’s right, and on reflection it’s not clear that setting him up to fail in that way would serve the institution — now that he’s gone, his absence will need explanation, he’s going to be hard to keep in line, and they may run some risk of exposure.

                (And I’m sorry about your experience, and glad there was a structure in place to protect you. Abuse sucks.)

                Reply
          2. Kathlynn

            But he can’t even ask if she’s going to be at an event, given he cannot talk about management at all (he didn’t say not bad mouth, he said not talk about them at all). I mean, maybe they didn’t mean it to be taken that far, but they could go by the letter rather then the spirit to punish or fire him.

            Reply
            1. CMDRBNA

              I mean, we’re taking OP at his word, and it’s not like he’s the most reliable narrator. Yes, those restrictions suck, but it is what it is. He made the determination that he couldn’t/wouldn’t abide by them and chose to quit.

              Reply
              1. ss

                Agreed. He should have given it a try to see whether it was prohibitive in reality or if he was blowing it up in his imagination to unreasonable proportions. To just rage quit without a job for something that MIGHT occur is very odd, especially when the rage quit puts him in a far worse position than the restrictions.

                Reply
            2. Jessie the First (or second)

              He can’t ask if she is going, but it wouldn’t be hard to figure out just by listening – he is allowed to be in a room with her, as long as others are there, so he could pretty easily hear if she were invited and whether she was planning to go. And if he goes and she shows up, he can leave.

              Not fun for him, certainly. But not an impossible situation. He didn’t want to try it out, but that doesn’t mean it was in fact unworkable. Given his partner’s situation and his lack of a job, I’d have thought it would have made sense to try to make it work *while beginning an urgent job search* rather than just quitting on the spot.

              Reply
              1. Danger: Gumption Ahead

                It is doable even in a small ex-pat community. I had a bad breakup while working overseas and managed to avoid my ex (who was also working to avoid me) and we managed not to cross paths in a community of less than 100. The LW has an advantage that I didn’t have: a local partner. He could have easily moved into the English speaking local social circle and continued working under the restrictions laid out by his employer.

                Reply
                1. Tuxedo Cat

                  Something like this happened to a friend of mine. He and this one person had a really bad falling out. My friend didn’t speak the local language, either, and was working a close-knit place. It wasn’t easy but he still managed to have a social life.

            3. pakeha

              He could pretty easily have just… asked them to clarify that point though. It would show he was willing to work with them and understood the situation.

              Reply
          3. McWhadden

            The restrictions say he can’t be alone with her or try to socialize with her. They don’t say he can’t be at a party where she happens to be. As long as he doesn’t speak with her it should be fine.

            Reply
          4. That Would Be a Good Band Name

            Having never been an expat, I have a serious question. If she has already moved to the area, wouldn’t he have already started to see her at social functions? I get that it’s a school, but do they all only socialize during the school year? It just seems like she would have already been introduced to other expats and started appearing at common social gatherings if that were going to happen. I’m not implying that she wouldn’t attend any events ever, but it also just says to “limit” their interactions. So if she only attends events here and there (especially since her husband has family in the area she will probably have other obligations), it seems like he would be able to attend as normal and still be within the guidelines.

            Reply
            1. zora

              My mom is a teacher and she doesn’t have any social events outside of the school year. It just doesn’t make sense, people are traveling or busy, it’s much easier to coordinate starting the first week of school.

              And since this is not the US (and I have lived outside of the US), everyone likely does a lot more vacation time /traveling. When we lived overseas, everyone took 6-8 weeks of vacation traveling over the summer, and we all came back right before the new school year began every year. Long summer holidays are much more of a thing outside the US.

              Reply
            2. Numenaster

              They are now at different social levels due to her much more important position, her marriage into a prominent family, and quite possibly his lack of a marriage. In a conservative society where reputation is important, she will be invited to plenty of events he will not, leaving time for him to organize his own entertainment. And she will be expected not to attend very many events that are primarily for the younger transient expats, because going to bars every evening is inappropriate for someone in her position.

              The OP has blown off another partner because of a threat to his social life with third parties. There isn’t much I can say about that without extreme unkindness.

              Reply
      1. Emma

        Yea. And they may have realized it when they told him that this was a restriction. It may be a “you don’t have to leave, but if you stay it’s really going to suck for you, so just go ahead and leave” situation.

        Reply
      2. MuseumChick

        But would a mother, while more than one child, a full-time job, and a partner with a busy work schedule really be spending that much time socializing? Certainly they would not be going to every single one of these events so it’s pretty melodramatic for the OP to say that he would have no social life. It would be an inconvenience for him to have to determine if she was going to at an event and/or to excuse himself up arriving and finding out she was in attendance but it is not unreasonable.

        Reply
        1. CMDRBNA

          Also, the OP said that Sylvia’s husband is from that country and she has family connections there, so I really don’t think she’s going to be spending a ton of time at social events with her coworkers.

          Reply
        2. Jesmlet

          I don’t think this matters. He would have to interact with her in order to find out which ones she was going to and that’s virtually prohibited too. Assuming you’re a mother, do you not have a social life? It seems like you’re implying that she’d go to work then go home to be with her family and that’s it. In an expat situation, the people you work with are often the only ones you can socialize with and become your de facto friends. If he’s not willing to be a nag or a pariah, I get why he resigned.

          Reply
          1. CMDRBNA

            That’s not what I’m implying. I have been an expat before; I know that your social circle is often limited to your coworkers, especially if you’re not fluent in your country of residence’s language. What I’m SAYING is that of all the people the OP works with, it seems like Sylvia is the least likely to spend a ton of time socializing with her coworkers, given that she’s 1. their boss 2. has family in that country. I think it would be harder for the OP to avoid socializing with a coworker than it would be for him to avoid socializing with Sylvia.

            But all that aside, the OP decided he couldn’t live with those restrictions and chose to quit, so the question is moot. Maybe it would have been fine, maybe it would have been untenable. We don’t know and neither will he.

            Reply
          2. BedMadeLie

            Right, because experiencing any loneliness, or having to find new friends, or making an excuse and heading out if she shows up at happy hour is far, far worse than the consequences of his decision to quit, like having to leave the country, leaving another partner adrift in the process, etc.

            Reply
            1. Jesmlet

              He evaluated his priorities and made a decision. Hopefully he at least has the self-awareness to know what he would or wouldn’t be able to tolerate. There are plenty of people who value their social connections above most else. I’m not going to fault him for making that decision when there’s plenty of other things to fault him for.

              Reply
              1. Online social

                Eh, I think quitting on the spot means he didn’t do much of an evaluation. Maybe he would have come to the same conclusion, but he didn’t even give it a day of thought.

                Reply
                1. CMDRBNA

                  Also, the OP is quitting really close to the start of the new school year and with him already scheduled into the school’s classes, so he’s leaving the school in a bind too, which I can’t imagine will help his prospects in the future either.

              2. CMDRBNA

                Honestly, if I were in a similar situation I might have decided to quit too, rather than feel like I’m being ostracized at work. I’m not faulting him for quitting, I’m faulting him for presenting it as though he had no other option/was being forced to quit, when by all indications it seemed like Sylvia and his managers were trying to find a solution. He’s not owning the decision to quit, just presenting it as a fait accompli, and, also, putting himself in the position of the victim. Again.

                Reply
                1. Jesmlet

                  Right, he’s clearly playing the victim here and probably concluded that he was being pushed out because it fits his narrative, definitely not disagreeing with you there.

                2. Kathlynn

                  A lot of other commenters are faulting him for quitting, and feel that he was required to stick it out. It’s interesting when you compare the reactions to untenable work situations. Whether this guy was a dick or not, the restrictions and the fact that they wanted him gone were as strong as they were in the letter where the LW had an affair and the ex-wife was now her boss.

                3. BedMadeLie

                  Kathlynn (ran out of nesting), he’s not being faulted for quitting, he’s being faulted for acting like he was “forced to” quit, and oh shucks, isn’t it juse awful that the viral nature of this letter (not his own choice to quit) is the reason that he now has to leave the country and abandon his current partner and their household.

                  I can feel compassion for his partner, who he did not consult, and felt was not worth rearranging his socializing habits for. Again, his right and his choice, but not a lot to sympathize with.

              3. Denise

                Well he said he resigned on the spot, so he didn’t really put much time into evaluating anything. But, also this means that his partner wasn’t in his priorities, so I’m not really sure why he even mentioned her.

                Reply
          3. fposte

            Yeah, it does sound like this is functionally close to telling any of us not living abroad that we can’t hang out with our friend circle if we want to keep our job. That being said, I also agree with the people who think that’s something you can suck up for a year to figure out an orderly transition that will work better for everybody than a swift departure (even for the OP, since it’s such an unfortunate echo).

            Reply
      3. former expat

        I really question this recurring idea that being an expat means the restrictions are genuinely all that prohibitive. I’ve been an expat, too, and our community was probably *slightly* bigger than yours/the OP’s, but far from huge. There were people I had issues with, and while there were times it was genuinely difficult to avoid them, I also had plenty of social experiences without them. I went out with other friends in small groups and didn’t go to some events I knew they’d be at. I even made other friends from the community, i.e. locals rather than other expats.

        Would the new rules be limiting for OP? Probably. Would they totally eliminate his social life? Not unless he’s the sort of person who would prefer to destroy his entire life, move, and start over somewhere else rather than make some initially tough but actually relatively minor/far from impossible adjustments– oh, wait.

        Reply
    6. Elsajeni

      While I think most of the conditions are not that onerous, “no discussion about her and the management with my colleagues” is a pretty serious restriction. I see some people reading it as “no shit-talking Sylvia” or “no personal gossip about Sylvia,” but taking the OP at his word, it’s a lot more restrictive than that and I can see it being very difficult to comply with; I don’t know if I would have resigned, but I’d seriously reconsider a job offer that came with that restriction, for sure.

      Reply
      1. JB (not in Houston)

        That’s a good point. I read it the way other commenters did at first, but if he’s not allowed to talk about any management at all, that’s different. And if, as some have said, the expat community is small, and his coworkers are his main social group, then if he’s not allowed to socialize with them (and it’s not clear to me whether he is or isn’t), then that’s a big deal.

        Reply
        1. CB212

          As for the socializing, I took “limiting his interactions with her” to mean more, don’t pursue this with her. Don’t contact her husband. Don’t try to corner her to ‘work it out between yourselves’. Not, you have to walk out of a parents’ night if she is there, you can’t attend the faculty lunch, you can’t both be members of the local expat club, etc.

          Reply
      2. EddieSherbert

        I’d be really concerned that I’d unintentionally break that rule (or another one), and then have worse consequences (PIP? fired? more rules?). Not sure I’d resign immediately, but I’d probably be job-hunting again, at least.

        Reply
        1. Countess Boochie Flagrante

          And honestly, immediate job-hunting would be a totally reasonable reaction to this! But quitting on the spot, knowing it would mean leaving the country and his partner, was not so reasonable.

          Reply
        2. Observer

          And, I’m betting that the Director was expecting him to do that. It is, in fact, a very reasonable response to a difficult situation.

          Reply
      3. Rusty Shackelford

        Okay, let’s say that’s the case. Let’s say it’s going to be a lonely and quiet time for him until he finds another job. So… he puts up with it for a year, because that year allows him to keep his job and stay with his partner while he looks for something else. But that was just too much for him? I’m just having a hard time not considering this a beautiful example of karma. He yanked the chair out from under Sylvia, and now the chair is being yanked out from under him – except he has some choice in the matter, and he’s being told about it upfront, instead of wondering and worrying.

        Reply
        1. Jesmlet

          I think you’re overestimating how easy it may be for him to just find another teaching job in a foreign country. Obviously what he did was super shitty, but reveling in his current misery like some of these commenters are doing is just a bit icky IMO.

          Reply
        2. Marillenbaum

          Seriously! People–even in international ed–change jobs, and countries. So you have kind of a crap year socially while leaning on your partner and applying like mad to new positions. Maybe you still ultimately don’t find something in time and leave at the end of the school year. That’s still a year with your partner, a year earning money, a year where you’re still employed and therefore more employable.

          Reply
      4. McWhadden

        But he was painting Sylvia as a psycho for… contacting his friends and family after her boyfriend of two years, whom she lived with, disappeared without a trace.

        He said this letter circulated offline. They had to have known he was painting her in an unfair light. Telling him not to discuss her at all is totally reasonable with that context.

        Reply
      5. Gadfly

        Given his letters, no shit-talking about Sylvia might require defining it as no talking about Sylvia as he does not appear to understand when he is shit-talking about her in order to make himself look better.

        Reply
      6. Observer

        Sure, I think anyone with sense would think twice before taking a job with such restrictions. But, resigning – especially right before the school year, and leaving your partner high and dry is different.

        There seems to be something missing from the OP’s description of what happened – jumping from “limit your interactions outside of school” to end your entire social life seems rather extreme. So, either the OP is leaving something out or he has really bad judgement.

        Reply
    7. Amy

      Agreed–they seem like pretty straightforward ‘don’t cause a potential scandal’ requirements. Don’t gossip about your ex/boss, don’t try to engage or rebuild a relationship, don’t do anything that would make others think you’re trying to do those things. Done. It sounds like he actually got off really easy compared to what I was expecting, and chose to take a harder way out anyways.

      Reply
    8. K

      I understand what people are saying in terms of coworkers being central to the social lives of expats working at international schools, but I also feel like a more reasonable path for him to take would’ve been to stick around for a while and see how much of an effect that restriction really had on his life. Quitting on the spot seems extreme to me.

      Reply
      1. Online social

        I wonder if it was necessary to save his ego? If he stayed in the job, his social group would have noticed things eventually. Now he can make up a story (or just a lie, either way he seems to play down things, like calling his initial actions “ghosting”) and save face.

        Reply
    9. chi type

      I think people are kind of missing the point of what OP was foreseeing. Expat groups do a lot of group activities together including, like, a big Thanksgiving dinner in a place that doesn’t celebrate Thanksgiving. OP has always gone to these events but now he has to start turning them all down and his friends are going to be wondering why. Well, per the restrictions, he can’t tell them why and they’re going to get very curious/suspicious of such a drastic change in behavior being explained away as “I have to wash my hair that night…and all the others.”
      This does seem decidedly “untenable”.

      Reply
  6. Partially Bigoted Zealots

    This person is alarmingly not self-aware of what his actions do to other people, and while it sucks to be without a job I’m having trouble garnering up some sympathy.

    Reply
    1. Commentorfour

      Seriously, I find him even less sympathetic in this letter than in his original message.

      It seems perfectly reasonable to me that Sylvia looped in her chair, since she has nothing to hide and wants to be completely transparent about her previous relationship with a direct report. He could’ve at least tried to make their proposed measures work. And exactly how much outside-of-work socializing does he feel entitled to do with his boss, who has children and a spouse of her own?

      I just hope he tells his current partner that he is leaving rather than vanishing in the night.

      Reply
      1. LSP

        What really struck me was the response to Allison’s follow up on how Sylvia seemed.

        “Fine.” Really?

        That’s incredibly non-descriptive. As a former teacher of English overseas, I would have regular lessons where students would get buzzed when they used words like “very”, “good”, “nice” and “fine” because they don’t tell you any useful information.

        There’s a real lack of situational and emotional awareness here that is quite telling.

        Reply
        1. Emi.

          Ehh, I think it conveys “She seemed okay but I don’t know any details.” It’s vague because he isn’t privy to specifics.

          Reply
    2. SignalLost

      Well, it’s important to not take any comments or suggestions at all to heart, to be surprised that something so outrageous might have a capacity to go viral, and to discuss absolutely everything in a tone that externalizes feelings and responsibility onto other people to be more reasonable. I guess we’re all just toxic people for not being sympathetic when sympathy isn’t deserved.

      Reply
      1. Not Tom, just Petty

        This. So much this. Surprised it was published? Surprised it was discussed outside of this site (not necessarily viral, but it had legs)? How obtuse are you? It had sex, it had drama, it had well, the LW’s perception of events. That is internet GOLD!

        Reply
        1. Annabelle

          10000% this. All the letters I’ve seen go viral (or like, “viral”) from here have featured a really socially tone-deaf/oblivious LW. After trying to minimize literally abandoning a long-term partner, idk how he was shocked at all the attention.

          Reply
      2. Parenthetically

        “to discuss absolutely everything in a tone that externalizes feelings and responsibility onto other people”

        Ye gods, this exactly.

        Reply
    3. AndersonDarling

      I can drum up a little bitty, bit of sympathy, but I’m really hoping that someday I will be a director and some jerk who wronged me will uproot their life to get a job at my organization and I can be all “Nope! Nope-ity-nope-nope!”

      Reply
      1. CS Rep By Day, Writer By Night

        Not a director, but someone who screwed me over at a previous job then tried get a job at my new employer when the place we’d worked at together went out of business. My boss at the time asked me for a recommendation and I was quite happy to tell her that I would never willingly work with that person again. I was a very high performer and my boss tossed this person’s resume in the trashcan right in front of my eyes. It was immensely satisfying.

        Don’t screw people on the way up, because sometimes you’ll meet them on the way down too.

        Reply
      2. Not So NewReader

        I so relate to nopity-nope.

        But the few times I have had a chance to repay some misery, I ended up just thinking about how I have been fortunate in so many ways. And then I think “take the high road”.

        What happens next is interesting. I take the high road and the other person ends up unraveling themselves WITHOUT my help.
        Some people just know how to pick the option that causes unraveling.

        Reply
    4. Lucky

      “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.”

      Is he saying that she only got her job because of her husband’s connections? Shocking lack of self-awareness.

      Reply
      1. Spooky

        I laughed out loud at that part. Hilarious lack of self-awareness, perfect externalization and blame-shifting, plus tons of karma. A+.

        Reply
      2. JB (not in Houston)

        I took that to mean he thinks that the chair would, without a doubt, take Sylvia’s side on this and any potential issues that might come up in the future.

        Reply
      3. Annabelle

        That’s how I read it. Given the overall tone of the update, it makes sense that the LW would try to shift blame and diminish her accomplishments.

        Reply
      4. JessaB

        No, I think he’s saying he got the short end of the discussion vis a vis restrictions because she’s higher placed than he is due to her husband. That they’re bending over backwards to “pander” to Sylvia because of her connections. Not so much that she got hired because of it. But that it’s put him one down and he “had to” quit because of it.

        Reply
        1. Hey Karma, Over here.

          I think that is exactly what LW believes. He feels she circled the wagons and left him no choice but to leave. Whether that is a correct assessment is not something we can tell from him.

          Reply
        2. Denise

          It seems that some people here, and LW as well, are assuming she wasn’t or wouldn’t have also been given restrictions and guidelines by her superior. We have no clue what discussions took place between her and HR or her boss. I highly doubt they gave her the greenlight to gossip about him or to insert or personal life and feelings into the workplace.

          Reply
      5. Observer

        You know what? Even if that’s why she GOT the job, it’s not why they prioritized her. They prioritized her because, as he says, it’s WHOLE HUGE LOT easier to find another language teacher than another director.

        Reply
    5. Detective Amy Santiago

      Yeah, there is nothing in the original letter or the update that indicates the OP has any sort of understanding or empathy for the level of cruelty of his past actions.

      Reply
    6. Mina

      It does suck, and at the same time, I wasn’t exactly expecting any self-awareness, especially with the first letter. Still disappointing, though.

      Reply
        1. Frozen Ginger

          I have to wonder, did his girlfriend see the post? He said it went “viral” offline. I wonder what she thinks about all this.

          Reply
    7. laurelz

      I love that he petulantly resigned on the spot over not being allowed to socialize, leaving her and their employer in the lurch, thereby recapitulating his earlier offense.

      He’s a piece of work.

      Reply
      1. SignalLost

        And in a context where they did not immediately go to preemptively terminating him, no less! He had his job till he resigned, and that’s more than most of us thought he was going to have!

        Reply
        1. a1

          How do you know he hasn’t talked to them? I’ve seen this posted over and over. There is nothing in this letter that indicates he will be ghosting this person. He hasn’t even moved yet. Yes, the guy’s a dick, but no need to make stuff up.

          Reply
          1. Rusty Shackelford

            In his own words, he says that during his talk with the chair, he “resigned on the spot.” Now, I’m not saying he didn’t talk to his partner afterward. I’m not suggesting he’s going to flee the country without notifying his partner again. But I *am* saying that it looks very much like he quit his job without discussing it with his partner. Unless he was texting during his conversation with the chair. (Yes, we could give him a generous benefit of the doubt and suggest he discussed this possibility with his partner before his meeting with Sylvia and the chair. But neither of his posts have shown much evidence of that kind of forethought, so…)

            Reply
            1. a1

              OK. So you would have the same disdain for everyone that has quit a job, on the spot, if they were in a relationship? Sometimes you just know you can’t do what they are asking, or know it won’t work for you, or whatever. I’m not going to condemn people that quite on the spot.

              Reply
              1. JessaB

                Depends on if they were the support in the partnership and how awful they were treated, obviously if they were screamed at and treated completely outrageously, but yes I’d be hugely ticked if the only support in my household quit without any way of picking up the pieces but leaving me.

                We have no idea if the partner works, but either way I bet OP is part of the “pay part of the rent/expenses, etc.” in the household and has just quit high and dry without making sure that missing money can be afforded or that it won’t cost them an eviction.

                If you’re in a partnership with someone you don’t take unilateral financial decisions that screw with the partnership without talking about it.

                Reply
              2. Working Hypothesis

                I sure would have that kind of disdain for anyone who quit a job on the spot, knowing visa considerations would mean they might have to leave the country, and didn’t discuss that with their partner first and make a joint decision on whether this was the way they mutually wanted to do things.

                It’s not ideal, even without the visa issue, to quit a job without first discussing it with your partner, if you share expenses with that partner and you don’t have another job lined up. You’re effectively dumping onto them the full responsibility of supporting you, without asking if they’re okay with that first. It’s marginally possible that there might be circumstances in which you cannot possibly take longer to make a decision; and you cannot possibly stay there for one more minute after what you’ve just found out. It’s Real Darn Rare, but it does occasionally happen. But even that wasn’t what this LW was dealing with… nothing except his own pride prevented him from agreeing to the rules for at least long enough to get back to his partner and decide together what to do.

                Reply
              3. mimsie

                I wouldn’t have the same disdain as I do for this guy who has a history of being a douchenozzle.
                And I wonder how he’s going to explain this whole situation to his partner when he returns home.

                Reply
              4. Rusty Shackelford

                I’ll just quote what Working Hypothesis says down below:

                I sure would have that kind of disdain for anyone who quit a job on the spot, knowing visa considerations would mean they might have to leave the country, and didn’t discuss that with their partner first and make a joint decision on whether this was the way they mutually wanted to do things.

                He unilaterally put his partner in a bad spot. Best case scenario is that they’re not living together, their finances are separate, partner is completely self-supporting, and all they’re losing is a romantic partner. Worst case scenario is a lot more f-ed up.

                Reply
            2. Snorks

              I would be pretty sure he had discussed all possible outcomes with his partner over the last month. He knew leaving the job, either being fired or voluntarily, was on the cards.

              Reply
              1. Denise

                Given that this guy once packed up and moved to another country without telling his partner, I don’t think one can say they’re “pretty sure” he discussed all options with his current partner before he quit on the spot.

                But even if he had previously discussed them as possible options, he didn’t discuss before making a decision that would majorly affect her and their relationship.

                Reply
  7. Mes

    “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.”

    Karma sucks ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

    Reply
    1. Potato

      Yup, pretty much my default reaction. I can’t summon any sympathy for someone who is a victim of entirely his own (shitty) actions.

      Reply
    2. ThatGirl

      Seriously! Commenters were self-righteous for hoping he got what was coming to him? Shows a real lack of self-awareness to say that.

      Reply
      1. Juli G.

        Yes! And really, they didn’t fire him but they weren’t willing to change their restrictions to keep him so…

        You ask questions to get insights based off others’ experiences. Sorry he didn’t like them.

        Reply
      2. Amy

        Yeah, I wasn’t particularly *wishing* for any specific outcome, but I did expect him to be outright fired. What he got actually seems quite light, considering.

        Reply
    3. many bells down

      And maybe I stopped reading the thread too early on – after 1000 comments it gets a little unwieldy – but I don’t remember people actually HOPING for that. Mostly it was presented as the most likely logical consequence of his actions. Saying “this is probably how it’s gonna pan out for you” isn’t the same thing as hoping for it.

      Reply
      1. SignalLost

        My read also. I feel like I maybe saw a couple comments where someone edged close to hoping for it, but in general everything I saw was “this is not going to work out for you because you are more expendable, so plan for that now.”

        Reply
      2. MeowThai

        I don’t know about here–I probably stopped reading too early on as well, but people on the Buzzfeed article (and every internet piece about this letter since BF) were really really vitriolic and hoping for this kind of outcome. It got really ugly once it went viral because other sites don’t have Allison’s well-established and mostly well-respected rules about being helpful not hurtful.

        Reply
        1. Jeanne

          There is an awful lot on this thread that is hurtful and in no way helpful. Calling him a dick and an asshole doesn’t in any way help. Being gleeful he lost his job is not helpful. There’s very little real advice here. Lots of gloating. I’m disturbed.

          Reply
          1. Anion

            Me too, Jeanne. It’s really rather horrifying. I mentioned the dress-code interns in another comment; that one caused a big stir and a lot of people thought they deserved to be fired, but there was nowhere near this level of name-calling and vitriol; no one was smirking about how karma got them; no one was hoping they’d never find another job; no one was implying they probably stole from their workplace, too, since they’re such bad people; no one was calling them liars; no one was saying they had no right to feel hurt or upset; no one was deciding they were sociopaths or serial abusers. Heck, I don’t think people were even this nasty to the guy who emailed his girlfriend’s boss for “interfering in [our] relationship” by taking the girlfriend out for drinks, or to the guy who shoved his co-worker in front of a moving vehicle because he was terrified of birds.

            I’m starting to get quite upset reading all this, honestly. It’s bordering on–if not crossing the border into–cruel, some of the comments and the delight people are taking in this man losing his job and his home for the crime of breaking up with someone badly years ago, and the derisive laughter at the pain he’s obviously feeling.

            Reply
            1. Working Hypothesis

              I don’t think, to the extent that people are feeling glad that he lost his job, that it comes from vindictiveness “for the crime of breaking up with someone badly years ago.” In most cases, what I’m seeing is people who say what amounts to this:

              “You’ve not only done something really horrible years back, but you’ve attempted to justify that action to us; then you brought down the attention of HR on yourself by telling them something with major scandal potential; and then you decided to blame the resulting predictable effects on your victim from years ago, even though she doesn’t appear to have had anything to do with it. When your boss cautions you that you’re on thin ice and then lays down the requirements you’ll need to meet in order to be able to avoid causing them more trouble than you’re worth, you threw a hissy fit and stormed out in a melodramatic resignation… one which, despite the fact that you had reason to know it would mean you’d need to leave the country, you did as a unilateral action without first consulting your *current* partner about it. And then you sought to blame everyone except yourself for the results of your own actions: your victim, the school which you quit in a tantrum; strangers on the internet. None of that looks like the actions of a person who has learned from any of their former mistakes; nor someone who is unlikely to cause more trouble with similar gross errors in judgment if allowed to continue employment in this delicate situation. I’m glad you won’t be working around Sylvia… neither she nor the school deserve to have to deal with that kind of immature and self-centered behavior.”

              Note that this is, while blunt and unsympathetic, a very different thing from “I’m glad you’re suffering.” It’s rather, “I’m glad you are not getting the opportunity to do more damage to this situation, because I have no reason to believe you wouldn’t do it.” You can argue whether or not you think it’s *true* that it is better the LW not have the chance to further mess up this situation in new ways… but even if you don’t think it’s true (and are right), it may help to recognize that the people who are saying it *do* believe it’s true, and are reacting on that basis.

              And yes, I do know that some of us have said he’s acted like a jerk, and things of that nature. I’ve been one of them. Doesn’t mean I want him to suffer just *because* he’s a jerk. His jerkdom makes me less likely to care whether he suffers either pro or con, but it won’t cause me to seek it actively. It will, however, spare me any real grief if he gets himself into a situation which most bosses are likely to see as a whole red picnic basket full of red mice twirling red flags, and make the sensible decision not to bend themselves out of shape to retain him.

              Reply
              1. XtinaS

                What an intriguing set of priorities! “Abandoning his live-in long-term partner with no note or hint of what was going on or anything… yeah, sucks. These comments: THE LITERAL WORST. I may be sick.”

                Reply
    4. JessaB

      Completely by his own choice. He quit. He didn’t quite ghost them because he said he quit TO them. But he had a job. Was it a pleasant one? Probably not, but he had one. He got no severance and no reference because he quit of his own free will.

      Reply
    5. Not So NewReader

      I don’t get the logic here.
      OP writes in to an advice site about his new job. And the commenters on the site want him to fail? HUH? What would the point of an advice column be if everyone rooted for failures?

      OP, cause and effect. My husband used to say, “when you yank a chain on a toilet, you cannot blame it for flushing.” This is a very simple example of cause and effect relationships. We cause the toilet to flush when we pull the handle.

      All of life goes like this, poor eating habits lead to health problems, poor work habits lead to work problems, poor relationship habits come back to haunt us, too. Until we learn to stand in place and work through hard situations we will continue to have to run from anything that seems or is difficult. No pain, no gain. Leaving means we do not learn what it takes to rise above bad circumstances.

      Now how do we know that X leads to Y? Probably because we have done a similar thing or watched a good friend or loved one do something similar. We don’t say things from a ivory tower, we say things from a place of BTDT, it sucked. It’s too late for me/mine but maybe we can keep you out of this pit.

      There is no default success in life, OP. If one of us fails it in NOT an automatic win for the rest of us.

      Reply
      1. Working Hypothesis

        Very few commenters on this site have expressed a desire to have him fail. Many, however, have expressed a belief that it’s the most likely outcome given the circumstances, and that that isn’t an entirely unearned result. You can’t really blame them for that, as you just said something pretty similar, NotSoNewReader. ;-)

        I’m given to understand that, when the original post here got linked to from Buzzfeed, the Buzzfeed commenters in particular *did* include many who actively expressed a desire for the LW to fail. That’s not terribly surprising for Buzfeed, but not what I’ve seen here.

        Reply
        1. Mina

          I’m not really seeing a majority of the comments here delighting in OP’s failure. I’m seeing *some*, but overall, the general tone seems to be disappointment, although not without surprise.

          Reply
    1. Eli

      Seriously, did he learn anything? “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.” He’s still blaming the situation on her!

      Reply
      1. Mary

        Especially since it’s not even clear that it was her choiec to get him involved?

        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.

        It is very, “Sylvia, I am giving you this information so you can decide what you want to do next … HEY, NOT LIKE THAT.”

        Reply
        1. SignalLost

          I cannot be the only one wondering what their relationship was like. I’m not speculating, I’m pretty sure he’s a huge jerk. His tendency to rules-lawyer makes me think I would involve the chair if I were Sylvia, because OP sounds exhausting. (I do think it was his contact with HR that triggered that meeting though.)

          Reply
        2. boop the first

          JUST LIKE how he blamed Alison for publishing his letter. It must have been really difficult not to address that part!

          Reply
          1. Amy

            I like how he basically blamed Alison for his letter going viral, instead of his own decision to write in apparently without even bothering to find out how this blog works or whether it has much of an audience.

            Reply
            1. BedMadeLie

              He thought it was just an email address for a nice lady who will do the emotional and logistical labor of telling you how to avoid consequences for your poor choices.

              Reply
              1. Online social

                +1000, and then her sort of criticized Alison by saying, “I didn’t think it would get big on *your* blog.” Good on her for taking it in stride, but ugh he did the same thing to Sylvia, downplaying her accomplishments. This guy is the worst.

                Reply
            2. Annie Moose

              Did he not even skim the front page or google her email address first? It’s pretty clear she publishes the text of letters!

              (and OK, yes, he thought she’d answer it privately, which I assume Alison might do sometimes, but surely in that case he would’ve specified “hey please don’t actually post this letter on your blog where you post letters”?)

              Reply
              1. Amy

                Didn’t you know? Nice ladies who give advice are supposed to just automatically know what you want from them, and give it to you without you having to articulate it. Clearly a person who runs a blog wherein they post letters and then give advice about them would have just automatically KNOWN he didn’t want it posted, and therefore this was an intentional attempt to ruin his life.

                Reply
      2. MakesThings

        Yeah, it’s like any kind of opportunity for insight, empathy, or deep thought for this guy is like water off a a duck’s back. There’s just… nothing beneath the surface- no depth, no layers, just self-interest, not even disguised as anything. He sounds like some kind of bot.

        Reply
      3. Robbie

        His resolution to relationship trouble was literally leave the country without telling his *live-in* partner. He does not have the higher moral ground in how to talk with your ex.

        Reply
      4. Curiosity Killed The Cat

        Especially because, in a way, he went right to ‘the top’ of the extreme with their relationship. He could have talked to her about their future, tried to work something out, but he cut and run. So rather than working something out with him, Syliva cut and run to her management. It makes perfect sense to me, I’m totally on her side.

        Reply
        1. JessaB

          He could have even left a note saying “I’m done.” But you up and leave without any notice, anything saying you’re not in trouble, you haven’t been kidnapped, you’re not suicidal, you’re not being chased by someone dangerous, anything at all, and you get peeved because she calls around trying to find out if you’re alive and okay?

          I have a feeling that “drama” he mentioned with his family was probably something like “OMG is he okay? Is he dead? he hasn’t called, left a note, anything and he’s gone.” Coupled with a serving of “OMG how am I going to pay the rent, electric, whatever, and maybe he didn’t pay some stuff already and owes her money.” I don’t consider that drama.

          This is not a relationship that lasted a week and he ghosted. This is a LIVE IN relationship. She didn’t even have time to put aside money to cover his end of the bills or to try and find a new place she could afford. He basically upturned her life and didn’t even care to leave an “I’m okay, bye. I left of my own free will.”

          And I will say for the record, that as someone with an anxiety disorder with panic attacks, ghosting should be a crime (not in the actual legal sense, but you get me.) I would be losing my mind trying to find out if the person was alive and okay. I’d look like a rabid stalker until I found out from someone I trusted that the person was alive, okay, not in hospital, hadn’t been hit by a truck, etc.

          Paraphrase Paycheck and leave a “take this relationship and shove it,” message, but leave one.

          Reply
          1. Creag an Tuire

            Hell, my mother and some of her friends are on Facebook right now asking after Wakeen, an Internet Friend most of them haven’t met IRL, who abruptly went dark on social media and usual haunts without notice — because she cares about Wakeen and wants to make sure he isn’t in a trauma ward somewhere.

            Such an emotional, hysterical person she is. ◔_◔

            Reply
          2. Toxic Person On The Internet

            Yeah, “more integrity than Burger on Sex and the City with his break-up Post-It note” shouldn’t be a difficult moral bar to clear.

            Reply
          3. LN

            Yeah, I was ghosted by a friend after only knowing them a few months, although we’d grown pretty close in that time – and when he got in touch with me again, he was 1000% more thoughtful and apologetic about it than this guy seems to be…over a years-long cohabiting romantic relationship!

            Yikes.

            Reply
      5. tl

        I also love how, in suggesting that she should have worked it out with him one-on-one, he is STILL ten years later expecting to receive the benefits of a private, intimate relationship with this woman.

        Reply
        1. Detective Amy Santiago

          Yes, she should have worked it with him the same way he worked out their relationship problems all those years ago.

          Oh wait…

          Reply
      6. Amy

        Right??? Like, of course she got the appropriate people involved. What else was she supposed to do? They have a clear stake in the outcome of this, it would be negligent of her to NOT include them.

        He’s talking like she somehow owed him the chance to ‘work it out’ without any professional repercussions, and that’s just incredibly naive and entitled. She doesn’t owe him anything, and even if she did, this wouldn’t be a reasonable demand.

        Reply
    2. Mina

      He had 10 years to reflect on how his actions would have been considered more than just immature; I honestly doubt that he would have gotten more insight in the couple of months that passed between the letter and this update.

      But yeah, it still sucks.

      Reply
    3. Lynn

      Oblivious on more than one level. One of the interesting aspects is that 10 years after the (cowardly, malicious) “ghosting,” he is still teaching math with apparently too few connections to land another job in country, but she’s the new director. He completely fails to recognize what this dynamic suggests, instead implying she married her way to the top.

      Reply
  8. The Crusher

    Thank you, OP, for your update on this story! I appreciate your willingness to let us know how it turned out and to answer Alison’s questions.

    Reply
        1. Prost!

          Lord, can you imagine *THAT* conversation. “Sweetie, I have to leave the country because I quit my job because a woman I used to live with for two years and disappeared on started working at my school needed to get the director involved in something we could have handled ourselves.”

          0_O

          Reply
  9. irritable vowel

    No offense, OP, but you are placing the blame on losing your job on pretty much everyone and everything other than yourself, up to and including the entire culture of your country. You should think about that. Your company did right by your ex because you were in the wrong.

    Reply
      1. Marillenbaum

        Yes, but I don’t think that’s better. He’s still acting like it had more to do with nepotism and her husband’s prominence than the fact that she’s good at her job and it’s harder to replace a director than a lower-level employee.

        Reply
        1. INTP

          And apparently she shouldn’t have told her husband…what? It would be a Big Deal in a marriage to conceal the fact that your new coworker is an ex that you once lived with, even if it hadn’t ended in such a dramatic way. So she was supposed to risk damage to the trust in her marriage to hide this information to protect him from the natural consequences of his actions?

          I think it sounds like Sylvia could have easily said “Nope, I’m not working with him” and she tried to be fair without actually sacrificing her own interests. He’s the one that decided not to keep the job with the stipulations that would make it a tenable situation for her.

          Reply
          1. Annie Moose

            Honestly!

            Even aside from it being a terrible relationship decision to conceal all of this from her husband, is it really unexpected for Sylvia to talk to the closest person in her life about this massive, potentially life-changing thing happening to them? Of course when an ex who fled the country rather than break up with you reappears as your new employee after literally years of silence, you’re gonna confide about it to your spouse! That’s a pretty normal thing for a person to do.

            Reply
    1. SignalLost

      He’s learned that we all hate him and absolutely no one offered a sympathetic or compassionate option for how to handle the situation. And he’s learned that the internet at large and the readers of AAM are toxic, toxic people.

      Reply
  10. Tempest

    I can’t believe it made the Daily Mail. Wow, I read the original and thought whoa what a strange way to end a 2 year relationship but I never thought to search the story in google. He’s right, it totally went viral.

    Reply
      1. General Ginger

        Oh, wow. I hope all of the exposure wasn’t rough on Sylvia. I’m imagining friends contacting her going, oh, wow, this thing I read on Buzzfeed sure sounds a lot like that jerk who split on you.

        Reply
    1. Torrance

      Yeah, though there have always been the occasional viral letters (Operation Smile, for instance), the more recent ones have been less ‘look at how crazy this company is’ and more ‘light your torch, mount your horse’ (that poor intern who wrote in… :/). I think it might give some people pause about writing in but, then again, people aren’t always as self-aware as they should be.

      Reply
      1. EddieSherbert

        Oh my gosh that intern dress code petition one… yeah, the internet really went nuts there!

        I didn’t realize this one went viral too. I’ll have to Google it!

        Reply
      2. Umvue

        Hm; over time this could lead to some adverse selection that might affect this community (as reasonable letter writers become less willing to submit, the pool becomes less reasonable + as the site becomes more popular, pile-ons become more regular). If I were Allison I think I might be tempted to start closing comments earlier.

        Reply
  11. (Mr.) Cajun2core

    OP, I am sorry this happened to you. Yes, what you did wasn’t right but it was ten years ago. We all make mistakes and I wish you the best of luck in the future.

    Reply
    1. ahch

      I too am perhaps one of the few who does feel very sorry for the OP. I don’t condone his actions but I still have compassion for someone who hits rock bottom. It sometimes is a long and terrible road to get back up.

      Reply
      1. LawBee

        I don’t know. He chose to quit the job in much the same way he quit the relationship. Right then, on the spot, boom. I don’t see him has hitting rock bottom as much as going there deliberately. ::shrug:: He’ll pick himself up again. But as long as he keeps telling himself that nothing is his fault and everything negative that happens to him is because of other people, he’s got a rocky road ahead.

        Reply
        1. ss

          And his action hurts more than just him… he hurt his current partner without bothering to discuss it with her. Very self-centered.

          Reply
        2. Amy

          Agreed. Even if the stipulations weren’t tenable for him long-term, he had the option to stay until he could find a job elsewhere and work out visa stuff. That’s honestly more than I thought he’d get–I thought the most likely outcome was getting fired. So I don’t have a lot of sympathy for the consequences of him choosing to walk away rather than take what they were offering until he could find something better.

          Reply
        3. Mina

          Yeah, he didn’t even take the time to think it over and/or speak to his partner about it. I’m not having a lot of sympathy for him there, especially since he didn’t even consider how his partner would feel. He needs to start holding himself accountable and think of others’ feelings for his own sake, or this is going to keep happening.

          Reply
      2. CMDRBNA

        I don’t think the OP should have to atone endlessly for the (stupid, totally avoidable) thing he chose to do ten years ago, but I also don’t think he’s hit rock bottom (and doesn’t rock bottom usually imply that you are taking responsibility for your actions?). He wasn’t fired, he chose to quit, knowing that that would mean he’d have to leave his current partner and move out of the country (sounds familiar!).

        I would feel worse for him if he actually WAS fired, but he wasn’t. He basically decided that he couldn’t abide by the conditions his employer put on him and chose to quit.

        Reply
        1. Juli G.

          Yep, this. I didn’t think that this was a fire able offense and would have been upset if he had been.

          But he didn’t even try the conditions and then decide they were too difficult to continue to abide by. He just peaced out.

          Reply
        2. JulieBulie

          I agree that he shouldn’t have to atone endlessly… but as far as I can tell, this is the first time he’s had to atone at all.

          I do feel sorry for OP, not for what’s “happening” to him but because he doesn’t seem to understand why it is happening.

          Reply
          1. racketsports

            This. I do think that if someone has done something morally wrong but has atoned and made amends, then obviously they should not be eternally punished. However, the LW did something so stupidly bad that making amends was basically impossible–what was he going to do, pop back up into her life three years later with a self-serving apology?

            From the tone of the letter, he sounds like he almost regrets how silly and embarrassingly young he was, but he certainly doesn’t sound cognizant of what it was that he did to Sylvia. What have his amends been, at all? It’s unfortunate that it took so long for this to catch up to him, because in a sense the action is so disconnected from the consequence that the LW isn’t going to understand why, not really.

            If this karma had found him when he was young, say in the year or two after the ghosting, then maybe he would have been more receptive to learning, but he’s grown to adulthood without learning from a truly shitty youthful mistake.

            Reply
            1. whingedrinking

              In the original post, he says, “She was part of the forgotten past.”
              My reaction? “I 100% guarantee she hasn’t forgotten *you*, buddy boy!”
              At no point, anywhere, does he express concern for Sylvia. No “She must have been alarmed and upset”, no “I know she had to pay the rent by herself”, NOTHING. He never once says anything that indicates that he thought about her feelings at all.
              This is a man who, based on the math, must now be at least in his mid-thirties, and doesn’t for a single second indicate that maybe he caused another person pain. Various people keep calling him a “young man”, but he seems to be en route to middle age without a glimmer of self awareness.

              Reply
      3. President Porpoise

        Me too. I understand the bitterness and hostility coming off this letter. People evisorated this guy they first time around.

        Reply
        1. EddieSherbert

          I think OP could be (more?) apologetic, but I also think that even if he was over-the-top apologetic… it would have turned out about the same anyways. And the comment section would still contain unkind stuff.

          Hopefully things get better!

          Reply
          1. LN

            SOME unkind stuff, sure. But the tone of the comments here is vastly different when someone shows insight and remorse for mistakes they’ve made, and he hasn’t done that at all.

            Reply
      4. Philly Redhead

        If he had shown even a modicum of the ability to take responsibility for his actions and realize that what happened is his own fault, I might have a tiny bit of sympathy for him. But he blames everybody except himself.

        Reply
      5. Alli525

        My issue with this is, who’s to say this is his rock-bottom? Usually people who hit rock-bottom eventually look around and go “oh crap, I have to change ME to make this better.” Maybe he’s there and hasn’t had his epiphany yet, but his deficiency of emotional intelligence indicates to me that he might have lower to sink. I hope not! But maybe.

        Reply
    2. LSP

      What happened to him does suck, and the mistake he made was ten years ago. My trouble with finding sympathy for him comes from the way he seems to be walking the line between owning his mistake, and qualifying his role in his punishment by pointing at how Sylvia could have handled it better, and the culture of the country is deeply entrenched in nepotism, and the restrictions were too tough, etc.

      If he just said “I was wrong. I accept this as a consequence of what I did a decade ago,” my heart would really go out to this guy. The fact that he keeps back-stepping from any real responsibility (and that he couldn’t muster up a better description of his jilted ex than “fine” in those emotionally heightened circumstances) makes it really hard for me to feel bad for him. And my natural tendency it to be sympathetic.

      Reply
      1. Annie Moose

        Yeah, I mean, of course I think this is a pretty bad situation for OP. It’s not like he had any intention of showing back up in Sylvia’s life; it was quite shocking for him to be confronted with something that he thought was long in the past. I do feel bad for him, I think it’s regrettable his story has been smeared all over the internet, and I hope he’s able to find a way to rebuild his life.

        But I’d feel more sympathy if there was a little more “y’know I acted really badly and thought I could escape the consequences, but I guess I gotta take my lumps now” and a little less “totally not my fault”. My sympathy is tempered with a whole lotta ಠ_ಠ.

        Reply
      2. AnonAnalyst

        This is where I am. I felt a little sympathy for him when I started reading the original letter. I know I made some stupid mistakes when I was young and didn’t think through the consequences. I definitely have had some “oh god, I can’t believe I did that!” major cringeworthy moments as I’ve gotten older. It would suck if one of those mistakes came back to have a negative impact on my career. So I can sympathize with the OP for finding himself in that situation.

        But as the letter went on, OP seemed to have a lot of blame for everyone else, including painting Sylvia as a psycho ex for trying to figure out what happened to him. And he’s continued playing the victim here. It’s hard for me to have a ton of sympathy when he seems to think that everyone else is the problem and his impact on the situation he’s in is minimal.

        Reply
      3. zora

        Ok sure, some people aren’t exactly Mother Theresa, but I still don’t feel like what they did is bad enough to be super mad at them and wish the worst for them. I do feel bad for him, I kind of feel bad BECAUSE he doesn’t seem very self-aware and has to deal with repercussions from past mistakes.

        Reply
      4. Observer

        Actually, the “fine” bit didn’t bother me – even someone with a lot of sensitivity would have a problem knowing what’s going on under the surface. And he did describe her behavior – and “seemed fine” seems about right from the outside.

        Reply
      5. MCMonkeyBean

        Yeah, that “nepotism” claim came out of no where and seems completely irrelevant to anything even if it were in any way true. He’s still desperately trying to somehow paint Sylvia as the villain in this story and it is not a good look.

        Reply
    3. zora

      I also feel sorry for the OP and think that commenters are being harsh. I save my righteous anger for people who do truly awful things (Presidents starting illegal wars, etc) and not for people who make mistakes, even if they aren’t very self aware about it. I wouldn’t wish his situation on anyone.

      Reply
      1. Managing to get by

        Except this guy is missing the little thing that most people have that allows us to look at things from someone else’s point of view. That evidently hasn’t changed since he was younger, evidenced by him quitting on the spot with no regard for his current girlfriend.

        Reply
  12. Editrix

    Everything Sylvia did and all of the measures requested sound completely appropriate and utterly reasonable. I don’t understand why they would lead to resignation, unless there’s something else left unsaid, or unless LW was just absolutely *counting* on his god-given right to gossip about Sylvia around the water cooler.

    Reply
    1. Risha

      I know, right?

      “You won’t work directly together much, but we’re going to say that there will always need to be a third party there if you do, and don’t gossip with the other staff about her.”

      “This is an OUTRAGE!!11!!” *throws chair*

      Reply
    2. Koko

      Yeah, it seemed like it basically just amounted to, “Maintain a professional and polite distance from the director.”

      My suspicion is that he didn’t want to be embarrassed by having to explain to his colleagues what he did to her, and he was worried that at some point one of these little rules, like needing a third-party present for a conversation, would require him to ‘fess up and ruin what they think of him.

      Reply
    3. Jaybeetee

      I was an ESL teacher years ago. I’m guessing the rub was that he couldn’t associate with her outside of work hours. In a lot of Asian countries, going out for drinks, etc, after work with colleagues is a huge part of networking and making a good impression, and your professional life can suffer without it. My guess here is that if he can’t speak to her outside of work, and she starts going to these after-work gatherings, he wouldn’t be able to go, which would cut him off at the knees professionally and socially. (Mind, having a spurned ex as your boss is also pretty career-limiting, so hard to judge how much not being able to go out after work would really hurt him in this case).

      Reply
      1. Amy

        Sure, not being able to network outside of the office and having a boss that has good reason to dislike and/or distrust you are indeed terrible for your career. But it’s not like his only options were ‘Sign on to stay forever’ or ‘Walk away this instant’. He could have stayed for another year while job-hunting and working out a visa for his current SO, for example. It’s hard for me to read this as anything but “I didn’t get exactly what I wanted so I’m leaving, nyah nyah!”

        Reply
        1. MeowThai

          Yeah, to me it shows a continuing pattern of impulsiveness and rash decision making. How hard would it have been to accept the terms, stay on for a year and job hunt in order to keep his teaching visa and current relationship intact?

          Reply
      2. MeowThai

        Except for there’s information here to suggest that he wouldn’t be isolated. Sylvia has family connections in the area, and he has a partner who’s local. Sylvia also seems much less likely, as both a director and a parent, to participate in any after-work social stuff. It’s all moot though since he *chose* to resign on the spot. It might have gone okay, or at least been tolerable while he searched for a new position. Ultimately, he’ll never know and it’s just more testament to his impulsiveness. We know the consequences of being so rash: jobless, prospectless, and now partnerless since it looks like he’s leaving her behind now that his teaching visa has been revoked.

        Reply
    4. SKA

      It sounded like the “no associating with each other outside of work” may have been a key factor – since he had previously mentioned the small and tight-knit expat community. If Sylvia is going to be attending events and gatherings with his colleagues, it sounds like he may have ended up with no local friends and no social life.

      Now, I don’t know why he’d WANT to attend gatherings with Sylvia in attendance, and I think it’s a fair boundary for Sylvia to set. But I could see this aspect of the situation being a big part of the decision to leave. I don’t feel sorry for him, but wanting to leave a town/job where you’re now going to be somewhat of a social outcast doesn’t seem like an unreasonable decision.

      Reply
      1. Redundant Department of Redundancy

        Agreed. This is what I can’t get my head round. The other restrictions seem reasonable, but I can see how the no socialising thing would be difficult. Yet that implies he would have been happy to go socialise knowing Sylvia would be there!

        I imagine it’d be shit, but couldn’t he have toughed it out for a year and then moved on? Not leave his wife and kids because he didn’t want to keep quiet for a year? I get the feeling he knew by leaving they’d be in the lurch so wanted to cause them a problem (or was hoping they’d convincie him to stay after all – but they called his bluff)

        Reply
        1. SKA

          That’s fair. I guess I was just thinking that it makes sense for him to choose to move on. But you’re right. Just leaving on the spot instead of sticking around while job-hunting does seem a bit extreme. (It’d be another thing if he had a lot of savings, I guess. But even then, this is also screwing over his current partner. And presumably the school who has to scramble now to fill a position.)

          Reply
      2. Jessie the First (or second)

        It’s a reasonable boundary for the school to set, and it is reasonable if he didn’t want to have to deal with it.

        Except. He quit on the spot, with no job lined up and visa issues that would prohibit his partner’s coming with him when he returns home. That seems more like quitting out of anger and indignation, rather than quitting after a careful consideration of the workability of the situation. Especially as it *may* have been workable – he was not told to constantly avoid her, he was told to “limit” his out-of-work interaction. Maybe it would not have worked in the end, but there is some wiggle room there that he could have explored if it mattered to him.

        Reply
        1. Observer

          This is pretty much where I’m coming down. Quitting on the spot was not the most terrible move ever, but not something I can muster much sympathy for.

          Reply
      3. Falling Diphthong

        Still, to me the logical thing is to finish out the term and see how it goes in practice. Possibly while applying elsewhere with the plan to try and move at the winter break, certainly next year. If I had a romantic partner I didn’t want to lose, I’d be even more inclined to test how tenable the situation was in practice.

        Reply
        1. JessaB

          heck he could even have decided to talk to the grand boss and make an arrangement. “I’ll do the best job ever until break, until a year, you help me find another place so I’m not in Sylvia’s way, and then you can have that time to replace me without putting a hole in your scheduling and we can all walk away with reasonable results, and you can tell Sylvia that I won’t be here long so she can breathe easy.”

          Reply
          1. racketsports

            this seems like the best thing and most decent thing to do overall. And the kindest, provided he could avoid gossip about Sylvia around the water cooler.

            Reply
      4. V

        But even in that situation, why not live with those limitations for a year and take the time to plan your next move, rather than just quitting on the spot? Especially if keeping the job was the only way to stay in the country and with your current partner? Resigning on the spot comes off to me like a tantrum, whereas the mature thing would be to live with the restrictions, unpleasant as they might be, for as long as it took to make a plan with your current partner as to how to move on.

        Reply
      5. chi type

        I think it was a combination of not being able to attend the (presumably, many) outside events as he had in the past and NOT BEING ABLE TO TELL ANYONE WHY he was suddenly not available for any group gathering.

        Reply
      6. Traffic_Spiral

        Bosses don’t socialize with underlings outside of work events. If your boss is at the after work event with you and your colleagues, it counts as enough of a work event that he wouldn’t be banned from it. If the gathering is a more casual ‘hang with your pals and let off steam’ thing, the boss won’t be there – so he can go to that as well. He’s really not banned from much.

        Reply
    5. Candy

      Well yeah but this is coming from someone who thought his girlfriend was “rather emotional” and “obsessed” when she tried to find out from family what happened to her boyfriend of three years who just up and left without so much as a note. He doesn’t seem to have much understanding of what’s appropriate and reasonable behaviour

      Reply
  13. wow.

    Amazing that throughout all this, it’s always something else at fault: holidays are why the email was so poorly written/callous. She got her job because of nepotism. I resigned because the organisation sided with her ~totally unreasonable~ demands. There’s not an ounce of accountability to be found here.

    Reply
        1. Annie Moose

          And his friend’s fault for giving him Alison’s email address without, I dunno, giving him a 500-page manual on how the site works.

          Reply
  14. Rusty Shackelford

    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.

    You don’t understand why she “had to get” the chair involved? What did you expect to happen after you dropped HR a note?

    We could have tried to sort this out between us first, no need to go to the top immediately.

    Yeah, don’t you just hate it when people refuse to sort things out with you, and instead they do something completely unnecessary and over the top? :-\

    Reply
    1. Tuxedo Cat

      I’m unclear whether Sylvia got the chair involved or whether it was HR. Regardless, I don’t think it was a bad idea for the chair to be involved.

      Reply
    2. Mina

      Like how he tried to “sort things out” with Sylvia before straight-up abandoning her, I guess.

      …oh, wait, sorting things out never happened.

      Reply
    3. Trillian

      It shows a lack of insight as to what living as a woman is like, for sure. I don’t think he’s necessarily wrong in noting the deployment of power and patriarchy–that’s what it seemed like to me. Sylvia either drew on all her protections, or they drew in around her. So, for a young woman of Sylvia’s class, culture and religion, what did cohabitation mean? Was his flight actually equivalent to a breach of promise? How much social humiliation did she have to endure, returning unmarried, to add to heartache? What does it mean to have an ex-lover around, to her, to her husband, to her family? She may be doing fine but that does not mean she hasn’t got a lot to lose, even now.

      Reply
      1. Elizabeth H.

        “How much social humiliation did she have to endure, returning unmarried, to add to heartache?” I’m sorry, are we living in a Jane Austen novel?

        Reply
  15. Creag an Tuire

    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.

    Mate, she didn’t trust you. You ditched out of a major commitment with no notice, so now she’s working with you the same way I would work with someone who has demonstrated Extreme Flakiness in the past — agreements in writing and with third-party verification only.

    That’s not be being gleeful, that’s just the logical consequences of your actions. May you learn from this and conduct the rest of your life with honor.

    Reply
    1. Velvet Goldberg

      This x10. Unfortunately Ghostman doesn’t quite appreciate that regardless of why she was hired, the measures were put into place to protect both of them. The fact that he doesn’t understand why Sylvia would have no desire to discuss this with him first, is pretty telling. The fact that he’s sent an update while also whinging about how the story circulated previously is also telling. Methinks we are either dealing with a troll, an attention seeker, or a combination of both. Either way, the ignorance or lack of empathy is impressive.

      Reply
    2. Code Monkey, the SQL

      Seriously, Sylvia has been the height of professionalism here. I had a difficult Surprise! I’m brEakinG up with yoU! experience that was not even close to what she’s gone through. But she still kept everything above-board and unemotional (although I bet she went home after seeing OP and had a good pillow-punching session).

      Restrictions on the two of them interacting without a third-party presence and telling him to keep a lid on his commentary about her seem like a sensible course of action, not a vindictive imposition. I’m surprised things went as smoothly as they did, really.

      Reply
      1. Mina

        This. This this this. It makes OP’s description of her reaction to his abandonment as “emotional and obsessed” even more galling.

        Reply
  16. fposte

    Thanks for writing in OP. I have one note. You write: “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.”

    Do you genuinely not understand, or do you just wish that’s how it had happened? Because it seems pretty clear to me that there’s no advantage to her in meeting only with you and possible disadvantage, so it was sensible of her to choose the way that was best for her, even if it wasn’t best for you.

    Reply
    1. Solidus Pilcrow

      OP, if you try to look at this objectively and put aside all the drama, you’ll see that the chair’s involvement was inevitable. Any conflict of interest or issue of impropriety should be dealt with at least one level (maybe two levels) above the people involved. Since Sylvia is coming on as a director, the chair of the board is probably the only one who *could* mediate this.

      Reply
    2. SarahKay

      And of course it may not have been Sylvia that got the chair involved – OP himself told HR at least some of the situation. HR may have reacted and called in the chair.

      Reply
    3. Not So NewReader

      She had the right to handle it any way she chose that would be within professional norms.

      OP, why would she choose to meet alone with you? Why would that make sense?

      Reply
  17. Aeryn Sun

    I find it kind of hilarious you’re calling the commenters toxic when you moved away from your girlfriend of 3 years without a word. But seriously, it would be one thing if you’d clearly learned what you’ve done is wrong, but from both of your emails you seem to be blaming everyone else besides yourself.

    Reply
    1. Goya

      +1,000

      Or that she “came away from this just fine” because she’s married and has kids. You don’t think this affected her at all!? That she maybe has UNDERSTANDABLE trust issues now? That she maybe has UNDERSTANDABLE abandonment issues now? Just because she’s moved on with her life, doesn’t mean she isn’t still affected by his asshole actions. Oiy! Some people’s kids!

      Reply
  18. The Snark Knight

    Forget any judgments, I’d say from the tone of his letter, his potential employer dodged a bullet.

    His need to state that he didn’t ruin Sylvia’s life because she’s doing well now ignores the fact that he did harm the person. The fact that she was able to move on is no reflection on her, not proof that what he did wasn’t that bad.

    Then he goes on to whine about how the chairman didn’t need to get involved.

    This person has learned nothing, is not owning his bad choices and has not matured. They were wise to accept his resignation.

    I wish this person no ill will, but he needs to grow up.

    Reply
    1. many bells down

      As a different example: my ex ruined my credit by signing up for things in my name and then never paying them. Since we were married, it was nearly impossible for me to prove those weren’t my accounts. So I spent the next 10 years with my credit ruined.

      5 years after I divorced my ex, I remarried and was able to rebuild my credit with my new spouse’s help. This doesn’t erase the fact that I spent TEN YEARS unable to get a loan or a credit card in my own name. I had to get a co-signer just to buy a $7k used car. Am I now better off than my ex, who still has no credit? Yes, absolutely. Does that mean no harm was done to me? No.

      Reply
      1. Anon for this thread

        Similar thing happened to me. It has been nearly 30 years since I divorced my first husband but the effects of his deceit and ruinous behavior followed me for a decade. My second husband’s company had to threaten to move their payroll from the bank that did not want him putting my name on his checking accounts or issuing me a debit card. That bank has since been bought out a couple of times. My credit union at work made it possible for me to deposit my checks, get a car loan, etc. until I could finally get a credit card on my own. And we have more money on deposit with them than we do the big name bank. A pox on these wastrel starter spouses!

        Reply
    2. Mina

      “His need to state that he didn’t ruin Sylvia’s life because she’s doing well now ignores the fact that he did harm the person. The fact that she was able to move on is no reflection on her, not proof that what he did wasn’t that bad.”

      THIS.

      Reply
  19. k8

    thanks for validating all the assumptions i made about you, op! i might be a member of the toxic commentariat, but you area grade-a narcissist. enjoy unemployment!

    Reply
  20. Doug Judy

    So OP still is totally blameless. Cool.

    For the record, I am happily married, kids, all of that. That doesn’t mean I would ever work with my emotionally manipulative ex. Ever.

    Reply
    1. Rusty Shackelford

      Exactly. You can completely move on with your life and still not to have anything to do with this kind of person. They’re not mutually exclusive.

      Reply
    2. Mary

      There’s some super interesting black-and-white thinking in “Those who blamed me for ruining Sylvia’s life for good were wrong. She has done very well for herself”. Anything Sylvia has achieved is a vindication that what OP did wasn’t that bad. If he didn’t completely ruin her life for good, it wasn’t that bad. There’s no recognition that something can be GENUINELY THAT BAD, and that someone can still cope, get over it and get on with life.

      Reply
        1. Not So NewReader

          In a parallel universe, Sylvia was going to find the cure for cancer. However that question became secondary when her ex walked out one day.

          If we are not lifting people up then chances are pretty good that we are pulling them down. We don’t know what lesser choices Sylvia made while she worked through her devastation. Just because she is doing fine now does not mean she is filling her potential.

          Reply
      1. Detective Amy Santiago

        The fact that Sylvia is happily married with children and enjoying a good career instead of rocking back and forth in the corner of some asylum because of what LW did doesn’t mean LW didn’t ruin her life in the short time when he bounced.

        It means Sylvia is a strong person who probably had an excellent support system and overcame something devastating.

        Reply
      2. Mina

        Yup. Sure, Sylvia has done well for herself. It doesn’t mean that abandoning her without a word wasn’t at all terrible. (Also, I don’t remember anyone saying OP had ruined her life for good, just that the consequences could have been long term, such as trust issues or having to pay off shared debts by herself?)

        Reply
      3. MCMonkeyBean

        I’m thinking now of the scene in Community when Jeff talks to his father who abandoned him, and now has a son who he views as weak. He basically tells Jeff, hey you turned out all right and this kid I raised is garbage so really it’s a *good* thing I abandoned you. You’re welcome.

        Reply
        1. Mina

          Oh, yeah, and Jeff’s monologue to him afterward about how he was still hurting from that, even as an adult. That scene choked me up, it was so angry and heartfelt.

          Reply
    3. automaticdoor

      I’ve been broken up with a guy like this–narcissistic, abusive, and completely unable to accept blame–for over seven years, had multiple relationships in the meantime, am now happily married, and I would NEVER, EVER consider working with him–I hope to never speak to him or see him again. I would sooner find a new job myself.

      Reply
        1. automaticdoor

          I still have flashes of panic when I think I see this guy on the street downtown and I’m pretty sure he’s in a different state a few hours away now. (I have him blocked on all social media and I don’t know how to check LinkedIn without him seeing that I viewed his profile–if I’m logged out it doesn’t show me anything about him.) Terrifying. Even with therapy, some things you just never get over on an animal instinct level.

          Reply
          1. Mina