my ex works at my new job, using an affair partner as a reference, and more

It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…

1. My ex works at my new job

I recently got a new job (medical field) that I was very excited for. The thing is that even after turning down other offers, I have terrible luck — out of all the jobs, I accepted the offer that put me in the same room as my ex. The break-up wasn’t great. I got ghosted. So in retaliation, I made myself visible by texting her and sending friend requests on all social media (nothing mean, it was all about what her friendship meant to me). I know, childish on my part and pretty much got blocked on everything. I moved on.

But to my surprise, there she was on my first day. I guessed that since she ghosted me, that meant that I was someone she never knew so I didn’t acknowledge her. I heard her tell my new manager that she needed to talk to her in private before she went home. If I’m unfortunately right that it may be about me, how do I proceed?

How long ago was the break-up? If it was recent, your ex may be concerned that you intentionally got a job where she works in order to be around her — an extension of all those post-break-up attempt to get her attention. If that’s the case, she’s likely very freaked out right now, and you’d probably do well to have one polite conversation with her where you tell you had no idea she worked there but you’ve moved on and she doesn’t need to worry about any weirdness from you and you will treat her like any other colleague, or more distantly if she prefers. That’s probably a conversation you need to have even if the break-up was a long time ago, but it’s especially urgent and important if it was in the last year or so.

And then treat her respectfully, as you would anyone else there. Don’t do that whole “well, she ghosted me so I shouldn’t even acknowledge her” — that’s a recipe for making her and others around her uncomfortable (and for convincing your new boss that this won’t work out). Be polite, keep a respectful distance, and don’t try to make any point with your behavior toward her (other than “I am a polite, respectful person who will not make things weird for you in any way”).

It’s possible you might need to address this with your new manager as well, depending on what you think your ex might say about you. Normally this wouldn’t be something you’d need to raise with a manager, but if your ex is really freaked out and relaying that, you might benefit from discreetly informing your boss that the two of you dated, you didn’t know she worked there when you accepted the job, and you’ll have no problem treating her respectfully and professionally.

2. Using an affair partner as a reference

I had a colleague who was let go at the end of her short-term contract last year. She was certain this was because of her affair with a senior married member of staff and she was given a formal warning about very inappropriate behavior in his office. But actually she just wasn’t very good at the job. She didn’t complete tasks on time, she passed around confidential information from meetings she’d taken minutes in, and if she could wander off and leave some of her work to someone else, she did. She was a nice person though and we keep in touch and occasionally meet for drinks.

She quickly found a new job after she left my place of work, but it didn’t go well and she’s looking for employment again. Last time we met, she mentioned that the only reference she was using from our company was from the man she is still having an affair with — and she says he was a former manager. He wasn’t. She says he showed her the reference and it’s an excellent one.

Surely this is a bad idea and could get her into trouble if anything found out? Should I suggest she doesn’t do this or just leave well alone?

Yes, it’s a bad idea and could cause problems for both of them if it comes out. On her end, lying and saying he was her manager when he wasn’t will torpedo job offers if it comes out (and it could easily come out; a thorough reference checker might verify with the company directly). On his end, his company probably would not be pleased to know he’s misrepresenting his position there and giving a false reference for someone they let go.

So she has terrible judgment but you shouldn’t get involved. (The exception would be if you’re in a management role at the company, in which case you’d be more obligated to raise it to someone there.)

3. Twitter and applying for jobs

I’m a recent grad just starting my job search. I’m wondering if you had any thoughts on social media for job candidates, particularly Twitter. My field is policy-related and it is very common for people in that world to use Twitter a lot, and having a good Twitter presence can sometimes lead to opportunities and connections. I have an active Twitter account and in the past it’s been a great way to promote my writing, stay in touch with my network, and learn things; it’s probably a better source of networking than LinkedIn. I tweet mostly about my policy field and a little bit about my life but I try to keep things non-partisan and professional, though I do sometimes post about politics.

It’s also the first thing that comes up when I am googled due to having a distinct name. In the past I’ve tended to lock my account when I have an active job application. I’m wondering if you think that makes it appear to employers like I have something to hide? I’m torn between leaving my account unlocked in the job search and possibly leaving it open, thus inviting employers to go through my social media, or locking it and looking like I want to hide it.

Do you have any thoughts on Twitter use? Given how widespread it is in some fields, do employers still look down on people who use it in a semi-opinionated manner?

It depends on your field. In some fields, an active Twitter presence is seen as a plus if it’s done well, and some political content can be fine or even expected. It sounds like your field is probably one of those — although the tenor and content of the political content matters. In some fields, you’d want what you post to be relatively moderate; in others (more advocacy-oriented or advocacy-adjacent ones), that would be less of a concern, although even then there’s a line to be aware of. You’ve got to know your own field to know what balance is the norm.

In general, though, locking your account so people you’re not connected to can’t see your tweets is fine. Enough people do that that it won’t look like a red flag or like you’re hiding something. The exception to this can be fields where social media is part of the job — in which case your Twitter account is in many cases a de facto part of your application and you shouldn’t lock it.

If I had to give a blanket recommendation, I’d say that if you think your Twitter account could be a plus, don’t lock it but do go through it to clean up any potentially iffy tweets and consider auto-deleting older tweets so you don’t have to sort through years of history.

4. Can you be required to give notice by letter?

I’ve seen your answers to questions about giving notice, and that it is acceptable to do it by phone if circumstances call for it. Can your employee/the company make it policy that you can’t give notice except by letter and that that is the starting point for your last two weeks of employment? I’m in Canada but I assume there might be overlap with the U.S. in this regard.

I can’t speak to Canadian law at all so you’d need to check with a Canadian source, but in the U.S. this wouldn’t have a ton of meaning. No law here requires you to give notice before leaving your job; you can walk off right now and never come back if you want. So I’m curious about what they mean that you can “only” give notice by letter. You can give notice via interpretive dance if you want to. However, your employer can make certain benefits contingent on the way you give notice — like a good reference or a vacation time payout (in states where that payout is not required by law). So in general, if an employer says “we want you to give notice via X method,” that’s the method you should use, unless it’s unreasonably onerous, which this isn’t.

5. Explaining a reference recently died

My terrific boss of the last five years retired two months ago. My new boss is fine, but I don’t know her as well, obviously. Before he left, my old boss said I could use him as a reference anytime. He knew I was looking, as my job is a long-term contract, not permanent. Horribly, he was murdered just six weeks after retiring. I am still in shock and mourning him, as he became someone I liked very much indeed, and would consider a friend.

I feel awful for even thinking about this, but that does mean no one here knows my work nearly as well. There are others I can ask for references, but in my line of work, if you don’t give the person in this particular role for your reference, people are suspicious — to the point where sometimes they assume the worst, that you would have a bad reference. So when I go to give the references, how do I explain that I can’t provide my most recent boss? Do I say at the point that they ask “I can’t give my most recent boss, because sadly he died last month”? Do I put some kind of diplomatic explanation right on the reference list, like “Former direct supervisor unexpectedly deceased”? They all sound horribly awkward.

I’m sorry, that’s awful. It’s generally very normal not to give your current boss as a reference (since that can jeopardize your employment), so the fact that you’re not listing a manager from your current job shouldn’t strike anyone as odd. It might be different in your case because you’re on a contract and don’t have a permanent position — but if the jobs you’re applying to won’t realize that, you don’t need to volunteer it. Most interviewers will just assume you’re not tipping off your current job that you’re looking.

But if that doesn’t apply, then yes, I would simply give a brief explanation when you’re asked for references — something like, “I would normally put you in touch with the person who managed me for five years in my current role, but unfortunately he’s recently deceased. So I’m suggesting Person X and Person Y instead, since they can both speak to my work.” If you want, you can include a similar note on your written reference list as well.

{ 518 comments… read them below }

    1. Guacamole Bob*

      OP5, I’m sorry, too. It’s really awful.

      I think the recent, unexpected, and particularly tragic nature of your manager’s death is causing you to slightly overthink things in terms of the reference (totally understandably!). Alison’s language is perfectly appropriate, yours would be fine, and employers will understand. It feels horribly awkward to you because you’re still very much grieving, I’d imagine, but if it were a boss you weren’t close to who’d died after a long illness three years back, you’d likely need to communicate the same information to potential employers in much the same manner and it wouldn’t feel nearly as fraught.

      I’m sorry, and good luck with the job hunt.

      1. Letter Writer #5*

        Thank you all. I do realize that often, people don’t give references from their current jobs, but in my profession, oddly and often awkwardly, it is expected, at least once you’ve been identified as the selected candidate and are about to be offered the job pending reference checks. If you refuse, people generally contact them anyway, and assume you have something to hide. It’s rare to have to offer a current reference before then, though, so that should give me space to diplomatically tell what happened, using Alison’s formulation (thank you so much!). Thanks to everyone. I know I’m over-thinking it a bit – before this, I’d have sworn I’d seen everything that could happen that might affect a job search in this line of work, as I’ve been in it for 25 years. This is new – and I sure hope I never see it again. Yes, I’m definitely grieving. He was my favorite boss ever, and an all around good person. On a more positive note – I’m advocating for a apace at my current place of work to be named after my former boss, and it’s looking promising. He was beloved and respected.

  1. Artemesia*

    #1. Because you behaved like a dick to your ex, she is naturally panicked to see you. I think you have to have that ONE conversation with her and of course not ignore her but treat her with politeness — the polite stranger, in the office. And because you know she talked to the boss, you need to do that immediately; give little information beyond — ‘we dated for awhile and had a difficult break up — I had no idea she worked here and I want to assure you that this is not a problem for me and I will behave professionally towards her and have no problem working with her.’ It might not be enough — but it is the minimal requirement for moving forward here. Good luck.

    1. JJ*

      I mean, YIKES OP. You are in the wrong here. You freely admit that you were “retaliating” post-breakup via online harassment and then straight-up ignoring her at the worksite. “I guessed that since she ghosted me, that meant that I was someone she never knew so I didn’t acknowledge her” is sooooo passive aggressive. It does not sound like you have moved on.

      Find a way to not work with this poor woman, get on another team or different projects or something. Sheesh.

      1. SomehowIManage*

        I am not sure where you got “online harassment“ unless you’re assuming that the LW was more threatening and persistent in his messages than he described. It doesn’t appear to rise to the level of harassment.

        Also, I interpreted “I didn’t acknowledge her” as “I didn’t act as though we knew each other from before because I didn’t know if she wanted people to know that based on the fact that she ghosted me.” I didn’t think it was “she tried to speak to me and I ignored her.”

        To me, LW’s behaviors are more immature than malicious…

        1. Jules the 3rd*

          “texting her and sending friend requests on all social media”

          It’s the ‘all social media’ that takes this over the line into harassment. No matter how nice the messages were, the volume would be scary. LW needs to take this very seriously, and do some major signaling that he can understand why his ex would be concerned.

          1. Larina*

            After a particularly bad breakup where I blocked my ex on all social media, he decided that a direct message via Pinterest was a great way to get back in touch with me. Pinterest! I hadn’t even been using it regularly when I got the email notification that I received a message from him. And that sent me into a spiraling panic.

            So hard agree on the all social media is absolutely harassment. It’s never fun to be ghosted, but responding to being ghosted with that much effort is going to make anyone uncomfortable.

            1. Bumblebee*

              Had an ex try to contact me on Facebook and when that didn’t work he messaged me on LinkedIn…. Almost took down my profile after that but I was mid job search

            2. Caterpie*

              I saw online where someone’s ex was sending them 1-2 cents on Venmo as a way of trying to communicate with them. People can be nuts.

            3. Mid*

              Mine made a third or fourth instagram account to message me, because he was blocked on everything. I almost puked when his name popped up.

          2. mycrazyexboyfriend*

            My ex once created Facebook accounts in the names we had talked about for kids if we had them. That’s definitely harassment and I immediately thought of him when reading OP’s note.

        2. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

          Just because he wasn’t threatening online doesn’t mean it’s not harassment. And he’s acting like a petty jerk by not acknowledging that he knows her at work – this says to me that he hasn’t moved on from her ghosting him. Ghosting someone is not the way to go with a breakup, but essentially stalking her online is never okay.

          1. Annony*

            Yep. He was trying to send her a message that she can’t get away from him or ignore him after she made it clear that that was what she wanted to do. It is the online equivalent of doing something like showing up at her work and her house and her gym and just waving from across the room or across the street. “I’m here and there is nothing you can do about it.” It is going to feel threatening and it makes sense that she assumes he has escalated to doing it in person now.

            1. JJ*

              Yes. YES. People who do this, I know some of you are just freaking out and trying to hang onto any connection you can, but THIS is the message you are sending. “You can’t get away from me and I will not respect your clear wishes” is a very scary message, particularly if OP is a man. Blocking is a very clear “do not contact me” message, she does not have to explicitly tell OP to leave her alone.

                1. Annony*

                  I agree ghosting is not great and it can lead to legitimate confusion. But in this case the OP says they were contacting her out of retaliation, not because they didn’t realize she didn’t want to be contacted.

                2. Kalros, the mother of all thresher maws*

                  I mean, ghosting may not be considerate, but it’s pretty clear. Someone who discontinues all contact with you and does not respond to your outreach attempts does not want continued contact with you. Any arguments to the contrary are wishful thinking.

                  LW tells us in plain language what he was hoping to achieve by this: to make himself visible, in retaliation.

                3. JJ*

                  Blocking IS a clear message though, which is what I was referring to. You do NOT owe it to someone who is harassing/scaring or even just annoying you to sit down and say “please leave me alone now”. No response is a response.

                4. PeanutButter*

                  But what is LW calling “ghosting”? I have been accused of “ghosting” because I did not respond to attempts to contact me after breaking up in person.

              1. Quill*

                I’ve had a stalker (not ex) do even more innocuous things to make sure that he was always visible in my brain space, such as turning up to group events and school clubs unexpectedly.

                The message is recieved no matter how trivial the conection may seem.

        3. Jh*

          Yeah… She ghosted him so really they both handled this terribly. I can imagine it’s tough being ghosted and trying to understand why and get an answer. Op didn’t handle it well as explained.

          Can’t really run from reality. It catches up with you. They need to either hash it out and be professional or continue acting like strangers…

          Ghosting is often necessary, I’ve done it when an ex was begging for us not to break up and he wouldn’t get the message, but there are consequences and a constant worry that person may show up again.

          Disappearing solves the issue temporarily but if you don’t handle it and run into each other again it’s nothing but problems.

          1. A Teacher*

            I know we aren’t supposed to second-guess question askers, but if this person thinks it was okay to harass their ex on multiple social media platforms (they outright say it was in retaliation, which, yikes, that’s really a bit beyond childish), then I’m gonna guess the ‘ghosting’ was self-preservation.

            1. Bluebirdie*

              Yeah, I strongly suspect there’s more backstory than OP suggests and would not be surprised if they’re less blameless than they claim. Regardless, OP needs to 1) grow up, fast, and realize that what they did was not only immature but frankly alarming, and 2) express to both their boss and ex that they intend to behave as a professional, and then actually do so.

            2. Velawciraptor*

              Exactly what I was thinking! Retaliation by social media and text harassment is stalker behavior. I spent the first few years of my career as a public defender defending clients in domestic violence cases and LW1 set off so many familiar alarm bells. He’s lucky he was merely blocked and not served with a restraining order (that we know of) or criminally charged for harassment (also to the best of our knowledge).

              The subtext here leads me to think that OP was ghosted because the ex (who I nearly called AV (alleged victim) because she sounds so much like the alleged victim in cases I’ve defended) didn’t feel safe leaving any other way. No matter how long ago the break-up was, having someone who felt the need to “retaliate” and harass her after the end of a relationship turn up in her workplace must be terrifying for her. Be polite and professional, but otherwise leave the poor woman the hell alone.

              I don’t know what state OP is in, so I won’t presume to offer legal advice, but I can safely say that if they’re not careful, this could end very badly for them. Like, criminal record, no longer allowed to own firearms pursuant to federal law badly.

            3. Georgina Fredricka*

              my read on this, which definitely could be wrong, is that they differed in perception on whether this was a relationship (as in, they would refer to the person as an “ex” but the ex in this story would probably say “someone I went on several dates with”) – especially because texting the person about how much their “friendship” meant to you is odd. It’s also unusual, if you’re in a serious relationship, to not already be friends with the person on social media in the first place (though of course it happens) – way more common in the beginning stages of dating not to have that info.

              It’s also WAY more common to get ghosted when you’re semi-dating as opposed to being in an established relationship, though of course, there are exceptions.

              1. Eukomos*

                Agreed, usually when you ghost someone the relationship hasn’t gone far enough for them to be considered an ex afterward, at least for adults. Either OP got way too attached too fast, or she took extraordinarily strong steps to distance herself during the breakup for some reason. In either case OP doesn’t come off as super rational and needs to make extra effort to behave like a polite, respectful, professional adult towards this woman (and everyone else, realistically) going forward.

            4. Morning Flowers*

              I’m glad I’m not the only one thinking this. I think ghosting is rude and even cruel when not called for … and sometimes, it’s the safest, smartest way to get away from a person you’ve become afraid of, and it IS called for. OP, try to look at things from her POV during and after your relationship. It sounds to me like she has good reason to be afraid of you, and your downplaying your bad behavior is probably the least of it. :-/

            5. Elizabeth West*

              That was my suspicion as well. If it were one message on one platform, I’d blow it off unless it contained threats. But all of them? Yish.

              The OP had better be prepared to get on top of this. If there is any chance they can’t behave in a professional manner around their ex, or if the breakup behavior was so egregious that the company would choose one employee over the other, they should also prepare for the possibility it won’t be them.

            6. Alice's Rabbit*

              That was my thought as well. I haven’t had to ghost many people. But the crazy ex who tried to manipulate me into having sex with him,then tried to force me, and then stalked me at home and school? Yeah, him I ghosted. I also went to the school’s honor code enforcement, and reported his behavior. After a brief investigation, he was told to take a one year leave from the school, at which point he could try reapplying. He apparently showed up for his in-person interview the following year in a stained t-shirt, torn jeans, with long hair and beard both dirty and unkempt. He was not readmitted.
              When he showed up at my house again, I let my cousin verbally unleash her anger management issues on him. Only verbally, don’t worry.
              It took years until he stopped harassing me online and in person, and occasionally he still sends messages via a clueless mutual friend who just refuses to see his issues and can’t understand why I want nothing to do with him. I’ve stopped spending time with her over the years, as well.

          2. Elena*

            I’m also wondering if he was actually ghosted. I’ve dated two guys where I ended things (directly and clearly), and when they tried to keep contacting me, I didn’t respond. They told me I was ghosting them and upped the level of contact to such a degree I had to block them. Not saying this is what happened of course, but just from his short letter the OP seems to have a habit of twisting normal situations into one where he is the petulant victim. And also, I’m a bit suspicious he just “happened” to end up working at his ex’s workplace. For someone who admitted to blowing up her social media, it wouldn’t be hard to learn where she worked.

          3. Caliente*

            Yeah but we don’t know where things went before she ghosted. I know I’ve BROKEN UP with someone with all the talk and explanations (as is those are needed, but ya know, trying to be nice) before resorting to “ghosting”. So your ghosting might be my I told you this five times and I’m frigging done. We all know what certain people are like when you don’t want to see them any more.

          4. Yvette*

            “Ghosting is often necessary, I’ve done it when an ex was begging for us not to break up and he wouldn’t get the message, but there are consequences and a constant worry that person may show up again.” But to me that isn’t really ghosting. You had the break-up conversation. I always took ghosting as things appear fine and suddenly phone calls are not returned, unfriended, numbers blocked etc. out of what appears to be nowhere as far as the person getting ghosted can tell. No fight no “This isn’t working out conversation”, nothing. As someone else said somewhere, not having interaction with someone after you break up is fine and normal. Especially if it is someone you wouldn’t come into contact with otherwise.
            No one has to “just be friends” with anyone they don’t want to.

            1. Sparrow*

              Right, it’s NOT ghosting. But that doesn’t mean the person being broken up with sees it that way. If they refuse to accept the break up and continue to feel entitled to that person’s time and attention, they would likely tell themselves that the person who (very reasonably) went no-contact was ghosting them, when in fact they’ve left the person no choice. Obviously we don’t know what took place, but that does happen (and if it was the case here, it’s particularly important that OP be proactive about addressing the situation and behaving with utmost professionalism, because the ex is probably quite wary of them).

              1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

                Alison does ask us to take letter writers at face value, so when LW #1 says they were ghosted, that’s the context we have to work with.

                Advice gets a lot easier when you can assume whatever mala fide is necessary to make a problem fit a comfortable answer instead of vice versa.

                1. Arts Akimbo*

                  Yes, but going by the LW’s own account, what they did in response to said ghosting is alarming. Their own account of their own behavior is what is raising these questions.

                2. Allonge*

                  But it’s disingenious to ignore the additional context, where quite a lot of people quite often use the term ghosting for situations other than ‘my SO dropped off the face of the Earth’. OP thinks they were ghosted, but in fact may not have been listening to / believing the explicit breakup. In which case they are like thousands of other people, but could use a reality check about this.

                  And of course it does not matter that much for their next steps. let’s say the ex ghosted. So what? They still need to behave civilly at their new place. It’s still awkward.

                3. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

                  And of course it does not matter that much for their next steps. let’s say the ex ghosted. So what? They still need to behave civilly at their new place. It’s still awkward.

                  Exactly; proving OP wasn’t really ghosted doesn’t change anything. The options are still: find a modus vivendi with ex and keep the job or find a new job.

                4. biobotb*

                  So you want people to totally believe that the LW was ghosted, but then ignore his description of “retaliating” to being broken up with? Contacting someone to see if they’re OK when they ghost you would be understandable, because when you’re ghosted, by definition you don’t know that’s what’s happening at first. But the LW knew he’d been broken up with when he contacted her through every possible social media channel, so the term “ghosting” doesn’t totally fit–based on *his own* description of the situation.

                5. Batgirl*

                  Taking him at face value, their was relationship was “a friendship” by the time he was harassing her and he already understood there was “a break up” and he was contacting her “in retaliation”. It’s not shock, or fear for her wellbeing.
                  I believe that he was ‘ghosted’ but it really seems to be the type of ghosting you see coming and yet still won’t accept. It matters, because pouting over someone’s right to end contact is immature at best and stalker territory at worst.

        4. Aquawoman*

          Texting and repeatedly sending friend requests to someone who you know does not want to communicate with you is hostile. We also don’t know how much texting there was. We know it was enough that she felt moved to block him. He looks at it as “childish,” but she didn’t have the benefit of knowing whether it was petty or Act I in having a stalker. Given that he gave her Act I of being a stalker, I would not at all be surprised that she was freaked out by him showing up at her workplace, which could be Act II of being a stalker. Why does he get all of the benefit of the doubt when he did all of the bad behavior?

          1. LTL*

            This would make more sense if they had a traditional break up. She ghosted him so I don’t find the fact that he tried to reach out to her to be particularly telling.

            1. Artemesia*

              Years ago I broke up with a guy after a few months of dating; pre internet. He told friends I just ‘dumped him with no warning and didn’t even tell him just stopped talking to him.’ When a guy acts like an agrieved stalker and claims he was ghosted I am dubious. Even if she did ghost him (as opposed to broke up and then refused further contact), his behavior was creepy. He admits he did this to ‘retaliate’. He isn’t the good guy here. His only play is to reassure his boss and her ONCE that he intends to be professional and the to be so if he can. But I would assume if the boss is any good that he is on thin ice until he demonstrates that he can be professional and not let any of this impact his behavior on the job.

              1. LTL*

                Abusers make a lot of claims. But I’m not going to assume LW is saying he got ghosted when he didn’t.

                Yeah, his behavior was bad. But we don’t know if this was a “I did something stupid a week after we ended, I spent 5 minutes sending some texts and friend requests cause I was mad” or “after I saw she wasn’t going to contact anymore, I continuously send friend requests and messages for a week, until I was blocked.” It’s bad either way but I wouldn’t call the former stalking.

                By all means, tell LW the perception and why his behavior is troublesome. But there’s too much missing information to make assumptions about him.

        5. LunaLena*

          Yeah, no. It doesn’t have to be threatening to be harassment. When I broke up with one particular ex he did everything and anything he could to keep his foot in the door. There were days when I would come home from work to find 30+ IMs and over a dozen emails from burner accounts. And that was just on my personal communications – social media wasn’t a thing back then, but he also joined every online community he knew I was a part of, even if he had no interest in them himself, and tried to ingratiate himself with my friends. None of this was threatening, but the sheer volume and persistence was exhausting and was enough to break me over time – it took almost two years of this before my friends eventually persuaded him to stop, and then I lived in fear for another year or so that it was going start up again in a week or two (because this had also happened several times – he would swear he was going to leave me alone as requested, but a few days later he would be back, saying I was his “drug addiction” or that he “sensed” that I was “missing and longing for him” and just wanted to check that I was okay).

          Him showing up in person unexpectedly was my greatest fear for those three years, even after I moved halfway across the country and changed my phone number. It was so bad that a mutual friend whom he was very close with even consulted me about inviting him to his college graduation party, because the friend was worried my ex would use it as an excuse to try to contact me again.

    2. LTL*

      I don’t understand why people are giving the LW such a hard time. Yes, his behavior wasn’t great but he was ghosted. That’s not an excuse but it sounds like he was treated poorly and reacted in a bad way, not that he’s harassing his poor, innocent ex, which seems to be the tone of the comments. And while sending friend requests is a bad move, it doesn’t rise to the level of harassment.

      I strongly suspect that the tone of the comments is due to the OP being a man and his ex being a woman, which is causing people to fill in a storyline that isn’t in the letter. Could OP be leaving things out? It’s possible I suppose but we have no evidence of that. We’re supposed to take the letter writers at their word.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        The OP is getting a lot of criticism because he fairly blithely notes that he tried to “retaliate” against someone for breaking up with him.

        I’ve noticed a sort of “gotcha” theme in some comments asserting that gender is playing a role here, but the reality is that there’s a far greater incidence of frightening rejection-related harassment/stalking/violence from men, and responsible men need to understand their behavior will be received through that lens. That’s the reality of it. We don’t have to pretend that’s not the case.

        1. Diahann Carroll*

          THANK YOU. Your second paragraph is spot-on. The minimization of OP’s admitted troubling behavior from some of the posters here is mind-boggling.

        2. LTL*

          Gender dynamics are absolutely important but there are places that a double standard is warranted and places where it just highlights the issues society has further.

          I agree with your advice Alison and it’s important that we look at how things look to LW’s ex and it makes sense if she’s worried. But I take some issue with how the commentators are making assumptions about LW which is a separate issue and if some of it is due to gender dynamics, it’s hugely counterproductive.

          1. JJ*

            What we know about the girlfriend is she “ghosted” and then seemed worried/frightened when OP showed back up after OP was admittedly harassing her. Friend-requesting on every platform until she has to block you to make you stop is harassment. That’s why people are treating her as a “poor, innocent ex”. I don’t think it’s a big leap to assume behavior like OP’s either led her to feel ghosting was the best option to get out of the relationship, or that she DID break up with them then cut off contact, and OP is characterizing it as ghosting because they’re hurt and playing the victim.

            It’s totally possible that she really did ghost and doesn’t feel bad about it, but even if she did, OP’s behavior is not acceptable.

      2. A Teacher*

        But…sending friend requests across multiple platforms DOES rise to the level of harassment. Especially when the OP has said it was out of retaliation, not, for example, concern that the ex had suddenly disappeared off the face of the earth. (And the fact that the OP does not say that they were concerned that their ex suddenly disappeared, but rather that they decided to retaliate, makes it clear to me that the OP KNEW further communication was unwanted.)

      3. Fashionable Pumpkin*

        as a queer woman, I would say this Behavior would alarm me just as much coming from a woman as it would from a man. I’m not even sure LW is a man. It shouldn’t change any of the callouts about the harassing nature of sending a barrage of social media requests or messages that are so clearly unwanted.

        Furthermore, if letter writer is a woman, that could make things even more difficult for the ex, because she may not be out at work, and harassment from women is off and downplayed, which it really should not be.

        ( as an aside, I question that this is really an ex-girlfriend and not just someone that letter-writer went on a few dates with. In my experience, if you have been in a relationship with someone, you generally are friends on at least some social media platforms, and know where one another work)

        1. Working Hypothesis*

          As a queer woman who has been abused violently and then stalked by a female ex, I’d definitely be just as frightened by this behavior from a woman as I would from a man. Domestic abuse and stalking are just as common in the queer community as they are among straight people… and while the former does seem to be somewhat more common from men to women than vice versa (we don’t know how much because we know that DV by women against men is badly underreported), stalking mostly isn’t. It’s more often *dangerous* from men to women than the other way around, but not more prevalent.

          We do a disservice to a lot of victims when we automatically see these things as only something men do to women.

          1. Arts Akimbo*

            Yeah… I’ve had one stalker and she was a woman. But, again, like with man-on-woman abuse, height/weight differential came into play– she was much bigger than me and could have done me serious physical damage. Mostly it was just psychological torture though, and the utter, repeated disregard of my no. And yet my friends KEPT inviting her to stuff because she was new in town and didn’t have many friiiiieeeeeeeends, and she was abuuuuuused as a teen, why are you so meeeeeeeeean, Arts Akimbo????? Woman-on-woman abuse can be singularly abetted by people who don’t want to recognize the threat women can pose.

            1. Working Hypothesis*

              Yeah. My female abuser was also bigger than the average man, and therefore a whole lot bigger and stronger than me. I know that’s by no means always the case — abusers of any gender can do their partners substantial physical damage simply by being meaner and less hesitant about lashing out — but it was true in my case nonetheless.

              I definitely understand and sympathize with your situation where they wouldn’t stop inviting her to things. I lost most of a social circle because it was centered around music and my abuser was a better performer than I was, so nobody wanted to see her go. It’s kind of amazing how *many* things people can find to prioritize over declaring firmly that it’s not okay to hurt people who love and trust you.

          2. Fashionable Pumpkin*

            I’m so sorry that happened to you. I’ve only had a female partner get violent with someone else while I was in the room (she grabbed her similar-aged family member in a way that could have killed the relative, had I not pulled her off. She accidentally elbowed me in the face as I did so, but never intentionally tried to hurt me). I suppose I ghosted her by not answering an initial apology email, because I was so shocked by it all. She then sent a really angry email calling me judgmental and accusing me of not understanding her family dynamics (the dynamic, she explained, was that she and her relation often got physical in fights, so it was normal).
            I also dated a woman who never got violent with me, but had previously physically abused a male partner, and went on to abuse another male partner.
            Women can behave in frightening and violent ways, and I would like to see the sterotype that fights between women are merely harmless cat-fights, or that women can’t pose a danger to grown men, be done away with.

      4. JB (not in Houston)*

        Sending *a* friend request is not harassment in most contexts. Sending a friend request to all of her social media accounts is. Criminal statutes often define harassment in relation to repeated unwanted contact, and the common non-legal definition includes persistent behavior. So whatever your personal definition of harassment is, it’s out of line with the recognized definition of it. And here the OP even acknowledged that he was doing this in retaliation, which should tell you that he knew his behavior was excessive and would be perceived as something other than a friendly attempt at one last chance to stay in touch.

      5. Batgirl*

        It meets the definition of harrassment pretty much anywhere! Wouldnt have to be a man either; the harassing messages are plenty of evidence. That’s without the OP’s own admission it was being done for retaliation! Just because the OP is all “aw shucks I was childish” doesn’t make it any less illegal or scary for the victim. Most stalkers think they’re caught up in a situation nobody could resist behaving badly in.

    3. Jossycakes*

      I’m going to read all 42 replies but immediately need to say BINGO. OP behaved very badly and then behaved badly at the new job. It is harassment and I’d be incredibly uncomfortable too.

  2. Ludo*

    For letter #1 I’m curious if they went on a couple dates or if they were an actual couple

    Pretty horrible of her to ghost someone she was in a real relationship with, if that’s the case.

    1. Heidi*

      Hopefully they didn’t live together for 3 years before she moved out and left the country while he was away. I still think about that one sometimes. It was messed up.

      1. boo bot*

        I still tell people that story (and where to find it!) because I will never stop being appalled by it. He’s like, “she was so crazy, she even called my parents!” Yeah, she thought he was DEAD.

    2. PollyQ*

      If she ended the relationship that way, then yeah. But if they broke up, and then she ghosted him, I’d say it’s her choice and there’s nothing wrong with it.

      1. Dan*

        I’ve stopped trying to think that hard about the various degrees of ghosting. The reality it is, it sucks to get broken up with, and we all have our reasons (justifiable or not) for the choices we make. When one is dumped, one is best off accepting it and moving on.

        1. 'Tis Me*

          It’s a reference to the letter that led me to this site – somebody broke up with somebody under those circumstances – IIRC she was travelling for work, came home, and he had moved to another country – and that was how he let her know things were over (no note, no forwarding address, no explanation). So of course she reached out to his family to find out WTF because for all she knew he was dead in a ditch somewhere. He initially acted like this was her being a stalkery drama queen before revealing the extent of their relationship… Several years later he accepted a new job, only to discover she was going to be his new boss (hence writing here). It blew up somewhat, and he was astonished and put out that his letter was published in full.

          1. GammaGirl1908*

            And don’t forget, they then asked him to hold to some very reasonable guidelines about behavior while working with her (don’t discuss her with others behind her back, avoid being alone with her, etc.), and he quit in a snit.

            In his update here, he pouted about having “lost” his job, like it was his employer’s fault. Ummmm, no. You resigned. Of your own volition.

            He was a piece of work, that one. It was no wonder that karma was barreling toward him at highway speed.

            1. Courtney*

              I went looking for an update and didn’t have much luck – could you please let me know the title of the piece or the name OP posted under so I can see it?

                1. Akcipitrokulo*

                  OP1 – I hope this works out for you. It might help, in addition to what Alison said, to consider how this appeared to your ex, and factor this in to your talks at work.

                  What you describe doing could have been considered stalking. I get you don’t see it that way; an alternate frame of reference could have seen it as “even after I cut off all contact he still wouldn’t leave me alone and kept trying to contact me”.

                  Acknowledging this and reassuring manager – and ex – that this won’t happen again will help your situation.

                2. Insert Clever Name Here*

                  My previous comment with the link is stuck in moderation, but if you search “ghosted updated” on the search bar, it should come up. It was in September 2017.

          2. Quill*

            Ghosting when you have no shared obligations other than a planned coffee date: potentially rude but in reality often done when a hint is not enough.

            Ghosting and leaving your live in partner with the rent: Heinous.

        1. OhGee*

          ^^^ I have a lot to say about this post, but it all boils down to what you just said. Ghosting sucks, but if you realize you’re dating someone who bullies you about your decisions, it can be a lot less terrifying to just cut off contact.

      2. stellina*

        I read the letter before having my coffee, so maybe I missed it, but I think OP1 doesn’t state their gender. The ex is “she”, but the OP didn’t give this information.

          1. Amaranth*

            I just find it interesting that quite a few commenters automatically slid into the assumption that someone behaving badly or aggressively is a man .

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              They assumed that because statistically speaking, someone dating a woman is much more likely to be a woman, not because of his behavior. (He is, in fact, a man.)

              1. Matte*

                We can only say that because statistically speaking, we don’t track abuse and violence against men by women, and men are far less likely to report it or have it taken seriously. Some data analysis I follow track domestic abuse against men is equal to that of women because of the extreme lack of data and reporting. So I don’t agree that this is really a fair assumption you can make because we don’t have sufficient data.

                1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  If you really think that men experience the same amount of post-rejection violence as women, you are living somewhere very different than I am.

                  But the comment you’re replying to isn’t talking about that. It says that a woman’s ex is more likely to be a man.

            2. c-*

              In the context of a bad breakup? You bet, it’s a pattern for a reason (that reason is societal mysoginia).

              Anyone of any gender and orientation can be a creep, but let’s not lose sight of the fact that A LOT of the violence and harassment that happens in or after romantic relationships is done by men to women. That’s a pattern we need to take into account.

      3. Traffic_Spiral*

        It’s not ghosting if you break up and then go no-contact. That’s just standard break up behavior. I think that’s what he’s talking about here.

        I mean, he says “it was all about what her friendship meant to me,” and not “it was all about not knowing why she had disappeared.” That strongly implies his anger was about her refusal to stay “friends” after the breakup, as opposed to hurt and confusion that she disappeared rather than have an actual break up.

        Also, considering that he apparently wasn’t on all her social media already I don’t think they were together for that long. So… yeah – I’m gonna put this more on the “angry stalker ex” side than the “guy who disappeared on his ex by leaving the country” side.

        1. snowglobe*

          Thank you for saying that it’s not ghosting if you stop communicating after a break-up. I keep seeing ‘ghosting’ applied to situations where it definitely is not that. Ghosting is when you are in a relationship, and the other person suddenly stops communicating without warning. If they tell you they are breaking up, then you have received notice the relationship has ended. Not ghosting.

          1. The Original K.*

            Totally agree. Cutting off contact post-breakup (like, “I hereby break up with you,” the other person hears and receives that, and then y’all never talk again) – is not ghosting. I believe that no contact after a breakup (where possible) is the best way to get past it; the breakup tends to take better that way, in my experience. I have said expressly “Let’s not talk for a while” after breakups.

          2. Anon for this*

            I had a guy make an excuse to get out of a date by telling me he had an asthma attack and he had to go to the hospital. Then he ghosted me.

            My frantic barrage of texts was more along the “is he among the living?” variety than frantic stalking variety, and my subsequent efforts to confirm that he was not dead weren’t meant to get in touch with him, so much as to assuage my guilt that agreeing to go on the date may have led to his demise. Now that I know he lives, he’s my hilarious lol this guy faked his death to get out of a date story. I don’t know how I would react if I walked into a room and saw him, but I’d probably immediately turn around and walk back out and say no thank you, because I have no desire to experience being around for his second resurrection.

            This does not sound like that, though. In a workplace, ignoring a coworker is a deliberate slight, so even if you’re ignoring someone outside of work, you have to be civil to them at work.

          3. Artemesia*

            It also depends on the length of the relationship. I have had guys ‘ghost’ after a few dates and have done the same. If you decide not to go forward then you don’t have to ‘break up’ with someone you don’t have a long standing committed relationship with. He asks me out a few times; he decides not to ask me out any more. That is not really ‘ghosting’, that is just his right to not continue asking me out. Just as my not staying in contact with someone I am not interested in is appropriate. No one needs a reason to break up. If it is a long standing relationship then one should tell the other person it is over — but not further contact or discussion is necessary. The only ‘reason’ you need is ‘I’m done.’

        2. JJ*

          This was my read as well. Plus, whenever someone uses “my ex” instead of “an ex” or “my most recent ex” it sounds like they’re pretty inexperienced and maybe also young to me, hence the inappropriate dramatics.

        3. Krabby*

          Yep, that was my take as well: she didn’t ghost the relationship, she ghosted his request for friendship afterward.

        4. Malory Archer*

          I dated a guy like this, and you hit the nail on he head. After I broke up with him – which involved a lot of crying and pleading on his end – he pulled some similar stunts, like messaging me about how much I meant to him and how much he cared about me, blah blah across my social media, and it was really all part of his attempts to win me back. I ended up blocking him everywhere and going no contact, but he took huge offense to it and still followed me around at social events of mutual friends.

          Unfortunately, LW reads quite a bit like him, and I wouldn’t blame the ex if she’s shaken. I hope that these comments are enlightening and helpful for LW to grow and see that this behavior is problematic.

          1. Quill*

            Oh, I was suddenly reminded of senior year of college’s “guy who wanted to date me” who turned up at my doorstep without a coat in a snowstorm because “he’d missed me so much” over winter break and the fact that I chucked a tea bag and a paper cup at him and told him he could sit in the lounge until his brain thawed, because I had thesis to work on.

          2. LunaLena*

            I posted my story about a stalker ex above, but just wanted to +1 you since your account tallies almost exactly with mine (except mine happened pre-social media).

        5. Alanna*

          In the same vein, it *is* ghosting if you stop talking to someone after a few dates, but “a person I went on a few dates with and it didn’t work out” is not your “ex,” and referring to them that way is a pretty major red flag in and of itself, imo.

        1. tangerineRose*

          I wouldn’t, but the OP has shown some questionable judgment, so that makes some of us wonder if the OP’s use of “ghosted” is different than the conventional use.

          1. AJH*

            It is; see his own comment below). As far as I can tell they started as friends, dated, it didn’t work out, they split up and continued as friends and then she stopped responding to emails.

      1. Amaranth*

        The phrasing that OP is surprised to ‘be in the room’ struck me as a bit odd, it might just be a manner of speech but my first interpretation was ‘darn, I didn’t expect to see her the first day’ rather than ‘she’s at the same company.’ I can’t put my finger on why the post feels disingenuous.

        1. DataGirl*

          OP said he’s in the medical field- the hospital system I work for has nearly 40,000 employees. If he’s working at a hospital as opposed to say, a private medical practice then it’s quite possible he thought he might never run in to her. As an example, let’s say she’s a Peds nurse and he was hired as a transporter in the ER, he might have thought it would be fine, only to walk into a room to move a patient and find she’s floating to the ER and in the patient’s room providing care. Not excusing his behavior after they broke up or saying that it’s not possible he took the job hoping to run into her, just saying it’s possible he’s on the level when he says he didn’t expect they’d ever be in the same room.

    3. Nanani*

      Sometimes the person who says “ex ghosted me” is omitting a LOT of times when their ex broke up with them and they just didn’t listen.
      We have no way of knowing but please keep in mind the possibility that she ghosted him as a safety measure. It’s very common advice given to people trying to escape a partner who is bad for them.

  3. Sue*

    #1, I’m going to assume that the breakup was some time ago or that your ex is also a new employee. Otherwise, if this is the job she had when you were together, there is no way this is going to be a good situation for you.
    I would try to speak to her briefly but she may not allow it. But I think you should definitely speak to your manager asap. If your ex is fearful of you, your job is in jeopardy. She could even seek a restraining order if she felt you were harassing or stalking her.

    1. MK*

      She could seek it, but restraining orders are not issued based on feelings. Unless the OP grossly misrepresented their own behaviour after the breakup, there is no stalking or harassment in the legal sense and she would be wasting her money asking for one.

      I agree the OP should be concerned, not because of anything dramatic like stalking charges, but because employers don’t want a soap opera playing out in their office.

      1. Sue*

        I work in the courts and in my jurisdiction, if she has asked him to stop after repeated attempts to contact her and now he shows up at her workplace, this could well end up as a Petition for an Anti-harrassment Order. They are done pro se and we see stuff like this all the time. After a hearing, the Order may be denied if there is a reasonable defense but it is not a farfetched scenario.

  4. NotALawyer*

    In Canada the law is that you have to give reasonable notice to leave a job, which is usually two weeks. Your employment contract can have a requirement for written notice.

    Reasonable notice can be given over the phone, but this means that there is no official record of that you filled the requirement, so it is just good practice for both you and your employer to have it in writing so there is a record.

    1. NotALawyer*

      I should also mention that you can be sued for wrongful resignation in Canada if you don’t give proper notice and if you are, it’s hard to prove that you did when it was just a phone call.

      1. Donna*

        Just FYI that it’s very difficult to be sued for wrongful resignation. It’s like if you’re the CEO and quit with 2 week’s notice. A regular employee can quit, even with no notice, and they’re fine. The question is how badly the business is affected by the quitting and it’s a *very* high bar to meet. “We don’t staff appropriately so underpaid IT guy is the only one who can maintain our servers” doesn’t cut it.

        1. Amber Rose*

          Seriously. I’ve ghosted whole jobs before, and I’ve worked in places where people have done the same or quit same day. At a certain level employers expect this kind of thing.

          After all, a job isn’t slavery. Regardless of what the employer wants, if you don’t want to work somewhere you can stop.

      2. Greenfordanger*

        In most Canadian jurisdictions, notice of termination is required from either the employer or employee – depending upon who’s terminating. THe amount of notice is usually tied to the length of service. If notice is not given the employer must pay the employee an amount equal to the pay the employee would have earned if they had continued to work through the notice period. If the employee does not give notice the employer is entitled to deduct an amount equal to what the employee would have been paid, usually for a period of one week although that varies. Most jurisdictions requires the employees consent to that deduction and if they don’t consent the employer can pay the amount to the Employment Standards Act who will sort out the disagreement. I don’t think that any jurisdiction has legislation requiring notice to be given in writing although employers will often put in in their contracts. However, a court will usually find that a clear statement of resignation or termination fixes the date of termination of employment. Usually when someone is sued for resigning without notice there are also other heads of damages.

    2. Nessun*

      Our process (1000+ employees across Canada) has always been that a letter is required for the file when someone is resigning, but it can be an email sent as a follow up to the conversation with their boss. If someone doesn’t send a letter, we ask for one while they finish out their time; most give 2 weeks notice in the conversation with the boss, so the letter might not literally say “2 weeks from today”, it just says when their last day will be.

      1. Shhhh*

        This was the process at my last job – I had a conversation with my boss, he talked to HR (it was the first time he had one of his direct reports leave, so he needed to double check the procedure), and they had me send an email to him with my last day, which he forwarded to HR.

        1. Krabby*

          Yep, I’m in Canada and that’s my understanding as well. It’s just best for both parties to get it in writing so that no one can come back and say, “I never resigned! You need to pay me in lieu of notice,” or, “You never resigned or gave us notice, so we’re not giving you a reference!”

    3. AcademiaNut*

      That was what I was coming here to say. In Canada employers are required to give notice (or severance in lieu of notice) when laying off or firing employees, and employees are required to give notice when leaving a job.

      If you walk off a job with no notice, you can be sued. The chances of being sued are extremely low for most jobs – a quick search turns up case studies for high level execs and salespeople, rather than random employees. But it will burn bridges more thoroughly than it would in the US, where there is no legal obligation.

      Given that, I can see why employers would want a written (or emailed) notice of resignation, for documentation.

      1. This is She*

        Totally correct, except it’s important to note that employers need only give notice and/or severance when firing ‘without cause’, meaning the employee is not at fault. If the employee is being ‘terminated with cause’ (e.g. violence, theft) they are owed nothing more than their outstanding wages, to be paid within 48 hours.

    4. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      Similar in the UK.

      “By letter” may have been misunderstood by the LW. I think “in writing” is more likely, which includes email.

      1. Ama*

        Yes, I suspect this is it — I handle a lot of items that have to be documented in writing (often on official letterhead), and I still have to always specify when I give the instructions “on letterhead, email attachment is fine” because we do still have people who see “letterhead” and think they have to print and snail mail it.

    5. allathian*

      It’s similar in Finland, where I am. There’s even a letter template in our HR system. In the private sector, the notice period is usually 1-3 months for subject-matter specialists, in the public sector they tend to be longer.

    6. Maddy*

      Also note that each province has it’s own labour board so it’s best to check on there what the length of notice that is required.

      1. Kathlynn (canada)*

        This, because in my province there isn’t an automatic obligation for notice. Just the social standards to do so. I’ve had a boss get mad at me for only giving 5 days notice. (this company was shit. But I was also getting off a night shift at 10pm and starting my new job at 6am in the morning)

        It also depends on your contract, seniority, and other factors. (which at my level as a cashier, means no boss is going to sue me for not giving notice.)

    7. Minnielle*

      In Germany the law states that a resignation has to be written and on paper. Any other forms, such as email, are not valid. After the probation (during which you need to give 2 weeks notice) the minimum by law is 4 weeks notice. In most jobs you have to give 3 months notice and I even had a job where I had to give 6 months notice! It’s so weird for me that in the US you could just leave and never come back.

      1. Lily Rowan*

        Do people typically have a conversation with their supervisor first, or is it really just sending someone (handing them?) a letter?

        1. Minnielle*

          Typically you talk to your supervisor first and then give/send your resignation letter to the HR (or your supervisor). It would be pretty rude not to talk to your supervisor first.

        2. londonedit*

          In the UK it’s the same. I’m actually not sure if there are any stipulations about resigning ‘in writing’ but many companies do have that policy just for official records – but you absolutely don’t resign by slapping a letter on your boss’s desk. You speak to your boss first, and then they’ll usually ask you to confirm in writing. And it doesn’t need to be a ‘letter of resignation’ or anything that dramatic – just ‘I am writing to confirm that following our conversation on 10 September 2020, my last day at Company X will be 9 October 2020’. Most people would add a line about thanking the boss/company for the opportunity and wishing them well, but you definitely don’t have to do a whole ‘I am hereby formally resigning from my job’ thing.

      2. Artemesia*

        But you cannot be fired and walked out the door as is the norm in the US either. Americans have zero job security in most jobs.

      3. Gumby*

        That’s okay, to me it is weird that they can *force* you to stay at a job you no longer want to do. Sure, job security is a pretty good trade off. But… What if a parent has a major health issue and I need to move to their area ASAP? What if a former co-worker is about to launch a start up and asks me to join and it is too good of an opportunity to pass up? What if I worked for one of the more horrible, toxic workplaces that end up in letters to AAM – and now I have to stay there another half a year?!?!?!

        Plus, I am not sold on the idea of working with people for so long who are checked out of my company. The opportunities for intellectual property theft alone… I work in early-ish stage R&D; it wouldn’t have to be malicious, planned IP theft, but in 6 months you’ll learn about any advances that we make in the meantime and it isn’t like you will forget them when you start working for our competitor. Or worse, you are in charge of a project and you have an idea of the best way to move forward but you know you are moving on so you don’t try that path yet; you decide you’ll hold back and try it on a similar project at your future employer. Even w/o IP concerns a mentally checked out co-worker may be prone to things like slower responses, slippage in work quality, etc.

        Point being, we’re all most comfortable with what we know. But to an outsider another system is going to sound weird and confining.

        1. Minnielle*

          Yes, I’m not trying to judge, it’s just very different.

          6 months was definitely too much and it’s also very rare. Now I wouldn’t sign a contract requiring 6 months notice but it was my first job after graduating and I was quite desperate. Basically they were trying to prevent people from leaving but the fluctuation was high anyway (how about treating people well so that they want to stay instead of trying to make it hard to leave?). Those 6 months were not very productive for me because I was basically just waiting to leave. My new employer even offered to pay the old employer so that they would let me leave earlier but the old employed didn’t agree to that as they were afraid that everyone else would start doing that too. They even sent me to a new project during those last months instead of letting me wrap up things and make handovers to my coworkers.

          But 3 months makes a lot of sense in most higher-level jobs. It gives you enough time to train someone else to do your job and to finish most things you have started or to hand them over to someone else. I don’t really think it makes a lot of difference from an IP point of view because whatever you have learnt during your time there, you will basically take with you anyway. Also now being a manager myself, it’s nice to know that my employees can’t just quit and never come back. Okay, they could also die and not have a chance for any handovers or trainings but the probability of that happening is much lower than just someone quitting.

        2. Zweisatz*

          You can agree in writing with your employer that you can leave (terminating the contract) earlier than the notice period. But the company has to agree.

          As for working together so long: Accrued vacation and overtime is usually used in this period, so people often aren’t there the whole three months, but are still payed because they are using up the vacation time.

    8. waffles*

      Another Canadian here. I think most employers require notice in writing. What I have usually done is write up a letter and bring it with me when I’m resigning in person (pre-COVID, of course). The employer will always ask for it anyways, so it’s good to have it ready. It just has to be a short letter saying that you resign effective x date.

      It makes it easier to ensure that the person you have resigned to passes on the details accurately to HR. I have also heard (but can’t tell you if this is true or not) that it protects the employer from having an employee resign and then later say that it was a joke or something, if the employee changes her mind.

      1. CaptainoftheNoFunDepartment*

        Required notice in Canada is usually regulated provincially unless you’re in a federally regulated industry. Employers can also require notice as specified in an employment agreement and certainly things like a good reference can depend on giving notice. It’s with noting that vacation accrual balances (especially if you only get the minimum amount) are required to be paid out whether notice is given or not. Most provinces also require vacation agreed to beyond the minimum is so paid out.

        1. Krabby*

          That’s a good point. Also, it’s been a while since I dealt with walking someone out when they give notice, but I’m pretty sure that they continue to get paid for the duration of the notice they gave even if they’re not working, as well as accruing vacation. You need to fire them if you want to stop paying them before their given notice period ends, but you need to start the notice period from when you tell them that (which usually covers the period of their notice anyway). IANAL, though.

          Anyway, long story short, Canadian employees are a lot more protected than Americans. At-will employment is insane to me.

        2. Chinook*

          The vacation accrual is paid out because is part of yournoayand belongs to the employee and not the employer, so withholding it woukd be stealing. Ditto for vested pension benefits. I remember there being blowback when a psychopath colonel in the Canadian forces was fired for the murder and assaults but got his pension. Of course he did – he had worked for decades and paid into it. Being a psychopath doesn’t give your employer the right to steal from you. Plus, it meant more money was available to be sued for by victims and their families.

          BTW, he is like Voldemort – no one who knows the story wishes to repeat his name because he deserves to be forgotten but it is a great example of which part of your benefits leave with you when you leave a job in Canada.

    9. Feline Fine*

      At my place of employment (I am Canadian), written notice is required. As a manager, I simply tell my team to send me an e-mail with the particulars so that I have something to forward to HR. I think it’s good practice to cover your butt.

    10. LW4*

      LW4 here. It was just a part-time cashiering job at a grocery store, but they said they wouldn’t accept notice over the phone so it had to be as a letter, and they didn’t give me an email to send it too. Since I worked maybe 8 hours a week only on certain days, it was a pain to have my two weeks not start until I could go to the store in person. They then also started to schedule me for more shifts on days I couldn’t work, as I was a student at the time, in my last two weeks.

    11. MCMonkeyBean*

      Yeah, I would interpret this to mean “we will mark the date of notice down as the date we receive the official documentation” rather than “if you tell us over the phone then you’re not allowed to leave” or something. In which case this seems in line with what I would normally do anyway: type up your letter of resignation, give notice (in person usually but over the phone if you have to like I assume most people do right now in particular) and then hand them (or email them) the letter that you already have ready.

  5. Observer*

    I guessed that since she ghosted me, that meant that I was someone she never knew so I didn’t acknowledge her.

    That’s just such a weird leap that most people are going to read that as an excuse to be rude. And make no mistake – not acknowledging her WAS rude.

    When you talk to your boss you need to reassure her that you will not continue this rudeness – and MEAN it. No one is interested in you acting like you are best buds (if fact I’m sure your ex wants that to NOT happen), nor is the office the place to bring up your shared history. But rudeness is a different story. No sensible manager wants to invite that into the workplace. So it’s on you to be able to reassure your manager that you are not going to make life uncomfortable for everyone by being noticeably rude.

    1. RB*

      Yeah, this sentence made me question their whole story. I tend to be overly skeptic but I’m not buying it 100% and I know we’re supposed to take the LWs at their word. But it’s odd the LW didn’t know where the ex worked, given all the time he/she spent pursuing them on multiple platforms after the breakup. And then out of multiple job offers he just happened to accept the one that would put him in closest proximity to the ex.

      1. Working Hypothesis*

        It’s not all that weird if they’re in a relatively small city or a relatively small industry or both. We’ve had more than a handful of “No s**t, there I was in my first day of work and who was there but…” type letters here; this isn’t necessarily anything but one more of those. If the LW had finished their panicky stalking-type behavior months or years ago, and their ex had a different job since then, there’s no reason to believe they’d know where she worked now.

        Not acknowledging her wasn’t a good move, but I can see being nervous enough about what to do *now* when suddenly faced with somebody you stalked and harassed (and regret stalking and harassing!) to think, “Well, she probably doesn’t want anything to do with me — after all, she ghosted me, *showing* she didn’t want anything to do with me; and then I was stupid and obnoxious and refused to get the message and oh God, I am mortified. I’d better show her that I had be trusted not to pester her now, by walking right on by as if she weren’t even there; that way she won’t have to deal with me even for a hello.”

        It’s not the right move because this is an office and you’ll have to deal with her eventually, and it’ll only be worse for both of you if you haven’t been able to establish a prior foundation of “we are professional adults who can treat each other with the distant courtesy that professional adults use to get along with each other despite any interpersonal awkwardness there may be.”

        But if, for example, the LW had run into his ex whom he’d stalked on the street, in passing, where they weren’t likely to ever have to deal with each other again? I’d say that pretending not to see her there was the right move, because it limited her need to deal with someone who treated her badly and demonstrated that they weren’t going to be a hassle to her in there same ways anymore.

        So I’m not really disturbed by the decision to walk past without acknowledging her… it wasn’t right for this situation but I can understand someone in the moment believing it to be.

        The real offense here is the *reason* given for the decision to walk past without acknowledging her: “I guessed that since she ghosted me, that meant that I was someone she never knew.” That’s immature and petty, and suggests that the LW hasn’t grown up as much since ceasing to pursue the lady as they would like to think of themself. I hope they can learn soon, if they keep this job where they have to work with her.

        1. Observer*

          So that’s the thing. You spend a lot of time explaining how the OP’s behavior is really probably perfectly innocuous, but then have to admit that what the OP describes themsel about how they behaved blows all of this up.

          1. Working Hypothesis*

            I didn’t say it was probably perfectly innocuous. I don’t think it’s innocuous at all. What I do think is that we can’t jump from the known facts that the LW did some pretty horrible things, like the online stalking, to the hypothesis for which we have no actual evidence that they sought out the job on purpose because she was there.

            The LW did enough wrong that we know about for sure… they condemn themself out of their own mouth. We don’t need to go looking for additional things to blame them for that we don’t know they did and don’t have any actual evidence to support the idea that they did. And frankly, if they spent weeks or months plotting to get a job at the place their ex worked at, they wouldn’t need to write in to a workplace advice column to ask “yipe, what do I do now that I’ve discovered my ex whom I stalked is working at the place where I just got hired?” They’d have already figured out what they planned to do when they got hired there, if they were planning to get hired where she worked all along.

            1. Observer*

              Yeah, the OP is messed up enough that it doesn’t really matter if they were actually surprised that their ex is working there, or it was deliberate. On the other hand, the OP isn’t asking what to do in a general sense, he’s asking what to do about the fact that his ex apparently went to the boss about him. It doesn’t seem to have occurred to him that this is a highly likely outcome.

      2. OhGee*

        Yup. I’m trying to give this person the benefit of the doubt here, but this sounds like they were playing dumb about where their ex works, and trying to get a job where your ex — who you are clearly still angry with/deeply hurt by — also works stinks of wanting to continue to punish this person for leaving you.

      3. Dust Bunny*

        I don’t have my place of work visible on my social media accounts. I don’t even have my real name on some of them. My real name is very distinctive and would definitely be find-able if I did. There’s nothing questionable on them, I just don’t think it needs to be that easy to find me everywhere.

      4. LTL*

        “But it’s odd the LW didn’t know where the ex worked, given all the time he/she spent pursuing them on multiple platforms after the breakup.”

        It takes less than five minutes to send friend requests on all of someone’s social media platforms and it doesn’t require you looking at their profiles

        1. Artemesia*

          If he doesn’t know where she works then they were not in a long standing close relationship and so her failure to respond to him is not ‘ghosting’ which is only relevant in a committed relationship not in casual dating.

          1. LTL*

            We have no idea how long ago they broke up.

            Also ghosting does apply to casual dating. Maybe not after two dates. But you don’t have to be in a committed relationship.

    2. Firecat*

      Hmm. I read it as – since she ghosted me I figured the best approach would be to act as if I did not know her.

      But it seems most people are reading it as pointedly ignoring her when she spoke to him.

      The latter is rude but I think the former would have been the best approach. Let her set the pace for the work interactions.

      1. Pennyworth*

        Presumably you will be introduced to anyone you don’t know when you start a new job. Is that what happened? A bit weird but I can see it happening in the moment. But just blanking someone in the office is not normal behavior.

        1. Mystery Bookworm*

          I think this can vary? I’ve definitely started at orgs where there’s sort of a group email or group into, but then individual intros happen over the course of a few days or weeks.

          I’ve also worked at a lot of open-office plans, so you’re technically all in the same room, but it’s not feasible to have a casual convo with everyone in that room.

        2. Firecat*

          I’ve literally never been walked around and introduced to everyone on my team. Usually introduced to my trainer, sometimes announced at the next all staff meeting, and that’s about it.

          Plus if this is an open office situation, would it really be ok to waltz up and be like “sorry about our hard break-up but I look forward to working with you as a professional”. I feel like that would be seen as performative.

          1. Quill*

            I’ve never been walked around a large group and introduced. A lab cohort of six? Yes. That’s the cabinet where we keep the agar, that’s Joe Innoculum currently stirring agar, that’s Agnes Yeast trying to get the hot plate to behave…

            But a cube farm with more than 10 people? Nope. Got presented to my grandboss, the notary, and two people I was going to need to get signatures from, and that was it.

        3. Yorick*

          I’ve seen new people at my job being walked around and introduced to everyone. My boss didn’t do that when I started. I would walk around and see people and sometimes it would feel natural to introduce myself as a new employee, and other times it wouldn’t.

          OP might have ignored his ex in a super awkward way, or in a more natural way. It really depends on the context.

      2. Ali G*

        That’s how I read it too. I didn’t see it as they pointedly ignored her during an actual interaction. I interpreted it as he saw her, recognized her, and didn’t seek her out as an acquaintance and instead pretended they have never met, given the fact that she didn’t want to be in contact anymore.

      3. SomehowIManage*

        I read it the same was as you. If I were the OP, I would have left it to ex to decide whether or not people should know we knew each other in the past.

    3. Donna*

      Seriously? I think people are jumping to criticize OP way too much. She made it clear she didn’t want to keep in touch, so OP, surprised and flustered on their first day, thought she’d prefer if he didn’t try to talk to her. Why is everyone deliberately looking for the most uncharitable interpretation of his motives. It’s common advice to stay away from exes who don’t want to talk to you. The fact that he should have cleared the air because this is a work situation is not necessarily a nuance that everyone would have picked up on.

      1. WellRed*

        It’s the way it was phrased that was petty and childish. If OP had said they felt surprised and flustered, I think comments would be more sympathetic. But, I agree, let’s focus on the problem at hand.

      2. doreen*

        It’s the wording- there are loads of ways to say ” I didn’t think she wanted to talk to me, so I pretended I didn’t know her” that don’t sound like revenge/retailiation (” I guessed that since she ghosted me, that meant that I was someone she never knew”) or like he was deliberately ignoring her – “pretended I didn’t know her” might simply mean waiting for her to take the lead in deciding whether to acknowledge the prior relationship but “refused to acknowledge her” is different. It seems more active, like you’re doing this in a way that’s meant to be noticed, and can’t be explained away by simply not noticing her across the room.

        1. Donna*

          People don’t always express themselves clearly, and I think commenters are jumping to the worst possible conclusion. Just because something isn’t phrased perfectly doesn’t mean the person meant it the way it came across. “that meant she was someone I never knew” sounds to me like he was saying he thought he was supposed to treat her like a stranger, not that he was ignoring her pointedly.

        2. Joielle*

          Yup. It’s such a petty, self-pitying framing of the situation. If that’s how the OP is still thinking and talking about the breakup, then I don’t think they can trust their own read of the situation.

        3. Yorick*

          I think it’s possible that this is a combination of knowing your ex who ghosted you might not want to talk and having a little residual hurt feelings about being ghosted. It sounds to me like a more bitter “she probably doesn’t want to talk so I’ll leave her alone.”

      3. Traffic_Spiral*

        It’s because there are multiple red flags in the letter that don’t add up.

        1. He wasn’t her friend on social media before the breakup, but has enough social media presence to find all her social media accounts and friend-request them. People in relationships generally either connect to their S/O, or are luddites that aren’t on social media at all. If he’s an active social media user who hadn’t yet friended his ex, this strongly implies a very short relationship – like, a few dates short.

        2. He says that he did it because he was “angry” and “it was all about what her friendship meant to me.” This also doesn’t make sense. Friendship? What’s that got to do with ghosting? If she didn’t want to be friends after the breakup, that’s not ghosting, and that’s not something he’s justified in being angry over.

        This strongly implies that this wasn’t a relationship and wasn’t a ghosting. This was a few dates, she told him it wasn’t working out, and also chose not to be his friend afterwards, and he got very angry over this and started harassing her online.

        1. OhNoYouDidn't*

          Agreed, especially with point number two. I’ve worked with a lot of abusers and the people they abused, and I’ve been able to read documents, such as mental health petitions, and by the language was able to assess a controlling, sometimes abusive person, before meeting them based on the language used, only to find I was correct upon interviewing the parties involved. This letter smacks of that attitude and language for all the reasons you wrote here as well as what others have written. My guess was that she cut off communication with him because she realized he was too controlling, obsessed, immature, etc., to accept it any other way. And, by his own admitted behavior after the breakup, she was right. Even if he ended up at her workplace accidentally, it seems she has every reason to be concerned.

        2. VelociraptorAttack*

          I’m reading the friending of the social media accounts as they were friends on social media- she unfriended OP in the breakup – they made a point to friend request (and seemingly message her) on all of her social media accounts. Which…. is also really creepy.

        3. biobotb*

          Yeah, given that the LW themselves described their post-breakup social media blitz as “retaliation” I doubt it was quite as innocuous as they’re trying to spin it.

      4. OhGee*

        Their wording is very passive aggressive and petty. It’s not, she ghosted me, I was very sad about it, I was surprised to find she works at my new job and didn’t know what to do so I just acted like I didn’t know her. It repeatedly puts the blame on her, and makes excuses for OP’s behavior post-breakup (I added her on all social media and texted her to make myself visible — because her friendship was so important to me).

      5. Aquawoman*

        ” It’s common advice to stay away from exes who don’t want to talk to you. ” Right, and he should have done that rather than stalking her online.

  6. Anon for this*


    People make a big deal about being ghosted, but they’re better off accepting that it’s over and moving the f on. That said, I can sympathize with you a bit, because I’m now working at a company that also employs an ex who wouldn’t get a clue.

    As for the work aspects of things, how big is the company? That’s an important piece. I was laid off from a small employer in my field, and got an offer from one of the biggest names in my industry. TBH, I’d have to be a stupid idiot to pass on that. However, ex-who-wouldn’t-take-a-hint had worked there for a few years before I did. The company is hard to read from the outside, and there was just no way for me to know how closely I would end up working with ex. There was also ZERO chance I was going to raise the issue before getting onboarded, too.

    So I think in addition to time, the other consideration is how big the company is. Big companies = plausible deniability and you should be fine. Small companies = creepy, and you may need to do a little damage control.

    BTW, in my case, I don’t know when ex figured out I started working at her org. She was kind enough to not mentioned it if she knew. However, not too long ago, I ran into her on a telcon. If we were in the office, it would have been hella awkward small talk waiting for the meeting to get started. But telcons? Mute button was my friend.

    But here’s my plea when people date and work in the same industry: For the love of god, when it’s over, it’s over. Accept it and move on gracefully. You never really do know when you’ll cross paths with this person again, and a graceful exit from a breakup allows everybody to cross paths again without super awkwardness and potentially uncomfortable conversations with HR. A graceful exit probably means you can cross paths professionally and actually fake a smile and a “nice to see you, how have things been” and have a little small talk. Bad breakups = having to watch your back when you’re trying to pay your mortgage and put food on the table. Why make it be that way when you don’t have to?

    1. Firecat*

      If you want to have your ex move on, then ghosting is the worst approach.

      Assuming ghosted still means: just stopped communicating without breaking up.

      When you do that your gonna get some messages and calls from a confused, worried, and hurt partner. Having a break up conversation is tough but it’s an integral part of closing a relationship and having both parties move on.

      1. Karia*

        Yeah but it’s also completely acceptable if you’ve only been on a couple of dates, and the *recommended* course of action if someone is likely to be or has been abusive.

        1. Harper the Other One*

          +1 to this. Sure, ideally you would send someone you’d been on a date or two with a quick message that “hey, we didn’t click but it was nice meeting you” – but ask ten women who have done that and I’d venture you’ll get a surprising number who say “yeah, and then they messaged me to argue about why I should give them more chances.” And no one owes an abuser contact.

          1. Firecat*

            Legitimate question – do the partners who would react badly to a – “Hey this isn’t working for me. Thanks for the dinners and take care” react better to being ghosted?

            As an aside I find the changes to dating culture rules fascinating. My last dates were 9 years ago – so not recent but not at the stage I’d consider out of date either.

            I suspect the explosion of casual dating as propagated by apps like Tinder, which was thankfully before my time, is playing a part on the dating norms shift.

            1. You don't see me*

              No, they don’t react better to being ghosted. But, and here’s the big thing, it’s not the ghoster’s responsibility nor do they have to bear the brunt of the reaction.

              1. Firecat*

                From my perspective, ghosting (as I defined above not the other definitions) is a pretty terrible thing to do. It’s one of the most hurtful ways to leave someone in a healthy relationship.

                As a woman who dated men, I always had a face to face or phone call to break up. That was seen as the respectful approach. Frankly if someone sent a text message to break up that was even considered pretty terrible. I remember one frat guy got blacklisted at my college for doing that.

                Clearly times have changed. I can feel for the guys who are dating in a time where ghosting is considered acceptable just cause the guys may be a dick if they actually break up. BUT I also think dick pics and the general behavior of men online towards women online (and boy did I experience that as a female gamer all the way up until 2014ish) is most likely a major reason for this shift. If dudes want to be treated better then they will have to start reigning in the dudes who do this sort of thing. Like they have mostly done in the gaming communities.

                1. Alanna*

                  I think most people agree ghosting is a terrible thing to do to someone in an actual relationship. Between people who’ve been out a few times, I think it’s a gray area — 2 dates is different than 5 dates, 5 dates where you talk all the time in between is different from 5 dates where you mostly check in briefly to make plans for the next one, etc. It would be very interesting to know if OP’s “ex” describes him as an “ex.”

            2. Dust Bunny*

              No, but I don’t have to expend any more energy arguing with a guy I don’t want to see again, anyway. Arguing just gives them traction.

            3. Workerbee*

              Probably not, but the person doing the perceived ghosting at least doesn’t have to bear the feelings bombs and other attempts to make their life hell.

              One thing people like to hold onto is the myth that everyone is owed closure, and in the manner of which they choose. This can lead to people thinking their feelings are more important than someone’s sense of safety.

              However, I’m not on Tinder nor do I know what the alleged dating norms are.

            4. kt*

              If you ghost them, then you don’t talk anymore. If you say, “Hey, this isn’t working for me,” you get a reply message saying you’re an ugly c*(& who no one would want to date anyways so can we do something next Saturday since no one else wants you, or the well, let’s just be friends so let’s do something Saturday.

            5. Quill*

              No, they don’t react better, but it gives you time to run.

              But also, nobody is required to sit around and entertain some dude (90% of the time it’s a dude) as they debate “reasons you should take me back #351”

      2. RecentAAMfan*

        I’m very curious and would love to hear from the OP whether it was “she broke up with me and THEN ghosted me” or just ONLY ghosted.

        1. Ali G*

          It kind of sounds to me like they broke up and decided to “stay friends.” OP took that literally and went gung ho into Friend Mode (probably overboard) and ex was like oh nope and blockity, block, block, block!

          1. biobotb*

            I think she formally broke up with the OP, but I’m not sure they decided to stay friends, given that the OP describes their social media contacts as “retaliation.”

      3. JJ*

        True, but OP wasn’t worried. They were campaigning for a friendship and not worried about her whereabouts/safety, strongly implying she DID break up with them.

      4. biobotb*

        But the LW’s messages weren’t about being confused and worried (they apparently knew they’d been broken up with when they reached out via social media), so it’s possible that if we had more information, we might not agree with their decision to call it “ghosting.” I suspect that they’re calling “explicitly breaking up with me and then going no contact” instead of, as you accurately describe ghosting, “just stopped communicating without breaking up.”

    2. Mystery Bookworm*

      I think there’s a very signficant difference between ‘ghosting’ after the first few dates and ‘ghosting’ after you’re in an established relationship.

      If you’ve been dating someone for months and then they just disappear – I think the abandoned partner following-up via social media a few times is going to be well within the realm of normal behaviour.

      1. Mystery Bookworm*

        (That said, the fact that they weren’t connected already on social media makes me think the latter is not what happened here.)

        1. Alli525*

          That’s actually a very good point – sounds like OP may have been more into his “ex” than she was into him. I don’t connect on social media with people I’m dating unless we’re actually in some sort of formal relationship (a theoretical exception would be if I met the person through friends and became friends before we started dating, but that’s not happened to me since college).

      2. AcademiaNut*

        I’ve seen the term “ghosting” used to refer to

        – failing to formally explain why you’re not asking someone out on a second date
        – dropping out of contact after a couple of dates
        – cutting off contact *after* a breakup
        – abruptly vanishing from an existing relationship, with no explanation, so that the other person is genuinely worried they’re dead in a ditch

        The first one is kind of silly, the second annoying, but a thing that happens when dating. The third can be painful but entirely reasonable. People don’t owe you a relationship after you break up, and if there aren’t financial/kid reasons to keep in communication, they can say “Don’t contact me again” and it should be respected. The third is a seriously nasty thing to do to someone. Even in an abusive relationship, a final “do not contact me” is necessary, even after leaving and by text or email, if for no other reason that they can’t then go to the police saying their partner vanished.

        1. Mystery Bookworm*

          Exactly. The world is really nebulous.

          And I think it’s especially weird because it goes from a really low-grade thing (someone didn’t call you back after a date or two) to kind of an intense thing (someone you had a very intimate relationship is suddenly ignoring you with no explanation).

          I think that’s why the first letter Alison ran on ghosting struck such a chord. People saw the post title and imagined this guy just vamoosed after three dinners…but it turned out they’d been living together for three years (!) Oy. The first thing would be annoying, but the latter would be traumatizing.

          1. UKDancer*

            Definitely. I’ve been ghosted after a date or two and that’s fine, annoying but fine. I can understand if you don’t know the person it’s easier just not to respond.

            If you’re in a long term relationship or have been living with someone then ghosting them is a completely different situation. If you’re living with someone and want to leave the relationship then you ought in most circumstances to tell them you’re leaving even if that’s a difficult conversation.

            Obviously this excludes situations of domestic abuse or where you’re scared of their reaction. In that case simply leaving is completely understandable. But under normal circumstances if it’s a relationship you should actually say you’re ending it.

            1. Harper the Other One*

              The challenge with ghosting for abuse/being scared of their reaction is that the person being ghosted will never say “oh, yeah, that makes sense, I’m an abusive dick and I would definitely harass her.” So the abuser will always present the scenario as “we had a great relationship and then he/she just ghosted me out of nowhere.” I actually saw this happen to a friend of mine who left an emotionally/physically/sexually abusive spouse who spent the week afterward on Facebook posting photos of their wedding captioned “the best day of my life” and links of presents he was offering to get her. Many of their friends still believe she heartlessly took the children and left without explanation.

              I agree that any significant relationship you should have the hard conversation if at all possible, but I’m also mindful not to judge a person who ghosts.

        2. Kelly L.*

          Yep. I’ve noticed a growing trend of describing it as “ghosting” when the person explicitly breaks up with you and then vanishes from your life, which is…not ghosting. It’s just a breakup.

          1. Mystery Bookworm*

            That’s so frustrating! For me, the defining characteristic of “ghosting” is that there is no explicit ending to the relationship.

            Otherwise it’s just….you know, a break-up

      3. Observer*

        Except that the OP’s description of what happened doesn’t sound like it at all.

        The OP is pretty clear – they explicitly say in retaliation – they knew where the ex was and that she didn’t want to have anything to do with them, so the insisted in getting in her face. It wasn’t even “a few” follow ups – it was on ALL of her social media as well as texts.

        1. Mystery Bookworm*

          I’m responding here to the above thread comment that “people make a big deal of being ghosted, but they should just get over and move on” which I find to be a little dismissive. I agree with Alison’s advice to OP.

      4. Artemesia*

        I’d send a text like ‘I haven’t heard back and am worried about you. Are you okay?’ I would not be friending them on every social media platform and considering it retaliation.

  7. midnightcat*

    #1 I think it might help if you reflect more honestly on what happened. You say:

    “(nothing mean, it was all about what her friendship meant to me)”

    It wasn’t though, was it? Friends don’t act like that. And you really need to be more honest with yourself. Telling yourself this silly story isn’t going to help you act professionally around her.

    Admit to yourself that you acted like a stalker. I’m not saying that to be unkind, but because you really need to be honest with yourself or it’s going to end up showing in your behaviour now.

    1. JerryTerryLarryGary*

      Ghosting is shitty. I don’t care if it’s one date, grow up and end it.
      OP, you’re clearly justifying sketchy behavior and continued emotional investment based on this “ghosting”. You need to really move on, and figure out why your first reaction- ignoring her- was childish and self-destructive.

      1. Double A*

        It’s unclear though– did she ghost a means of ending the relationship? That is (usually) a crummy move, though can be the best and safest choice in some situations. Or did she ghost their post-breakup “friendship”? Which…may not have been ideal but, but frankly someone who reacts to a lack of communication by pursuing them on all their social media accounts is giving some hints as to why that person ghosted them in the first place (ie they are not great at respecting boundaries). Fully cutting off communication with someone who doesn’t respect your boundaries, especially an ex, is a reasonable thing to do.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          And honestly, fully cutting off contact with someone who wouldn’t listen when you broke up with them? That’s not ghosting, not annoy book. That is standard behavior for protecting yourself.

          1. Nanani*


            The breakup-ee who wouldn’t take no for an answer may cry to the internet about being ghosted but yeaaaaah. Its a flag.

        2. RC Rascal*

          I disagree with your assessment of ghosting. Someone who is having difficulty, or will have difficulty accepting the end of a relationship needs a breakup. They need to be presented with a boundary. After that the breaker upper is free to go no contact.

          Ghosting is never a solution. Is a selfish , conflict avoidant way to avoid something uncomfortable and deflect person responsibility.

          Here, the question is to if OP was actually ghosted or refused to accept a breakup.

          1. Krabby*

            When presented with boundaries, a not insignificant portion of population chooses violence, verbal and/or physical (and you can’t always know which portion you’re talking to).

            Ghosting IS the solution in a lot of cases, and to say otherwise invalidates the experiences of.. /most/ women.

          2. Workerbee*

            One of the problems with this perspective is presuming that someone having difficulty with a coming end or the end of a relationship will be able to handle that boundary when it’s presented. There are already a ton of lived experiences in the comments as to why ghosting is as often if not far more a safety decision than an Eff You choice. And that’s also because the person being broken up with has already displayed alarming behaviors and traits.

            OP already let slip about “retaliation.”

          3. Aster*

            “Ghosting is never a solution. Is a selfish , conflict avoidant way to avoid something uncomfortable and deflect person responsibility.”


            “In fact, leaving an abuser is the most dangerous time for a victim of domestic violence. One study found in interviews with men who have killed their wives that either threats of separation by their partner or actual separations were most often the precipitating events that lead to the murder.”

            Your advice asks people to risk their lives unnecessarily.

      2. BPT*

        I know people have different thresholds here, but…if you go on one date and don’t reach back out, that’s not ghosting. You don’t owe anyone anything after meeting them once. And I think this term “ghosting” makes things seem way more serious than they should be. I recently went out with a guy for 7 or 8 dates and he started texting less and responding less frequently to my texts, and then just stopped reaching out. Do I consider that ghosting? No. It was a guy I went out with a few times and things just fizzled out. I don’t need a big conversation and explanation about why someone doesn’t want to see me again after a few dates.

    2. LawLizard13*

      It is SO weird to consider sending friend/follow requests on social media stalker behavior after someone just stops responding to you for no reason after having dated you. I feel like with the comments here there has to be some sort of generational divide or misunderstandings about how young people date?
      LW doesn’t really seems to have been doing anything weird at all, other than passive aggressively adding ex as a friend as a means of calling ex out on her shitty behavior and making her feel bad about not being an adult and breaking things off explicitly.
      Maybe my read is different than most people but I feel like based on what dating culture is these days, they probably hung out a few times, she wasn’t interested, he pretended not to really get the hint, she persisted in ignoring him, and then when confronted by her presence, he acted the way he thought she would expect. This really isn’t outrageous.

      1. Karia*

        I dunno, if she hadn’t even added him on social media that says to me that they only had a couple of dates and she was worried about his reaction so she ghosted him. And as he by his own admission, responded to ghosting with stalking, then that shows she was right to do so.

      2. midnightcat*

        No. It’s not weird to consider it that.

        It isn’t normal, non-creepy behaviour to send a request on every platform like that. At any age.

      3. Catherine*

        I would argue that when someone pulls back and stops responding to you, escalating your behavior by tracking them down on platforms in which you weren’t already interacting (e.g., your tinder date never texted you again so you hunted them down on Facebook) is pretty weird, actually.

      4. Amtelope*

        It is exactly the “pretending to not really get the hint” that’s the problem. If someone makes it clear they’re not interested, continuing to pursue them under the pretense of “valuing their friendship” isn’t great. If OP had said “she abruptly disappeared after we’d been dating seriously and I was worried,” I’d be more sympathetic. But this sounds like he knew she was ending it, and just didn’t like her method for ending it, and kept deliberately trying to contact her despite her attempt to break the relationship off. Not a good look.

      5. Traffic_Spiral*

        Dude, no.

        1. If you weren’t already friends on social media during the relationship, why in sweet hell would you connect afterwards?

        2. Why would you send more than one friend request? If s/he refuses your first request, why would sending more help? No means no.

        3. LW point-blank said he did it to make a point because he was angry. This was not done with good intentions, this was straight up trying to punish her for refusing to stay in contact.

        1. Insert Clever Name Here*

          I could *maybe* see OP going “man, stinks that dating didn’t work out. She was cool though, so I’ll follow her on IG.” *One* friend request on *one* platform would read as clueless at worst to me, but friend requests everywhere you find her profile? Nopety nope nope nope — you have crossed the line into weird and inappropriate.

          Also, if OP was an ass during their few dates then they lose the ability to one friend request on one platform being clueless; in that case, it is for sure inappropriate.

          1. biobotb*

            But I think that if the OP had *truly* been ghosted, chasing down the person who’s resoundingly ignoring them is creepy. If she’d really completely dropped the OP without explanation, what about that suggests she’d make a very good friend? (Or has any interest in friendship?)

            This is actually why I doubt the OP’s description of “ghosting” really means “just stopped communicating without explanation” since the OP seemed to know they’d been broken up with when they did their social media blitz.

            1. Insert Clever Name Here*

              Some people have this desire to connect virtually with everyone they’ve ever met or are adjacent to (see: the random people adding me on FB even though we’ve never met because we have 1 mutual friend…lol, decline). But yeah, completely agree.

              1. biobotb*

                But he described the connection as “retaliation” so I don’t think it was stemming from a compulsion to connect with anyone he’s ever known, no matter how distantly or intimately.

        2. Karia*

          I feel like this is one where education really needs to cover consent, and the non sexual kind too. Like don’t push for unwanted hugs, if someone doesn’t want to hang out say ok, and if someone dumps you, be graceful.

      6. londonedit*

        If I broke up with someone, and their response was to text me, attempt to add me on various types of social media, and then get themselves a job at my workplace, I’d be pretty weirded out (I’m in my late 30s, in case that’s evidence of a generational divide?)

      7. MsM*

        My impression is that young people have less tolerance for “pretending not to get the hint” than those of us who grew up being encouraged to find that sort of thing flattering, but that could just be me.

        1. Alanna*

          Not particularly young in a dating context (33) and that made my skin crawl — it’s not exculpatory — so I would guess that yes, it is the case that people no longer find this charming.

          1. Working Hypothesis*

            People never did find this charming when it happened to them. They were just told they had a duty to treat it as charming, whether they wanted to or not.

      8. Observer*

        Your interpretation requires ignoring what the OP actually wrote.

        If you notice, the OP makes it clear that she was ending the relationship and wanted nothing to do with them. IN RETALIATION (their words, not mine) they started texting her and jumping on to all of the social media platforms she was on. That is NOT normal, expectable nor has it ever been acceptable behavior (substitute the means of contact from the paleolithic ages before social media.)

        she wasn’t interested, he pretended not to really get the hint, she persisted in ignoring him, and then when confronted by her presence, he acted the way he thought she would expect. This really isn’t outrageous.

        Actually, it IS outrageous. Refusing to “take the hint” when you know the other person is not interested is garbage behavior.

        And, no they were not acting the way they though she would expect – they are pretty clear about their thinking and her comfort or wishes simply are not a factor.

      9. Aster*

        This attitude gets people killed.

        “In fact, leaving an abuser is the most dangerous time for a victim of domestic violence. One study found in interviews with men who have killed their wives that either threats of separation by their partner or actual separations were most often the precipitating events that lead to the murder.”

        The sense of ownership and the violence described are not limited to marriage.

  8. Atla*

    It’s interesting that the comments so far are sympathetic to the ghoster in #1, when I recall a letter with the situation switched (coming from the ghoster) everyone was talking about how awful it is to ghost people and were sympathetic to the ghosted and thought he should lose his job for having ghosted her because it’s not fair to her to work with him. Why is it the opposite now?

    Anyway I don’t think you’ve done anything wrong so far. You’re aware that your post-breakup actions were childish and moved on, and they weren’t anything nefarious just annoying. So I would have a quick convo with the boss and then make sure you’re treating ex the same as you are other new colleagues. She’s probably just embarrassed.

    1. Abby*

      I would say people are sympathetic to the ghoster because the OP displayed some stalkerish behavior post breakup, and the ghoster now appears to be genuinely afraid. Plus he has already shone in his ignoring her that he is not ready to act professional with her, so he needs to do some damage control fast.

      (Note: not trying to assume bad intent on the part of the OP, just that the situation looks bad, with him ignoring her boundaries at the end of the relationship, then showing up at her workplace. She doesn’t know it is coincidental, and the company won’t know either.)

      1. L.H. Puttgrass*

        Right. If this letter had come from the ex instead of the OP, it might have been titled, “My (former) stalker is my new coworker!” I’m not saying OP’s behavior rises to stalking (though I’m not sure it doesn’t, frankly), but it could seem that way to the ex, and seeing this person show up to share the same office space probably freaked her out.

    2. PollyQ*

      First of all, as I said above, we don’t know that the relationship ended via ghosting, just that he was ghosted. “The break-up wasn’t great” could cover all kinds of behavior on the part of both parties. Ghosting may have been a rational choice on the ex’s part if OP was having trouble letting go, which based on his follow-up social media actions, is not unlikely.

      Second, it sounds like this relationship wasn’t as serious as the one in the previous letter, where they’d been living together for several years, and then the gf came home from a trip to find him and all of his things gone, and that OP was unreachable. Scale matters.

    3. Observer*

      Actually people are not being especially sympathetic to the ghoster. But the the OP’s behavior – that THEY are describing – does not come off well. We don’t have enough information to know just how inappropriate the OP’s initial reaction to the breakup was, although claiming that it was all about “friendship” doesn’t enhance their credibility.

      But refusing to acknowledge the person in the room is just rude. And it says quite clearly that “I’m not going to let this go. And I am going to let you know that very, very clearly. AND, I’m going to make sure everyone else know that there is something wrong.” The OP’s excuse for their rudeness makes no sense – it really is an EXCUSE not a “reason” – the REASON is because they wanted to rub their ex’s nose in embarrassment. That really is a problem.

      1. Mystery Bookworm*

        And I think the dynamic of the comments will always change depending on which party writes in.

        The blog is meant to be actionable and as a general rule, that’s going to result in comments that focus on how the OP can reflect on and change their behaviour. I think that can sometimes give the impression that commentors are shifting all the responsibility on to OP, but the reality is that we have no control over what OP’s ex does or how she thinks about her behaviour. We do have some power to talk directly to OP, so that’s what we’ll do.

    4. Diahann Carroll*

      Context matters here – in the letter you’re referring to (the one Alison linked to in this OP’s letter), the guy who wrote in and ghosted was about to be managed by his ex that he disappeared on after three years and living together. Alison’s feedback to that OP was that if his ex still held a grudge against him all these years later due to the way he disappeared, it would probably not be sustainable for her to remain his manager, which meant he would probably have to find a new job if she didn’t leave.

      This letter writer here got ghosted, but then followed up to say that he’ll be working as a colleague alongside his ex. The ex is not managing him, so there shouldn’t be a conflict of interest with OP maintaining his new job. However, OP also admitted to engaging in stalker-like behavior after he was ghosted, so now people are wondering if OP exhibited more disturbing signs during the relationship that led to this “ghosting” in the first place.

    5. Ask a Manager* Post author

      They’re not comparable. The ghoster in the letter you’re referring to was living with a girlfriend of three years (highly relevant details he didn’t bother to mention originally, until I directly asked), and moved out and left the country while she was visiting family, with absolutely no word to her — leaving her to think he could be dead. That’s the kind of thing people call the police over; it’s traumatic. When he encountered her as his boss 10 years later, he was worried about his own career and nothing else.

      There’s nothing to indicate anything similar is the case here. And even if it were, it wouldn’t affect the advice to the OP.

    6. Karia*

      Because there’s a huge difference between randomly leaving your long term girlfriend who you live with and sticking her with bills she may or may not be able to afford, versus ghosting someone who isn’t even a Facebook friend.

    7. Donna*

      I highly suspect assumed gender dynamics are in play. We have no information about how their relationship ended, but contacting an ex on social media is hardly stalking. Not every instance of unwanted contact is stalking.

      1. WellRed*

        They weren’t connected on SM beforehand. OP then sending her friend requests “in retaliation” isn’t great.

        1. Donna*

          I’m not saying OP’s behavior was appropriate. But sending a social media request to someone you know in person is hardly stalking.

          1. Lark*

            Sure, but the behavior that OP is displaying (not accepting a break up and continuing to send unwanted communications) is often a precursor to actual stalking and other violent behavior.

          2. Traffic_Spiral*

            “A” social media request, sure. “Texting her and sending friend requests on *all* social media,” especially when you do it “in retaliation?” Yeah, that’s stalking/harassment.

          3. Oryx*

            It is when you are sending requests to all their social media profiles AFTER the relationship is ended. And the fact that they weren’t connected online before makes me hesitant to use the term relationship to begin with.

          4. Diahann Carroll*

            Sending friend requests to someone you already know does not eff with you like that on multiple platforms in retaliation for that person ignoring your text messages is some seriously unhinged behavior. Period. Cry it out in your bathroom and then move the eff on.

            1. Detective Amy Santiago*

              This. The way OP#1 describes their behavior is concerning especially because presumably they are attempting to make thmself look good.

          5. Observer*

            Not “a message” but NUMEROUS messages in retaliation. Very big difference. And while it may not be “stalking” it’s also blindingly obvious that the relationship was in now way the same as the one in the other letter. And furthermore, it’s even more obvious the the two breakups were about as different as day and night – in one case (the old letter) the ghoster just disappeared with absolutely no communication and in a way that literally lead the SO to believe the he could be dead. In the current case, the OP absolutely DID know what had happened and just was angry that their GF didn’t want to be friends any more.

            The issue of gender dynamics came up in the comments on that letter too and it’s garbage. I know that that’s strong language, but it’s the best I can do in a SFW blog.

          6. TG*

            It wasn’t “a” request. It was multiple across platforms. So he could be “visible”. He wanted his ex to know he was there and she wasn’t away from him. That’s harassment.

          7. Artemesia*

            He didn’t just send her a facebook friend request (weird they were not already ‘friends’ on facebook if they had an actual relationship). but that he contacted her on all the social media platforms ‘in retaliation’. This is stalking. She is right to be afraid of finding him suddenly in her work group. If they were such close friends before, he knew where she worked.

          8. Jennifer Thneed*

            “So in retaliation, I made myself visible by texting her and sending friend requests on all social media”

            It wasn’t “a social media request”, it was ALL the social media. Plus texting. I also am not saying it’s stalking, but you’re really underplaying it.

        2. Harper the Other One*

          Yeah, the ex made it clear she did not want contact. And OP’s response was to send friend requests on social media that even OP acknowledges passive aggressively referred to not wanting to lose their friendship. That would give me all sorts of heebee jeebees.

          1. SomehowIManage*

            I disagree that the ex made it clear that she didn’t want contact. That’s the problem with ghosting — it is about avoid conflict rather than setting boundaries. Sometimes it’s necessary, especially in cases of abuse, but it’s definitely not about clarity.

              1. Traffic_Spiral*

                Yeah… I’m sorta at a loss as to how ghosting could actually mean “I want to have more contact with you.”

            1. Harper the Other One*

              OP says there was a break-up, then she ghosted. That makes it pretty clear she doesn’t want contact.

              And if OP’s ex DIDN’T have that conversation… there may have been a reason for that. But even if there wasn’t, ghosting is not an excuse for poor behaviour on OP’s end, especially no poor behaviour that from their own description comes from a desire to retaliate.

            2. biobotb*

              If the OP sincerely thought the ex still wanted to be friends, there would be no reason to describe trying to connect with her as “retaliation,” but the OP did. That definitely suggests that the OP *knew* she didn’t want contact.

            3. Jennifer Thneed*

              Of course, we’re calling it ghosting because the LW did, but I’m thinking that wasn’t actually what happened. I’ll bet she told him that she didn’t want more contact and THEN she stopped responding to texts etc.

            4. Observer*

              Actually, the OP makes it clear that he knew she didn’t want to be in contact and decided to “retaliate” by “making [himself] visible” to her on every social media platform she was on as well as by text, until she blocked him.

              I’m not going to call him a murderous stalker. But he is NOT a mostly nice guy who made a socially gauche mistake and is not just trying to get along at a new job.

            5. Elsajeni*

              I mean, we can argue about whether, in general, ghosting someone sends a clear message or not. But in addition to taking the OP at their word that this was a case of true ghosting (as opposed to the possibility people have brought up that the ex did more clearly break up with them before cutting contact), we can also take them at their word that they were not confused by it! They explicitly say that their behavior was “as retaliation,” not “out of confusion” or “because I was worried she had fallen down a well” or anything.

      2. Colette*

        Texting her repeatedly, friending her on every form of social media and then getting a job where she works is definitely stalking. (The OP says the last one wasn’t intentional, but I bet it feels intentional to the ex.)

        1. Jennifer Thneed*

          But poor him! He just had the worst luck ever!

          If she’s been at this job for awhile, how long did he even know her, and not know where she worked? The way I see it, it’s either a new job for her too, or the breakup was longer ago that we’re being given to believe.

      3. Aquawoman*

        You are repeatedly minimizing his behavior. He KNEW it was wrong–he admits it. It wasn’t an “instance” of unwanted contact, it was a campaign of unwanted contact. And “gender dynamics” means men are afraid of getting their feelings hurt while women are afraid of getting murdered. Women are supposed to give men the benefit of the doubt right up to the point of violence and then they are supposed to have called the police as soon as the harassment started. Intentionally contacting someone who he knew did not want to hear from him was harassment.

        1. Harper the Other One*

          THANK YOU.

          Also, even assuming the ex’s behaviour was bad – that’s not an excuse for OP’s behaviour. “She started it” is an excuse preschoolers use.

        2. Velawciraptor*


          I said this above too, but so much of this letter exhibits the same language and logic I’ve heard out of countless domestic violence clients. This guy is lucky not to have been charged with harassment or worse.

          1. Aster*

            I haven’t worked in anti-domestic-violence initiatives but I did a course of study on domestic violence, and this letter definitely reminded me of several case studies, yes.

      4. Batgirl*

        Sending someone a pizza isn’t harassment either. Sending a lot which you know they don’t want? In retaliation for something? That’s different.

    8. Slinky*

      In the previous letter, the writer called it “ghosting,” but it was abandonment. Leaving your partner of years by sneaking out of the country while she’s visiting family is very different from not returning someone’s phone call.

    9. biobotb*

      Are you seriously comparing someone leaving a three-year, live-in relationship without warning or explanation to move to a foreign country to a short-term, maybe-girlfriend* [possibly**] ghosting someone?

      *They weren’t even connected on social media–was it really a serious relationship?
      **OP knew they’d been broken up with when they “retaliated” by trying to connect on every single social media platform, so I suspect what happened was the girlfriend *did* explicitly break up, and then went no contact (which is the opposite of ghosting).

  9. Raine*

    For LW#5 – I’m sorry. I’ve had this happen to me twice now – one of my best references died in the Oso, WA mudslide and the other died of cancer. The best thing I’ve found in those situations is to refer anyone checking references to speak to the HR person at those firms to confirm employment, and then work on finding newer references who can speak to the quality of my work.

  10. voyager1*

    LW1: I actually disagree with AAM on this. I think you just go on normally. If the manager comes to you and asks what is up, tell them the truth. If you are professional around your ex and everyone else you will be fine. You have no idea what your ex told the manager, going in there to put out a fire might just make it worse. I would let the manager come to you.

    However if you just broke up with this person, in the last month or two you might need to understand they might just let you go anyway.

    1. Harper the Other One*

      I don’t know. If OP’s ignoring of the ex wasn’t particularly dramatic (seeing them across a large office) then this might be an option. If their ignoring was extremely obvious I think it’s better to speak up.

      Personally I would probably speak up in either case – a quick “hey, I didn’t know she worked here but I have history with X” – so that my supervisor knows the background in case there is any conflict/issue.

    2. Tau*

      I’d absolutely want to speak to the manager in order to get my side of the story in early. In particular, I would want to stress that:
      – I had no idea Ex worked here, this was not intentional
      – I’m going to act professionally and do my part to prevent our history from impacting the workplace…
      – …but I’m aware this situation could be awkward for Ex/the manager and am willing to work with them to make it go as smoothly as possible

      Fact is that given the description of what happened, I can easily see Ex assuming that OP intentionally followed them. If that’s the story she takes to the manager, and OP offers nothing to contradict that, things could go very badly for OP even if they act completely professionally at all times.

      1. Mockingjay*

        Your third point – willing to work with them – is absolutely necessary. It shows that OP acknowledges the awkward situation and is seeking consensus on how to move forward, as a good team player. It’s important that OP understands that as a new employee, they don’t have any capital yet, so they need to demonstrate professionalism right away to both Manager and Ex. “Hey, I realize this situation is awkward, I am open to how you want to proceed.”

    3. Observer*

      That would have been good advice if the OP had written in BEFORE they started the job.

      At this point, their behavior has created a problem already. Failing to address that is going to lend credence to the ex’s concerns.

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        Yup. And because the ex is a known quantity at that employer while OP is not, guess whose side the manager will take if push comes to shove and someone has to go?

      2. voyager1*

        100% disagree with your take Observer. I think the LW should not make contact with the ex. Let her make contact when she is comfortable. All the LW said is they acted like they didn’t know her when she was in the room. That isn’t a problem, that is smart since it allows the ex to make contact if she wants to.

        As for going to the manager because the ex did already, that is just dumb. Let the manager come to the LW. There is a good chance the convo is going to be a short “is this going to be a problem if you to working around each other.” They will probably watch the LW for a bit for any weirdness, but this is hardly a problem for the LW.

        But all of this really depends on how long they have been broken up for… which a lot people are thinking is not long.

        Only other thing I can think of is if they are both attending patients. Not sure if there is some medical ethics issues there.

        1. Jennifer Thneed*

          > All the LW said is they acted like they didn’t know her when she was in the room.

          No, actually the LW said this: “I guessed that since she ghosted me, that meant that I was someone she never knew so I didn’t acknowledge her.” That’s really different, and it was probably noticeable.

          And I don’t think that Observer says that LW should approach their ex at all. (And they shouldn’t.) Pretty sure that Observer was referring to the LW talking to their own manager.

          1. Observer*

            Agreed – the OP should most definitely not approach the their ex. But they do need to talk to the manager.

            If the manager is the one who approaches the OP, the conversation *IS* likely to be short. Like in “I think this is not going to work out” short.

      3. Firecat*

        The lw states she didn’t know she worked there so how was she supposed to tell the manager before hand exactly?

    4. Detective Amy Santiago*

      If they just broke up, presumably they would have known where ex works and the whole “I didn’t know she worked here” is suspect AF.

      1. Ginger Baker*

        Not necessarily, depending on how long they were dating. If I went on a few dates with someone, they absolutely don’t know where I work. At most, I might (maybe, if it even came up) have mentioned that I work for a law firm, but there are at a guess at least 100 law firms in NYC. In fact I once famously freaked out because I got a delivery of flowers in the office and the whole time while unwrapping it was trying to figure out WHO POSSIBLY would even know where I work to send me flowers (the list was basically family members and best friend and exhusband, all very unlikely candidates). Turned out, it was a coworker from another office very graciously sending me an orchid as thanks for help with an above-and-beyond thing I did for him.

          1. Ginger Baker*

            I agree (strongly) but have seen a lot of folks take this “ghosting” concept to a place I would not have expected so…yeah. In follow up to this btw (because I saw your above comment about close friends knowing where you work), I uhh…again saw, only very very close? I have a several close friends I routinely had dinner with once a month or more (pre-Current Times) and while I know one works for an advertising agency and one was working for a makeup company, I have no idea which companies. Friends I am close to but not *quite* as close and further down the spectrum to “casual”…I have no idea whatsoever, in many cases I have no idea what they do for work at all. I dated one guy for three months pretty seriously and I knew at the time he was looking for a new job, and I know the general area he worked in (we had lunch a few times because his office was not far from mine) and I didn’t know the workplace of OldJob or NewJob when he finally got it (post-breakup, but we remained friends). I think he’s in a New NewJob now and I still don’t know the name of the company. :shrugs: While I don’t necessarily think not-knowing is the norm, I think there is a strong weight given to “you definitely knew where she worked” that just does not track with my experience or many of my friends at ALL. (I know this can also be somewhat place-dependent – my understanding for example is that in DC Where You Work is a BIG DEAL and basically Item 1 in any topic of discussion.)

        1. TG*


          It’s also hard to keep track if people switch jobs. I work in pharma. My friends in the industry and I have all cycled through the same few companies in the area over our careers. It’s honestly hard to keep track of where they are all now.

  11. RB*

    I’ve been thinking about #2, using the affair partner as a reference, and I wonder how much the answer would change if she wasn’t asking him to lie and say he was her manager. Like if she was just using him as a general reference, the way you would with a peer or with someone who wasn’t your manager but you had worked closely with.

    1. Diahann Carroll*

      Even without the weird lying angle, using an affair partner as a reference is a bad idea. A savvy reference checker would figure out real quick that something in the milk isn’t clean with the reference. Since this guy doesn’t really manage her, he can’t speak to her work in detail at all, so his reference would be glowingly vague and unhelpful.

    2. MK*

      It would still be a bad idea, but frankly she would have better chances to get away with it, since she wouldn’t be lying, just concealing their personal relationship.

    3. hbc*

      It still makes it a biased reference, but at least one where you’re accurately describing the business relationship. Like if your Mom was your manager and reference but you have different last names and no one guesses.

      It’s kind of…icky, but I think the major moral issue comes up when working in that biased relationship. Quibbling over whether that person is properly assessing their lover/kid/bff after-the-fact doesn’t seem worth it.

      1. Detective Amy Santiago*

        Would it be a “fake” claim? If he was in a superior position, then there was an inherent power differential in the relationship and it could be construed as him misusing his position to force the relationship.

    4. Lily Rowan*

      But peers aren’t usually good references, either, depending on how closely you worked together. It would also be a bad idea to use your lunch buddy as a reference if they can’t speak to the quality of your work.

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        One company that I applied to early last year required three references from job applicants – but they couldn’t be former managers or supervisors, they had to be other people you worked with that had no control over your work. I thought that was the oddest request because in many of my previous positions, my coworkers would have had no idea what the quality of my work was like because I worked independently. The only people who could conceivably give the type of reference most people are looking for are former managers who, while they didn’t always know what I was doing day-to-day, audited my work and could tell whether or not I was hitting the marks set out in our best practices.

        1. Partly Cloudy*

          Almost every job I’ve ever applied for asked for non-manager references. Maybe your peers can’t speak to the quality of your work output, but they can still comment on your work *ethic* (punctuality, etc.) and whether or not you were easy to get along with, stuff like that.

        2. learnedthehardway*

          If it was a situation where there were a lot of dotted-line reporting relationships (matrix structure), or a lot of informal teams, it might have made a lot of sense to get co-worker references. Co-workers would know whether you were really a good contributor to the team, whether you could work within an organization where “influence management” was the way things got done, whether you were reliable/responsive with people who didn’t have management authority, etc.

          1. Diahann Carroll*

            This is my point – I worked in claims where none of my coworkers would have been able to accurately assess any of this. We were all off doing our own things. I managed to scrounge up some people, but all they would have said had I decided to continue on in the process (they weren’t willing to let me work remotely and the pay was too low, so I declined to move forward) is that I seemed nice, had been promoted a couple times, and management seemed to like me.

        3. RB*

          Wouldn’t that have been because most on-line applications ask you to list your manager under each job as part of your work history, so they already have those names and don’t need them again on your list of references?

      2. Aster*

        Peers aren’t good references? That hasn’t been my experience — most of my references are peers I worked with or non-supervisors I worked ‘for’ (such as several teachers from my school admin job — I did tasks for them but they weren’t my supervisors — and a couple of my fellow admins from that job as well).

  12. anony*

    LW #1: Go watch a bunch of seasons of Grey’s Anatomy. I mean, follow the other advice here about what to *do* at work, but watch Grey’s Anatomy to help with how you *feel* and to normalize the idea of working with an ex in the medical field. Pretty much everyone on that show ends up working with *at least* one ex, and they make it work and the patients don’t suffer from it.

    1. Everdene*

      This is exactly what I thought too! It is very Grey’s Anatomy.

      Some commentators find it suprising that the OP would end up in the same hospital as their ex but I don’t think that is particularly surprising, especially if they originally met when working or training together or through a mutual friend. The career merry-go-rounds mean you’re bound to come across someone you have met before, even if it was not a good ending.

    2. Holly*

      I’m sorry, but I can’t disagree with this more. Having watched an absolute ton of Grey’s Anatomy when I was younger, and reflecting on it now, I can say with total certainty that the show is full of toxic relationships and toxic ways of dealing with exes, bosses, friends, etc. I would never in a million years look to this show for guidance.

  13. Something Something Whomp Whomp*

    #4. Am Canadian, worked in a few provinces, but not a lawyer. IIRC, in Alberta, you have to provide written notice when you’re quitting, per the Employee Standards Act, so long as you’ve been at your job for at least three months. Of course you can quit without notice, but it’ll just change when you receive your final pay.

    Ontario’s legislation, though, doesn’t require written notice, but you might be subject to contract law that does require something written. This being Canada, you may have signed a contract when started your job that holds you and/or your employer to something above and beyond common law and your province’s statutory minimums. FWIW, I’ve never had an employer in Ontario (at a professional job, at least) that didn’t require written notice when quitting.

    If you have some sort of contract or employee manual that’s contractually binding, it may say something about what your employer defines as job abandonment. Even if you quit your job in a way that’s so vague that no one is sure that you’re quitting, your employer needs to be able to end their relationship with you once you stop showing up to work.

    I’ll leave it to a lawyer to weigh in on whether interpretive dance would hold up as common law “reasonable notice” in Canada ;p

    1. Jennifer Thneed*

      This is really interesting. Does it work in both directions? Meaning, do employers have to give notice to fire an employee?

      1. Heather*

        I believe that’s 100% required basically everywhere that isn’t the US. You can fire someone for gross negligence, harassment, or similar, but you better have an iron-clad, documented reason why, because the company lawyers are going to ask about it.

        1. Pomona Sprout*

          Giving a reason is a separate thing from giving notice, though. In my experience, people are usually given a reason why they’re being dismissed here in the U.S., even when they’re being fired with no notice whatsoever.

          So, just to clarify, are people always given advance of a firing, layoff, etc., in Canada and other places, in addition to being given a reason?

          1. Alex*

            Sort of.

            Basically, you can be fired for any reason, like your employer doesn’t like your shoes. But if they fire you without “just cause” (theft, assaulting a coworker/client, negligence, etc.), they have to give you a “reasonable” amount of notice or pay in lieu of notice. Each province has a statutory minimum, which is typically two weeks for employees who have been there for a year, up to eight weeks for employees of 10+ years.

            It’s worth noting that the statutory minimum is just a starting point. What is “reasonable” notice depends on a number of factors, including length of employment, type of role, age of the employee and competitiveness of the job market, all of which is determined by common law. Most people are entitled to more than the statutory minimum; for instance, if you’re a 56-year old VP who has been at a company for 15 years and it’s a tight job market, you could be eligible for a year or more of severance pay. (Severance pay typically maxes out at 24 months).

            If you are fired for just cause, they are not required to give you notice or payment in lieu. So if you embezzle from the company, for instance, you could be fired immediately.

    2. JSPA*

      If there’s a risk of an extended delay due to closures and Covid, presumably you can send the letter with tracking, give your immediate boss a heads-up by phone, then send an email to the relevant parties telling them that the resignation letter is in the mail, including the tracking info, and some statement that the letter should be in their hands on [date] and that you’re therefore planning on your last day being [date plus two weeks] or between [date plus 13 days to date plus 15 days]. Or some such.

  14. Karia*

    Someone decided they didn’t want to be with you anymore and you… retaliated? Unless this is like the dude who ‘ghosted’ by leaving a long term girlfriend he was living with then you… may need to look at yourself here.

  15. Detective Rosa Diaz*

    OP1, I would encourage you to reflect a bit further on your behavior, because the framing of these behaviors as “nothing mean” and coming from a genuine desire for friendship with a person who rejected you romantically really doesn’t add up with your simultaneously calling them “in retaliation”. So that feels like you aren’t being emotionally honest with yourself. Having this pink haze over what occurred really won’t help you see the current situation clearly, and may do harm.

    1. Myrin*

      Yeah, the whole letter reads to me strangely because of that. Either the “retaliation” language is true OR the cavalier “things happened/mistakes were made” atttitude that comes through in the letter is true; it can’t be both.

      Because really, only one of two scenarios could’ve happened here:

      1. After the breakup, OP sends friend requests to her ex on all her social media. Let’s say ex has a Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, and Instagram; there’s a limited number of social media platforms, after all, and these seem to be the most common ones. So that’s four friend requests, give or take a few, depending on how social network-y the ex is. OP also texted her ex about what her friendship meant to her. Given the slightly cavalier tone in which OP describes these events, these must have amounted to no more than maybe four or five texts.
      If that is the case, OP’s behaviour does indeed, like she says herself, come across as childish and almost certainly as annoying BUT it’s really bad retaliation. Depending on the time frame, the ex was probably annoyed and angry for a day or so before blocking OP and moving on.

      2. After the breakup, OP not only sends friend requests to all of her ex’s social media accounts, including old, unused, and private ones, but also incessantly texts her and won’t be reasoned with even when her ex tells her to stop contacting her. OP tells herself that since on the surface, there’s nothing outwardly “mean” in her texts, they won’t emotionally compromise her ex, even when she bombards her with paragraphs of how important their relationship is at all hours of the night, until ex finally blocks her on all channels. That is successful retaliation, a punishment meant to make her ex feel small, like she did something wrong, and maybe even threatened.

      I described the two scenarios in somewhat hyperbolic terms to hammer it home, of course, but the baseline argument holds true: either it wasn’t that bad, in which case there was no retaliation, or it was that bad, in which case it wasn’t “nothing mean”.

      (That is, of course, given that we aren’t massively over-analysing this and OP simply used “retaliation” by mistake when she meant another more benign word, like reaction. I’ve seen it happen. However, given OP’s language in general, I’m not super inclined to believe that.)

      1. Joielle*

        Yeah, it’s like “well, I retaliated… how childish of me!” When actually, no, retaliation after a breakup is really, really inappropriate. Not a little whoopsie. If you don’t understand what you did wrong and make amends, or at least do the internal work, you can’t move on.

  16. Finland*

    #2. This other person sounds like someone you should distance yourself from. At best, after already having experienced her abysmal work ethic, you’ll keep having to endure allusions to her affair and to her shenanigans. At worst, she tries to use you as a reference instead, or your name gets dropped when the affair scandal blows up and your reputation gets ruined.

    1. WellRed*

      It’s always interesting that people describe others (in this case, nice) but really aren’t seeing the person for who they are. This woman may help old ladies cross the street but she showed spectacularly bad judgment, dumped work on others and is a liar. OP should definitely distance herself.

    2. hbc*

      If it was just the affair, I might not worry so much about the association, but there’s going to be some serious side eye about being buds with the 1) office slacker who was 2) sleeping with her boss. I think people usually get one pass on flaunting good work behavior, bu they have to be on point in others to make up for it–you can’t be the guy who’s never on time *and* turn in crappy work without generating a ton of resentment.

      I dunno, it’s possible she’s otherwise a great person and tutors refugee orphans on the side or something, but her work behavior was/is atrocious. I would question the judgment of anyone who was colleagues with her and concluded, “This! This is the person in the office I mesh with the best. More time is needed in her presence!”

      1. Washi*

        Yeah, for OP’s reputation, being friends with the office slacker is already not great. OP describes a person seemingly without a work ethic, who can dump her tasks on others without any qualms. Then you add an affair…and this is a person you want to be personal friends with? Maybe there’s context we don’t have, but if I were the OP, I would be very leery of being associated with this person.

    3. learnedthehardway*

      Agree completely – the OP should definitely distance themselves. The friend has a) very bad judgment, b) lousy ethics in general (and I’m just referring to lying about the reference relationship), c) a bad worth ethic, and d) a lack of self-insight.

      She might be fun to hang out with at parties, but she’s a time bomb for anyone associated with her.

  17. Akcipitrokulo*

    OP1 – I hope this works out for you. It might help, in addition to what Alison said, to consider how this appeared to your ex, and factor this in to your talks at work.

    What you describe doing could have been considered stalking. I get you don’t see it that way; an alternate frame of reference could have seen it as “even after I cut off all contact he still wouldn’t leave me alone and kept trying to contact me”.

    Acknowledging this and reassuring manager – and ex – that this won’t happen again will help your situation.

    1. londonedit*

      I agree. We don’t know the timelines, but so far what the OP’s ex has experienced amounts to 1. ex-partner reacts to the end of the relationship by texting and sending friend requests on all forms of social media; 2. ex-partner then shows up having got themselves a job at their place of work. It doesn’t matter whether OP believes there ‘wasn’t anything mean’ in the texting and attempts to add their ex on all forms of social media – from the ex’s point of view, it’s likely to come across as creepy and stalkerish. I can totally imagine the ex thinking that OP then taking a job at the same company is just another attempt to regain contact with them. I’d be pretty unsettled.

  18. NewHerePleaseBeNice*

    LW #5 I am so, so sorry.

    If it helps, my manager in OldJob passed away shortly after I left, and when I was asked for references for NewJob, I gave a colleague who was at the same level as my manager but didn’t manage me directly, and a colleague who was my peer, explaining that unfortunately my direct line manager had passed. That was absolutely accepted by the NewJob HR department, who were very understanding.

  19. Bear*

    I’ll be honest and say I’m quite surprised at the responses to #1.

    Everyone seems to be assuming the worst about OP, but in my opinion, from what he wrote, his behavior could have fallen anywhere between “childish but basically harmless” to “creepy and inexcusable.” There’s just too much we don’t know. What exactly did he write to his ex, and how long did he continue this behavior for? How seriously were they dating? Was “ghosting” HOW she broke up with him, or does that just mean that she stopped responding to him AFTER they were all broken up?

    While I don’t think anybody would argue that OP acted well, I don’t think there’s enough here to assume he acted like a stalker, either. I mean, maybe. There’s certainly enough of them out there. But I think it’s a bit much to take it as established.

    None of this affects the actual advice, which I agree with.

    1. Donna*

      I agree that people are filling in some pretty big details, and I wonder how much of that is due to the assumed gender dynamics of the relationship. It’s possible that this was just an uncomfortable breakup where both people acted immaturely afterwards (I don’t know if the ghosting was how the relationship ended or started afterwards, but if the former then that’s pretty immature in and of itself). We also don’t know how long ago the relationship ended. It could have been a couple years ago, which is again a different dynamic than something that ended 3 months ago.

      Regardless, OP, the advice still stands. Bring it up once, promise to stay away, and then do just that. Don’t be dramatic about walking out of a room when she walks in, or any other exaggerated behaviour that would make coworkers realize you two have a history. Just be polite strangers.

      1. K*

        The OP didn’t say that they were reaching out because they were afraid the ex was dead. They were trying to contact her to retaliate.

        Cyberstalking is “ the repeated use of electronic communications to harass or frighten someone, for example by sending threatening emails.” and the OP says they were just sending friendly messages but they also say they were trying to retaliate. They contacted the ex on multiple platforms and each time they were blocked. That is cyberstalking.

        And frankly in my experience there is a lot of overlap between people who do the social media cyberstalking that the OP describes and people who say that their ex ghosted then when the ex actually said “I don’t want to see you any more.” That’s not ghosting, that’s breaking up.

        I’m not saying the OP is irredeemably evil or something, but as a culture we need to stop downplaying stalking behavior by calling it childish. Even if the ex truly ghosted (instead of just refusing to engage in endless “explanations” about why they want to break up) two wrongs don’t make a right. The ex didn’t write in with the specifics of what she did so we can’t tell her not to ghost. OP did write in so we can point out all the contradictions in the story they are telling themselves.

        1. Diahann Carroll*

          THANK YOU. This need to keep coddling the OP after he admitted to displaying seriously disturbed behavior “in retaliation” for being dumped is alarming and unhelpful.

        2. LTL*

          I had to read the letter and double check if I remembered it right after all these comments.

          LW says, “I made myself visible by texting her and sending friend requests on all social media.” This isn’t cyberstalking. It takes five seconds to send a friend request so I’m not inclined to thinking that this was a whole campaign. For all we know, LW could’ve sent just a couple of texts and been blocked right away, we don’t know that they repeatedly sent messages. Of course LW’s behavior wasn’t great but stalker is jumping to conclusions.

          I’ll say that some comments make some good points about oddities in the letter (I think it was Observer that made a particularly good post on patterns in the language abusers use). Pointing out contradictions is fine. But so many commentators are assuming the absolute worst of LW, and honestly I’ve seen leaps on the Internet far too often to simply say, “yup this is crazy.” There are too many things we don’t know from the letter.

          1. Just Another Zebra*

            But this IS cyberstalking, and downplaying it is not going to help.

            “Making myself visible” reads incredibly creepy to me – it’s literally saying “you’re trying to get away from me, but look! Here I am again!” That’s not inferring, or jumping to conclusions. It doesn’t matter that it only takes five seconds, in your words. He searched out her MULTIPLE online profiles and systematically “made himself visible”. It’s STALKING.

            If an ex did that and showed up at my job, I’d be freaked. OP doesn’t say how long the relationship was, but I’m assuming not long or all that serious, if he had to friend her on SM. His previous bad behavior (ie – the stalking!) makes him showing up at her job unsettling, even if it was by chance.

            Also, ignoring her only further sends the message “I’m here where you can see me. You can’t get away” even if that isn’t his intent (and I don’t believe it was, for what that’s worth)

          2. Aster*

            But so many commentators are assuming the absolute worst of LW

            We’re pointing out what the absolute worst COULD BE and how the ex would think of them. When one breaks up with someone, especially if one is a woman breaking up with a man in a culture where not a few men retaliate for breakups with anything from arguments to murder, and that person then displays alarming behavior such as a barrage of messages and then getting a job at the same workplace, the safe assumption is not “this is probably an average man and it probably won’t go further” but “these are warning signs and this situation may progress towards danger or even death for me.”

            Many of us know this from personal or witnessed experience (in my case, attending a funeral for someone whose ex- boyfriend killed her made an impression) and are bringing that knowledge to our analysis of this case.

        3. Jennifer Thneed*

          > when the ex actually said “I don’t want to see you any more.” That’s not ghosting, that’s breaking up

          My sister did this. She was telling me about an aquaintance who said that they couldn’t stay in touch, and sis called that ghosting. I had to point out that no, that was literally the opposite of ghosting. My sister likes to be a little dramatic, which I get because it can be fun, but she seems to believe herself too.

      2. JimmyJab*

        Many commenters seem to be assuming that OP is a man, but I don’t see anything suggesting that. Regardless, I think some of the OPs language is shady, but also the story is incomplete which makes is hard to judge.

        1. Batgirl*

          There are lots of gay female commentators on who have said their partners do this too. The key to this behaviour though is that it *mainly happens to women*. A man’s no is taken more seriously, even a ghostly one. The OP’s decision that the ex’s life decisions are less important than his hurt fee-fees are pure misogyny. It would still be misogyny if he were a woman who feels a woman’s no is neither here nor there and worthy of being tested with some persistence.

    2. Forrest*

      I think it’s very {MISSING INFORMATION HERE}. “I was ghosted and tried to contact my ex via various social media sites” covers the whole gamut from “two dates and she dropped out of contact, I sent six messages over a week saying, “hey, enjoyed our dates, would like to stay in touch even if you don’t want to be romantic” to “she dropped out of contact fearing for her safety and I bombarded her with messages for six weeks”.

      Pink (not necessarily red!) flags for me are that OP hasn’t filled in any of that detail. People who are abusive use exactly that kind of silence to make their own actions sound reasonable: “I didn’t say anything mean” — OK, cool, but 100 messages saying, “WE CAN WORK THIS OUT” is terrifying. It’s not that the OP says anything that shows they definitely are a stalker, it’s that they DON’T say exactly the things that stalkers and abusers suppress in order to justify their own behaviour, so I do understand why anyone with experience of stalking or abuse is bringing that reading to it.

      1. Traffic_Spiral*

        He says that he did it “in retaliation” – that pretty much says what you need to know. It wasn’t a well-meaning mistake.

        1. Forrest*

          I don’t think it does “tell you all you need to know”– like, for me it makes a huge difference whether the retaliatory behaviour was a couple of days of butthurt FEELINGSMAIL– incredibly irritating but not *scary* on its own– or several weeks, which is massively disproportionate and legitimately terrifying.

          (“On its own” is big here, though–even a couple of days of retaliatory behaviour could be very scary if it was on top of other controlling or obsessive behaviour, or if the other party has experience of being stalked or something. But I think the distinction between “in the immediate aftermath of a breakup, you were temporarily an arsehole” and “you were abusive/stalkery/obsessive” is a really important one to maintain.)

          1. biobotb*

            But even if the OP used “retaliation” to describe behavior that you think only rises to the level of “annoying,” following that up by then getting a job where the ex works means the ex has every reason to be a bit worried. She doesn’t know if he did it on purpose or not. At the very least, she knows she’s working with someone who has shown themselves to have poor emotional regulation; at worst, this is a sign that he’s upping his stalking behavior. She can’t really tell, and the OP now needs to do everything he can to make sure that it’s clear the situation is not a worst-case scenario.

          2. Aster*

            “But I think the distinction between “in the immediate aftermath of a breakup, you were temporarily an arsehole” and “you were abusive/stalkery/obsessive” is a really important one to maintain.)”

            Why? When the distinction is all about the safety of the one who did the breakup and usually doesn’t even have any social repercussions for the one who was “temporarily an asshole…abusive/stalkery/obsessive” ? In this case it may have social repercussions for the latter because he now has found (if he didn’t know before) that his ex is now his coworker, but usually this soi-disant distinction is used to tell people (usually women) not to listen to our instincts and to leave ourselves undefended. Who that benefits is obvious.

            1. Forrest*

              Because I think the thing that distinguishes abusive behaviour from arsehole behaviour is the power dynamics, and I think it’s important not to lose sight of that? Yes, there’s a power imbalance between men and women which is always present in het/mixed-sex relationships, but that doesn’t mean that every m/f relationship that ends badly is inherently victimising, or that the woman necessarily feels controlled, coerced or intimidated. There’s a dynamic there which really overestimates the importance and impact of privileged people in non-privileged people’s lives, and I don’t want to say that something is *clearly* intimidating or scary when it might just be *tiresome*.

    3. Metadata minion*

      I think part of the concern here is seeing it from the ex’s point of view. The initial social-media-and-texting blast might have been anywhere from annoying to creepy, but when her annoyingly clingy ex *shows up at her job*, I could easily see that causing her to panic and wonder if this is a stalking situation even if she hadn’t been thinking in that direction initially.

      1. Insert Clever Name Here*

        Yeah, even if it was a while ago and the ex was just annoyed at having to continually block OP, when that is coupled with OP then showing up as her new colleague (recognizing that it’s not odd given the field!) I could understand the ex being cautious. How many times has Allison given the advice that if something feels off to you to flag it to your boss: “Hey boss, there’s probably nothing here but just wanted you to be aware: OP and I used to date and after I ended things they sent me a bunch of texts and followed me on all my social media — I had to block them. I will have no problem treating them professionally, but I just wanted to let you know the history.”

        It’s a completely understandable response.

      2. Jennifer*

        I mean, the OP didn’t just randomly “show up at her job.” They were hired to work there, not knowing she worked there at all. I think people are working overtime to portray to OP in the least favorable light possible based on very little information. Many otherwise reasonable people have behaved poorly after a devastating breakup before coming to their senses. Calling them a potential abuser is way over the top and can be quite hurtful, depending on their history.

        1. biobotb*

          But the point is that the ex doesn’t *know* it wasn’t on purpose — a scenario the OP should keep in mind and work to dispel by being as professional as possible going forward (particularly given that they started the job by continuing a pattern of childish behavior).

        2. learnedthehardway*

          Honestly, in the ex’s shoes – if I had broken up with someone, then had a flurry of social media invites from them on various platforms, blocked the person (because who on earth WANTS to be connected with an ex on all sorts of social media platforms?!!?), and then run into them as a new employee at my job, I’d be defaulting to “OMG, he’s a stalker!”

          I wouldn’t take it on faith that the ex didn’t know I worked there. In fact, I would think, “He tracked me down and got a job here!”

          1. Just Another Zebra*

            Exactly this. The previous bad behavior of reaching out on multiple social media platforms is not in OP’s favor, here.

          2. RB*

            Yes, anyone who’s been stalked even a little bit or knows someone who’s been stalked is going to have this very-reasonable reaction. And the benefit of the doubt should go to the stalkee in situations like this since they are the ones in most danger

        3. Observer*

          Best case, he’s still a jerk and acting in a way that gives the ex legitimate reason to worry. She really has no way to know that he didn’t know that she works there on the one hand. On the other hand, he was notably and noticeably rude, by his own description.

    4. Perbie*

      Yes; for brevity it’s hard to include all details, and some folks are assuming the worst of op, when we just don’t know. Was this a mildly angsty breakup from 10 years ago as a teenager when everyone probably behaves a bit suboptimally? Was this actually ongoing, after a years long campaign of virtually shouting “But whyyyyy, our friendship!!” Did op coldly ignore their ex in an awkward way, or just didn’t approach them in a situation it wouldn’t have been normal to do so if ex was a stranger?
      I think it’s ok to be generous and kind; op, taking you at your word (mildly poor handling but nothing severe and persistent), alluson’s advice is correct. Give your manager a heads up, be polite snd professional with your ex (warmly professional? If you can pull off warm but not too invested; meaning, smile, be pkeasant, etc)

      1. Observer*

        The OP doesn’t say “didn’t approach” but “didn’t acknowledge”. It’s hard to think of many circumstances at work where not acknowledging a person in the room is “normal”. Certainly the fact of them being strangers would not qualify.

        1. Perpal*

          IDK I don’t necessarily say hello to everyone around me if we’re both working and they’re not trying to interact with me either?

    5. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

      There are several key pieces of information missing from this letter that could easily change the advice, but based on what is written, it seems the ex may be a bit concerned (maybe afraid) of OP.

      “The break up wasn’t great. She ghosted me.” – did she ghost OP or did she break up with them and then disappear from their life?
      “So in retaliation, I made myself visible by texting her and sending friend requests on all social media” – this is 100% NOT okay behavior. Imagine this happened to you and then this person shows up at your job and pretends they don’t know you. Could be creepy and concerning. And we don’t know how long they dated. Considering they weren’t already connected on social media, I’m going to go with not long, which makes this behavior even more concerning. Even if OP just displayed some poor judgment without malicious intentions, as the ex I can 100% understand why it would freak her out to see them show up at her job.

      1. Forrest*

        I mean, it’s also COMPLETELY possible that she was thinking, “Oh, awkward, it’s that woman I briefly dated two years ago who had really bad table manners. LOL, wait til I tell the group Whatsapp. Oh, and I must catch Jo before she heads out and let her know about that hospital appointment next week.”

        Like, there might be absolutely 0 problem here and she hasn’t given OP a second thought.

      2. Jennifer*

        You are making quite a few assumptions about the length of their relationship, the nature of their breakup, and the OP’s character, based on basically nothing in the letter.

        1. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

          Which is why I started off by saying there are several pieces of info missing. People need to realize how their actions come across to others, whether intentionally malicious or not.

        2. biobotb*

          No, they were pointing out that those pieces of information are missing, and could really change how we perceive the LW’s description of events.

  20. Nameless Shark*

    LW1: It is very stressful and scary when you’re on the receiving end of unwanted contact, even if the messages are not directly abusive. From your perspective OP maybe you were miffed and sent what you thought were nice messages. From her perspective she did not know if you were going to stop there or if you were the kind of person to escalate to serious stalking. If she had any history of domestic violence this experience would have been especially frightening. When I was a teenager I had an abusive boyfriend who stalked me and almost 20 years later I still have a strong reaction to anyone contacting me when I don’t want to hear from them.

    Your letter is vague on details so it’s hard to say if your behaviour objectively warrants alarm. But that’s irrelevant. Because this isn’t just about your behaviour, it’s also about her perceived threat. Even if your actions were on the “childish but harmless” end of the scale rather than “criminal stalking”, it’s likely that to her it was creepy, violating, and frightening. Hence, I can see why she would be completely horrified at seeing you.

    Alison’s advice is spot on and I urge you to follow through. If one of my employees came to me and raised red flags as your ex may have done, I would have serious doubts about keeping you long term.

    1. Valegro*

      I went through something similar with a verbally/emotionally abusive and controlling ex from high school to college. He started to get mildly physical and I ended things in a not great way, but agreed to be friends because my mom raised me to be a doormat. He ended up emailing me long rants about how I was both the person he was supposed to marry and the most vile female dog who ever lived. When I told him to stop he persisted and I blocked his email. He started using his dad’s account since this was pre-Gmail and email addresses cost money. I blocked that one as well. I thought he was gone from my life for 15 years only to send me and my family messages on all my social media (not sure how he found one of them) and texting about how he wanted to talk on my phone.
      It was terrifying, especially since I knew he had guns for hunting. I moved 6 hours away years ago, but that won’t stop someone with a real grudge. If he showed up at my work as a coworker it would be me or him.

      1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

        If he showed up at my work as a coworker it would be me or him.

        That’s why my advice to OP is to get out ASAP. Even if OP isn’t cut from the same cloth as your ex, that OP could be cut from the same cloth makes that endgame all but inevitable.

    2. Joielle*

      Yeah, a lot of commenters are going “we don’t know all the details! Maybe it was harmless!” but I have to say, I just don’t see it. To me, there’s no normal and good situation where you get broken up with, “retaliate” by repeatedly trying to contact the person, and then show up at their job. Even if it was a total mistake, the OP is completely over it, and understands that they were wrong, I think it’s safe to say that the ex probably doesn’t see it that way. And even if it’s not as bad as we fear, there’s no harm in acknowledging the situation in a professional, respectful way, to make sure everyone’s on the same page and there’s no lingering weirdness.

      1. Insert Clever Name Here*

        Yes, this. Maybe OP is as completely innocent as one group of commenters argues, maybe he is as completely malicious as others argue, and maybe (more likely) he’s somewhere on the spectrum between them. Regardless, acknowledge the situation, be professional, and then continue being uber professional for as long as they are coworkers.

      2. Forrest*

        I think people are getting a bit too caught up in litigating “is it reasonable for OP’s ex to be freaked out on seeing him”, as if the fact that she is freaked out to see him is established, but it’s really not. Like, a totally possible reading of this is that the OP is blowing it out of all proportion and her feelings on seeing him are, “oh huh, it’s that guy I dated two years ago who was a bit weird when I broke up with him”, and that the conversation with the manager had nothing to do with him at all.

        Like, the OP seems kind of tone-deaf to his ex’s feelings or perspective throughout the letter: I am uncomfortable with assuming anything about the woman’s reaction based on his perception of events. Everything from “didn’t even clock him, wouldn’t have cared if she did” to “holy shit it’s my stalker” is possible here, and we shouldn’t assume that his fears about her reaction or his assessment of it are accurate.

        1. Joielle*

          Yeah, who knows. I think the OP isn’t taking responsibility for what was pretty inappropriate, or at least weird, post-breakup behavior, but we don’t know how the ex actually feels and it doesn’t matter for purposes of what the OP should do now. They should acknowledge the situation, clear the air, and then be scrupulously polite and professional going forward (as we all should at a new job, but even more so when there’s any kind of history with a coworker).

    3. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

      If one of my employees came to me and raised red flags as your ex may have done, I would have serious doubts about keeping you long term.

      That’s where my thoughts went. If any of those other jobs’ doors aren’t 100% closed, I’d reach back out and find out if they would still want OP. In this scenario, the two weeks notice is optional. If those doors are all closed, my new job hunt would start that very night.

      I usually find more compassion for the ghostee and not the ghoster, but it really doesn’t matter. Both did things that are going to unfairly complicate working in that place going forward.

  21. White rabbit*

    #2. She was certain this was because of her affair with a senior married member of staff and she was given a formal warning about very inappropriate behavior in his office”. Was HE also given a formal warning? Or outright fired? If not, this company is not somewhere to work.

    1. Callie*

      My thoughts exactly. This stellar guy is having affairs with more junior employees and lying to give them references… what a class act.

      1. Elsajeni*

        It sounds like the OP is still working there; it may not be useful in resolving the question they asked, but I think it’s still useful as a “by the way, the situation raises this possible red flag about your employer, you may want to think about that.”

  22. anonanna*

    RE twitter: i use my first name and don’t have my last name linked to my handle so it doesn’t pop up when you google me. I like it because I can keep my account public (part of the fun of Twitter!) but semi anonymous. And I also stay away from posting political things (unless it’s something like the Uighyer crisis, because that shouldn’t be partisan).

    1. Thankful for AAM*

      I have a personal twitter and a work twitter – I post all the political stuff I want in personal twitter and just stick to professional, work related things in the work twitter. And I keep my name out of it.

  23. Random Canadian Commenter*

    I’m in Ontario, Canada and every job I’ve had has included the notice requirements in the contract (and every job I’ve had has had a contract).
    A side benefit is that if they end your employment early, they still need to pay you for the notice period.

  24. Jo*

    OP5, I’m sorry, that’s an awful thing to happen. I think Alison’s advice is good, and I know this doesn’t help much at the moment but over time hopefully the people you work with, either now or in the future if you find something soon, will develop into good referees too. Wishing you best of luck

    1. Letter Writer #5*

      Thank you. Yes, there are other folks who know pieces of my work, and would speak to it. It’s just that in my field, one particular position is always expected to be your reference – but obviously, nothing can be done about that. (And honestly, I feel so bad for even thinking about it. If it wasn’t that this is a contract, ending in a few months, unless I get lucky and they decide to renew it, I wouldn’t even think of it. But it is a contract, and I’m the sole financial support for my family. So I’m stuck thinking about this, and I feel awkward and awful. He was such a good, kind man. Absolute dream boss.) But yes, Alison’s advice is great and helpful. It’s a good way to formulate things, and will help me make a diplomatic reply. Thank you.

  25. Nooooope*

    If you’ve experienced a stalker before, #1 probably made your skin crawl! The letter had so many red flags – OP outright calls what they did retaliation. I wish that people would give some benefit of the doubt to the people who “ghost” – guess what, some dates are so creepy or get caught in creepy behaviour that is so repellant or feels so dangerous that POOF no more contact is the best way to handle it (not talking about moving out in a 4 year relationship while your partner is at work with no word.) People flagrantly throw around the term ghosting when maybe the better term is “escaped”…. And people who have been ghosted 90% of the time seem to be clueless to their own behaviour that caused the person to cut off contact. The letter sounds like someone who isn’t over what happened and gives serious heebie jeebies. I’d be stressed if I was the woman working there.

    1. Nameless Shark*

      Yeah… I have ghosted people before when I knew any attempts to end ties with them would risk greater aggression. Even when ghosting is unnecessary or unfair no one has a right to enforce their presence in anyone else’s life. It’s fine to feel upset but contacting them incessantly is wrong and creepy no matter what.

    2. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

      100% this. Even if OP is completely harmless, they need to realize how their behavior is coming across to the ex.

    3. londonedit*

      Yes…in my twenties I went ‘no contact’ on a friend (not even a romantic relationship) because I finally realised they’d spent five years low-key bullying and gaslighting me and had driven most of my good friends away. I definitely wasn’t going to attempt to have a ‘break-up’ conversation with them. And I know from friends-of-friends that this person has since told all of their friends a story in which I totally ghosted them for no reason at all because I am mean and awful and a nasty person. It’s a fairly common pattern.

    4. Granger*

      YES! Totally agree. Ghosting is sometimes a reflection of the ghoster’s fear of conflict / avoidance, but I think a lot of the time it is a reflection of the ghostee’s prior behaviors / immaturity / volatility / etc. so that the *reason* they/the relationship are being rejected is the *same reason* they’re being ghosted as the means to the terminate the relationship.

    5. careerwoman*

      So much all of this. If you have ever ended a relationship (or even a date or two) with a person who felt that their desire to be in a relationship with you trumped your desire not to be in a relationship with them, you will have a reaction to this post.

    1. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain*

      Notice via interpretive dance, for me, would mostly involve hand gestures I’m afraid, and they’d be really easy to interpret.

            1. MayLou*

              Apparently the song used to be Quit by Kanye West but he is tough on copyright infringements so it got changed. It would make more sense with the original song!

              1. Marzipan Shepherdess*

                Well, one could always use the song “Take This Job and Shove It”…complete with appropriate gestures.

              2. KateM*

                Is it really an “interpretative dance” when all of the actual message is in the song? Most of dances by preschoolers I have seen have been far more interpretative than that.

        1. Twenty Points for the Copier*

          The first thing this letter made me think of is the person who gave notice via the fish display. (although I guess that was not really notice so much as quitting effective immediately)

    2. Working Hypothesis*

      I was kind of wondering how giving notice via interpretive dance would work. Unless you’re incorporating ASL or something, you’re going to have a pretty hard time getting across concepts like “my last day will be September 24.”

          1. Kathlynn (canada)*

            I have the opportunity to do this but I won’t. (I got a new job, waiting for the security clearance before resigning. I have the time, since I’m on leave. It’s sooo tempting to be bad about it.

            I think I will blast this song in the car on the way into work though. and the rest of my “take this job and shove it” playlist.

            (the job is actually getting a really nice resignation letter, because they let me go on leave at the beginning of covid-19. No fuss, didn’t even need a doctor’s note.)

      1. Lady Heather*

        David Armand has a few amazing videos on youtube. None of them about quitting per se, but very interesting.

    3. Mark Roth*

      I gave notice once by taking a call on my cell about a job I wanted, accepting the offer while trying to keep reception in the parking lot, coming in and trying to not act too excited about it, telling the manager, and then writing out a note with the same thing I just told him.

      That’s kind of like a dance.

      1. RecentAAMfan*

        I live in Canada, and have usually gotten boring old verbal notice (so clearly no legal or even hugely conventional thing about letters). Interpretive dance or cod would be an interesting change…

    4. 3DogNight*

      I came into the comments just to say that interpretive dance should be used more often as a communication device. And, Alison should recommend it more :)

    5. Anon 2.0*

      Anyone remember the guy that took a joke as real advice and quit his grocery store job on motorized scooter with balloons or what not attached? ..”We were treated to a slow role by the hungry man dinners.’ Still sticks in my head.

  26. Sara without an H*

    OP#4, unless there’s a complicating factor you didn’t include in your letter, this sounds simple enough. You write the letter, giving whatever is considered reasonable notice in your field, and including the date of your last day on the job. Then set up an appointment to talk with your manager, announce your decision, and hand him/her/ze the letter.

    And then you may launch into your interpretive dance…

    1. Lucy P*

      My company strongly urges resignations in writing, after accepting an oral resignation. It’s a safety net for the employer so that the employee can’t file unemployment claiming that they were fired.
      The company also has odd rules about forfeiture of benefits (accrued vacation and other things) upon resignation. It’s thoroughly documented in the handbook, which most people don’t read. We’ve had people return to the office after they receive their final paycheck and do some interpretive dance because they expected more money in their check and didn’t get it. Now, whenever someone quits, I remind them of the handbook language. They don’t like it, but it prevents future displays of coarse gestures.

  27. Brooks Brothers Stan*

    #3 I don’t maintain an active twitter, but most of my colleagues do. From what our communications department has explained multiple times: if you’re going to have a public social media account that you use to promote yourself, don’t crap-post. You can edge towards more controversial statements as long as you keep them in your realm of commentary as long as you remain moderately professional…but don’t be someone that stirs the pot just to see what happens.

    Of course, all bets are off once you’re fully established in your field. But that’s true for everything. Do what your resume can handle.

  28. Leslie Knope*

    #3: I’m in public policy. In terms of getting hired, I think you’re fine either way for most jobs (having a public Twitter presence versus a private account). However, different jobs will have different views on how you should behave on Twitter once you get hired. It could range from being strongly encouraged to have an active Twitter presence, to being prohibited from discussing anything related to your work on social media. This can really affect your day-to-day experience on your job. Do you want to be plugged in and responding to emerging issues throughout the day, or are you someone who dislikes multitasking and pressure to respond quickly? You may want to think about your preferred level of public engagement with your work and screen for that during your job search.

      1. Ben Gadsby*

        Hi both, UK policy professional here happy to endorse this advice and Alison’s. One other thing I’d add on pure politics is that different types of jobs will have different expectations. So for example a consultancy would likely explicitly want staff from all major party backgrounds to help them advise clients (and that’s probably part of the marketing) whereas a charity in UK law has to be more careful about being seen to support a particular party and will therefore be more cautious about public postings. The flip side of that is we have a right wing government in the UK and the charity sector is more left leaning, so being right leaning in the charity sector has its advantages. Obviously, if you have a specific policy interest, look mainly at organisations with aligned interests – no point applying to work for Greenpeace if you’re pro fracking

  29. Workerbee*

    For #1, there’s a lot missing from this letter. As it is, the OP’’s behavior after the “ghosting” makes me think there were other red flags his ex picked up on that made her decide it was better if they didn’t continue seeing each other. It is not normal behavior to start pursuing someone online, and the OP didn’t even stop doing it of their own volition; the ex had to do the blocking. Makes me look more closely at the phrasing of the two statements: “The break-up wasn’t great. I got ghosted.” Captain Awkward has a host of letters from people whose were uncomfortable or afraid to break up with people because of how they will react.

    Advice: “I moved on” doesn’t equate with doing an “I’m ignoring you!” equivalent. Depending on what the ex told the boss, you may have to put in extra outward effort to convey stability, level-headedness, and maturity—even if you still feel justified in your hurt/angry feelings. This is a job you’re excited for, so focus on the reasons why you chose it and what you hope will come of it.

    1. Granger*

      “…put in extra outward effort to convey stability, level-headedness, and maturity – ”

      SO MUCH THIS ^^^^

    2. Generic Name*

      This is where I’m at too. And I honestly wonder if the definition the OP is using for ghosting is what most people consider ghosting. Taking the OP at their word, either way, contacting someone online and via text so often that they block you isn’t great, and you need to show that you can be a normal and SAFE coworker to be around.

      1. Jennifer*

        It’s fairly normal to block people on social media after a breakup. Heck, it’s pretty normal to block someone on social media after one less than pleasant conversation. It doesn’t necessarily mean the person feels afraid or is being stalked. I think people are reading a lot more into blocking than they need to.

  30. Sssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss*

    Many, many jobs ago, I worked at a place that handed out a huge contract to sign when you were hired. I had them change the language of requiring 4 weeks notice to two for leaving the job.

    The job was not a good fit, and I started looking for a new job. I called the Ministry of Labour in Quebec (where I was at the time) and they said, while the company could sue for a breach of contract if I gave less than two weeks, there was no law about it and I could leave any time.

    I left not long thereafter with NO notice. (They never bothered to sue…)

    I have given no notice, one week’s notice and the more usual two week’s notice. It was always verbal and accepted and then sometimes my boss would say, could you follow this up with a letter or email for our files? And I would oblige if the departure was on good terms.

  31. Jennifer*

    #1 Yeah, her ghosting you means she wants to pretend the relationship didn’t happen, but you don’t have to pretend that she doesn’t exist. Just treat her as you would any other coworker. You also may want to give your boss a heads up about your little social media friending spree. I understand that sometimes we make poor decisions right after a very hurtful breakup so I don’t judge you for it, but she may frame it differently if she has spoken to the boss already.

  32. Granger*

    Do we know that OP1 is male? It could change the dynamics for both parties depending on male or female since we don’t live in an ideal world and there are so many bad managers – e.g. sexist assumptions about overreactions, hysteria, ’emotional’ handling, etc. Either way, I hope OP and ex have a competent, thoughtful manager!

      1. Jennifer*

        It doesn’t – but people seem to assume that the OP is more dangerous if they are male rather than female. I think if they thought the OP was female some of the more extreme responses assuming they are a creepy stalker would change a bit.

        1. Detective Amy Santiago*

          Women are statistically more likely to be victims of partner violence from male partners than female partners. Though regardless of gender, the behavior OP#1 describes is alarming.

          1. Jennifer*

            I’m very much aware of that. I think most people are. The fact remains that we don’t know the OP’s gender, and people are making a lot of assumptions.

        1. Insert Clever Name Here*

          That’s what I was thinking, but since I was also assuming OP1 is male it’s helpful to have it confirmed that the advice doesn’t change based on OP’s gender.

        2. Tau*

          Hmm – I’d think that in the same-gender situation, you’d end up with an additional layer of complexity with OP potentially having to ensure they don’t accidentally out their ex to her boss. Which would make this whole thing even more unpleasant for OP’s ex, so thank goodness that’s not the case.

        3. RB*

          This has touched a nerve for me. Suppose the female employee and her manager are not sure how much weight they can place on his “assurances,” would the manager then be justified in letting him go to protect the female employee? Or to simply avoid the potential for drama?

    1. Traffic_Spiral*

      Statistically more men date women than women date women, so it’s the more likely scenario. Also if they were both women there would probably be some mention of whether one or both parties feel like getting outed at work. Taking both these indicators into consideration it’s highly unlikely that it’s a woman.

  33. Jennifer*

    #2 This person has horrible judgment and if I were you I’d reconsider my friendship with her. She can’t hold on to jobs because of flaky behavior. She has affairs with married men. She’s a proven liar. She’s not a “nice person.” Pass along Alison’s advice and then stop taking her calls.

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      I’d just caution the OP in the fact that it’s possible this woman could tarnish the OPs reputation as well. She’s a known mistress, that’s usually isn’t viewed kindly within many circles and “friend of” can make you a target for gossip.

  34. Generic Name*

    OP1: I’ve been in your position. I was ghosted by a guy I briefly dated. It sucked, so I get it. Once I realized that he was ghosting me (after 2 or 3 texts and a phone call were not returned) I sent him a final “breakup” text, more for my own closure, than anything else. What I did not do was contact him ever again on any medium. Was I hurt and mad? Heck yes!

    Please try to think about it from her perspective. Have you ever been contacted by someone you did not want to be? We’re you pleased with the unwanted contact? Or were you maybe annoyed or angry? When a woman gets contacted against her wishes, it can also feel very threatening, whether the other person intends to be threatening or not.

    Alison’s advice is spot on. You messed up by contacting her against her wishes. Acknowledge that and be normal and polite to her. I know you feel like the injured party here, and you’re thinking about your feelings. She’s likely thinking about her physical safety, even if you know you’d never hurt anyone. She doesn’t know that.

  35. juliebulie*

    “[I]f she could wander off and leave some of her work to someone else, she did. She was a nice person though”

    No, a nice person does not wander off so that other people will finish her work. (I won’t even comment on the “niceness” of the affair since I don’t know the whole story.)

    1. Jennifer*

      I do. But the combination of cheating and lying in addition job flakiness makes her a risky person to consider a friend in my opinion.

      1. never comments*

        I don’t support having an affair with a married person. But let’s be clear- she isn’t the one that is cheating. He is.

  36. MI Dawn*

    My employer asks for a letter or email if you are resigning. Mostly for auditing purposes (we are a highly regulated industry in my state) and they need documentation of resignation. If you “no-show” to quit – which I’ve had happen to me by one of my employees (long story short: they were hired at top of salary because their former job with our state paid that much, decided we were asking for too much work for what we were paying them, and didn’t show up on their second day of employment) – HR will contact you to request a brief email that states “I resign”. You don’t need to give a reason, they just want the documentation.

  37. Anonya*

    This reminds me so much of behavior that I dealt with in high school and early college from various dudes, it’s not even funny. And I’m 40, so social media wasn’t even a thing. I highly, highly doubt he was ghosted. More like she told him it was over, and he didn’t take it well. OP1, your behavior is not cool. If you care about this person at all, leave her the hell alone.

    Of all the luck, one of those dudes showed up at a wedding where we were both guests. It had been 18-19 years since we’d last seen each other. Why he thought it was OK to come up to me and try to make friendly conversation, I will never understand. He stalked me in college and has occasionally attempted friending me on social media over the years. I’ve always blocked/deleted the requests. During that whole stupid wedding reception, I felt like a scared 19-year-old again.

    1. Batgirl*

      Yes, I’m getting “young and clueless” vibes. Which will matter to any drama-averse manager. He needs to start treating his ex as a colleague with respect and maturity, instead of as a disappointing accessory to his own story.

    1. Batgirl*

      Does a person’s life have to be in danger before you’re allowed to insist on respectful workplace situations for women who end romances?

  38. Quill*

    1: talk to your manager preemptively for sure. But also do be aware that based on both of your past behavior you’re going to have to be the bigger person (the person who acts as if you are colleagues who do NOT have any sort of painful personal history) in order to get what you want, which is a calm workplace where you are respected.

    2: This is a mess but fortunately not your circus! Practice sympathetic, noncommittal noises for when this inevitably blows up.

    5: I’m sorry for your loss. Please take some time to practice your interviewing so that feelings don’t erupt the first time you have to talk to a potential employer about your former boss, you never know when additional stress, such as an interview, will pull things back up.

  39. The Man, Becky Lynch*

    Re Notice: our attorney made us take our request for written notice out of our handbook because it could at some point be seen as a “contract” of employment in the right circumstances. It would mean if we require the to give notice in writing, we have to give them the same 2 weeks notice for termination as well.

    Often attorney’s are super conservative about what they want you to have written in policies, so take that with a grain of salt! But yeah, it’s not even advised to have that requirement. They can’t really hold you to it.

    I have seen places that will request it in writing and if you don’t do it, they won’t write that you resigned with notice, they will say you just abandoned your job. Which is often part of how they determine if someone is eligible for re-hire.

  40. The Man, Becky Lynch*

    Dear #5, please don’t feel bad about your mind going to how this effects you on a professional level. It is absolutely possible to mourn the loss of a person you cared for on a personal level, while thinking of the professional issues it causes as well. When I found out my old boss was diagnosed with dementia, I was devastated on every level. It hurt on a personal level because I care about him deeply as a human, I’ve actively looked out for his well being as well as his businesses well being. Both are intertwined at that time. I was also worried about my reference possibilities as well.

    Well the dementia ate his mind much faster than we had thought and then tragically we lost him as well after years of the illness. Not as abruptly and heinous as your boss but it was still a life changing event for many people who surrounded him.

    Everyone afterwards understood when I told them that he wasn’t available due to his condition and then later his death. I’d say ‘normally I’d give you my bosses number but he’s no longer lucid, I can offer you these other references instead.’

  41. Just Another Zebra*

    I know many people have already commented on OP#1, but I’m going to throw in my two cents, since I’ve kind of been both the OP and the ex.

    When I started my job, I was introduced to all the staff members – one of which was an ex BF I had broken up with (it was messy) and blocked across social media. As soon as it was convenient – maybe an hour into my first day of work – I went to HR and explained the situation to them. I assured them that I could be professional, and that I was sorry I had to bring it up, but I felt it best I made them aware of the situation. They kept us as reasonably separated as possible, until he left for another job elsewhere.

    I agree with Alison, OP, in that you should speak with your manager ASAP and tell them the full story (including the messages on SM, though you can maybe blanket it as “I didn’t handle the breakup well”) and let them decide how they’d like to proceed. It may be worth it to reach out to some of the other positions you turned down and see if they’re still available, just in case.

  42. pandora366*

    LW#4, Fellow Canadian reader here. So far, I have given notices by email and in-person to follow up. The only thing that my former manager asked was to specify a last date for her. I didn’t do in-person first only because said manager preferred email so she can document.

  43. Forrest*

    I find it really weird that a lot of people recognise that OP1 isn’t a very reliable narrator and may well be down-playing “my retaliation”, but are willing to completely accept his perception that his ex was freaked out by seeing him, may well be speaking to her manager about his behaviour and so on. All of these things seem like *possible* readings of the situation to me, but it also seems pretty possible that OP is massively over-estimating his importance to his ex and the impact his appearance had on her. His evidence for thinking that she was alarmed or upset to see him is *incredibly* thin–just, “I heard her tell my new manager that she needed to talk to her in private before she went home”.

    If someone had been a dick to me over a break-up *and* then gone and implied that I was devastated / horrified / scared etc that I was going to be working with him, I’d be more annoyed by the latter than the being-a-dick-ness. Saying that you’re “sure” she’s freaked out by seeing him is putting a lot of faith in his perception of her reaction, which seems a weird thing to do if you also think he’s a stalker or abusive. Like, if you think someone’s abusive (which OP may not be, but it’s definitely one legitimate reading of the letter), you don’t grant them the power to tell their victim’s story: you always keep open the possibility that they are completely and utterly wrong about their impact on another person.

    1. RB*

      This is an interesting point. He may be so arrogant that he has vastly overestimated his importance in the entire situation.

      1. Batgirl*

        This is very VERY possible, but I’d still want to speak to the manager and get an early word of reassurance in if I were him.

    2. Workerbee*

      As to your first part, my experience leads me to think that people who are knowingly doing things they shouldn’t (e.g. retaliation, etc.) do actually have their perception filters on high. They just tend to use them for their own benefit, not their targets.

      It would be cool if OP was just hypersensitive and can focus on excelling at the job.

    3. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

      Even given this, I think Alison’s advice stands, because the known facts include

      – after they broke up, LW tried friending his ex on a variety of social media “in retaliation.”
      – the ex blocked him on each of these social media platforms.
      – LW did this several times, rather than accepting the fact that his ex blocked him when he sent messages about what the relationship meant to him.

      She could be scared that he has turned up, without having been devastated by the break-up.

      1. anonymous 5*

        THIS. I’ve had a couple instances of men over-contacting me, and then showing up, which have really freaked me out. But in the worst two cases, there had never even been any romantic prospect/contact at all. It’s the *behavior* that’s the problem, not the particulars of the motivation.

        1. Forrest*

          I’m not at all saying, “she’s not freaked out, it’s no big deal”, or that his motivations matter more than the impact on her, I’m just saying *we don’t know* what the impact on her is. We don’t even know for sure that she *saw* OP: it’s literally just his guilty conscience and overhearing her say she needs to speak to her manager before she goes home, which could be nothing to do with him at all. We shouldn’t be taking her fear, freakedoutness, &c for granted when the evidence isn’t even as specific as, “when she saw me she frowned and looked upset”.

          I think OP should tell his manager that he’s recognised someone he used to date and hopes that won’t be a problem, but he really proceed as if it’s a certainty that she is scared of him or sees him as a threat, and I think it’s alarming that people think they can say that for sure based on the very, very limited description of events here.

      2. Forrest*

        She could well be! I think it’s a totally possible interpretation from the face laid out here. I’m just freaked out by the people taking her “freaked outness” as an established fact, when the OP’s description of the situation doesn’t even rise to, “she frowned when she saw me and didn’t look happy”. OP doesn’t even say for sure that she noticed him. There’s potentially a LOT of projection going on here.

        I think OP should give his heads up to his manager that he dated someone there, but he should stay well, WELL away from insinuating, suggesting or saying that she was clearly upset to see him unless he has a *lot* more evidence of that than he’s presented here.

  44. GI Cal*

    Hi, i am LW1

    things to clear up, I am a man, the breakup/friendship was over 2 years ago, we weren’t introduced to each other at work we just passed each other(we do work in the same office space), and maybe i was being self-important to think they might want to talk to my manager about me as thankfully it has not been brought up.

    Now about our relationship, we started as friends and then progressed to a relationship(maybe 6 months) then that ended and we stayed friends( of course there was confusion on both parts of what we really wanted but we still talked every day).

    But the GHOSTING happened while we were friends. All of a sudden no replies to my texts. when i got the gist that they ghosted me after of over a month of no response. i started sending them messages(maybe max 10 spread out) over a social media app that we used to use. Just telling her that i hoped she was doing fine and missed talking to her(because they were my friend, and with me that counts for something) . They never replied so i was being dumb(retaliatory and hurt) so i decided to send them a friend request on 2 other apps(really popular) they used. and that was it. Look, am i proud of that? Hell no. But it is what it is now.

    And no i did not know they were working there or else i wouldn’t have been surprised or asking for advice.

    I am in a great relationship now for over a year. yes i did tell her about what i had done. which she rip me a new one and let me know how petty, creepy and dumb it was for me to do that. But she also wasn’t surprised by the actions of the ghoster (deduce my dear watsons).

    1. IDontKnow*

      You should be fine, if your manager does bring it up just let her know you did date and it wasn’t the greatest breakup but you can be professional and work without problems.

      I think people are harping on your retaliation, rightfully so. But it was just through social media and i don’t think you went to her house and actually stalked her. I will say they seem to think you are a terrible person because you are a man and got ghosted by your ex. But we all have done dumb things when it comes to relationships and they are no different. Just do your job if you are to interact be extremely respectful and good luck!!

      1. c-*

        Excuse you, not everyone reacts to a bad break up by briefly turning stalker. Not by a long shot. Given the info included in the original letter, the reaction was reasonable, because it described alarming behaviour. Your comment came across as dismissing those fears, which for most people are based on personal experience, by calling people no better than harassers. That’s not ok, and if it was not what you intended to say, you should have phrased it differently.

        Back to you, GI Cal: thank you for updating us and providing further details. I’m glad it wasn’t as bad as we assumed: 10 messages across 3 platforms 2 years ago, when there was a previous friendship, is bad but not very alarming, given you haven’t bothered her again since. Next time, please provide details if possible so people are able to give you nuanced feedback.

        I’m glad you’ve learnt it wasn’t ok to act like that. I think you were right not to acknowledge her in passing but it may still be smart to clear the air preemptively as Allison suggested. Not in a damage control way, if you think she hasn’t raised it, but in a “hey, just wanted to let you know, this won’t be a problem”/CYA way. Maybe just with your boss, maybe with both? Use your judgment on that one.

        Going forward, I’d make sure to be impeccably professional with her (I’d go for a bit of distance: polite and respectful, not warm and friendly). I’d also be very careful never to be alone with her, and to document any interaction with her (i.e., use e-mail whenever possible). That’s mostly to CYA if there are any problems in the future, with the added benefit of protecting her as well. You do need to interact with her professionally, though, or people will pick up on the subtext and that could impact you negatively.

        I’m telling you this because I’ve been harassed in the workplace by being falsely accused of being “threatening” and “unhinged”* and documentation helped. Hopefully you two will be professional and this will be a moot point, but it’s better to have it and not need it than the opposite.

        * I’m providing this context because it may be relevant in your situation, if your ex turns out to have a bone to pick. Hopefully she won’t, you know better than me whether that’s likely.

    2. GI Cali*

      Somewhat off topic. But its kind of bittersweet that everyone assumed i am a man since i do identify as that, just wasnt born with the right equipment. I guess i should take my wins where i cant get them.

      1. c-*

        Dude, stop it with the pity party. You asked for the advice, you got the advice, now take the advice and sin no more.

        Reproducing toxic mysoginistic patterns when engaging with women is not a valid way to express your gender identity.

        1. Jabroni*

          Yeah his last post does not help.
          I will say a lot of people posting here have been pretty self congratulatory on how terrible the OP is and how they would never take those actions. Lets face it statistically speaking there are wolves among us in the comments section. I’ve heard many times from a certain sex of how they snoop on ex’s on social media and even on their new girlfriends(women tend to stalk other women). Some even go as far of “mistakenly” liking an 8 year old post/photo. If i was the OP i wouldn’t even have replied, as it didn’t help change anyone’s already bad perception of him.
          Besides that slight dig at his ex at the end of his response, he didn’t try to justify his behavior by trying to change our perception of the ex’s character. He only stuck to the timeline and his “retaliation(terrible word to use)”, and how he knows he was wrong. i guess somewhat commendable.
          Anyways OP i’m glad management hasn’t come to you and made this a bigger thing. Follow the advice of the few people who have responded with some understanding of your situation and not completely vilified you. Stay safe from those wildfires if you are from Cali.

          P.S. So ghosting is a good thing now? Asking for a friend.

    3. Working Hypothesis*

      LW1, thanks for braving the comment thread to come give us more information. There was a lot that wasn’t in your letter, and it really helps. The comments her aren’t always easy to read just because there are so many of us… it can feel like we’re all piling on when it’s more than everyone had a slightly different lens and we all want to share, but that still doesn’t make it easy. Especially when we’re mostly in agreement that you did something wrong!

      In this case, it sounds like you already know you did something wrong… but also that there’s no reason that needs to be career-defining. It’s been a while, you appear to have something jumped the gun to fear that your ex was complaining about your presence, and now your chief concern needs to be to demonstrate to both your ex and your bosses that you are capable of exercising completely normal, appropriate, professional behavior around your ex, without anything that happened in the past interfering with that. If you do that, it will be enormously less likely that she *will* complain about your presence if she hasn’t already; and enormously less likely that it will be a decisive blow to your ability to work there even if she does.

      So concentrate on treating her with absolute professional propriety. Be polite but not warm, helpful when asked but don’t reach out if there isn’t a really good reason to. She’s likely to regard both excessive warmth and friendliness *and* refusing to speak to her as you did when you encountered her in the hallway both as red flags, so try to steer a middle course. When in doubt, ask yourself “what would I do in this situation if the reality were that I had briefly met her two years ago through a mutual acquaintance, never gotten to know her well, and never cared about her in the slightest either pro or con?” Then try to do that, whatever it is.

      That’s the most likely behavior to calm both your ex and your employers (if they ever find out about your past actions toward her): behave exactly the way you would if there were nothing to worry about here. If you do it conscientiously enough, there probably won’t be.

    4. Nameless Shark*

      Ghosting is a pretty common way to end friendships. It’s much more awkward to end friendships; people don’t often formally “break up” with their friends. I’m sure that doesn’t make it any easier for the ghostee – being ghosted sucks no matter what. If you’ve realised your reaction was creepy and inappropriate then you can safely store this under “mistake I made as a human and learned from” box.

    5. Batgirl*

      You know what you did, so that’s good. If it comes up though, don’t say you did it because “friendship means something to me”. Friendship isn’t owed, or to be chased or insisted upon. Stick to the newer realisation of “I was being dumb”. It’s a braver, more impressive sentiment. Time is also on your side; a two year break is less alarming for you to be there than if you had appeared after a recent break up. Phrase everything as “the past is the past” and treat ex as any other colleague and you should be fine.

  45. Anony-Mouse*

    OP#5 I’m so sorry about your boss, how terrible. Is your line of work one where people know each other? Perhaps from conferences or other networking? Perhaps others in your field already know that he died and when they see you worked at company A, his company, in his line of work, they will put two and two together.

    1. Letter Writer #5*

      Somewhat, but not hugely so. I’m in academe, but in a large sub-group. There are some people in my area who are well known, but not many, and they tend to be known just within the sub-field. My boss is always the Provost – I report directly to him or her. With so many Provosts, I don’t think many people would know he died. His murder did make the papers, but only in his new city and ours, where he had worked for 7 years. Thanks for the suggestion, though. It does give me other ideas.

  46. Amber*

    The statement from Alison on question 4 makes me want to quit my job by interpretive dance now. (If I do go through with it in a few months, I’ll send a video.)

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