Tuesday 18 June 2019

The sad ending to the story of the man who ghosted his girlfriend - only for her to become his boss

Caitlin McBride

Caitlin McBride

Not every viral story has a happy ending.

After one man's story went viral as he asked for advice in one of the worst professional situations you can think of - he has responded with an update. Which is even more juicy than the initial problem.

Let's recap: A man emailed the Ask A Manager advice column for guidance on his best course of action when he learned his ex would be his new boss. But this wasn't any ordinary break-up - he ghosted her after being together for three years, living together for two. Despite this being 10 years ago, he was concerned that her new role would make his work life difficult. As an expat, he explained that the community where he works is extremely tight-knit and therefore socialising with his new boss is not only to be expected, but also unavoidable.

Manager Alison Green said she didn't know how he could salvage the situation after the "emotional destruction" of his break-up method, advising him to contact her immediately before she began the new role so they could be civil in the workplace. Well, contact her he did.

The man, still remaining anonymous, updated Green with his situation and it didn't go well.

"I immediately reached out to Sylvia, along the lines of your kind advice and also offered to discuss the way forward in person," he wrote. "She did not get back to me. I was not sure she was still using her old email address and with a return to school day fast approaching, I re-sent the email to her new work email. I also dropped a short message to the HR, without providing full details. Next morning (Sunday!) I got a call from the chair of our board of overseers, asking me to meet him as soon as possible."

The pair had a meeting wit the chairman, where he was given behavioural guidelines for interactions with her.

"As you can imagine, this meeting was incredibly embarrassing for me, personally and professionally. Fortunately, unlike some of your readers hope, they did not think the past failed relationship was a sackable offence," he explained. "At the end, there is not that much interaction between the director and employees on daily basis. The chair was more worried about possible gossip and related implications for the organisation. Ours is an expensive enterprise, this is a conservative place and nobody wants any scandal.

"At the same time, they considered it was necessary - as they framed it - to put some measures in place to avoid possible problems in the future. I was also told in no uncertain terms that although the schedule for the year was already set, it was far more difficult to replace the director than an employee (me).

"The measures included things like we are never to talk to each other without a third person present, all meetings documented, no discussion about her and the management with my colleagues, not even in watercooler chat, limit our interactions beyond the school, meaning no socialising for me. I do not understand how this could work," he added.

"It would be very much out of character for me and my colleagues and friends would get suspicious. Although not presented at such, it felt very punitive. ... I found the proposed measures rather excessive. It would make my position unattainable, even in a short run. Therefore, I resigned on the spot. My resignation was later accepted."

While he said he is "most certainly not asking for pity", he left without having another job to go to and no prospects on the horizon. You'd almost feel a little bad for him, until he concludes with...

"I do not know how it was for Sylvia. I have not seen her since. She seemed fine. She was not gleeful, very matter of fact, saying it was possible to work together and etc," he explained.

"The chair did most of the talking. I found out later that her husband comes from a prominent family here, everyone knows them. Nepotism is prevalent in this culture and family status really matters. The chair knows them. I just do not understand why she had to get him involved. We could have tried to sort this out between us first, no need to go to the top immediately."

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