You are viewing this article in the archives. For the latest breaking news and updates in Ann Arbor and the surrounding area, see
Posted on Sun, Jan 22, 2012 : 5 a.m.

Old high school boyfriend doesn't want past relationship acknowledged

By Carolyn Hax

Dear Carolyn:

Almost 20 years ago, I was part of a large circle of friends in high school. One of the guys and I dated a couple of times in high school and then 10 years later when we were both in the same town. When I say "dated," that's all I mean, nothing more.

Fast forward to today, and this old high school guy sent a "friend" request and a message saying the usual, "So how's your life these days?" I didn't accept the request, but messaged back that life was great, happily married, children, rewarding work and volunteer stuff, etc.

He responded that he would appreciate it if I never told anybody, especially his wife, that we'd dated ... ever! He elaborated that he doesn't want her to know the type of guy he used to be before they married, which to me means I was "that type of girl," which is not true. She was part of this large circle and was herself dating somebody else

. Our reunion is coming up. His messages keep getting more insistent that I do not acknowledge them at the reunion. While I have no intention of bringing up the past, I do resent being told that I must lie to keep peace between him and his wife. Any ideas?

-- What's Really Bothering Me?

If I had to guess, I'd say "what's really bothering" you is what you ably spelled out in your letter -- the implication that you're somebody's sketchy past. And that you've been asked to lie, which puts you on the spot.

I also suspect that, 10 years ago, he was seeing both of you at the same time, though that's hardly the only reason he or she might see you as a threat.

But I don't have to guess or suspect, and you don't have to worry there's something more complicated going on. That's because the only thing that matters is what you believe is the right thing to do.

You obviously don't feel it's right to cover for him, so don't, and reply to his latest message with those intentions: "I won't put 'Roger's Ex' on my nametag, but I won't lie, either, if somebody else brings it up."

I hope he takes your polite refusal as a cue to bring more honesty to his marriage (hey -- no guffawing), but hope is as far as I'll go; that part of the problem is neither mine nor yours to solve.

--0-- --0-- --0--

Dear Carolyn:

I am divorced after 24 years of marriage. My ex-husband dropped out of life over 10 years ago, refusing to work, using drugs and doing nothing around the house. I stayed for the sake of our children until it became clear a year ago that he was doing more harm than good.

Now, I wake up every day and feel happy! I can appreciate my children, home, job, friends and extended family more without the pressure of a miserable marriage on my back. I love my life.

The fly in the ointment is extended family and close friends who keep pressuring me to "not close myself off from love." They encourage me to date, to try to meet men. I am not a recluse. I have a very full life with lots of activities with friends and family.

I do not feel any lack by not having a man in my life. My parents asked me recently, "Do you want to spend the rest of your life alone?" After soul searching I can honestly say my answer is "Yes, happily alone." How do I tell them how happy I am without sounding preachy or defensive? How do I ask them nicely to leave the subject alone?

-- Joyfully single mother

Since your nearest and dearest seem fixed on the idea that you're unhappy, telling them to butt out will only assure them they're right to worry.

Instead, unfair though it may seem, your best bet is to summon all your patience -- and newfound lightness -- and respond to their concerns with brief, upbeat, open-ended bulletins of truth. Imagine you'r

e a kindly alien and they're curious about this strange visitor to their paired-off world. They: "Do you want to spend the rest of your life alone?"

You: "I hope I'm always this happy, thanks."

They: "Don't close yourself off from love!"

You: "I feel a lot of love right now, thank you."

They: "You should date, try to meet men."

You: "Don't worry -- when people interest me, I spend time with them."


When this grows tiresome, too -- quickly I imagine -- trust the foundation you've laid and start answering with a smile, a "You're sweet to worry" and a crisp change of subject. While it is not as satisfying as telling busybodies to step off, being happy while also kindly and consistently denying them traction has the power to frustrate your meddlers away.

Email Carolyn at tellme(at), follow her on Facebook at or chat with her online at noon Eastern time each Friday at

(c) 2012, Washington Post Writers Group