If you've ever ghosted someone you were seeing, you probably thought you'd never see them again. You may have worried about the off-chance you'd run into them on the street or at a party and have to face a few minutes of awkwardness. But what if you now had to see them every single day? What if the ex you ghosted is about to become your boss? That's the nightmare one person, who ghosted their girlfriend Sylvia after three years together is currently facing. The two were both expats and, while Sylvia was in her home country visiting family for Christmas, the person packed their things and moved to a new country without a word. Now, over a decade later, this Ask A Manager reader, reached out in need of advice. The reader is now working as a math teacher at an international school. Recently, the school's director had to leave suddenly, and a new director will replace her. The catch — the new director is Sylvia. So what on earth do you do if the woman you ghosted is now your boss?
After the ghosting, which the reader claims was done to "avoid being untangled in a break up drama," Sylvia, understandably, became distraught. As the reader describes it, she became obsessed with the relationship, tracking her partner down, and causing multiple scenes with their parents and friends. Not knowing anything else about what happened leading up to the breakup, it's hard not to feel for Sylvia in this situation as being ghosted after three years had to have been seriously confusing and brutal.
The reader is also overwhelmed at the possibility of facing Sylvia, saying:
"I have no idea what to do and how to deal with this mess. It is clear this will be not only embarrassing but I will also be reporting to my ex. I am not in a position to find another job at present. There are no other international schools so finding another job in this country is not an option. Even finding a job elsewhere is not possible on such a short notice. These jobs usually open for school terms so I have to stay put for few months. But more importantly, I am happy and settled here so do not want to move. To make the situation worse, the expat community here is very small and tightly knit so teachers also socialize a lot."
While the reader's circumstance is particularly difficult, there's a reason why it's so hard for us to deal with uncomfortable relationship situations. "There’s a social disconnect in relationships that didn’t exist before technology became so instrumental in dating," New York based relationship expert and author April Masini tells Bustle. "People met in person and dated in person and when they broke up, they ran into each other and each other’s families and friends. Today, because of the dating trifecta of distance, technology, and relationships, [it's possible] to not ever run into an ex. This robs us all of the opportunity to develop and practice communication skills necessary for awkward situations." Yet, this reader will definitely be running into their ex.
So What Should The Ghoster Do?
At first Alison Green, of Ask A Manager, pretty much gives up hope that the former couple will be able to work in the same place, especially in a boss and subordinate relationship. "I don’t know that you can salvage this! It’s not reasonable to ask Sylvia to manage someone who she has this history with. You can try and see what her take on it is, but I’d be prepared to have to move on, whatever that might look like for you. I get that it’s going to be inconvenient — maybe even quite hard — but there may not be an alternative here."
However, since there's no way to avoid seeing her, except literally fleeing the country, Green gives the only real course of action the reader can take.
"Your best chances of an okay outcome are probably to contact Sylvia ahead of time to let her know you work there so that she’s not blindsided by it on her first day. Acknowledge that you made a terrible mistake when you disappeared, say that you’re very sorry for the hurt and alarm you must have caused her, and say that you realize that neither of you are in a great position to work together now. Ask her if she’d like to talk about what to do. (Beyond that, I’d avoid sounding like you’re presuming anything about how she’ll feel now, since who knows — best case scenario, if she actually can work with you now, she might be offended that you’d think she couldn’t.)"
While this is an extremely unforeseeable circumstance, it goes to show, ghosting is not a good idea (of course, there are exceptions) and karma is very real. Can't wait to hear how this story works itself out.