This Is What Happens When You Ghost Your Ex And She Becomes Your Boss

The update to the infamous "Ask a Manager" ghosting story is off the rails.
Typical responses to reading this "Ask a Manager" column.
Typical responses to reading this "Ask a Manager" column.

Stop what you’re doing because if you’ve ever been through a horrible breakup and wanted vindication, this story will give it to you.

For the unfamiliar, there’s a workplace advice blog called Ask a Manager where people submit their problems, questions and concerns relating to their job in the hope that a manager will help them out with some suggestions.

Last month, a letter-writer submitted a story that involved him ghosting an ex-girlfriend, Sylvia, leaving the country, and then finding out ten years later that she’d be his new boss. The letter goes on to incredulously describe how Sylvia tracked him down after the ghosting and that now the relationship is “forgotten history.”

Now, when you hear someone “ghosted,” you’re usually thinking that the couple only went on a few dates. Nope. This dude moved out and fled the country with no warning when he’d been dating Sylvia for three years and living together for two!!! That isn’t ghosting, that is stone-cold, borderline sociopathy. 

In response to that letter, Alison Green —  who runs the “Ask a Manager” column — told him that he inflicted “serious emotional destruction” on Sylvia and that she didn’t know if he could salvage this. Her advice was as follows:

“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.”

Clearly, we were salivating for more. What happened that first day of work? Would Sylvia throw a chair at him? Would they be able to work together in harmony?

Luckily, the letter-writer gave us an update on Monday. He starts his new letter by saying that he “expected that writing to a very popular but a niche professional blog would result in such Internet s*t storm.” Which, OK, we sort of get, but also come on! You ghosted the woman you lived with by leaving the damn country and giving her no information. That is heartless.

But we digress.

The writer said he took Green’s advice and that he reached out to Sylvia so she wouldn’t be blindsided. He wrote:

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

In that meeting, the chair of the board, Sylvia, and the writer discussed how to make the awkwardness between them translate into a successful work environment (What we’d have given to be a fly on that wall!). The situation went like this:

The chair was more worried about possible gossip and related implications for the organisation. Ours is an expensive enterprise, this is a conservative place and nobody wants any scandal. At the same time, they considered it was necessary – as they framed it – to put some measures in place to avoid possible problems in the future. I was also told in no uncertain terms that although the schedule for the year was already set, it was far more difficult to replace the director than an employee (me). I do not want to go into too much details but I found the proposed measures rather excessive. 

And are you ready for what happened next? ARE YOU?

“It would make my position unattainable, even in a short run. Therefore I resigned on the spot. My resignation was later accepted,” the letter-writer said.

HE QUIT, YOU GUYS. THE DUDE DIPPED OUT YET AGAIN. He then elaborated on what happened:

In a summary, as many of those self-righteous people on the Internet hoped, I came out of this with no job, no severance and no prospect for another job in this city. Obviously, I have to leave as I need to make a living. I will be shortly moving back home for several months to work as a substitute teacher, with an agency. I will see what next later. So I had my comeuppance. I am most certainly not asking for pity. I only wish there were not other individuals bearing the blunt of my immaturity in the past. (My partner cannot join me due to visa issue and family situation.)

Oh man. 

He also said that Sylvia “seemed fine,” but that he could not understand why she got the chair of the board involved. Just a guess, dude: She probably realized you couldn’t be trusted because of that time you didn’t tell her you were dumping her and just left the country.

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

Could you have, though? That seems like no-fly zone to us, sir. What a damn ride. Twitter is loving is just as much as we are: 

And bless you, Sylvia. May you forever reign.



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