Dear Uncle Mat

I recently heard through the grapevine that an ex-fling told an ex-boyfriend of mine that I was seeing both of them at the same time. The last time I saw this ex-boyfriend he was weirdly distant and uncommunicative. It’s actually been a while (as in years) since we were dating, but it upsets me that this total short-term relationship (which ended because he was a douche) upset someone who was meaningful to me (our relationship ended because we were headed in separate directions, not because anyone was a jerk). Is it worth bringing this up? We don’t keep in contact anymore. I just hate the idea of him thinking that I treated him that way when I didn’t. He’s a nice guy and doesn’t deserve that.

— Tarnished

Dear Spotty Past,

Have you ever watched a daytime soap? Paging Doctor “My ex is a trash-talking skank who is torturing my tragically doomed-by-fate lost-love protagonist.” Is the good guy blond and the evil one a redhead? Thank God nobody is pregnant or related.

So, that’s what you get for sleeping with a douche. I’m not saying you deserve it, but it happens. Just about everyone who dates more than three people before they turn 30 dates an ass and lives to regret it. Repeatedly. It is doubly unfortunate when the malevolence is directed at others in your life. And embarrassing.

I appreciate that you are fond of your ex-boyfriend and concerned about his perception of you. That is what we are really talking about, though. You don’t want to be thought of poorly by someone you respect. Can you correct this without further damaging the non-existent relationship you currently have is the question? Searching him out to correct the story is a potential way to build drama and blow up a sleeping dog. Try the old role reversal and see what you think. Would you want him to contact you and say, yeah, I slept with the douche, but not while we were together and I didn’t realize he was a douche till it was too late?

Setting the record straight will most likely make you feel vindicated, if not better, but what will it do for your ex? He may already suspect that the other guy is a liar and want to hear nothing more of it. Maybe he was distant the last time he saw you because he missed his dog or was having a bad day or just didn’t care to deal with the tension that exists between most exes, no matter how perfect the parting. I would wait till I saw him again and then, if he still seemed upset, address the topic. Now, if you hear that he is repeating the lie, then you might need to stop the bullshit before it ruins your rep.

Speaking up about this could also stir the pot with the douche. Once he hears you have taken the bait and are contradicting his story, he can really start trash-talking. Or better yet, he’ll feel he has a reason to call you up or walk up to you in the local pub and make a scene involving a cosmopolitan and a ridiculous quote from Sex and the City. Now your future looks trashier than this skank wants to make of your past. Another argument for letting it go.

If you’re a good person, I wouldn’t sweat too much. History doesn’t lie as they say. Clearly
people do — I mean we still celebrate Thanksgiving, right? — but your character won’t. If you’re not a cheater and you treat the guys you date with respect, regardless of their behavior this will show through.

It doesn’t sound like assholes are epidemic in your dating roster, so try not to sleep with any more jerks. For those readers that need help in this department, it is easier than it sounds — all the jerks you have ever dated have something in common. Figure it out and don’t date guys with that trait(s). I bet if you focus, you can figure it out on the first date, before the sex. Just pay attention. (I don’t care if he’s cute!)

Much luck and less soap-opera love,

Your Uncle Mat

Uncle Mat answers questions about relationships, sex, pets, and art. Email him at [email protected] or Your true identity is safe with him.

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