Stirring Up Trouble


Think women are the gossipy ones? Not this time.

I started working on a freelance project with Jim, a guy in my neighborhood. Before and after our meetings, we'd chat about personal things and get to know each other. We were both single, about the same age, and he seemed to be turning on the charm. He'd tell me I look great, comment on my perfume, and he'd lean on his folded arms to gaze at me as I spoke. Having been exhausted from dating, I was a bit more reserved. Still curious about him, though.

When Jim mentioned where he lived in the neighborhood, I laughed to myself. Same cross streets as the last guy I dated. And as we were talking one day, quite randomly, the ex's name came up. "He lives in my building!" Jim said. Of course. But Jim didn't stop there. He proceeded to give detailed information about the building, and draw for me where the two apartments were. "I know. I've been there," I said. Jim wasn't expecting to hear that, but continued on with our conversation.

As we left the coffee shop, I had to make a choice. Tell Jim I dated the guy, or let him wonder why I had been to his place. I didn't want Jim to assume anything, so I told him. "We dated briefly." And Jim was taken aback. "You dated??" I nodded. "What happened?" "He didn't really care, didn't treat me well." Jim looked even more shocked. 

We left the coffee shop and I wondered... Why the shock that we dated? Did we seem like a mismatch? Since Jim seemed to think highly of me, I assumed this meant he didn't think highly of the ex. Why? I found myself wanting to defend a guy who didn't care about me and didn't treat me well. I felt the need to list, in my head, the qualities in him to which I was attracted. (Thanks, Jim, for messing with my head.) It was sweet, however, that Jim was shocked to hear that someone would date me and not treat me well. But whatever, I didn't think much about it after that.

Until the next day, when I got a text from Jim. "How long ago did you date him?" Oh, here we go. Maybe I shouldn't have said anything at all. "9-10 months ago. " I answered his question. We're done with this conversation now, right? Of course not. "Hmmm… then who is the woman who lives with him?" 

LIVES with him??? What? Seriously? Ex went from not ever having to care about a woman's feelings, and not wanting to care about mine, to living with someone??? In that tiny apartment??? Where does she keep all her shoes??? Maybe she just sleeps over a lot. Maybe I don't even care.

"I don't know. Why are we discussing this?" I text. Jim replies, "I started thinking about it and I recall that the woman who lives with him has been living there for at least a year. So I was just wondering how much of an asshole he was to you." 

AT LEAST A YEAR?? I know there wasn't anyone living there when I dated him, but does that mean she's the ex he dated for a while before me? They're back together? And living together?? Or someone new he fell madly in love with??? Two of my long-term exes went on to marry the next woman they dated. Is this happening again? Am I that difficult to deal with, that the next woman looks perfect? What the hell?!? She can't be living there. I've seen them with a dog. The two of them plus a dog in that little apartment??? Ew, what a mess!!! She just sleeps over a lot… right? Oh, I don't know what to think. Oh, I don't even care.

"No, there wasn't any woman living there when I dated him."

"Are you positive?" Seriously, Jim? 

"I am positive. There was no woman living there when I dated him."

"You seem upset that I'm asking." Perceptive guy.

"Well, I don't know why you'd bring it up. Even if there was a woman living with him then, why tell me?"

"You're right. I shouldn't have. I'm really really sorry for bringing it up."