Dear Kiki: I have to work next to my boyfriend’s crazy ex

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Questions about love and sex in the Iowa City/Cedar Rapids area can be sent to (queries can also be sent anonymously using this form). Questions may be edited for clarity and length, and may appear either in print or online.

Dear Kiki

Dear Kiki,

I am a woman in my later 20s who has been in a relationship with my boyfriend for 2 years now. He is my best friend; I couldn’t be happier with him! The issue does not lie with my boyfriend or our relationship, but with his ex-girlfriend.

My boyfriend and I used to work at the same place. I knew him a year before we started dating, but he was in a relationship with said ex-girlfriend. When I showed interest in him a mutual friend and coworker of ours told me he was unhappy. He also showed interest in me, but he was in a dead end relationship he didn’t know how to get out of. Eventually he dumped her and we started dating. We have been in a happy relationship ever since!

I was warned his ex-girlfriend is crazy, and in the beginning of our relationship she fully lived up to that expectation. He finally decided it was time to block her everywhere he could after one particular freak. Her presence was no longer an issue. Until about three weeks ago.

I was getting lunch in the cafe with my friends at work, and I thought I noticed a familiar face — it was indeed his ex-girlfriend. Within minutes she approached me and told me she had dated my boyfriend. She said she was working there now, in another department, but wanted me know she would be around, so it wasn’t “weird.” For someone I was told was quite shy, I felt her approaching me was quite bold of her. While she very well could have been doing a respectful thing, it made me feel she was trying to make a statement of some kind. I was too shocked to realize I was now face to face with this human, so I said hello and thank you, and carried on with my lunch.

I cannot understand out of the places to work, she chooses her ex-boyfriends old job, and where his current girlfriend works. I do work at a decent sized company where a lot of people around my age work, I will give her that. But considering the history??!!

This is my job, my space — and now because she has invaded it I feel so anxious. It was one thing to know she exists and was part of his past; you can put something like that away. But it is another when you have to see it at your job every day. Now I know she is there I feel I need to make a presence of some kind. I want her to feel as uncomfortable as she has made me, and I hate that I care.

I am frustrated because I know how happy my boyfriend and I are, and I know how unhappy he was with her. The issue lives solely within me, being aware this person is where I work every day. I just want to go to work without wondering if I’ll see her everywhere I go. I really just want to not care.

Help!! Thank you so much!

Sincerely, Sick of His Ex

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Dear Sick of His Ex,

Yuck. First encounters like that are usually awkward, especially since you know so much about his ex without having met her prior to this. Thankfully she is not in the same department. It is unsettling, though, and I understand your frustration, but try not to think of her as a “crazy” person because heartbreak can make people do stupid things they regret later.

Unless she reaches out to your boyfriend again, or approaches you at work, do your best to forget she’s even there. When you happen to see her in the cafe, a simple nod with slight fake smile is sufficient. It should be obvious you do not want to be friends, but if she gets weird or aggressive in wanting to communicate with you or your beau, don’t hesitate to take the situation to your HR department.

Your relationship sounds healthy and happy, so it doesn’t seem like his ex can sabotage it. The mature way you handle the situation will also let your boyfriend see you as a stable and confident partner. Unless she is psychopathic and stalking you and/or him, she’s shouldn’t be a threat, and her presence at work won’t cause any more anxiety.

— xoxo, Kiki

This article was originally published in Little Village issue 233.

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