Q: Hi, Meredith (and readers),
My ex-boyfriend of two years and I broke up a few months ago. We are both teachers and had gotten to the point where we were discussing marriage. Then, last summer, we hit a rough patch and decided to take a break/break up. We both took it really hard, but him especially. About a month later, I expressed interest in getting back together, to which he said "no," so I respected his decision and we decided to lay low for a while, then hopefully become friends.
Things have been fine, and we're back on friendly terms, which is great. But I recently received an email from a former student who told me she heard about the break-up and that she can no longer look at my ex the same way. I asked why, and she replied, "Because he's sleeping with a former student. He comes to school all the time now and they act like a couple around campus." I don't know for certain if this is true (I do trust this girl, but you never know), but if so, I think I know exactly who the girl is. One student, after she graduated, constantly tried to contact him, sending him inappropriate messages. He's in his late 20s.
I want to ask him about it because if this is true, he's really putting himself in jeopardy work-wise. Even though she's technically over 18, this would shatter his respectability as a teacher, and I can't imagine that the town or school would have a positive reaction. But at the same time, I don't know if it's my place, as the ex, to go there. I am worried that, if this is true, he isn't handling the break up in a healthy manner and making stupid decisions that will come back and hurt him in the long run. I also don't want him thinking that I'm using this to get him back. I do want him to be happy and move on if that's what he wants, but I keep thinking this can't end well.
– Confused in a Morally Ethical Situation, Boston
A: Stay out of it. If the rumor is true, he doesn't care about appearances. If it's false, it doesn't matter. I have to assume that this guy has friends and family and that they talk to him about his life. After a breakup -- and a rejected attempt to get back together -- all you have to do is worry about yourself.
If he were dating a student and breaking a real rule or participating in behavior that might cause someone physical harm, I might have different advice. But in this case, I fear that if you intervene, you'll just wind up stuck in a lengthy discussion about his new life. Let's say that you tell him about the email and it turns out to be true. Won't you feel obligated to hear his side of the story? Won't you want to follow up to see if he's ended the relationship? You shouldn't have to participate in that kind of discussion.
If this breakup is going to be permanent, there's no need to become his sounding board or his career watchdog. You're just a few months out of this relationship. For now, it should be all about you.
Readers? Should she tell him she knows about this? Should she stay out of it? Should she be worried about him? Help.
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Meredith Goldstein is a Boston Globe columnist who follows relationship trends and entertainment. She offers daily advice on Love Letters — and welcomes your comments. Meredith is also the author of "The Singles," a novel about complicated relationships. Follow Meredith at www.meredithgoldstein.netand on Twitter. Love Letters can be found in the print edition of The Boston Globe every Saturday in the G section.