Being bullied is a traumatic experience.
And, even as adults, some of the resentment and trauma can linger. So, running into the people who terrorized you can be triggering.
Redditor Individual_Cut9249 encountered this very issue with his girlfriend. So he turned to the “Am I The A**hole” (AITA) subReddit for moral judgment.
“AITA for being upset at my S/O for being friendly with my high school bully?”
The Original Poster (OP) explained:
“Me (26M) and my girlfriend (26F) met in high school. We became really good friends (she was basically my only friend in school) and decided to go to the same university so we wouldn’t drift apart. When we were in university, I finally asked her out. We started dating since.”
“To sum up my time in high school: it was an awful time. I was very lonely, introverted and quiet both in high and middle schools, so I was prone to getting bullied.”
“I was mostly heavily bullied by this guy, let’s call him ‘Luis’ and his group of friends. He would poke fun at my eye condition, intentionally embarrass and make me uncomfortable in front of everyone, call me all kinds of names and just made my life in school hell.”
“This was majorly traumatizing because school was supposed to be a ‘safe place’ for me, cause I was getting emotionally abused by my shitty family at home, but he ruined any chances of it being a ‘safe place’ by making my every day horrible.”
“My girlfriend was aware of the bullying situation at the time and when we became closer friends she always comforted me about it and sympathized with me when I vented about it. She agreed that they were cruel for no reason and I didn’t deserve it at all, told me she hated them for hurting me like that.”
Now, she’s acting differently.
“Fast forward to now, and what the problem actually is: We were out together walking the dog and I told her I’d jog to a nearby store real quick, pick up some cigarettes and come back while she stayed at the park.”
“When I was walking back, I noticed her talking to someone from a distance, she seemed to be all cheerful and laughing. They talked for a bit and he walked away in the opposite direction, so I came up to her and asked her what’s up. She nonchalantly smiles and tells me it was ‘Luis’ from high school.”
“My heart sank, not gonna lie.. I awkwardly chuckled said ‘Woah, you were seriously that happy to talk to that guy?’ She says sure.
OP tried to refresh her memory.
“I told her ‘You do remember he was the person that basically made my life a living hell in HS, right?'”
“She told me ‘Yeah I remember, but I’m sure he has changed and he seemed really sweet. Come on, don’t be like that.'”
“I got pretty mad at that point and didn’t say anything. She notices the awkward silence and says ‘Aw dude, come on, do you seriously still have a grudge against him? I thought you would get over it by now.'”
OP was deeply hurt.
“Holy sh*t. That felt like a knife through my stomach.”
“It’s not that f*cking easy to get over years of trauma that sabotaged my self esteem and confidence. It was so hurtful to hear that coming from her, especially because she was my rock during the times I was getting abused by everyone at school and home.”
“I don’t still ‘hate’ the guy and his friends after all this time has passed, or want them to suffer or whatever.”
“But it’s not easy at all to forget what they did to me. Sure, maybe they changed for the better, but seeing her talk to him so cheerfully and tell me about it made me die inside.”
“AITA for this?”
OP added an update.
“I thought I should post a follow up since tons of people saw the other post and are probably curious what happened.”
“Basically: everything was kind of tense between us after we went home yesterday. When I woke up next morning, my gf told me we needed to talk, and I agreed (I was going to ask her first but she beat me to it).”
“She asked me if I was still upset about yesterday, so I told her that I was and explained that hearing that he’s ‘a sweet guy’ from her was really painful, especially when she knew about the stuff he did to me.”
“I told her that being friendly like that towards people who tormented me wasn’t something I accept and obviously explained that her ‘get over it’ comment was out of pocket and unnecessary. I told her how him becoming a better person was kind of irrelevant to me because no matter how much he changed, the consequences of his actions will still stick with me.”
OP’s girlfriend was understanding.
“She listened to me explaining and she started crying in the middle of it and said she was incredibly sorry and that she didn’t think too much of it at the moment and failed to consider my feelings. She said after I explained it from my POV she realized she was being an AH and it was a stupid assumption that the trauma would go away over time and I would forget about it.”
“We understood where each of us were coming from, and I forgive her. She was very genuine about it. I know she’s not a malicious person and wouldn’t want to intentionally hurt me, even if it did hurt.”
“There was a bunch of people telling me to break up with her in the comments and I see why to some other people this would be a complete deal-breaker, but in my opinion relationships obviously come with their up and downs, misunderstandings, conflicts like this one, so I wanna forgive her for this and move on, especially when she realized what she did was wrong and apologized. If she hadn’t, it would be a completely different thing.”
“She told me she doesn’t want to keep contact with him after this and doesn’t care about him at all, even told me she wants to block him on the socials they exchanged, and I said that was up to her.”
“So far everything seems to be ok, and I feel like this helped our relationship in terms of setting boundaries and respecting them, and I’m glad we were able to talk it out.”
“I wanna thank everyone under the post that commented and gave some good advice, sent awards, PMed me to support (and those that PMed me to say not so nice things they were too scared to comment publicly) you guys are all awesome. Thank you!”
Redditors gave their opinions on the situation by declaring:
- NTA – Not The A**hole
- YTA – You’re The A**hole
- NAH – No A**holes Here
- ESH – Everyone Sucks Here
Most Redditors agreed OP was not the a**hole.
“You need to sit your girlfriend down and have a chat with her about this. Honestly, for me personally this would make me reconsider whether they are a good partner at all. Plus, not gonna lie, the fact that she’s referring to your former bully who she’s just had a brief conversation with as ‘sweet’ has me giving her some serious side eye. NTA.” ~ codeverity
“I’m hijacking this too comment to agree that you’re NTA. I got bullied my entire school career. I’ve always been ‘weird.’ I (F28 now) wore very thick glasses (my vision was 20/400 instead of 20/20 so I was basically blind). I lived with my grandparents who grew up in the 50s and never moved past that and in so dressed me funny and did my hair funny.”
“I didn’t like things other girls my age liked because I was only ever exposed to ‘old people stuff’ like I Love Lucy instead of Lizzie McGuire or whatever. I was hyper aware that no one liked me and it made me act weird also.”
“All of that contributed to my getting bullied for YEARS. I had maybe 3-5 friends between kindergarten and senior year who were all equally as ‘dorky’ as me. Bless those sweet people. I hope they’re well.”
“But I STILL have trauma. I second guess myself frequently. I have a hard time trusting people for fear they’re only talking to me for a reason to make fun of me with their friends later. I have days where I can’t decide what to wear or how to do my hair because when I look in the mirror I just hear echos of ‘you’re fat and look like a man’ (I’m not and I don’t. I was told this by a high school boyfriend. Most of the trauma comes from his physical and mental abuse) and even though I don’t believe those words are true anymore, that doesn’t stop the thoughts from popping up and haunting me.”
“If my husband now were to run into that particular ex and talk with him happily and invalidate my abuse, I would be hurt too. You aren’t alone.” ~ Baphometaphor
“NTA OP, only bullying victims and people that can get into our shoes will see how this is, this is a huge red flag.” ~ slytherinslt
Bullying is never acceptable.