Dear Miriam | New Boyfriend Might Have Shady Past


wine and romance.jpgDear Miriam,

My friend is dating someone new who I recently met while on a double date with my husband. After we left, my husband couldn’t shake the idea that he’d met this new boyfriend before. Then he realized that another friend of his had broken up with this man after he manipulated her into giving him a large sum of money as a “loan,” which he never repaid. What is the best and most appropriate way for us to tell this friend what we know about her new boyfriend?


Protecting a Friend

Dear Protecting,

I so appreciate your desire to get involved to prevent your friend from getting further entangled in a bad situation. I also want to caution you that your warnings, however valid they are, will likely not be greeted favorably. No one wants to hear their friends bad-mouthing their new romantic interest, particularly when accusations and previous partners are involved. I’m not going to tell you to mind your own business, but your friend might.

Next time you see your friend, you could introduce the topic with something like, “After we met your boyfriend last week, my husband realized they’d already met back when Boyfriend was dating his other friend. Has Boyfriend ever told you about her?” You may learn a lot from her reaction and whether she has anything to say in response about this past failed relationship. You’ll have to gauge from there what else to divulge, but that opening may be enough for your first attempt, and then you have an opening for further conversations in the future.

Another option is to take a more direct approach to the topic, while also leaving the ex further out of it: “I know this is going to sound strange, but I have on good authority that Boyfriend has a history of borrowing large sums of money from his girlfriends. I just want to make sure that you are safe and have your eyes open as you get to know each other more.” She will certainly press you for details, and you’ll have to decide, in consultation with your husband, how much you’re comfortable sharing (and how much is appropriate to share in consideration of this other friend).

There are two other important angles for you to consider. 1) There are at least two sides to every story, and you need to be prepared for Boyfriend to have shared a completely different perspective on what happened. This is not to imply that your husband or his friend are wrong, only that it’s unlikely that there’s only one narrative out there. (There is, of course, the possibility that the reality is different from the story you know, but I’m going ahead trusting your husband and his friend’s version of the story.)

And 2) This has the potential to cost you your friendship. No one likes to hear unflattering information about people they care about, and your friend may take out her feelings on you. The likelihood of a bad reaction doesn’t make it less important for you to share what you know, and hopefully the most important aspects will cut through whatever emotions she’s likely to feel.

But in the meantime, be prepared for your friend to be defensive and turn on you rather than appreciating that you’ve shed light on the problems in her new relationship. Whatever you do, make sure you have support from your husband and other trusted friends as you enter this conversation. You’re going to need it. And when your friend gets over her shock, she’s going to need your support, too.

Be well,



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