Rules of the pick-up game

It's giveaway Wednesday.

Remember Mortified? We did a party with them back in February. Anyway, they'd like a Love Letters reader to have two tickets to their Friday show. It's people reading from their old diaries, and it's very, very funny. A good way to close out the week. If you want the tix, e-mail me a line or two about something that recently had you mortified. I'm at meregoldstein at gmail dot com. Put "Mortified" in the subject line.

We chat at 1 today.

Dear Meredith,

I have a problem regarding a post-breakup situation. I dated a man twice over the past six years, both times ending in heartache and disappointment. The first breakup ended because he was cheating with a few other people who I always assumed were just his friends. To add insult to injury, he told me the reason he cheated was because, "I'm not good enough for him, and never would be." We worked together (same building, not same company) and seeing him on a daily basis with one of his many new girlfriends was just unbearable. Eventually, I made the decision to move to the West Coast for medical school just to get away.

Fast forward two years (of NO contact might I add) he shows up out nowhere and tells me how sorry he is for the things he's done. (And when I say "shows up," I mean that literally. He came out to the West Coast). I was extremely suspicious, but he kept telling me he wouldn't have gone through all this effort for just a fling. Still, I was cautious, and took things slowly. I went back to Boston that summer for a medicine-related internship, and things were great. He seemed as though he really had changed. But since I still lived on the West Coast, things were strained. I started to feel it too, but I just couldn't bring myself to leave my medical school. He kept pressuring me, which eventually turned into threatening me; if I didn't come back, he was bound to cheat. I was so enamored that I just ignored this red flag and finally, after about eight months of him pushing me, I went to discuss things with my dean.

I transferred to a Boston-area school and gave up a number of really important friendships from out west, in addition to a hospital I loved. As I was going through the transfer process, he started to become more distant. He continued to tell me he wanted me to move back and he loved me, so I attributed his behavior to stress. Well, you can guess what happened -- about three weeks went by when I hadn't heard from him, and when I finally got him on the phone he tells me, "Well, I'm kind of seeing someone else." My response was, "Uh, I didn't know we'd broken up?"

It was a complete nightmare. I was moving back to Boston the following week. I don't think there are words to describe how I felt. It has been EXTREMELY hard for me not only because we broke up, but because I originally left Boston BECAUSE of him, and I felt as though I was just right back where I started.

Ok, sorry for all the background, but it's important, I think. Now to my question. We both used to play on a pick-up sports team in Boston, and I've actually become very close to these people since I moved back. I would say they are my closest friends in Boston. Recently, my ex has been attending these pick-up sessions (with his new 23-year-old girlfriend .... he's almost 40), though he hasn't played with these people for over a year. Furthermore, he doesn't even really play when he shows up, they just sit there watching or do things on their own. He might jump in once or twice, but we play for probably five to six hours at a time. Is it wrong for me to be angry that he's just showing up out of the blue like this? Especially when he still knows how much he hurt me, and how much I sacrificed for him? I guess what I'm asking is, do I have the right to be angry he's there?

– Pick-up trouble, Boston

I asked PUT who joined the pick-up team first. She said the ex. Which is why I have to say …

PUT, we live in a world of dibs. Unfortunately, your ex has dibs on this team. He joined first. Yes, you're allowed to be furious that he's showing up to games with his trophy girlfriend, but you're not allowed to ask him to disappear. Dibs. He's got 'em.

My advice is to keep playing on the team, and see if you can make plans with these people socially, outside of the activity. The more you see them on your own time, the more they'll become yours. And really, the more they see him sitting on the grass, twiddling his thumbs, and not participating, the more these people will understand what he is -- a guy who does whatever he wants without regard for others.

I'd also recommend joining a few other, unrelated activities. I don't like that the one escape you have from your work life is tied to your ex. You need to see Boston as your place. You're making a fresh start here without him, so you need new scenery and new friends. You need change. Is there a pick-up league on the other side of town?

Readers? Am I right about the dibs? Can she ask him to scram? How can she get comfortable with Boston the second time around? Should she attempt to move back to the West Coast? Is this guy showing up to get her attention? Discuss.

– Meredith