I think my ex's online rantings are hurting my chances with other women.

By Cary Tennis
Published March 30, 2004 7:09PM (EST)

Dear Cary,

I broke up with my ex a year ago after we were together for five years. It was messy because she insists she's still in love with me, so I just try to avoid her as much as possible now.

I'm trying to hook up with other girls, but when you Google me, one of the first pages that comes up is an old page from my ex's blog in which she goes on and on about how much she loves me. She never even bothered to blog the fact that I dumped her, and she still mentions me every once in a while, saying that it's my birthday or something to make it sound like we still know each other.

I can never get anywhere because girls think I'm still together with my ex, or they don't want to get involved when she's so clearly still in love with me! She has serious mental problems, but she's really good at making herself look like an interesting person in the blog, so girls always end up being on her side.

I don't want to ask her to remove the blog entries because she thinks she's still in love with me, so she'd probably just mention me more in the blog to scare more girls off. But I do want to have a normal sex life at some point soon! What do I do?

It's Over!

Dear It's Over,

This is a problem people didn't used to have. Ex-girlfriends could always spread rumors, but a relationship that went sour didn't used to be like a bad credit score on Equifax; nor would a nasty breakup come to resemble a series of damning exposés in the National Enquirer that, true or false, follow you around and must be given a positive spin whenever you're trying to impress a stranger.

But now that the glorious Internet has freed us from our formerly grinding obscurity and made us all the glamorous publishers of our own tabloids featuring who else but us on every page, we practically all need P.R. departments to manage the backlash, the image problems, the fallout from embittered whistle-blowers on our regrettable --if formerly private -- character flaws.

So I'd suggest you do what any big-time corporate executive or government official does when he has an image problem: Face the issue squarely, admit where you were wrong, work quietly to fix the problem, and set the record straight where there are any factual errors.

Wait -- that's what real executives do in my fantasy world. In the real world, executives and government officials go on the attack, question the patriotism of their accusers, mumble about "good science," make plausible-sounding but irrelevant countercharges, ask innocent-sounding but subtly character-assassinating questions about prior contradictory statements and, if possible, suggest that their accusers killed Vincent Foster.

But you're better than that. You're not another Matt Drudge. You're above the gossip, the scandal-mongering and the character assassinating. You're the kind of guy who deals with the issues squarely.

So just tell women, when you are first getting acquainted with them, that if they should happen to Google you they are likely to find this Web site. It's true that by saying this you virtually ensure that they will indeed Google you and find this Web site. But they were going to anyway, according to you. So tell them it's there and explain that it's maintained by an ex-girlfriend who is angry at you. Don't assassinate her character, but do say that in your opinion what she says about you is not 100 percent reliable, and do stress that your relationship with her may have ended unpleasantly but is definitely over.

Remember that any woman who is considering dating you will take special notice of how you speak of your ex-girlfriend. So don't accuse your ex-girlfriend of being mentally ill.

While it would not be unreasonable for you to create your own counterblog, critiquing and correcting the impressions her blog is likely to leave, what happens if you do that is you get drawn into the world of accusations and counteraccusations, and you end up looking cheap, tawdry and Drudge-like. So I really think this is a great opportunity to step out of the Internet and proudly assert the enduring primacy of what we used to call the real world, via a genuine face-to-face encounter with a woman. This situation really does show up the shortcomings of using the Internet as one's sole or main source of information about the character of another person. Besides, the object of all this Googling, after all, is to eventually meet face-to-face.

From then on, you'll be judged on how you behave in the world of restaurants, freeways, bars, nightclubs and, if you do well in those arenas, more congenial environments such as family dinners, nice hotels and quiet bedrooms.

In short, just tell the truth and hope for the best.

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Cary Tennis

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