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How Much Stock Should You Put in an Ex’s Warning?

Asking for a friend (okay, Pete Davidson)

Earlier this month, Kate Beckinsale’s ex-boyfriend (Matt Rife) warned Pete Davidson (Beckinsale’s current boyfriend) that he should “be careful.”

“Advice for Pete? Man to man? Run,” Rife told TMZ. “Enjoy it while you can. I hope they’re both happy and it can build to an established good relationship. I don’t really have any solid advice — just be careful.”

Before we go any further, it’s important to note that Rife, a 23-year-old comedian whose credits include Brooklyn Nine-Nine and Wild N’ Out has fair reasons to be bitter. After all, his life’s legacy is probably going to be that he was “the other young white guy” who had the privilege of dating Beckinsale. But looking beyond this particular ex’s warning, it does raise the question: How much stock should anyone put in an ex’s warning?

First, let’s approach this question from the warner’s perspective. According to Cosmopolitan, as the person doing the warning, you need to ask yourself: Why are you doing this?

“Are you just wanting to destroy his new relationship? You need to be sure that the only reason you reach out to this new girl is out of pure and genuine concern for her. If there’s any part of you that is acting out of revenge or anger towards him then reassess your actions, because doing things just to make someone else feel bad isn’t a good way to live your life.”

But let’s say you sincerely want to offer your ex’s significant other a legitimate warning. First, consider the fact that he or she is probably not going to listen. “Their relationship is new and exciting,” writes Tara Eisenhard for the Huffington Post. “When they’re together, she feels exhilarated and happier than she’s ever been in her life. Your ex is currently fulfilling the role of Man Of Her Dreams, and she can’t imagine him as anything else. Your well-intentioned warning of his dark side would come as an unwelcome buzz kill. If she were to hear you at all, she’d likely reject your advice because it conflicts with everything her heart tells her.”

Basically, if you’re going to issue a warning, you should prepare to be ignored. After all, as Giulia Simolo writes for Bolde, it’s your word against theirs. “There I was trying to help someone but having to defend myself against my ex’s lies. What a nightmare. I told her that I couldn’t really fight with her about him and I didn’t want to, but I just wanted to warn her that he was dangerous and a bad guy and that she should GTFO of the relationship before he hurt her.”

But now let’s turn our attention to you, the current occupant of said ex’s former dance partner. First things first, if your significant other’s ex warns you that he or she is physically or emotionally abusive, it obviously behooves you to listen to their warning.

Ideally, of course, in lieu of this whisper network, there would be some sort of crowdsourced Google spreadsheet that identifies abusers by name and lists all of the awful shit they’ve done in the past, but since there’s no current realistic option for a list that encompasses, like, the entire population of Earth, you can decide how valid said ex’s warning is by asking yourself some questions. Like, per one anonymous Quora user:

  • Do they seem “too good to be true”?
  • Are they rushing the relationship?
  • How do they resolve differences?
  • Are they jealous?
  • What’s their relationship with money?

Ultimately, though, it will be up to you to decide whether your S.O.’s ex is acting out of vengeance or legitimately trying to protect you from experiencing the shittiest parts of your current person.

As one redditor writes [sic]: “A lot would go into how I weigh what she said: does the person contacting me seem reasonable & not vindictive, is her story coherent, is she describing stuff that matches patterns/behaviors I’ve seen, does what she says match concerns I already have, is this something I can back up with objective info (public records, STD testing), and how well do I know the guy. Basically I’m gonna listen and use my own judgment. Cause it’s either going to tell me something about the guy or about his ex, and either way that could be important info for the future.”

All of which raises the question: Who are you going to believe, Pete? A 23-year-old not nearly as famous version of you, or… Kate Beckinsale?