My friend's reputation is being ruined

Hi there. First off, I want to apologize for the unorthodox post and also for the long story.
I’m here to ask for advice in place of a friend of mine who is very lost. I’m doing this because I’m worried about him and can’t really help with his situation. But we would really love some advice.

So this whole thing started when he broke up with his girlfriend. It was super messy, with his girlfriend calling him abusive, neglectful, whatever else… They were already in a rocky place, but the actual fight started over my friend having a very close female friend he hung out with all the time. Nothing ever happened between them, but the close female friend might have had a crush on my friend. I know he would never cheat, though.
After that, because his ex-girlfriend is in the same friend group as my friend, everyone started hating him because she would tell them everything, allegedly painting him in a bad light.

After the breakup, shit hit the fan in his life I guess. His band members left, his friends started talking about him behind his back, and he became a social pariah. Everyone in the friend group was bringing up all his past fuck-ups and current fuck-ups. Gossip spreads fast in a small city like ours.

He’s being criticized a lot recently, and he’s trying his best to change to become a better person. I apologize for the bias, but I personally think that the punishment doesn’t fit the crime. He fucked up for sure at some points, but I think it could have been remedied with a simple talking-to instead of gossiping about him and being unwilling to hear both sides of the story. He says that sometimes it feels like they just want a reason to not like him, and that this was a long time coming. Recently, nobody wants to associate with him because of the gossip.

His reputation is kind of affecting mine, too. We’re romantically involved and people are saying that I’m a slut and that he’s using me as a rebound.

I know that this information makes this post sound biased in his favor, but I trust my moral compass (I guess you’re gonna have to trust it, too, for now) and know that everyone in this situation is not without blame. My friend fucked up, but he’s not a bad person at all. I don’t think he deserves this level of social ostracization for honest mistakes.
He says he just wants to be left alone. I can’t help him because I’m clueless with social things and not really involved in the friend group.

What should he do? Is there anything he can even do about it?

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Hi there,
First of all, don’t apologise for making a post here, as you are welcome and safe in our community. About your friend, I’m not sure about the extent of his past mistakes, but if nobody cared to point them out during the immediate times they were made, why should they all of a sudden be criticizing them now? He didn’t know better, and even stated that he’d become a better person.

I also hope that his entire ex friend group knows that he didn’t have an affair (I’m assuming so since you alluded that he didn’t), because I believe it was only after those cheating rumours did people start ostracizing him. So I just want him to know that I don’t think he deserves the kind of treatment he’s receiving; because as you said, the punishment doesn’t fit the crime.

I can imagine that he’s quite young and there are a lot of things settled for him in where you guys live, so moving may not be a reasonable option. But perhaps clearing his name by hosting a gathering at school could be beneficial. If he can’t do that, maybe you can help him too with the best of support you can supply. Taking him out, providing gifts, general affection, and words of affirmation can all assist in his self-esteem. I also know that this may not sound helpful, but not caring is key to getting over all the criticism and moving past it. I also really hope that you don’t let the bullying get in the way of your relationship with him because I’d imagine it to be a devastating breakup if that were to be the reason.

I must say that I don’t have a lot of good advice, and most of the suggestions I gave were very general; as in providing him support and trying to not care. However, there are other volunteers here who are much more articulate and experienced in responding to situations like these, so there will definitely be more support and advice along the way. I hope he’s doing well and emotionally okay, because I know how much turmoil that can arise from the circumstances you both are in.

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Hi Charisma,

Thank you for your reply all the same. I really appreciate your outside opinion and only regret that I can’t get an opinion on the entire story, which would be… really long. Trust me.
What’s frustrating is that everybody in this situation is biased in some way, including me of course, so a stranger’s opinion goes a long way for me.

I’m sorry to say that the school gathering is not a viable option. Besides, no point in trying to clear his name if nobody will listen, haha. He seemed to care a whole lot about his old friends, and no matter what he says to me, I know it hurts him and he still cares about those people. But I also know he’ll find a way to deal with it. And of course I’ll be there to help him.

As for the cheating rumors, most people don’t really buy that rumor, thankfully.
It was just that his ex girlfriend was really jealous of that girl he was hanging out with and suspected that he was cheating and told the friend group about those suspicions. I don’t mean to vilify his ex, by the way. I understand why she did what she did.
He’s flawed for sure, but definitely not cheater-level.
I also know the female friend personally and don’t think she would do something like that. Not entirely sure though.

And your advice to me makes me feel like I’m doing it right, since that was what I was already doing. So thank you. He wants to take action, but the way I see it, the only answer to this is to just live his life as well as he can regardless. The real friends will find him. I know what it’s like to be ostracized, but I consider it a blessing now. I learned a lot when I was going through all that.

That said, I know this all sounds very high-school. We’re in college… Feels like we should know better than this by now.

Anyway, thank you again for your reply and have a good week!

Sorry for what’s happening to your friend. 9 years ago I went through something similar. People can be mean and vindictive and they try to harm a person’s reputation by doing character assassination. I hope your friend overcomes this.

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Hi ranma,

Me too. And I’m sorry about you having to deal with something like that, it really sucks.

Hey!

Thanks so much for your reply, you have a good week as well! I’m sending all my care and prayers towards you and your friend. Just try living carefree because once you stop caring about all the criticism and skepticism, people will start seeing his good side and understand his perspective. Thank you for being such a good companion to him, I’m proud of your efforts to seek advice here on behalf of him.

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