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July 2

The work breaks not, it is my heart

Filed under: Advice — posted by Breakup Girl @ 10:47 am

Getting nothing Donne on April 6, 1998

Dear Breakup Girl,

This isn’t a breakup question. It’s a get together question, but you handle tough relationship questions so well that I know you’ll do me right. I am in a sensitive situation (at least it seems that way to me), and I am so busy thinking about the right thing to do that I can’t seem to do anything.

I am slowly going crazy for a younger woman who I supervise at work. She is beautiful, sweet, interesting, motivated, and very captivating to me. I think that the energy is there working both ways, but how do you know for sure without testing it? She meets my gaze so direct with quivering eyes, she does nice little things for me she doesn’t have to do, and she even gave me a little hand-written, contemplative poem recently. The thing is that she is very nice with everyone, and in my position, the last thing I want is a harassment situation at work. Even more, I don’t want to come on to her and end up making work a difficult place for her to be.

My friends give me different advice. Two think that this could be a real good thing if it would work out the way it feels for me, so I should do whatever is necessary to find out. Another thinks that I have a responsibility in my position to keep “hands off” regardless.

Am I roping myself up too tightly? Where is the right place for a guy to draw a line for himself?

— Jeremy

Dear Jeremy,

She meets your gaze so direct with quivering eyes? Glad to see that both of you are observing National Poetry Month. Also that you’re sensitive to the fact that you are in a sensitive situation. The boss/subordinate thing — no matter how genuine and sincere your feelings — trips all sorts of wires: favoritism, cradle-robbing, power struggles, sleeping one’s way to the middle, you name it. Yikes.

Here’s the way to think about it. Remember, the workplace is first and foremost a place of … work. You already said you’re getting nothing done (fortunately, and not unrelatedly, she seems to be picking up the slack). You’re going to have to decide which, hypothetically, interferes more with your performance: going out with her, or not going out with her. If the sane, responsible adult inside you says, “It’s worse this way; I need to make some sort of move,” then you are permitted one itty bitty after-work-drink invitation with one honking, totally unromantic disclaimer attached: “I want you to know that your saying yes or no has NO effect on your employment status.”

Except it sorta does. If your hunch is on target, and she, um, starts writing you epic odes, then — depending on your office culture, which is your call — one or the other of you sane, responsible adults will have to contemplate switching jobs, even if just within the company. Sounds radical, but that’s what the experts say.

Also, if you do make a move, make sure that day’s dress code is “Cool No Matter What.” — ideally, a rejection-proof jacket and tie. I’m saying just in case. Poetry notwithstanding, she may not LIKE like you, or — like many women — she may be wary, no matter what you say, of dating “up.” I’m not saying this is likely; I’m just saying to be prepared. You’re still going to have to deal with one another afterwards; being dissed for one date is not grounds for a transfer.

Finally, don’t rule out the possibility of CCF (see above). Let me give you a perfect example. A looooong time ago (she swears), BG lusted after a young (as in much younger) lad she supervised. The attraction, he made clear, was mutual. Still, any hanky-panky would have been a lousy move. But our chemistry had its benefits: I strove to be the best boss in the world, and he was never, ever late

Breakup Girl


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