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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?
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
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