I’m a woman, 45, working at an education facility where a young teaching assistant, early-20s, was recently hired. I find her very pleasant, and eager to please.
I’ve noticed that she’s quickly developed a friendship with a male employee in a different department. He’s in his 50’s. They’re often together chatting and laughing.
She asks me about him, talks about him and watches down the hall for him. I know that he’s married and has children.
I’m thinking about taking a step back from my friendship with her because I’m afraid of what might develop between them. I don’t want to be part of it by her assuming that I approve.
I know their friendliness may’ve started innocently, but I also know that it can become an affair. This happened a couple of years ago at the same workplace between two other people.
I’ve personally suffered the nightmare of an ex-husband who preferred an adoring younger woman to his own children and wife.
I’m hoping that by backing off I can stop this developing into more. What should I say or do?
Been There, Hated It
Think this situation through again along with your role in it. Your own personal experience naturally raises your suspicions. You may’ve assessed this budding relationship correctly... Or not.
What’s certain is that this younger woman considers you a friend and a mentor in your more senior position. You not only have her respect, but also her trust.
You can be very important to her at this time.
Instead of walking away, listen to what she’s saying. You’re sharp enough to pick up the clues from what she reveals that this man has told her, whether he’s texting her regularly, if they’ve started meeting after work, etc.
Your “backing off” the friendship could mean leaving her when she needs you most... when you perhaps could’ve gently pointed out some red flags from things the older man has said or suggested to her.
Professionally, you’d have also ignored the usual expectation of an experienced senior employee to be a thoughtful guide to the newbie, especially if she is headed for trouble.
This is about her future, and she likely needs your help.
Reader’s Commentary Regarding the ongoing discussion about chronically late people:
“I’ve known three such people, but in talking with each it was never about them trying to be controlling.
“I found that they were so disorganized that being able to plan ahead just wasn’t among their talents. And my “obsession” with punctuality was also not considered important to them. They felt complete indifference towards how their actions affect others.
“When I realized that they weren’t going to change, I had to change myself. I no longer waited for them beyond what I felt was a reasonable amount of time.
“I’m not shouldering any responsibility for their behaviour anymore.
“There’s always more than one way to look at almost any issue.”
Reader #2 – “I’m chronically late. Anyone who has no problems with time has no idea how hard I have to work to avoid being late. I can do it but it takes great effort.
“Time management skills are part of the brain's executive functions. Just as people are gifted with varying degrees of abilities in other areas, people are also gifted with varying degrees of executive functions. You wouldn’t accuse someone with a vision or hearing problem of being manipulative. There’s still much unknown about brain function.”
Ellie - Last word on Lateness.
FEEDBACK Regarding the man whose wife overrides his every decision (September 19):
Reader – “Maybe she’s really disregarding his decisions to prove she knows better. Or not.
“The truth is probably in the middle. Also, as wives are usually more involved in the household, so more knowledgeable as a result, they do know better in many cases.
“Suggestions: 1) Keep a list of your suggestions and her responses. Analyze if she was right or not.
“Maybe she didn’t reject all your suggestions and was correct on many.
“2) Nicely say “I’d like to make some decisions or we make them together."
“Sometimes, there really isn’t a right or wrong answer. You might be surprised to find out that she had no idea you feel that way, and that she thought she was just trying to help.
“Talking about problems in a calm and loving way, tends to solve the problem when both partners want a happy relationship.”
Tip of the day:
Senior employees can be significant mentors, sometimes when needed most.