Following are leftover questions from my online chat “Sexual Messages,” (Nov. 19):
Me and this man at work were texting back and forth with a lot of cute stuff just for fun, and I started to have feelings for him.
He was always making teasing remarks about my looks and my “attitude” when I’m talking to him and other bosses (he’s a manager in my department).
So I asked if we could go for a drink one day and he got all weird about it and said, “I have never made any inappropriate advances to you,” like he was talking to me through a lawyer. He’s also stopped replying to my texts and he won’t look me in the eye.
Sad at Work
There’s no surprise here. His reaction reflects a current chill on any sexualized behaviours in the workplace. Recent news events have revealed accusations of sexual harassment and assault in major institutions, including universities, government offices, and media corporations.
So no wonder your manager suddenly got scared. Countless women, and plenty of men too, can attest that it’s about time!
This office situation is a red flag for you, too, that what may seem like “fun” at work can come back to bite you.
Had you asked him out again, or kept texting him after he stopped contact with you, he could cover any future revelations of his part in the teasing by saying (and showing text history) that you harassed him.
Workplace friendships are only truly innocent when people aren’t repeatedly teasing each other and commenting on each other’s bodies, appearance, and mannerisms, based on their gender.
My husband gets jealous from time to time, though thankfully not often. My boss at work is one man who can set this off. I don’t see the boss every day (I’m a manager) but he’ll sometimes drop by my office to chat.
If I report this to my husband, he’ll get suspicious and start pumping me for what exactly was said.
If my boss ever asks me to have lunch (about once a year, and with a legitimate discussion point) my husband will get more persistent in his questions. He’ll query me on why I think I have to go, why the matter can’t be discussed at the office, etc.
How do I deal with what he insists is the boss’ sexual interest in me, when I know there’s nothing of the sort?
Innocent but Interrogated
Refuse to be made to feel guilty of anything.
Point out that it’s out of respect for your husband’s feelings that you keep letting him know if there’s been any contact with your boss. Remind him that he’s perfectly aware that you’re hiding nothing. As for the yearly lunch, you’ve obviously let him know where and when, so again you’re totally open.
His reaction suggests to me that he has some sensitivity about this man – perhaps over your boss’ attractiveness through power and high position, compared to his own.
So long as he doesn’t act out in any way, or expand his jealousies to others, cut him slack on this.
If you love him and he’s a good husband in most other ways, spare a little compassion for this reveal of vulnerability… most people have some and hide it.
Tell him you love him, and that’s personal. Say that you occasionally have reasons to deal professionally with your boss, and that’s business. Then change the subject.
My best girlfriend’s attractive, mid-30s, seeking a relationship through online dating, but frustrated by men who only want sex.
She doesn’t realize she comes across as “hot.” Her photo’s got a come-get-it look, and her clothes are always tight. She thinks her posts are humorous, but they’re suggestive.
Do I explain this is why guys are after sex? I fear she’ll run into a nasty one who won’t take No for an answer.
Point out things she clearly hadn’t realized, but make sure it’s not a critical judgment or based on bias, e.g. differences in how you dress or look.
Examine her posts together, and then ask if she sees what could’ve created a misleading impression.
Also, study the men’s posts to her. They’ll reveal their attitudes, and provide you the opportunity to make gentle suggestions.
That’s when to express your real fears about the reactions of strangers to her inadvertent messages.
Tip of the day:
Inappropriate sexual behaviour and its impact, including sexual harassment and violence, calls for ease of reporting and response policies in workplaces, institutions, on campuses, etc.