Then Jack Happened


Dear Jack:

I am having a problem with a co-worker.  He and I work(ed) together really well and have actually become friends over the passed couple years.  At a recent happy hour he told me that he has feelings for me and is very attracted to me. He knows I’m married but I reminded him. I’m not interested in him in a romantic way. He’s met my husband and they seem to get along well. I ignored the situation at first, hoping we could chalk it up to we were out drinking and let him have that excuse, but he seems emboldened and has asked me out a couple more times. I keep showing him my ring, reminding him, and laughing it off but he doesn’t seem to get the hint. Our relationship at work is on eggshells but how can I get him to back off?

I know in your mind you are refusing him, but it’s time to be more direct with your refusals of his advances. Here’s a situation: you are in a bar, thick mahogany, bartenders wearing bowties with a nice martini floating bleu cheese olives, dressed up in a smashing red cocktail dress for a night on the town and a show, you’re waiting on a friend who got caught up in traffic, you catch the eye of a sculpted man across the bar, one of them guys with a sharp jaw, he smiles, approaches and says: “Hi I’m Winston, I’d like to buy you a drink, I can tell you are a bad motor scooter baby, no stuff, no BS about that all, you can wear any dress you like.” Your response: “Sorry I’m married.” He smiles and says your husband is a lucky guy and hopes you have a nice evening and on his way. This tactic works because your excuse, ‘I’m married,’ is identified by this modelesque fellow as a refusal of his advances. ‘I’m married’ is a polite way of saying ‘Not interested.’ It is passive and less confrontational way of saying ‘No’ but most people get the hint.

Not your friend at work. He knows you’re married. He doesn’t care that you are married.  And when you tell him, “Brian, you know that I am married.” Brian doesn’t believe that your response means ‘No.’ He is hearing “If it weren’t for my marriage to the schmo, we’d be hot and heavy right now, probably in the copy room.” If that’s the case, then by all means keep up the “But Brian, I’m married” statement. While your ambivalence might not be encouraging his behavior it certainly isn’t ending it. You need to change tactics and tell him in no uncertain terms, married or not, that you are not interested in him. That should clear the air and stop the behavior. This could very well be the end of the workplace friendship but he’s the one that crossed that line first and you don’t have to put up with unwelcome advances.

Finally, if he continues, or if you really don’t feel comfortable confronting him with a hard no, you need to talk to a supervisor or human resources about his behavior. If he crosses the line into harassment then this must stop immediately. He’s making his own decisions that have consequences, you aren’t responsible for either, and your priority needs to be a comfortable, safe workplace.

South Florida, you are a bad motor scooter, that’s all true, but I know you got problems, let me know