is my wife’s boss coming on to her?

A reader writes:

I’m writing this for my wife, who has an interesting situation at work. Since it’s the holidays, I figured that there may be other employees going through this same situation with their bosses. So here goes…

My wife was assigned a new manager 2 months ago during an office reorganization. Since it was the holidays, and is normal practice at her office, she gave both her old manager and new manager a small holiday gift ($10 gift cards). The old manager accepted kindly, as did her new manager. However, her new manager felt the need to extend an offer to her for a “belated” holiday gift of going out to lunch one day – just the two of them – we’re assuming in response to the gesture.

Although the intent seems genuine (he’s also married), and nothing to the contrary has been seen by my wife or the manager’s prior employees, it has put her in an awkward situation – as her boss is male, and she female. The questions abound… what is the intent of lunch – just lunch or something else? Again, nothing prior has indicated otherwise. What will his other employees think – will she be outcast for being the boss’ favorite? Will the other employees think something else is going on between them? Is she overanalyzing the situation?

Even if there is no ill-intent my wife has been struggling to figure out how to handle the situation professionally, and as not to damage an employee / manager relationship that’s just beginning. It doesn’t appear that a one-on-one lunch is a precedent in her office, although group lunches between managers and employees occur often.


Men and women who work together can’t go out to lunch during the work day with each other?

I would like to think that I could take a male employee to lunch without someone reading more into it. Bosses take employees to lunch all the time, as a thank-you for a great performance, as a chance to discuss career goals in a more relaxed setting, or just because they feel like getting some food. Often just because they feel like getting some food.

You say there’s been no indication of anything improper. That’s all you, or anyone else, needs to know.

I have to wonder: Since you’re the one writing in rather than your wife, is it possible that you’re the only one who sees something suspicious here? If I’m right … dude, stop harassing your wife and let her have a normal relationship with her boss.

{ 56 comments… read them below }

  1. Sabrina*

    Is she over analyzing? Yes. Absolutely. It's just lunch. Calm down!! I've only had one male boss and I wish the cheap jerk would have taken me to lunch!

  2. Erica*

    I think the writer forgot to mention that the offer to lunch was accompanied by lingerie, or pictures of naked elves. Otherwise, I can't think of a single reason why this would be construed as a come-on. And it's stuff like this that makes me frustrated. Could people interpreting interactions like this be a cause of why we have glass ceilings and professional gender disparity? Are people that afraid of the opposite sex/lawsuits?

  3. Anonymous*

    I think sexual harassment should be taken seriously, but this is not even close to that. I think we're getting too paranoid in our society. Male and female coworkers, married or not, can eat lunch together without there being any ulterior motives. Leave your wife alone!

  4. camorra*

    I think that we should be more sympathetic to her husband. He says specifically that his wife has been struggling with this. It obviously is not a matter for concern, but she's trying to see how this would be seen by others. As everyone else says, don't worry about it! Managers and their workers can go out to lunch!

  5. Anonymous*

    A guy I work with joined us for a group lunch once. It's generally about 3 or 4 of us guys and a woman (we have about 50 men and 5 women in our department). He later confided to me that he'd be unable to participate in future group lunches because of the presence of the woman. His wife would be most upset if she knew he dined with another woman without her there.

    If I were the original writer, I'd ask myself if I really want to come off like this guy's paranoid and insecure wife.

  6. Surya*

    I can imagine what led to this letter to AAM:

    Wife : Honey, I am going for a working lunch with my boss

    Hubby: No way! I dont like it!

    Wife: But it is only lunch! And it is completely okay… are you jealous? Are you a member of Taliban?

    Hubby: I am not! And to prove that your boss has dishonorable intentions in mind, I am going to get the help of AAM!

    Or something more wittier than the above dialogue.

    I think if the wife had a problem, she would have written the letter to AAM. This is a public blog, after all.

    Apologies in advance Op, if your wife genuinely felt uncomfortable with the invite and wanted you to write to AAM for her opinion.

  7. Kerry*

    How on earth would you know that this boss has never been to lunch with an employee before? You don't even work there, and your wife has only worked for this boss for a short period of time.

    Did your wife go around to each employee and ask whether they'd had lunch with this guy?

    And did she also ask every past employee in this manager's entire career?

    And even if this is his very first solo lunch with an employee…how would that be a problem? Maybe he read a management book that said having an actual human relationship with your employees is good. Maybe he's turning over a new leaf with his new employee. Maybe he's just hungry, or wants to get her insight, or thinks she's a good employee.

    Honestly, it's blowing my mind that a lunch invitation could possibly be construed as anything but…a lunch invitation. This is a normal business situation. It's not even remotely interesting.

    Also, it's a good idea for her to learn to ask for her own advice. If you do it for her, it makes you look controlling. If she doesn't know how to use email, she should definitely learn, like, immediately.

  8. Mary Sue*

    When two men or two women go to lunch alone, no one assumes it's for a hookup. What's the difference when it's a man and a woman?

  9. Anonymous*

    My apologies for my wife and my dumb question to this 'all-knowing' forum. For those of you who questioned, she sat by my side and dictated as I wrote the email (after searching for a while on the internet to try and find some reasonable examples of situations like this). It was in-fact an honest question to which we were not fully aware of the right path.

    To answer a few of the questions posed:
    -the title of the blog was the brain-child of the person writing the blog. in no way shape or form did the question indicate a 'come-on' from her boss.
    -yes, people are that afraid. don't kid yourself about the society we live in. complain all you want, but it still exists.
    -where was sexual harassment ever mentioned?
    -actually, my wife has worked in the same company for a long time, as well as her new boss, and the company's not that big. she knows what serves as 'normal' which is why she was struggling as to what to do and how she would be perceived.

    My thanks to camorra who actually got it and didn't feel the need to jump all over the question as if it was some self-serving, insecure cry for acknowledgement that my wife was going to lunch with her male boss.

  10. Ask a Manager*

    Now I'm confused.

    If you weren't concerned that the boss might be or appear to be coming on to her, what exactly was the worry? What did you mean when you wrote, "What is the intent of lunch – just lunch or something else?"

  11. Kerry*

    I keep typing replies to this, and they keep coming out snarky (I mean, snarkier than usual).

    So all I can say is that it might be wise for the wife to learn to use email herself.

  12. Richard*

    Unless he has a reputation for coming onto female employees, or until he starts talking or treating her in ways that are obviously harassment, both of you need to quit stressing.

    Because for god's sake, it's just lunch.

  13. The Wife*

    Okay, so this is the wife "speaking", and yes, I know how to use email. I was right by my husband's side as he typed MY question. It is not normal practice in our office for two people to go to lunch together, rather in a large group, which is why I thought the situation was awkward. Though, completely harmless, I did not feel comfortable in this situation so I was seeking advice from anyone else who might have run into this same situation. Clearly, no one here has been helpful. Instead, the situation has been completely twisted, the title has been changed, and my husband has been made to appear as a controlling and jealous male- which he is so far from. He knew that I was struggling with this situation and thought it would be helpful to get some outside advise. Obviously, this blog was not the place to get it.

  14. Ask a Manager*

    I don't know what this business is about the title being changed from what you submitted. I write a title for every post on the site. If I just used the subject line of people's emails to me, most posts here would have vague titles like "question for you" or "help."

    In your case, your subject line was "holidays gifts from managers," which hardly summarizes the post. I'm not sure what the objection to the title here is.

  15. Richard*

    Some assumptions have been made here, however some advice has been offered, which seems to have been disregarded – People have told you that this is hardly anything serious, not to worry, not to stress, and you seem to have completely ignored this.

    Nothing annoys me more than someone who asks a question, posturing as if they are asking for advice, who will then completely ignore or rebuke any advice given to them.

  16. Kerry*

    If you don't feel comfortable with the situation, then don't go to lunch with you.

    I think what people are telling you is that it's very unusual to feel uncomfortable with the situation to describe. That's not to say that you're not allowed to feel uncomfortable…it's just that the rest of the people who have read this and responded have not felt that way, based on what you have described.

    So then the bottom line would be: don't have lunch if you're uncomfortable.

    I don't get the part about the twisting…but I'm guessing there's more to this whole thing than meets the eye.

  17. Anonymous*

    I'm a woman who asked a male manager to lunch. I had a serious issue to discuss and could get his attention and a place on his busy schedule no other way. I'm a bit old-school and found the situation a bit uncomfortable, so I understand Wife's ambivalence about that. But men get visibility and build working (I said working!) relationships over lunch. Perhaps your boss was offering you just that – a chance for real face-time with your manager – as a favor, treating you as an equal to one of the guys.

  18. Karen*

    Ok, this has turned into a hot mess of confusion.

    Husband and wife both say that their concerns were not about come-ons or harassment. And yet, the gender and marital status of the boss was brought up as a point of concern.

    I guess what I'm getting from their comments now is that they're concerned because this is "out of the ordinary" for their company, as employees usually have lunch in a group rather than in twos.

    So here goes (and I'm going to echo Kerry in my snarkiness):

    You are overanalyzing. If you're shocked that you're going to lunch with one member of your office rather than 3 or 4, get over it. One on one lunches with coworkers and supervisors are healthy, normal, and good for your business and personal relationships. If you're worried that your coworkers will be jealous, get over that too. Since your manager is new, he will likely do the same with other employees when opportunities arise. And if you do become the boss' favorite…so what? As long as you're polite, humble, and courteous with both your supervisor and your coworkers, maybe that favoritism will be warranted.

    And if you're still in a tizzy about this, I'd diagnose this as more of a social anxiety issue than anything work related.

  19. GeekChic*

    Hi OP and Wife,

    Hmmm…. things don't seem to have gotten off to a great start…

    The wife of the OP said in her comment that people tend to go out to lunch as a group at her place of work. It is similar where I work now. It's very unusual where I work for managers to go out singly with employees because it looks bad (both in terms of harassment and favouritism).

    I have had managers invite me to lunch at various times and have felt some discomfort each time (regardless of gender) – and I got grief from my co-workers when I went. My direct supervisor has never invited me to lunch (or anything else) – activities are done as a unit.

    My question for the LW's wife is: Is the discomfort you feel mostly due to the manager's gender or the fact that he is your direct supervisor?

    If the discomfort is due to gender, you can probably deal with this by looking at his other behaviour within the company and acting accordingly.

    If the discomfort is due to the fact that he is your supervisor, I would be tempted to raise this with him (I've done this myself). Stress that you're worried about the appearance of favouritism. Be aware, though, that he may be taking everyone out to lunch individually as a way to get to know people.

  20. Cassie*

    I probably would guess that the boss isn't trying to come on to the wife (at least, not from just inviting her to lunch), but I would have to say that the two of them going to lunch would probably raise some eyebrows amongst other staffers (if that is not common practice within their office).

    Yes, the other staffers should grow up and mind their own business but we all know that that's not how the real world works. I go to lunch with one of the supervisors in our office (though she is not my supervisor) and that gets the gossipers talking. They want to know why we go to lunch together so often. It's usually just once a month – hardly excessive. I have learned to ignore the pettiness of those staffers who clearly have nothing else to do but gossip.

    If your wife is okay with going to lunch alone with her boss, then she should. I probably wouldn't (with my boss) because I don't like making small talk and it would be awkward. But this doesn't have to do with the fact that my boss is male – just that I don't like awkward situations. However, if my boss offered to take me to lunch, I probably would not be able to decline (him being the boss afterall).

  21. Anonymous*

    It might be 'out of the ordinary' for the company, but the initial email said that the manager was new to the company.


  22. YoungFemaleAssistant*

    What I got from the post was not a jealous husband's question, but more of a woman worrying about how the lunch with the boss would be perceived by others at the office. Of course, everyone interprets things from their own experiences. In my office, when a male employee, let alone a boss takes a female employee out to lunch/happy hour drinks (what have you), let the gossipping begin. If I were married, I would not even think about doing this, only because it would likely raise questions from my colleagues, and not to my face. I felt like this was more about the wife's security with the situation and not the husband's need to control. It feels like everyone jumped on the bandwagon of the latter.

    Would it be rude for the wife to just, I don't know, pass? I mean, I have a female boss who has offered me lunch before, and I don't feel like it, I say no.

  23. Anonymous*

    I have to totally disagree with AAM on this.

    �is my wife's boss coming on to her?� is a bad title for this question because it doesn�t encompass all the questions that the OP about what the lunch invite meant. Something more like �Male boss asks my wife out to lunch, should I be concerned?� would have been better.

    Also, AAM didn�t really answer the question because there is a BIG difference between going out to lunch with a male colleague and your male boss and AAM flips between the two during her answer. I see nothing wrong with colleagues going out to lunch no matter the gender but going out to lunch with only your boss is different. Furthermore, I wouldn�t call a women and her male boss going out to lunch alone a �normal� relationship.

    My advice is to nicely decline the offer and be honest that it makes you feel uncomfortable and you don�t want people in the office to get the wrong idea. Either that or suggest to your boss that a group of you go to lunch instead.

  24. Unemployed Gal*

    It sounds like The Wife (and possibly her supervisor) is confusing socializing and managing. Her manager likely has one of two reasons for the lunch invitation.

    First, socializing. He wants to get to know his new employee, which is fine. However, if this is the case, he should order pizzas for the office and chat with his entire team at once. This will avoid the appearance of favoritism. And if he feels the need to �repay� a gift, a group lunch shows greater generosity. It also halts the perception that employees need to �buy� face time with the boss through gift obligations. If you are uncomfortable with a private lunch, suggest that he �pay you back� by treating the entire team at once. You�ll look like a team player instead of �teacher�s pet,� and he�ll look like a generous, caring leader.

    Second, managing. He wants to have a private discussion about professional issues such as career development. If this is the case, schedule a non-lunch business meeting in his office. Bring your notes, close the door, and get to work. Because this is work, not �chat about Billy�s soccer team� time. People have meetings with managers everyday, so no one will bat an eye about this.

    Ask your manager about his �agenda� for your lunch invitation to learn whether it�s socializing or managing. If he�s trying to do both, I�d advise you to separate them as I described above.

  25. Pregnant Yuppy*

    Wow, I'm going out for lunch with my boss tomorrow, New Year's Eve, just the 2 of us, and I didn't think anything about it. In fact, I may even brag about it to my coworkers! Of course my office has a strict no gossip policy and I doubt that anyone would think that there was any favourtism or anything inappropriate going on.

    However, if The Wife is uncomfortable why not simply say to her manager that it isn't typical in the company for managers to only take one employee out for a lunch and suggest instead that he buy her a coffee? Quite often we create something out of nothing by not addressing our concerns head on.

    Personally I think you should go. Enjoy your lunch and who cares what others think?

  26. Anonymous*

    Seriously, SERIOUSLY? I'm a female (married) with a male boss who's also married, who also happens to be my friend, and we've been out to lunch and even out to drinks before. There's nothing to this offer. It's just an offer for lunch. Don't be weird. I have lots of male friends at work I go out to lunch with.

  27. Cara*

    Anonymous said "I wouldn�t call a women and her male boss going out to lunch alone a �normal� relationship."


    Are you kidding me? This is part of the reason that women have been left behind in workplace advancement, because they think like this. If my male colleague can do something, you better bet I'm going to do it too and not demur for some crap reason like that.

    I go out to lunch (and sometimes dinner) with my male boss all the time. If someone thought anything of it, everyone would think they were a tool.

    And if I were a boss and my employee "wasn't comfortable" being alone over some food with me, I'd think they were a weirdo.

  28. Unemployed Gal*

    @Pregnant Yuppie: �Of course my office has a strict no gossip policy…� I�ve never heard of a workplace with an actual gossip policy. In my experience, people will either gossip or won�t, and others either participate or ignore it. I�m glad to hear that you have a gossip-free workplace. How do they enforce this?

  29. thuy*

    ok so let me get this straight, while the wife thinks it's perfectly normal to give the new manager a gift card as a present, she is absolutely confused and uncomfortable when the manager invites her to lunch?!?! Really? you were the one that initiated this whole thing. Would you feel better if the manager were to just reciprocate the favor by giving you a present back?? Even if he did so, I bet you would still feel uncomfortable because.. "now he's giving you a present"

  30. Annette*

    As a (female) manager I like to take the opportunity to spend some 1-1 time with my direct reports by taking them to lunch. They enjoy the individual attention (and the free lunch, lol). It doesn't matter if they are male or female – sheesh! This guy is totally overreacting. His wife also needs to get a life – do you need to tell your husband every time you go out to lunch with your boss?? Maybe she's trying to make her husband jealous, lol – sounds like ti worked!

  31. Mary Sue*

    I wouldn�t call a women and her male boss going out to lunch alone a �normal� relationship.

    I would. We obviously use different dictionaries.

  32. Karen*

    @Cara…I'm glad you brought that up. I think a lot of women have a fearful mentality that does hold them down in the workplace. If a man can go out to lunch with his boss, then I will go out to lunch with my boss.

  33. Pregnant Yuppy*

    @ Unemployed Gal:
    I guess our no gossip policy works because it's enforced. Gossip is usually reported to management and the offender is dealt with immediately. We're all adults and we act like it. We also have low turnover.

  34. Syd*

    Since everyone is saying 'Hey no big deal,' and the OPs are saying, 'but this never happens!', it appears to be more an issue of effectively evaluating the office culture, which may be outside the purview of AAM's ability for this particular question. And thus, this may be a problem for which this blog can provide you no answers and you'll have to figure it out yourself.

    Maybe the new manager doesn't usually receive gifts and so doesn't know how to respond?

  35. Anonymous*

    Thuy wins. You (Wife) started this by giving the boss a present. The boss is probably just as terrified of a misstep as you are.

  36. Anonymous*

    Your wife gave her boss a gift, the boss is reciprocating. Period.
    Unless there was a direct, in your face come on attached to the invite a lot is being read into food. I'm not buying into this doesn't happen here malarchy. People eat.

    The first business 1-1 meal invite is awkward regardless of gender. The good news is that strong friendships and alliances are built this way. Emphasis on the words friendship and alliance. There's nothing weird about sharing a meal unless you or your spouse make it an issue.

    I've *gasp* shared food with males, females and occassionally a random pet since grade school so I consider myself an expert in this matter.

  37. Anonymous*

    In a previous life I worked in a field where face-to-face contact with supervisors is very limited. We met bout once a month to review my progress on my projects, with small questions in between handled by brief e-mails. Many supervisors in the department held their biweekly or monthly meetings with underlings in their offices, but mine preferred to hold his over individual lunches. He was a married male (and a father to boot!) and I was a single woman half his age. I never felt uncomfortable or questioned his motives because, well, he came across as a nice guy who wanted to do something nice for the people he supervised. If your boss is coming across as something more sinister, then perhaps examine why he comes across that way — because that's the real point of contention, not the would-be innocuous lunch.

  38. Anonymous*

    Based on the defensiveness from the original poster(s), it sounds like there's some 'projecting' going on…

    Seriously, though, one person being attracted to another or two people being attracted to each other (regardless of gender!) is an integral and perfectly normal part of human nature – so what if it's a manager/employee, coworker/coworker, cashier/customer, etc.? Once we're in a relationship do we suddenly stop finding every one of the other 4.9 billion people on the planet completely unattractive? And they all somehow know they're not allowed to be attracted to us?

    I can't speak for everyone else, but my wife loves to ask for details about the cute receptionist flirting with me at work and then demonstrate why she's no competition…

    There's only an issue if one or both parties ACT on those feelings. For example, let's say the manager in question IS attracted to the new employee – he's either professional enough to behave appropriately or he's not – going to lunch isn't going to flip some magic switch that changes that. If he's going to come on to her and they didn't go to lunch, he'd just do it in some other forum.


    (that, or we need all new HR rules to segregate everyone by gender and orientation to save people from themselves and eliminate any possibility of temptation or impropriety – either way…)

  39. Anonymous*

    1. Thuy wins. I read the original post and thought, "She gave him a gift card and he felt bad about not having a reciprocal gift, so he popped up with lunch."

    2. I took the language of the email (without the offending title) and showed it to a coworker here. He thought the OP was asking if the boss was sort of coming on to his wife.

    3. If my (male) boss took me to lunch, it would look weird. He never goes to lunch with anyone. So if he even had a male employee, if Boss asked Male Employee out to lunch, it would look odd.

    4. But if he asked me to go to lunch I would. I can always defend myself with a fork, need be.

    5. All observations aside: if a situation makes you feel creepy, go with it. Don't ask your husband to write it for you.

  40. Anonymous*

    "is my wife's boss coming on to her?"

    guys, what happened with me has been worse. for last one year due to recession my job has been badly affected. self and wife often had fights but we somehow made up. But things went worse when my wife went with her 50 year old divorced male boss to Hong Kong. All alone, everything paid for by her boss.
    She didn't seek any advice or permissions from me. She just INFORMED me.
    later i learned they were just working 4 hours a day and sightseeing for the rest of the day. they would spend the evenings with candle light dinner and on SOHO street(dont know what is that.).
    I am a man of limited resources and have not been able to take her to expensive places or give her exotic lifestyle. I have done what i could within my means – like take her to adventure camps, hiking and all.
    And when i am going through bad phase this is how she has paid me back – going off with a successful man with high status and money.
    what should I do?

  41. Richard*

    Drop her like like a bag of crap? Divorce courts don't generally look well on cheating on your partner, assuming that you have actually evidence, and not hearsay.

  42. Will Riddle*

    You know this blog generally has great advice, but I agree with the original posters. It was a reasonable question which most of the responders twisted and responded rudely to.

    In my opinion, there is a reasonable chance this guy is fishing, pure and simple. He likes the wife and wants to see how open she is. If there wasn't a vibe the wife probably wouldn't have felt the need to ask a question. I've had plenty of professional lunches but the context and tone always tells you what is really going on. If I were the wife, I would go to the lunch and use it as an opportunity to send plenty of "I'm not interested" signals.

  43. Anonymous*

    Well, I have a boss who’s always inviting us for dinner – he’s male and so am I and there’s no danger of being something else. Personally, I have to say that I don’t like: I find it patronising and opens the window for the “boss trying to be a friend” type of thing, which invariably ends in unreasonable requests later on.

    My opinion, without knowing the full picture: the if you don’t have problems in saying “no” and asserting yourself just go and enjoy to try to leverage you career. Otherwise, if you’re feeling insecure, it is better to find the courage to decline. Because, if you go feeling insecure or with any type of doubt in mind it will show and your boss might want to take advantage on this (professionally and otherwise

  44. Anonymouse*

    I have to say personally I’d find my new male boss asking me out to lunch ‘alone’ to be a little odd myself. And I’d be worried, but I’d go.

    I have experienced in my past career where this happened. A very new incoming manager made friends with a receptionist. They got very close, and as part of the transition/upheaval, he moved her up the ladder about 3-5 ranges, replacing several others who were ‘let go’, until she became his personal assistant. He took her with him when he was promoted to a better job, then when he left that company, she went too. As far as I know they were just friends, but there may have been more to it.

    Frankly, I’d wonder if the new manager sees the wife as approachable, competent, someone possibly his age?, and an potential ally. Maybe he’s looking to take her away from the work setting and the colleagues so that he can pump her for character studies on her co-workers, the state of the company, the office politics, and how things really work there. He may just want info, and see her as his ally/informer. He may not even realize that this is not ‘usual behavior’ for that new company culture.

    Maybe the wife might think about the offer in light of that. Depending on how she feels about and whether she respects and/or trust the new manager, having an in-track and some perceived debt might be great for her career potentially. Or, if she doesn’t feel safe, she can play it coy or turn down the offer.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      But I don’t really see any reason here at all to think that’s happening. It’s such a normal thing to do that unless there’s something that specifically is weird about this particular situation, it doesn’t make sense to me to jump to that conclusion.

  45. BRADY*

    if she doesn’t feel comfortable then there’s a reason. What ever the reason if she cant get past that reason she shouldn’t go to lunch alone with him. these people attacking you and being condescending should get a life.

    serious questions you and her should ask each other and yourselves…
    Do you trust her?
    Does she trust herself?
    Do you and her trust her boss?
    How much do co-workers opinions REALLY matter?
    Do you have a bigger problem with this than her?

    It sucks that you were attacked here for just asking a question. Good luck man.

  46. Ken*

    Yes, there is something to it. Any married woman who would go to lunch, dinner or drinks alone with her boss would just as easily rip off her dress and let him have his way with her. Any woman that says she wouldn’t is a liar. Period.
    As for the guy who had the wife go to Hong Kong…you don’t need any proof apart from she went away with him to HONG KONG!!! The poster who said ‘is it just hearsay’ is an idiot. She WENT AWAY with him so she is 100% boning him!

  47. happly married*

    My wife and myself have an agreement we dont have lunch with the opposite sex for any reason that way there are no problems both bosses respect this.

  48. Anonymous*

    since when lunch is part of work life unless taken at your desk or at the lunch room in the office? i see it as very unproffesionally to be asking co-workers/direct reports/managers out for lunch to discuss carrer matters. This is done within the work environment not outside of it. I have no problem with going out for lunch with a co-worker with whon i may share some level of social relationship.

    1. Grace*

      The lunch invitation from the new boss may be perfectly harmless and simply a kindness. I’d accept it as that.

      I worked at one place where the boss insisted that the entire office join him for lunch every day as his ‘treat’ at a local restaurant. It wasn’t fun to be constantly pressured to take lunch with him, everybody felt pressured to conform and that they were being a ‘spoil sport’ if they had to decline to attend the lunch. People had errands to run, things to do, had other things to do, homework for night classes, and honestly wanted a break from their co-workers.
      (And does being forced into having lunch mean that we were supposed to get 1-hour of on-duty pay per the Labor Code because we truly weren’t set ‘free’?)

    2. MJ of the West*

      I think that a big part of the difference in opinions here has to do with the nature and type of job. In the professional environment, meals with colleagues (including managers/subordinates/business contacts) are quite common and a normal part of one’s professional life.

      However, in a more structured work environment, with clearer hierarchical lines, I can see how the concept of a meal with a supervisor might be foreign. That said, this is nonetheless hardly a cause for concern.

  49. David*

    Well. That situation did happen to us. She told me there was going to be a team meeting in the city. On that day my mate took me to the city to eat as well. I tried calling my wife to see if she was near by. Called twice, no answer. No worries. Sit down. order food and talk. My mate taps me in excitement with saying hey there’s Rachel . Rachel. I turn around to see my wife and thought what a lovely surprise! Say hi to her. She looked surprises too. she kissed me on the cheek. That’s unusual. I ask where her team was. It was just her and one guy. Her boss so I am told. With a bottle of wine and 3 beers. A bit too many drinks for 2 pm on Friday lunch?? She took the train that morning that means she won’t be back till about 8 or 9 pm. I went numb. My whole world shut down. They both insisted there are usually lots of them. The whole time it was so odd to see my wife sit down with another man next yo us and look at the menu and order. I ate and joined in with the small talk. My head has a million thoughts going through it. My mate does not say much. I finish my food get up and tell my wife and her boss to enjoy their lunch. I forgot to pay. I just left. My mate paid. My wife comes after me with look of “what’s wrong with you?” And saying. “I told you about this lunch yesterday” and accuses me of checking up on her. We argued for awhile and I left. I was all numb and sis not say a thing on the way home to my mate. She went back inside and finished her lunch and their drinks. I went home tried to call her. No answer. I send her message and she rings me an hour later.
    Events took place after that I won’t go into yet. That was 3 weeks ago. I d like to hear you guys thoughts. Thank you.

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