update: my coworker wants me to have a sleepover with her

Remember the reader whose coworker invited her to a sleepover? Here’s her update.

Thanks so much to you and your readers for all of your help!

The sleepover invitation seemed to fizzle out soon after I sent the letter. But while I stopped receiving follow-ups on having a sleepover, this coworker was suddenly inviting me to all sorts of things – charity walks in cities several hours away, get-togethers at her church, spa days, you name it. It got to the point where other coworkers started stopping me in the hall to poke fun at the situation (our office is pretty quiet, and everyone would overhear every invitation!). I still wanted to keep a separation between my work life and personal life (in fact, I’m currently job searching out-of-state, which has made it even harder for me to feel invested in social relationships at work). I decided to be straightforward with my coworker, saying that much of my free time out of work is tied up already. However, I’ve also added that I’d love to go out for coffee or lunch during the week. We’ve been able to go out for lunch several times, sometimes along with some other coworkers as well, and the strange invitations have stopped (for now). I hope that these get-togethers during our lunch hour will allow us to have some social interaction that has a time cap!

Again, thanks so much for all of the advice – it has helped me understand how to create boundaries with coworkers kindly but assertively.

{ 22 comments… read them below }

  1. Kai*

    The coworker seems terribly lonely. I feel kind of bad for her but I’m glad that things seem to have worked out.

    1. Robin*

      Yeah, making friendships as an adult can be hard. I definitely have some compassion for the OP’s colleague. I’m glad to see that she is getting lunches, etc. with her instead of blowing her off completely. Not a big fan of the poking fun, either — if this is a small office, might the colleague hear the mocking?

    2. Stephanie*

      Yeah, I was coming here to post that as well. She does seem lonely. I forget the coworker’s age from the original post, but I remember it being really awkward and lonely when I moved to a new city after graduating college. I knew only knew one person, so it was really tough transitioning from having all my closest friends within 10 minutes. So I could see where the coworker was coming from, even if the original sleepover request was odd.

  2. Celeste*

    I agree, that’s one lonely lady. I’m glad that a small bit of attention has settled her down, but I’m even more glad that you are pursuing some other opportunities. This particular problem is about to be solved for good, and like you said, you got some new skills out of it.

    I do feel badly for her and hope she will find some people to be friends with somehow.

    1. OP*

      I completely agree! While I didn’t feel comfortable committing to day-long trips or a sleepover, I’ve really enjoyed grabbing lunch with her – we actually have plans for lunch again this week. And I guess I wasn’t very clear about the “poking fun” part – while other coworkers tried to crack jokes about all the invitations they were overhearing, I didn’t participate in the jokes – I felt the same concern for her as many of the commenters did. I simply invited them to come along with us to lunch :) And many of them did!

      1. Celeste*

        Oh yeah, I can only imagine how they carried on. I’m guessing at least one person broke into a round of, “Do You Want To Build A Snowman?”. Devastating should she overhear any of it and connect the dots.

      2. Elle D*

        It sounds like you were able to appease your co-worker and diffuse some of the potentially hurtful jokes from your co-workers. Seems like you handled the situation really well!

    2. Anonsie*

      I really empathize with this lady. When I moved to a new city for a job I had to actively try very very hard to not do exactly this with anyone that seemed cool because I knew it would end up looking really… Sad, and I didn’t want to give the impression that I was starved for human interaction and was trying to seek it out anywhere. Even though that’s exactly what was happening.

      1. Stephanie*

        Yeah, I did the desperate socialization thing as well. Coworkers, not as much, since a lot were older with families and were clear they needed to get home. But I desperately tried to turn acquaintances into more than that just so I wasn’t heading home after work every day.

        The first six months in New City were really awkward.

    1. StillLAH*

      That’s what I was going to suggest too. I used it when I moved away for my first job out of grad school. I didn’t make any long-term friends but at least it gave me an opportunity to talk to people in person who weren’t my coworkers or my dog.

    2. Elizabeth West*

      Depending on where you live, there may be a dearth of intriguing groups. I know it took AGES before one finally showed up that I had any interest in at all.

      1. Esra*

        Right? I think I’m the only person under 30 living in my neighbourhood who likes to knit.

    3. Miss Evy*

      +1 to this!

      After graduating from college, I moved back home and was basically a minimum of 600 miles (the farthest was 3000) away from my closest friends and my best friend from college. I wasn’t particularly close to anyone I’d gone to high school with who was in the area, and I had zero interest in developing a social relationship with my coworkers.

      I live in a metro area that has a lot of Meetups, so I joined a few different ones, focusing on interest-based Meetups thinking I would get along with them much better. Not so! Turns out that some of my closest confidantes are ladies from a Meetup that was for ladies in their 20somethings, and I eventually became an event organizer, than assistant organizer.

      Hopefully, there is something in the area that she can at least give a try. If not, she always has the option of starting a Meetup herself to create her own social opportunities and meet more people, make friends, etc.

  3. Stargazer*

    That’s sad that your coworkers are making fun of her behind her back. Good for you for maintaining boundaries but not completely blowing her off.

  4. Fabulously Anonymous*

    I know someone similar and she honestly doesn’t “know” boundaries. I’ve had similar requests for weekend trips and all day baking sessions. Once I explained that these were not possible and suggested alternatives, she accepted them. Now that I’ve gotten to know her I learned that she lived a rather sheltered, lonely life (not to mention she was raised in a different culture) and I don’t think she realized her requests were inappropriate.

  5. Poofeybug*

    A bit late here but this story made me laugh out loud. I’m reminded of a carpool I used to be in with 2 other women. One of them had college-age daughter, K, wjo was about 18 or 19. She was a nice kid, but had an emotional mturity of someone about 5 years younger. One day the mother was talking about the “slumber party” K was going to be having at their house that weekend, complete with hair braiding and nail polish application. That woke us up! The second lady said, “When I was 19 and in college, I was having sleepovers, all right, but not with other girls and no hair braiding was involved!” We’ve all left that company, but I’m still in touch with both of them. When 2 of us get together (without K’s mother) we still talk about K’s slumber party. Kids today!

  6. Harryv*

    I actually think it is the OP that is coming off as the lonely coworker. She already indicated that she doesn’t want to invest socially in the relationship with coworkers and looking to leave her job. Others are probably noticing and want to reach out to her.

    1. Poofeybug*

      No way! OP was right to get a vibe of oddness here. Lonely, odd…I can’t say, but grown women don’t have sleepovers or slumber parties after their teen years, unless someone is visiting from out of town staying at your house (which technically makes them a house guest).

  7. PK*

    Please tell your coworker about meetup.com which is a place to find friends to similar activities. I used that when I moved to a new city and it’s a great way to get out and meet people with similar interests.

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