dealing with a work crush, our boss lied about a family emergency to skip a meeting, and more

It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…

1. Our boss skipped a meeting for a family emergency — but we saw on Facebook that it was a party

I work part-time at a pool (I do have a professional IT job) and each month there are required staff meetings. Last month, our boss stated in a letter that she would not be there because of a “family emergency.” During the meeting, those of us who are friends with her on Facebook observed her updating her status about a birthday party and posting pictures having fun at an uncle’s birthday party. In my opinion, that is not an emergency.

This infuriated the staff, most of whom are high school students, which led to a lot of people quitting, so now we are even more under staffed and stressed because she also has been pawning tasks (weekend scheduling) to a few of us more senior folks. What is the most appropriate way to handle this?

Well, you could tell her that people were pissed off about that, and that’s why they quit. But while lying to get out of attending a staff meeting isn’t a great move — and it’s particularly a jerk move coming from the boss, because it’s an obvious double standard — I’m not sure it’s fury-worthy or quit-worthy. (Plus, it’s entirely possible she wasn’t lying — you don’t have all the information, and it’s possible that she had to, I don’t know, drive her terminally-ill mother to this event to see her son for the last time before he ships out for Afghanistan or something. Who knows. That sounds like a stretch, but my point is that we don’t know the circumstances.)

This all sounds like a lot of drama, and your best bet might be to just unfriend your boss on Facebook so that you don’t see this kind of thing, keep your head down, and focus on your job for however long you decide to stay there.

2. My crush at work is giving me confusing signals after turning me down

Recently a new person joined our team. We got along well so I went ahead and asked her out. She said that she doesn’t mix dating with work.

Now, since she said no, I figured she wasn’t interested in me and I kind of instinctively started avoiding looking at her in a group setting since I didn’t want to be a creeper, but I didn’t avoid or ignore her if she was in front of me and continued to greet her as usual.

We’re in different roles so, aside from maybe a common meeting per week, our interaction lasts only for about 10 minutes every day in a group setting and that too can easily pass off without us really requiring any direct conversation. I am not sure how she construed my behavior but it seemed like she didn’t like it. One day when I didn’t make any eye contact with her in a meeting, she looked upset when I said hi to her in the break room. I think she thought I was giving her the silent treatment or something, when in reality I’m a really quiet/shy person and I didn’t want to make things awkward or be labeled as a creeper.

Anyway, from the next day onward, I stopped avoiding eye contact with her. For a whole week straight, she would look me in the eyes the first thing every day during our 10 minute stand up meeting. She stopped doing this abruptly one fine day. I have since tried thrice to re-initiate conversation with her, while she does respond back she doesn’t initiate any conversation herself. She looked in my eyes again this last week.

Any suggestions/advice on how I should proceed? I’m completely at a loss here and I have re-kindled my feelings for her. Should I go back to instinctively avoiding her?

No, please don’t. Treat her like you’d treat any other coworker. The problem here started when you started avoiding her after she told you she didn’t want to date you. While you may have been doing that to avoid making her uncomfortable, in practice it did the opposite, because it signaled to her that you were going to treat her strangely/awkwardly/rudely because she turned you down.

The best thing that you can do here — and in fact the only professional option — is to treat her the way you would any other coworker. Don’t avoid looking at or talking to her, don’t track what kind of eye contact she does or doesn’t make with you, don’t over-analyze your interactions with her — just treat her like you do everyone else. And don’t ask her out again, rekindled feelings or not, since she clearly told you she’s not interested in dating, and you don’t want to create further discomfort for her at work.

3. Should I offer to split the cost of training with my employer?

My manager has suggested I look for a training course on a particular topic. This topic is related to my job but not essential for it–learning the material should help me do even better at a job I’m already doing well. I found a few courses for around $1,000 each, and was told that that price range is OK and I should pick one. Now that I’m looking at these options more closely to pick one of them, I find they all have dreadful reviews, and people have even lodged Better Business Bureau complaints (a lot of complaints!) against some of these companies. There are some training options out there that have much better reviews, but these better ones are all $2,000-$2,500 for the course.

Clearly I should have done more research before I suggested those options! But since I didn’t, I feel uncomfortable saying “well, those cheaper courses exist but I really want this $2,000 one instead.” I’m wondering if I should:

* get over my discomfort, and ask to take one of the more expensive courses since I think the outcome will be better
* offer to pay half the cost myself
* try to pick the best of the cheaper courses

What do you think? If it helps, I can say I have a great manager and my company is great to work for, but the company is going through some tight times financially.

Don’t offer to pay for a business expense just because the price ended up being higher than what you thought. Look at it this way: If your manager asked you to find a printer, you found one and got her okay on their pricing, and then heard terrible stories about them from their customers, would you then go back and offer to pay part of the cost of a better but more expensive printer? Of course you wouldn’t.

It’s really not that different here. I think you feel like it is because training will benefit you personally, as well as your employer — but this is training that your manager suggested you do, and just because the initial price has now changed is no reason to assume you can’t get a higher price approved.

Go back to your manager and explain what you found out about the lower priced courses, and that the ones that get the best reviews are in a different price range, and see what happens. If she balks, then you can discuss with her whether it makes sense to take the cheaper, poorly review course or something other option. But don’t offer to pay for this yourself, unless you’re fully convinced that it will have significant benefit to you after you’ve no longer at this company (and even then I’m not sure you should).

4. Sending a follow-up after a thank-you note

It is too desperate, if after a thank-you letter, I send another letter about what I can do (with the details of how to do it) for the company?

I’m concerned that he might think that I have no marketability, and I really like the job.

In most cases, it will come across too aggressively. The ball is in their court. Let them take whatever time they’re going to take to think through candidates and make a decision. Meanwhile, the best thing that you can do for your own peace of mind is to assume you didn’t get the job and mentally move on, and let it be a pleasant surprise if they contact you.

5. I don’t want work calls forwarded to me on the weekends

I was wondering if there was some way to get out of getting calls forwarded to my cell phone over the weekend. Is that legal? Or shouldn’t my boss need to pay me ? And not by bonus? I’m a front desk receptionist at my job and I really don’t want to have to keep sticking to those duties over my weekend, aka my free time. I’m not sure if other people have had to do this besides business owners or doctors and nurses that are on-call.

They can indeed require you to answer work calls over the weekend. However, assuming you’re non-exempt (and it sounds like you are), you need to be paid for that time, at your regular rate. If that puts you over 40 hours of work that week, they’d need to pay you overtime (time and a half) for all hours over 40 that week.

Legalities aside, if you don’t want to do it, you could say, “I have commitments on the weekend that preclude me from being available to answer work calls. Can we handle them differently?” Those commitments could be family, hobbies, a class you’re taking, volunteer work, a tendency to spend time in the mountains outside of cell range, or whatever you want.

{ 316 comments… read them below }

  1. Puffle*

    #1 If unfriending your boss is tricky, you can also change your Facebook settings so you remain friends with her but you don’t see her posts and updates. Also: is it possible that she was posting photos of the event some time after it actually happened? Perhaps the pictures were taken on a different date.

    1. nona*

      +1 Hide the boss’s posts. Boss doesn’t worry about being unfriended, you don’t see things that cause ~drama~.

      Hiding some people’s posts just makes life more pleasant for everyone.

      1. Vicki*

        It’s a Pool. And many of them are in HS.

        And this is why I think the boss here _seriously_ crossed a line. It would be annoying if a manager in the corporate world did something like this. But these are HS kids, just learning about the “work world” and this is SUCH a bad example.

        Is there any supervisor above this “boss” who you can complain to? At the very least, this boss needs to make an apology to everyone for missing the meeting.

        1. Liz*

          I’m not excusing the boss from being potentially in the wrong (even if this were someone’s dying birthday party, updating status on FB when you’ve friended employees is just plain weird – not to mention “friending” them anyway) but still checking FB during a meeting isn’t acceptable in most places.

      2. Sarah Nicole*

        It’s possible they saw the posts after the meeting was over and noticed that she had made those updates while the meeting was in progress. Facebook updates time stamp, so I wouldn’t jump to the conclusion that they were checking during the meeting.

        1. Liz*

          That’s possible. I read it as the status updates being observed during the meeting, but it could have been the other way around.

  2. Puffle*

    #3 you could even print out some of the review listings and complaints for these courses to back up your point. Then your boss could read through and make her own judgement with the same information. I think if she reads the info herself she’ll be more likely to see where you’re coming from.

    1. no you can't take that away from me*

      I suspect that OP3 feels a bit sheepish about telling the boss “I know I initially said $1000, but – it’s really going to be more like $2000”. But *shrug* it happens. Instead of thinking “drat! I didn’t dig deep enough!” maybe you should be thinking “it’s a good thing I tried to dig deeper and found these bad reviews.”

      I can’t speak for your boss, but I’d rather spend $2000 on quality than spend $1000 on crap.

      1. Puffle*

        +1 If I were the boss, I’d prefer to spend the $2000. If the $1000 course is crap, there’s no point in even going.

        1. MK*

          Maybe the OP is worried their boss will feel that the more expensive course is over their budget and the cheap one not worth it and scrap the whole plan.

          1. Pill Helmet*

            That could happen but I fit does OP should look at it positively. It’d be better not to waste the opportunity for training on something crappy and save it in case something good comes up. It would suck to find a good course half a year from now that is more in budget and not be able to take it because you already took the other training.

      2. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

        I concur.

        I couldn’t count the number of times I projected $X and the cost of something I proposed and, upon more research (or experience with $X), the actual cost was 2x or 3x or 4x. I don’t feel bad about it because it’s a thing that happens “hey PTB, gotta revise those numbers”.

        Maybe the new numbers kill the project or maybe it still gets greenlighted. You shouldn’t feel bad (and you shouldn’t spend your own money). You caught the whole thing before the $1000 was spent and you are offering your boss options.

        This is good work!

        1. fposte*

          Yes, I’d be pretty pleased with an employee who found out that this would be a bad expenditure.

    2. Margaret*

      Yeah, I think I’d approach this by linking a handful of the bad reviews in an email, explaining that I’m not finding anything with good reviews for the initial budget, but here are some I’ve found with good reviews – but unfortunately are a little more expensive, can you look these over and let’s meet to discuss. Apologize briefly for low balling how much it would cost, but I wouldn’t focus on it. It’s not your fault the good courses cost more. Just provide as much information as you think your boss will want/need to understand the benefits of the more expensive courses.

      1. OP #3*

        Alison and commenters, thank you! You all make good points.

        “no you can’t”: you’re right that I feel sheepish about it, but I like your reframing of it as “it’s a good thing I did dig deeper and find these reviews.”

        1. BadPlanning*

          I don’t think you shouldn’t feel too sheepish — you wouldn’t have wanted to spend an exhaustive time researching if the answer was going to be no. Sometimes research should be done in phases so people don’t go down a rabbit hole chasing every bit of information when the project should have been abandoned earlier in the research phase.

          1. Clever Name*

            Yes. OP, I think you can say something like: “When I did a quick review of the available training, I saw several classes for $1000, but after getting the go-ahead, I dug a little deeper and found that the classes I first looked at actually had terrible reviews and even some complaints lodged against them. The classes that seem the most reputable, actually cost around $2000. Do I still have the go-ahead to sign up?”

        2. OP #3*

          Update: When I presented the situation to my manager yesterday I said something like “When I sent you those three training options, I was assuming that at least ONE of them would be good. That turned out to be a mistaken assumption!” and then explained what I had found out about them, and the price range for the better classes. After my manager made sure we had room in the budget, I got the approval to sign up for one of the better classes.

          Thanks, everyone, for giving me an external perspective on the situation and for the encouragement!

  3. Turtle Candle*

    For #1, seconding the “looks can be deceiving” point. I have a friend who has a family member with fairly severe cognitive difficulties. From time to time when the family member’s aide is unavailable (sometimes on sort notice–for instance, when she’s ill or has an emergency of her own) my friend will step in to care for them for a day or two. From photos this would generally look like ordinary family fun time (including the occasional party/dinner/game night/whatever), but it’s also a genuine “emergency” (or at least, very tight spot) because the family member in question needs significant care and attention.

    Said friend is very up front about this with her own manager (who is understanding–especially as my friend’s position allows for significant flex time and she’s conscientious about keeping on top of work), but others who are not need-to-know may very well be unaware of the backstory should photos turn up.

    Of course that may not be remotely similar to what’s going on here! Your boss might have just plain bailed to go to a party; I obviously have no idea. But I find it easier to keep a lid on my own irritation if I consider that behaviors often have many possible causes, so I share in case it can help you in the same way.

    1. UKAnon*

      For #1, I can’t help wondering if it being in a pool (so I’m guessing lifeguarding) is changing the dynamic. Admittedly limited info, but I know a lot about the pool a friend worked in for a few years and it was incredibly dysfunctional to the point of 90% of people having slept with each other. Friend was typically working 12-14 hours with some 18 hour days and only a couple of days off each month, with 4-5 days off maybe once a quarter. A family emergency for somebody was always how those sort of long hours landed on somebody else. Mostly, someone wouldn’t mind taking them on, even for the odd party. But if you lied about it once, people would start clocking up all the hours they’d covered for you wondering if that was all on a pretext, thus all trust would be gone etc.

      These were people who knew everything about each other. Even if it was something else, my friend would have expected you to say “taking a family member who needs care to a party” at least.

      tl;dr pools, IMHO, are a world unto their own and I think we should trust OP that this is a huge deal in their workplace and help them with how to deal with it.

      1. AnnieNonymous*


        This kind of stuff always seems to happen at jobs that are seasonal and/or depend heavily on teens for part-time work. Is the boss an “adult” boss or a manager that’s only a few years older than the staff? Is it one of those fluke things where the manager is a bit younger than the staff he or she manages? Some really unlikely people can end up rising to the top in these retail-esque environments, and if turnover is already pretty high, I can understand how a lot of the younger staffers would be fed up with this behavior from a boss. I’d be willing to bet that this manager was already messing with people’s schedules and hours (not approving requests for days off and being unforgiving about emergency absences). If the OP is an adult who’s doing this as a side job, he or she might not be aware of how the teen employees are being treated by management.

        1. Melissa*

          True. It may be that this is the last straw for some of the teens working the job. Maybe they’re not quitting over this – they’re quitting because this is the cherry on top of a mountain of mistreatment.

      2. Turtle Candle*

        I think it probably depends on the pool? That wasn’t my experience when I worked one, but it certainly could be here.

        But that aside, my point wasn’t that I don’t believe that this is a big deal to the OP/co-workers. Rather, I was trying to help the OP deal with it, as you say; my point was that it’s a great deal easier to deal with this sort of thing if you go into it with at least a somewhat open mind about the situation. For example, if the OP does want to point out that people are upset and that’s why they quit, they’re likely to get a better result if they approach it as, “Some employees saw this and it upset them; can I ask what’s up with that?” than if you assume from the get-go that it was a lie.

        Or to put it another way: my comment was intended to help the OP, and wasn’t meant to question or contradict what they observed, and I’m sorry if it didn’t come across that way.

        1. UKAnon*

          Sorry! I wasn’t trying to imply you weren’t trying to help OP. More that from what I’ve heard of those sort of workplaces (andAnnieNonymous’ description chimes exactly) people are going to have a good reason to assume boss was lying to go to a party, and in that sort of place boss needs to either give more info oraccept that’s how people are going to feel and she’s going to lose staff, so it might be more helpful to OP to try and get boss to realise this… I shall defer to people who’ve actually worked in it though!

          1. Turtle Candle*

            Ah, cool. I was confused and concerned because I really wasn’t trying to question the OP’s observations, just to point out that it’s easier to not go in guns blazing if you recognize that there are multiple possible reasons for a given behavior. And generally that’s helpful because even if you–hypothetical you–is 100% right, going in with a head of steam isn’t very useful. Sometimes very satisfying, though!

            (And the pool might very well be exactly as you/AnnieNonymous describe. I suspect that there are significant differences between, e.g., public/community pools, university pools, private pools, etc., etc., even before accounting for regional variance.)

        2. AnnieNonymous*

          Hmmm, I do think there’s an element of “young people with bikini-ready bodies” that tends to be at play with summer jobs. These are kids who are trying to work their jobs around their social lives while they don’t have to worry about school.

      3. Melissa*

        +1. My sister was a lifeguard at a pool for 8 years – from her mid-teens until her mid-20s. It was a very dysfunctional place, in part because it was staffed largely by teenagers and folks in their early 20s who were working their first jobs. My sister avoided a lot of the drama by working the early shift when she could – opening the pool up at 5 am, which was impressive to be because I never thought my baby sister would get up early for anything. (She’ll be 25 this year, now really a baby…) But it did always seem like the only way she could get time off is to switch shifts with someone, especially once she got her water safety instructor certification and started teaching classes. So breaking trust by telling someone you needed to switch for X and instead switching for Y would make people not want to switch with you. The weird thing is, they all seemed pretty willing to switch for fun stuff – concerts, birthday parties, events – so it wouldn’t be out of the ordinary to say “Hey can you switch with me because I need to go to my friend’s birthday party this Saturday” or whatever.

        I do want to say, though, that the kids quitting over this are probably thinking of it as a quit offense at least in part because of their youth.

      4. OP#1*

        Thank you UKAnon.

        I have known my “boss” for over 15 years, as we worked together a very long time ago in high school at a pool. She begged me to come work at the pool part time because she needed responsible eyes to be there in the evenings when she wasn’t there. Over the last year, there’s been a significant track record of her not keeping up on her tasks as the Aquatics Director because she “has too much going on”, is “stressed”. There was no family emergency, and it was purely a “my time is more important than yours” move, which is very typical for her to display.

        I am doing this as a side job a few hours a week, just to help her out (I do have a very good degree-related job), but I’m at the point where I’m so fed up, I will be quitting very soon. It’s not worth all the stress.

        1. mirror*

          I was also a lifeguard and swim instructor at a high school pool for about 6 years…the job naturally has mostly teenagers working their first job and with that comes some drama.

          But in this case, I dont think the drama over the boss lying should be downplayed because they’re all teenagers who dont know better. If I’m not mistaken, these monthly meetings are “in-service” meetings, which are A HUGE MANDATORY YOU-WILL-BE-FIRED-for not showing up unless death-meeting. If I’m not being clear, these are a BIG DEAL. They are also a PITA because they are usually every month, on an inconvenient day/time (because you need to use the pool, so no public can be around, which means very late or very early meetings), and for the boss to skip out while expecting everyone else to attend, I can totally see people quitting and blood boiling and all sorts of ill effects that boss’ action will lead to down the road.

          This is not just some simple 30 min meeting to discuss who is going to work over 4th of July holiday or something, this is life-prevention and saving training.

          To OP, if you need the job, I’d keep your head down, but expect to pick up a ton of slack if boss thinks you’re the only responsible one left and starts pushing their job duties onto you, or expecting you to cover for their mistakes by working more hours to fill in for the people who quit.

    2. Stranger than fiction*

      The thing about this one is that the boss gave them a month’s advance notice she wouldn’t be at the next month’s meeting. She used poor phrasing calling it a “family emergency”, and should have just said she had a family event or whatever. I don’t know why the boss called it an emergency, because the very nature of that term means you can’t know in advance, but anyhow, she did give them notice, not just didn’t go at to the meeting at the last minute. That being said, I’m not sure why the employees were so obsessed about it when the photos popped up. I can see them feeling a bit deceived because of the way the boss had described it, but other than that, who cares. Also, the boss knows she’s connected with the employees, so she may not even realize that she had described this event poorly when she gave them the notice.

      1. Turtle Candle*

        Yeah, it does seem like the simplest explanation is potentially just poor wording.

  4. Connie-Lynne*

    #5, While legally they can have you do this, it is ridiculous, frankly. They’re asking you, as receptionist, to be on-call over the weekend? Are you then expected to drop whatever you’re doing (church, sleeping, relaxing) to route the call to the right person? How do you even do that?

    Also, at least in CA, if you take a call on Sat and on Sun, then you’ve technically *worked* those days. Pretty sure there are rules against working more than seven days in a row, at least in California. I think they may even cover salaried employees?

    This is ridiculous. Having anyone be on call seven days a week with no days off ever is a sure path to insanity. Do they also want you to answer in the middle of the night?

    1. MK*

      Eh, I think how insane it is depends on how demanding this on-call situation is. If we are talking about several calls every day every weekend, yes, it’s unreasonable. But if it’s just a precaution to have someone on call and the OP actually only has to answer one weekend call per month, I can see why the employer thinks it’s no big deal.

      1. Bend & Snap*

        Mentally it’s still a big deal though. Having “on call” hanging over her head means she can never fully disconnect. Everyone needs a break–that’s what weekends are for unless you specifically agreed to an on-call job. And those aren’t usually every weekend.

        1. UKAnon*

          Seconded! I used to do an on-call job. Sleep was never as good, you couldn’t go shopping without making plans as to how to deal with work if someone called, most activities were out for you. It was truly the most stressful job I’ve ever had, and it was only part time. I wouldn’t last six months if it was every weekend, having done it for years before.

          OP, please talk to your boss about sharing\mitigating\ending this. It will eventually destroy your mental health.

          1. Hlyssande*

            Yes, this. A friend of mine had a job for awhile where he literally had to carry a company cell phone and laptop everywhere he went – and make sure he could access wifi/internet within a half hour. Everywhere. He was glad when that contract finished. It was terrible.

          2. MashaKasha*

            Thirded! On-call sucks. I was on a three-person rotation for six years and it was still a nightmare. I missed a lot of activities with my family and friends because they took place during my on-call weeks. Or I had my poor friends schedule things together (camping trips, vacation trips) around my on-call schedule. And don’t even get me started on the nights from hell where you’d get calls at, say, 1, 3, and 5 am. It happened maybe once in a month or two, but it was still bad enough. I left after one of the three people on my rotation gave his notice and our boss made it clear that he won’t be adding a replacement to our rotation, it’d be just the two of us. To be on call 24/7/365 would’ve done me in very quickly too!

        2. John*

          Great point. I was once in a job that should not have reasonably required us to be on call most weekends but we were told that we had to be reachable (via beepers at that time) 24/7. The bosses would periodically contact us with non-emergencies just to test us/bust our chops.

          Well, my weekend place had no cell service. There was nothing they could do about that.

          1. Nom d' Pixel*

            That just sounds awful. I frequently spend time in places with no cell phone reception, and I would not be willing to give up the outdoor activities that I love so I can play access games with my boss. I work to support my lifestyle. I don’t live for my work.

        3. INTP*

          Agreed. She can’t take a long nap, have a few drinks during the day, go to a yoga class where phones aren’t allowed, etc if she might have to speak with a customer at any moment. Even if there’s just one 10 minute call, she has adjusted hours worth of activities and will get paid less than $5 for her troubles because she can only require payment for the active work time.

          OP, if you have a decent amount of leverage at work and feel that your job is secure, you could do one of the following:
          1) Say that you are willing to be on call but will need to be paid for that time because it requires you to adjust your plans so you are available to answer
          2) Say that you cannot promise to be available to answer the calls that are forwarded to you because sometimes you are engaged in other commitments and aren’t immediately available to take a phone call. (Put the phone on silent when you don’t want to be available so the calls don’t distract you.)
          3) Say you’re willing to be on call but only for a specific time period where it isn’t inconvenient for you (say, 10am-12pm on Saturday)
          4) Request not to have the calls forwarded to you at all.

          They might not be okay with any of those particular arrangements so I’d go in knowing what you are willing to agree to at most.

    2. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

      If it’s a couple of phone calls a weekend, can’t the boss have it forwarded to her own damn phone? And if it is more than that, pay somebody to staff it.

      For pete’s sake.

      3 guesses who does weekend emergency coverage on our customer service email boxes.

      I hate lazy bosses.

      1. RMRIC0*

        I am struggling to find the logic in having your business’s calls forward to your receptionist on the weekends – what can that accomplish? Voicemail can take a message just as well, I doubt the OP can transfer calls from their cellphone (and then it would just go to someone else’s voicemail anyhow), and OP probably wouldn’t be able to provide customer support/troubleshooting even if it is just like 1 call every month.

        1. JenGray*

          +1: This is what I was thinking not knowing what type of business this is. I am also wondering what type of business this is because I can’t really see the logic if this was a regular office that normally did business during the week. A really good friend of mine owns a Towing company and so his phones need to be answered 24/7/365. He has different staff answering phones for the weekends & weekdays. The receptionist that is answering calls during the regular business hours during the week is not the same person as on the weekends. Its a pretty easy job in that all you have to do is take the call and then dispatch a tow truck to someones location. I am sure that the company could find someone else to answer the phones on the weekends no matter if it is transferring a call to someone else or more specific help. Some people like working weekends or having a nontraditional schedule.

        2. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

          Without knowing the business, I can only guess. Live answer makes customers feel appreciated and attended to, even if they can’t get the exact info they need at the time. I’m a fan of live answer whenever possible.

          I’ll assume there is value in live answer for this business, and if there is, the boss can live answer the damn phone from her own cell phone instead. Is my opinion.

          1. Wishful Singer*

            +1 As an admin assistant at a company with 1500+ employees, I would have to carry my laptop around all the time to have access to Outlook in order to transfer calls. It’s hard enough connecting to people during the work week (we are an international company with virtual employees) so it would be near impossible on the weekend.

    3. BRR*

      I may be wrong about this but aren’t there also on call rules for non-exempt. There was the case with Lady Gaga’s personal assistant.

      1. fposte*

        There are–not only do they have to get paid for the time they’re doing work (in the OP’s case, answering the phone), they would have to be paid for time in which they’re considered to be “engaged to wait.” If the OP is home and going about her personal business, that probably is “waiting to be engaged,” which doesn’t need to be compensated; if she’s supposed to be in the office or avoiding personal activities to be available, that’s likelier to be “engaged to wait.”

        Given that the boss apparently doesn’t think she should be paid even for the time answering phones, this probably isn’t going to get her very far, though.

        1. INTP*

          What if she is at home and going about her business, or shopping with her phone nearby, but if it weren’t for the calls she would be at yoga, at a movie, or at a boozy brunch? Would she need to get paid because she’s required to adjust her personal activities in order to be available, or not because she is doing personal things and not sitting around waiting?

          I used to have a retail job where we wouldn’t be told if we were needed for our on-call shifts until an hour before. As such, I had to skip a lot of gym classes and other things just in case I needed to be at work for my shift. I did get some money from a class action settlement against that employer, but it would have been nice to have known at the time if they needed to pay me.

          1. fposte*

            No idea–I think there have probably been some standards enumerated for deciding which side of the line a situation falls, but 1) I don’t know them and 2) even with that, I’m sure there are a lot of grey areas.

    4. Stranger than fiction*

      Nah, it doesn’t cover salaried workers. I know/have known plenty of people that work in Tech field (think software and startups) where they’re expected to be available over the weekend to answer emails, customer emergencies, or what have you. It sucks, and they’re miserable, but somehow they get you to drink the koolaid that they’re all going to get rich when the company goes public, or they get that huge year-end bonus or whatever.

      1. Connie-Lynne*

        Common practice doesn’t mean it’s legal, especially in tech. I cannot tell you how many illegal employment agreements and/or non-competes I’ve been handed over the years.

        I managed 24/7 on-call teams in tech and I went through and read the labor code at one point, and I’m pretty sure that 7 days straight is illegal regardless of salary/non-salary status.

        At least, it’s one of the things I pulled up in an email citing why we needed more people so we’d stop [destroying the lives of our staff | breaking the law].

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          At least federally, there’s no law requiring you to have a day off for every X days of work, so 7 days straight would be legal. I think there are a small number of states that would ban that, but most don’t.

      1. Clever Name*

        Seriously. Or hire an answering service. You can have your calls forwarded to a service where a human being will answer the line and can handle the calls.

  5. Polka Dot Bird*

    OP 2: Making eye contact is a normal part of human interaction. Among other things, it can be used to indicate that you would like to speak next, or that she would like to hear from you next, or that you are recognising her presence in the room. Therefore, avoiding eye contact at work is not a workable situation! You are reading way too much into eye contact and whether that means she’s interested romantically.

    The best way not to be a creeper is to, as Alison says, treat her like any other co-worker. Stop torturing yourself by reading the tea leaves for the slightest bit of possible interest, because you know for a fact that she is not. You might also find it easier to move on if you feel proud of yourself for directly asking her out, be a bit sad that it didn’t work out, and channel your energy into doing something nice for yourself.

    1. Jake*

      Thanks for your perspective. I feel that I am just having a hard time being friendly with her without feeling attracted to her. I need to act like a professional but it’s hard.

      1. Nerdling*

        Then for the time being, you may need to steer away from “friendly” and toward “professional.” That can mean avoiding general chitchat and focusing on business while still being polite. I suspect she’s not necessarily going to want to be all that chatty with you now that she knows you have additional feelings for her, either – she is likely going to be trying to get back to a purely professional standing as well. You don’t have to be “friendly” right now.

        That doesn’t mean be brusque or rude, either, though. It just means keeping things focused on work rather than on personal stuff until you have moved past the attraction. You want to treat her the same as you treat any coworker when it comes to work stuff.

      2. A Bug!*

        I have a lot of sympathy for your situation, and I know it’s hard. But it’s really important that you get a handle on this before your attraction to her turns into a subconscious preoccupation.

        It may help to remind yourself that your attraction at this point is incredibly shallow. You know almost nothing about this woman. Think of all the things you could find out about her that would snuff out your attraction for her. Now ask yourself why “not mutually attracted” isn’t already one of those things. Surely you wouldn’t want to date someone who doesn’t want to date you.

        So, given all that, it might help to firmly remind yourself that out of the few things you do know about your coworker, one of those things is that she doesn’t want to date you, and perhaps you’re not as attracted to your coworker as you have yourself convinced you are.

        Good luck.

      3. AnonEMoose*

        I have a suggestion for you. The Paging Dr. Nerdlove blog has some really insightful advice on asking people out and not making things more awkward than necessary if the person turns you down. If you check out the archives, there’s some stuff there to help you.

        But the biggest point Dr. Nerdlove makes is this: Most of the time in a situation like this, the other person will take their cue from you. If you don’t treat it like it’s a big deal, most of the time, neither will they. Be professional, stay away from social chitchat except for the “how are you, hope everything is going well” sort of thing, and sooner than you think, things between you should be more comfortable.

        It sucks to be rejected, no doubt about it. But it doesn’t have to be the end of your working relationship with her, and it definitely doesn’t have to spell the end of your dating life!

        If you can, start focusing on meeting other women, or even just other people. This woman didn’t want to date you? That sucks, I’m in no way saying it doesn’t, but there are many other women in the world, and some of them will quite likely find you as attractive as you find them.

      4. Polka Dot Bird*

        No excuses. You’re at work, interacting with your colleagues, you need to be professional. Yes, it’s hard. No, that’s not an excuse. How do you interact with your other colleagues? Model your behaviour towards them and behave to her in the same way.

        1. Jake*

          In all honesty, interaction with other colleagues is mostly required which isn’t the care with her.

          1. Polka Dot Bird*

            But you see her every day for a 10 minute meeting. Short as it is, you have to be professional. That means being able to make eye contact and hold a conversation. No excuses.

            1. Jake/OP #2*

              The 10 minute meeting is a status update where the status is given to the whole team. Most of the times I am too busy trying to recall what I did yesterday or what needs to be done today and I rarely make any eye contact with anyone during that time.

              1. Polka Dot Bird*

                No more excuses, come on. You’ve said you’re having trouble interacting with her, and she’s upset by your behaviour. You need to step up and be professional, in meetings and in the kitchen and everywhere else in the workplace.

                1. Jake/OP #2*

                  I am just telling you what it is. I am not making any excuses. Again, I maybe am reading too much into the whole upset thing since I inferred it from her response to my “Hi” and her eye contact. Maybe this whole thing is just in my head and she is completely ok with my behavior!

                2. Polka Dot Bird*

                  You emailed in to Ask A Manager because you saw she was upset and you’re having trouble making eye contact. Don’t weasel off with “maybe I’m reading too much into it”. You need to get yourself together, for the sake of your reputation and for the sake of this poor lady you’re giving grief to.

                  You know she is not completely ok with your behaviour. That’s a poor excuse and you know it.

                3. Jake/OP #2*

                  I mean if I pick mixed signals from her eye contact I am a creeper but if I say I am reading too much into the whole upset thing I am weaseling off? I don’t think it is fair on me. Regardless, I have taken it upon myself to improve my relationship with her.

                4. Polka Dot Bird*

                  Look, you can’t manage to interact with her professionally and you’re getting very defensive at the idea that you need to change your behaviour. Yes, it’s fair to call you on your behaviour. You are behaving badly and immaturely. Your behaviour is the problem here.

                5. Jake*

                  I said the entire thing might just be in my head, she never said a word. It seems like it’s a fashion to call analyzing eye contact as being a huge creeper here but my analysis of seeing her upset is entirely correct because obviously that’s not creepy? I am not sure how you are not seeing the double standards and I don’t agree with you there.

                6. Polka Dot Bird*

                  “double standards” lol.

                  Look, you’re into creeper territory by:
                  – deciding that your co-worker making eye-contact with you means they’re attracted to you AFTER they have ALREADY TOLD YOU IT DOES NOT
                  – not being able to make eye-contact because you can’t handle rejection
                  – not being able to manage standard workplace interaction
                  – coming here to ask if she does actually like you (again, she has told you directly that she doesn’t) and then getting put out when you’re getting the hard truths.

                  It’s not the analysing eye contact that’s the problem. The problem is that you have drawn the wrong conclusion, behaved badly afterwards, and show no signs of future improvement. Stop making your problems into her problem.

                7. Jake*

                  You do realize that attraction or lack of it can change with time right? We are not in roles which require a lot of ‘standard’ workplace interaction. I have not avoided any of her questions , neither have I avoided greeting her if I see her. It’s interesting how you lol’d at double standards comment without offering any concrete argument as to why one is creepy since i sexualized her or what not while other is oh so not.

    2. Clever Name*

      This. Since you’re romantically interested in her, I think you’re thinking of signals people may send in a social/dating context. If a woman was making repeated eye contact with you from across the bar or across the room at a party, yeah, it may mean she’s interested in you. But in a meeting or at work, making eye contact with a coworker isn’t sending any kind of “signal”.

      1. Jake*

        I think you’re right I am just reading too much into the whole eye contact thing. The point is that I only require minimal interaction with her in my professional setting since we are in different roles and I don’t think I was avoiding that even earlier so I was confused.

  6. Sourire*

    #1 Ugh, I feel your pain. I once donated time to a coworker (and not only “lost” that time but also lost out on the OT pay I would’ve received had I not chosen to donate my time, so this was a pretty significant “gift” dollar-wise), because I was told she was bedridden only to have her post pictures of herself at a wedding on Facebook during the time I was there working for her. I was livid. I was also never thanked for working for her, but that’s a whole other story…

    Agree with Alison and others that there could be some innocuous explanation, and I hope so, but it probably couldn’t hurt to mention to boss (in a very casual tone!) that some people were upset about what they saw on Facebook. At the very least, it will probably alert her to the fact that she needs to be more mindful about social media, be it what she posts, who she chooses to accept as friends, etc.

  7. Turtle Candle*

    #2, one thing I want to note: in explaining why you changed behavior toward this coworker (no more eye contact, and, if I’m reading this right, less direct conversation in team/group settings) you say you “figured she wasn’t interested in me.”

    I think some of your confusion is that you’re conflating two things. You are quite right that she isn’t interested in you romantically; she said as much. That doesn’t mean that she isn’t interested in interacting with you as a fellow team member. (After all, you presumably have other team members who you look at or talk to, who you aren’t interested in romantically–and since she explicitly doesn’t date co-workers, presumably that’s how she was already interpreting your pre-asking-out interaction.) By ceasing to look at her or interact with her in these group conversations, you may have inadvertently given her the impression that you are only willing to engage in those normal fellow-team-member interactions with her if dating is on the table. This is somewhat alarming in general because it makes normal workplace interactions more awkward and difficult (it’s part of why people can be skittish about being asked out at work, in fact), but especially for someone new to the team, who has particular reason to be concerned about establishing a weird team dynamic or being frozen out. She may have begun pointedly making eye contact with you in an attempt to resume the friendly/normal coworker interaction she perceived the two of you as having before you asked her out and she turned you down.

    To be clear, I am very much not suggesting that you are only interested in being friendly if she’s available to date, or that you are deliberately freezing her out. I believe you that you are shy and don’t want to make her uncomfortable or be creepy. But I thought the explanation of how this can feel from the other side might make her behavior more understandable, and also might make it clear why treating her like any other team member (no avoiding eye contact or interaction) is actually going to seem less creepy.

    1. AnonAnalyst*

      This is a fantastic explanation. I feel for you, OP, because I think you really are trying to avoid making this coworker uncomfortable. However, I think that Turtle Candle’s post can help you understand how your coworker is probably perceiving your interactions. The best thing you can do here is to do your best to treat this coworker as you would any other coworker – right now you’re over-correcting with the goal of not being creepy but are likely achieving the opposite.

      Somewhat related, and I know this is difficult because I struggle with the same thing in certain contexts, but it seems like you’re focusing on every little thing when you interact with this person and hyper-analyzing it. I know it’s easier said than done, but try to stop. This is also something that you might be able to relate to your interactions with other coworkers. If you were talking to anyone else, would you examine everything they did more closely to look for ulterior motives, or just take those things at face value? Try to apply the same perspective to your interactions with this coworker.

      Good luck! I know things feel really awkward right now, but if you can go back to treating this coworker like you would any other, it will probably become significantly less awkward with time.

        1. Turtle Candle*

          Well, “friendly” might be a bit misleading–I mostly mean “not notably different than you do other team members.” (I assume that you don’t avoid looking at/participating in conversation with the rest of team, although if you do my advice would change.)

          But if you don’t feel that you can do that (treat her like other coworkers) because you’re attracted to her, that’s a problem I strongly encourage you to work on, because it is unfair to put her in the position of being the odd one out/being treated strangely because of your feelings. (Especially as she has been forthcoming and honest with you.)

          I do sympathize since it sounds like this is pretty new to you. But it’s good practice for useful soft skills (and the right thing to do).

          1. Jake*

            Yeah, she is the first girl I ever asked out so that could have something to do with it.

        2. KL*

          You can feel any way you want. You don’t have to act on it. Part of being professional is learning how to act in a collegial manner even when you feel ways about stuff.

        3. Wanna-Alp*

          Assuming that you are not being self-centred here, and you are thinking of her and not just about you and your feelings, then you presumably wish your co-worker well as a result of being attracted to her. In that case, you need to channel that well-wishing into concealing your feelings and being a respectful, professionally-behaving co-worker that she is perfectly happy to work alongside.

  8. Bend & Snap*

    #2 ugh. Don’t ask out teammates! She was there all of 5 minutes before she had to deal with that and now things are weird through no fault of her own.

    I hate reading stuff like this. The workplace is hard enough for women without dealing with BS caused by inappropriate romantic overtures.

    And “I don’t mix dating with work” + reacting to a weird over correction does not equal a mixed signal. The “no” was the signal and it was crystal clear.

    1. UKAnon*

      I can see how both sides have ended up in this situation, and while I think OP could have done it differently, to be fair to them they are trying to respect the ‘no’.

      OP, your co-worker has been mature, said no graciously and like you seems to be prepared to move on and build a professional relationship. Stop handling them with kid gloves and expecting emotional overcharging :) I know it feels super awkward, but you need to start treating this person like everybody else, or you’re fostering more awkwardness.

      1. Just Another Techie*

        They might be trying to respect the no, but they are failing. Like the saying goes, “almost only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades.”

        They are being creepy. It doesn’t matter what their intentions are, tracking eye contact and logging it in the lab notebook in your head is creepy as f***. It’s not normal or acceptable, and it is making life difficult for this new team member, when it’s already hard enough being the new person on the team. Extra bonus points for making a shitty work environment if this is in any way tech related where women have to walk a minefield every day.

        And if this sounds harsh and makes the OP feel bad, well, I have a hard time sympathizing. Maybe OP should consider that women who get creeped on at work feel a million times worse than this, every single day, when their livelihoods are on the line.

        1. UKAnon*

          But there’s absolutely no indication that the woman OP writes about has noticed even. Imagine the reverse letter. “Somebody at work asked me out, I said no politely, they haven’t brought it up since but they make eye contact during meetings and say hi to me afterwards.” That… doesn’t sound all that creepy to me. Women in the workplace face so much worse.

          Now, if OP is staring uninterruptedly for the whole 10 minutes that is creepy. But they sound like they’re trying to do the right thing and are awkward with social interaction. Calling them creepy and blowing it up into ‘this woman will never be comfortable around you again’ is only going to make the situation worse.

          They both sound like mature adults handling a slightly awkward situation maturely. Let’s try and help OP find ways to navigate that, not jump on them for perceived flaws which – if they suffer from some form of social anxiety or similar – are probably going to make them feel ten times worse.

          1. Clover*

            Creepy behavior isn’t only creepy when the target is aware it’s happening. And some people facing worse doesn’t make it OK.

            1. UKAnon*

              No – but jumping all over even the people who haven’t done anything terribly incongrous and are trying to find a way around the awkwardness in just the same way as if they were sexually harrassing somebody in a much greater way is exactly where women hit problems in the workplace, because eventually the majority reaction to anything becomes “Oh but you were just as upset about [small thing that’s causing minor awkwardness] so this can’t be anything much.”

          2. Lucky*

            “I am not sure how she construed my behavior but it seemed like she didn’t like it. One day when I didn’t make any eye contact with her in a meeting, she looked upset when I said hi to her in the break room.”

            She noticed and she’s uncomfortable – #2 recognizes this so we know that he can perceive social cues just fine when he tries. I am done with worrying about men’s precious feelings when they sexualize women in the workplace without their consent or participation. My bag of “benefit of the doubt” is empty.

            1. UKAnon*

              Well, I am trying to give OP the benefit of the doubt, as we are asked to do here. He asked politely, she said no politely, now it’s awkward and he doesn’t know what to do about it.

              If the answer is just to insult men rather than offer constructive advice, the situation’s never going to change and women are going to be isolated within the workplace.

              1. Elizabeth*

                He asked politely, she said no politely, now it’s awkward and he doesn’t know what to do about it.

                That’s not the sequence of events.

                He asked politely, she said no politely, he made it awkward, she called him on it, and now he doesn’t know what to to do about it.

                Giving the LW the benefit of the doubt doesn’t mean absolving them of responsibility for their actions.

                1. UKAnon*

                  Maybe I’m misreading this but I can’t see any indication that he deliberately made it awkward, or that she called him on it. He’s trying to interpret her eye contact and the way she says ‘hi’. That’s actually something which can come up in a huge range of situations with co-workers – my partner came home just the other day convinced he was in deep trouble because the boss had looked at him while he was talking about the team needing to do better. This one is awkward because it relates back to a potential dating situation. But it’s a perfectly normal response to many situations in many guises to not know how to interpret these things. Being rude about the OP isn’t going to solve the problem.

                2. Koko*

                  Yes…it seems equally possible that the coworker may have noticed OP acting strange and actually been upset, or that she is completely oblivious to all of the micro-analysis OP is doing and he’s inferring upset-ness where none exists simply because he’s hyper-focused on tiny details and perhaps has a heightened concern for upsetting her. (We have had at least a few letters from people to the effect of, “My coworker is convinced I’m mad at him, but I’m not! He keeps insisting I look upset or telling others I’m mad at him, but I’ve just been interacting with him normally.”)

                  I think OP is well-intentioned here, but the advice he’s been given is spot-on: just relax, stop over-analyzing (it’s hard, I know!), and then as long as you treat her normally and the same as all your other coworkers, if she doesn’t directly tell you you’ve upset her or have created any problems with her, you can assume there is no problem and proceed on normally. Don’t agonize over signals – if she has a problem, she can talk to you about it, not hint at it through various degrees of eye contact or subtle facial expressions.

                3. Just Another Techie*

                  Keeping statistics on eye contact, among other things, is absolutely a deliberate choice. In fact, it’s a repeated series of deliberate choices.

                1. fposte*

                  What doubt do you think she should be getting that she isn’t? People seem pretty clearly united on her right not to go out with the guy and the appropriateness of her actions.

                  And as Koko notes, we don’t know what she thinks or feels here, so the benefit of the doubt shouldn’t translate to projection onto her; that’s not fair to her either.

            2. Turanga Leela*

              What I see here is someone who’s trying to learn to interpret social cues. I agree that social discomfort is not an excuse for creepiness, and the over-analysis of eye contact here is odd, but the OP wrote in for advice. The OP is trying very hard not to be creepy, and I think it’s worth engaging with the OP to help.

              Also, we don’t know that the OP is male.

              1. UKAnon*

                +100 – thank you!

                (Thanks also for the reminder; I was consciously trying to be careful, but I realise I’ve slipped into ‘he’ in the last couple of my posts)

              2. fposte*

                Right–in fact one problem is that he’s actually tried too hard not to be creepy and overconnecting with rejected co-worker, so while he’s landed in the wrong spot, I give him major points for thinking about it in the first place.

              3. Sans*

                Absolutely. He’s trying. Every guy that asks a girl out in the workplace is not the enemy.

                1. Zillah*

                  Yep, exactly. I’m among the first to criticize people sexualizing women for existing in public/in the workplace, but for me, going as far as saying that it’s always terrible behavior to ask a coworker out on a date is taking it too far. It’s possible to do it respectfully and to respect a no.

                  (Though, as Turanga Leela said, we don’t actually know that the OP is male.)

              4. RMRIC0*


                Not to talk out of school, but the OP’s feeling “shy”, concern over being perceived as “creepy”, and over-analysis of eye contact might be flags for either social anxiety or other social disorder (which is a word I hate to use). Knowing you’re blind to social cues kind of makes you try to be hyper-aware of social cues (though it doesn’t always help you to navigate them) and can make you pretty sensitive to how other people see you (because anxiety is a terrible monster full of downward spirals).

              5. Anonsie*

                Agreed, and even though I think he’s (since LW is using the handle Jake I’m assuming it’s a guy) falling into a lot of the frustrating patterns that often set of big alarms for me, he’s actually asking how not to do that in a way that seems pretty genuine so I’m inclined to explain.

              6. Traveler*

                Exactly this. The OP is trying. They want advice because they are afraid they are failing.

                1. Cat*

                  yes, this. I am going through a similar thing as LW #2 trying not to be creepy with a coworker crush and I am female, with a lot of social anxiety. I didn’t ask him out but I can just kind of tell the feeling isn’t mutual/don’t want to ask out a coworker so I’m trying not to let my attraction show but it’s hard. When you’ve got significant anxiety, every little thing you do that might be “creepy” – blush, smile, etc. feels like a giant horrible mistake when really, maybe no one notices.

            3. Bend & Snap*

              THANK YOU. I got a long, lascivious up-and-down creeper stare from a dude in my office cafeteria last week. It was upsetting. I don’t give a crap how the creeper felt when I caught his eye and glared at him. He should feel awkward about it.

              1. Sans*

                But is that what this guy is doing? I agree in your case, he’s a creep. But it seems the OP is trying NOT to look at her, and thereby making it awkward in a different way.

                1. Bend & Snap*

                  He shouldn’t have asked her out in the first place. Trying to remedy the error doesn’t mean the error didn’t happen. Making someone feel awkward at work because you pushed a romantic agenda isn’t acceptable.

                2. Zillah*

                  @ Bend & Snap –

                  But I don’t think it’s fair to say that the OP “pushed” a romantic agenda. They asked once, she said no, and they accepted it and has not asked her out or given her any kind of “lascivious up-and-down creeper stare” since then. That wouldn’t be described as pushy in pretty much any other context, so it shouldn’t be here, either.

                  There are absolutely creeps in the workplace, but I feel like you’re jumping to a lot of conclusions based on your own experiences rather than what the OP has actually reported as happening.

                3. Bend & Snap*

                  I can’t reply to the below comment–but I think asking out is pushing. It’s just not appropriate when you work closely with someone, as it seems the OP does with this woman.

                4. Zillah*

                  Okay, but things can be inappropriate without being pushy. “Pushy” pretty much by definition requires persistence or forcefulness. Neither of those appear to be true of the OP.

            4. Sans*

              Oh geez. He didn’t “sexualize her in the workplace without her consent”. He asked her out. She said no. It just sounds like he’s awkward and trying to be professional, but isn’t doing a good job of it. He’s seeking help. And it’s not like he’s stalking her and repeatedly asking her out, or talking badly about her to others. He’s a person, he can screw up without being a predator, fgs.

              1. Bend & Snap*

                Well, it’s becoming pretty clear who the dudes are around here.

                Asking her out did sexualize her in the workplace without her consent. The rest is just uncomfortable gravy.

                1. UKAnon*

                  Just for the record, as a woman – and a woman who has often been asked by work colleagues for coffee and not been sure if they meant coffee or “coffee” – I can agree with much of what has been said by “the dudes” in this thread.

                2. Sans*

                  Guess what, I’m a woman. And I totally agree that women should be treated equally and respectfully in the workplace. I also agree it wasn’t the best idea for him to ask her out that quickly. That’s something he needs to learn — this is the workplace, not a bar. You don’t have a time limit. You’ll see this person every day. And because it’s the workplace, it’s much better to get to know the person slowly and naturally. If after several months, you still feel an attraction and think she does as well, you might ask her out. It’s a risk, but I know several married couples that met in the workplace. It happens.

                  This guy sounds a bit awkward. He needs to learn more about what is expected and what isn’t in the workplace. Doesn’t mean he’s a creep and since he did write in to get help, I think that’s a good sign that he’s trying to do the right thing — even if he hasn’t used the best judgment so far.

                3. Turanga Leela*

                  Also a woman and a feminist. You’re entitled to your opinion, but it’s worth observing that several women on this thread disagree with you.

                4. Zillah*

                  Also a woman and a feminist, and I often call people out for sexualizing/sexist/misogynistic behavior, including on AAM. I just don’t think that this qualifies. You’re entitled to your opinion, but that doesn’t mean that everyone who disagrees with you is male.

                5. Zillah*

                  Your opinion is your opinion. No one is trying to take that away from you. We’re just objecting to being characterized as men for disagreeing with you.

                6. AnotherFed*

                  Time for a deep breath on this one.

                  Also, claiming that all women must agree with you and only men must be disagreeing is another example of discrimination based on gender.

          3. Ethyl*

            Why doesn’t anyone ever worry about whether the woman in these situations has anxiety, difficulty with social cues, etc.? Why is it always and only “what if the dude has ASPERGERS WHAT THEN”? I DO have anxiety and being treated all kindsa weirdly after turning down a coworker when I was brand-new to the team would be a freaking nightmare.

            1. AnotherFed*

              The woman didn’t write in for advice, the person who asked her out did, and he seems to be genuinely trying not to be creepy and awkward. He’s the one we’re trying to give useful advice to. There have been plenty of AAM posts about handling creepiness and awkwardness directed at you or at a coworker, and in those case both AAM and the commenters tried to help them figure out ways to address the problem and get to non-awkward interactions.

            2. Zillah*

              Um, I do worry about that. The double standard pisses me off to no end, and I call people on it whenever I see them trying to use it to excuse creepy behavior. So yeah, some people do worry about that, including some of the people in this thread.


              The OP wrote in asking for help in handling a situation that he’s clearly not managing well. Attacking him by calling him the creepiest creep to ever creep isn’t useful to that end, because it’s not constructive and it’s disproportionate to what he did. I have some social anxiety, too, so I get what you’re saying – but at the end of the day, asking a woman out once and then acting a little awkward around her is just immature and badly handled. If my anxiety made that a completely unbearable situation for me, I’d feel like I needed to look into getting better treatment for my anxiety.

              No one has said, “OP, you are totally acting cool! And maybe ASPERGERS, so no problem!” Pretty much everyone has said, “OP, this is not cool, you need to stop acting weird and just treat this woman like a coworker.” I get your frustration at societal trends in general, because I share them, but I think that you’re projecting some of that onto the OP and other commenters where it isn’t fair or warranted.

    2. Dutch Thunder*

      I don’t see any mixed messages either, she seems clearly in camp “not interested”.

      OP #2 seems overly invested in analysing every bit of behaviour, the way we can all get when the heart is involved. I think he’d do well to make a conscious effort to stop trying to translate or analyse his colleague’s actions, and treat her like any other colleague.

      His colleague has no way to escape the otherwise awkward situation, the way you could if this were a purely social setting. She has to come to work every day. The OP needs to make every effort for that not to be uncomfortable for her.

    3. Cheesecake*

      I agree with you and i feel for the colleague. I think OP is either new to office life or never had this case before, so he is trying to figure out what now.

      OP, don’t ask out colleagues if you are not sure about their intentions. Even if you are sure, think 5x if you want to go on with this. Then think some more. Office romance rarely end well and if it ends bad – it is baaad

      Don’t read into anything. You probably read too much in first place, she was trying to be nice because she is new. Now she is confused and does not know how to deal with it.So treat her as any other colleague. You are lucky you are not really interacting every day so it will get better soon.

      1. Connie-Lynne*

        Or, OP, in the future at least give someone time to settle in at work before hitting on them.

        Like a year. Or five.

    4. illini02*

      That seems a bit harsh. The OP is trying to not make things awkward. The blanked “Don’t ask out teammates” thing is a bit much as well. While at this point in my life I don’t think I would do so, I’ve done it before. Many people met at work and have gotten married. While I do think he is reading a bit more into things, don’t we usually say to give letter writers the benefit of the doubt that what they are saying is true? Maybe her actions are a bit weird and not what they were before and he is reacting to that. But your attack seems a bit much

      1. Bend & Snap*

        That wasn’t an attack. It was an opinion, which we’re all entitled to express here.

        My OPINION is that asking out teammates (teammate potentially implies a close working relationship) is not okay, especially when they’re brand new.

        1. illini02*

          Well we can disagree on that. Just because YOU wouldn’t do something, doesn’t mean that everyone has to follow your rules. But this thread is totally attacking this guy for writing in for advice. He did NOTHING wrong here. He tried to do the right thing by not making it awkward, yet her interpretation was that he committed some horrible work place crime. Then your comment about “you can see who the dudes are” are completely condescending. Just because people don’t agree with your agenda, doesn’t mean you need to generalize those people and try to act like the fact that you are a woman makes your opinion more valid. Also, you are clearly wrong since a few women have commented that they agree with what us dumb men are saying here. A guy wanted a date. He asked. That doesn’t make him a crazy stalker.

          1. Beth*

            Tracking her eye movements is pretty creepy. Meeting someone in the workplace and immediately deciding to make your interactions with them romantic is weird.

          2. Zillah*

            See, I actually disagree with that – I think OP2 did do something wrong. IMO, they shouldn’t have asked this coworker out so soon after she joined the team, and in the future, I’d advise them to 1) avoid asking a coworker out shortly after one of you has joined the team and 2) wait to see if the feelings persist or just fade after a couple months, because the stakes are higher in the workplace.

            However, I also feel like this is a pretty minor misstep as things go and that the OP can learn from the experience going forward.

            1. fposte*

              Yeah, I’m thinking that discourse has gone overboard on the okay/not okay binary in situations like this. I might put such minor missteps into a middle category–infractions rather than crimes, maybe? And if he does better in the future it comes off his record.

          3. Bend & Snap*

            I never said he was a crazy stalker. And I didn’t attack anyone. Again, I expressed my opinion about the behavior detailed in the OP.

            You’re certainly fixated on what I’m choosing to post, however, and coming off pretty hostile about your disagreement.

            1. fposte*

              Though I think this is reading like a tense subject for you, B&S. If you’ve had experiences that make it hit close to the bone, that would be understandable.

              1. Bend & Snap*

                Not really personal experiences because I was married for most of my professional life, although I do work in a male-dominated environment that makes stuff like this bother me more. I tend to come off forcefully in writing so there may appear to be some baggage that doesn’t exist.

                To be clear–asking out a colleague can often be ok. What’s sticking with me is the OP pouncing on a new person on the same team a hot minute after she started and then treating her differently as a result of that action.

                1. Renee*

                  Weighing in to say this really bugs me too. Although I can’t say what she personally thinks, it would make me very uncomfortable to have someone ask me out right after I started working somewhere and then act awkwardly around me. In general, I would be upset that I had this additional complication to deal with in a new job, and younger me would also worry about the fact that I might have hurt the feelings of someone I had to work with and take on that stress in addition to the stress of a new workplace. Having been the subject of pining coworkers in my youth, it’s a horrible place to be, and based on OP’s consistent assertion here that they don’t know if they can act normally because they still are attracted to her, I think it’s quite possible they’re continuing to make her feel uncomfortable. While I understand why folks are sympathetic, OP needs to understand completely that their feelings are no justification for continuing to make their coworker feel uncomfortable. They need to get over it. Immediately. Yes, some coworkers date, but it’s usually after a period of time working together and after strong consideration of consequences. Pouncing on a new employee and then continuing to pine over her is troubling.

          4. Forrest*

            To be fair, we don’t know what her interpretation really is. I don’t think she thinks the OP committed some horrible crime though.

            1. Lindsay J*

              Yeah, I don’t really see any evidence to support the fact that she thinks he committed a horrible crime.

              She didn’t run to HR and claim he was harassing her. She didn’t publicly shame him to their peers. She wasn’t rude to him. She didn’t call him a creep.

              She politely turned him down – and made it about her (that she doesn’t date coworkers) rather than about him. Then she tried to carry on as normal. And OP (inadvertently) froze her out. Again, she did not confront him or go off on him or anything like that. She just (possibly) looked upset.

              She probably just feels as awkward as he does!

        1. fposte*

          Of course it matters what he’s trying to do. Intent may not be magic, but it’s also not irrelevant. And awkward isn’t the end of the world, or even harassing. It’s just something it would be good to move forward from, and the OP has asked about how to do that.

          1. AnotherFed*

            +1 Intent is key in getting over awkwardness. It’s hard, and as a frequent resident of foot-in-mouth land, it seems a little harsh to write someone off as irredeemably creepy because of some awkwardness that he’s trying to fix.

    5. Engineer Girl*

      OP #2 made two crucial mistakes that the women are picking up on:
      1) He asked her out at a time when she was vulnerable. She had just started working at the organization and was still finding her way. There was an unequal power dynamic which made it harder for her to say no freely.
      2) He asked her out quickly, without getting to know her well. That means he’s evaluating her mostly on looks and light social interaction Vs her as a person. Most women wouldn’t like this. It becomes a greater problem because of reason #1.

      1. Jake*

        Thanks for your perspective. She actually transferred from another team but regardless I see your point. Point number 2 is correct but she did initiate some flirty conversation which I misconstrued. Full disclosure I don’t have good social skills.

        1. Zillah*

          But Jake, while I get that you’re just trying to explain what happened and how you misconstrued it, poor social skills aren’t an excuse for acting badly. If you know that you have poor social skills and tend to misread situations, that’s should prompt you to exercise more caution in potentially tricky social interactions so you don’t make other people uncomfortable. You didn’t do that here – you did the opposite.

            1. Zillah*

              I get that, and I think it’s good that you’re self-aware enough to do so. That sentence wasn’t meant as an attack or a knock – I’m saying that going forward, this is a specific thing you should be doing to mediate your awkwardness in social interactions. Approach potentially tricky situations with a lot of caution.

              1. Jake*

                Yes, clearly I didn’t think through before taking the step. Now part of the reason was that I always over think and never ask so this time I just wanted to ask. I guess lesson learnt for future.

                1. KL*

                  Just asking is a good idea and a good way of dealing with attraction if you know you’re an overthinker– *outside* a work environment.

      2. Ad Astra*

        Yes, this. It appears that OP #2 didn’t give much thought to how his actions might make his coworker feel. I don’t want to pile on, because it seems the OP does have good intentions. But lots of well-intended actions create real problems, so good intentions aren’t enough. Predicting (with at least some accuracy) how your actions will affect others is the hardest AND the most important part of social interaction, especially dating.

      3. Koko*

        Eh, I’m not sure about #2 by itself. A lot of romantic interaction happens that way – you see someone at a dance club that you want to dance with, you see a photo on Tinder or OKCupid QuickMatch that looks attractive to you…asking them out can be a way to get to know them and decide if you want to continue dating them. Attraction is an important component of romance and it’s the most immediately and outwardly obvious sign so it’s often the first thing that brings a couple together. Whether they stay together/keep dating or not depends on whether there’s more there, but it’s not unusual for physical attraction and superficial social interactions to be the basis for an initial date.

        1. Lindsay J*

          True. But it feels different when you’re at work for some reason. (Just from my own experience).

          There is a guy who work with who is apparently telling everyone we work with that he’s going to ask me on a date.

          My first two reactions to hearing this were:
          A. Are we in middle school? Why am I hearing about this from other people before hearing a peep from him.
          B. How can he possibly want to ask me out? He doesn’t know me. We’ve spoken maybe twice!

          On the other hand I don’ t think I would have that reaction if it were somebody I met in a club or whatever.

          Maybe it’s about opportunity. If you meet in line at the grocery store or at a bar it’s generally a “now or never” type of thing – either you begin to forge some kind of connection right then and there or the opportunity is gone for good because there’s a decent chance you’ll never see that person again. It’s also low risk – if you go for coffee and it turns out to be a dud there’s no real consequences because, again, you probably won’t ever have to interact with that person again.

          On the other hand, at work you have all the time in the world to start building a platonic connection and see if you have basic compatibility before deciding to take things in a romantic direction. The risk is also much higher – if you ask someone you work with out and they turn you down you still have to work with them. And things could get awkward like in the OP’s situation, or it could escalate to being much worse. (That was the third part of my reaction: If I turn this guy down, he has the ability to make my life miserable. What are the chances he takes rejection maturely vs the chances that he goes the petty route?)

    6. INTP*

      I agree with this. It’s easy to think “I’m not a jerk so I won’t punish her for saying no so it’s okay.” But our OP shows that even nice guys can punish women for rejecting them. I’m not suggesting that he’s doing it consciously, but when your coworkers will not look at you in a meeting, it impacts your career because it impacts your ability to engage with your team as a whole. Of course she’s going to be upset about that! Maybe other people will notice and misconstrue the situation as her having had some active part in it. Maybe OP is not directing questions to the girl that he otherwise would so she is missing opportunities to display her knowledge. This girl has genuine professional reasons to be upset about the situation, it is not “giving mixed signals” to have some reaction to being given the cold shoulder by a coworker.

      And when you’re the new, pretty woman on staff and there are lots of single men….it’s easy for enough of these “nice guys” to ask you out and then feel weird about it to become a problem for you professionally. It doesn’t matter if each individual guy totally intended to be respectful of “no” and is just so shy and awkward that he couldn’t help but behave differently after. The effect to the pursued woman is the same, multiple coworkers who will barely speak to her. And then if she tries to keep being friendly with them, she’s “giving mixed signals.”

      Romantic advances in the workplace should be reserved for when things have progressed so far that you can be fairly certain of a yes. And that doesn’t mean you get along really well. It means you have become extremely close and had some heart to hearts and know you each have feelings for each other already.

      (I’m using He for the asker-outer here and She for the askee, but fwiw I think the same is true for the reverse. No one of either gender should ask out any of their coworkers of any gender unless the relationship has already progressed to that point. Certainly not a new person.)

    7. CuhPow*

      That’s what I was thinking. It’s so awful to be NEW and get hit on or asked out. You’ve no idea the culture, rules on dating in the workplace, or who any of these people are (their reputation, if they’ve got awkward situations at work from dating coworkers on the past, whether they’re already in relationships, or someone you wouldn’t be embarrassed to be dating at work). It seems forceful and isn’t a good way to start working relationships by making it awkward. I first started my current job by getting hit on my people in and out of my department. All the females there then became really aggressive. It puts the coworker in a bad position when they don’t know your intentions or if you can even recognize boundaries. It’s like whomever jumps on her first gets her, so she gets bombarded with sexual interest when she’s just trying to work.

  9. Jill 2*

    How do you handle #5 if you’re salaried? Is this just one of those things that you have to be willing to do to get promoted? I feel like, as a salaried person, I can NEVER say I have commitments outside of work. The impression I get from these boards is in order to get a good review or be promoted, I have to be willing and available for this kind of thing.

    Can salaried people ever draw a line? (This is one of my biggest pet peeves, but I also suck at standing up for myself and drawing boundaries, so I know it’s my fault. But in all offices I’ve been in, it just seems like salaried people work more for no extra pay, and never get to work less to compensate for the long days.)

      1. stellanor*

        Sometimes my other commitment is napping, or playing xbox, or petting my dog, or “I’ve already worked 40 hours this week and it’s Wednesday and if this keeps up someone’s gonna die and it might be me” (which is how this week is shaking up).

        I don’t always have another commitment but I have learned to put my foot gently down when I’m verging on burnout.

    1. misspiggy*

      You have to draw a line for yourself. There’s no point spending your life seething with frustration. If the consequences turn out bad for you, find a job in a different organisational culture – they’re not all the same. But in my experience, people who deliver quality work, despite not being available all the time, are valued, and they do rise. (If they make sure their achievements are visible, that is.)

      1. Bend & Snap*

        This. My line is after work events with short notice because I’m a single mother. Nobody gives me grief about it.

    2. NJ anon*

      Just because you are salaried, doesn’t mean you work extra hours and not get paid. What matters is whether you are exempt or non-exempt.

      1. Bend & Snap*

        Well, yes it does. You work whatever you need to in order to get the job done.

        It shouldn’t mean you give up every weekend for the rest of your tenure with the company, however.

        1. fposte*

          I believe NJ anon is pointing out that salaried and exempt aren’t technically the same thing, and that if you’re non-exempt and salaried, working extra hours without extra pay is still is a DOL-type violation. She’s talking about law, not behavior.

          1. NJ Anon*

            Yes, thanks. That’s what I meant. I often hear people confuse salary with exempt. You can be salaried and non-exempt.

    3. Nom d' Pixel*

      It really depends on your boss. My immediate supervisor is very good about keeping work and life separate, and he understands that we all need time completely away from work. The department head that we have had for the last couple years is another story, though. She thinks that if you aren’t willing to surrender your weekends or stay late just because someone else is or drop whatever you are doing to come in on your day off, you aren’t doing your job. She doesn’t understand (or won’t admit) that most long hours are due to disorganization and poor communications.

      1. Whippers*

        Oh one of those. I actually don’t mind doing extra work or staying late if it’s a genuine emergency. What I do mind is doing extra work or staying late because someone else hasn’t bothered to do their job properly.

    4. JenGray*

      Maybe this has to do more with the industries that I work in but salaried jobs still do have a schedule. The last place I worked the jobs were all based on 40 hours per week (Mon- Fri, Pay period was Sun- Sat.) but the jobs also had “busy” times where one would work more than 40 hours per week. There were also times where one wouldn’t work 40 hours per week. I know that some jobs aren’t that predictable but I think that employers should try to give employees an idea of when you will and will not be working. It is reasonable to say to a marketing person that they need to develop events or find events for the company to participate in so you can’t predict that but employees also need downtime. I think for the majority of the time in the jobs I have had I could operate like it was a normal hourly job.

  10. Dutch Thunder*

    I’d be interested to know how urgent the calls OP #5 gets are.

    If they’re not urgent, I wonder if she could propose to her boss that they put a voicemail message in place along the lines of “Our office hours are Monday to Friday 9-6, and we are currently closed. If you leave a message with your name, number, and what you’re looking to discuss, we’ll make sure to call you back on Monday morning.”

    1. Mel*

      I agree, although some offices are never truly closed. This is when hiring a part time weekend receptionist is great. I worked that type of position while in college and it was great for getting my homework done while getting paid. (For the record, I asked what they’re expectations and policies were and I was encouraged to do this because the calls were few and far between.)

      We did something similar here at my current job, by hiring weekend dispatchers so someone was available to take orders from clients without our regular weekday employees getting burnt out with on-call work. However, when our non-exempt employees did on-call work, we paid them for it. If the OP is taking calls on the weekend, no matter how few, she should be compensated for the time worked. Each state has it’s own on-call requirements too, so it’s possible she may need to get paid even more than just the actual call times.

  11. hbc*

    #5–In most cases, how urgent it is that you answer the off-hours messages matters a lot. I used to take support calls on the weekends, but by no means was it considered mandatory, and the calls I got were rare and the other person (a paying customer) was always extremely grateful. As in, they really weren’t expecting someone to take the call, and would not have been mad to get voicemail.

    So, five minutes here and there with full freedom to leave the phone behind? It’s worth taking a call occasionally. Demands that you answer and no flexibility with your weekday hours? Heck to the no. I’m especially dubious that this is okay since a receptionist is usually required to sitting in the office for non-flexible hours, and wouldn’t be allowed to leave early Monday because s/he took multiple calls over the weekend.

    1. notfunny.*

      I think that a big piece of this is about making the choice to help (versus it being an expectation/mandatory). In situtations where weekend work is required and not appreciated, it always feels so frustrating, whereas the decision to do a couple of things or help someone out feels way better if you’re able to say no or hold off until Monday morning.

  12. StarHopper*

    OP #2– I think Alison has the big things covered in her advice to you, but just to add my own observation: you are not “instinctively avoiding” your poor coworker if you are planning your responses to her based on carefully monitored eye contact and conversation participation. You are punishing her professionally for not dating you, and that needs to stop.

    She was right to turn you down, because you work together, and your behavior right now is just proving her point. Dating and work don’t mix, and you need to let this go before HR gets involved.

    1. Jake*

      I mean it’s not like when she speaks to me I am not talking back. It’s just that I am not participating in conversations she starts. To be fair those conversations don’t require my participation. Overall I am having a hard time being friendly with her without feeling attracted.

      1. Sans*

        You are going to have to find a way to separate your attraction from your workday interaction. The attraction is your problem, so please don’t make it hers.

        Participate in a conversation if you want to. Ignore who started it. You are NOT treating her the same as the other women in your office. You’re not looking at her, not participating in conversations, etc. She’s obviously noticed that you’re treating her differently, and that’s exactly what you don’t want. Think about the situation and not the person. It’s a meeting and someone said something you want to respond to. It’s a conversation in the hall and you feel like adding to it. You see a colleague in the lunchroom and want to say hi. In none of those situations does it matter who the person is. It’s a coworker, and your response should be based on that fact, not whether the coworker happens to be a woman you asked out once.

        1. Blurgle*

          This. Your attraction is not her problem. Stop – stop stop STAAAAAHP – punishing her for it by making things uncomfortable for her.

          I would bet you good Canadian money that she suspects you’re doing this deliberately and with malice to make her quit.

          In other words, stop giving yourself the benefit of the doubt here. Stop expecting other people to. Put yourself in her place instead; a senior colleague (if only due to time on the job) is making her work life hard after she rejected him romantically. What else would any reasonable person assume other than “he’s punishing me for not submitting”?

          1. Blurgle*

            And in fact, depending on the industry she might even be thinking “he’s trying to scare me out of the job because he thinks women are only good for sex”.

      2. Zillah*


        That’s problematic to me, for the reasons that Sans has outlined. However, I also want to point out that at this point, it seems like you’ve built this coworker up in your head as representing some crazy ideal – you’re not attracted to her so much as the her you’ve built up in your head, and it’s entirely possible that as you get to know her, you will be less attracted to her.

        Regardless: this isn’t her fault, and you absolutely cannot take it out on her, which I think you’re doing.

      3. StarHopper*

        I saw downthread that this is the first time you’ve asked someone out. Am I wrong to assume you are young/new to the workforce? If so, I hope this has been a learning experience for you! We all have those little crushes/attractions at work, simply because we spend so much time working, and as Alison mentioned downthread, not letting a crush get on the way of your work is a useful skill. Do you compartmentalize well? I find that, when I feel attracted to someone, it helps to be able to put them in a mental box labeled “not for me” and put it out of my mind. Once you take away the hope of “maybe”, your interactions become more natural and you can just be yourself.

        (And let me just say, I have tried dating someone I worked with. It ended badly, and yet there we were, still stuck at work in neighboring cubicles. I know others have been able to date at work successfully, but I wouldn’t recommend it.)

        1. Jake*

          Thanks for your perspective. Yes, this was my first time asking someone out. I’m not really super new to the workforce. Clearly, I don’t compartmentalize well.

        2. Saurs*

          Yes, this.

          For the rest of your life, you are going to be attracted to people, people who are romantically available, people who are not, people who are mean, interesting, exciting, friends of relatives, relatives of friends, the whole gamut. It is okay to be attracted to people. It is okay not to tell them. In some cases, it’s imperative not to, because it would be inappropriate.

          Attraction, crushes, love, , lust, hero worship, pashes: they are wonderful things to feel. They will often be one-sided. And that is okay, and you have to learn that it is okay. Treat the subjects of your good, exciting feelings well, fairly, and equally: don’t punish them because they don’t reciprocate. Not everyone will. You won’t always reciprocate the intense feelings of other people; most of the time, you won’t even know they exist. It’s all okay.

          1. Jake*

            I think in my case I had never asked anyone previously which kind of made me want to do it but I didn’t think beforehand about how I would respond.

            1. Saurs*

              Advice I’ve been given but still have a difficult time following: don’t ask if you can’t handle the truth. In this case, you’ve acknowledged that you’re handling it a bit poorly because you’re treating her like she’s made of uncreeper-proof porcelain. She’s moved on — hence the eye contact and conversations. Try to do so, too. The awkwardness won’t last forever.

      4. Anonsie*

        Man, I sympathize and all, but you gotta get that out of your headspace and start treating her normally. And the first step to that is not mapping out everything she does and everything you could do like it’s D&D or something. I appreciate that you’re trying not to be creepy, but this is what creepers do and I’m willing to bet she’s noticed and isn’t happy about it.

        There are two big things you have to realize here: One is that changing your interactions with her based on this is a very bad idea regardless of your intentions. The second, bigger thing is that she has thoughts and feelings and experiences that have nothing to do with your and your romantic feelings or what you’ve said or done around her. If you saw her seem unhappy one time some period after you interacted, don’t assume it had something to do with you. I think this is the biggest pitfall some people can trip into with things like this: they read everything a person does as the results of their own actions. As important as it is to notice when she is reacting to you, it’s also important to know when what she’s doing has nothing to do with you.

        1. voyager1*


          Go out and meet some girls on dates. Get an online profile or go to some bars. You are internalizing her rejection, best thing to do is get out there and meet some folks and go on dates. You will find that attraction of yours to this girl at work will fade really quick. Asking people out is sort of a learning experience. You learn by doing. Take this experience and learn from it so you don’t repeat it.

          1. Jake*

            Truth be told no one responds in online dating and I don’t drink so bars is kind of out of question too. d Having said that I do see your point.

            1. Anonsie*

              You gotta unclench with your online dating, too. I’ve done it and meticulously crafted messages from very conscious guys do stand out in a negative way.

              Be less careful. Talk to women like we are regular people because we are regular people. Don’t be afraid of rejection or someone not liking you, because the point of dating is to find out what people are like and decide if you want to still hang around them or not. Trying to put on the Desirable Dude persona when you talk to us isn’t appealing, it’s weird because we can tell you’re doing it. Don’t decide the women you like are extra special somehow just because you like them, you’re setting yourself up for disappointment when they eventually prove to be normal folks. Just be casual, it’s not a big deal.

  13. jhhj*

    #1 You are in a job full of high school students who are creating high school drama. This is normal for them, but don’t get sucked in to that part of the problem about skipping meetings and facebook pictures.

    The problem is that you are understaffed. (I’m not sure why your boss telling you to do specific things is “pawning off tasks” instead of “delegating”.) But it’s also only June, and I can’t imagine that it is that hard to find a bunch of high school and university students interested in a job at a pool. (I know some ex-competitive swimmers, and they all worked at pools through graduation and were quite desperate for more hours.)

    1. nona*

      +1 Though I think the high school students aren’t used to working with adults and haven’t figured out that relationship yet. They might base their expectations at work on teacher/student or parent/child relationships, which makes seeing a manager openly do something unprofessional or selfish kind of upsetting.

    2. neverjaunty*

      I suspect that by “pawning”, OP means that these are Boss’ job responsibilities that come with being Boss and getting paid more, whereas OP now has to do Boss’s work in addition to her own. Sometimes “delegating” really does mean dumping work downstream.

      That said, while you’re right about the drama, it also sounds like Boss is firmly enmeshing herself in it. Facebook friending employees? Lying about the reasons for time off?

      1. Zillah*

        Seriously. The boss’s friending high school employees gets her overall judgment a serious side-eye from me.

  14. Cautionary tail*

    Op #5, you can only give out your Google Voice # (yes, get one now) so that your work phone fowards to that and that automagically forwards to your personal phone. In doing this, not only can you point it to any real phone you want but you can set up a schedule for when it will/will not forward. It takes about 2-3 seconds for the double forwarding to occur.

    In theory you can also answer/make calls on Google Voice through the computer but in practice the microphone won’t work and forums are littered with people complaining about this so I only use it on the computer when I need to attend listen-only conference calls, to avoid using personal mobile minutes.

  15. KT*

    #2, this is so beyond creepy. Measuring eye contact and analyzing what it can mean DOES put you firmly in creeper category. She is a professional, she told you she is NOT interested, and you punish her for her honesty and professionalism by continuing to hyper-analyze her every movement.

    This just…ughhhh. it’s hard enough to be the new person at work, and then to add this, she must be so uncomfortable.

    Forget what you saw on the ‘Office’. Jim and Pam do not exist. Asking out a coworker is not approp[riate.

    1. fposte*

      I think that last is too draconian. Work is where most people spend their time, so it’s where we’re likeliest to meet somebody we bond with, and negotiating rejections whether at work or at play, as recipient or deliverer, is a regular and expected part of adulthood. Asking out somebody on your team may be too close for comfort, so I probably would have advised him away from that, but the co-worker turned him down politely and appropriately. Yes, he’s being awkward right now, but he’s also asking how to handle it, and now he’ll handle it better.

      1. Whippers*

        Yeah, I’ve always been confused by this don’t ask anyone at work out thing. Don’t a fairly large proportion of the population meet their partners at work?

        1. Whippers*

          Having said that, I would be a bit freaked out if someone just asked me out at work, apropros of nothing, having just started. Maybe wait a while and see how things develop first?

          1. Career Counselorette*

            I have definitely worked with people who don’t understand why it would be a bad idea to date people at work, particularly when you really have nothing on which to base the attraction other than proximity, and it becomes uncomfortable very fast. A girl I worked with several years ago, befriended, and then had to ultimately cut off confessed to me that in every place she worked, she would always pick someone to have a crush on so that coming to work would be tolerable. And then she would aggressively pursue that person, or she would start dating the first person to show interest in her, whichever happened first. This was a huge part of the reason I had to cut her off; she honestly could not see that browbeating a colleague into being her boyfriend, abruptly dropping him for someone else because she “wasn’t happy,” and then just trying to be his friend again like nothing had happened was really primitive and hurtful to other people, let alone really unnecessary and inappropriate at work.

            What’s worse is that she tried to project a lot of this behavior onto me as well. One night another co-worker and I ended up staying late and afterwards we had dinner together, and out of the blue he confessed being attracted to me and I noped it out of there. When I told my friend about it, she was like, “Well, you DID go on a date with him, so you should just go out with him. It could be fun!” o_O

            1. fposte*

              I’m not saying that it’s okay for people to be jerks about it. But people who are that kind of jerk about it aren’t likely to abide by any “no dating” precept anyway, and most people can negotiate dating at work with only moderate awkwardness. And learning to deal with awkwardness is an excellent life skill anyway.

            2. Just Another Techie*

              That is so weird to me. I’ve never dated someone I worked with, and the idea wouldn’t even occur to me. I meet people to date at church, at Meetup groups, in my volunteer work. There’s approximately a gazillion places to meet people that will have zero impact on anyone’s ability to earn a living.

              1. Zillah*

                But not all of us have church, Meetup groups, or volunteer work. In fact, there are many of us who spend very little time socializing in a context conducive to meeting new people, which is why online dating has become so popular.

                1. Zillah*

                  Which is not to say that being creepy and awkward is okay – I just think that “Never ask out a coworker ever it is inappropriate 100% of the time” isn’t realistic.

              2. Traveler*

                And see, I would find it weird if someone hit on me while I was at/around church. It’s a place I go to meditate. I wouldn’t want it disrupted with guys hitting on me, and I generally expect it to be devoid of that sort of thing.

    2. MegEB*

      I don’t think that’s entirely fair. As other commenters have pointed out, plenty of people end up dating coworkers. I did for awhile and there was nothing inappropriate about it. I’m not really sure what’s “beyond creepy” about the OP’s behavior, and they made it pretty clear they didn’t want to make their coworker uncomfortable. It obviously failed, but their heart is in the right place. They’re just looking for the correct actions to best express their intentions.

      1. KT*

        The beyond creepy is a response to the heavy analyzing of eye contact, length of eye contact, meeting of eyes, etc. it’s awfully much for someone who has been turned down.

        1. fposte*

          It sounds on a romantic par with the people who overparse template emails from prospective employers, though.

        2. Erin*

          Point taken, and it probably looks like that on the surface, but we the readers have the advantage of seeing his (good) intentions behind these actions.

          1. neverjaunty*

            Whereas the co-worker doesn’t. I don’t think anyone is saying the LW is a bad person, but her *actions* are coming across as creepy.

            1. KT*

              Exactly–I’m not saying he’s a bad person, but that his actions COULD be taken as very creepy/uncomfortable by this woman. She doesn’t know his good intentions either–she’s new and likely unsure how to proceed with this

            2. Sophia in the DMV*

              But the coworker doesn’t know he’s parsing out and trying to make sense of length of eye contact etc

              1. Natalie*

                No, but it sounds like he’s also trying not to communicate with her at all, and that is probably noticeable.

        3. MashaKasha*

          Yes! The freaking EYE CONTACT! A coworker carefully measuring the length and depth of our eye contact, rekindling his feelings for me based on our eye contact, especially when I just started working there and he barely knows me as a person, would scare the bejeesus out of me.

    3. Erin*

      Harsh! He’s clearly a nice guy who has stated he’s trying to respect her and not be creepy. His over-analyzing is not a form of punishment, it’s him trying to navigate carefully based on the clues she’s giving him.

      And I strongly disagree with your last statement. Recent articles and statistics indicate that relationships (and marriages) that begin at work are on the decline due to the popularity of online dating, but it’s still very common.

      Furthermore, it’s different for every work place. Some larger companies where the two people are in different departments probably wouldn’t care. Others might just require you disclose the the relationship to HR. I have a friend who met her husband at work – they sit 10 feet from each other, but never work together, and there are other married couples in the office.

      Personally I would rather shoot myself in the face than work with my husband (need some space!!) but to each their own.

      1. danr*

        The problem here is that she isn’t giving him any clues. The clues are in his mind. She’s trying to behave normally in an office.

        1. fposte*

          Right, I think this is the key–for him to take the relationship lens off the way he’s viewing her behavior.

        2. Erin*

          Fair. Eliminate that part from my comment. The point is that he’s trying to be respectful and navigate the situation carefully, even if his actions in doing so are misguided.

      2. KT*

        Nice guys often cross the line between appropriate and not–not from any ill intent, but from an earnest attempt to analyze and over-examine every minute detail. I don’t mean to put the OP down–that was never my intention. Just want to call out what he may think is “picking up cues” may be making this coworker very uncomfortable.

      3. MashaKasha*

        I knew someone who dated a teammate, then broke up with her. She was heartbroken for the next three days and couldn’t concentrate on work. He mentioned it to a team lead and the team lead got the poor just-dumped girl fired. The person who told me this story still feels bad about how things turned out, but frankly, I don’t see how dating a teammate could’ve ever ended well.

        I’m firmly in the “Jim and Pam don’t exist” category.

          1. MashaKasha*

            Nope, he continued to work at that company, which was where I met him when I started there a few years later. She was fired for not being able to concentrate on her work. He was concentrating on his work just fine. They were young kids in their early 20s at the time and, as he told us later, he hadn’t realized the possible consequences of the remark he’d made to the team lead about her.

            1. Ad Astra*

              Yikes. Fired without warning because her performance suffered for three days? And the team lead knew the dip in performance was following a stressful, yet temporary, event? That’s very harsh.

      4. fox_in_socks*

        Of course people meet romantic partners at work – but that’s totally different from going around at work asking people out on dates. The whole reason people date co-workers is that we spend so much time together at work, that’s who you get to know, and of course that can lead to relationships. LW#2 basically approached a stranger (a stranger in his morning scrum) and asked her out based on… no real acquaintance? If you’re going to ask out someone you don’t know, save it for the park, or the bar. And don’t expect it to go great then, either, but if it doesn’t work out you won’t have to face each other in a circle five days a week.

    4. Not the Droid You are Looking for*

      My first thoughts were very similar to this! Honestly, it read like something from Reddit rather than AAM.

      I have successfully dated someone I worked with, but it took me working there for six months, a few group invites, and me clearly demonstrating interest before he asked me out. He even said that it took a bit longer than he wanted because I am smiley and friendly with everyone in the office, so he had to check himself to make sure he wasn’t misreading the signals.

      I have also managed someone who was dating someone from a different department, whose ex got really creepy when they broke up. They were young and what he thought was “romantic,” scared the hell out of this girl and many of the other females. Unfortunately this was at a place where HR said, “he’ll get over you eventually” and let him continue to wait for her every day, send her emails constantly. When he would come to our office area (which was completely unnecessary) someone else would have come over and basically stop him in the doorway with an overly helpful, “what can I help you with?” She eventually got a new job out of state and moved away, but as her manager, I can tell you she cried about coming in to work every day.

      1. MashaKasha*

        After witnessing a lot of drama that stemmed from various coworkers dating each other at my various jobs, I have stayed away from the whole thing. I dated a FORMER coworker once, but we had been close friends for years prior to that, and like I said, I was no longer working there when we started dating.

        1. Judy*

          I do think there is a difference based on size of the organization. I met my husband through work. We worked in different departments, but were introduced by someone who knew both of us. It was (probably) deliberate in inviting both of us to lunch within a group, and several evening activities over the course of a few months. The town where we met had about 3,000 people who worked for our company. We were in different departments, and during the rest of the time at that company, many times we were not in the same building. I’m not sure our desks were ever within 150 yards from each other.

          1. Witty Nickname*

            I met my husband through work, at a much smaller org (fewer than 200 people at the time). We were in different departments at the time, and though I met him just a few days after starting to work there, we were friends first and then started dating a couple months later (once we had gotten to know enough about each other to know we were interested in dating). After we were married, we even worked in the same department for the same manager for a while (just a couple months, then he got promoted to manage another team in the same department, and a few months after that, I got promoted to another department. Now we work together occasionally when our projects cross paths; mostly though, I say good bye to him when he leaves the house in the mornings, and see him again when he stops by my desk so we can walk out together at the end of the day. We don’t even drive in together, due to school/pre-school drop offs, etc. Once or twice a week, we manage to make our schedules work so we can have lunch together).

        2. Elizabeth West*

          I’ve stayed away from it too, but I’m starting to think that I may have no other choice. Not like there is much choice here anyway. My work is just a microcosm of the city and I haven’t met one person I would go out with since I moved here who isn’t already taken/married.

    5. Elizabeth West*

      Well, they do; there are a ton of married couples in my workplace who met here. It’s not INappropriate; you just have to approach it very cautiously and be prepared to be ultra-discreet and mature about it. Not everyone can handle that.

      1. Turtle Candle*

        Yes. It can work out–I am married to someone I met at work–but it requires really good boundaries, and you have to go into it with the knowledge that you will need to be discreet and mature even if it fails (heck, even if it crashes and burns spectacularly). You have to look hard at the fact that you will have to treat them like any other coworker in case of a rejection, breakup, fight, etc. (This is also IMHO why it’s more difficult if you ask them out early on–for one thing, being asked out adds an additional stressor to the inherent stress of starting at a new team/job, but for another, you don’t get a chance to establish a baseline of what a “normal” interaction would look like.)

        I admit that I think that would be a hell of a lot harder for people on the same team. My contingency plan for what I’d do if it didn’t work out with me and my now-husband relied on the fact that we didn’t work on the same projects and wouldn’t need to be in proximity on a daily basis. It would be a lot different had we been working on the same (or immediately adjacent) projects.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          Yes, I think a discussion about what would happen if there were a spectacular fail should definitely take place before the involvement deepens. Most people don’t like to think about that, but with coworkers, you have to.

          1. Not the Droid You are Looking for*

            I think there has to be a lot of conversations, because there also will be a lot of conversations about your coupledom.

            For example, the coworker I was dating was going to be fired (long story) and even though we were in completely different divisions, his manager flagged me as a potential temp-cover because I was in the area. My manager had to have a “that’s not a good idea” convo with the manager and then make sure to call me at the same time my BF was being let go, to ensure this wouldn’t impact my work.

            Luckily, the BF and I had the same expectations (my work was my work and not affected by his work), but it was awkward to know that my boss, his boss, and their respective bosses (who were division heads) were all talking about me and if I was a “stand by your man” type :/

            1. Turtle Candle*

              Yes, it absolutely isn’t just one conversation/negotiation/backup plan, but a series of them. Especially as the relationship becomes more serious, as it becomes obvious/relevant to more people, etc. It’d be hypocritical of me to say that it’s a bad idea as a rule (I mean, it worked out well for me), but I think that it’s important for people to be aware that it’s going to take a lot more effort, conscious planning, social awareness/skill, boundaries, etc. to do properly than dating someone who you don’t work with. (Particularly since I think one of the temptation is to think of it as the “easy option” for dating–I mean, the people are right there! you don’t even have to go looking!–whereas it can actually be much harder if you’re going to do it conscientiously and well.)

    6. diet ginger ale*

      My parents met at work, went out on just one date, he was then transferred so they wrote each other letters for a while, he proposed, and they just celebrated their 50th anniversary.

      And I got the feeling that the latter writer is a bit Sheldon Cooperish – a good guy who is not that socially skilled and just wants to do the right thing. Let’s not beat him up over his asking someone out, let’s just help him out with getting it all in the rear view mirror as soon as he can. We all learn new social skills when we try new things. He is living and learning.

      1. MashaKasha*

        Yeah, OP2 is now back in my good graces after mentioning that she was the first girl he’d ever asked out. Without that crucial piece of information, the story sounded terribly creepy! I feel much better about it now.

  16. Sam*

    #2, my sympathies. We all know we shouldn’t date at work, work crushes are a bad idea, blah blah blah. But it happens, and it sucks, and I sympathize. Good luck, my friend.

  17. Zillah*

    OP#1 – While it’s entirely possible that your manager skipped out to go to a party (and I think it’s unwise to post about it on facebook when she’s friends with employees), I think it’s worth remembering that you don’t have the full story here. You have no idea what the significance of this party was or what the emergency was.

    At the end of the day, though, if this is really bothering you, I get that, and I’m not trying to tell you that you’re wrong for being bothered. I’d just really caution you to make sure it is and that you’re not allowing other people to make their problems your problems, because I think that can happen in dysfunctional or high drama work situations (which this sounds like, without any further information – people are quitting over this?).

    1. anonintheuk*

      I wonder whether this is just a final straw thing for some of the employees, or, if they are teenagers, there are other lowpaid semi-skilled jobs around so why do this one.

      1. JB (not in Houston)*

        I was wondering if maybe there was a history here, like the boss giving them a hard time for taking off work for non-emergencies or for missing staff meetings for anything but emergencies, or something along those lines. Or, as anonintheuk says, some other back story where this was the final straw. Of course, we don’t have any details like that, so that would just be pointless speculation. But I did wonder.

    2. Dana*

      There are lots of hypothetical emergencies that don’t take your whole day, either. It doesn’t look good, but that doesn’t mean it was a big conspiracy. Maybe it was, maybe not.

  18. Kyrielle*

    #5 – if you are looking at doing this / having to do this, I’d also question having it forwarded to your personal cell phone, and whether the company can give you a separate cell phone for this. In my experience, I was expected to answer company calls (including on call) with a formal phrase that started with the company name. No way am I answering every call to my cell phone as being to the company, my friends and family might get a laugh but mostly they’d think I had lost it, probably!

    When I did forward our phone system to mine (during the work day, working from home, using the software so I knew when a call was forwarded!), the number showed as the number that had originally called my work line, with no hint that it was a work call. So I would have had no way of knowing, except that I had the software in front of me. That’s not a viable solution for weekend coverage, at that point you’re tethered to a computer, assuming your phone system even has software of this type.

    1. I'm Not Phyllis*

      ^ This. Plus, is this every weekend you’re talking about? I feel like it’s not unreasonable to ask that you would take these calls if there was some particularly urgent time, or if you were one of 5 people who rotated through taking calls all weekend. But if it’s every weekend I wouldn’t be happy either. If so, could you make the suggestion that you take turns with another person (or two, or three …)?

  19. Long Time Reader First Time Poster*

    #1 — take this this as a lesson: don’t befriend colleagues on Facebook!

    Keeping a firm “no-work-people-on-FB” policy has reduced my exposure to all sorts of shenanegans. Yeah, I sometimes feel like I miss out on some social stuff, but it’s not a big deal.

    FWIW, this *only* works if you take an all-or-nothing approach, you can’t really be friends with your work BFF and then have a leg to stand on when you refuse Joe From Accounting’s friend request because you “don’t mix work and FB”.

    I always befriend everybody (that I like) when I leave a job, so we stay in touch.

    1. Long Time Reader First Time Poster*

      Also, for the record, I’d be disillusioned with my boss if he posted about being at a party when he’d inconvenienced me for an so-called emergency.

      No matter what the backstory on the emergency was — legit or not — I’d certainly consider the boss a dumbass from that day forward for outing himself and posting about it. And who wants to work for a dumbass?

    2. Erin*

      I do the same! I don’t friend current coworkers unless they friend me first, but I do for old coworkers so we can keep in touch after we’re no longer working together.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I don’t friend current ones anyway. If asked about it, I explain that I like to keep work and Facebook totally separate. Most people understand that.

    3. Kaz*

      I don’t friend anyone on Facebook because I have no Facebook account. I find it mostly useless and I get a lot of “friends” who only want to be friends on Facebook even though we live in the same city. For some reason they will tell me their life problems on Facebook but refuse to meet me in person. Friendship for me is personal, if you’re not willing to meet me in person when we live in the same city, then have a nice day and I wish you all the best but we cannot be friends. I have no desire to be friends on Facebook with people I never met in person.

      As for colleagues, I keep a LinkedIn account for that.

  20. nona*

    Anyway, from the next day onward, I stopped avoiding eye contact with her. For a whole week straight, she would look me in the eyes the first thing every day during our 10 minute stand up meeting. She stopped doing this abruptly one fine day. I have since tried thrice to re-initiate conversation with her, while she does respond back she doesn’t initiate any conversation herself. She looked in my eyes again this last week.

    Stop. This all probably means nothing and you’ll drive yourself crazy trying to read into it.

    Treat her like another coworker. Which is what she is.

  21. Erin*

    #1 – That’s pretty ballsy of her. Even if for argument’s sake it was legitimate, she should have been aware of the timing of the post, and the fact that her subordinates are her Facebook friends – she should have known how it would look. Seriously that’s ridiculous. When you’re friends with coworkers, let alone subordinates, you need to be taking that into consideration every single time you post. She doesn’t get any of my sympathy. Do what you have to do to navigate through working with her, and taking on those extra tasks, but in the meantime look for another part time job to coincide with your IT one.

    #2 – You big creeper! (Just kidding.) You meant well, but it backfired. Maybe it wouldn’t be out of line to say something like, “Hey, I’m sorry if I made our working relationship uncomfortable. Let’s try to go back to the way things were.” Maybe a different phrase, there, but the point is to keep it short and sweet and then stick to that.

    #3 – No, don’t offer to split it. Just go to your manager with what you found – show her the different options and their various pros and cons and let her make a decision.

    #4 – Nope, ball’s in their court.

    #5 – Really hard to say without knowing the nature of the industry. But that does seem really strange – are they open on weekends, or are just accepting calls to field questions? Maybe have a few suggestions in place when you approach your boss about it. Some sort of answering service, or maybe you offer to return all calls during your first hour of work on Monday morning, with a way to assure the manager that it won’t affect the rest of your work flow, etc. Even if they don’t end up taking you up on these suggestions it will still look better for you that you’re attempting to find a solution rather than just saying, “Yeah I don’t want to do this anymore.”

    1. A Bug!*

      I dunno on #2. It kind of sounds like things are pretty much “back to normal” already now that OP’s stopped the avoidant behaviour. There doesn’t seem to be any pressing need for the OP to bring it up again, and it might have the opposite of the intended effect since the subtext could easily be “Hey, I haven’t dropped this.”

      Maybe one day down the road their work relationship will be one where they can both kind of look back and laugh at it (provided OP doesn’t privately still harbour feelings), but at this point I think it’s best to let sleeping dogs lie.

  22. M*

    I think some are missing detail that this is a front desk receptionist being asked to take calls over the weekend. If it was a true emergency the caller would already know to whom they need to speak to and contact directly.

    Don’t even offer to do for pay. The business needs to pay for a live answering service if they are handling that many emergency type calls outside of business hours. Also the players involved (the ones needed to fix problem) need to update their signatures/voice mail so that their clients can reach them. What happens when she takes call and is unable to “transfer” to correct contact person?

    There is no need for regular receptionist to be on 24/7.

        1. Laurel Gray*

          I can’t imagine what a front desk receptionist can do taking the incoming calls for a hotel if they are not physically in the hotel, at the desk.

        2. Elizabeth West*

          Most hotels have someone at the desk over the weekend. I’m thinking this place is closed but the boss still wants someone to cover calls that come in after hours.

        1. Natalie*

          Eh, if it’s a real emergency one should probably be calling 911/999/112, and any other matters can be handled by either voicemail or an answering service.

          1. fposte*

            Most of the jobs where I can see this being relevant have an off-hours service, in fact–doctors, plumbers, HVAC, etc.

    1. I'm Not Phyllis*

      Yep! I’ve been a receptionist many times before and never had to answer calls outside of office hours. The worst I ever had to do was check messages over the holiday closure but even then I only had to do it once or twice a day “whenever I could.”

  23. illini02*

    #1 This sounds like normal high school drama. You dont know the circumstances. Even if the circumstances are what they appear to be, trust me, MANY people have taken a day off to do fun things. Now calling it a family emergency is a bit much, but plenty of people are “sick” and then end up enjoying themselves. While I personally don’t really care what people do when they call off, I can understand that if its causing others more work/stress that its a problem. However I can’t really see quitting a job over it. Anyway, my advice, just leave it alone. I feel like “calling out” a superior rarely works out in your favor, even if you are 100% right. Now if that manager was to ask you about why people are treating her different, sure, bring it up. Otherwise, just do your job and block their posts on your feed so you don’t know what they are doing.

    #2 I really think people are being hard on this guy. He asked out a co-worker and tried to respect her and not make it awkward after getting rejected. Now in turn it seems he may have over corrected a bit too much. However its not like these 2 are close co-workers. It seems they really only are around each other in a meeting. We don’t know what their relationship was like before. My guess is that if OP thought she was interested, there may have been some very friendly interactions between them, by which I mean more than just the standard pleasantries that occur between people who are in the same office but don’t really work together. Maybe she wants to have that same friendly rapport again, and after getting rejected, he isn’t interested in that. OP does need to treat her as he would any other co-worker, but he is under no obligation to pretend the rejection didn’t happen. Be pleasant, make eye contact, engage in general group conversation. But stop over analyzing. It won’t do anyone any good.

    1. Uyulala*

      I think the reaction to #2 is so strong since he said she was new. It comes across more like pouncing on fresh meat than any actual interest.

      But, it sounds like he has learned the risks of that sort of thing and will probably be tread more carefully in the future.

    2. Ugggggggh*

      He asked out a coworker and is now pouting like an asshole because he didn’t get his own way.

      It speaks to some major maturity issues here, and if OP #2 is incapable of getting over his feelings (or at least hiding them), then he’s opening the company up to some major liability issues or making this poor girl feel like she needs to quit unless she wants to spend 40 hours a week in such in an uncomfortable workplace.

      1. Zillah*

        I agree that the OP needs to get a grip, but from what he said in both the letter and follow-up comments, I think it’s a bit of a leap to say that he’s making the workplace so uncomfortable that the “poor girl” (which is actually a pretty patronizing way to refer to her, IMO) might feel like she needs to [i]quit[/i] to avoid him. It’s certainly possible, but I think that it’s more likely that this is just making her a little uncomfortable, not causing her such anguish that she’s on the verge of quitting. That doesn’t make it okay – the OP absolutely needs to stop being so awkward around her, because it is unfair and it is uncomfortable – but behavior can be problematic without eliciting the strongest possible reaction.

  24. Anon21*

    #2: 98% of the time, when guys try to interpret women’s facial expressions or eye contact or other nonverbal communication, they are making things up to flatter their own ego or keep their hopes alive. Believe her words and stop attaching any significance to when and how long she looks you directly in the eyes.

  25. Turanga Leela*

    OP #2, if you’re interested in advice for how to interpret social cues and not be creepy, check out Doctor Nerdlove’s website. He gives really excellent, concrete dating advice for shy and socially uncomfortable people. It’s doctornerdlove dot com.

    1. Jake*

      Thanks I will check it out. Actually this was my first time asking someone out so I am having a hard time being friendly without feeling attracted.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        One thing to think about: So what that you’re attracted? You’re clear that you can’t act on it and she’s not interested, and that you need to have a working relationship with her, so why let attraction loom so large as this thing that’s making it tough for you?

        1. Turanga Leela*

          This is a really good point! Learning to be attracted to someone without showing it is a huge life skill. It’s normal to be attracted to people, including people who are off-limits to you. The trick is to learn how to admit your attraction to yourself, move on, and still be pleasant and professional.

          1. Kelly L.*

            This has been a huge adulting skill for me too! Learning to let an attraction just exist, without doing or saying anything about it, without visibly brooding, just accepting that it is a thing that exists but can’t be acted on.

            1. Koko*

              This is one of those things that sounds so simple but can be so hard. It was actually exactly the thing I needed to realize to be able to continue working with my ex after we broke up. If it were up to me, we’d still be together, and for a long time I didn’t really know how to navigate that…always torn between trying to force myself to be over him, or caving in and admitting (usually in a conversation with him) that I wasn’t. Til one day I realized I didn’t need to be over him…I just needed to accept that we weren’t together and weren’t getting back together, regardless of how I felt. Sometimes I still sit in meetings with him my mind wanders to how much I miss him and I feel bittersweet about it, but instead of feeling like now I’ve got to go tell him about my feelings or try to squelch those feelings, I just sort of think to myself, “This is my lot; I’m in love but it’s not going to happen for us…now on with my work.”

        2. Turtle Candle*

          Yes, great point! It is an extremely useful skill to be able to separate feeling from behavior in the workplace. Maybe this attraction will fade quickly for you, maybe it won’t–it’s frankly irrelevant, since she’s not interested. But either way, you can decide to act toward her the same way you would toward someone you were utterly unattracted to in the same position. You don’t have to (indeed, should not!) wait around for your feelings to change to change your behavior.

          (This isn’t just relevant to romantic feelings–it’s very useful to, for instance, be able to act neutrally/pleasantly toward a coworker whose mannerisms drive you up a wall, too. So it’s a good skill to develop in general, separating feeling from action when it comes to teammates.)

        3. A Cita*

          Yes, that’s my thought as well. It’s hard to force yourself to not be attracted to someone. But but feelings and actions are different. You’re attracted to her. And you treat her professionally. You’re attracted to her. And you interact with her as you do your other teammates. You’re attracted to her. And you focus on your work and don’t think about her in that way during work hours. Of course it’s hard. But you do it anyway. Focus on your actions.

          I often give this same advice to friends having a hard time getting out of unhealthy relationships. I often hear, “But I love him/her.” I respond, “So what?”

        4. a*

          Definitely! This is what I was thinking.

          Jake, she already knows that you were attracted to her, since you asked her out. You don’t really need to worry about suppressing it; what you need to worry about is acting professionally. That mostly means not calling attention to it and not treating her differently from your other coworkers because of it.
          (I also want to say thanks for participating in the comments and I think some people are being overly harsh to you, especially considering that it was your first time asking someone out.)

      2. Book Person*

        You’re conflating those two things in a strange way, though: sure, your attraction wasn’t going to vanish into nothingness the moment she said “no,” but neither was your working relationship. Being distant and making a point of observing who starts what conversation in order to participate or not is making your continued attraction her problem, which it shouldn’t be. You have to find a way to be (professionally) friendly with her despite /and while dealing with/ feeling attracted to her.

  26. AnonyGoose*

    Some potential perspective about the boss from the first letter: A lot of seasonal jobs don’t give time off, and many expect you to have a “very good” reason to take any days. So this could very well be a family emergency in the sense of “this is the only time a year that my whole family gets together, and it’s an experience that I really look forward to and would prefer not to miss because of my sucky, low-paying job at the pool.”

    Bosses are people, too, and they also have work/life balance needs. This sounds like it was a one-off incident, and that the boss may very well have had to tell a lie in order to get the day off. This is why employers should really examine their time off, PTO, and staffing policies, to ensure reasonable people aren’t put into these kinds of situations.

    1. Liane*

      The OP already clarified in the comments that this is typical behavior for the Boss, so not a one-off.

    2. aebhel*

      Sure, but if you’re the boss, and you presumably would penalize any of your employees who did this, then you shouldn’t be surprised when people are pissed off about your hypocrisy. ‘Bosses are people too’, but bosses also have more power and make more money than their employees, and abusing that is not likely to endear you to them.

      Or, put another way, everybody there has a sucky, low-paying job at the pool, and the boss actively stuck them with extra work so she could go to a party. That’s obnoxious. If it’s part of a pattern, I’m not surprised people are quitting over it.

    3. OP#1*

      She is the aquatics director…full time, salaried position with plenty of PTO. This is not a one-off incident.

    4. AnonyGoose*

      I hadn’t seen the clarifications. That definitely changes matters.

      Besides that, my thinking may be a little skewed from having worked at a place that required four weeks notice for any PTO to be granted. Which meant that, if you realized that you needed a day off, say, three weeks in advance, you had to bide your time and call in sick the day of or as an emergency to get the day off. So I’m often willing to give employees a little more leeway on the assumption that there may be a really skewed system in place.

    5. Ugggggggh*

      “So this could very well be a family emergency in the sense of “this is the only time a year that my whole family gets together, and it’s an experience that I really look forward to and would prefer not to miss because of my sucky, low-paying job at the pool.”

      Nope, nope, nope, nope.

      Looking forward to something or wanting to do something is not the same as an emergency. I’d rather someone be honest with me and tell me “this is the only time a year that my whole family gets together, and it’s an experience that I really look forward to and would prefer not to miss because of my sucky, low-paying job at the pool” over lying to me.

      1. AnonyGoose*

        That may be true, but many employers won’t take that as a reason to allow a day off. So employees are stuck in the position of either having to lie or miss out on an important event in their lives. (Now, again, I said this with the assumption that this was a bottom-of-the-rung-no-PTO-have-to-beg-for-unpaid-off-to-go-to-the-dentist type job. Knowing that this person does have PTO that they are allowed to use changes the situation.)

  27. Anonymosity*

    All this discomfort and weirdness is why I’ve resisted making the first move on my work crush (not really a crush per se, just someone I find attractive). Someone said I should go for it, but nooooooo. Though if he asked, I would probably say yes. Different department, so there’s that.

  28. mel*

    It’s a good thing #1 specified that he/she has a “professional IT job” or else everyone might have thought he/she was “one of THOSE people” who doesn’t have a “real” job! That would have been “embarrassing”! AAM is strictly professionals only, get outta here! :P

    Anyway, #2, what makes someone into a “creeper” is treating a woman like a mythical, dainty creature instead of as just another person. If you’re unsure, just ask yourself if you would do ___ or say ___ to another fellow man. If it’s inappropriate for your other coworkers or friends or family members, don’t do it. It’s okay to have feelings! There’s no billboard over your head displaying your thoughts as they scroll through. I know it can feel like people can see into your soul during eye contact, just keep reminding yourself that mind-reading isn’t a real thing.

    1. Zillah*

      I think the point of that was to clarify that this isn’t really the OP’s field or a huge part of their livelihood, which is relevant in how they should deal with the situation.

  29. Mel (correction: Other Mel)*

    OP #2, I think some of the reaction is very strong, but I get the feeling that you understand by now why the reaction is that way so I won’t delve into that. In fact, I have also had a workplace crush and it was the co-owner of the small company I was working for. I think the best thing you can do is mentally remind yourself over and over that it’s just not going to happen.. similar to having a crush on any other unavailable person outside of work. It’s so important to recognize that by trying NOT to be weird, you ARE being weird. When you start questioning how to handle something, think about what you would do if it was any other co-worker there. Once you do this enough and continue reminding yourself that they are off limits romantically, it should become habitual and you should be able to repair the relationship to a normal workplace one.
    I also wanted to add that I can completely understand a blunder like this happening when you have worked with someone for a long while as well. I can be an overly friendly person, so sometimes I have to remind myself that even though I have workplace friends they are not the same as being my BFF outside of work. I feel like I can tell my direct supervisor ANYTHING because we have bonded a lot through some tough times here, but that doesn’t mean we are going to hang out after work or that I should text her about personal things. In general, I think it’s a good idea to mentally set boundaries for yourself whatever they may be. Personally, I set a strict no dating current co-workers rule but if you do want to keep that an option, try waiting a certain amount of time before considering it.

  30. Purr purr purr*

    Maybe I’m being harsh but OP#2, maybe you’re reading too much into things. Her looking (or not looking) into your eyes doesn’t necessarily mean anything. Maybe she’s busy, distracted, stressed, etc. when she doesn’t and when she does she just has more time, is feeling more relaxed or whatever. I think I’d feel pretty uncomfortable around someone who is reading so much into my behaviour based solely on eye contact.

    1. KL*

      Or she’s checking to see if he’s still making it weird. If he was conspicuously avoiding her for a while in situations where it would be normal to interact as coworkers, this could be her trying to figure out what is going on.

      1. KL*

        (cut off too soon) …and whether this is going to turn into a problem she has to deal with on top of her regular work responsibilities.

  31. Susan*

    related to #4
    I sort of did this this weekend (send a second follow-up). I know it’s usually a bad idea, but they had mentioned in the interview they might want to see work samples and I hadn’t thought to include it in the first thank you note and it occurred to me it might help my candidacy (because I think they’re strong samples). But I was worried, too, about it coming off as too aggressive. Hopefully if your second email has substance, and isn’t just more of the same, you can get away with it. I think ideally I would have just thought to put it in the first thank you note, which is supposed to be more like a follow-up note anyway.

  32. anonymousforthis*

    OP#2. OMG. I so can relate. I developed an intense infatuation on a married coworker (he was unmarried when we started working together). We were colleagues and collaborated on a number of projects. I knew that nothing would happen between us (I was also married, I barely knew him, and I would never do anything to ruin my professional reputation). I did not say anything to him or to anyone else at the company. I don’t know if he ever knew that I had a major crush on him. If he did have an inkling, he never indicated anything. I made sure to stay professional and to keep conversation casual. I made sure I only emailed him about work, didn’t email him after hours, and never called or texted him on his cell phone. There were times in group meetings where I avoided looking him in the eyes. It was probably one of the hardest things I ever did, to keep my feelings hid. Thankfully, he left the organization. I still think of him now and then but I’m sure that the infatuation will fade.

    Other posters have given you great advice. In time, the feelings will fade.

  33. Jake/OP #2*

    Thank you everyone for your feedback. I feel I can navigate the situation better now. Also, I am a guy if anyone is still wondering.

    1. AGirlCalledFriday*

      Seconding the good luck. I totally know how you feel – I was head over heels for a particular coworker and I was VERY obvious about it to him, and he wasn’t interested. Turns out he liked someone else and was hoping to date her, which they did end up dating. Still, it was very hard for me to interact with him for awhile. Especially because in my heart I was totally in lust.

      What ended up working for me, was not kicking myself about being obvious, and trying to act like I didn’t care. A few coworkers already knew how I felt, and I wanted to show how completely kick-ass I was and that I wasn’t put off by his rejection. Getting all weird about someone I’m interested in would feel to me like I’m being pathetic and whiny, but moving on and forcing myself to act like there’s nothing wrong whatsoever? That comes off as strong and confident. I imagine applause every time I have a successful interaction like that.

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