update: an employee’s boyfriend privately asked me to give her time off … and then things got even weirder

Remember the boyfriend who contacted his girlfriend’s manager to privately ask her to give the girlfriend time off? Here’s the update from the manager:

I was so grateful to have my question answered, and enjoyed the commenters so much. I did take your advice to have a conversation with her pretty quickly after she got back. Having a couple days to process what you and the commenters said before she returned was very helpful, just to feel prepared. I became convinced that what I’d seen of him, alongside what your readers noticed, added up to something worth a serious conversation.

I realized that one thing I underplayed in my letter was the personal connection we have: our families have been friends for 30 years, I have known her since she was a kid…there’s a lot of (good) history there. I was nervous this was making me mis-read the situation, but in the end it was a huge asset to the follow up conversation.

I ended up inviting her to grab lunch, so we could get off campus and have a bit of space. My biggest hope was to appropriately ask if the relationship was healthy, so I felt like being offsite could help. On the drive we talked about the reunion (which she ended being glad to have attended) and why she had been so hesitant leading up to it (her family culture says ‘You do not take trips with S.O.’s unless it’s VERY SERIOUS. She also doesn’t love to fly.) She chose to share that she wasn’t feeling sure there was enough of the VERY SERIOUS to warrant the trip, which was interesting, given that she’d often shared her thoughts that he’s The One.

At lunch I shared a few of the professional pieces of feedback with her. I framed it as, “I’m glad you had a good trip and that you feel good about choosing to go. Now, if we had a do-over on how that came together…” She completely tracked with how the communication could have been better, including talking through it further when I first asked because there was more time, writing a better email once she decided to go, etc. (Some commenters very fairly wondered if I had been clear enough in the first conversation after the boyfriend’s email. I don’t know that I described it as clearly for you all, but that first chat was me saying, ‘Despite our ‘no-time-off’ policy, I would be open to approving an exception, but you (and not boyfriend) need to come to me so we can talk through whether that would work out without being too hard on the team.’ I think she heard it that way too.) But you were right, a lot of her choices happened because of pressure from him and his family for her to go, and her not knowing how to respond to everyone.

Then we shifted to boyfriend’s original note, which naturally opened up a window to use your wording (I respect your privacy; don’t feel the need to talk more about this, but I find the language of boyfriend’s note raising flags to me. If you ever do want to talk about/need help with that side of things, I would be willing.) That’s where the trust from our personal lives became very helpful, and she went on to share that she was feeling more conflicted about boyfriend, that boyfriend has some personal pain that shapes how he acts/talks, that she feels nervous about the differences in their families-of-origin for their long-term expectations (like the idea from his side that she won’t work), and that boyfriend had cheated on her and they were trying to rebuild trust.

My response focused on how there is no rush to commit to someone, that we can’t fix or change people we love, but can encourage and support them while they do their own growing, and to share some of my own story (“I was SO SURE I’d marry This Boy, but alas..”). We talked a bit about how you can truly love someone and have them not be The One. We also talked about pre-engagement counseling (which brings couples together who are looking to get married, but would like some space to think about who they are/what dynamics are/aren’t working in the relationship, etc.) Someone had suggested it to her and so she asked what I thought of it, so we talked about how to maximize that route if she wanted to do that. I tried really hard not to yell, ‘Dump the jerk!’ despite feeling that way, but did try to offer a few helpful questions for her to answer for herself.

She expressed a lot of gratitude for the conversation, popped in a couple more times over the summer to talk about the relationship more, generally upped her game at work, and then wrapped up and headed back to school. She is at school now and he is at home; it’s the first time they’ve not being college students on the same campus together. I hope things have either improved or maybe that the extra space can help her reflect on what she wants, but I don’t know. And I think he might propose over Christmas break.

Thank you to you and all the readers for the helpful input!

Update to the update: I can now add that they did indeed just get engaged.  I really hope they have a wonderful, healthy, and happy relationship, but I can’t say I’m not a bit nervous for them.

{ 160 comments… read them below }

  1. Rusty Shackelford

    Did the fact that she lied about you refusing to give her an answer ever get addressed? Or that you told her she’d need to arrange for her work to be done, and she blew that off?

    1. Jesmlet

      Yeah at this point, I think there’s just as much an issue with the girl as there is with her new fiance. She lied to another employee and her at the time boyfriend to put all the blame on OP and dropped the ball on the work she was responsible for. Who she marries is entirely up to her and it’s very nice of OP to care so much, but for the sake of her career, this stuff should be addressed. That’s just not okay in my book.

      1. Malibu Stacey

        Yeah, I am pretty creeped out by the BF’s behavior but it doesn’t seem like the employee has enough sense of herself to be ready to marry anyone yet, given that she’d rather lie than have an awkward conversation.

    2. Sadsack

      Yeah, I wonder about that, too. OP’s being a long-time family friend and pastor didn’t keep the employee from lying about her and shirking her own work responsibilities.

      1. DCompliance

        I agree. I was surprised by this update. I was expecting a response about the lying, not the relationship status.

    3. Lemon Zinger

      Yeah, why wasn’t that addressed? She lied to several people, and that’s unacceptable in any kind of workplace. Not sure why OP didn’t take issue with that.

      1. Working Mom

        The way I read the update it sounded to me like OP did start with the professional feedback and that part of the conversation went really well, the summer intern understood the feedback and how to navigate a similar situation better in the future. I assume that it went well enough there wasn’t a need to recap the details… but then the conversation about the personal side went into more detail.

    4. k

      OP did say that the conversation started with a discussion of the professional issues. I’d guess OP did discuss that with her, but didn’t list out every part of their conversation since there wasn’t much to note. Plus many of the comments on the original thread were interested in the relationship aspects, so OP probably geared the updated based on that.

      1. AD

        I think the lying part was pretty huge, and the OP doesn’t reference it in this update. Professional norms and outright lying are two widely different areas (the OP mentions bringing up “communication” in the update but that’s pretty vague).
        I think the other commenters who pointed this out were right to do so. There’s no indication that this was broached in their discussion.

    5. Annonymouse

      Look, if I had an employee who I thought was in an abusive/controlling relationship that caused them to lie then the root of the problem (and far bigger concern for me) is that relationship.

      Since OP has known the employee most of their life in guessing that’s how they feel too.

      Also if this sort of behaviour seems out of character for her and has only happened since the relationship started – well again the relationship is the cause of the problems.

      You can try to address just the behaviour but it’s really a symptom of a bigger problem.

    6. OP

      Oh! Can’t believe I left that out! It was a little bit strange. Actually, I mentioned to her what I had heard from the colleague. She had a very different version of that conversation ( basically that the colleague had asked her about the reunion, I had not happened to reply to the email yet, she mentioned she was waiting to hear back from me. End of story.) So it became my colleague’s word versus my summer person’s word. The problem with the latter is that she was feeling so much pressure from BF and fan that I think she wasn’t at her best. The problem with the former, she actually isn’t very honest either (another letter for another day.) I decided to drop it after the summer person gave her side. I figured that if she was lying, my mentioning it would just show that things get back to people, and could be it’s own lesson. I never did talk about it with the colleague (again, that another ball o’wax.)

      1. Lissa

        I understand. And in my experience, calling people out for things they verbally said never gets far because people can always fall back on “I don’t remember” or “that’s not what I remember saying” and, well, in reality people’s memories are super fallible so I’m sure there are definitely situations where a conversation happens, and two people remember it radically differently but neither are lying.

        I’ve been in this situation *a lot* where I have to stop myself from saying “but you said….” when a person contradicts a prior statement (I have a really good verbal recall but almost no memory of where I’ve put anything, go figure.)

      2. Rusty Shackelford

        I figured that if she was lying, my mentioning it would just show that things get back to people, and could be it’s own lesson.

        Yeah, but I think the lesson you taught her might not be the lesson you intended. Now she’s learned that if she’s caught (or unfairly accused of) lying, all she has to do is deny it and she’ll get away with it. What about the work that you told her to take care of, which didn’t get taken care of?

        1. OP

          Same issue–after I wrote AAM, I nosed around a bit–colleague said the work was falling through, peer team said they did have what they needed, that summer staffer had emailed them directly. (Colleague is a bit controlling, so it’s hard to know if that input was really accurate or exaggerated in the end. Colleague is peripherally connected to summer team’s work, but not really one who needs to be in the loop. So it would be ok for summer person to not include her in emails and just work directly with her peer team.) So generally, it was a mess, clearly.

  2. AMG

    This is a very nice update. I hope everything goes well for her. Glad to see that she had a good mentor in you as well. Hopefully she stays in contact with you.

  3. KimberlyR

    I think the OP did very well with the situation at hand, but the boyfriend’s controlling tendencies worry me. Hopefully they do complete pre-marital counseling and it goes well for both of them.

    1. Malibu Stacey

      I hope so, too. However, I know plenty of couples who got it were told by the counselor/clergyperson NOT to get married and they did anyway. (And got divorced.)

      I think when you are in love enough to want to get married, it’s really easy to overlook a recommendation not to do exactly what you are dying to do.

      1. Annonymouse

        I’ve read a few books before getting married
        (The Hard Questions, Who Not To Marry)

        And both have told me you can be madly, crazy, deeply in love with someone but you might not be able to have a successful life or relationship with them.

        Love doesn’t conquer all if there are some really messed up dynamics going on.

        This has formed the basis for my personal philosophy of love: If you weren’t attracted to this person would you want to be friends with them?

        The the answer is no then look at why:
        Do you not trust them? Not share the same core values and beliefs? Have nothing really in common? Want very different things?

        I can happily say my husband is my best friend and I have never been so happy in a relationship – and we’ve been together 6 years.

        1. Koko

          Even that doesn’t always work. My best friend is my ex, and though we’re great as friends and care deeply about each other, we never worked as a couple. We tried off and on for several years…but there is something about our chemistry that just made us perpetually snippy and unhappy with each other whenever we were together, constantly arguing about truly insignificant things but getting really worked up about them. I think we were similar in so many ways, and cared so much what the other thought of us, that when we had these jarring moments that we disagreed, we both went to the mat and couldn’t accept that the other didn’t agree.

          Now that we’re only friends it’s easier for me to shrug off when we disagree or he’s being stubborn or whatever. I think to myself, “This isn’t worth fighting over,” and bite my tongue, and “Thank gods we’re not in a relationship anymore and we can just take 2 days to forget we’re annoyed about this and then everything will be back to normal.” When we were in a relationship the stakes felt too high to just sweep a disagreement aside without ever talking about or resolving it, but as friends we do it all the time.

        2. BTW

          This. I have a friend who stays with her bf because she “loves” him and, “it feels different with him.” If my husband was anything like her bf, love would not be enough for me to stay. I have to honestly say I think the “difference” is that she’s infatuated with him and perceives that as love. And if that’s not it well then I have no idea why someone would stay with a person who is so unsupportive. (Not just emotionally. She recently had some very serious health issues and he called her selfish for asking him to take time off work)

        3. Gadfly

          I often say that loving a person is different from living with them. Loving people is relatively easy. Being able to function as a team in shared lives is harder and needs more than love.

  4. MommaTRex

    OP, at least you can have the satisfaction of knowing that you tried to help her. Kudos to you for how you handled this.

  5. MsCHX

    Since you are close to her, I am going to suggest keeping an open ear to her. I had a very close younger cousin drop hints after her engagement and I finally I told her that it is OKAY not to marry him; despite everyone else acting as if she should just be happy someone proposed. (hate this btw…if you’re a sibling, parent, aunt, friend, etc don’t treat the women in your life as not deserving more than A Man wanting to marry them). She broke off the engagement and just got married this year and is HAPPY.

    1. Mela

      Yes! So glad it worked out for your cousin, I truly don’t understand this mindset and I’m glad she moved past the expectation of saying yes to the first man that proposes =)

    2. michelenyc

      One of my very good friends made the mistake of going through with marriage even though she had serious reservations. Her Dad even said to her as they were getting ready to walk down the aisle that it wasn’t too late to cancel the wedding. He knew she was making a mistake. A little over a year later she filed for divorce.

      1. Blue Anne

        I did the same thing. We might as well have used red flags as the theme of our wedding decor, it was so obvious to everyone but us that it was a bad plan. The marriage lasted three years and our divorce is in process now.

        My mom tried to tell me I was making a mistake before I got married, but I was just offended. I needed to figure it out myself.

        1. MsCHX

          See but that’s why I wouldn’t advocate a “Don’t do this! You’re making a mistake!!!” because you put the person on the defensive. Echo their thoughts that they don’t really HAVE to go through with this…even if they are wearing the ring. Even if deposits have been made. Even if they have the dress on. And it’s easier for them to give themselves “permission” to take action.

          1. Aurion

            Yup. Not everyone knows how to strike that balance between caution and supportive. Too much of the caution means the person often won’t come back even if they realize you were right.

            Satisfying as it is, “I told you so” rarely works in real life. My parents, for example, still don’t understand that.

            1. Blue Anne

              Yes. Before Ex and I got married, my mom tried to convince me not to do it, by suggesting that I didn’t really love him enough and making a complete ass of herself during our wedding prep. My grandma observed that we seemed more like best friends than anything else, but kept it to herself. Now that I’m going through the divorce she’s a very sympathetic ear with zero judgement, while my mom is just kicking herself that she didn’t do even more to break us up before the wedding.

              Unsurprisingly I get along much better with my grandma than my mother.

        2. Grits McGee

          Please don’t think that I’m making light of your pain, but the thought of a red flag themed wedding is going to entertain me for the rest of the night!

        3. Cafe au Lait

          It’s really hard from the family’s side. My brother was married in September and my entire family (Mom, Dad, sister and myself plus cousins, aunts, uncles and even HIS best friends) have seen tons of red flags during their relationship. Bro has stopped talking to family or his friends if we’ve brought up criticisms of his now-wife.

          His bestie from high school, my cousin and myself have formed the “Bro Emotional Support Team.” We have a game plan for when the relationship enters the shitter and is flushed.

          (Example: As a newlywed, his wife will be going to her parents for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Bro works in a restaurant and is not taking those days off. Yes, she is leaving him alone for their first married Christmas).

            1. Cafe au Lait

              Yep. Her parents are two-ish hours from where they live now. I don’t see her driving two hours there to spend a few hours to drive hours back.

          1. Sad Optimist

            And he’s choosing not to take time off for their first married Christmas. So he’d be leaving her home alone during his shifts? On Christmas.

            Her choice to go to her family celebration instead seems entirely reasonable in those circumstances.

            1. Mel

              It might not be up to him about whether or not he can take the day off. Lots of restaurants require all hands to be there for Christmas. But I still agree that it does make sense for her to choose to spend the day with her family rather than all alone while he works.

              1. Jessie

                Right, so maybe it isn’t his “fault” he is working those days – but why does that mean she has to sit alone on a holiday? Why does his working those days means she doesn’t get to celebrate with a family dinner?

                I’d say she’s being entirely reasonable to go and have a Christmas dinner.

          2. MsCHX

            I’m kind of not offended by this. “First Married Christmas” isn’t a thing. Well it doesn’t need to be. He has to work. So she should sit at home til he gets off? Someone has to compromise. She does nothing and waits for him to get home, she goes to visit her family and he goes when he’s done working, or he works and she visits her family. Sounds reasonable.

            We were moving the weekend of our 2nd anniversary. We remembered it was our anniversary about 3 days later. It happens…

          3. Emmbee

            A dear friend married someone last year despite red flags that everyone, including her family, tried to warn her about. They now have a newborn (less than a month old), and for the holidays, she and the baby are flying across the country to her family…without her husband, who has chosen not to go. So yes, her newlywed husband won’t be spending his baby’s first Christmas with his baby :(

            I love that you guys have an emotional support team. A few of us friends are trying to do the same!

            1. Grapey

              There are two sides to every story and then the truth. The other side of “her newlywed husband won’t be spending his baby’s first Christmas with his baby” is “she is choosing to spend her baby’s first Christmas with her relatives than with her new husband.”

              1. EmmBee

                Without going into details, the reasons he has offered for not going are ridiculous and are all part of a long line of red flags with this guy. But sure. Feel free to take the male stranger’s side if that makes you feel like you won some internet argument!

    3. sunny-dee

      There is a ring of my grandmother’s that she gave to my mom when she got married. (I think it had also been given to my grandmother when she married.) My mom gave it to me the day I graduated college — she said that she didn’t want me to feel any pressure, ever, to get married just to get A Thing, and that she was giving me the ring because I was her daughter and she was proud of me, not because of getting a man. She also strongly encouraged me to live with her a few years after college and sock as much money away in savings so that I would always know I didn’t need a man to take care of me.

      My mom is the best.

      1. sunny-dee

        Aw, thank you guys! I know I am so lucky, and (even though I’m 36) my mom is who I want to be when I grow up. :) She is really amazing and positive and supportive.

        When I read stories like the OP’s, my first instinct is to find my mom and give her a hug and say thanks.

        1. Annonymouse

          And so you should – Your mum is amazing!

          I love how she wants you to be independent so that if you are in a relationship it’s for the right reasons – you love that person, they’re your best friend and sharing life together is an adventure you both want to take.

          Also if you remain single that’s awesome too. Because you are your own person and don’t need a partner to complete you. You’re complete as you are.

          So people I know are/have been in relationships because they’re scared of being alone or don’t know how to support and take care of themselves. So the person they’re with or personal happiness matters less than not being alone. It’s really not healthy.

        2. Rookie Biz Chick

          I would really like to sign up for her class! I want so much to be that kind of Mom – I’ll keep striving.

      2. EB

        I love that story. Your Mom is the best! I may have to appropriate a version of that.

        This reminds me of how I had recently been challenging my own personal hopes for my own kids. Right now I’d love for my son(s) to find a nice young woman and settle into a nice life. Right now I’d love for my daughter(s) to persue goals and dreams with education and careers so they neednt be dependant on anyone else but themselves.

      3. Chomps

        @sunny-dee – I’m not gonna lie, my mom is the best ;-) But yours is a close second! Seriously, though, this is such a great thing to do. I wish we had a family heirloom ring, but, alas, we do not.

    4. The IT Manager

      Yes. I had a friend in grad school marry an undergrad only to divorce within the first year. Turns out the undergrad knew she didn’t want to be married but didn’t want to rock the boat once the planning started and money was put down. It would have been better for all for her to stop things before the wedding. At least there were no kids.

      1. animaniactoo

        I was really really clear that my husband could call it off at any point up to the vows. After that he was stuck. I didn’t care how much money we’d spent on the wedding, that we had guests showing up, none of it. His mom was like “Well not at the alter” and I said “Yeah at the alter if that’s when it hits him that he really doesn’t want to do this. I don’t want anybody to marry me who isn’t 100% sure they want to be married to me.” She looked shocked. I’d been reading Carolyn Hax for too long to think that anything else was a good plan in life. Would I be hurt? Yes, certainly. But I’d rather be hurt than be hurt and deal with getting divorced/trying to miserably stick it out.

    5. Artemesia

      So many young women don’t know how to untangle themselves from a relationship and often get pushed into marriage they don’t really want because they feel that they have to have a ‘good reason’ to reject the pushy guy. I remember counseling a young woman whose friends were all pushing her to not break up with a guy (she had done so but they were pushing her to go back to him) and she felt guilty and told me he was a nice guy and she didn’t have a good reason. I told her ‘There is only one reason to break up with a nice guy like that?’ And she looked at me with earnest expectation — while I said ‘Because you want to.’ No one ever has to explain to another WHY they don’t want to make a permanent commitment to them. If you are married and want to leave someone, then a deeper conversation is called for. But dating or even afianced, all you need is ‘This is not working for me and we need to end up.’ Being kind if appropriate; being stuck because you agreed to date or even get engaged is not.

      1. Annonymouse

        I’d flip that a little:
        Do you love that person to be with them for the rest of your life – and all the ups and downs that go with it?

        No? Well there’s your reason.

        Just because someone isn’t “bad” doesn’t mean they’re a good or right choice for you.

        If the prerequisite for all relationships / marriages was
        “Any reasons you should break up?”
        Instead of
        “Why are you together and making this commitment?”
        There would be fewer breakups and more unhappy people.

      2. AcademiaNut

        And it’s not just a female problem – men can be pressured into marriage because their girlfriend wants to (the “I’m going to break up if you don’t propose by the end of the year” ultimatum.), or because of expectations that this is what is supposed to happen next in the relationship. In some ways, it can be harder for a guy, because the traditional social script is that men are naturally reluctant to commit (or have kids), but once they’e been pushed into it, they’ll be happy, of course.

      3. an anon

        I had this with my first boyfriend. He hadn’t done anything *bad*, so I didn’t know how to break up with him (he was also one of those “I was going to kill myself, but you gave me a reason to live” types. Luckily for me, my parents are divorced, I stayed with my dad over the summer, and had time to really think about what I wanted, and was able to break up with him from a distance.

        A friend ended up married because she was blindsided by the public proposal, and then everyone around her was so happy and positive about it, they just laughed at her “wedding jitters” and told her she wouldn’t get anyone better etc. Turns out she’s on the autistic spectrum too, which she didn’t know then, but she was so used to questioning her responses to things, she assumed she was wrong and everyone else was right.

    6. Gazebo Slayer (formerly I'm a Little Teapot)

      +infinity. It makes me really sad when people stay in bad relationships because they don’t think they have a right to leave, or feel that they absolutely must be partnered no matter what. I used to think I didn’t have a right to say no unless I had really good reason, and it messed me up.

    7. The Other Dawn

      I tried to convince my best friend the night before her wedding that she shouldn’t marry John, but she did anyway. She felt at the time that she was stuck: she was pregnant at 20 and felt she should marry him, and also didn’t feel like she could do better. 25 years later she FINALLY divorced him after years of mistrust, cheating (she cheated on him several times because she was so unhappy and missing something), many stories from friends that John hit on them/felt them up/propositioned them, and just general unhappiness. Now that they’re divorced, she says they talk way more than they ever did and are supportive of each other in ways they never were when they were married, I think they were meant to be friends, not a couple. I’m glad she’s doing better, but oh how I wish she’d listened to me and her other friends (and parents!). So much wasted time.

  6. Jesmlet

    Conflicted feelings about this. The fact that they’re family friends puts it in a whole new perspective and I think maybe makes the boyfriend seem not as overbearing and controlling as the first read since he probably knows they’re family friends and wasn’t just contacting her temp employer out of the blue. Now it just looks like a boundary issue and not necessarily a red flag for a potentially bad relationship. With that said, I hope they’re happy and it turns out well for everyone. They seem like they’re pretty young and that might be a factor in all of this. Loving the frequent updates!

    1. Leatherwings

      Yeah, I felt similarly. The whole being friends thing changes the tone of a lot that was happening in the first letter. I’m happy OP was able to have a productive conversation with her though, I especially like how the employee was able to list the ways she should’ve handled the situation better.

    2. Aurion

      Eh, OP and her employee may be family friends, but the boyfriend is a complete stranger to OP. I think it’s still fair to say that the boyfriend did contact his girlfriend’s employer out of the blue and whatever red flags we rose before still stand.

      1. Jesmlet

        Eh, contacted the boss who happens to be a long-time family friend vs contacted a long-time family friend who happens to be her boss, it really depends… And maybe he has met OP especially since it’s at a church and she’s a pastor. We don’t really know. I do think this lessens the red flag at least a little.

    3. Rusty Shackelford

      Overbearing boyfriend contacting the boss, knowing she’s a family friend, does make it different IMHO. Not better different. Just a different flavor of bad. And honestly, it makes the employee’s behavior worse – not only did she lie to and about her boss, but she did this to a family friend.

  7. Mela

    Yikes, it’s just *such* a huge red flag for me when a cheating SO doesn’t want their partner work. I wish her the best, and I’m glad you at least got the chance to talk her through the situation. Hopefully she’ll take advantage of the pre-marital counseling!

    1. Jane

      Yes – so many red flags here. Ugh, I’m not optimistic at all that things will work out. I hope she does wise up and break up with him before getting married.

    2. Jennifer's Socially Responsible Thneed

      Ditto! I’m hopeful that the boyfriend is still sorting out his own values and where they might differ from his extended family’s values. They’re both still very young, and this time in their lives is when that usually starts to happen.

    3. LBK

      Maybe I’m parsing wrong but I thought it was his family that expects her not to work (not to say that he doesn’t necessarily share that value as well, but that it may just be something they pressure him on and he then passes that pressure on to her). Sounds like maybe there’s some issues with BF’s family that are making him act certain ways. The high level of pressure to get the GF to attend the family reunion kind of creeps me out as well, and I come from a huge family where our annual reunion is a Big Deal.

      Not that the BF isn’t his own autonomous person who can make his own choices about how to treat his fiancee, but as anyone who reads CA can attest, toxic family stuff can be unbelievably hard to get out of (and hard to even see from the inside).

      1. Mela

        I read it the same way. Even though he’s young and may still be working out him vs. his family, the fact that this young woman’s boss knows about this pressure, to me, sends a strong signal that this is an Expectation. And even if he disagrees with the concept, I wouldn’t wish those in-laws on my worst enemy.

        1. Venus Supreme

          Yup, this. My childhood best friend was engaged to her high school boyfriend before graduation. His family was very much of the expectation that you marry young and have children young. He was also not that respectful to her (she and I double dated with our SO’s, and he called her stupid throughout dinner)… Hindsight showed me how toxic their relationship is. Now I can happily say she’s cut that jerk loose and she’s following her life’s passion and moving across the country to further her career.

          1. LBK

            His family was very much of the expectation that you marry young and have children young. He was also not that respectful to her.

            I suspect those things are more linked than they might sound. Coming from a mindset that a woman’s job is to basically be a home appliance that you purchase via marriage so she can cook, clean and have babies for you does not set you up to treat women with decency.

      2. blackcat

        At Thanksgiving, I realized that my cousin is going through this now. She got married very young (21, fresh out of college), and while she loves her husband (he is a really nice guy), it seems very clear that the expectations of his family are too much for her. She’s supposed to be some perfect housewife (meaning not work), and she hasn’t even figured out how to adult yet (her words). Her husband works for his dad, and they live an 12 hour drive from her parents but 3 blocks from his, so it’s not like her husband is going to disconnect soon.

        It makes me really sad. I don’t think my cousin had the chance to learn that you can love someone who is not the right person to marry. There are plenty of wonderful, kind people, who aren’t right for any one person. Values and lifestyle stuff matters a lot, often more than love. Her husband is a great guy… but likely for someone else. I do sincerely hope that they work through it and are able to grow together rather than grow apart.

        1. blackcat

          And because there’s no edit… by disconnect, I mean put a healthy distance between him and his parents. It seems a bit like my cousin and her husband are still treated like children by his parents, and that’s not good for them or their marriage.

        2. Language Lover

          Or even if they’re the right person, there can be the wrong time. A 21-year-old who doesn’t feel like she knows how to adult might get swept away in expectations. A 40-year-old with a job and independent accomplishments might have the confidence in who they are to say “this is who I am, deal with it” to their partner’s family and expect a partner who can defend that position to his/her family.

          1. LBK

            And a 40-year-old is more likely to have the stability to be able to deal with the fallout if their family cuts them off. When you’re young, it’s really hard to risk your family reacting badly when they’re your backup if you have a financial crisis or other emergency.

            1. Mela

              Exactly. Which is why being pressured to not work early on is extremely risky. No work experience, no personal money, nothing to fall back on.

              1. LBK

                Excellent point (and probably part of the reason that “tradition” exists in the first place, to constantly trap the next generation into relying on their family indefinitely).

          2. blackcat

            Very true. I think some of what my cousin is falling that she’s not sure who she really wants to be (she says being a housewife sounded appealing, but now all of her friends from college have jobs. It seems like she wishes she had the chance to at least try working to see if she would like it.). She’s always been a very chill, go with the flow kind of person, so I don’t think she was expecting the flow to rub her the wrong way….

            Family expectations are had to manage, particularly when you’re young.

      3. Artemesia

        It feels like one of those families where everyone needs to be disciplined and they are anxious to get their son married and their DIL under their thumb — patriarchy could not resonate louder here.

    4. Erin

      Yep. I really believe if you’re being controlling and untrusting of your partner it’s often because *you* are the one straying.

      1. Liane

        Yes. Supposedly, there’s a French saying that translates as, “the only kind of man who checks behind the bedroom door is the one who has hidden behind one.”

  8. Morning Glory

    This makes me really sad.

    I know there’s no way to know what that relationship’s like from the outside, but the cheating and not wanting her to work, combined with them both being so young, seems like it’s not going to have a happy ending.

    OP, I think you handled the situation well though.

    1. Allison

      I have to agree, this doesn’t look good. I too was in a serious relationship when I was young, and thought I was going to marry him, and I stayed when he cheated and I was still sure he was the one and we just needed to work through some things, and I was sure he was willing to rebuild my trust (he was for about a month, then got mad that I didn’t trust him). He was also manipulative, and might have been the type of person to call my boss about time off like that.

      In hindsight, I am so glad I didn’t marry him, because if I did I’d probably either married to him and miserable, or divorced and full of regret.

      IMO, no matter how much you love someone, it’s always best to wait until you’ve been together for a couple of years and you’re both in your mid 20’s or so, at least. There really isn’t a reason to rush into marriage unless there’s some urgent situation that getting married would help solve, or someone’s about to die or ship out for a tour of duty.

    2. Elizabeth H.

      For what it’s worth, I think a LOT more people have cheating in the past of their relationship than you would think, and my guess is that a lot of these people work past or through it and end up in happy marriages. It’s something that obviously, people don’t talk about a lot, even to those they are closest to. There’s a spectrum of approaches to cheating and other issues.

      1. Malibu Stacey

        Sure, but when cheating has been forgiven and moved past for the person who was cheated on, it’s typically not brought up when family friends ask if the relationship is going okay.

      2. Morning Glory

        Yes it’s true that a lot of couples work out a lot of problems in their relationships, from cheating, to dishonesty, to wanting different things… but that doesn’t mean that this young woman, who was clearly struggling wit the fact that her boyfriend cheated, is going to have a happy marriage. Especially if you consider all of the other problems mentioned.

        And for what it’s worth, I think a lot of people in a committed, monogamous relationship would consider cheating to be a very serious problem, whether or not they decide to work past it.

        1. paul

          Yep. One problem/concern….eh, no relationship is perfect. Red flag after red flag after red flag?

          Run.

      3. MK

        I am sure it can and does happen, but it’s not as usual as films and books and “we stayed together after an affair and our marriage is stronger” articles would have you believe. Infidelity does destroy relationships more often than not, and even couples who move past it might ght never totally recover trust.

        1. Malibu Stacey

          And a lot of times when couples DO choose to work through infidelity, it’s because splitting up would be really expensive or complicated because they have kids, property and serious debt together. You don’t have those kind of stakes in dating relationships so you have a lot more incentive to cut your losses and find someone else.

          1. Elizabeth H.

            Or that because it’s just a dating relationship and not a serious vows-having-been-said commitment, it strikes some people as less of a game stopper for the relationship overall. I just think that people have radically different views on how they look at cheating. For a lot of people, it seems, it’s a marriage ending infraction, at least so they say in public, but I think for a lot of people it’s just not. I think it also depends on how people view the role of sex in a relationship, in life, etc. A lot of people with less black-and-white views on these matters don’t really bring it up in public, so again I think there are more people who would be 100% willing to just go past it than it might seem from what we hear/see in public fora.

            1. LBK

              Totally agreed – the range of views is wide, and the range between how people think they’ll react and how they actually do react is often wider. It’s much easier to say “on paper” that it’s inexcusable, but if you’re years into a relationship, it can often be harder to imagine going on without them that it is to imagine staying with them after they cheat. I also think this is something that’s changing culturally as attitudes about sex change – I think there’s more people who would openly say that they would at least consider staying depending on the situation.

              As a side note, it’s funny to me that MK posits this as something portrayed in the media, since there’s two shows on right now that specifically focused on relationships ending as the result of infidelity (Divorce and The Affair).

              1. Candi

                When two people have promised (on some level) to be exclusive to each other and one breaks that promise, it fractures trust, regardless of the stage or legal status of the relationship.

                Whether they want to haul out the glue and mortar or not depends on a lot. Multiple factors, the state of the relationship.

                I can say from experience that if the other party keeps refracturing trust, often when it is still being rebuilt, after awhile there isn’t even dust and chips left. There’s nothing left, and it’s hard to have love if there is no trust.

  9. Permanent project manager

    Wow, this update made me really sad. OP, you handled it well, but this situation is Not Good. I kept hoping for the update to read, “and then she dumped him.”

  10. animaniactoo

    Keep your door open. I suspect she’s going to need it. Non-judgmentally, low-key, “what do you want?” “how do you see this playing out?” “have you considered X risk? do you feel comfortable (relatively) taking that risk? how do you think you’ll handle it if that goes wrong?” “okay, I support you, I wish you the very best. I’m always here for you.”

    1. No, please

      This is how my mom approached me regarding my first marriage and my dad flew off the handle. When I did decide to leave after seven years she was the first person I told. I knew I’d get support and not an “I told ya so!” Your questions are perfect for showing support without dictating what someone ought to do.

  11. k

    I think this worked out really well! The fact that you’re a family friend and a pastor (someone who people are known to turn to for advice) seems to have really helped make the personal nature of the conversation be less awkward. If you keep the lines of communication open I could see you being a trusted resource for her to turn to for years to come.

    1. EddieSherbert

      I agree; I think the relationship between them and OP’s career path were pretty much a perfect combo for them to have this kind of (personal-life-decisions-and-issues) conversation. Neat!

  12. memoryisram

    This bums me out. Having been in a controlling relationship, this guy got my back up against the wall with his letter – my ex didn’t write my boss but he did write my parents, and would frequently come to work with me (I worked completely alone in a shop, it would have been welcome had I asked him to be there).

    I hope that the engagement counseling is helpful, and that he OP is able to be there for her if she needs it – it would seem they have A LOT to work out before they get hitched.

  13. Kati

    These kinds of letters make me think that Alison and Dan Savage ought to do a joint column or podcast. The overlap between work and relationships can be kind of startling sometimes. This is one where the DTMFA response comes in!

    1. ThatGirl

      I think Alison and Dear Prudence would be a better combo, actually – I like Dan Savage but his advice is more on the strictly sexual side.

      1. Language Lover

        Oh how quickly we forget the “duck” club.

        I’m not one who needs crossover in my advice columnists’ worlds*, although it’s nice to see others get referenced, but sex and do work intermingle whether it’s the aforementioned duck club or affairs. So I definitely think there could be overlap.

        *Alison appeared on the new Prudie’s podcast.

        Honestly, at times I do wish Dan would consult a work blog for some of his work-related questions. On his podcast, he once told a couple who liked to get “amorous” to the sound of the man talking to customer service representatives on the phone that he thought it’d be okay as long as the CS Rep didn’t know. Thankfully, the following week some callers who worked as CSRs called in to inform him that it was horrible advice. (It was!) Even if they don’t say they know what you’re doing, they often do but are prohibited from speaking up because of policy and there can even be performance repercussions if the call isn’t wrapped up in time. Basically, advice that may not have occurred to him but would have to pretty much anyone in more traditional working environments.

    2. Katniss

      I have to laugh at Dan Savage doing a “joint” column, since lately Dan has been rabidly telling everyone who writes him to smoke pot. Including, at one point, an addict!

  14. Tobias Funke

    As a person, as a person who escaped an abusive loon who I let cost me my career for two years, as a clinical social worker… this makes my teeth hurt. A cheating dude who doesn’t want you to work is bad news. There is no part of this that is okay.

  15. Chickaletta

    Yeah, this makes me sad too. The biggest sign that this marriage won’t work out isn’t the cheating, or quasai-controlling boyfriend, or that his family’s expectations don’t jive with hers – the problem is that she just doesn’t seem that in to him. She is going to regret this decision big time in the coming years when she realizes “oh, crap, I’m spending the REST OF MY LIFE with this person that kinda, sorta like but not really.”

    Take it from someone who’s there.

    OP, since you have a good relationship with this person, maybe you could share your concerns about the engagement and open the door to her if she ever wants someone to talk to about alternative endings. When I was engaged, I had doubts, but they were brushed aside by everyone; I think everyone around me felt like the only thing they could say was “congratulations”, and I felt like I was an island. Just sayin’.

  16. Little Love

    Years ago, went to a wedding where the bride wasn’t just nervous, she looked like she was about to die right there. Turns out she wanted to cancel the wedding because she knew bridegroom was a drug dealer but her mother, grandmother and aunt had made the wedding into such a huge deal, she was afraid to tell anyone the truth. Six weeks later, he was in jail and she was filing for divorce.

    You can marry young and make it work (met my husband when I was 18 and we are together 40 years later) but there were no red flags, familial or otherwise, for us.

    If he is telling her what to do because his FAMILY wants it, she should run as far and as fast as she can.

  17. paul

    I missed the “he cheated” thing on first read through, yikes.

    That relationship has more red flags than a signals office an based on your letters, but you’ve done what you can, so I’d say you’re firmly in the “good manager” camp! Sucks that the update ended that way but what can you do?

  18. Marisol

    This is the biggest red flag to me:

    “…boyfriend has some personal pain that shapes how he acts/talks…”

    this is the kind of excuse-making that people in abusive relationships do–they use their abuser’s pain as some sort of excuse for bad behavior. I understand the OP is paraphrasing the conversation, but that idea came through loud and clear.

    1. LBK

      Well, I mean, sometimes that pain is the reason for bad behavior. That doesn’t excuse it, but many bad people are a product of their environment or their upbringing. I can understand the impulse towards empathy. I think the key is whether the boyfriend is self-aware about it and/or trying to get help to deal with it.

      1. animaniactoo

        I think it’s also important for her to recognize that while it’s a cause, it doesn’t make it acceptable, and it’s okay to refuse to be treated that way – even if all of it is perfectly understandable when you know his story. Because in the end, the problem is not why he does it, the problem is that he does it.

        We all get some leeway on our messed up stuff, there are things in every relationship that aren’t right, but you deal because it’s small potatoes compared to what you benefit and because you’re getting reciprocal willingness to deal with your crap. But there are limits – and one of those limits is when worrying about them or trying to see their side outweighs worrying about you and what you want. It can be equal – but it can’t outweigh. So be aware that compassion and love for someone have limits in terms of what treatment you *accept* for yourself out of someone else’s pain. Allowing them to inflict it on you without limits and looking out for yourself helps neither of you in the long run.

        1. Rusty Shackelford

          I think it’s also important for her to recognize that while it’s a cause, it doesn’t make it acceptable,

          EXACTLY.

          Think of it like a rash. You discover a rash on your body. It’s uncomfortable. You don’t like it. Then you find out the rash is caused by your new soap. Do you say “Oh, okay, now that I know why I’m irritated and itchy, I can deal with it?” Or do you switch soaps?

        2. One of the Sarahs

          Plus, if someone’s pain is resulting them in hurting other people, and they’re not taking steps to deal with their pain, eg through getting counselling, or taking anti-depressants etc, that’s not acceptable either.

      2. Marisol

        As a broad general rule, women usually have more of a need to develop their boundaries than their empathy. It is common for women to practice forgiveness/tolerance to such a degree that they act against their own interests. There are women who are physically abused who excuse their husband beating them for this reason, and not only that…there are therapists who take the same attitude! Like, “once we understand the emotional motivation for why you beat your wife, these issues will resolve, and then hopefully, you can learn some self-control and then finally stop beating her…” and the presumption is that the woman should hang around through all of that. I don’t know a whole lot about the topic but I did read a book once called “Why Does He Do That? Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men” and the author, who is a therapist, describes this very thing.

        Absent any context, there is nothing inherently wrong with attributing someone’s bad behavior to the pain they feel and trying to empathize and forgive. It is a wonderful thing. Seen through the lens of all the…crap women deal with in their relationships with men though, this is a red flag. It’s not enough to draw a firm conclusion about, but it deserves attention.

        And also, you can always empathize while refusing to participate in your own abuse. I dated a guy for 8 days who, by day 8, started to berate me for something I did that he didn’t like. I was shocked and hung up the phone and didn’t see him again. His behavior was bizarre. Now I can certainly think of that guy and wish him the best, and feel empathy for whatever it was that motivated him to do that, but that’s a lot different than if I had decided to stick around for more weird abusive behavior. I have a very low tolerance for abuse, so in my case, I left after the first incident. His dysfunction was not my responsibility, and I understand that.

        There are other women who rationalize much worse behavior, for years. There is a difference between empathizing and engaging. You can lovingly and non-judgmentally release someone from your life.

        1. LBK

          I totally agree with all of this and with animaniactoo’s comment above. Positioning baggage as an excuse rather than an explanation just strikes a personal chord since my baggage made me a bad boyfriend for a long time (not even close to abusive, but just not able to be a good, equal partner in a relationship since I basically needed a caretaker more than an SO) and it wasn’t until I had someone who stuck around while I went through treatment (and who I wanted to get better for) that I was able to do it.

          So I completely agree that women are often expected and expect themselves to put up with way too much shit for people who don’t want to change. On the flipside, though, I think supportive partners can be vital for people who do want to change and need someone to help them through it. That’s why I emphasized that the key is whether the boyfriend understands that his baggage affects him and is trying to get help; if he’s just content to continue to be a bad person regardless of how it impacts his girlfriend, then I agree she should head for the hills.

          1. animaniactoo

            2 things (because I primarily agree with what you’ve written here):

            1) I think it can be summed up that it’s an excuse if they’re not doing anything about it and an explanation if they are.

            2) I think it is extremely vitally important to recognize that sometimes, somebody is working but hasn’t gotten far enough yet and it’s okay not to stick around and support them while they work. And on the flip side of that – that you, yourself, have your own stuff that makes you not somebody who *can* stick around without hurting yourself way too much – even if they are in a place where somebody else could. And in both of those situations, that it is just what it is and it’s okay not to be with them even if you really care about them and they are working really hard at untangling themselves.

            (and congrats on getting your own stuff sorted out, LBK, and recognizing how it affected what you brought to a relationship. seriously, kudos on that.)

    2. Christine

      +100

      “His personal pain makes him act this way” + “he cheated and we’re ‘rebuilding trust'” = RUN (especially in light of the other stuff)

      I want to send this girl all the Captain Awkward columns.

      OP, well done restraining yourself and avoiding putting her on the defensive. You will be a good resource and support to her that she doesn’t have to fear saying “I told you so.”

  19. CM

    I’m glad things worked out well, but this update makes me uncomfortable because it shares so many personal details about the OP’s employee. If I were the employee, and I had told these things to a trusted family friend who was also my employer, I would feel violated if they showed up on the Internet… especially combined with questioning my relationship.

    1. Mela

      I think you’re severely underestimating how many young women are in relationships and situations exactly like this…

      1. CM

        You mean, there are thousands of young women who are college students and had a summer job at the church where they have a lifelong family relationship with the pastor who is also their boss, and within the past few weeks got engaged to their fiance who is also a college student but is living at home, and with whom they attended a family reunion over the summer? I get that the patterns here are familiar in a lot of relationships, but I think this person is pretty easily identifiable. And I think it’s fine for people to share personal details about themselves, but not personal details about other people who did not agree to have them published.

        1. OP

          You know, you might be right. I worked hard to keep things broad in the letter, and even the update, but including my field might have been a mistake. I was worried people might wonder why the conversation was so personal without that info, but it would perhaps be too much. I am pretty confident she doesn’t read this, but that’s not really the point. I second guessed my wording a bit along the way, and I am sorry that it seems I may have made a mistake and shared too much of her story.

          1. Mela

            I was under the impression that you worked in a university, but if she was an employee of the church, then yea a little bit too much detail. But at least all of this is out of care and concern for her, and I think everyone here really does hope we’re wrong!

    2. sally

      Yeah, and this manager-employee relationship is really lacking in boundaries. Yes, it’s a church, but still.

  20. AngtheSA

    OP I am glad you were able to not only give her proffesioanl but also personal advice. I do hope they go to premarital counseling. It is what saved my marriage. Our marriage counselor recommended we read Boundaries by Dr Henry Cloud. It definitely a Christian book but I think for many Christian women, myself included, I truly believed that whatever my husband or family did I had to support fully and this book shows a different light to that. I can still love my husband but let him suffer the consequence of his actions and I can absolutely say no to my family and his.

    After 10 years together and almost 5 years of marriage (and a 2 year old) our marriage is stronger because of the boundaries we set up early in our marriage with our families. It will be hard for her because from the first letter I could tell she is not very confrontational, but she can and should set up boundaries with her fiance and his family now cause it is easier to get away when you’re not married.

    1. animaniactoo

      It’s also far easier to go on as you’ve begun rather than trying to change it at a later date. Much more resistance to change later, vs adjustment to unknown quantity at the beginning.

  21. Mirax

    I have to admit that the details given here about the boyfriend make me kind of worried about the idea of them going into couples counseling–frequently couples counseling becomes a tool in an abuser’s arsenal to further isolate their victim.

      1. Turtle Candle

        It’s a pretty well-known thing in therapy–abusers are often very good at manipulation, and therapists, even excellent therapists, are human beings and not immune to manipulation. And most couples’ counseling is predicated on the idea that both people are there to try to repair the relationship, and that accommodation on both sides is probably necessary–which is true for the normal give-and-take of healthy relationships, but very much not true of abuse. So it’s often the case that what happens is simply that the abuser spins a narrative that makes it look like their partner is the problem, and then uses what the therapist says as a stick to beat them with (they say “she makes me feel so judged!” Or “he just doesn’t understand my pain!” to the therapist, the therapist coaches the abused partner on how to be more unjudgmental or understanding on the assumption that the abusive partner is not an abuser and is operating in good faith, and then when she’s ‘judging’ him for screaming at her or controlling her or hitting her, he has the additional ammunition of the therapist’s words that she should be less judgmental to cow her)–or if the therapist does see through them, may punish their partner for “making them look bad.”

        Links for the curious:

        https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/anger-in-the-age-entitlement/200905/emotional-abuse-why-your-marriage-counseling-failed
        http://www.thehotline.org/2014/08/why-we-dont-recommend-couples-counseling-for-abusive-relationships/
        http://www.abuseandrelationships.org/Content/Survivors/couples_therapy.html

      2. CM

        Google “couples counseling abusive relationships” and a lot of articles come up. Essentially, therapy is for couples who need help working things out, but this is not the situation in an abusive relationship, so therapy is not appropriate. Therapists who are not specifically trained to identify and deal with abusive relationships tend to want to be “neutral.” They don’t want to accuse one partner of lying or exaggerating, and they look for ways to tell each partner how they can improve. Abusive partners can also seem really sweet and defenseless during the counseling session, while the abused partner may be unable to speak openly. The therapist who is not trained in this situation may not understand what is going on.

      3. Gertrude is Gertrude is Gertrude

        A day late and probably a few dollars short, but if it’s still of use: in couples’ counseling for an abusive relationship, it is common for the abuser to get the therapist “on their side” by, for example, leaving out their abusive behavior and telling only the part of the story where the partner reacted to their abuse (by yelling, crying, acting “crazy” if you don’t know the antecedent.) If the abused partner is afraid to fill in the blanks (common, for obvious reasons) the therapist will naturally gravitate to the partner who seems more levelheaded and in control of themselves.

        Even if the therapist remains a neutral party throughout the therapy there are two problems:

        (1) the abuser may use the language of therapy and the tactics the therapist is encouraging against the partner, to gaslight or be openly abusive, for example forcing the abused partner to accept half the responsibility for a “conflict” that was actually a one-sided incident of abuse. This brings me to…

        (2) In a situation where one person is actively harming the other, neutrality IS taking the side of the abuser. In a non-abusive relationship, it can be reasonably assumed that both partners have the same ultimate goal of understanding and getting along with one another. In an abusive scenario, one party is actively in danger from the other. In an abuse situation, the couple doesn’t need to examine where they are failing to connect, the abuser needs to learn to stop abusing (which they may have no interest in doing), and the person being abused needs help staying safe. These are separate goals that should be undertaken separately. This is an issue in part because…

        (3) It is common for the person being abused to be afraid to reveal the extent of the abuse with their abuser sitting right there (for good reason). Without that crucial piece of information (or indeed with it, if the therapist is an ass) the therapist will at best be useless, and at worst will be actively advocating against the interests of the person most in need of help.

        That’s a rough and rocky summary of some of the issues; I think Lundy Bancroft’s “Why Does He Do That?” addresses it for real, with anecdotes, and if you look into resources online (I’m not up on the latest and greatest) there is more valuable information.

        1. Marisol

          Oh! That’s the same book I read, and referenced above. I had forgotten the author’s name. What a contribution he made with that book.

    1. Chickaletta

      When we did couples counseling, our therapist told us straight up that his primary role was to try to repair the relationship and that he was counseling the relationship, not us as individuals. If you go to couples/marriage counseling, be aware that the counselor’s goal is to keep the relationship together. It’s not the type of therapy to seek if one of the individuals needs help leaving the relationship.

    1. animaniactoo

      Did you by any chance not read the original post which clarifies that this was a short-term summer position of about 2 months?

  22. Maya Elena

    I wonder if they only got engaged because his family pressured him into it…. But that’s completely speculative.

    1. Rachel B

      Yeah, the whole thing makes me sad for her. So many other paths this woman’s life could have taken and this is the one she chooses for herself.

  23. ZVA

    As someone who spent 2 of my college years in an abusive relationship, I like the OP’s approach (offering support but not suggesting her employee dump the jerk, tempting though that may be!). During my relationship, my mother was my biggest source of support, and I told her everything that was going on. Had she insisted I dump the guy, I would never have taken her advice—but it would have driven a wedge between her and me at the time when I needed her most. So from my perspective, the OP is right on, and I’m sure her support means a lot to her employee/family friend.

  24. Beatrice

    It’s concerning that they’re engaged, but it sounds like you handled that conversation really well. Regardless if her relationship goes badly or well, it’s so important for her to have someone on her side who she knows will support her.

  25. Devon

    Take a guy with control issues, an indecisive passive aggressive girl, shake, and you have a crazy cocktail!

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