should I stop bringing coffee to my boyfriend/coworker, I don’t want to show up for my last day of work, and more

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

1. Should I stop bringing coffee to my boyfriend/coworker?

My significant other also works at the company (it’s how we met) but in a different department. My colleagues, bosses, and the CEO regularly commend us on keeping it professional and are very supportive of our relationship. Our company is small, less than 25 people, and quite casual so it’s no secret that we’re together and it’s never caused any sort of disruption or issue.

During the course of our relationship, I’ve been promoted to a management position, I don’t directly manage him, but I often provide direction and feedback on his work. As professional as we keep it, I do have one habit that sort of identifies the personal relationship we have: I get him coffee. If there is coffee in the kitchen, I will bring him a mug unprompted because I know he wants coffee in the morning (and he’ll do the same, but I usually get there first). Usually he just says thanks, but occasionally a “thanks babe” will slip out — force of habit, and terms of endearment/nicknames among friends in the office are not uncommon.

When the topic of our relationship comes up while I’m at work, as it occasionally does, there’s a chorus of “awwwww”s – and this has occasionally happened when someone noticed I brought him coffee. It’s lovely that my coworkers love “us” but sometimes I worry how this action may influence people’s perception of me. As a young women who is relatively new to the management world (and apparently doing very well at it according to the review I had last week!) I know that I sometimes have to work a little extra hard to be seen as the skilled professional that I am. Should I stop getting him coffee? Or just ask him to make sure he never uses “babe” in the office? Or am I overthinking this way too much?

Yeah, stop getting him coffee. And ask him to make sure he never calls you “babe” in the office. Those are both relationship things, and your relationship needs to be kept out of work. That’s true even if it doesn’t seem to bother your coworkers, because (a) it’s the professional thing to do, (b) you’re in a position of authority now, and it’s extra important that you show that you’re careful about trying to control any possible bias you might have.

Frankly, it’s not good that you’re providing direction and feedback on his work — and if you can recuse yourself from that, you should. I realize that in a small company, you might not be able to do that — but then it’s all the more important that you demonstrate that you’re leaving your relationship outside the office. There’s a real danger that you’ll be perceived as biased in the feedback you give on his work, simply because you’re dating — and that will be far more of a concern for people if you don’t demonstrate a strong awareness of the boundaries you need here. For similar reasons, you don’t want to do anything that evokes that chorus of awww’s — it might feel supportive in the moment, but you may run into real issues down the road if someone starts feeling you’re not able to deal with him or them objectively (and it’s pretty easy for someone to assume — correctly or not — that if you’re making decisions that involve your boyfriend and someone else, the someone else isn’t going to be the one you favor).

The litmus test for whether or not you’re navigating this well is that people at work shouldn’t be able to tell you’re dating unless you directly tell them. Right now, you two are failing that test, so I’d work on some strong course correction (which may need to mean over-correction for a while).

2. I don’t want to show up for my last day of work

For the past year and a half, I have been working for a company that has become a toxic place to work. I’ve landed a new job but my last day is fast approaching. At this point, all I want to do is leave my computer and equipment with IT the night before my last day and slip out.

I should mention that my company is not granting exit interviews. All I was given was an exit letter that serves as a checklist and I’ve taken care of all of those tasks. Also, I’ve already prepared transition materials to my manager (who is brand new and I was not even allowed to interview her for the job and she’s not even based in the same office I’m in) and will send them out the second to last day on the job.

Some of my colleagues who have left and even those who are still with the company say I should I leave everything with IT the night before and not come in on the last day but I’m conflicted. What would you suggest?

You’ve been unhappy there for the last year and a half and now you’re about to escape! Don’t burn the bridge on your way out the door when you’ve made it this far, just to avoid being there for one more day. You never know when you’ll need a reference from this place — or even from a peer, who may feel uncomfortable giving you a reference if you leave unprofessionally. It’s a single day, and it’s your last day — do your future self the favor of not burning a bridge just to avoid spending eight final hours there. (In fact, you could go and savor those eight final hours, knowing that you are counting down to freedom.)

3. My boss says we need to make up the time we spent at a team lunch

My department was recently asked to come to an off-site “team lunch.” The invite came from our manager and actually said “team lunch” in the title, but the day after the lunch (which was two hours long) she send an email saying the time could not be charged and that we had to make it up with only one day left in the week!! 100% of the team attended because I think we all had assumed it would be chargeable minus the standard 35 minute lunch time. I’m considering an HR complaint to get those hours back. Do you think this is a good idea?

Talk to your manager first, before you go over her head. Say something like this: “Since this was called a team lunch, I’d assumed this was a work activity, not something we were doing on our own time that we wouldn’t get paid for. I think others on the team assumed the same. Given that it wasn’t clear that this wasn’t an official work activity and that you expected us to attend on our own time, I’m hoping we can get paid for that time.” Also, if the lunch was presented as required or expected and you’re non-exempt, say this: “We’re actually required to pay people for work activities that they’re required to attend, and we could get in trouble with the state department of labor for not doing that.” (And that would cover the whole two hours, by the way; you wouldn’t need to subtract your standard 35-minute lunch break.)

If that doesn’t work, yes, talk to HR — preferably along with some of your coworkers so that you’re not singled out as the person raising a fuss.

4. I was fired and haven’t received my belongings back

I’m fairly new to the professional world, and I passed the interview, got the job and started in September 2017. However, this month I was let go from my position as a technical writer without any warning. I got a text message from my manager on a Thursday asking me to go into the office on Friday, so I went into the office and was told that my writing isn’t what the client was looking for and would need to be let go.

There were no meetings or performance reviews or anything of the sort, and I had met with my manager once the entire time I was there to see if there were any questions. Usually, my manager wouldn’t be down there so we communicated mainly through email or the other manager who would be in the office working on a different contract, or after weekly staff meetings where we discussed the work and how I was handling it.

After the firing, I let my manager know that I left some things there in my office cube that I would like. However, because it was a government facility, I needed a badge to get in and they had taken it. About two weeks ago, my manager let me know that my items had been packed up but haven’t been sent. I’m not sure how to let my manager know that I would like my things back as soon as they can send it.

Is it right to let an employee go without any sort of performance plan or idea that it would be occurring? Also, how would I go about letting my manager know that I would like my stuff back ASAP?

In general, it’s good practice for managers to give regular feedback and, when someone is falling short, to be explicit about that and about what changes are needed — and, if the problems are so serious that the person risks being let go, it’s good practice to be up-front about that possibility. However, when someone is new to the job and it’s really clear that they’re not the right fit, it doesn’t always make sense to go through a formal performance improvement plan. In that case, a good manager will still have been giving you enough feedback along the way that a firing doesn’t come out of the blue … but it doesn’t sound like your manager was strong on communication in general.

At this point, I’d call your former boss and say, “I know you told me two weeks ago that my things had been packed up, but I haven’t received them yet and I really do want them as soon as possible. Can you either put them in the mail this week or can we set up a time for me to come pick them up?”

Read an update to this letter here.

5. I’m applying for a job and they want to see my last performance review

Today, I filled out a screening application and they asked me to provide them with my most recent performance review. This threw me for a loop – no one has ever asked me for that. But not only that, I have absolutely no access to that information (which would have been at a company I haven’t worked at in two years), and my very last job before I started consulting on my own did not give me a performance review, even though they promised they would.

So I just want to know if asking for your most recent performance review at any stage of the hiring process is normal or common. I didn’t feel right being asked that question.

This is a thing that occasionally happens, but it’s not common — and it’s definitely not common to ask for it at the initial application stage. Even at later stages, it’s not a great practice for employers in general, partly because lots of employers don’t do formal, written performance reviews. It is something that a candidate could choose to offer in the end stages of hiring as an alternative to contacting their current employer for a reference (but even then, I wouldn’t offer it up unless the review is truly glowing). But it’s silly and weird for them to be asking for this before they’ve even determined if they want to interview you.

You could include a note saying, “My last employer didn’t do written performance reviews, but I’d be glad to talk to you about the feedback that I received from them.”

{ 344 comments… read them below }

  1. Casuan*

    OP1: My first thought was that bringing each other coffee is no big deal, especially if it’s an established routine. However, as I kept reading your question & Alison’s response, my thought changed. What seems to be a small thing (ie: a kind & cute gesture to one’s partner) can easily escalate to a Big Thing. It’s best to stop the routine now, especially because of your promotion. Alison is spot-on about the litmus test; just remember this applies to all work functions & for all areas of company property. :-)

    Congrats on the good review!!

    1. Engineer Girl*

      I see the coffee as a huge deal, as she’s doing it exclusively for one person.

      Stop the coffee and plan on doing extra nice things at home. Just for him. There’s lots of ways to say I love you.

      1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        I, too, saw this as a big deal and would cut it out. In addition to Alison’s litmus test, I find it’s really helpful to ask oneself, “Would I do this for any other coworker?” If the answer is no, then don’t do it. And sometimes, even if the answer is yes, still don’t do it.

        The “babe” thing seems particularly problematic to me, but I’m struggling to articulate why. I think it’s because it immediately eliminates OP’s professional relationship and context in a way that undercuts her authority (and perceptions of her authority) as a new manager. I get that people slip, but it sounds like he slips too often, which could be another reason to stop getting him coffee.

        I’m also a little perturbed at the “terms of endearment” culture at the office (nicknames don’t bother me as much), but I’ll readily admit that I have a low threshold for getting squicked out about that sort of thing. Do other staff who are not in romantic relationships call their coworkers “babe,” too?

        1. Casuan*

          Babe & other terms of endearment… just no.
          PCBH, I like your litmus test of if one would do the same for other colleagues.

          & I can’t resist… I wonder if this is how the duck club started?

          1. legalchef*

            Well, that isn’t a term of endearment – it’s a formal title, like calling someone Professor. :)

              1. Rob aka Mediancat*

                — they’re either a centuries-old vampire with plans to take over the world, or a millennium-or-so-old Gallifreyan with plans to take over the world. Either way, you’re in trouble.

        2. AwkwardestTurtle*

          We have a senior manager (female) who refers to younger workers (both male and female) as “babe.” Still if I were OP I’d try to avoid situations where that might slip out.

        3. Kathleen_A*

          The whole thing just sounds really problematic to me. Bringing coffee Every Single Morning is so very, very…sweet. And by that I mean sweetie-pie kind of sweet, not “that’s so kind of you” kind of sweet. It’s so sweet that I’m not surprised the BF occasionally slips up and calls her “babe.” It’s a very couple-in-love-like gesture.

          So yes, I’d really recommend cutting it out. You want people to think of you as a couple only when it’s necessary, and it definitely isn’t necessary Every Single Morning.

        4. Ted Mosby*

          I think that’s why I didn’t see it as such a big deal. I would do this for my work wifes all the time! I still agree it should stop, but it doesn’t seem super out of line from normal office interactions.

          Babe… that one’s pretty bad.

          1. Lissa*

            Yeah it might be OK if she sometimes brought other people coffee too, or if there was a general “people bring each other coffee” and she wasn’t doing it for him any more often than anybody did it for anybody…but that doesn’t sound like the case.

          2. Detective Right-All-The-Time*

            Yes, my office has a general “oh that’s so-an-so’s coffee mug left by the coffee pot, I’ll fill it up and bring it to her” kind of culture. Or “so-an-so would love these cookies in the kitchen I’ll bring one to her desk.” So coffee every morning wouldn’t stand out much in my office.

            But it sounds like this is standing out in LW1’s office, and that’s reason enough for me to think it needs to stop.

        5. oranges & lemons*

          I think the fact that he calls the LW “babe” when they give him coffee is a signal that the coffee ritual isn’t appropriate for the office–it brings the office into a domestic sphere. To be honest, I’d be a bit annoyed by coworkers doing this, but I might be extra cranky about it because I’ve had to deal with married coworkers who were massively unprofessional.

      2. TL -*

        When I worked for a husband and wife pair, the wife once talked about them being Christian, somewhat conservatively, and said something about submission in their marriage. That colored my view of her very strongly. If she believes in wifely submission, will she feel comfortable taking a stand or going above his head if it is professionally or ethically necessary? I couldn’t trust her in her role as project manager* if she did not have autonomy in her judgment.

        I think on a much smaller level, the kind of wifely prepping of a coffee cup mildly reflects same dynamic. Even though the husband will do the same thing, so it’s clearly not gendered in the relationship! The optics of it aren’t great and can play into a lot of gendered expectations that will, unfortunately, work against you in the workplace.

        *she was not a good project manager so there was no data to counterbalance this impression.

        1. teclatrans*

          Yes, thank you for mentioning this. It feels too much like tending to her man, even if thats not the actual dynamic. I would feel much better about this coffee thing if it was just as common for him to being her coffee. (But it would still be non-professional, and so should stop. If we are thinking “how can I make my beloved’s life a bit easier today?” then we are not keeping our relationship out of the office. )

          1. Parenthetically*

            “It feels too much like tending to her man”

            Ah, THIS is what I couldn’t put my finger on!

            1. Kathleen_A*

              I’d really feel almost the same way (i.e., “That’s sweet but really unprofessional”) if the OP were a man who always brought his GF coffee – and that GF occasionally slipped up and called him “Babe.” But I am not the one the OP has to worry about here, and the taking-care-of-“her man” thing does make it a bit more problematic.

            2. Legal Beagle*

              Yes! It feels very domestic. I’m guessing OP doesn’t know how all the other people in the office take their coffee.

              1. Mockingjay*

                Domestic is a good way to phrase it. You want to be professional in the office, not domestic.

            3. Artemesia*

              And even if it were not (although yeah, that is what it feels like — the old ‘fix him a plate’ because he has to be waited on thing) them getting each other coffee is highlighting their personal relationship in a setting where no one should know they have one from their workplace behavior. No ‘what can I get at the store’; no ‘honey’ or ‘babe’; no meaningful looks; no coordinating out of work activities; and no ‘tending to my man’s needs’; none of this should be visible in the workplace especially in a small organization. And if it is at all possible the OP should not be providing feedback on the boyfriend’s work. This needs a bright line.

          2. Kelsi*

            Yeah, there is such a gendered/power-dynamic history to the whole “bringing someone coffee in the office” thing* that whatever the actual dynamic, this is just going to undermine her. The optics are real bad.

            *See: every time a female executive is assumed to be present for the purpose of fetching coffee, vs. because they are an important member of the meeting.

        2. neverjaunty*

          Yes. And even though the OP says he does the same, she “usually gets there first” – so most of the time, this is the OP taking care of her boyfriend. Who she indirectly supervises, and who calls her “babe” in front of other co-workers.

          1. myswtghst*

            All of this. Even if the boyfriend absolutely would do the same and is a totally stand-up guy, the perception is that he doesn’t, and might even be that he doesn’t respect her (“babe” doesn’t scream respect to me).

            1. Non of This*

              Why? Please explain how a term of endearment (while yes, inappropriate for the office) sounds disrespectful. That’s just being persnickety and using feminism to police other women’s choices.

              1. Elizabeth H.*

                Regardless of feminism I agree it doesn’t sound disrespectful in and of itself! My boyfriend calls me that and it so is not anything like that type of vibe. I think maybe the disconnect is because when someone writes in about a supervisor or colleague using terms of endearment in the workplace (to unrelated people) they often ARE disrespectful because using those kinds of terms is overly familiar – they connote a relationship that is primarily social/intimate/affectionate, and it’s disrespectful to address someone so familiarly with whom you don’t have that kind of relationship, or as if their primary function in your interaction is social or supportive. But I don’t think it’s in and of itself disrespectful to refer to someone affectionately when you are actually in an affectionate relationship with the person. In private. I completely agree that terms of endearment don’t belong in the workplace because while at work you are maintaining the fiction of professional distance.

                1. myswtghst*

                  “it doesn’t sound disrespectful in and of itself! “

                  I completely agree. But when it’s being said at work by a man, to someone above him in the hierarchy who is also a young woman new to management, and who is regularly bringing him coffee, it might be perceived poorly by coworkers who think he’s being patronizing, or it might contribute to coworkers who have internalized some misogynistic ideas undervaluing her authority. And even if none of those perceptions are happening, it’s still likely to create a perception of favoritism in a situation where objectivity should be the goal, since she gives feedback on his work.

              2. AKchic*

                When you use a term of endearment in the office space, to a *superior in rank* it does undermine them.
                For example, take a grandma/mother/grandchild role.
                Mom says child cannot have a sweet before a meal (or bedtime, as child has already brushed their teeth and it is a pain to get the child to brush their teeth in the first place). Grandma steamrolls Mom’s parental authority and says “oh, don’t listen to Mom, *Granny* will give you what you want” and gives the child the sweet. Child learns that Mom’s edicts really mean nothing so long as Grandma is there, and that if they want something, they should really go to Grandma because Mom isn’t in charge.

                When boyfriend (an underling) calls a manager “Babe” in the office, it shows that he actually has an intimate relationship with the manager, and that if someone wants something from the manager, they need to talk to the boyfriend man-to-man rather than “the little woman”. The boyfriend is the gatekeeper, thus undermining the managerial girlfriend. Why? Because there are still people who think this way. I could point out the many *kinds* of people who do this, but I’d rather not, because it is so easy to point them out. To say they don’t exist would be an exercise in willful blindness.

                1. Non of This*

                  I’d have to imagine it would be someone incredibly old fashioned to view it that way. even if I had a coworker (female) who I was friends with that was dating our (male) manager, I’d still assume I’d need to talk to him, not his girlfriend about something I need/want at work.

                  If the genders were reversed (as in the letter) I would still talk to my manager, not my manager’s boyfriend/girlfriend.

                2. TL -*

                  @Non of this – it’s more insidious than that, though. You have a pitch that you’re not sure she’ll like, so you get the boyfriend’s take on it first, even though he’s not knowledgeable in your field, because you think he knows her best (and he does personally, but he probably doesn’t *professionally*).
                  Or ask boyfriend to bring up a policy you don’t like, with the implication that he’s going to bring it up in a way and at a time when she’ll be most *personally* receptive.
                  Maybe you have a meeting with her and she’s deeply unhappy with your work. You complain to boyfriend and he says, “Oh she’s just been grouchy because my mom’s in town” and you immediately ascribe some of her unhappiness to that, rather than your performance.

                  All of that is valuing his personal judgment of her over her own professional judgment and slowly but surely undermining her authority. And the coffee every day plays into that, because it’s pointing to him as an expert on her and inviting other people to use his expertise to get what they want from her – after all, he’s doing it, right?

              3. myswtghst*

                I apologize if I came across as policing women’s choices, as it wasn’t my intent – I was really thinking about the boyfriend’s choice to use the pet name, and how it would be perceived, but obviously didn’t articulate that very clearly. In my experience (and in the first 4-6 articles that came up in my quick Google search), a man referring to a female coworker as “babe” is either going to be perceived as too informal for most offices, or as a power play, and neither one is a great look for him.

                Also, I’m not saying it will sound disrespectful to everyone, I’m saying it’s how I would probably perceive it. If I am at work, and I overhear a man referring to a woman who is above him in the hierarchy as “babe” when she brings him coffee, my innate reaction is that it sounds patronizing (especially if I don’t know that the two are dating).

                1. Non of This*

                  Maybe I was a bit intense too- I think your wording made me bristle, but I understand what you mean now!

              4. Specialk9*

                “It’s using feminism to police other women’s choices”? Uh, no, no, not at all, and what a bizarre assertion to make. It’s ‘using appropriate workplace norms to critique a man for undermining his girlfriend/sorta boss at work’, is what it is.

                Him calling her “babe” at work in front of coworkers is Not Cool, and as Alison says, he needs to knock it off ASAP. It doesn’t mean he’s a terrible person, but he is absolutely undermining her authority, and needs to stop.

        3. Laura K*

          After watching The Crown and Victoria, I wondered how on earth those marriages worked. On one hand, they were Queen and above everyone. On the other hand, both women promised to obey their husbands. How does that work?

          1. Emi.*

            The husband is the head of the family, but the woman is the neck, and she can turn the head any way she pleases.

          2. Specialk9*

            From the episodes I saw, the marriages didn’t seem to work *great*. Not the parenting presence. Seemed like such a hard life for so little true need or power, given the presence of an actual government alongside the monarchy.

    2. justcourt*

      I’m just going to throw my opinion in and say I don’t think the coffee thing is such a big deal. If it makes OP uncomfortable or if coworkers have started gossiping, I would stop. Otherwise, the office already knows they are in a relationship and getting coffee for someone is benign.

      Pet names, however, aren’t appropriate for the office. It diminishes OP’s authority and calls a lot more attention to their relationship and the intimacy of their relationship than the coffee.

      Providing feedback to a SO is just… insane. I’m surprised the company would even let it happen. While OP is in the relationship, she is too biased to give honest feedback. And the same thing goes if they break up, not too mention the possibility that OP could or could be accused of giving negative feedback as retaliation for the break up. Finally, OP’s SO isn’t even served by receiving biased feedback and honest feedback has the potential to negatively impact OP’s relationship.

      1. Ramona Flowers*

        Eh. I think there’s a difference between asking someone if they would like a coffee, and anticipating that they will want one because they are your partner.

        But re the feedback I didn’t read that as performance feedback necessarily – it might be more “this spout looks good but the handle needs adjusting to meet the client brief”.

        1. Anna*

          I think you’re right about the feedback. It sounds like it’s specific to projects and not about performance.

      2. doctor schmoctor*

        I agree with you. The coffee is (in my opinion) not a big deal. Everybody knows they’re dating, and it’s just coffee. Where I work, nobody will even notice, or care. At my office there’s a group who go outside for a smoke break every morning, and whoever is there first, gets coffee for the others.

        But the other issues, the pet names and OP providing feedback is not cool. That should definitely stop immediately.

      3. TL -*

        Grabbing coffee for someone once in while from a coffee shop you’re going to anyways isn’t a big deal – especially if they’ll pay you back in kind or in cash.

        Preparing and bringing someone a cup of coffee nearly everyday has an entirely different look.

            1. Kathleen_A*

              I mean, I can see that there might be times when the “they’re a couple” thing is important and pertinent – e.g., if one of them becomes sick or injured at work or something like that. But it should not be pertinent under ordinary working conditions, and so it would be in your best interests, OP, if you let the fact that you’re a couple go as far as possible in the background of your interactions with your coworkers.

          1. Falling Diphthong*

            Yeah, both for the coffee and the “Babe,” I think a one-off means very little. But the coupley routine of it bleeds into we’re doing this because we’re together and that’s not an italic label you want floating over you in the office.

          2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

            That and that it’s not the office culture. If it were a culture where people brought each other coffee, I might feel differently. But it doesn’t sound like that’s the case.

        1. J.*

          Yep, I agree with this 100%. My coworkers and I all work in one big room together, and pretty much any time one of us goes to grab coffee (or makes a pot), we ask if anyone else wants any. There’s a lot of Venmo-ing and taking turns picking up the next one in our office. I read the headline and was prepared to say, “Of course not, that’s silly!” But in this context, Alison’s advice is spot on. You’re not grabbing a cup of coffee for him like you would any other coworker, you’re preparing it for him daily without asking, which is definitely more of a relationshippy thing.

          For what it’s worth, the only experience I’ve seen where someone prepared another person’s coffee for them daily without asking in a professional context was an executive assistant scenario.

          1. SimonTheGreyWarden*

            My small department is 5 people, two women and three men. The other woman and I are very good friends and so some mornings on my way in to work, I stop and get her a hot chocolate when I get my morning coffee as a treat. We have a coffee machine at work but it always tastes burnt and she doesn’t like coffee anyway. In that instance, it isn’t inappropriate, but if my spouse worked here I would not do the same because it would feel too intimate, and that is not how I want to be viewed when I am in the professional sphere. I also would not ask/expect him to get me anything for the same reason.

        2. Lissa*

          Oooh, yes! I would probably think way less of it if she brought him a Starbucks on her way in, oddly. (though that’s still not great if she’s never doing it for other coworkers but doing it regularly for her boyfriend). But the making it herself and bringing it feels super domestic.

      4. Bagpuss*

        I think the coffee is potentially a biggish deal if it is happening a lot. I think it would be different if she was habitually making coffee for everyone (although I think that has its own, different drawbacks, particularly if you are young / female, particularly if it isn’t something male managers ever do), and I think if it only happens rarely, and if it is not uncommon for coworkers to make drinks for one another it is less of an issue, but I think that it is important that OP not only is professional, but is very clearly [i]seen[/i] to be acting professionally and not favouring her partner in comparison with other staff.

        I also think it is important that she reminds him to act appropriately and tp cut out the whole ‘babe’ address in the office.

      5. Roscoe*

        I’m with you on all counts. Coffee isn’t a big deal. I’ve had co-workers grab me pop from the kitchen before.
        Just like I wouldn’t see it as a big deal if they went to lunch together. HOwever, the other things are a bit more problematic. Babe as a one off thing probably wouldn’t be too bad, but it sounds like it slips out more than it should. And the feedback is very problematic.

        1. Jesca*

          I agree. The coffee, to me, isn’t a big thing. It is like a mild thing that one should just not do because of some low level optics. The nicknames and feedback stuff is a much bigger issue. The nicknames undermine her authority and the optics of bias are much bigger if she is providing feedback. That actually can create some big time issues in ways I don’t think a lot of people consider. For instance, maybe the husband is right one something, but a team believes he is not. She goes to bat for him and then everyone believes she is biased. This can totally undermine her much more than a cup of coffee can.

        2. neverjaunty*

          There’s a difference between co-workers grabbing coffee for one another, and somebody regularly fetching coffee for their SO. I mean, you don’t tell your co-workers “thanks, babe”, I assume. OP’s boyfriend does, and that’s because her fetching coffee is something they both perceive as relationship stuff.

          1. fposte*

            For me it’s the regularity, the singling him out, and the rank difference. Bringing him a coffee once on Black Friday? Sure. Bringing him coffee when you’re bringing Starbucks for everybody? Fine. Bringing him coffee when you’re both professors and his office is next door to yours? No problem.

            But she’s regularly bringing a treat for one subordinate and nobody else. Aside from being a questionable look for her, it’s got the possibility of problems for him, too. A co-worker who’s in bed with a boss, either figuratively or literally, is risking different treatment.

            1. Swan*

              I agree 100%. His coworkers might not trust him or might assume that he is receiving favorable treatment.

            2. bonkerballs*

              Whereas for me, the regularity is the thing that’s going to make it not noticeable to me. If it’s an everyday thing and something as innocuous and usual as people drinking coffee, that’s not pinging my radar at all.

              Also, not to nitpick, but I think calling the coffee from the break-room that everyone has access to “a treat” is beefing up the situation from what it actually is.

            3. Bette*

              If all she’s doing is pouring coffee that the company provides into a mug and giving it to him, I don’t think that can be called a ‘treat”. If she’s bringing him a $5 espresso drink every day, yes.

          2. myswtghst*

            This is where I land on it – the “regularly” part makes a big difference, as does the fact that she (presumably) doesn’t do this for anyone else in the office. I absolutely offer to grab my office mate a drink or snack if I run to the break room, but I don’t preemptively get her coffee every day.

          3. Luna*

            And it’s not just fetching coffee, it’s making the coffee. That to me is very different than picking up an extra coffee for someone when you’re stopping by the coffee shop. The only people I have ever seen making coffee for someone else in a work setting is admins making it for their boss. That’s not a comparison the OP should want, especially as a younger female manager.

        1. EddieSherbert*

          Yeah, I don’t think it’s a big deal either – but better safe than sorry, right? She wouldn’t have written in if she wasn’t worried about it coming across inappropriately.

          And it’s such a low-key thing – like there shouldn’t be repercussions if you stop, but there might be if you continue – I would just have stopped if I had any doubts. So I still say go with Alison’s advice.

      6. Lil Fidget*

        Yes, in my work even her light supervision would be a conflict of interest – because of perception if not reality. Think if OP and the boyfriend are living together (or even if not yet, but there’s the perception that it’s serious enough that either would be thinking about it) – their finances are likely to be co-mingled, so his success is financially remunerative for her too.

      7. myswtghst*

        Based on the info the OP provided, it sounds like the feedback situation is unlikely to change (given that it’s a small company), so I think the coffee situation has to change. Even if it isn’t perceived as a big deal, when you add it together with the terms of endearment and the need to provide feedback which is perceived as objective, it’s just one thing too many. Plus, it’s something pretty easy to change, since the only real impact is that boyfriend now has to get his own coffee.

        If this were a larger company where there was someone else who could provide feedback, I’d suggest OP follow up with their boss on making that happen, but since it sounds like it isn’t, nipping the coffee habit (and the terms of endearment) is likely the best, easiest option.

      8. Artemesia*

        No one every says ‘ooooo your dollar dance at your wedding is so tacky.’ No one is going to make it clear that waiting on your ‘babe’ in the office makes you look unprofessional. People don’t provide this sort of feedback and they particularly don’t provide it to the boss. That doesn’t mean they aren’t being undermined or thought ill of for the behavior or gossiped about. By the time you notice or get feedback it is far too late. Just don’t.

        1. Specialk9*

          Exactly. Few people are going to say negative things out loud. I had several manager who got really extra close with underlings of the opposite gender, and it was definitely gossiped about behind their backs, and it undermined both parties’ professional standard. I kept my head down and didn’t join in, and was uncomfortable with the assumptions and gendered/heteronormative stuff… But it definitely happens.

        2. Lissa*

          Yes. This reminds me of having to explain something to a male friend of mine. “Nobody’s ever thought I was creepy!” he said, a few years ago when creepy dudes started getting more talk/attention. I pointed out to him that if a woman was made uncomfortable by something he did, she would very probably not say anything, so he really shouldn’t take “nobody ever told me I was making them creeped out” as “I am totally above reproach.”

          It’s true for many things though. If you (general you) stubbornly refuse to think something might be a problem because “they should just tell me” you’re ignoring the reality of power dynamics, socialization, and people just plain not wanting to make a big deal of something that may not even be a big deal, but is enough to slightly lower their opinion of you.

      9. a-no*

        I really agree on this. I had a coworker that we used to make coffee for each other all the time, as we worked so closely I often knew if I needed one she probably did too – so maybe my perception is skewed. But I agree the issue isn’t the coffee – the issue is the pet name & feedback.
        I do wonder though if the coffee is making it seem more informal thus the pet names sneaking out at work? If that’s the case then perhaps building a professional barrier and stopping the coffee is best.
        Also is there anyone you can defer the feedback too? My coworker is seriously dating the owners nephew/grandson, so they have moved the decisions on her and her career to the office manager to keep the conflict of interest out.

    3. CorporateQueer*

      Eh, I’m inclined not to think that coffee is that big of a deal, especially if she’d making herself coffee at the same time. It probably depends on her office culture- if her coworkers grab each other stuff all the time, then I don’t think it’s a problem. (For example, I work in an office where folks will routinely bring each other cookies or whatnot from work parties if they know somebody can’t make it because they’re in meetings.) If she’s just making coffee for him (rather than for both of them) and making a special trip to go see him, then sure, but if she’s just dropping it off by his office while she heads by, that’s a small, nice thing.

      Pet names and supervising him are an entirely different story, though, and both could undermine and compromise her position, I think.

      1. Lil Fidget*

        That’s true, if OP is thinking that she doesn’t want to change her habit of bringing the BF coffee, I wonder if she could add in bringing coffee to other coworkers. I don’t actually love this because I don’t think “helpful coffee waitress” is a great look for a manager, but I do know that when I’m trying to change a habit, it’s easier to add something than take something away sometimes.

    4. hbc*

      Huh. The reason I would call it a big deal is the reason you call it a small deal: “a kind & cute gesture to one’s partner.” “Cute” is nearly the opposite of “respected” as far as the office goes, and a near-daily active reminder of romantic affiliation will quietly undercut the perception of OP as a professional.

      The tough thing about the coffee is that it actually could be a gesture between coworkers, so no one is going to speak up about it, but they probably are registering on some level that they’re witnessing a romantic gesture in the workplace.

      1. Lil Fidget*

        I think the issue is the message that it sends: “We’re in this together.” That’s exactly the problem if you’re two separate employees who are supposed to be working as equal parts of teams.

    5. accidental manager*

      #1: Maybe I’m on the grumpier less romantic side, but when I see frequent reminders that two people have a special relationship outside the office, that makes me more conscious of how that relationship may imbalance things in the workplace. Those reminders might include passing on updates from a sweetie that we should be getting through channels, referring to or addressing a co-worker as Mum, discussing shared vacation plans in front of us, or an example like the current coffee-delivery.

      It’s not like we don’t know the people are sweeties / family / housemates or whatever, but I like it better when they make it easy to forget.

      1. myswtghst*

        “It’s not like we don’t know the people are sweeties / family / housemates or whatever, but I like it better when they make it easy to forget.”

        Well said.

    6. alana*

      The coffee feels a little bit like a red herring here. The big problem is that they are dating and she is in a position to give feedback on his work even if he doesn’t report directly to her (I can’t tell if this means she’s in a grandboss-like position over him, or project management or another role where she’s working with his team). No matter how she acts toward him at the office, this is an issue that should be dealt with.

      If matters were different — if he had no contact with her otherwise at the office, or if they were coworkers on the same level — I’d feel much more “well, you do you” about it. (Personally, I’d look a bit askance at every day rather than as a nice surprise/treat once in awhile or a more equal thing. But if it didn’t have any actual effect on their work life it’s kind of none of my business.)

      1. LW #1*

        Definitely not in the “grandboss” kind of way – more in an adjacent departments way – I explain a bit further in my comment further down, but my role is largely with clients and project management vs. managing him or anyone in his department.

    7. LW #1*

      Letter writer of number one here!
      So interesting to see all the feedback and discussion! I feel like I should add some things to clarify that I didn’t think to contextualize in my original letter.

      My role is largely about managing aspects of a project and client relations moreso than it is the internal people – if someone has major performance issues or personel matter, I would bring that up to a different supervisor who would handle it. My role in providing feedback and direction is largely from a “the client prefers blue teapots” or “Let’s try a curvy handle because their teacups have curvy handles” kind of direction and feedback.

      I’ve been seeing a lot of debate about the method of the coffee being very important which I didn’t even consider! As far as the coffee making goes – I’m often the first one in the office who drinks coffee so I make a pot for the whole office and simply pour him an extra mug. I don’t disagree about the potential optics of always being the one to make coffee, but if I’m in first and I want coffee I’m not going to make just enough for myself, and in an office of 80% women I’m less concerned about that aspect of it.

      Now as far as the litmus test Allison mention goes – we actually do pass it, our current record of how long it takes a new employee to figure out we’re dating is 6 months, but the average is around 1-2 months, people routinely discuss what they did on the weekend etc. so it’s hard to keep completely quiet and you can only be so subtle when you’re both taking the same vacation days. This is often how the chorus of “awws” can come up – I mention Fergus and I went to a great new restaurant for dinner on Friday, I highly recommend it and sometimes the reaction is “awww” – we’re far from cutesy even in our personal lives, which is perhaps why people grasp onto even the most mundane detail about our lives and react with an awww. We’ve got a lot of romantics in our office. Though I will say over time it’s been subsiding, so I’m guessing this may die out eventually. But I guess this streak speaks to how many people actually notice that I get him coffee.

      As far as the terms of endearment go, often colleagues who are friendly use “hun” “darling” “my dear” “bebe” etc. well as personal nicknames, but I did ask him to be more mindful of not calling me “babe” in the office – it’s never an intentional thing, (I’d say more like accidentally calling your boss “mom” but significantly less embarrassing) and when other people are using the above terms it’s just easy to feel a bit comfortable with your language.

      As for concerns about potential breakup scenarios and the issues that would add given my role – he and I did discuss when we first started dating actually – we have a plan in place for if things were to go sour (before we even agreed to date each other there were many long talks about the pros and cons of pursuing it) – but I’m happy to report that it’s over two years strong, been living together for most of that and we’re not sick of each other yet!

      Thanks for all of the interesting thoughts here, I’ll keep trying to work through them all!

      1. Natalie*

        This is often how the chorus of “awws” can come up – I mention Fergus and I went to a great new restaurant for dinner on Friday, I highly recommend it and sometimes the reaction is “awww” –

        I’m not entirely sure why, but this just seems like such an odd reaction to what you’re describing as a completely mundane and frankly boring detail about someone’s relationship. Not saying you’re boring, but stuff like “we went to a restaurant” is just the last place I’d expect someone to “awww” unless they are an alien species that views humans similar to how I view baby animals.

        You mentioned that you’re young. Is there a big age or experience gap between you and your colleagues?

        1. bonkerballs*

          Eh, I’ve definitely known people like that. Some people who are particularly romantic – those who just love LOVE – can find romance in the smallest places.

          1. Natalie*

            But it’s a number of people (based on the “chorus of awwwws”). That feels way different than just one super romantic person.

        2. LW #1*

          I’m young, but I’m actually older than many of my colleagues – and overall the average age difference of those above me is less than 10 years.

          I think upon some reflection my colleagues might just like reassurance that we’re still happy together haha, it would be awkward and unfortunate for more than just him and I if we were to break up – so maybe it’s just a “aww – that’s good” versus your typical “aww so cute” ?

          1. Jenn*

            Is there a chance your colleagues think you want the “aww” reaction? Maybe from previous positive responses from you before you figured out it’s a problem?

            1. LW #1*

              That’s a good question! I’m not sure, I definitely don’t encourage it – but I could probably do more to actively discourage it.

          2. Natalie*

            Look, this isn’t the hill I want to die on, but it does sound like you’ve brought too much of your relatioship into the office. It shouldn’t be awkward and unfortunate if dating coworkers break up, because ideally the rest of the office isn’t really aware of their relationship on a daily/weekly basis. Your colleagues (especially the ones that are younger than you) shouldn’t need reassurance about an aspect of your private life.

            I appreciate it sounds like you’re in the kind of office where the personal and professional blur a lot, so I’m not saying you suck and made a big mistake. It can be hard, particularly when less experienced, to know how to keep your own spot in a rushing stream. But if I were you I would probably start pulling back on how much couple stuff ends up at the office. YMMV

            1. LW #1*

              Absolutely, and I see what you’re saying – I’m purely speculating so maybe that’s not what the “awws” are, I honestly have no idea. My comment about it being awkward would be more from a “people who know would feel bad about the situation” perspective vs. we’d make it awkward for everyone.

              It’s a pretty close bunch of people so I definitely mitigate any appearance of a relationship in the office (with the exception of the coffee obviously) and will continue to be aware of it, but like you said, our office is very personal/professional blur kind of space so it’s definitely going to be interesting moving forward.

              1. Oryx*

                I’m with Natalie on this. If people are going to feel bad about the situation if you break up, that indicates they are heavily invested and knowledgeable about your relationship, which is the issue.

                My company has a lot of couples, some who marry, some who break up. People I work very closely with are dating coworkers in other departments. I know literally nothing about their relationships because they don’t talk about them and they don’t even refer to the other person as their bf/gr in any kind of work context. One of the couples is so good about keeping it on the downlow, I’ve been convinced they’ve broken up more than once (they haven’t, they are still happily together).

                1. LW #1*

                  Like I said above, people have gone months and months without realizing we’re together, so it’s not that we’re mooning over each other in the office. I suppose for added context there’s a similar reaction/interest to SOs who don’t work in the office either… so maybe I just work in an overly personal office and as long as I remember that it’s way out of the norm it will help dictate my actions going forward.

                2. LW #1*

                  Like I said above, people have gone months and months without realizing we’re together, so we do keep it on the down low as much as we can. I suppose for added context there’s a similar interest in SOs who don’t work in the office and peoples lives in general…

                  Based on all these comments it really seems like I work in an overly personal office and as long as I remember that it’s way out of the norm I think it will help dictate my actions going forward.

          3. SimonTheGreyWarden*

            I sometimes use awww as in “aww, that’s nice” when people tell me something. It doesn’t really convey anything for me other than friendly interest. It isn’t necessarily about your relationship being too present, I think

        3. Elizabeth H.*

          Given OP describes herself as young but older than most of her more junior colleagues, it’s possible that the aww’ers are QUITE young and that if this is a somewhat informal workplace, they may not have developed a really strong sense of what are appropriate expressions about other people’s personal lives at work. In other words, that a bit of it is that it’s a maturity issue on *their* part. As such, as someone more senior it’s probably really useful for the letter writer to set a very clear example of professional behavior regarding personal interactions at work.

      2. Specialk9*

        Hm. I just think you’re talking way too much about dating your coworker, at work, with people who know your boyfriend.

        I worked in a conservative industry and didn’t want to undermine myself as a female manager (the term “boyfriend” feels very middle school to me), so I actually edited my boyfriends out of conversations with most people at work. “Oh, I went to a nice restaurant in X town, I’d never been before, it was nice” rather than “Oh, I went with my boyfriend on a date to a restaurant”. It’s not really necessary to go into the private details with most people.

  2. Junior Dev*

    OP 2, can you plan something nice for yourself the evening after your last day? A dinner and drinks out with friends, a massage, tickets to a movie or concert, a nice meal in thar you buy the ingredients for in advance? Having something fun to look forward to should help you get through the day, and if you do something social your friends or partner can help you commiserate over how awful the job was.

    1. All Hail Queen Sally*

      Yes. I vote for going out to dinner with friends to celebrate–something fun to look forward to. That’s what I did.

    2. Aphrodite*

      The massage is a fantastic idea! Then a celebratory dinner. It will keep your spirits very high on that last day and you’ll leave behind a positive impression (which might puzzle anyone who knew you were unhappy–and what fund knowledge that would be).

    3. Casuan*

      Yes, this!!
      Definitely resist the temptation to skip your last day, because future consequences. Be professional & look forward to awesome plans that evening! Whether the plans are a massage, the theatre, dinner with friends or curled up in a fave chair with a good book… it’ll be great knowing that you showed professionalism & survived such a toxic environment.

    4. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      I am fully in favor of converting the end of your last day to a “Treat Yo’self!” themed evening. Massage (or whatever helps you unwind and allow for self-care), and a celebration of your choosing with the people you most want to be there for good news. You can burn your employee manual if you don’t have to return it. I say don’t skip your last day, but go all out as soon as it’s over.

    5. Drew*

      I would focus the last day on making sure that every piece of the transition is as complete as you can make it. And if you’re really done and the boss recognizes that, there’s every chance that they might tell you to go ahead and head home early rather than keep you around twiddling your thumbs all day.

    6. Agent Diane*

      Maybe also bring in something for your colleagues who you are leaving. “hi all. It’s my last day so I’ve bought in some cakes/cookies/doughnuts.”

      If your about-to-be-former-colleagues are not sure what to say to you, it gives them an in.

      1. CheeryO*

        Yes, this is a really good idea! Such an easy thing to do to generate a little bit of extra goodwill, and like you said, it gives people the perfect opportunity to say a quick thanks and wish you good luck.

      2. neverjaunty*

        While this is a kind gesture, in a toxic workplace where the OP is so stressed as to want to skip her last day, it might not be the best thing for her to do.

        1. EddieSherbert*

          Yeah, I wouldn’t have wanted to bring treats to ToxicJob. BUT I did pick up something extra nice for MYSELF to enjoy during the last day.

          During my last lunchtime at ToxicJob, I ran out to get a milkshake from my fav local place and enjoyed that during the afternoon :)

      3. Elfie*

        Yes, in all of my jobs this has been the way it’s done whenever anyone has left. Sometimes we had a lot of treats!

      4. Cherith Ponsonby*

        Ooh, thank you for this idea – I’m working out my notice period at the moment (position eliminated for budgetary reasons) and the temptation to say a slightly politer version of “screw you guys, I’m going home” is increasing every day. And I actually like(d) my workplace! But I also like baking so this will at least give me something to look forward to.

    7. K.*

      At one previous company, it was SOP not to work a full last day (we were all exempt). My boss quit with notice, finished up, left at noon on her last day (and really, her morning was spent saying goodbye to people, as she’d finished her actual work in her notice period), and said she was going out to lunch “close to home” (her commute was terrible, which was part of why she was leaving).

      Not quite the same thing but when my team and I were laid off from that company a year later, I was able to go out to lunch with my mother, who was off work that day. It was nice to be treated to lunch by a familiar, loving face.

    8. R2D2*

      I second this idea! My partner took me out for a nice dinner and cocktails after my last day at OldJob and it was very special.

    9. amy l*

      When I left Old Job , I spent my last day gleefully pointing out (to myself – in my head) all the ” last times. “. Such as – this is the last time I have to dread coming into this building. This is the last time I have to use this smelly fridge. This is the last time I have to run this report and take it to Jerk Boss! Yea me!
      It was kinda silly and petty, but I enjoyed Last Day.

    10. einahpets*

      After giving notice at my last job, I scheduled a few celebratory / treat myself things for the days after my last day. It is a nice way to acknowledge big life changes.

  3. Engineer Girl*

    #2 Finish well and stay on the moral high ground. Don’t give them any ammo to lessen any references.
    You can make it the extra day – doing so makes you more professional than them.

    1. Vickorystix*

      +1 Op2 the last job I left was so very toxic (I still talk about it in therapy) , staying until my last day felt unbearable. I not only wanted to skip it, I wanted to leave in a blaze of glory by sending letters to the owners telling them exactly how I felt. Thankfully, a friend took the matches out of my hands and steered me away from burning my bridge. The job
      I left for (while incredible) is really hard and has a high turn over rate. A lot of people can’t pass probation, so they bring on new staff as temps that way if they don’t make it, they’re just released from their assignment vs being let go. I’m telling you all of this because as a result of the temp to hire, when I got hired on full time five months later, they contacted my references and previous employer as part of the onboarding process. You truly never know when you’ll need that reference. Wear you last day as a badge of honor. You survived and things will get better! Best of luck to you!

    2. JustaTech*

      Yes, take that high ground an hold it with both hands! I like to think of clothing as armor (sometimes), so if it were me I’d be dressed to the nines (professionally) and walk in and walk out with a bounce in my step.
      You’re off to something better!

  4. BePositive*

    #2 – it will be to your benefit to plow through your last day. A former coworker left like that regretted it and been applying to openings to get back in. It’s on his employment file so HR rejects his application. I only know about it as HR likes to ask current employees who worked with previous for feedback just in case the file note is warranted since the manager and previous HR has since moved on them selves.

    1. Jennifer*

      I can say that when someone at my work did that, everyone was pretty much laughing at them. Also, they left some extremely personal items behind like their plans for their boudoir photography business, and we discovered they’d been using the ID card printer to test their business card on it.

      I don’t think she was gonna get a great reference anyway, mind you, but she got made fun of for HOURS.

      1. JessaB*

        Sometimes people do it to themselves. I’m usually rock hard against people making fun of other people or laughing at them, but geez. Sometimes they really, honestly do it to themselves, even *I* (who you all know freaks out about that kinda thing,) am all for “okay if they’re that clueless, you can’t help but laugh.”

        And geez. If I know I am leaving a company I make extra special sure that everything to do with me is either brought home (or emailed to my personal address if permitted,) deleted or archived depending on the company, or passed on to the next person. I get when someone quits in a necessary right now manner, things might get missed, or if they’re dismissed. But geez, if you know you’re leaving make a tick list of stuff.

      2. fposte*

        Though on the other hand I think it’s perfectly legit not to care if people you’re not going to be working with again laugh at you when you’re gone. I’m probably never going to know, and even if I did, they’re people I disliked and wanted to get away from, so I’m not likely to be deeply bruised by a second-hand report of a giggle.

    2. Pharmgirl88*

      Yes, please work out your notice! I had a coworker leave without notice last month. She didn’t screw over the company, just our team. She was a great worker, and now that’s been tainted by how she left. I wasn’t her manager but did have oversight over her work – while I would have been happy to give her a great reference prior to this, I’m not longer willing to provide even a neutral one.

      1. Lynca*

        100% this. My sister just had a co-worker walk out mid shift last week. No notice, just walked out the door. This has officially ruined how they viewed her because it caused them to have to re-schedule everyone for the rest of the week and institute mandatory double shifts.

        It sabotaged any good reference she would get for future jobs from this employer. It’s absolutely not worth it.

    3. Kathleen_A*

      I agree – even thinking about 8 additional hours probably feels awful, but think of how great it will be once you’ve shaken the dust of that place off your feet forever.

      I had a colleague leave with no notice last year – as in, he came in late night, cleaned out his office, collected a bunch of files, and then first thing the next morning, he turned in his notice, “effective immediately.” I to this day don’t understand why. He was unhappy, and he had reason to be unhappy, but what he had were reasons to either look for another job *or* at the very least, give his two weeks’ notice. He hasn’t found a good job yet, at least not as far as I’ve heard.

      Now, what the OP is planning isn’t nearly as bad as that, and she already has another job (yaaaaay!), but if you don’t work out your notice, you’ll be conceding a little bit of professionalism to this toxic place. Don’t give the toxic people that satisfaction. Work out your notice, and leave with your head held high!

      1. LKW*

        Agree. Also I’ve found that that last day is incredibly freeing. Everyone always has that S**t eating grin that screams “I. Am. Outta. HERE!” and it is a delicious feeling especially when leaving someplace toxic or toxic-adjacent.

        Do right by your coworkers and let everyone be jealous.

        1. Lil Fidget*

          Act out that final scene in “The Breakfast Club” – load up “don’t you (forget about me) on your ipod and walk out with a fist pump.

  5. All Hail Queen Sally*

    OP’s 3 & 4: So sorry this has happened to each of you. I hope things work out for you.

    1. CheerfulPM*


      Also, OP4 – I don’t know the details of your job, but you might be able to file for unemployment! I was fired in a similar manner at one point and I was able to get unemployment since it was determined to be no fault of my own.
      When filling out the unemployment paperwork I reiterated several times that there had not been any indication that my work was not up to expectations – in fact I had received a bonus three weeks prior. (My work was fine, rumor was that the project was overdue before I had even started and they needed a scapegoat.) You might be able to make a case that this was your first job out of school and you weren’t given time or training to come up to speed.

      1. AMPG*

        Yes, definitely file for unemployment. I lost a job after only 2 months and was on a PIP and everything, and still qualified for benefits.

    2. Cyberspace Hamster*

      This. Op #4 especially that really sucks – where I live (NZ) I believe it would actually be illegal unless you were less than 90 days in and had explicitly signed a contract with a trial period. Out of the blue firing is only allowed in cases of severe misconduct. For performance issues they have to at least give you warning and a chance to improve.

      1. Joanne*

        That’s really interesting! I’m near Washington DC and 99% of jobs here are either government or government contracting.
        The company I was with was the subcontractor, so whatever position the prime contracting company didn’t fill was farmed out to other contracting companies. Also, because it’s government I signed an NDA but I don’t think there was a contract with a trial period.
        Looking back, I was doing a lot of “busywork” – small projects that had been pushed to the side and needed someone to complete, and being the youngest one in the office really didn’t help as well.

  6. Engineer Girl*

    #5 – Many performance reviews are considered company proprietary information. Especially so if it has data on how they do evaluations.
    They shouldn’t be asking for reviews. That’s what references are for.

    1. Searching*

      Exactly. Our evals were based on how well we achieved our SMART goals, which included results in reaching growth & profitability targets, market share goals, expense ratios, etc. Definitely confidential/proprietary stuff.

    2. Rachel 2: Electric Boogaloo*

      This. Performance reviews were considered confidential information at every company where I’ve ever worked. Most of them included (in the criteria and/or the comments) very specific information on procedures, clients, etc. as it related to my performance – not the kind of thing to be shared with another company.

    3. justcourt*

      Some states have laws requiring employers to give employees a copy of their records for inspection, so OP can check his/her company’s policies and state law.

      I have copies of all my performance reviews. I’ve never been asked for a copy of them for a job search. But I have found them very helpful to track my own performance and to talk about strengths and weaknesses during interviews.

      1. Still Here*

        Always good practice to save copies of performance reviews for yourself. Helps when playing catch-up when updating your resume. And can be invaluable if you are fired for non-existent performance issues.

        If your company’s reviews are not in a portable format (e.g. MS Word) you can usually “print” them to a PDF, XPS, or similar file.

      2. JessaB*

        Yes but being permitted to own your own copy is not the same as being allowed to show it to other people. Confidentiality agreements are almost always written to outlast employment. I’ve never been privy to confidential information or business secrets of any impact that didn’t also come with an agreement that would not permit me to give a copy to someone else, even if I were allowed to have my own copy. Having a copy outside the office does not necessarily follow that the person can just let anyone have it.

        1. justcourt*

          NDAs/confidentiality agreements might govern who can view employment records, but its worth looking into whether or not performance reviews are cover by any agreement and whether a provision preventing employees/former employees from sharing a review is enforceable.

      3. Rusty Shackelford*

        Yes, and there are laws about being able to access your own medical records too, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to share them with anybody else.

        1. SarahTheEntwife*

          Sure, but you’re generally *allowed* to if you want to. HIPPA just prevents medical staff from sharing your records.

          1. neverjaunty*

            But it’d still be unusual and sketchy for an interviewer to ask about them.

            And while you do have a legal right in many states to your file, that doesn’t mean you’d have it on hand immediately when you’re interviewed – companies in my state have 30 days to hand it over.

            1. Natalie*

              Or a right to view it but not copy. My state only gives you a right to a copy if you are no longer an employee.

          2. Rusty Shackelford*

            I’m just saying, the fact that I can access any particular records is irrelevant. It doesn’t mean it’s okay for anyone else to request access.

          3. Rachel 2: Electric Boogaloo*

            And I could see companies using that as a tactic to get around HIPPA – having you request your medical records and then “voluntarily” providing them to the company.

            1. Natalie*

              It doesn’t get them around the ADA, though, which has fairly strict limits on when employers can request medical records or medical examinations.

    4. Ramona Flowers*

      I was thinking this too. There might be strategic plans or future objectives that aren’t public yet.

    5. Wednesday of this week*

      My first thought when I saw that was how easy it would be for applicants to fake this, too. At my last job, performance reviews were simple Word documents in a very basic format. If someone wanted to edit theirs after receiving it, or even produce a completely fraudulent one, there was nothing stopping them. Phone calls seem so much more useful.

    6. elledubcee*

      Thank you for this. I am the person who sent in this question. And that was my first thought when I saw them ask for an evaluation on the application. Don’t they just need to contact my references? It was really strange.

      1. Where's the Le-Toose?*

        I’ve been a manager for 8 years in a state agency and the only time we ever review someone’s performance evaluations is when (1) they are a lateral transfer from another state agency and (2) we’re going to extend an offer and want to double check that there are no red flags in the person’s file. For any private sector or other public employee applicants who don’t work for the state, we rely on references only.

        Asking for a copy of a performance evaluation pre-interview is so strange to me that it’s a red flag regarding this company.

        Best of luck to you!

  7. Espeon*

    #2 – Go in, put your feet up (literally or figuratively – your choice!) and relish people you hate having to pay you for doing fuck-all. What are they going to do? Fire you? ;)

    1. Drew*

      I thought about doing this when I left an extremely toxic job (and, in fact, I ended up giving them two extra days because they were mishandling the transition so badly). I could not WAIT to be out of that place, never to return.

      Guess where I’m working now, in a role that is far less toxic and pays a whole lot better. And guess where I probably wouldn’t be working if I had scorched the earth during those extra couple of days.

    2. Stan*

      On my last day, I thoroughly wiped down my office and computer and then played approximately 7 hours of Candy Crush. It wasn’t terribly exciting, but it was satisfying knowing that I maintained my integrity (even when toxic job didn’t).

      1. EddieSherbert*

        +1 my last day definitely was not actually productive. A lot of chatting with folks I actually liked there, and I also saved all the cleaning I needed (well, someone else probably would have done it, but it’s easy busy work) for that day.

      2. Ama*

        I always use my last days to go over my work computer with a fine tooth comb and make sure any personal files I might have saved to it got deleted, clear my browser history and password cookies, etc.. I know IT is usually supposed to wipe the machine when I turn it back in but I’ve been handed a previously owned work laptop and found my predecessor’s files on it before.

      3. periwinkle*

        I always take home all personal items and saved/deleted personal files the week before leaving so that on the final day, only a final spot check is necessary.

        My last day at the job I loathed was a Friday, and I wound up staying a little late to finish handwriting the time sheets for all 350 employees (as I had to do every single Friday) because it was 2009 and computers apparently hadn’t been invented yet. For about half of the employees, the time sheets were on huge pinfeed paper with two carbons; I had to take them apart, put one set into an envelope for the payroll courier, file one carbon set in a cabinet where it would never be seen again, and shred the other carbon.

        This time, I took home that third carbon, lit the BBQ grill, and watched them burn down to ashes. So satisfying. (yes, I made sure they were completely destroyed to protect the PII, certainly more than my employer protected it)

  8. Casuan*

    OP3: Talk with your colleagues before you talk with your manager. As Alison said, numbers matter. You don’t want to team up on your manager although you should have pertinent facts for her, such as how many of your colleagues believed the lunch would be chargeable because the event was called a “team lunch.” If your manager refuses your request then you can team up on HR & you’ll already know which of your colleagues are willing to help with this.
    Good luck!

  9. More malware*

    Alison, no other site gives me as much trouble with ads as yours. I really don’t understand what the issue is. I’m sorry to have to do this, but I’ve reported your site for malware, and I will continue to report you. Your advice is good, but the spyware and viruses are not. I genuinely do not understand why this is such a problem for you.

    1. Anon for Ad Commenting*

      Sorry this site gives you problems, More malware. I access Ask A Manager via PC, tablet and mobile and I’ve never had any problems with malware or any other issues related to the ads.

      1. Engineer Girl*

        Well I’ve had numerous redirects on my mobile. I know it is coming through the ads. Maybe it’s time for a new ad company.

          1. TL -*

            Yeah, I can’t read the comments on my phone anymore (which stinks, because this is my favorite way to spend five minute waiting periods.)

              1. Polar Bear don't care*

                Me too. I know we’re supposed to submit the URL of the offending ad but I’m not staying on those tabs one second longer than I have to – don’t trust them. Happens on my Android phone frequently.

              2. Natalie*

                There are ad blocking options for smart phones, both utility apps and stand alone browsers! Worth checking out what’s available for your specific device.

          2. fposte*

            I use Lionz to block the ads on my iOS devices (thanks, Ramona Flowers!) and it works beautifully.

        1. Broadcastlady*

          Same. Usually within 15 seconds of pulling up the page on mobile, I get redirected to a site claiming I’ve won something.

      2. a*

        I use an adblocker on my laptop. Whenever I go to the site on mobile (with no adblock), I get redirected to scam sites.

        1. a*

          (Which upsets me, because I usually want to support websites that I visit regularly by giving them ad revenue, but it’s just not feasible with AAM.)

    2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      Alison often encourages folks who are having persistent problems with the ads, and who have reported the issue to her, to use AdBlock or a similar tool. I use it and find it works effectively to limit the malware (I have not had problems with viruses, but I have had all sorts of problems where the site suddenly converts into some scammy phishing site). Perhaps it will help until the issue is resolved?

      1. Anon for Ad Commenting*

        I’ve had redirects from a popular news site. When I researched the issue, the problem seemed to be within the adverts’ coding, as opposed to the site itself. Unfortunately, there isn’t any real or permanent fix that the user can do for that problem. Also I tend to keep my browser settings on high alert to limit unauthorized downloads and such and probably it helps that I’m the only one to access my devices.
        Whatever the origin, malware sucks.

        1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          Totally fair! This is why I promote using an ad-blocker, though. At least from my end, it’s been really effective at limiting the malware and other ad-driven-coding problems that More malware may be experiencing for this site, specifically.

      2. Kendra*

        I use AdBlock and a mobile browser that limits ads and I have never had a problem with the site. The mobile browser is called Brave, if anyone is having problems with their phone or tablet.

      3. adblockinganon*

        I’ve had much better luck with not getting redirects or ads covering up text once I moved to an adblocker. The notification in the top right says it’s currently blocking 130 ads on this page. O_o

      4. Snow*

        I have adblocker and this site is so infested with ads, it doesn’t even block all of them! It’s become a reason I’ve stopped coming so frequently

    3. More malware*

      I access the site through my phone and get tons of redirects. I’m really not sure why Alison is so unwilling to switch to an ethical advertising system.

      1. Anon for Ad Commenting*

        Thankfully Alison cares about comments about the AAM adverts, which is more than I can say about the news site where I get all the redirects!
        What I don’t understand is how everyone has different ad experiences from the same site…?

      2. Don't Want To Give My Name Out Either*

        I love this site and find it very valuable, but I get redirected to spam/scam sites every few minutes on my mobile FROM THIS SITE ONLY. I’ve never reported it though.

        Alison, I clear my cache and history regularly on my iPhone and keep everything up to date. But this has been happening for 1 to 2 years — on your site only. It’s so frustrating I just give up reading it sometimes. Please do something about this.

        1. a-no*

          I switched to private browsing on my iPhone and it stopped the issue for me. May work for you!

          but my work computer actually blocks a bunch of pages due to the ads on AAM which I’d never seen before

    4. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Try clearing your cache and cookies; that may solve it. They’ve actually solved a huge portion of the problem in the last 24 hours, but I know it hasn’t been solved for everyone. You can certainly install a free ad blocker with my blessing.

      This is hitting the whole industry right now. Here’s an article about how widespread it is and why it’s proving so hard to eliminate:

      1. Anon for Ad Commenting*

        Alison, thank you for the link. Also thank you for taking the time to respond & look into website comments. It’s been a few weeks since I researched the issue I was having & I was frustrated to find very little about it. I’m glad to know it isn’t just me or an undetected virus. Clearing the cache & cookies should help in the short term. Tho once you start to think you’ve finally gotten rid of the issues, you get hit again.

      2. Don't Want To Give My Name Out Either*

        I clear mine every day, and these redirects are only happening on your site, not any of the dozens of sites I visit each day.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          In that case, the best thing I can suggest is an ad blocker. I’m talking to my ad network literally every day about this and they’ve made some good progress, but I know it’s still happening to some people — and like the article above notes, it’s happening all over the place and proving hard even for major sites to stop. It’s incredibly frustrating to me, and I hope you’ll consider an ad blocker so you can read the site in peace.

          1. More Malware*

            Why aren’t you switching to an ad network that doesn’t do this? Wouldn’t that make more sense? People will turn off ad block and you’ll make more in the long run, so why not?

            “Turn on adblock” is a very poor solution to a consistent problem with your site. Can you please explain why you’re not fixing it, because I’m super confused.

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              My ad network has a dedicated team working on it, but it’s been pretty intractable. Please read the article above for an explanation of what’s going on and that it’s not just this site or this ad network.

              Meanwhile, if you want to discuss this further, please bring it up in Friday’s open thread where it won’t take over an unrelated post. Thank you!

              1. Snow*

                The problem is that it’s not something that is just recently occurring. As a long time reader and frequent commenter (or used to be), this has been a continual problem before the problems noted in the article. If your team can’t fix it, time to get a new team who can

        2. The Ads Suck*

          Yup. It’s a constant problem here but not one of the many other sites I use ever has an issue like this. I’m pretty confident at this point that it’s largely down to the choice of ad networks. I suppose Alison simply makes a lot more money using this dreadful one than going with an ethical model, sadly.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            My ad network is well regarded and has a dedicated team working on this issue. Most ad networks all have the same problems. Read the article above and you’ll see that it’s widespread. Many people here aren’t having issues with ads on the site at all, but some are. I urge you to please use an ad blocker if it’s a problem for you.

            I’m going to ask that further ad reports go through the “report an ad” form above the comment box so that this doesn’t take over the post (or you’re welcome to discuss this on Friday’s open thread if you want to).

            1. More Malware*

              No, it’s not all sites. It’s just yours. Please don’t insinuate we’re exaggerating the problem just because some people aren’t getting the redirects. It’s clear you’re not going to do anything differently, so much like a job with a manager who refuses to improve the company, I have to bow out now.

              1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                Dude, read the article above, which clearly explains it’s not just my site. I didn’t make up a Fast Company article. And yes, I do not have the power to single-handedly eliminate a problem that is plaguing the whole industry.

                And again, this is off-topic from the post so please respect my request that you save it for the open thread or feel free to email me directly.

                1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  Hey, please respect my request to save this for the open thread. I’ve removed comments that came in after that request (not because I’m trying to squelch discussion of this — you’re welcome to raise it on the open thread — but because I try to keep comments on-topic for the post, and this is what I’ve done with most other off-topic discussions that go on this long).

                2. Please Do Something About This Other Than Saying Someone Is Working On it*

                  But it IS just your site for some of us, Alison. It happens every time I visit your site but never any other site. In fact, the other week I had to do a ton of online verification to get proper attribution for sources. I visited 257 websites on my iPhone. – 257 – That’s the actual number because I had a list of them, plus I kept all of them open until I was done and tapped the spot on my phone where it asked if I wanted to close all 257 tabs. While many of the websites were from reputable companies (New York Times, Washington Post, etc.), many were questionable or amateur. All had ads and such. NONE gave me the problems your site does *every single time I visit it* on my iPhone.

                  I clear my cache and history every time I exit Safari. I keep my iPhone updated and with all the security protocols. These redirect-to-scams have only happened with Ask A Manager for a couple of years now. I wish you would listen to us.

                3. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  I AM listening. I understand your frustration because I share it. In fact, as the person most centrally affected by it, I am probably more frustrated by this than anyone else. But I don’t have the power to stop it, and it’s affecting many different sites and many different ad networks (and that’s true regardless of whether it’s only happening to you here; again, there’s been lots of news coverage of this being a widespread problem). If you want to continue to discuss this, you’re welcome to do it on the open thread or by emailing me directly.

              2. JessaB*

                I think you’ve misread what Alison said. She wasn’t saying that her’s wasn’t the only site you personally had problems with, but that this is an industry wide problem happening to OTHER bloggers with other sites across more than one advert network. And ad blockers do work. And they’re free and work on every browser I’ve ever tried. And Alison has made it clear that she doesn’t ask you not to use one. You don’t get one of those awful pop ups that say “disable that advert blocker.”

  10. PumpkinSpiceForever*

    OP2: in my it’s experience, there’s a very good chance that you wouldnt end up working the entire day, anyway. You might end up only having to put in a few hours max before they show you the door. After all, it’s your last day – in all likelihood, there’s not much left for you to do, anyway.

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      That’s what happened to me. I went in and basically spent the whole day saying goodbye to people and packing up. It was a Friday in the summer (so notoriously slow for us anyway), I couldn’t attend any meetings, and all my projects had been wrapped up. So I packed up a box and left at 2pm. This was pretty typical for people leaving on good terms.

    2. Judy (since 2010)*

      Yes, usually IT wants your laptop around 2pm, so they have time to work with it before leaving, and they don’t want to stay late on a Friday.

      Finalize your knowledge transfer, say goodbye to some people, go out for lunch and turn in your computer/badge/keys.

    3. Corky's wife Bonnie*

      Exactly. You said you already completed completed the things on your checklist, so you really won’t have much to do that day. Make an extra long coffee, say goodbye to your co-workers, clean up your desk area, and they will probably send you home or you can just say, “I wrapped everything up before lunch so I’ll leave now if that’s okay.”

    4. SanDiegoSmith82*

      I left a toxic job back in June of 2017 and was hoping that they’d send me home early- I didn’t want to come in- and actually wanted to use all of the sick days I had left because they were use it or lose it – but- went in.

      Not only did I not leave early- if I’d been hourly and not salary- i would have ended up with OT – these coworkers were some of the densest people I’ve ever worked with- the “Head BIC” was happy to see me go because it allowed her to be the office darling again. They planned a lunch for my departure- a kind gesture- except she purposely chose my least favorite place, and ordered everything with avocado (I’m allergic). I really only came in for final paperwork, a little training for my replacement, and my final check. The OT was because our independent HR person didn’t show up until 5 min before closing, and my final check was set up for direct deposit 3 days after my final day (and was only half of what it was supposed to be. Old boss had to cut a manual check once I told her, and had it immediately ready for pick up- totally not convenient when one is packing up their entire house and loading it for a major move.) It was quite possibly one of the worst last days ever- and had the extra fun of the final check fiasco. But- I survived. Awkwardness, cattiness and all.

      I planned a nice evening out with my husband (it was his last day at his terrible job as well, since we were relocating for my new position) and it made it all better in the end. I’m not saying I will ever need this job as a reference, but I felt accomplished knowing I’d survived- and that I stuck it to the witches without ever letting them see me sweat. Now that was satisfactory.

  11. Faintlymacabre*

    I once had to stay for the entire 12 hour shift of my last day with nothing to do. Even my supervisors had left, though someone should have stayed to get my security pass. But since the job required a warm body to be there, just in case… I got paid for listening to podcasts and napping in a storage room. I hated that job, but actually look on my last day with some fondness! Yes, it would be nice to just slip away unnoticed, but better in the long run to meet your obligation. So with or without work, getting sent home or not, just go!

  12. Bibliovore*

    OP 2,
    One of my favorite phrases to keep me doing something that I dread.
    I can do anything for twelve hours that would abhor me if I had to do it for a lifetime. You’ve got this. Just show up. Clock the hours, don’t look back.

    1. Lora*

      I keep thinking of the line in Point of No Return where Anne Bancroft tells Bridget Fonda, “just smile a little smile and say something, oh it doesn’t matter what, say something like…’I never did mind about the little things’.”

      On my last days at crummy jobs, I just smile happily and think about the fun I’m going to have at my new job. Sometimes people tell me not to look so overjoyed, but this isn’t really a problem.

    2. Ophelia*

      It always reminds me of turning the crank in the bunker on Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt: You can do anything for 10 seconds (extrapolate as necessary).

  13. Oilpress*

    OP#1: How annoying would it be to receive job feedback from your significant other? I can’t see this being a good situation long-term.

    1. Tuesday Next*

      1. Your company shouldn’t have promoted you into a position where you have influence over your partner’s job.
      2. If I were your partner’s co-worker I would be really uncomfortable about my chances of getting equal treatment and fair evaluation of my performance.

      1. teclatrans*

        As I think about it, I am even more opposed than I was at first (which was very, very opposed). This is a daily demonstration of bestowing a special favor on one person. Sure, it’s not a plum assignment or lack of censure after a screwup, but it is still a blatant demonstration of favoritism, understandable though it may be through a relationship lens.

        If this relationship developed under your coworkers’ gaze, they probably feel a bit proprietary and like they get to bask in the glow of you having found each other. Awwww! But nowntgat you are management, the office should not be involved in your relationship.

        1. JessaB*

          Yeh, it’s what they used to call the “near occasion of sin,” for all I know the Catholic Church still calls it that. The point is not that anything is being done that’s wrong. That particular manager may actually be able to compartmentalise and be 100% fair. That’s not the point. A good lot of managers could not be, or wouldn’t even realise that they were subtly being unfair. I hate jargon but this is about optics not reality. The optics of being asked to give feedback to your significant other where there are any options not to, and where everyone knows you’re an item, are lousy. Doesn’t matter if you’re perfect if everyone looking at you sees dirt in the lens they’re looking through.

          1. neverjaunty*

            Well, and it isn’t just optics; the OP and her boyfriend ARE indulging in treating each other like SOs during working hours.

  14. Jwal*

    How would a company evaluate whether a performance review was genuine without tipping off that employer? We do ours as a word document, so it would be easy to edit it before sending to the company – or even just creating something official-looking from scratch.

    I’d never do that, obviously, but for someone that hadn’t been a good employee then that might be something they’d consider doing.

    1. Scott*

      I’m assuming this kind of fraud could easily be missed, but if it’s a past employer, not the current employer, they could catch you at the reference stage. Also, like lying on a resume, if they figure it out down the line either through mutual contacts or maybe even the former manager comes to work for the prospective company, this could easily be something you could be fired for. Like the post yesterday about paying someone for references, you’ll always be looking over your shoulder, wondering if they ever find out. Probably not worth it.

  15. Catabodua*

    You know that face that Chrissy Teigen made at the Oscars at Stacey Dash? I was making that face when I read letter #1.

    Nicities in a relationship don’t belong at work. I have to admit that bringing him coffee is very 50s secretary to me, and not managerial.

    1. o.b.*

      I don’t know that I agree with your last sentence. I’ve had plenty of managers bring me coffee, or offer to bring me coffee, or bring other coworkers coffee, and it was friendly and didn’t diminish their authority. Rather than secretary/manager, I would put it as very personal, and not professional.

      1. Anna*

        Yeah. It’s interesting how many people are so opposed to this perception of sexism by indulging in sexism. It’s not appropriate because it underlines their personal relationship and still would if it was the OP’s boyfriend bringing HER coffee rather than her bringing it to him.

      2. Catabodua*

        Sure, but were the managers bringing you coffee daily, while in a dating relationship with you? Did you respond by saying “thanks babe”?

        There’s a world of difference between occasionally my managers do this nice thing for me vs I’m going to dote on my boyfriend while we work together. This is especially problematic to me because she’s in a superior position, evaluates his work, and isn’t doing this for any other employee. Favoritism can get ugly in unexpected ways.

        I’m wondering if this is an age or generational thing. As a little past middle aged woman the idea of bringing someone coffee at work is just … I don’t know what word to use. Yuck.

  16. Bagpuss*

    I think the coffee is potentially a biggish deal if it is happening a lot. I think it would be different if she was habitually making coffee for everyone (although I think that has its own, different drawbacks, particularly if you are young / female, particularly if it isn’t something male managers ever do), and I think if it only happens rarely, and if it is not uncommon for coworkers to make drinks for one another it is less of an issue, but I think that it is important that OP not only is professional, but is very clearly seen to be acting professionally and not favouring her partner in comparison with other staff.

    I also think it is important that she reminds him to act appropriately and tp cut out the whole ‘babe’ address in the office.

  17. Red Reader*

    I can’t help thinking that if your coworkers have occasion to “regularly” commend you on the professional nature of how you handle your relationship in the office, then you’re probably not handling it in a professional enough manner.

    1. MashaKasha*

      No kidding. My mom and dad worked at the same manufacturing plant their entire professional lives. They met through work when they were in their 20s, got married a few months later, and continued to work there until their retirement. Dad managed a large group of 50-70, mom a small group of 5 people. It was a small town where everyone knew everybody else’s business… Most of the people at the plant did not know that mom and dad were husband and wife. That’s how you keep it professional, kids.

    2. Mints*

      Ha, seriously. My CEO is married to a manager and I’d heard her say “Tom and I” or “My husband Tom” and it was like months later I realized she had the same last name as Tom the other manager. If they didn’t have the same last name I’m not sure I’d know at this point two years later

    3. Delphine*

      Yep, I worked in a small office of less than fifteen people, where two people were married. They were so good at keeping things professional that even when I realized they had a baby, I honestly assumed for a while that maybe they had some sort of unorthodox arrangement and just decided to share a kid. It was almost beyond comprehension that they were married and had been for years.

    4. AKchic*


      My mom and I work together. Unless you look at us, you’d never know we are related. When we are at work we are not family at all. We are just two people working together. She would love to mother me but I set up boundaries from the get-go and I enforce them. She took her cues from me. She is generally really good about work-boundaries in general, but once in a while the mothering wants to slip in so I have to reinforce it.

      Now, our outside-the-office life… *sigh* don’t get me started on that. The walls I’ve had to put up there she hates too.

  18. Cordoba*

    I (male) work at a site with ~500 people, one of whom is my girlfriend (female).

    Due to different jobs I can go out for lunch every day and she usually cannot. On the way back from lunch we will often stop for coffee, and while I’m there I will get her favorite coffee and bring it back to her. People then obviously see me transporting it to her desk and treating her in a way that is different from other colleagues.

    I don’t feel like I’m doing anything wrong, and if anybody told me that it was inappropriate for me to drop a cup of coffee at her desk a few times a week I would laugh in their face.

    I also have a good friend who works at the same site. Not just a work friend, but a pre-existing life-long friend. I’ll bring him coffee too if he can’t make it out to lunch. Again, I am treating him different than the rest of the office. Does the fact that we’re pals instead of a couple make this any better?

    1. TL -*

      Are you managing them or their work? Because the problem isn’t actually the coffee; it’s what the coffee implies about the management decisions.

    2. KellyK*

      If you’re on the same level as your girlfriend and your friend in the company hierarchy, I don’t think it’s a big deal. The problem here is that the OP is a manager, and while she doesn’t supervise her boyfriend, she does provide feedback on his work. Ideally, things would be structured so that she has no influence on his job, and nobody would care if she got him coffee, but as long as she does have that influence, she needs to avoid the appearance of favoritism.

    3. grace*

      This is where I fall, TBH. The coffee doesn’t bother me — the evaluating, even tangentially, does. It feels like having your cake and eating it too, and while I encourage you to ask him to stop with ‘babe’ (though trust me, I get how easy a habit that is to fall into!) and to keep bringing him coffee if you want to, I also encourage you to ask to be removed from evaluating him.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        Imagine if the dating people worked in the same building, but for different companies. Then the coffee from outside–and even “thanks babe” in front of the bringee’s coworkers, but not the bringer’s–feels more like when your spouse drops off the lunch you forgot.

        Though even in that case, if you regularly pop into the shared kitchen to make a cup of coffee for “Babe” and then walk it over to them, it feels a lot weirder. (As Guacamole Bob says, it’s personal fluffing in a way bringing back coffee from your Starbucks run isn’t.) Like while at work thinking about teapots, you always pause to consider the possible desires of your SO over in llama macrame LLC on the north side, and stop to bring them a little something.

      2. Mints*

        Yeah, it’s all about the perception of bias, and that’s not an issue in what you describe. I’ve considered applying at huge companies where friends work (also where my boyfriend works) but they’re all engineers and I’m not, so it’d be more like work neighbors than coworkers. But even totally platonic favoritism between managers and subordinates is inappropriate

    4. Millennial Lawyer*

      I think it’s a different context – neither of you are in management and it’s a much bigger company, and it sounds like you’re both in different roles so that your work is in no way impacted by the other.

      1. Guacamole Bob*


        There’s something about the fact that it’s a 25-person company and she’s taking him coffee from the kitchen that makes it weird, where what you’re describing isn’t (I’m picturing you stopping by her desk in a different part of the building with a takeout cup). Like, how far would the boyfriend have to walk to get his own coffee from the kitchen in this scenario? 15 or 20 yards? The fact that it’s saving him such a trivial amount of effort puts the emphasis on the “I’m thinking about how to do nice things for my boyfriend” aspect, or as someone said above, “tending to her man”. Whereas bringing coffee back from a trip out of the building is more of a logistical help, something that friends and coworkers are more likely to do for each other in a variety of contexts, and therefore it feels less like it’s a problematically relationshippy thing.

        1. bb-great*

          Yes, this. It seems nitpicky but it’s not really about the coffee, it’s about everything around it and how it looks. It’s more domestic and lovey-dovey to make him a coffee and to do it every day, and in such a small company everyone observes this (and comments on it!). It brings your relationship into the workplace and makes it known to everyone. Whereas just dropping off a coffee you picked up while you were stopping there anyway isn’t nearly as…affectionate-seeming? And in such a big company won’t affect how you’re perceived nearly as much.

      1. Cordoba*

        There are many comments on this page where people are saying that it is not OK to treat a co-worker differently/better because you have a personal outside-work relationship with them.

        My situation is an example of treating two co-workers differently because of outside-work relationships, one of which is platonic and one of which is romantic.

        My comment was primarily an attempt to discern the degree to which this behavior in a “friend” relationship is perceived differently than the same behavior in a “dating” relationship.

        1. Someone else*

          Your scenario as described does not contain the power imbalance of OP’s situation. Unless you are a manager and neither your girlfriend nor friend are, but since you didn’t mention that I am assuming not.

    5. Lil Fidget*

      If my boyfriend was doing that for me, I would thank him but kindly ask him to stop, I’m afraid. It would make me look unprofessional, like my man has to cater and provide for me, which is just not an image that I want associated with my work self. Obviously, YMMV!

    6. oldbiddy*

      To me, bringing back cups of coffee from the coffee shop to coworkers has a whole different, more platonic vibe than making a cup of coffee in the break room and taking it someone in a office not that far away. It’s an arbitrary distinction so I suspect it’s mainly because the first falls under normal workplace norms and the second seems more like a household situation with family members.

      1. Lil Fidget*

        Agree if someone is in the habit of regularly picking up coffee for the crew (and s/he’s not a supervisor of any members of the group – unless coffee is being purchased for all direct reports) and they don’t have to make a special trip to find their sweetie and drop off a cup – which to me attracts too much attention to the relationship – this is probably fine. But only because there’s plausible deniability that the GF is getting special cutesy treatment at work. As Alison says, best case scenario is that nobody at work would even know there’s a relationship, because it makes you look partial and like you’re a unit instead of both competent individual workers.

  19. Steve*

    I disagree on the coffee. Dont pretend things are different than they are. If you have a biyfriend or husband and you want to be loving in this way it is okay. People know already bc it is?a small company. There is nothing wrong with people seeing it is a happy healthy relationship. If people think you are biased so be it. You sleep with the guy so you probably are biased, not bc you give him coffee.

    1. Roscoe*

      I’m with you. But I think a lot of the pushback will be because its a woman bringing coffee to a guy. Even if it goes both ways, a lot of people will see it in a worse way here.

      1. Roscoe*

        HIt reply to quickly. Being in management is a big part. But its the same logic I think in why Alison will strongly recommend younger women not bring in treats, because of how it can be seen by some people

      2. TL -*

        If someone wrote in and said their bf worked in a different department and they brought them coffee most days, I think the opinions would not be as strong and people would be more divided – yes it’s a little wifey for the workplace and it’s (due to scheduling) not a 50/50 split, but it would be something more along the lines of: be aware that some people might think this, which is unfortunate, but it might be worth it to you to have this ritual.

        1. SarahTheEntwife*

          Yeah, without the management issue it potentially impacts how you’ll be perceived by other people, but that’s more of a personal choice as to where your priorities are.

        2. Lil Fidget*

          “it might be worth it to you” – That’s a good point! Alison and the commenters usually provide the BEST CASE advice (ideally, you would not act couple-y at work because it’s unprofessional, and there’s a *chance* it might hurt you or your BF). But, any individual worker can certainly decide this is something they judge worth cashing their chits in for. People draw this line different places. For example, I have no doubt it would be BEST for me to always roll in just before my start time – but I’m often ten-fifteen minutes late. I decide it’s worth to cost to me to be able to have a relaxed commute and chill out, even if I know it could be hurting me in small ways. OP may very well decide that the feel-good hormone burst she gets out of treating her honey at work is worth the cost.

      3. Starbuck*

        A visible display of favoritism to someone you supervise and evaluate seems really unprofessional.

    2. Observer*

      No one is saying to pretend. But, there are certain aspects of your relationship that just don’t belong at work. On top of which, there are the issues of how the OP will be perceived as a manager and in terms of her ability to be fair.

    3. neverjaunty*

      “So be it” is a really strange way to encourage someone to take a career hit they don’t have to.

      Publicly doing cutesy rituals at work doesn’t just say “we’re dating”. It says “we can’t hang on to professional norms at work”. Which is a huge deal in a small company where the OP indirectly supervises him.

      And setting the relationship aside, it’s also not good for a manager to constantly bring coffee to only one person they supervise.

      1. Roscoe*

        I think it really depends on my co-workers. I can’t see myself caring. If I already know they are dating, why would I care that she brings him coffee?

        1. Lil Fidget*

          Because what if the boyfriend gets a big promotion based on work his girlfriend reviewed or assigned? He may have totally earned it (or not) but acting couple-y in the office is just going to cement the idea in everybody’s heads that they’re a team who have each other’s backs, and that breeds resentment.

        2. STG*

          I don’t see anything ‘cutesy’ about it myself. She makes the first pot of the day because she’s there first and then brings him a cup. Seems rather harmless.

      2. oldbiddy*

        Yeah, it has a cutesy/we want to remind the whole company that we’re dating vibe to it in a way that bringing back a cup of coffee from Starbucks doesn’t.

      3. Sal*

        Eh, if the company was fine with promoting her to indirectly supervise his work while they knew they were dating, the coffee probably isn’t a huge deal to the company. The reasons it SHOULD be that Alison gave are valid, but that’s more on OP wanting to do the right thing and appear impartial, than the company having a problem with it (since they have no problem letting her give him feedback…)

    4. Delphine*

      You sleep with the guy so you probably are biased

      This is a perfect example of the kind of comments OP should be aiming to avoid, and redrawing boundaries in the workplace will help.

  20. Murphy*

    #4 When I was fired, they made me leave immediately because they “didn’t have time” to let me pack up my things. They didn’t send them to me, but they made me come get them. And HR made me wait almost 2 months before I could come get them. I was inexperienced at the time so I let it go, but I think it would be fine for you to just ask about your stuff like Alison said.

    1. Anon-The-Moose*

      At least you got your stuff, eventually. I was laid off and wasn’t allowed to pack my desk; they eventually mailed me my things and when I got the box most of my stuff was broken — coffee mug, pen cup, some tchotchkes from my desk. I was pretty heartbroken because they were mostly gifts.

      1. Murphy*

        That really sucks :(

        I inadvertently stole a thousand index cards, because they packed up my stuff and included those.

      2. ThatGirl*

        I was laid off last March and told that my former manager would pack my desk up and HR would send it. They did, but they did not pack it carefully – everything was shoved in a box. For most stuff that wasn’t a huge deal, but I had some small, handmade clay figurines – gifts from my husband – that got the bejeezus broken out of them. Even though there were boxes and packing material for them in my overhead bin. I don’t expect anyone to carefully wrap my stuffed elephant or coffee mug, but come on. That still makes me a little sad.

    2. Joanne*

      I’m #4. It was a government facility, so we needed to scan a key card to get onto the floor. I emailed my manager if there was any feedback and all I got was “Do everything they tell you to do.” It’s understandable because the company did want a new contract with them but it would have been helpful to find out what I needed to work on for future careers.
      They’ve packed everything up but I have no idea what takes them so long to ship my belongings back.

    3. SoCalHR*

      As sad as it sounds, I think its generally not a good idea to keep any personal items at work that you would be genuinely sad to lose (especially if said item is breakable). Whether that is a favorite coffee mug (yes, some of my mugs would make me sad to lose) or a picture/frame or sweater. They could get taken or, as in this case, may be hard to get back if you unexpectedly leave the company.

      1. amy l*

        I just came in to say this! Is my work desk. If I had to jump up right now to never come back (lost job, building fire, wharever). The only things I really need to grab are my purse and phone. I mean, I have a few photos of my kids, but they are copies of one’s on my home computer. Hand sanitizer, gum, etc. But nothing I would be upset about leaving behind.

      2. Joanne*

        I’ll be sure to do that in future positions. It’s really not much I left there, but some key items I had brought in to use, especially binders. The contractor before me let me know that “Binders are a precious commodity around here” so I had brought some in for use. Other than the binders and some food I had left there it wasn’t much.
        The only personal items I had left there was a package I was going to ship off after I got off but never got the chance to and a bag I had borrowed and was going to return. Those would be the only items I’m really sad about not getting back.

  21. Bookworm*

    #2: I understand where you’re coming from and am sorry you’re dealing with that. Take heart: there’s always the chance they may cut you loose after a few hours on this last day to get you out/they don’t have to pay you for the last full day.

    I’ve experiences somewhat similar to this. Been told not to come in and they’ll mail my stuff (which they did, unlike another letter in today’s post), was given my last paycheck and thanked (had better relations/was moving on) and my most recent one where I basically stopped in to drop off some materials that belonged to the workplace and left after saying goodbye, no chitchat. Alison warns about needing a reference, which I can understand but for the most part these were all places that I intend not to refer to and/or it’s not worth a reference (even with one of the places I asked if they were willing just didn’t respond to my email). YMMV on this and I’m okay because I have other, stronger/better references I’d be more comfortable with anyway. But that may be something to keep in mind if you do choose to skedaddle. :)

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Keep in mind that you don’t always get to choose your references. If you’re leaving the job off your resume, that’s one thing, but if it’s on there, they may choose to call or to ask you to connect them with your manager there. They won’t always stick to the reference list you provide.

  22. The Other Dawn*

    RE: #2

    I felt the same as you did when I left my last job. I wanted out of that place SO BAD. I seriously considered doing what you mention, but the person I worked for is very well known within my industry in my state, so it would have burned me very badly. I went in on the last day and was glad that I did: it was the easiest, most carefree day I’d ever had at that place. What made it so awesome is knowing I’d never had to walk into that place again or see my manager in that context again. (I still see him at industry events and we’re cordial to each other. Not showing up on the last day would have made future interactions VERY awkward.). And the big bonus was it was snowing like crazy so my manager didn’t come in. That meant I just kind of floated around all day, talking to my coworkers and such; I didn’t have any real work to do.

    So just show up on your last day and relish the fact that you’ll never have to go there again.

    1. Cruciatus*

      This is basically what I was going to say. I’ve definitely been there, #2. But my motto those final two weeks of notice at my last job was “this too shall pass.” It can’t/won’t last forever. I switched from one department to another that is still in the same building/floor so I still have to see my former supervisor on occasion but now it’s “hahaha! Yay! She’s not my supervisor any more!” instead of “oh dear God, what is supervisor going to be like today?” While you may not need to see yours again, your future self will thank you for just going through with the final day for references or even if something pops up they have a question about. It’s still going to be a little awkward, but it’ll be more pleasant.
      Last days can be hectic, but since you’ve already completed the checklist, you can just sort of relax about it all. Say goodbye to anyone you do like. Maybe have a longer lunch. And even if something does pop up, hey, at 5:00 you’re outta there! There will be people envying you. (At my 2 jobs ago job so many people were like “take me with you!” If only. If only…).

  23. Hiring Mgr*

    On #2–speaking as a manager, if an employee about to leave had taken care of all their tasks and didn’t have anything else to do of any substance, I wouldn’t care at all if they didn’t come in on their last day. It wouldn’t make me think any differently of them or affect a reference or anything of that sort. That said, I would appreciate at least a call or email that they weren’t coming rather than just a no show.. But either way, doesn’t seem like a big thing at least to me.

  24. Lily Rowan*

    If #1 does the recommended course correction, she should be ready for gossip about their having broken up. This is not a reason not to do it! But if everyone knows they are together, and suddenly they stop being cute at the office (which they should!), people will wonder why.

  25. SheLooksFamiliar*

    OP1 – Bringing coffee to a co-worker, as a favor or courtesy, is not a big deal, not really. But that, and other signs of a romantic relationship (‘Thanks, babe’), make your team members a Greek chorus to your relationship in the office (‘Awwww!’). It’s not the coffee, it’s what it looks like and the questions it raises.

    It’s hard to think like this, but I think you need to if you both want to excel: your boyfriend is not your boyfriend in the office, he’s your co-worker. You review his work, which could make some team members wonder if you’re ‘helping’ him – he can get his own coffee, right? If you do it for him, what else are you doing for him? Best not to plant that suggestion even if it’s baseless. ps you bI think it heloth to avoid the appearance of impropriety, bias, and worse.

  26. Nico M*

    I disagree with the consensus on #1

    The genie is Out of the Bottle.
    As a social klutz I’d rather be reminded of the Coupledom than risk putting my foot in my mouth. I wouldn’t risk a pound coin on any Chinese Wall actually working.

    1. Myrin*

      Not meant as snark but genuine confusion: What kind of foot coud you be putting in your mouth that has to do with your not knowing/not being reminded of the OP’s relationship?

      1. fposte*

        “Bob, did that bitch Jane chew you out? She’s always on people’s cases about stupid stuff even though her own work sucks.”

        1. Observer*

          Well, maybe you shouldn’t say that.

          On the other hand, if there is something that is legitimate, you should be able to say it.

          If knowing that someone is part of a couple is going to keep you back from saying something, then either that thing should be kept to yourself, or the relationship is presenting a workplace problem.

          1. fposte*

            I actually agree with you on what people shouldn’t say; I was just imagining the sort of thing that could be said.

            I also think that this is a price people working with SOs need to keep in mind–sometimes you may hear crappy things about them and you need to be able to let that go.

    2. Kate*

      Yeah, I was sort of on the fence because everyone already knows they are dating, but the issue isn’t really that nobody can know, but that there should not be a perception of bias. And doing favors for someone like getting them coffee or using terms of endearment like babe show a certain level of favoritism. It’s especially concerning because the OP said she does provide feedback on his work, which is where she really needs to be staying objective.

      1. Lil Fidget*

        Yeah I agree it’s too late to minimize the number of people who know you’re dating. But now your job is to demonstrate that you don’t bring that dynamic into the workplace. And that’s what the coffee/babe ritual is undermining.

    3. Natalie*

      But this is likely damaging the LW’s professional reputation, and potentially impacting their ability to be an effective and fair manager. Should they continue to take that risk to protect their coworkers from momentary awkardness?

      1. Roscoe*

        I guess I just would never think less of someone for bringing coffee to their boyfriend.

        I completely agree that she shouldn’t be giving him professional feedback, but the coffee thing, its just petty to think less of someone because of that.

        1. Natalie*

          Okay, but what if it *is* having that effect? Are you going to proactively tell all of your coworkers, who might not even be consciously aware that they have a particular impression, that thinking X thing is petty?

          And anyway, I was replying to the specific idea that it’s a good idea to keep doing this so your coworkers don’t forget your dating and then somehow embarrass themselves.

      2. Rusty Shackelford*

        I agree. If someone’s going to complain about me to my boyfriend, that’s their problem. It’s not a good reason for me to look less than fair and professional.

      3. bonkerballs*

        Honestly, in a small company where everyone already knows they’re dating and routinely “awww” at them – I highly doubt this is damaging hr professional reputation. I mean, it didn’t stop her from getting promoted.

        1. Natalie*

          Having been promoted really doesn’t tell you much about someone’s reputation. In a small company it might be decided by one person, while reputation is a function of many different people, inside and outside of your company. Nor are people’s necessarily black and white or forever fixed and unchanging.

          But that aside, if one being routinely “awwwwed” I’d argue their reputation is already damaged. Just because something is seemingly complimentary doesn’t mean it’s not also undermining you. As a young manager in particular, I don’t think it’s a good thing to be mentally categorized as “cute” in the minds of your coworkers and especially subordinates.

          1. Natalie*

            Sigh, it’s probably clear but just in case that should be “people’s opinions necessarily…”

  27. Struck by Lightning*

    #5 Is this a federal job? If so, it is pretty standard in a lot if not most agencies to ask for the latest performance review to be included in the initial application. Not only because it shows how your manager evaluate you (and in fact your actual score isn’t going to get a ton of weight because managers vary so much in how they score) but because they are a detailed description of your targets & key goals for the year along with an analysis of how well you did achieving them. Every federal employee is provided a hard copy of their signed evaluation (and they are available in eOPF so there really isn’t an excuse for us not having them). The language and requirements for current federal employees has a tendency to seep over when we advertise positions as open to the general public. Call the hiring official and ask.

  28. Roscoe*

    For #1 I kind of think that if everyone knows you are dating, there is no need to pretend you aren’t. Now I’ll admit, calling someone babe in the office is a bit much. But like if you come in to work, or leave together. have lunch. Grab each other coffee, whatever, I just don’t see it as a big deal if you aren’t trying to hide it. I think you can be professional without having to act like you have no relationship outside of work. Its like if a manager and another employee have mutual friends outside of work and sometimes see each other. I don’t think they have to pretend that doesn’t exist. They just need to not constantly be talking about it.

    1. Rusty Shackelford*

      But there’s a pretty big spectrum, with “pretend you’re not dating” on one end and “make sure EVERYONE knows you’re dating” on the other. And the OP’s actions fall a little too close to the wrong end.

      1. Non of This*

        I disagree- I think it only seems that way because of the small size of the company. the “babe” thing needs to stop and so should the supervision over his work (if possible), but simply handing him a cup of coffee as she walks by? That’s fine.

        1. Rusty Shackelford*

          So, two of the three things that are happening need to stop, but you still disagree with my statement that they’re too close to “make sure everyone knows you’re dating?” Because it actually seems like we agree.

          (BTW, it’s not “simply handing him a cup of coffee as she walks by.” It’s “going to the kitchen first thing in the morning, getting him a cup of coffee, and delivering it to his desk on a fairly regular basis.”)

          1. Non of This*

            Calm down, Rusty.
            I meant that I don’t see their behaviors as “Make sure EVERYONE know’s we are dating!” According to the LW, they are doing their best to keep things professional and it is a rather small company. Yeah, some of the behaviors do need to stop, but I still don’t view any of them (except the pet names) as a intentional display of affection. Even in the letter, she said her boyfriend calling her “babe” was an accident, not him intentionally trying to be lovey-dovey at work.

            1. Rusty Shackelford*

              Calm down, Rusty.

              Wow. I didn’t think “it actually seems like we agree” was me being hysterical. :-/

              Anyway. I didn’t say their behavior was “make sure everyone knows we’re dating.” I said it was closer to that end of the spectrum. Looks like many of the posters here feel the same way.

          2. STG*

            She said that she typically makes the first pot of the day because she is there first and drinks coffee herself not because of him.

      2. Roscoe*

        Yeah, I don’t look at getting someone coffee as everyone knowing. Is OP announcing everyday that they just brought schmoopie coffee. Or is it just she drops it at his desk. I don’t think that is that close to the wrong end.

  29. ArtK*

    LW#5 Thanks to dysfunctional workplaces, I haven’t had a formal review in 6 years! I could use a past boss as a reference, but there would be no documentation available. Not sure what I’d do in that situation.

  30. accidental manager*

    #3: If I was giving your manager the benefit of the doubt, I’d be guessing that she got in trouble for taking all of you off-site and off-task for two hours without approval from above, so she’s trying to fix that by making it like it didn’t take any company time.

    Her fix is unfair to the rest of you, so yes it’s good to point that out and give her a chance to take it back.

  31. DevAssist*

    LW#2- I’m in the same boat! I’d love to just skip out on my last day, but listen to Allison. Maybe reward yourself instead? get your favorite takeout or go out with friends after the workday?

  32. Scott*

    I once dated a coworker. Never again. Not that that is helpful. But yeah, honestly if you are on the same level then don’t worry about it if you’re otherwise professional.

    1. Scott*

      Scratch that. Just re-read some of the comments, and she’s a manager with influence over his work. I still don’t see coffee as a big deal, but maybe the managerial conflict of interest being the actual issue. Since it’s no secret that they’re dating, coffee is not the issue.

  33. Amber T*

    I’m sorry, I minimized part of the thread and didn’t read all of it. I’m sorry for repeating a lot of what was already said and not reading what Alison responded too!

  34. Oryx*

    For #1, I think the coffee taken as an individual element is not necessarily bad on its own. But, it’s wrapped up in a) OP is a manager and b) has some level of feedback on his work. That adds a lens that changes the narrative that comes with the OP bringing her boyfriend coffee.

    As someone else pointed out above, it does come across as a little “wifey” for the OP to be bringing her boyfriend coffee, which risks her own professional reputation. I put it under the same umbrella of women bringing in baked goods or always tidying, cleaning up, etc. Especially because OP is a manager, that’s not a good look for her.

    1. bb-great*

      Yeah, I agree with this. It’s not that any of these things are terribly unprofessional, but especially as a young woman in management and at such a small company, you do need to be aware of how you’re perceived. It may or may not matter but it doesn’t seem worth the risk when the only downside to stopping is that bf has to get his own coffee.

  35. Lady Phoenix*

    #1: you are dating someone that you supervised. That is a huge issue. Either you need to have soneone else supervise him, your boyfriend transfers/quits his job, or you guys gotta break up.

    If you guys do #1, then you need to have hin stop calling you “babe”. It’s infantizing and also too romantic. You don’t want to give people the impression that you are a child or someone with no professional boundaries.

    If you guys want to keep giving each other coffee, that is ok as long as you limit it and you drop the cutesy lovey dovey attitude.

  36. Carrie F*

    OP1: I personally don’t see the coffee thing as an issue ONLY if it doesn’t seep into other things. I can see Allison’s point that doing the coffee thing can LEAD to slip ups like “babe” or casual chit chat or whatever. Its a small office and I’m sure no one expects OP to completely ignore her boyfriend, especially since it sounds like they are quite established. If she stops bringing him coffee all of a sudden, how much do you want to bet people start asking her boyfriend whats going on? People are so nosy they’ll start wondering if they broke up, etc. Might even make things worse. Maybe he’ll get promoted in another department soon and you can resume coffee-bringing! Now, for HIM to bring YOU coffee…. that is a different story. Seriously y’all. Its just a cup of coffee.

  37. Nita*

    LW #3… I’m sorry, that’s terrible! Just had something similar happen last week, also involving a lunchtime meeting, and the announcement that the activity is not billable came after it had already happened, and on a Friday. I was told that it’s always been the policy not to bill this event. I do recall someone saying previously that it is billable, but since there’s no email trail I had to chalk it up a misunderstanding and leave it alone. It was “only” an hour of lost time, but the timing was pretty awful.

    I’m curious to see if anyone else weighs in about this. In my company, some lunchtime meetings are non-billable, so this could have been an honest mistake. If this isn’t the case in OP’s business, there might have been a strong implication that this is a company event and should be on company time.

  38. Former Hoosier*

    OP#2 Skipping out on your last day could cause significant repercussions that aren’t worth it. It can entirely change an employer’s perception of you. I am sorry the workplace was so toxic but you need to be professional to the end. And don’t be surprised that a company doesn’t offer exit interviews. It isn’t a right.

  39. Genny*

    OP1, how do you want to be perceived at work? When coworkers/management/clients think about you, what’s the first thing you want them to think about? Do you want to be known as manager Jane or Bob’s girlfriend? When people are talking about you, do you want them to say “isn’t it great that Jane really goes to bat for her team?” or do you want them to say “isn’t it sweet that Jane always bring Bob a cup of coffee in the morning?” Act in a way that will lead people to think about/treat/react to you the way you want them to think about/treat/react to you. As a woman, a young woman, and a young woman new to management, that probably means laying off the coffee (and certainly laying of all terms of endearment and reviewing of his work).

    1. bonkerballs*

      I know very few people who can only hold one single opinion about people in their heads at the same time. It would very easy for me to think “isn’t it great that Jane really goes to bat for her team?” AND “isn’t it sweet that Jane always brings Bob a cup of coffee in the morning.”

      Although, truthfully, the cup of coffee in the morning would barely register with me being as it’s such a small thing.

      1. Genny*

        But what do you want people to think about first? In my professional life, I want people to think of me first as a professional. I don’t want them thinking about how sweet/troubled/passionate/etc. my relationship is because invariably that will effect how they see my work. In my personal life, I’m totally okay with people’s first thought about me being #relationshipgoals.

  40. Mrs F*

    Jumping in to recommend extreme caution before offering up a performance review unprompted. I recently received a review, unprompted, from one of two final candidates for a fairly senior position. The review was glowing but included information about one of our competitors (his current employer ) that they wouldn’t have wanted me to have. I immediately questioned candidate’s ability to handle sensitive information appropriately, and ultimately the other finalist was selected.

  41. Candi*

    #5 -the only time on this site I’ve seen it recommended to collect performance reviews before leaving involves toxic workplaces. The boss gives wonderful glowing reviews, but sees leaving the company or the boss themself as a Betrayal and will trash the person in revenge. The performance reviews help negate that with reasonable hiring managers. So from both ends, this is unusual.

    #3 -There’s a bit of ‘wow’ and ‘just, what?’ in my reaction. The notice is labeled in a way that traditionally means official work business, and then she pulls this? I don’t get her thinking.

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