my new coworker seems to be asking us if he should cheat on his wife

A reader writes:

We recently hired a new person, Tulio, to join my team. Our structure is such that there are two groups to our team, group A (which I am in) and group B (which he was hired into). We both report to Wanda, who is remote and currently finishing up medical leave (we have an interim boss who we are transitioning out of reporting to). Tulio’s role has been hard to fill (there are about four of them covering different geographical territories). Since I started a bit over three years ago, we’ve had four new people in these roles, only one of whom has been good at it, and two have been let go. This particular role that Tulio is filling has had four people in it in six years.

Tulio started at the beginning of this week with a long career in our type of work. As a get-to-know-you thing, we took him for lunch yesterday. In the course of this lunch, my coworkers Charlotte and Bethany mentioned they were both divorced.

This seemed to open the floodgates for Tulio because he then spent the rest of lunch talking about how he and his wife have lost the love in their marriage and how he’s trying to rekindle it, but she refuses to do anything to help. They’ve been together at least 30 years. He told us in detail about how she even went so far as to invite her father to temporarily live with them to “avoid the issue.” (I used quotes because I’m not so sure if that’s the case, or the father was in poor health; he seems to think it was an avoidance strategy.)

Then he told us about a widow friend who he spends a lot of time with and that he has feelings for her he’s never had before, and that maybe this is what true love is. At the very least, he is emotionally cheating on his wife. He then asked Charlotte and Bethany about the divorce process and mused about whether he should leave his wife for this woman. I believe he was asking for our permission? It was very unexpected and every attempt to steer the conversation away seemed to fall on deaf ears. We were very uncomfortable.

Is there any reason to tell my boss, Wanda, about this once she is back full-time in a month? I have scripts for avoiding it in the future from you (it was just all very sudden and unexpected, so I didn’t use them). It’s more that he is in a client-facing role (traveling to sites and closing deals) and is remote from us in another state. If he got this comfortable from being with us for an hour for lunch (after maybe a cumulative hour together the days before), is there any reason he wouldn’t do the same with a customer? I’m hesitant because maybe he’s just like this with coworkers? It makes me question his boundaries and whether he can separate his work life from his personal life. But maybe I’m overreacting?

You’re not overreacting. It’s extremely weird.

I don’t think it’s “call Wanda at home on her leave and sound all possible alarms” weird, but it’s weird.

Telling your brand new coworkers about your marital troubles and the emotional affair you’re having with a friend and asking about whether to leave your marriage is … very bad judgment, at a minimum.

And frankly, sometimes people have terrible judgment in their personal lives but do perfectly well in their jobs. But this is his professional judgment that was on display. His professional judgment told him this was an appropriate topic for conversation with coworkers he just met, and his professional judgment told him no one was uncomfortable or weirded out by it.

So yeah, I’d be worried about what his professional judgment is going to tell him about clients.

If I were your boss, I’d want you to mention this within my first few days back from leave. Frame it as, “My interactions with Tulio have been pretty strange, and I wanted to mention what happened to you in case it’s something you think could come up in his client work.”

{ 204 comments… read them below }

  1. Antilles*

    Is there anybody else senior at the company who might be able to weigh in (grandboss, colleague of Wanda, etc)? I agree that it doesn’t quite rise to the level of calling someone who’s on medical leave…but it’s so weird that I wouldn’t feel quite right just sitting on it for a month either.

    1. Matilda Jefferies*

      Agreed. Or maybe the person who hired Tulio? Even if they’re not his actual boss, somebody must have interviewed him and made the decision to hire him. It might be worth circling back to them to see what they think.

    2. Snoop*

      I would definitely keep my ear to the ground to see if this was a one-off. Maybe he won’t bring it up again and if he does, then talk to someone more immediately. If not, then a note to the returning manager as a heads up might be sufficient.

    3. Diahann Carroll*

      I would probably casually bring it up to the interim manager just so that no one wonders why OP waited a month to say something if it truly was an uncomfortable situation.

    4. Hawthorne - OP*

      OP here–I did mention it to a colleague who is above me, but not in my reporting structure. She also thought it was very odd. She works with Tulio as well (he does stuff for her department but doesn’t report to her). I’m not sure if she can do much, but I know she has some clout (and also used to do the job Tulio was hired for) so I do think she’d keep an eye on it.

      1. JSPA*

        Someone needs to speak to him. For all you know he never thought the subject would come up (at work, or ever); was not mentally prepared; opened the floodgates against what would have been his better judgment; and is very eager to never repeat it again. (This is especially true if his social life is entirely friends -of- wife or community – who – disprove -of – divorce.)

        (I’m guessing many of us have been in a situation where we were a bit awkward and instead of shutting it down, that sense of awkwardness simply powered the conversation on and on and on. I know I’ve been on both ends of that.)

        If he sees nothing wrong with it or spontaneously brings it up again… that’s problematic. If his boundaries exists to making sexualized comments, it’s deeply problematic.

        But it’s possible he comes from a background where any discussion of divorce was already taboo and from where he’s sitting it’s the co-workers who first broke through the wall. So frankly a talk about the Norms of that particular workplace would be in order, before jumping to conclusions about his overall attitude or self control.

        1. Daffy Duck*

          Yeah, I’d give him a pass if it was a one-time thing. If it is a pattern you may want to say something or kick it upstairs.

  2. MegPie*

    When I got divorced you wouldn’t believe the number of people who told me about their marital problems in this exact way. It’s so odd! But apparently common.

    1. Lisa*

      Yes, this. Divorced people, especially divorcing or newly-divorced people, are a magnet for everyone to unload their marital grief. I learned more about married coworkers’ spouses, finances, and sex lives that first year than in the rest of my (many) corporate years put together.

    2. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      Thankfully, never happened to me, but I agree that mention of being divorced, or being in the process of getting a divorce, does bring out the weird in people. Back when I moved out of my now-ex’s house ten years ago, I got some really odd dating advice (that would not be appropriate to share in any comment section on any blog in 2020 – and I never saw or spoke to the advice-giver again) and a few people came to me with different variations on “I don’t get along with my spouse either, but I’m staying with them and so should you with yours.” Then there was one person who confused personal life and marriage with career and job search, and recommended that I “go back to him, beg him to take you back, then once you’ve moved back in, start looking for the next one. You cannot just leave with no other person lined up!” (Not making this up, it really happened.)

      Going back to OP’s situation, I’m conflicted between “if they hadn’t told him about their marital status, he wouldn’t have overshared in response and put them in this extremely awkward situation” and “Good thing they told him, he showed them who he is right away, before he could surprise a client with it.” But yeah, either way, odd, very odd.

      1. RUKiddingMe*

        “if they hadn’t told him about their marital status, he wouldn’t have overshared in response and put them in this extremely awkward situation”

        Yeah…but… “Im married, divorced, engaged…” without a whole bunch of other info is just I don’t know, kinda a normal thing one might know about a co-worker, something that might come up in a getting to know you conversation. What Tulio did however? No. Way to much info and way too much emotional labor being dumped on his co-workers.

        1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

          Oh I agree, I didn’t mean it as in “the whole thing is their fault!” (it’s not!), but as in “Wow, their new coworker has this weird trigger that they had unintentionally set off, but maybe that was for the better, because now they know he has it?”

      2. Lora*

        OMG we met the same damn people! It seems to come from the same belief that being single marks you as a failed human being, worthy of only being considered a distant second class. I’ve actually heard it from a lot of people, that you’re not a real person or are somehow incapable of happiness without a partner.

        1. alienor*

          I was widowed in my mid-30s, and was absolutely gobsmacked when someone on the steps of the church at my husband’s funeral told me not to worry, that I would get married again. It was a very frequent refrain for the next five years or so (after that most people seemed to give up) and I could tell it was meant to be comforting, but I never could figure out why they were so focused on it and thought I should be too. I remember one particular friend saying to me, “But you *have* to be with someone! You can’t just be single forever!” and getting really frustrated when I was like, “…I can, though?”

          1. Lora*

            Yes! “Don’t worry, you’ll find someone else soon! Everyone I know who got divorced got married again within a year or two!” Which fits with AnotherAlison’s comment that it’s because so very many people are leaving one partner to be with the person they cheated with.

            Am here to tell youse guys, the dangerous part of being single for a long time is that it’s so nice and peaceful that after a while, you don’t want anyone else messing with your groove. So, so, calm and peaceful. You have 100% control of all these things that you previously had to negotiate and discuss and work through. You want a new couch, and you have money, and you like the purple one? Go get that purple couch and you never have to hear any bullcrap about whether purple matches the rug or looks stupid or whatever. You want to eat curry for dinner? Get the spiciest curry in town and you don’t have to hear about how there’s nothing on the menu he likes and your breath smells ooky after dinner. You can blast Aretha Franklin at 2am, you can have that pet he was allergic to, you can wear the “OMG you’re NOT wearing that in public! You look ridiculous!” outfit, you can go for that second degree that he said you couldn’t afford/didn’t have time for. All those little everyday negotiations and discussions and conflicts to resolve just vanish into thin air. It’s delightful.

            1. Windchime*

              +1. I got divorced in 1996. I spent the first five years being sad and trying to find another partner. And then I slowly started to realize that, in fact, I had things pretty good. I don’t have to come home to “work on the relationship”. I already have a full-time job; I don’t need to do a bunch of relationship work when I come home.

              Back on topic…..the fact that this guy went on like this is bad judgement, but I could see me doing something like this when I was newly single (or thinking of it). Hopefully it was a one-off and he’ll learn not to do that.

              1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

                I saw this kind of late, but would like to leave my 2 cents anyway. I ended an almost 20-year marriage (coming up on ten years! you bet I’m going to celebrate! lol), started looking for a partner, found one, stayed together two years, he left, I licked my wounds, started looking again, found another, two years together, he ended it a few weeks before I probably would’ve… that was 4 years ago. My initial plan was to take six months off and then to go back looking again. After 14 (progressively more enjoyable as time went on) months on my own, I finally forced myself to go back online. Dated online for two months. Met five people, one of them very scary (controlling, stalkery). Deleted my online profiles and it suddenly dawned on me that I did not have to do any of those things. I did not owe it to myself or to anyone else to be coupled up. Specifically not in an exclusive/monogamous/”rest-of-my-life” relationship. It’s a lot of pressure to be everything to one person for the rest of their life and to be honest, it used to kick my anxiety into overdrive. It works for a lot of people (and may someday work for me with the right person, but I’m not counting on that), but I should be very careful about who I enter this kind of a relationship with, and more importantly, *I do not have to do it*.

                The main reason why I persisted at dating after ending my marriage was that I wanted to know what being in a healthy, functional relationship felt like. Fell way short of that goal with my first LTR, came fairly close with the second (the guy is now happily married to someone he met after he and I split), realized that, as enjoyable as it is, it’s still not for me. Most likely seeing solo poly life in my future. With cats, of course!

            2. mcr-red*

              +1.

              And I did get married again (but definitely NOT within a year or two, try 7 years later!) but yeah, its hella nice being in charge of EVERYTHING.

            3. Róisín*

              I moved out of my parents’ in with a roommate, the following year I moved in with a fiancé, and a year and a half after that we broke up and I lived alone for the first time. And hooooooly Hanukkah Balls all of this. All. Of. It.

              I’m now a happily polyamorous person who lives alone with my cat in a space that no one ever “cleans” (by throwing away my stuff) or cooks in (by drinking the coffee I specifically bought for me and only me) or fills with the sound of FPS games at 2am when I need to sleep. Every Tuesday night I spend with one of my partners while their spouse stays with a girlfriend, and periodically one of my partners will stay at my apartment for a night. It’s a nice balance.

          2. Goldfinch*

            I overheard a colleague who was in the midst of a divorce (due to infidelity) tell another colleague, who was a recent widow, “at least you always know where he is now”.

            1. Jedi Squirrel*

              Part of me is just shocked (what a thing to say to someone who just lost their spouse!), but as someone who was a victim of infidelity, yeah, I get it. It’s really hard to trust for a long, long time.

              Still, not sure I would every say this to a widow/widower, however recent or not.

            2. Zephy*

              WOW

              Like, I get where the divorcing colleague was coming from, but why would you say that out loud to somebody on purpose??

            3. AuroraLight37*

              Yikes. I think if one ever feels the urge to utter this remark, it should be confined to one’s therapist. Or possibly divorce lawyer, though that may be stretching things.

      3. Quill*

        The fact that someone was like “you can’t be single ever! How will you pay the bills?” is blowing my millennial mind, bathroom.

        1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

          No one mentioned the bills, oddly enough. I think it was more of a “if you’ve gotten married, you have to damn well stay married until one of you drops dead” mentality.

          A good friend did ask “how are you going to live on your own?” and was satisfied with my answer, “Same way I’m living on my own now”. (Like I said, ours was not the best of marriages.)

        2. Elenna*

          I mean, I wish my sister was living in the same city as me, and one of the reasons for that is that I’d love to be able to share rent/bill costs with her. But needless to say, I’m not getting married in order to pay the bills. :P

          1. Quill*

            There may be an arrangement between me and some college friends that if we end up in the same city at any point in the future we’ll be roommates, because affording to live alone is a lot…

        3. AnotherAlison*

          The context of the remark is weird, but it’s a pretty legit way things are done. How many people just cheat on their spouses and then move in with the GF/BF next? I can actually see someone being confused that there’s no one else, you’re just splitting up. The couples I know in the first list >>> the couples I know in the second list.

          1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

            I agree that this is super common, but, re my last example, it’s one thing to say “Oh, there’s no one else? Odd”, and another to be like my acquaintance and say “What do you mean there’s no one else?! Go back and fix it now!” lol. The person who gave me that advice had been married to one man her whole life (I think 35-40 years at that point?) She had no idea what she was talking about.

            1. AnotherAlison*

              And she apparently lived in a bubble! I have also been married to my husband since I was in college, but I get it. (I think I “get it” because I have been with him for almost 24 years.)

      4. Gazebo Slayer*

        WTF.

        “You cannot just leave with no other person lined up!” So it’s better to cheat on your spouse than to ever ever be single? That mentality baffles me.

        Also, I admit I’m really curious what terrible dating advice you got which is inappropriate to share on any comment section in 2020….

    3. Ginger*

      YES

      Omg yes. I can’t look at some people the same way.

      As a side note – when someone shares with you that they are going through a painful, embarrassing (that’s how I felt) personal ordeal, one-upping or sharing how your problems are similar is not in any way helpful. It was like “oh you’re upset? ME TOO”

    4. Collette*

      I had someone tell me in all seriousness that if my faith was pure, the Lord would put my husband and me back together. I had to count to 10 before I replied. Even then, I was biting my tongue to say thank you, and not scream, “But I don’t want him back!”

      1. Wonderer*

        I would say “What a horrible thing to say! You imply both that my faith might not be pure and also that the Lord will punish me by making me live with that dirtbag again!”

        1. OhNo*

          “Really? I didn’t realize the Lord punished people for being pure of faith. Are you sure you’re not thinking of Satan?”

      2. mcr-red*

        I have several divorced friends who had people say appalling stuff to them. For whatever reason, no one tried it with me. We were all people who were cheated on and left, so kind of no say in the matter. Friend #1 got told, “God hates divorce, you need to ask forgiveness for your sin!” Her husband cheated and left her for his new honey. Friend #2 got told, “If you ever get married again, you’ll be committing adultery!” Her husband had been conducting an affair for 5+ years and finally decided to come clean because he was moving in with his honey.

        Most of what I told them couldn’t be repeated here, LOL.

    5. Indigo a la mode*

      That was absolutely amazing to me. Bosses, mentors, I was shocked at who gave me quite the dirty details on their marriages. There are a lot of unhappy people out there :/ Of course, I’m an information pack rat (not a gossip or snoop, but I love to be in in things), so I actually found it kind of a nice distraction. It certainly teaches you a lot about other people’s psyches, which is very interesting.

      1. Mama Bear*

        My spouse is a senior manager and over the years some of the things people have told him…he knows WAY more than I would ever tell any boss in any lifetime!

        The problem here is that Mr. Overeager might overshare to clients, so I’d see if this is a one-off or not.

      2. boo bot*

        I love “information pack rat,” I’m the same way – I’m not interested in telling anyone else, I just want to know stuff! I am simply a student of human nature! (Which is also probably why I like advice columns so much!)

  3. Observer*

    It also sounds like the company needs to revamp its hiring practices. Between the turnover, poor hires and this strange hire, you have to wonder how the process is being handled.

    1. Hawthorne - OP*

      OP here–this has been an ongoing struggle. Fortunately, it is enough of a three-ring circus, and we are far enough removed, that it tends to be amusing more than frustrating (as terrible as that sounds). I think part of the issue is that our company was sold a few years ago and we are still smarting form it (the CEO was let go about two years ago and a lot of people have retired). The company has been operating for over a century so I think it’s just bad growing pains.

      I am aware of the compensation package and it’s fairly generous. I’m not sure if that’s good or bad.

  4. voyager1*

    I would talk to the other two women at this lunch and see what they made of the conversation before I did anything.

    1. Observer*

      Why?

      The problem is not that maybe they felt harassed or anything like that. It’s that he ignored normal and reasonable professional boundaries. That’s a problem no matter how the others felt.

      1. RUKiddingMe*

        Right. And even had OP felt harassed (or was in any situation at any time with any co-worker) it doesn’t require a consensus before saying something about it.

      2. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Well, if im going to his boss about this, I’d like to be sure neither one of them actually asked him to give more details. OP was not interested in hearing more, but if one of her to coworkers asked him a question she didn’t hear, it spins this a little different.

        1. PollyQ*

          The letter read to me like LW was at the luncheon with the three of them, so witnessed it all first hand.

      3. LeslieCrusher*

        Because this in person assessment is going to understand more nuance and have a clearer picture of the situation than we do second hand, which given the bizarre over seems important.

      4. DerJungerLudendorff*

        If nothing else, to know if they’re on the same page on this issue if/when management starts asking around.

    2. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

      In the letter OP states “we were very uncomfortable” so I’m guessing OP already has spoken to them, or knows them well enough to get a read on how they felt. Regardless it’s not necessary. OP was uncomfortable and it’s weird enough that giving they’re manager a heads up when they return is enough at this point.

  5. LogicalOne*

    This coworker seems to already be comfortable with you if they revealed this information to you about their marriage. That or they like gossip and this could be a warning they may be toxic. Or they like to be the center of attention and bring up bizarre questions like that. If they are asking questions like this then they may not be a good fit or something may happen down the road that really shows their true colors. But this is all based on experience in my years of work. Maybe diverting or changing the subject may help. If they keep pressing the issue, just being blunt and upfront about not wanting to talk about it or having any part of this topic might be your last resort. I avoid being blunt and aggressive but if it’s your last option then you may have to go this route. Best of luck!

    1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      I’m going to go with the most charitable (to me) explanation that Tulio’s marriage really is a mess, and that as a result, his head is not in the right place, and both he and his wife are pretty far removed from reality at this point. Thinking back to my dysfunctional marriage, I was not in a great place mentally while I was in it. Tulio needs a lot of therapy, and unfortunately, he’s looking for it in all the wrong places (his widowed lady friend, new coworkers). Hmm, just had a thought – what about recommending EAP to him? Would that help?

    2. Mimi Me*

      Some people are just over-sharers. My sister is one of them. She’s lost jobs because she doesn’t just blur the boundary, she goes in there with the damn eraser and removes the whole thing! I think the LW has the right idea – her boss needs to know that this could be an issue. Who knows? It might’ve been a one time thing brought on by comfort and shared subject matter, but the fact that he wouldn’t let the conversation go (LW indicates that they tried to steer the conversation away) is a red flag. I agree that it’s worth mentioning to the boss (or someone else if she’s going to be out for a while) so it’s on someone else’s radar.
      Interestingly, our company just stopped working with a pest control company because one of their employees spent over an hour here talking about his divorce. It was one of those things where he kind of latched onto a few of my co-workers after they made a few minutes of small talk with him. I was here…their conversation was really general. He made it much more specific and based on where they are sitting in the office they felt trapped by him.

      1. Toads, Beetles, Bats*

        Back in my first job my company discontinued a contract with a pest control company for a similar reason. The man (probably ca. 50s) LOVED sharing his problems with the junior female employees (ca. 20s) who were a captive audience for him. Part of me wonders if that’s what’s going on with OP’s situation – a man has found an audience of women he really wants to pull into his discussion of My Weighty Life Problems.

      2. Pobody's Nerfect*

        This is so weird, I once also discontinued service with a pest control guy because the minute he stepped through the door and I asked “Hi, how are you,” he completely unloaded about his recent divorce, and how his ex-wife was making him so angry that he almost punched a cop when he got pulled over for a traffic stop…his face was all red and he was obviously filled with rage. It was so uncomfortable, I never called him back for repeat service.

  6. Granger Chase*

    Yes, this is something I would bring up with a manager, even just to flag as something odd. Even if the person you speak to is not particularly concerned about it, it is much better for you to flag it as a strange conversation preemptively before the company gets complaints from clients. That way you can CYA if the a client he works with decides to take their business elsewhere because they don’t want to hear all about their new rep’s loveless marriage!

  7. Jennifer*

    Tell him to look for sympathy online. Reddit seems to be full of men repeating a version of this same sad story.

    In all seriousness -maybe it was a one-off. When I was much younger a woman about 20 years older than me was supposed to be training me. I was to shadow for a couple hours that day. But she spent most of the time telling me about her divorce and how she was adjusting to living in an apartment on her own after her husband put her out. It was very sad but I had no idea what to say. She never brought it up again.

    Sometimes people just need to talk and whoever happens to be in the vicinity at the moment gets an earful. Divorce is a tricky subject to discuss with friends and family members who either don’t want to pick sides or have already picked one and are refusing to budge. It can be easier to talk to people who aren’t close to the situation. I’m not saying any of this to convince you that his behavior was appropriate, because it’s not, just offering another perspective.

    If he brings it up again, I’d use Alison’s suggestions.

    1. Close Bracket*

      “Sometimes people just need to talk and whoever happens to be in the vicinity at the moment gets an earful.”

      Yes. Being in an extreme emotional state, as when your marriage is falling apart, can compromise your judgement. He probably thought (incorrectly, but again, extreme emotional state, compromised judgement, etc) that he was in safe company to talk about divorce and all his feelings towards it. I have witnessed inappropriate feelingsbombs about all sorts of subjects.

  8. Kiki*

    At an old job we had a sales guy like this. He would bring up VERY PERSONAL TOPICS at lunches with brand new clients. Including, but not limited to– his daughter’s suicide attempt, his passionate thoughts on having to pay alimony to his ex-wife, his thoughts on the attractiveness (or unattractiveness) of his female colleagues, and the shenanigans he got up to after drunken benders in college.

    At yet, he somehow continued to close deals, so nothing was ever said to him about it. Both his boss and his grandboss were very aware of his behavior.

    I’d say flag this to Wanda but then let it go and let her deal with it.

    1. hbc*

      Yep, I had the sales coworker with no personal filter, too, though he wasn’t such a slimeball. I did spend one memorable 4 hour drive with him where he discussed his wife’s illness, which included dryness in all areas, including intimate ones. It managed not to come off as skeevy because it was just one tiny snowball in an avalanche of overshare.

    2. Gazebo Slayer*

      The “attractiveness (or unattractiveness) of female colleagues” bit crosses the line from oversharing into harassment. Boss and Grandboss should have acted.

  9. Junior Assistant Peon*

    Was Tulio out of work for a while before he started this job? I wonder if maybe this is the first social interaction he’s had in ages, which might explain why he got too personal too quickly.

        1. RUKiddingMe*

          Flag it for your boss and let it go. You’ve already invested too much emotional labor in this guy. Don’t invest a single iota more.

  10. irene adler*

    Tulio’s been there a week. Maybe he’s got a case of nerves going on.

    One of our hires was a non-stop chatter box during the first few weeks after she was hired. Lots of personal stuff (kids, hubby, divorce, childhood stories, current events, how things were done where she used to work). TMI for sure. We all made comments to each other to that effect. One guy told us to lighten up-she’s new and probably nervous (she hadn’t worked in over a decade). Give her some time to adjust. Things improved.

    Funny thing, she distinctly recalls that she was quiet as a mouse during her first few weeks working. She claims that we were wondering if she’d ever talk. Um, no.

    1. Observer*

      There is talking too much, TMI and “evidence for your divorce trial” level TMI. That’s one issue. The second issue is that this guy is customer facing. You really can’t afford this level of indiscretion with clients. Lastly, the OP has clarified that this guy has been working, so it’s not like he’s new to the working world or has been out of office employment so long that he needs to re-adjust.

      1. irene adler*

        With clients -you are absolutely correct. This sort of talk cannot be done around them.

        Given the update below, this is not a case of nerves, it’s starting to turn scary.

    2. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      Funny thing, she distinctly recalls that she was quiet as a mouse during her first few weeks working. She claims that we were wondering if she’d ever talk.

      Wow, a human brain is a fascinating thing.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        I wonder if her listeners were so dumbfounded they didn’t answer, so she remembers only the awkward silence.

    3. RUKiddingMe*

      “…she distinctly recalls that she was quiet as a mouse during her first few weeks working. She claims that we were wondering if she’d ever talk. Um, no.”

      People tend to suck at self-assessment.

    4. Mel_05*

      That’s amazing.

      I have the opposite problem. No matter how hard I try to be warm and friendly at a new job people always comment on how quiet and reserved I was, how they weren’t sure if I liked them, etc.

      I know this is an issue, so I’m always pushing to be friendlier up front, but it never works!

      1. alienor*

        Oh god, that happens to me too. Or I’ll meet a friend of a friend/friend’s spouse, try really hard to be warm, and afterwards will hear “[name] thought you didn’t like them.” Dammit! I smiled and everything!

        1. alienor*

          Also, it’s always weird to me that people are assessing whether or not I like them that soon after we’ve met. I usually don’t form any strong feelings about someone based on a few minutes of small talk, unless they managed to say something rude/racist/sexist/etc in the course of those few minutes. How can I like them, or they like me, when we don’t know each other yet? It’s a mystery.

  11. Not One of the Bronte Sisters*

    Here’s what I think this guy’s issue is. He doesn’t have any friends of his own. He shares personal information like this at work (and it is extremely inappropriate) because he doesn’t have anyone else to talk to. Anyone he socializes with is a probably a friend of the couple’s or a friend of the wife’s. I have known men like this. But if it’s at the point where he’s considering divorce, he needs to be seeing a therapist or a counselor.

    1. Jedi Squirrel*

      This is a distinct possibility. It’s possible he viewed “let’s take the new guy to lunch to get to know him a bit better professionally” as “OMG–I’m already friends with everyone at this new company and we’re going out to lunch together.”

      Different people see things differently.

      1. Junior Assistant Peon*

        I think your explanation is likely. At my last job, we did a lot of business lunches with vendors, and I knew it was just business. At my current job, we seldom interact with vendors, and I’ve only gone out to lunch with people who I’m close with. I could see someone who moved from my current company to my last company misinterpreting the situation and thinking he’s made friends quickly.

    2. Quickbeam*

      I’m a nurse. People dump all kinds of crap on me in surface social situations. If I wanted to know about your penile discharge, I’d ask, okay?

    1. Eek*

      So this is almost certainly not the case here… But recently we had a new temp/as needed employee who made my young, female coworkers very uncomfortable with the way he talked about his marital problems. I never worked with him, but I told my boss I found it pretty disturbing and inappropriate. Honestly I thought he was trying to solicit an affair with one of them. My boss, as usual, did very little. One day he no showed and we never heard from him again…. Several months later, the temp agency let my boss know what happened… He was in jail for murdering his wife!!! We Googled him and found news articles about it. So that’s a pretty extreme example, but this is definitely not normal, healthy behavior.

      1. Gazebo Slayer*

        YOW. I was prepared to make a crack about how “my wife doesn’t understand me” is the oldest line in the book, but then that comment went someplace far scarier. :-(

  12. Ginger*

    If possible, someone could to be on client calls with him to see how he does and steer conversations if need be?

    I’ve worked with this type of person before though and once they are on a roll, the overshare train does not make any stops nor does it have ANY limits.

  13. Hawthorne - OP*

    OP here–I will add another anecdote from that ill-fated lunch that may give some light to him or just make it worse.

    We were driving in a company car back to the office (we have one that off-site employees are allowed to use if it’s available) and he was driving. He told us about how when he lived in [our state], he got 3 speeding tickets and was due to have his license suspended. He moved to [other state] and lied on the application about if he’d ever had a suspended license (technically it hadn’t been suspended yet, but it was due to be). [Other state] caught him and he was supposed to go to court. He told us about how he got a lawyer who was friends with the judge to move his license suspension to the bottom of the pile until it expired. I’m not sure if that’s actually how it works, but somehow he kept his license and never got in trouble other than paying some fees.

    It was wild. I also had NO IDEA how to include that story in the original letter.

    1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      Holy cow! I thought he was just in a state of confusion because of his marriage being in a bad state, but this is different. Like a commenter above said, the oversharing train just won’t stop. I’m kind of starting to get worried here!

    2. Tricksie*

      Wow. Yeah, that compounds the impression that this guy does NOT understand work-appropriate boundaries. He is seemingly sharing things (bragging about things?!) that most people would not take pride in. (“I’m kind of having an affair” “I’m an unsafe driver, lied about it on a legal form, got caught, and used my connections to get out of it”)

      1. Not One of the Bronte Sisters*

        Having been an in-house lawyer for most of my career, I am telling you now that the next thing you’re going to get from this guy are big fat lies on all his expense reports. Or he’ll cause a huge accident while on a business trip and not bother to tell you, and the first time you’ll hear about it will be from the other guy’s insurance company. Been there, trust me.

        1. Observer*

          I’m not a lawyer, but I totally believe you.

          OP, what this guy has told you is that he’s a liar and totally untrustworthy.

        2. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

          I agree – he’s now pretty much told you that he doesn’t think rules apply to him in two different domains, so that tells you he’s not someone you can trust to follow the rules unsupervised. Given that he works remotely, he’s probably pretty unsupervised.

          I cannot predict the exact way he will decide the rules of your workplace do not apply to him, but it’ll happen as soon as he finds them inconvenient and thinks he can get away with it. Expense report fraud, cutting regulatory corners, not disclosing an accident, and just not doing the parts of his job without immediate consequence all seem like reasonably likely guesses, but it could be something else entirely.

          1. Observer*

            In other words, not just costing clients, but opening up the company to really significant liability.

          2. mcr-red*

            Yeah, I pretty much thought the same thing. He is already warning you that he thinks he is above societal “rules” and will make excuses about why problems are not his fault. I don’t know who his supervisor is, but they might want to keep an eye on him.

        3. Pobody’s Nerfect*

          Or he’ll file one Workman’s Comp case after another in order to get out of doing any work and billing the system. These guys are all so incredibly transparent. They jump around from one job to another pulling the same crap every time.

      2. JSPA*

        Flag 1: earning the tickets
        Flag 2: lies
        Flag 3: gets a friend to do something that’s almost certainly illegal, certainly immoral, and almost certainly grounds for firing from the sort of job people otherwise can’t get fired from
        Flag 4: thinks all of the above is cool
        Flag 5: makes you all complicit by telling you
        Flag 6: DRIVES THE DANG CAR despite demonstrably being the worst driver there
        Flag 7: forces you to either make a scene or go along with his (bad) choice to drive
        Flag 8: some gendered BS (What, besides being the guy, would have made him — the new guy– the driver?) that he’s quick to trade on?

        I suspect you’re caught on the dilemma that you don’t know if he doesn’t have the first clue about acceptable behavior, or if he totally has a clue and is manipulating everyone, or he’s got some clue, but no filter.

        Really though, adding in this piece of the information, this is someone who will lie, cheats and said somebody else to take the fall for him–and that’s just about the driving and tickets! The potential skeeviness of talking about his bad marriage and trying to make other people complicit in his affair choices is only a massive flag in the context of this additional information. But if he’s going to be driving a company car and potentially driving clients you super buried the lede in not mentioning that he only kept his license by moving and by subterfuge. I suspect your job’s insurance would be pretty unhappy to find out that he’d disclosed… and nobody raised the issue.

    3. Delta Delta*

      Sigh. As a lawyer who does a lot of motor vehicle stuff, I can only say that this isn’t how any of this works.

      I gave Tulio the benefit of the doubt in a comment below. But now I’m rethinking some of that.

    4. Karo*

      That’s super useful information. I think this makes it pretty clear his original conversation wasn’t a one-off conversational blip, but a weird idea of what’s okay to share in a professional setting.

    5. Undine*

      I would flag this up the chain way sooner than the other comment, because if there is anything wrong with his license and he has an accident in a company car, maybe your company could be liable. Obviously we don’t know from what he said, but this is something your company needs to decide, not him.

      Also, this comment speaks pretty strongly to his lack of integrity in general.

      1. Paulina*

        And since he’s so open about his lack of integrity, if he tells any similar anecdotes to clients and potential clients, they’re not going to trust him or whatever he tells them about your company.

      2. Half-Caf Latte*

        This. And, if he was in fact driving unsafely, I’d include that as well. Could be anywhere from ” And I don’t think he was blowing smoke, given our record arrival time back at the office.” to “Wanda, giving you this heads up that I won’t be riding with Marco Andretti anymore in the company care, I felt unsafe.”

      3. tangerineRose*

        “I would flag this up the chain way sooner than the other comment, because if there is anything wrong with his license and he has an accident in a company car, maybe your company could be liable.” THIS!

      1. Lora*

        +5
        Because that is how many parking tickets ascribed to someone else’s car have been billed to me in this state since 2004.

      2. Gazebo Slayer*

        Ah, Massachusetts RMV. Still claiming to the tax authorities that I owned a car long after I’d sold it….

    6. Buttons*

      Goodness. I was willing to give him the benefit of the doubt in that he just got to talking and somehow found himself oversharing. But this, coupled with what you said below about feeling like since you all women you would comfort him.
      At the very least, there is something off with his judgment.

    7. antigone_ks*

      You should probably lead with this when you talk to your boss/other higher-up. Trouble around professional boundaries is one thing, integrity/ethics is another level. And the fact that he told you! Like he doesn’t even realize it’s a problem! Boggled.

    8. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      I just thought he was a sad dude who was a motormouth.

      Now I think he likes attention and being over the top, this is the kind of story you tell to try to earn “badass points”…from a group of chuckleheads who are drunk in a bar somewhere, not to your new coworkers, WTF.

      I get the feeling bro-dude isn’t gonna last very long and he’s doing it to himself. With the high turn over of that role, I’m sure nobody is shocked.

      But yeah, report this stuff to the powers that be!

    9. Coder von Frankenstein*

      Whoa. Yeah, that changes things. It means this wasn’t just a one-off incident where the guy had a lot of feelings about his marriage bottled up and a chance question made them boil over. Now we have two incidents of him talking casually to people he just met about unethical/deceptive behavior… which suggests he doesn’t see a big problem with that kind of behavior… which means he probably engages in it a lot.

      I would definitely flag this to someone up the chain of command. This guy bears close watching.

    10. Observer*

      OK, you REALLY need to flag this for Wanda, whoever is covering for her and whoever is involved with Hire / fire decisions.

      It’s always possible that he just making stuff up. But it doesn’t matter. For one thing, it’s a problem that he thinks that this is something to boast about. For another, it does indicate that he is TOTALLY lacking in discretion and boundaries. I shudder to think what he’d say to clients, and how little you could trust anything he says.

    11. irene adler*

      This is a whole ‘nother thing!

      Heed the advice already given.

      This isn’t just “newbie nerves”.

      Trouble ahead.

    12. Close Bracket*

      Way to bury the lede, OP! You should have written in about this, not about his divorce overshare. This might be worth a talk with your manager, with the overshare about divorce as the side note.

    13. Mel_05*

      Definitely worse!
      I deal with coworkers who don’t want to take responsibility in small ways and that’s super obnoxious, but manageable. This guy is telling you that he ignore responsibility in HUGE ways.

    14. RC Rascal*

      It’s also possible Tulio tells tall tales for attention. We had one of these at the office. He was hired in originally by a new manager who should have asked for an extra opinion from a more experienced manager when making the hire, but didn’t. Our Tulio saved 3 people with the Heimlich maneuver in the same weekend. He once shot a burglar with a handgun at 100 yard distance and was exonerated under our state’s Castle Doctrine. He could hit 4 iron 400 yards. When he was young he looked like Ric Flair.

      He reminded us all of Chunk from the Goonies.

      1. Observer*

        It’s bad enough when people boast about things that would be genuinely good if they did them, or at least nice. I mean if someone REALLY saved 3 people, he’s a hero. So at least his public facing aspirations range from neutral to good and he officially plays by the rules. But this guy is boasting about behavior that is dangerous, irresponsible and illegal. Even if he didn’t do those particular things, this tells us what his attitude towards basic ethical and reasonable behavior is. And it boils down to “I don’t need to follow the rules and Ill do whatever it takes to get around them.”

        That’s a real problem.

    15. Batgirl*

      Honestly I think this is the story your boss will care most about. The other one requires inference and a dash of cynicism to get to “has no character, has no judgement, will cheat, will lie”. Whereas this story is the literal translation of doing that.

    16. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

      Do you have an HR department? If so, you may consider flagging this things with them. I’m generally not in the camp of “telling” on someone, and would normally go to my manager for something like this, but since you’re in the process of transitioning from the interim manager to your regular manager, it may be a good idea. If he’s bragging about something like this, he could spell trouble for the company.

    17. CanCan*

      That is so much worse, it should have been the original story!

      It’s one thing for someone to overshare about personal life things that have nothing to do with professional life (i.e. relationships). People can be all right as employees and have crap in their personal relationships.

      But this story shows that:
      (a) he may not be a safe driver, which is relevant because he has use of the company car;
      (b) he has lied/cheated/was involved in shady practices (it may not have been technically lying, and his lawyer may have acted professionally – this info has passed through too many hands, so that it’s hard to tell, but the whole thing does sound at least shady); and
      (c) he doesn’t see anything wrong with volunteering any of this information.

      Yeah, big red flag. The good thing is you’re not his supervisor. You must definitely impart all of this to your/his supervisor so that they can factor it into how much oversight this guy should be given and whether he should work for your company at all.

  14. Delta Delta*

    Giving Tulio the benefit of the doubt for a moment – I wonder if this is a situation where he started talking and then couldn’t stop? It sounds like this happened one time at lunch and perhaps Tulio was trying to find common ground with his new co-workers (albeit in a very weird way), and it took on a momentum that he couldn’t stop. It’s possible he is embarrassed. I’d keep an eye on how future interactions go with Tulio, and when Wanda returns, mention that the first lunch was awkward and how things have changed (if at all) since then.

    1. WellRed*

      This is what I was wondering. maybe he’s mortified thinking about this. Maybe it’s his normal MO and it’s going to be a problem. I mean we’ve had letters from CEO huggers and co-worker biters. People can be weird and awkward in the moment.

  15. Eek*

    Accidentally added this as a reply to an unrelated comment, will try again!

    So this is almost certainly not the case here… But recently we had a new temp/as needed employee who made my young, female coworkers very uncomfortable with the way he talked about his marital problems. I never worked with him, but I told my boss I found it pretty disturbing and inappropriate. Honestly I thought he was trying to solicit an affair with one of them. My boss, as usual, did very little. One day he no showed and we never heard from him again…. Several months later, the temp agency let my boss know what happened… He was in jail for murdering his wife!!! We Googled him and found news articles about it. So that’s a pretty extreme example, but this is definitely not normal, healthy behavior.

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      I just came in from a weekend of Investigation Discovery binging, I wasn’t expecting AAM to go this way on me. Yikes.

  16. OrigCassandra*

    OP, you don’t mention your own gender presentation, but if it’s female/femme, then… one thing that may be going on with Tulio is that he thinks All Women Are Automatically His Confidantes About Everything Ever.

    Since he’s remote, I don’t know that you need to follow up from coworkers to find out more about this, but it does raise the spectre that he would also treat female-presenting clients this way, which is very bad indeed. I’d have a chat with higher-ups, and make it about appropriate boundaries.

    1. Hawthorne - OP*

      Cassandra, I had the same thought. In the first draft of this letter, I did mention we were all female. And I’ve basically been describing him in the way that you have when I tell this story in my personal life. I absolutely believe he thought that since we were women, we would automatically listen to and comfort him.

        1. Buttons*

          Right? With that much turn-over, it usually indicates a problem in the recruiting and hiring process. Who are picking these people??

          1. Hawthorne - OP*

            I have a theory that if one of my coworkers (Bethany in the story, actually) specifically isn’t involved in the hiring process, the hiree sucks. Every person she’s interviewed and approved has been awesome. Everyone who has sucked, she hasn’t been involved.

        2. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

          He sounds like one of those “super charming when he needs to be” guys who initially gets what he wants, until people figure out the kind of person he really is…

      1. Batgirl*

        Yeah I definitely know this guy. All women are a never ending buffet of comfort and fun etc, etc.

        You haven’t had your weirdest anecdote of him yet. You’ve just got great antennae and a sense of what’s coming.

    2. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

      +1

      Before I stopped presenting femme, I used to get So. Many. Guys. who would, at the slightest hint that I was available to chat, would immediately start telling me all about how terrible their marriages were. I don’t recall anyone outright saying he wanted to cheat on his wife, but the subtext was pretty loud and clear most of the time.

      Fascinating how those conversations dried right the hell up when I started shifting how I present.

      1. Buttons*

        The amount of men who I meet at conference and industry events who hit me up on Linkedin is gross and exhausting. I am pretty sure some men use it as a way to chat up women in a place their wives would never think to check. Sigh.

        1. SusanIvanova*

          One of many reasons why I ignore LinkedIn’s persistent “Add a photo! Profiles with photos get more attention!”

      2. Jennifer Thneed*

        Funny how I’m a big ol’ dyke and look it, and I never get this kind of thing from straight men… I mean, I’m not even butch! (to lesbian eyes, anyway).

    3. Sick of Workplace Bullshit*

      That was my thought exactly—female-presenting people are there to do his emotional labour. I would definitely mention this to Wanda when she returns, and I’m glad you’ve flagged it for someone already.

    4. AnotherSarah*

      YES I thought this as well. I had an issue with oversharing men at work–and at some level, the issue was both that I’m a woman and also that they considered themselves to be sensitive and able to talk about their feelings/problems.

      1. embertine*

        Ah yes, the kind of man who is just so in touch with his feelings… absolutely bloody oblivious to anyone else’s but baby steps I guess.

  17. Buttons*

    I often wonder when people overshare like that, do they think about it later and feel as horrified as those that it was told to?

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      If they had that kind of reaction, they’d only overshare rarely. Sadly this is a pattern for most and it’s simply that they don’t feel shame or embarrassment the same way others do.

      I’ve seen it often over the years and it usually is seriously just lack of understanding on their part that what they deem as perfectly acceptable chatter is indeed uncomfortable to many with tighter filters on their personal privacy.

  18. HR Jedi*

    I see two possibilities here:

    1. He had a moment of vulnerability due to thinking he met people who were in similar circumstances once and payed out the story; hopefully, he is embarrassed by this and won’t bring it up again.

    2. He’s a bullshit artist and trying to see how far he can get away with telling a strange story.

    After seeing the comment by the OP with the other story, I’m starting to lean toward bullshit artist.

    Therefore, I’d recommend bringing someone higher up (who is working, not the boss on leave, and don’t wait for the return) into this and make sure they are aware of the story’s told and the concerns about this person’s judgement. If he is a bullshit artist, he’ll probably say the situation was that moment of vulnerability and how embarrassed he is in hindsight. Either way, it’s going to catch up with him eventually. In the event that it risks taking you down with him, you’re going to want to be on the record as having reported your concerns.

    1. Jedi Squirrel*

      If he is in sales, I can definitely believe #2. Good talk is an element of sales, but it seems some salesmen will say anything to make a sale.

      But good lord, I hope it’s number one.

  19. deesse877*

    Things are not always as extreme as Eek!’s story, but yeah, a lot of people go through the world trying to squeeze extra emotional labor from women, and even feeling entitled to it.

    For the OP: notice that both the bad-marriage story and the speeding-tickets story are him trying to solicit you as his allies and supporters against, like, “the system” or some *&^%. In both cases, your role (according to him) is to confirm that the ordinary rules of daily life are sooooo mean, but he’s a great guy. It is definitely a manipulation technique, and one in my experience likely to bleed into the working relationship proper.

    Honestly, the speeding-tickets update might tip it into “escalate to higher level” territory.

    1. mcr-red*

      He’s definitely a manipulator. If you have to work with him, that’s great information to have up front.

    2. 1LFTW*

      I agree. I feel like this has become boundary-testing/grooming behavior. He feels entitled to have an affair, he feels entitled to drive recklessly, he feels entitled for the consequences of his actions to be waived, and by relating these anecdotes he’s getting a sense for what his co-workers will tolerate. He may also be laying the groundwork so he’s viewed sympathetically if he does something questionable: “Sure, he really screwed up the Johnson account, but you know his marriage is on the rocks…”

  20. Mr. Shark*

    hmmm, I think these reactions are overreactions. The guy probably just didn’t have anyone to vent to, so when he had the opportunity, yes, he went overboard. He definitely over-shared, but I don’t see the need to go to any length to share with your manager yet. Give the guy a chance to get his footing and see how he does at the job.

    If this is something that you see a pattern of, then you can certainly go to your manager.

    1. Observer*

      This is where reading the comments come in use. The OP shared another story – the guy boasted about his bad driving, lying about it and then engaging in some shenanigans to make the legal case go away.

      1. Mr. Shark*

        Yeah, I hadn’t refreshed after initially reading the OP (there were only about 10 comments when I started writing my response), so I didn’t read that about the driving.

        I’d be more worried about that, honestly, than anything else. That directly affects the company/job and driving the company car, and shows that he’s not beyond lying about it. The personal over-sharing was one-off, initially, so I thought that it was going overboard to run to your manager.

  21. hbc*

    So Tulio believes his wife had her father move in with them as the easiest way to deflect his romantic overtures? Do not trust this dude’s judgment in anything. There’s no way you come to that conclusion without there being something seriously wrong with you.

    I truly find this worse than the overshare–though I’ll allow that the two may be connected.

    1. Alex*

      Agree with this. There’s only two explanations for this that I can think of:

      1. Tulio’s wife felt she needed protection from Tulio and asked her father to move in.
      2. The father moved in for completely unrelated reasons, but Tulio still interpreted it to be about him AND FIGURED HIS WIFE FELT SHE NEEDED PROTECTION FROM HIM.

      Either way, that is some seriously f’d up sh** and I would be on alert for other red flags from Tulio.

    2. Marthooh*

      It’s connected, yes. Everything’s about Tulio: “My wife’s father is too ill to live alone. It’s a very sad situation … for me.”

  22. mcr-red*

    Not knowing the two ladies reasons for divorce (and they may have said something to him that the OP didn’t mention) I’m “impressed” that he told the whole table that he wants to cheat on his wife.

    Basically everyone I know that is divorced had a bitter out-of-nowhere split that came about because of cheating and I know how those remarks would have gone down around any one of us…

  23. The Bill Murray Disagreement*

    I tend to disagree with the advice here — Tulio shouldn’t have shared that much information, but at this point it’s not a pattern of behavior. If you see it happen again, then I’d bring it up with your manager after they return to work.

    1. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

      There was another instance of inappropriate information transfer on a different, and, to me, far more serious topic for people who work with the guy. See here: https://www.askamanager.org/2020/01/my-new-coworker-seems-to-be-asking-us-if-he-should-cheat-on-his-wife.html#comment-2816529

      This isn’t a one-off oops. And the lying to keep his license and then getting caught seems like something a manager would need to know about someone using the company car.

    2. Observer*

      Even as a one time thing it’s concerning. Considering the update the OP posted, we actually know that this is NOT a one off.

  24. Half-Caf Latte*

    I know it’s only January. But I would please and thank you like this to be on the update list.

    1. Hawthorne - OP*

      I ALSO love updates. If there is anything significant, I will absolutely send in an update. Even if there isn’t, I will. Hopefully it would just go in one of Alison’s smaller update piles if it’s insignificant. Though if there’s something significant before then, I’ll send in an update :)

  25. Anon Here*

    I think it would be helpful to identify the parts of the conversation that were inappropriate before talking to Wanda. It sounds like the issues were: talking about sex (even if by implication), revealing personal info about his spouse, insulting his spouse in a creepy way, asking for permission to cheat, general TMI, and ignoring cues to stop.

    Make a list like that and present it to Wanda. Be objective.

    Secondly, I think this goes beyond “bad boundaries,” and “TMI at work.” He talked about his sex life and made insulting comments about his wife and her family. That’s a little creepier. Plus the part about asking permission. I’m not sure what to call it, but it’s concerning.

  26. Pobody’s Nerfect*

    I work with a Tulio who also exhibited verbal diarrhea from the very first week we hired them. It’s uncomfortable and annoying and distracting. If you give the Tulios an inch, they’ll take a mile – of your time, that is, every single flipping day going on and on about their personal lives nonstop. I’d suggest you refer him to either your company EAP or HR rep, or advise he seek counseling instead of dragging coworkers and clients into his personal messes.

  27. Mill Miker*

    If it weren’t for the driving story, I be tempted to wonder if this was an inept attempt at doing some research, like:

    “You’ve just got the new iPhone? I’ve been looking at that, how do you like it?”
    “You just got back from Barbados? I’m going there in two months. Any must-sees?”
    “You just got a divorce? My relationship is in shambles. How was the process? Would you recommend it?”

  28. Batgirl*

    Ugh OP, I have met this person so many times. The current incarnation is not having an affair but is constantly talking about his dislike of his spouse in a very hostile, awkward, toe-curling way.
    The problem with this type of personal misjudgement is that it’s always going to cross over into professional because they think their partner (and other people’s) is just some type of accessory, like a teapot. So therefore everyone talks about potential replacement with whoever is handiest; no big deal.
    This kind of person doesn’t see it as a difficult or personal decision which should be reserved for your closest friends.
    This is why they have no concept of being judged professionally for being too personal. In their minds it isn’t.

  29. Ciela*

    oh my! I might put that down to over-sharing because of nervousness, but keep a lookout for future weird behavior.

    I knew a guy from the comic book store were I used to hang out. Within the first 10 minutes of meeting him I knew that he lived with his mom, had a chihuahua that he dressed up in pink clothes, was attracted to red-headed women, and wanted nothing more than to find and marry a red-headed woman to start a family.
    Then he asked if I was married. Yes! My husband is at the next table.

    We were part of the Collectible Trading Card Game group, but I would have Comics girls ask me “is that creepy guy here today?” No question in my mind to whom they were referring.

  30. Pear*

    I would probably take the driving thing to Wanda. That’s a concrete something that will affect his work (or the ability to drive the company car). That being said, that’s a tremendous amount of oversharing and it would bother me so much I’d go out of my way to avoid him.

  31. Green Goose*

    This story brought up a random memory that I had forgotten about. When I graduated from college I moved to South Korea to teach 1:1 conversational English classes to Korean adults. Most of my students were between 35-55 and I was in my early twenties. So many of my students would spend our time complaining about how horrible their spouses were, and how unhappily married they were (it was pretty depressing) but one woman (married with a toddler) started telling me about how she ran into an ex-boyfriend and had been secretly meeting him for coffee and then pretty much asked me permission to start having an affair with him. “Do you think it would be bad if I just met him for coffee?” “We have so much to catch up on, isn’t it okay for me to go?”

    I was so uncomfortable and would try to steer the conversation back to something more appropriate (and I had met her husband once and he had been so lovely that it made me feel doubly guilty even hearing the stories) but she kept pushing it. She ended up switching to another teacher who told me later that she did go through with the affair and would spend the lessons talking about it, and my coworker was happy to participate in those conversations. It was all so bizarre!

  32. Nika*

    Though never this extreme (I sincerely hope!) I’ve been known to be an over-sharer. I have mild Asperger’s which sometimes means that when I start talking I can’t stop – it’s like I don’t know how to neatly tie up the conversation so I just go on and on, talking in circles and/or going TMI. To stop myself from doing this, I just find it safer not to talk at all when I’m at work, resulting in colleagues thinking I’m a strange recluse, sigh…
    I’m not suggesting that this is what’s going on here in this letter, but if someone is *that* oblivious to social and professional cues, something deeper may be going on in a mental capacity.
    Even the driving license thing (though legally dodgy) sounds like the kind of drivel I’d come out with in order to be chatty or make a connection. I’d have the decency to be extremely embarrassed about it after, however.
    Some of us are just REALLY bad a social norms, and one of the reasons I’d never work in a client facing role!

    1. Gazebo Slayer*

      I’m also an Aspie with an occasional tendency to blather on and on, but the driver’s license story is far more than that. It’s revealing unsafe driving, terrible judgment, and basic dishonesty.

    2. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      If he really did all those things in the driver license story, though, then he’s not to be trusted for all the reasons commented above. If he made the whole story up, then he’s not to be trusted because that is just… I cannot think of a good term. And to tell it to his captive audience while driving with them as his passengers… again, words fail me. I’m probably on the spectrum too (my older son is). We would not incriminate ourselves via small talk on our drive back from lunch with new coworkers! There’s being bad at social norms, and then there’s this guy.

      1. Jennifer Juniper*

        Autistic here. If I was to cheat on my spouse, I’d be smart enough not to blab it all over the office! And I know that talking about my personal life at the office is way out of line. I’m reading that this guy is trying to groom his coworkers into tolerating his would-be affair while having an actual affair with at least one coworker.

    3. Hawthorne - OP*

      My partner, my best friend, and my stepdad are all on the spectrum. I’m used to that sort of oversharing and have been able to usually figure out if it’s spectrum-related or something else. However, this man has been customer-facing for decades. At this point, if this were the case, he would have probably learned to work around it. I think he just saw women and were like, “Ooh they can do all sorts of emotional labor for me.”

      He also specifically sent us all an e-mail telling us the meaning behind his name.

      Because we care, apparently.

      1. anon4this*

        To be fair, weren’t 2 of the women already divorced? Maybe he used that sort of personal business as a segue to vent about his personal frustrations with his own pending marriage issues. It does seem strange to meet coworkers for the first time and already learn they’re divorced, so maybe to him it didn’t feel like oversharing some of his business.
        Also, your lack of caring about a new coworker opening up about his name (not about the personal family issues) seems a out of place to your original question and little….callous? He’s new and trying to connect. Maybe trying to help him fit in might be a better approach.

        1. Observer*

          Why should anyone care about the background of his name? I can see it coming up in some types of conversations. But seriously why would anyone care about the origin of the name of a new co-worker, unless you work in a field like genealogy where names can have interesting implications?

    4. Observer*

      That might possibly work for the details about his marriage. But not realizing that you shouldn’t tell people about cheating doesn’t seem like just “drivel”. Same with the driving issue – either he’s an unsafe driver who will lie at the drop of a hat and do illegal stuff to dodge the consequences or he thinks that that’s just fine.

      ASD / Aspergers is not correlated with lack of ethical behavior.

  33. hedda*

    What’s wrong with the role that people cycle through like they’re in a photo booth at the fair? Seems like that should be part of the calculus.

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