I had a secret relationship with a coworker and now I’m pregnant

A reader writes:

A colleague and I have been in a secret relationship for a couple of months. We work in the same team. He is not my manager but is slightly senior to me in terms of the work we do. He doesn’t have influence over my work, but we do occasionally have to work together. He is also quite a bit older than me (I am in my late 20’s and he is in his mid 40s) but it wasn’t an affair, we were both very single.

We have not told anybody at work about our relationship, mostly because at the beginning we were not sure if it was going to be long-term. Fast forward to now and we are very much in love and I’m pregnant.

It was a shock to us both, but we are both very happy. However, I am wondering how I bring this up with my manager and colleagues.

I am quite friendly with my colleagues and we do often talk about our home lives, etc. So far everyone knows that I have a new boyfriend, but that’s about it. He is less chatty at work and a bit more private, so it’s not unusual that he’s not mentioned his new girlfriend to anyone.

He is planning on finding a new job. He was looking long before we got together anyway, but we’re not sure how long it will be until that happens.

It will soon get to the point that I will have to tell my manager about my pregnancy, but I do not know how to handle the questions that will follow about who the father is! Our original plan was to tell everyone we were together once he’d moved to a new job, but it is looking unlikely that will happen anytime soon.

How do I bring this up with my manager? There is no policy on not being able to date coworkers, but I don’t think it will go down well. We have quite a good relationship and I am concerned she is going to be disappointed I didn’t come to her at the start. Can I just tell her I’m pregnant and remain vague about who the father is for now?

Also, how do I deal with telling the rest of my colleagues, plus the wider office? I feel like I can already hear the gossip.

Well, you’re allowed to date coworkers as long as they’re not in your chain of command. (In most offices, at least. Occasionally a company does forbid it across the board, but you noted yours doesn’t.)

And you’re not really obligated to disclose that you’re dating a coworker unless there’s a potential conflict of interest. Even aside from the formal chain of command, if one of you has input into how the other’s work is evaluated or assigned or otherwise has an opportunity to give the other unfair advantages, your employer would rightly expect you to disclose that so they can take steps to avoid favoritism or the appearance of favoritism.

But if that’s not in play and you’ve just been discreetly dating for a few months … well, that’s your business. And really, the fact that it’s only been a few months is a reason not to have announced it anyway. A few months is still very early, and it’s understandable not to want to do a big “We’re dating!” announcement before you’re sure it’s going to be long-term.

Once there’s a pregnancy though … yeah, it gets a lot weirder to keep it a secret.

But you’re not obligated to share who the father is if you don’t want to. Of course, that will get a lot harder to pull off — probably impossible — if he’s still working there when the baby is born. Probably even before that point, once you’re very pregnant.

If you want to go that route, though, then when you share the news of your pregnancy, you can simply explain the father is the man you’ve been dating (which will likely be people’s expectation anyway). But the problem with that is if you eventually do reveal that it’s your coworker while he’s still working there, it’s going to seem very weird and a lot more scandalous that you didn’t mention that earlier. It’s practically inviting extra drama.

So unless you’re very confident that he’s going to find another job and be gone in the next few months, you’re probably better off just dealing with the reaction now, rather than prolonging it and having the added weirdness of having obviously hid it for so long.

The best way to do that is to just be straightforward. Just rip the band-aid off: “I have two pieces of news I need to share with you. The first is that Xavier and I are dating. The second is that I am pregnant and due in (month).” Say it positively or at least matter-of-factly — you don’t want your tone to convey that you’re divulging a shameful secret.

If your boss is disappointed that you didn’t tell her about the relationship earlier … well, you didn’t. If her disappointment is around potential conflict of interest issues, that’s a legitimate concern and you can explain you didn’t realize the potential conflict and made a point of keeping the relationship separate from work, and ask how to best manage it now.

But if she’s just disappointed that you didn’t confide in her or that you’re involved with an older man or so forth, it’s okay to just let her be disappointed about that. Sometimes people are disappointed! If there’s not a work reason for it, you don’t have to manage those emotions for her. That said, if you feel it’s in your best interests to try anyway, you can explain you were waiting to see if the relationship was going to go anywhere, which is true, and you wanted to keep a firewall between work and the relationship, which sounds well-intentioned and responsible.

As for telling the rest of your office, I’d do it in the same way. Yes, there’s going to be gossip, but there’s no way around that. This is big news, and you’re going to be the scandal for a while! So be it. You didn’t embezzle or punch a client or cheat on your respective spouses. You fell in love with a coworker and are having a baby together. The age difference will add to the gossip, but you can’t do anything about that. Conduct yourself professionally and people will eventually adjust and move on.

Read an update to this letter here.

{ 303 comments… read them below }

  1. Mystery Bookworm*

    I agree with this advice. Just be matter-of-fact about it and any gossip-stirring will die down pretty quickly.

    If you wait a long time or are too cagey then people are more likely to be interested.

    1. Fiona*

      Yes, be matter-of-fact and positive! If you act like it’s something exciting, people will act in kind. If you act like it’s a secret or something shameful, people are going to be uncomfortable. Straightforward, positive, and brief is the way to go.

    2. Eeyore's Missing Tail*

      This. Use Allison’s script and make it just boring as you can. Yes, there will be gossip. But if you keep it matter-of-fact and remain as neutral sounding as you can, that should help it die down a bit.

      If you don’t mind me asking, how far along are you? Because it’s 100% ok to wait until you’re past the 1st trimester or until you start to show. It’s up to you and your coworker when you want to make that announcement to your bosses and/or-coworkers.

      1. Mama Bear*

        However, I would suggest the OP start looking for childcare immediately. It can be hard to find for an infant.

        I told my boss at the end of the first trimester. I think that’s very common. HR will also need to be looped in for FMLA and other leave-related issues.

        Congrats, OP. May you have many happy years together.

    3. KayDeeAye*

      I agree – just come out with the whole thing all at once, being both happy and matter-of-fact. Of course people will gossip some, but if you just lay it all out there, there just won’t be that much to gossip about.

      When people gossip, they like to share tidbits – you know, “Did you hear X?” “No! But I heard Y. Did you?” But once all the major facts are laid out for everybody to see, that pretty much sucks all the energy out of the gossip chain.

    4. Artemesia*

      This. Be cool. Of course you kept your relationship private because you didn’t want to mix work and personal life or be a disruptive force in the work place — of course. You were not ‘hiding it’ from the boss, you were being appropriately discreet and keeping drama out of the workplace.

      When you tell the boss, don’t act guilty or that you ‘should have’ said something sooner etc. What you did made sense. You behaved professionally. Now the relationship is in a new place where you need to reveal it and the more matter of factly the better. If you act guilty you will BE guilty of something in their eyes. If you frame it as ‘professional’ they will probably accept that frame of reference.

      1. Parenthetically*

        Yes! From the title of the letter I was expecting something scandalous (an affair!) or problematic (dating your manager!), but this is just two people who met at work, started dating, fell in love, and are starting a family. If I were OP, I’d try to reframe this in my mind, not as “a secret relationship,” but as “it wasn’t time to share it yet, but now we have this great news to share, so we ARE sharing it.” She was circumspect at work about a new relationship; that’s great! Keeping a personal thing private /= being secretive!

        1. Susana*

          Totally agree. And anyway, what’s with the worries abut a “secret relationship?” People are allowed to keep their private lives private when at work. I wish more people would do so!

          1. Renee*

            People may suspect anyway. It’s pretty obvious when co workers are dating secretly in a couple of workplaces I have been in.

      2. JessaB*

        Not to mention at some point if there is a child involved you might have to submit a support order to payroll (either you for him if he has custody, or he for you,) and it’ll for absolute sure come out then. Better for it to come out before that and neutrally.

      3. TardyTardis*

        Nowadays it seems to be rude to ask who the father is if you don’t immediately volunteer it (I know a few people at work who never did say, including my next door neighbor. I felt that if she ever wanted to tell me who was the dad of who she would have by now).

    5. Alli525*

      Yep, this. My boss at a previous job came up to me one Friday afternoon (I had been at the company for a couple weeks) and said, “Hey I just want to let you know that Bob and I are dating. We keep it very professional and separate at work but wanted you to know just in case anyone mentions it in passing.” She was not joking about professionalism – I’d seen him at her desk a couple times but had thought absolutely nothing of it.

      She came back the following Monday and he had proposed to her! So, a little bit more than dating! But all I was or could be was happy for her.

    1. Bubbles*

      I was so hopeful this would be one of the first comments. :)

      Congrats, OP! It really is GOOD news, so don’t worry about gossip. Share your happiness.

    2. Muriel Heslop*

      Yes! Congratulations! As long as there was not a conflict of interest, I would be very happy for any of my team if they shared this news! Good luck!

  2. Queen_of_Comms*

    Coming from a communications perspective, I like Alison’s advice. The more upfront you are about the news, the less room your coworkers will have to speculate. Less speculation results in less gossip and a shorter period of being the office scandal.

    The majority of your coworkers’ reactions will also mirror your presentation of the information. If you present the story with professionalism and not treat it like a scandal, they’ll be more inclined to follow your lead and treat it in the same way. Of course, it won’t squash all the whispering, but you’ll at least be in control of the narrative and tone.

    1. Sparrow*

      Do you have thoughts on how she goes about telling the coworkers? Make an announcement at a meeting? Send out an email? Tell a few and expect word to spread? I think deciding that would be the part that stressed me out the most.

      1. JokeyJules*

        i’d announce it as you normally would! “hey, i’m pregnant! due in (month).” “oh, the father is Ted over in accounting, yeah, we’ve been seeing each other a little while now.”

        1. CheeryO*

          This is nitpicky, but it sounds like LW and the coworker are in the same department, so I think that part of this script that helps it feel casual will not apply. I feel like if you take that part out, you’d want to put in something equally breezy (“Oh, Ted is actually the father…”).

        2. Reality.Bites*

          Father Ted? So much for the vow of celibacy. ;)
          Seriously though, I wonder how many in the office will suddenly insist they could always tell they were a couple.

      2. West*

        Not the same thing, but similar for me: I was diagnosed with breast cancer this past summer and needed multiple surgeries and had to work from home during chemo to avoid people when I was immune compromised. It is also next to impossible to hide a mastectomy and hair loss, just like it’s next to impossible to hide a pregnancy. But I didn’t want to have the “I have cancer and will be out for these reasons” chat with everyone, but still wanted to be upfront about it so people would be able to help cover for me when I was ill/recovering. I ended up discussing my options on how to tell people with my boss, and with my permission he ended up quietly sharing the news with people right after I left for surgery so I wouldn’t have to do that (it was very emotional and I did not want to deal with it at work). A few people ended up sending me emails asking how my “knee surgery recovery” was going, so something happened in the office news sharing pipeline, but it mostly worked.

        1. MsMaryMary*

          A friend of mine did the same thing when she got a divorce. Many people at work had met her husband, and our teams rotated in and out so that it wasn’t unusual to work super closely with someone and then not see them for six month. She told a few people and asked them to tell everyone about the divorce and that she did not want to talk about it. It worked like a charm.

    2. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

      Yes. But also know that some people will be gossipy and judgy regardless of how far in front of this you are, and be prepared for some of that.

  3. Miss May*

    As much as I am a proponent of your personal life is your personal life and nobody should have their nose in it, its unfortunately not the case with many workplaces. There was a AITH post on reddit about a woman who very much kept to herself at work (her coworkers didn’t know she was married and had kids), and when her coworkers found out that she had a LIFE, they were very put out that they didn’t know about it. So, in a perfect world you shouldn’t have to tell anybody. But, people are people, so I think Allison’s advice is spot on.

    Also, based on the title of this one I thought it was going to go in a WAY different direction. Congrats on the baby!

    1. Madeline*

      I wonder if maybe it was how they kept their life private? If they came across as unapproachable or cagey any time coworkers were discussing personal lives, that could definitely come across negatively.

      1. MatKnifeNinja*

        I’ve have people straight up tell me it’s none of my business. Stuff like from cancer treatment to when a baby is due.

        I really don’t want to know what’s going on in their lives other than surface pleasantries. I’m not Chatty the Office Gossip.

        Some people have not qualms tell you to MYOB now a days. They figure you have no right to know.

        1. Fikly*

          You generally don’t have a right to know, though. Especially with coworkers. Unless it’s going to affect you directly, like will they be absent from work, they are under no obligation to tell you.

          So the information you have the right to know is “when do you plan to start your leave?” if you will be affected by that, not when is your baby due.

          1. Avasarala*

            Sure but it’s super weird to spend 8+ hours a day 5 days a week with people in a cooperative and cordial atmosphere, and refuse to engage in small talk like “are your treatments going well?” “yes, as good as can be” ” that’s good” or “when’s your baby due?” “October” “how exciting”

            1. selena81*

              I think it’s better to be vague or lie a bit (talking about parents when you only have one, or changing the gender of a spouse: not because you are ashamed but because you don’t want drama) than to outright refuse to talk about your private life

        2. Ego Chamber*

          So your issue with kids these days is that you don’t even really want to know about their lives but you’re also offended that someone going through cancer treatments doesn’t want to engage in surface pleasantries with you about … *checks notes* … their cancer treatments.

          Huh. Well, I hope that person going through cancer treatments stops being so selfish and rude, and decides to share with you—a person who definitely does not care about their life—a few surface pleasantries about their very pleasant experiences undergoing cancer treatments, which are probably full of fun little anecdotes and not awful or borderline traumatic to think about. Jfc.

    2. Casper Lives*

      It’s incredibly weird to not share the basics of your life like that you have a spouse or children. Not details of your dating life or what sport your kid plays, but that they exist? Yeah, I’d find that very off-putting.

      1. aebhel*

        That’s so interesting to me, because like… I’d find it weird if someone straight-up *lied* about it or was ostentatiously evasive, but if you just keep to yourself and it doesn’t come up, how is that off-putting?

        I mean, people I work with know I have kids because I was working here when I was pregnant with both of them, but otherwise I can easily see it just not coming up. I mean, I assume that people have lives outside of work even if they don’t talk about them *at* work, so the fact that someone’s life outside of work doesn’t look like what I had pictured for them doesn’t really seem like that big a deal to me.

        1. Casper Lives*

          After thinking about it more, it’s nuanced. There are some colleagues that I work with closely (like sitting in a mediation room for hours together, with mostly just us). I’d find it odd if they never mentioned a partner or kids during small talk. It would seem like they were hiding it since there’s so many times it could organically come up.

          I’ve got colleagues I don’t work closely with or see often. I wouldn’t be surprised to not know details about them.

          Thinking about it, I know that many of my colleagues are married and some have kids. I’m not nosing around for this info. I spend more hours a weekday with my colleagues than with others outside of work.

        2. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

          I am also puzzled by a lot of the comments today. I bet most of my coworkers don’t know that I have kids, how many, etc. If they ask, I will be happy to tell them. But on the very rare occasion that I have a 2-minute breakroom chat with most of my coworkers, people typically talk about things like the weather or the shortage of parking spaces etc. Would be kind of weird to cut into that with “DID YOU KNOW THAT I AM A MOTHER OF CHILDREN” My close work friends, and people who I’ve worked on the same team with for years, know the basics of each other’s family situations, the rest don’t know, because they don’t ask, and don’t share this information about themselves. I don’t see anything “incredibly weird” about this. We are just not a chatty office, I suppose!

          1. CheeryO*

            I mean, I think it depends on your office size and setup, but it strikes me as odd to not know the basics (I’d consider that to include the existence of a partner/kids/pets, plus any major hobbies) about people you spend 40-ish hours per week with. Even a not-chatty office has to have a few minutes of forced chatting here and there, plus the occasional holiday party or whatever. Plus, people naturally like to talk about each other – even if it’s not gossippy, I feel like I end up getting everyone’s life story through other people.

            1. aebhel*

              I think this varies a *lot* by office setup. I work in a library with 13 employees, but I spend most of my day working on my own in my office or at the reference desk; there’s just not a ton of casual social contact unless I go out of my way to seek it out, whereas I’ve had plenty of jobs where I’m actually working with people for most of the day, so conversations happen a lot more naturally.

            2. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

              Our holiday party is a catered lunch that is set in the breakroom and takes up all the tables in the breakroom. Everyone comes in, makes themselves a plate, and goes back to their desk as there is nowhere else to go.

              Like I said, my team, I know pretty well. Everyone else, not really. If we don’t work together every day, then the very few occasional conversations that we have are going to only be about work, where they ask me a question, I IM them the answer, they say thank you and the conversation is over, or vice versa. I cannot in good conscience say that I spend 40-ish hours per week with these people, no more so than I could say that I spend every night with the neighbors three doors down on my street.

            3. NPOQueen*

              My coworkers know that I have a dog, and that he’s a good boy. The only reason I know who is married is because they have wedding rings, or they mark their childrens’ appointments on their calendars. My office is pretty open, physically and mentally, but my kids (or lack thereof) and my hobbies aren’t going to come up much. I just don’t talk about them, but some of my coworkers do. It’s never affected my ability to have warm relationships with them.

            4. MCMonkeyBean*

              I mostly find it hard to imagine how it could literally never come up. I’m not a big office socializer but I’ve had to say things to my boss like “I have to go pick up my husband because his car got stuck in our garage, I’ll be back in like 30 minutes.” And I don’t have kids but my coworkers might say something like “I have to leave a little early today to take my kid to swim practice.” Or they had to work from home because their kid was sick or something.

              I guess in an hourly job where you don’t have that sort of flexibility you might not ever have a reason to mention your family.

          2. Mama Bear*

            I’m pretty sure one of my coworkers is pregnant but we don’t work closely together and I’m not going to assume. I’ll wait for the big announcement, if she makes one. I don’t think she’s weird, just that she’s a private person and I don’t have daily interaction with her. I think just bring it up as/where needed.

          3. Cat*

            It’s usually more like “how was your weekend?” “Good, kids had a soccer tournament.” Or whatever. It comes up without being a whole big thing.

            In the case of the Reddit post I believed she had worked there for a decade and considered her coworkers her friends but never told them about her spouse and kids. Which is weird.

        3. Clisby*

          I think it would be strange for a work colleague I was close friends with not to know my marital/parental status, but other than that? Not strange at all. I mean, it wouldn’t be strange if they *did* know, but not everybody talks about their private lives at work.

      2. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

        Agreed. I respect people’s privacy but this is very extreme and I would find that off-putting as well. If someone asks a personal question that you don’t want to answer, it’s as simple as saying so, not being so cut off on a personal level that the people you spend 40+ hours a week with know absolutely nothing about you.

        1. Fikly*

          I would ask yourself why your curiosity about someone else’s personal life that does not intersect with yours is more important than their comfort.

      3. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

        Based on the comment thread here a few months ago in which people were defending coworkers who refused to even refer to their own kids by name at work, it seems there’s a (possibly small?) subset of people out there who think that any information about their personal life is tantamount to state secrets.

      4. Jayem Griffin*

        I mean, I don’t talk about my long-term partner at work because we’re both women. Most of my coworkers would probably be okay, but this stuff spreads and I don’t trust the leadership not to fire me over it, which would be completely legal where I live.

      5. JSPA*

        I’d assume coworker or spouse had a darn good reason for staying as anonymous as possible. Stalker ex; escaped from cult; witness protection program family; spouse has not formally told past academic job that during their sabbatical, they actually moved and took a new job; poly and don’t want to catch heat if someone spots them on a date; considering a separation / divorce, and it’s easier if work doesn’t know spouse, until the decision is made; spouse is famous or infamous and coworker does not want that to color perceptions; spouse was married to someone else when kid was conceived and coworker is shy about people doing the math; spouse is a non-citizen with visa-status issues; spouse is findable on ex-con or Megan’s law sites, or shares an uncommon name with someone who is; past coworker got in coworkers face about pregnancy, childrearing, vaccination, home schooling, and they want none of that in this job; coworker or spouse come from a background where married women are not expected to advance in the workplace; coworker comes from a background where talking about good things is asking for misfortune; coworker actually did mention spouse or child by name, on occasion, but never clarified that they were the spouse and child (as opposed to pet, neighbor, ex-boss, friend or colleague).

    3. Nom de Plume*

      Yeah, I feel like there’s definitely a range of how open workplaces are in terms of how much people talk about their personal lives. My company has a very close-knit “clan” culture, where folks knowing about each other’s personal lives is the norm. I’m going snowshoeing with folks from work this weekend and some of my coworkers helped another coworker pick out his wife’s engagement ring, for example (the culture definitely isn’t for everyone). So it was kind of weird when one coworker casually mentioned that he needed a week off to get married. People didn’t know that he had a significant other at all. Then a while later he was like, “Yeah, I’ll be out for two weeks in a few days for paternity leave.” and folks were surprised because they didn’t even know his wife was pregnant. Given our open culture, he comes off as a bit of an odd duck.

    4. Maxie's Person*

      I worked at a satellite location for the company. One of the people at the mothership became my boss for a while. She was a very private person. We knew she was a single mother to a daughter (a bit younger than mine) and we traded some “mother of teen girls” stuff. No one knew anything about her girl’s father or what had brought her to the mothership’s location; she wasn’t from around there and it’s not the kind of place single parents would randomly choose. She never spoke about anything outside work. She was out for a couple of weeks for “medical reasons” giving no clue about her illness. She even got a MBA without letting on. It just showed up in her LinkedIn profile. She hinted to a colleague later that there was a new person in her life but that’s all.

      As a boss, she communicated infrequently and did not give praise or even encouragement. Calling her to hash out a problem or report a success just wasn’t done. My colleague and I knew that an email from her usually meant either an assignment or a chewing out and a phone call indicated a formal reprimand.

      It was tough working for someone so closed up and introverted. I didn’t want to become her buddy but simply to learn what made her tick in the work environment

    5. Sleve McDichael*

      When I first started out as an engineer I did not mention my husband at work. Partly to avoid being seen as a pregnancy risk, partly to try and seem more capable and independent, partly because I felt it was nobody’s business. This backfired. My boss found out through the grapevine and was very put out that I didn’t tell him. I thought he then told everyone but clearly not because a few months later a colleague asked me out on a date. (For the record even if I were single I would not have dated him in a million years). Then he sulked and avoided me for a month. So much drama! I still think that neither of them were entitled to my personal information but it’s a point on which the world and I clearly disagree so now I just tell people. Lesson learned.

    6. LavaLamp*

      The reason the person in that AmITheAsshole post was so upset was because her coworkers started treating g her the way she treated them with nothing personal only work chat. Near the end of the thread she realized it was silly and kind of shitty of her to expect closeness without putting in the effort on her side of things.

  4. AbaxSC*

    You can manage some of the gossip by your attitude and demeanor – if both of you are cheerful and relaxed and matter-of-fact about the whole thing, people will be much less likely to read anything underhanded into the situation. Also, congratulations!

    1. Jedi Squirrel*

      Yes, this! Don’t act like it’s a scandal from the get-go, because it’s not. People are entitled to a private life, and dating a coworker not in your chain-of-command when there is no company policy about it very much falls under the private life umbrella.

      And the age difference doesn’t matter one bit. Yes, some people may look down their nose at you because of that, but that’s because they’re dung beetles and that’s the particular ball of dung they are choosing to roll with. It’s absolutely none of their business.

      Also, people who love to gossip tend to have short memories. Next week, somebody probably will embezzle, or punch a client, or cheat on their spouse, and they’ll choose to talk about that, instead.

      I wish the best for you, OP, and certainly hope you update us when Xavier has a new job and the two of you have a new baby.

      1. Jules the 3rd*

        +1 to all this. The age difference shouldn’t be a big deal, you’re both well into adulthood.

        A couple of my coworkers dated for almost a year before they told anyone other than their manager (per company policy: not forbidden but make sure your manager knows and can prevent ethical conflict). First I knew about it was the engagement announcement, and I worked regularly with one of them. It was a five minute ‘oh, wow, y’all were discreet, but congrats!’ and a lovely wedding.

        1. Liz*

          Same thing happened to me years ago; my first job out of college, I worked with two people who sat RIGHT next to each other. as in their desks were 2 feet apart. I knew they were good friends, but didn’t think anything of it. Even when they got an apt together, seemingly as roommates, adn it was in NYC, so not at all unusual to share living space with others.

          It wasn’t until she moved onto another location, and i stayed over in their apt after an event, and realized it was a ONE bedroom, that they told me nope, they had been dating for MONTHS. They’ve now been happily married for 25+ years.

        2. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

          My parents worked at the same manufacturing plant for 30 years, and were married for like 29 of them (they met at a work party). Most of the people at work who knew and worked with both of them, did not know they were married to each other. I aspire to this level of privacy.

        3. Lily Rowan*

          Yeah, I once knew two coworkers were each getting married soon before I realized they were getting married to each other! Other people knew they were together, but I wasn’t close to either of them, and they were totally professional in the office.

          In 90% of cases, I’m sure people are normal and just have a “Huh! Interesting! That’s great!” reaction.

        4. JSPA*

          If there is a “tell your boss” clause, and you didn’t disclose as early as you might have, “this became serious quickly” is going to be very understandable, under the circumstances.

          Even if / especially if marriage is not on the table at the moment, if the BF is amenable, you might want to have some sort of commitment ceremony that’s a commitment to parenthood, or otherwise make a joint announcement, so there’s no tang of,

          “That old dog John was fooling around and got young Jane pregnant, she’s having the kid solo, how can we all look each other in the eye after that?”

      2. AKchic*

        Very much this. The attitude of “oh, we didn’t think our personal lives were news to share” blandness, combined with “we’d share information when we actually had exciting information *to* share” kind of things.

        If people get too nosy, maybe a slightly raised eyebrow, a pointed stare and a “gee, maybe people don’t share everything in this office because they worry about the 3rd degree and potential gossiping that goes on?”
        But make sure the question is sufficiently curious and airy.

        I also like the “we’re generally private people and like to keep work and home as separate as possible.”

        Practice saying “we don’t discuss our private lives at the office” because eventually, someone(s) will start asking really invasive questions that are generally reserved for pushy older family members (i.e., “when are you getting married?” “You are planning on getting married, right?”, rumblings about making an “honest woman” of you, and “was this planned” generally seem to be the theme). I’d also practice the deadpan stare and saying “what an odd question” and changing the subject.

        Congratulations to you and your partner. I wish him well on his job search.

    2. Zeldalaw*

      This is all very true! I had coworkers in a fairly similar situation (although the age difference was only about 10 years, but the rest was similar). They were in the same overall department, but completely different areas. She was slightly senior, but not over him at all and their work didn’t overlap except in some limited cases where they would have to consult. Same thing: no one knew they were dating, then suddenly she was pregnant and they announced they were getting married! There was a bit of surprise at first, but they didn’t change how they acted at work (if they didn’t have the same unusual last name, you’d never know they were married) and there really was very little discussion of it. It just “was.” That was 20 years ago and they’re still married and now have two kids! He’s moved on (but it was several years after they got married and had nothing to do with that), but she’s still there and has been promoted several times, so it had no effect on her job at all. And congrats!!!

  5. Batgirl*

    I think you need to package this as ‘We thought it was more professional…”
    “..while it was early days”
    “…before there was anything significant to share”
    Since, you know, it’s the truth! Then Just mood switch it right up it into happy mode:
    “But we are just too excited now”
    “We knew everyone would be so great”
    Congratulations! This is the happiest type of gossip.

    1. PX*

      So much this. Excellent language/word choices I think.

      Basically framing it as you were trying to be extra responsible and professional about it makes it even weirder for someone to push back. How your boss reacts will tell you a lot about expected boundaries in your workplace!

    2. Kate R*

      Completely agree. I didn’t even think it was necessary to put in the caveat about making sure the relationship was serious first. Just, “We wanted to remain professional at work, but now that there’s exciting news to share, we couldn’t keep it to ourselves” or something like that.

      1. Anongineer*

        I love this – you don’t have to share the timeline of your relationship! Also, someone made the point down below: you’ve been keeping your relationship/life private, NOT secret.

      2. boo bot*

        I actually think the “we were waiting to see if it would be serious” caveat might be helpful just because the OP thinks her boss will be disappointed that she wasn’t told from the beginning.

        The boss would be unreasonable to expect the OP to tell her immediately that she’s dating a coworker, but if the OP thinks she’s likely to feel that way anyway, she might as well put the news in a way that explains the perceived “slight.”

        Anyone who feels like that’s too much mental gymnastics for a hypothetical, unreasonable reaction is, of course, 100% correct.

    3. Happy Pineapple*

      These are excellent suggestions. OP, you’re not sharing a shameful or dirty secret. It’s not even that unusual to date a coworker; after all, you spend more time with them than probably anyone outside of work. You were just keeping your personal life private. Any reasonable coworker or manager would understand. If I suddenly heard my seemingly single colleagues announce “we’re excited to be expected a baby together,” my reaction would be: “Oh, I didn’t know they were dating! They seem happy, so that’s awesome news.”

  6. RC Rascal*

    I worked with a young male co-worker who got his girlfriend pregnant. He didn’t tell anyone he was about to become a father. The baby came, and he still didn’t tell anyone. Then people started to figure it out on their own, mostly because the child’s mother kept walking his unusual looking dog around town, with the baby carriage. (There was a picture of the pup on his desk, but not the kid). It was very strange. And the fact he had a Secret Baby quickly became a much bigger deal than that he had gotten his girlfriend pregnant.

    1. Mary*

      We had a guy at work who everyone, including his manager, assumed was a single 22-year-old. Then one day he phoned up to say he was taking two weeks paternity leave because his wife had just had a baby, and then entire organisation, went, “Yusuf’s a dad? Wait, Yusuf’s MARRIED?”

      1. RC Rascal*

        Keeping this kind of information secret affects overall trust, and makes you wonder what else they are hiding.

        If Yusuf can’t tell you he’s married, that opens to door to a whole host of other secrets. As a manager, I would have a hard time advancing the career of someone this secretive.

        1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

          Seriously? You would not promote someone because they didn’t go around the org shouting their marital status from the rooftops? Maybe he didn’t tell anyone, because nobody asked? I assume his manager and the HR knew, because of the tax withholdings, benefits and whatnot.

            1. Clisby*

              Why would a manager necessarily know? (Maybe there are HR-type reasons that haven’t occurred to me.)

              1. Ego Chamber*

                It’s a dick move to take 2 weeks off with no notice if you have a reasonably good idea that you’ll need to take the time off.

                The phone call like “I’m taking 2 weeks paternity leave, effective now, good luck everybody else!” is strange because there are few jobs/industries where you can just dip out without any kind of handover without it being a huge headache for whoever has to cover for you. That part makes me question his judgement and how much responsibility he could be trusted with. I would have similar feelings about someone who scheduled an elective surgery months ago but waited until the day of to tell their manager they’d need time off for it.

                All the people I’ve worked with who have taken parental leave had their coverage plan lined up ahead of time as much as possible, and the FMLA paperwork was also on file months in advance.

          1. MicroManagered*

            the tax withholdings, benefits and whatnot.

            Not necessarily. The IRS doesn’t require you to have tax withheld according to the married tax tables, you can opt for single (and have more tax withheld) and a lot of people do!

            Not everyone is on their spouse’s insurance. When I was married previously, it was far cheaper for my ex and I to stay on our existing insurance, than to both be on one.

            1. That Girl from Quinn's House*

              My husband’s work charges you an additional premium if you carry a spouse/child on their insurance policy who is eligible for insurance through their own work.

              I expect they are putting out feelers to start charging full-freight for spouse/child policies in the future.

              1. Tidewater 4-1009*

                My former employer began doing this as of 2020.
                I assume it’s because they’re pinching pennies any way they can, while the CEO makes a salary that made headlines.

            2. Mary*

              This was on the UK, so health insurance didn’t apply. There are other things that might apply (death in service benefits, pensions etc) but I don’t know whether your manager would necessarily need to be aware of them in a large organisation.

          2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

            I have people who don’t want to be bothered with changing their tax withholding. So lots are still claiming 0 and single but I know they’re married [because they did mention it and only because of that]. So not necessarily a tell-all! Lots of people don’t care if they get a big tax refund, they even prefer it.

            1. Annony*

              Yep. I have the maximum withheld because my husband is a contractor. It makes taxes easier for us that way (no large refund unfortunately).

              1. MicroManagered*

                Do you know that you can also have additional tax withheld? My ex had some contractor income and we’d estimate the self employment tax and have it withheld as an extra $25 bucks per check.

            2. Clisby*

              I’m one who doesn’t want a big tax refund. Ideally, there’d be zero refund and zero money owed. That never happens, but I don’t want either refund/money owed to be much.

              1. MoinMoin*

                That’s what the 2020 w-4 aims for, it basically works like a mini tax filing instead of using the allowances to approximate. Just throwing it out there for people interested in getting their liabilities better balanced, especially if you’ve been in the same job for awhile and haven’t updated your w-4 since starting.

                1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

                  Before this came out, you can also do it by talking to your CPA if you’re not good at math/forms.

                  But the IRS has always had a withholding calculator that’s spot on. It’ll tell you what your withholding should be set at each year, you plug in your estimated income and boom. [The new W4 now directs you there…not that 97% of everyone I’ve had fill out a W4 care enough to even do the worksheet, let alone go online to figure it out! But it’s nice they’re advertising it in some way now…]

        2. MicroManagered*

          This is bizarre!! My manager, grandboss, and coworkers don’t know anything about my relationship status. It’s none of their business? I know some coworkers’ statuses, but not others. It’s none of my business? Unless they feel like sharing it? I would never ever not sharing such personal information a reason to hold back someone’s career. YIKES!!

          1. boo bot*

            Yeah – some people share more than others, and there are plenty of good reasons to keep one’s private life private: from personal preference, to concerns about discrimination, to challenges they don’t want to talk about at work, to the subject just never coming up.

            I’m also surprised by anyone who feels 100% certain that the person “kept their personal life secret” rather than that they just missed the information. In the above scenario, I’d be more like, “Huh, I didn’t know Yusuf was married, must have missed that conversation. New baby! Neat!” I know it’s weirder because the whole organization didn’t know, but even then – did anyone ever ask? Are we SURE we didn’t all just forget because it’s been busy and he doesn’t talk about personal stuff much?

            I feel like personal information at work is kind of scattershot: people mention things here and there, not everyone picks it up, it’s a toss-up who remembers what, and everyone’s picture of each other’s life outside the workplace is pretty vague, unless it’s a really close-knit place.

            If there are things you want to know about, ask. (But don’t break the labor laws, we need them.)

            1. MoinMoin*

              It’s kind of weird if he didn’t even bring it up in the context of, “I’ll be needing a few weeks off around this time” until last minute, though.

          2. Mia 52*

            Is whether you’re married or not really “such personal information”? I’m learning that it really must vary vastly from person to person. Even if you asked your co worker once a month “How was your weekend” I feel like a spouse or child would pop up? Guess my workplace is very very open and it seems to fit me! Learning a lot today lol.

            1. MicroManagered*

              Yes, I consider my personal life to be personal. I don’t tell coworkers about my dating life. There’s nothing to hide, I just don’t care to discuss it.

              I would probably go to HR if I found out my manager was using the details of my personal life as the basis for career advancement opportunities, because I have a strong feeling that would not happen to a man.

        3. Public Sector Manager*

          Are you kidding me? Work is for work, and someone disclosing information from their personal life shouldn’t play any role in someone promoting.

          RC, maybe you shouldn’t be promoted because you’re so secretive that you don’t use your real name on the comments section of a management blog.

        4. PollyQ*

          Employers, bosses, and colleagues have no need to know anything at all about other employees personal lives, which means that there’s no reason why people shouldn’t be allowed to keep their private lives private. It’s absurd to say that you’d hold that against someone, or believe that they’d necessarily act the same way about business-related information.

        5. Office Grunt*

          Chiming in to say that I hope to *never* work for someone like you with this mindset.

          There may be legitimate reasons for people to not disclose such things. I went through this when dating someone who used to work at OldJob, but left before I started. Eventually word got out (entire org was >30 people), and I pissed people off by refusing to discuss my personal life at work.

          As to other secrets? I was the sole accountant at a financial institution that got audited and/or examined every single year I was there, and I was given high marks every single time.

        6. Lady Glitter Sparkles*

          If they employee outright lied when asked directly if he was married, then I can understand that would affect a manager’s ability to trust and promote the employee; however, if the manager never directly asked if he was married, then apparently the manager doesn’t care. You can’t really have it both ways… mad because an employee doesn’t tell you about his marital status but you don’t ever directly ask.

          1. aebhel*

            Yeah, that’s kind of my feeling on it. If you don’t directly ask someone about their personal life, it seems strange to be upset with them for not volunteering the information.

            I mean, my kids don’t come up that often in conversation, probably largely because none of my colleagues have kids, and it’s just… not really a point of common interest? I’ve had more conversations about Star Trek at work than I have about my kids.

        7. Caliente*

          Oh COME ON. People aren’t obliged to tell a bunch of co-workers a damn thing and shouldn’t be considered untrustworthy if they do not. That is a totally ridiculous statement!
          I learned to talk a lot less at work many years ago because for me its getting all the people who all of a sudden want to do all the stuff you do and make plans and blah blah blah. When I said I was going to yoga – because you asked what I’m dong after work – I wasn’t inviting you and no I don’t think it’d be great if you joined me. When I said I was meeting my friend for happy hour, no it wasn’t an invitation. Yes, I take my son to basketball every week – no I don’t want to take your son too….etc.

        8. Peter Piper Picked a Peck of Pickled Peppers*

          Seriously!?! What a strange view of someone wanting to keep their private life private.

          I had been work friends with Annabelle for 5 years when she came to my wedding. I also invited the one other colleague I was close to, Katrina.

          Shortly afterwards Katrina and I found out that Annabelle had got married a month before I did. Her and her partner had gone away for a long weekend and got married, and told their families when they got back. We only found out because she had to tell HR.

          We were mock outraged and she just shrugged and laughed. She was an intensely private person who couldn’t stand any sort of fuss. It didn’t make her untrustworthy or unreliable.

        9. Not Me*

          This mindset is dangerously close to discrimination, you’re practically asking for a law suit by making employment decisions based on people’s personal lives. I realize you most likely don’t think that’s what you’re doing, but it is exactly what you’re doing.

          1. aebhel*

            Yeah, and I realize this isn’t necessarily what the rationale is here, but this is something that people who are, say, involved in a same-sex relationship have to navigate, and sometimes it’s easier to just not bring it up in the first place.

        10. Observer*

          If Yusuf can’t tell you that he has IBS, that opens the door to a whole host of other secrets.

          If Yusuf can’t tell you that he’s afraid of spiders, that opens the door to a whole host of other secrets.

          If Yusuf can’t tell you that he’s learning Spanish, that opens the door to a whole host of other secrets.

          If Yusuf can’t tell you that he’s estranged from his parents, that opens the door to a whole host of other secrets.

          Unless you work in the secret service or something like that any of the above sentences make about as much sense as what you have written.

        11. Mx*

          And if you were in the UK you would be breaking the law because discrimination based on marital status is illegal.
          My manager doesn’t know if I am married or not. It’s none of her business.

        12. Analytical Tree Hugger*

          As a manager, I would have a hard time advancing the career of someone this secretive.

          Odd, I would think this would mean even MORE trust, since he has demonstrated the ability to be very circumspect, a useful soft skill in any workplace and essential in some.

          Oh, and I definitely agree with the other commenters: Your stance is a terrible, irrational stance for a manager.

        13. Fikly*

          There is a vast difference between someone not mentioning something, versus lying about it.

          Going from Yusuf has a wife and baby he didn’t mention (and he mentioned it once it was relevant to work!) to Yusuf cannot be trusted is just bizarre. If anything, I’d trust Yusuf over other employees to keep their mouth shut.

        14. Anon for this one*

          I was that guy (girl) who was secretly married (without the baby, though)

          We got married on a weekend a few months after I’d started working at that company and I just never mentioned it… but went further than Yusuf, as I directly implied that I was just an ‘I’ rather than a ‘we’ in conversations like ‘did you do anything good during your vacation’ and specifically gave the impression that it was only me.

          I did have complex reasons for this, but it hadn’t occurred to me until now (this was all quite a long time ago) that it could have been perceived as secretive or untrustworthy – but I think on some level you are right.

      2. Nita*

        But what did he tell his manager? Did he tell the manager it was a vacation, but fill out the paternity leave papers with HR? Or did he just not tell the manager anything until the day he was taking leave? I can understand being extremely private, but that bit seems odd. Technically the manager doesn’t have to know why one is taking FMLA – but don’t they need to know that their employee will be out on FMLA and not vacation?

        1. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

          That’s a good point, and in fact anyone taking FMLA for childbirth has to notify their workplace a month prior to when they expect to be out. So he either isn’t using FMLA protection or somehow convinced HR to not tell his manager that he planned to be out of work for several weeks…

          1. Office Grunt*

            There can be extenuating circumstances regarding notice – I notified my current employer of my daughter’s pending birth once I came in for orientation/new hire paperwork about two weeks before my official start date. At the time, we were looking at the 28th of the next month as the due date, and started all of the relevant paperwork.

            Everything was good, except for the form that the OBGYN’s office had to fill out which I got on Friday the 8th and sent over immediately. The following Monday, I get a call from my partner that they’re doing the C-section the next day.

            Had to go to big boss, but I was able to get approval that day for FMLA (4 weeks paid at 100%).

            Also, my employer is getting even further ahead of the curve, as FMLA is now 10 weeks at 100%.

            1. Yikes*

              Not to be The Girl, but that’s not FMLA. FMLA is a federal law that allows employees to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for covered reasons, and it doesn’t kick in (1) unless your employer is above a certain size, and (2) you have worked there at least a year. An organization’s own internal paid leave policy is an entirely separate thing.

              1. Ego Chamber*

                No, you should totally be That Girl. It’s important for workers to understand the laws that protect us. There’s way too much misinformation floating around about employment law and it’s always because of someone’s personal experience instead of someone reading the law.

                Office Grunt’s employer seems cools as hell though (at least on paid medical leave) and more companies should try to do more than the bare minimum.

        2. Mary*

          UK, so it was paternity leave. I think it was two weeks unpaid back then (it’s paid now.)

          Thinking about it, I don’t know for sure that his manager didn’t know—the story going around was that she was surprised as anyone else, but she was extremely discreet and that definitely wouldn’t have come from her, so that might have been an embellishment by someone else along the way!

    2. MistOrMister*

      I’ve had 2 coworkers go the secret baby route and it really does seem to make things much more titillating because of the secrecy. I’m not a baby person. Sure, I’ll hold one and coo at it for a minute and not just punt it across the room to get it away, but I really just don’t have much interest in them. So if someone says they’re pregnant, I’m only slightly curious. But if I find out after the baby has been around for a while, it does ramp up my curiosity as to what happened and why was it such a secret. I think people are just not that interested in our lives as long as things are humdrum, but throw in the possibility of something scandalous and we can’t help but want to know what is going on.

      1. Annie Moose*

        Yeah, you’d almost have to work at it, for other people to not notice that you’re in a significant relationship or have a child. Even stuff like, having a baby on your lock screen, mentioning you went to an event with your wife, having to take a day off work because your kids are sick, avoiding all of that sort of stuff to hide your personal life would take a real effort! And it’d really make me wonder why someone is trying so hard… like, do they think there’s something shameful or secret about having this baby? Because it’d be easier to just tell people you have a baby than try to hide it!

        1. Blueberries for Sal*

          I commented below, but I can speak to motivations on why I chose not to disclose. I did not feel any shame on my marriage or my pregnancy. Both were sudden, unexpected, and very happy- but I wanted to keep it to myself. I work in nonprofits and there’s a high rate of burnout because people invest so much of themselves in this line of work. To prevent that, I draw a very firm line between work Sal and regular Sal. I did disclose to my manager because both life events affected scheduling and availability, but swore her to secrecy. If I had to do it again, I’d tell some trusted colleagues in the second trimester. Not sure if I’d do anything different about the marriage; I was already in a long-term relationship so it wasn’t particularly shocking.

        2. Observer*

          Well, in Yusuf’s case I could think of at least 2 reasons why he might want to keep it secret. For one thing, with a name like Yusuf I’d be willing to bet that there are a lot of assumptions and stereotypes that he wants to avoid, especially since he’s young which would feed into that. Also, he’s young and I have no doubt that there are lots of judgy types who would totally look down on him and draw conclusions about the fact that he’s married by 22.

          I don’t know if that’s the case, but although I do get how odd it can be to keep stuff like this secret it’s also the case that even people without a reason to fear discrimination or a lot of drama or trauma in their backgrounds might want to keep stuff like this secret.

      2. Blueberries for Sal*

        I have done both the secret marriage and the secret baby thing. I love flying under the radar and at the time I worked in an office dominated by a warm bunch who loved public celebration. And yeah, it became a much bigger deal when the information got out. By “got out-” there’s no maxi dress+scarf combination that hides a watermelon attached to a five foot, relatively flat-chested woman. Instead of telling a few trusted people when my pregnancy stabilized and letting the news spread organically, I became the source of whispers and jokes. I’ve been gone for several years, but apparently people still talk about Sal’s “secret baby.” Would not recommend.

        Also- congratulations, OP!

        1. That Girl from Quinn's House*

          This. I worked at a place where gossip ran rampant, and it was typically better to transparent (or tell a white lie cover story) than it was to stay mum on an issue. Because people would make up a crazy lie in the absence of information, and it was always way more embarrassing and dramatic than the truth, no matter how sensitive or embarrassing the situation was.

      3. Penelope*

        I had a co-worker begin a relationship (after her divorce, and she was understandably pretty private about it) and then shortly afterwards become unexpectedly but happily pregnant. She got married over the Christmas holidays and then came back to work, announced the wedding, and was soon pretty visibly pregnant. Everyone was happy for her and she didn’t talk about it a lot but for a few weeks it was a surprise around work that she’d been single in the fall and was now married and expecting in January.

        It happens. They’re happily married still with another child. All good!

    3. Person from the Resume*

      I agree with Alison’s advice so much because the LW doesn’t have to share who the father is at all, but given the circumstance that he’s likely to still be employed as a colleague when the baby is born it is best to not treat that as a secret because when it comes out then the secrecy makes the news so much more gossipy and titillating.

      It will likely come out at the birth if they are still both employed there because presumably the father will want to be there for the birth so they’ll both be OOO on rather short notice for that. Presumably he also plans to take paternity leave for a few weeks (or regular vacation to bond and help with the newborn) which he should give his boss somewhat of a heads up about anyway (bad Yusuf) but especially since they are both on the same team and there will be two people from the team out at the same time.

      It would be tempting to hope he has a new job before then and not tell, but if he doesn’t the secrecy up to that point makes things worse.

      1. Joielle*

        Yes! Sort-of-related anecdote: at my last job, two coworkers started dating, moved in together, and got married all without telling anyone. It got out when they both requested time off for their honeymoon and the admin (who was sworn to secrecy) told her gossipy friend. It was way more of a scandal than it needed to be – partially because of the secrecy, partially because one was decades older than the other and significantly senior, but mostly because the older coworker had apparently done the same thing a decade earlier with a different junior coworker (and shortly after their divorce, started fishing in the same pool again, I guess)… which almost nobody knew about since it was so long ago, and probably wouldn’t have gotten out if not for the weird gossipy way the whole thing got out in the first place. It was a mess, the more junior spouse ended up quitting.

        1. MistOrMister*

          I certainly understand not telling coworkers at the beginning of the relationship. You don’t know if things will be serious or stay serious. But my goodness, once you’re actively planning the wedding, why continue keeping it a secret? Someone is going to find out at some point!! Even if no one is actively trying to out the couple, it seems inevitable that someone who knows will end up letting it out, assuming that it’s already common knowledge. And then it all looks sideways and questionable.

          1. Joielle*

            Exactly! And even if nobody knows at first, I assume someone will eventually notice that you take all the same vacation weeks, or one of you slips up and mentions something that happened at home, or you happen to have a mutual friend with a coworker. That particular office relationship would have been weird no matter what, but the secrecy made it so much worse than it needed to be.

      2. boo bot*

        Maybe he could just announce that he’s having a baby around the same time she does, and they could let everyone assume there will be two babies.

        They could each bring the baby in on different days, dressed in different clothes, and never outright saying whether or not it’s the same baby until people go mad with uncertainty. Then, when finally someone asks, “OMG do you both have the same baby?” they can look puzzled and say, “Yes, of course, we thought you knew!”

        Maximum effort strategy.

        1. Captain Vegetable (Crunch Crunch Crunch)*

          Yes. Do this! And we can place bets on how long it will take for people to figure it out!

        2. Nita*

          This is somehow so Improv Everywhere. It would be pretty funny. Also, it would become an office legend when people would finally put two and two together. Probably not the result OP is going for!

        3. Arts Akimbo*

          There is something about the phrase “OMG do you both have the same baby?” that is absolutely cracking me up!

        4. Former Admin turned Project Manager*

          My sister and I have worked for the same company for quite some time, and started in the same department (no impact on each other’s work, but we shared a boss for awhile). We don’t hide our connection, but we don’t broadcast it, either, so it’s not uncommon for people to know each of us independently for years and not realize that we are related. The best example was when our mutual boss heard that the childcare for my impending child was being split by the grandparents for a short time after I returned from my maternity leave, so the MaidenNames were watching the baby three days a week and the MarriedNames were watching him for two; boss wondered “Why are TechWriter’s parents caring for FormerAdmin’s child?!” Other folks just thought the pictures of my kids on my sister’s desk were an indication that we are very, very close friends.

    4. Ashley*

      The same thing happened in my office. A coworker went on vacation, which is pretty normal, except it turned out it was a honeymoon because he had just gotten married. lol Then when his wife had a baby, the only reason anyone found out about it was because he was taking a paternity leave and there was no other way to explain why he was going to be gone for 3 months. I can definitely understand wanting to keep private life private, but it does come across as a bit cold to me. But I’m also one who has no issues sharing whatever positive news I’ve got!

      1. Nita*

        My husband didn’t tell anyone at work about our oldest until he had to take paternity leave. I think it was the office climate at the time. It had become a very toxic workplace in the year before that, and he felt (not unreasonably) that any personal information he shares with anyone will get to upper management, who will find a way to turn it against him. Incidentally, he was proven right about that – management took advantage of the leave to demote him, but not in a way that could be easily proven to be FMLA retaliation.

        Hopefully that’s not the case for you, and your office is not a hotbed of plots and politics, but maybe your coworker used to be in a place like that and old habits die hard!

    5. Lucia*

      I agree that not disclosing the identity father during her pregnancy would lead to more gossip, rather than less. We had a single co-worker who had an affair with her married boss, and then got pregnant by him. The affair was pretty obvious even before she got pregnant – they were not subtle at all. When she refused to say who the father was, people gossiped constantly and made jokes about her having “a miracle baby” and the “christ child”, which was really unkind. There wasn’t any point in being secretive either, since right after she had the baby he left his marriage and then they moved away together. He was a well-known jerk, so I always thought he probably forced her to keep it a secret- ugh.

    6. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      To put some perspective on this.

      I have seen an uptick in friends who don’t announce their pregnancy until their babies are actually born. I’m pretty certain they of course tell their immediate families who see them regularly. But they certainly wouldn’t tell their coworkers or random colleagues because it’s their privacy in the end.

      I have an old, dear and pretty close friend who is many miles away. She kept her pregnancy secret from all of us. She was battling depression and had a hard pregnancy. Then she had the baby and was all “Surprise, I had a baby, isn’t she cute?!”

      It’s really not unheard of. It’s a thing.

      But the after the fact is what I do find a bit odd. I haven’t seen that happen personally. I still wouldn’t judge someone because they don’t actively share these details.

      1. AnotherAlison*

        I think this is a nice change from the overblown insta culture where everything is publicly and dramatically announced. Yes, I’m now a grumpy old woman with adult and teen kids.

        My cousin’s daughter J and her new-ish boyfriend made big public announcements about their pregnancy last summer. It all seemed so wonderful and fabulous, then the BF was sentenced to house arrest a couple counties away, J bought a house for her and her two sons without him, and now they are only sort-of dating because he doesn’t really want to move from his small town and she can’t work there (very rural). It’s nice to be able to make these decisions in private without the whole world knowing your business.

        1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

          I don’t have a preference. I just like that people do it the way that they want to in the end. I respect their choices and them exercising their freedoms.

          I am here for big public shenanigans or lowkey “BTW had a baby, here’s a pic.” or if you’re Cameron Diaz, it’s “no pics will be shared.” Each post is responded with a *love* and a “congratulations!”.

          But I also don’t feel obligated to follow/friend anyone in particular. So I only have people I truly care about on my social media, so I don’t get cantankerous about being overloaded with babies, puppies, Baby Yoda memes, etc.

  7. MissGirl*

    How far along are you? Could you separate the relationship announcement from the pregnancy? I don’t know why but this feels like less gossip for the rumor mill. “I just wanted to let you know John and I are dating.” Then a few months later, “I just wanted to let you know I’m pregnant.”

    1. Annie Moose*

      Yeah, obviously some people will do the math and figure out the timeline, but if it feels like Too Much to say “by the way I’m dating John AND ALSO it’s serious AND ALSO we’re having a kid”, then spacing out the announcements by a couple of months could give everyone time to get used to “oh, Sue and John are dating” before they also learn “Sue and John are having a baby!”

      1. Jules the 3rd*

        meh – the one time I saw a similar situation, the announcement was of their engagement. I think it made it easier to get it all over at once.

        1. Well Then*

          Same. It was an engagement and pregnancy announcement at once, and I hadn’t realized they were even dating. After the initial surprise, it was just happy news! Get it all over with at once.

      2. Joielle*

        Personally, I’d rip the band-aid off and do it all at once, maybe with a bit of humor – “This isn’t exactly how we’d envisioned telling you all, but we’re excited!” I don’t think it’s possible at this point to put enough time between the two announcements to avoid people being surprised/nosy about the timing. I’d just do it, but acknowledge that it’s an unusual situation.

    2. JustMyImagination*

      I thought of this, but depending on how big the company is and how much people gossip, it could take a few weeks for the relationship news to die-down only to be kicked back up again by a pregnancy announcement. It could make the LW the subject of months of gossip instead of just a few weeks.

  8. animaniactoo*

    Be matter-of-fact, but I would maybe not go for “didn’t realize the potential for conflict of interest” rather than that you recognize the potential for any conflict and are willing to work with them to ensure that it isn’t an issue going forward. Prior to this, it was a relationship you weren’t sure would go the distance and there wasn’t a lot of opportunity for conflict anyway, so didn’t think it was worth mentioning. Now that there’s more involved, you’re cognizant of the issues and are willing to take whatever steps may be appropriate.

    Gossip will happen. It will also become old news quickly.

  9. Viette*

    A timing point: if they’ve only been dating “a couple of months”, and now OP is pregnant, it may not be time to tell your boss for a while. Seriously, many people don’t even tell their families until they’re past the first trimester, for fear of miscarrying, which is very common! but rarely talked about, and having to tell everyone about that.

    So make a plan, and Alison’s plan is good, but you don’t have do all this immediately if you just found out you’re pregnant. It may be wise to space things out.

    1. Lessismore*

      Yes! It may be almost two months too soon to let anyone know about the pregnancy, much less your coworkers. I’d like to know how that changes the advice.

    2. RVA Cat*

      This. Maybe separate the dating news from the pregnancy announcement? That way any conflict of interest can be handled in between. It also might make any “scandal” die down and let people congratulate both of you for the pregnancy!
      (Also, the age difference should be no big deal and will seem to shrink every year. 17 years is the same gap as George and Amal Clooney.)

  10. TheLadyK*

    “We knew everyone would be so great!” is the best conversational jujitsu. It states an expectation, gives a compliment, lets people know how they should be responding. Unless they’ve really decided to be not-great, they’ll follow that path.

    1. Count Boochie Flagrante*

      Agreed. Things like pregnancy that can be highly emotionally charged in multiple directions — it’s good to tell people upfront what kind of news this is, so they know how to react.

      1. A tester, not a developer*

        The most awkward baby shower I’ve ever attended was for a young guy who had gotten his ‘girlfriend’ pregnant unexpectedly. Today I think we’d say it was a FWB situation, but this was almost 20 years ago.
        He told his boss because he would need time off for appointments and the delivery. He agreed to having a baby shower at work because he and the mother didn’t have enough money to buy everything they needed for the baby, and we were a very generous office (yep, he told us all this at the shower).

        It was weird being at a baby shower where no one said anything about congratulations or excitement. It was kind of like an adorable pastel wake.

        1. Le Sigh*

          That’s so many levels of awkward. “Congrats on this baby you’re not sure you’re happy about? And also here are some gifts because you’ve pretty openly stated that you see this as a gift grab, so I guess we’re all here going through the motions?”

    2. QuinleyThorne*

      +1 to this, this is excellent wording! It conveys the news positively and enthusiastically, and leaves no room to spin it otherwise, leaving the ball in everyone else’s court in terms of how to respond; which will reflect poorly on anyone who decides to be “not great” about it.

  11. Re'lar Fela*

    I dated a co-worker about five years ago and we kept it very quiet. Only a couple of my close work friends were aware. I became pregnant around the same time that he was fired. He ended up removing himself from the picture altogether when I was about 10 weeks along and then taking me to court to try and get a protective order (it was denied and the judge lectured him for wasting the court’s time). So there was quite a bit of drama and a lot of potential for scandal and gossip. People were extremely interested for about five minutes…and then they stopped caring. They were still happy for me and eager to meet my daughter, but there was no gossip (that I was aware of) and it wasn’t anywhere near as scandalous as I had imagined.

    Sometimes it’s easier to just rip off the band-aid and trust adults to be adults and manage their own feelings. Good luck–and congratulations!!

    1. Marthooh*

      A protective order? Was he scared of you? Or was he all “Tell her not to bother me about some dumb baby!”?

      1. MatKnifeNinja*

        It was a shot across the bow that at that moment in time, he had zero interest in her and the child.

        Not the first time I’ve heard that.

      2. Re'lar Fela*

        At the time, he was saying that he was going to fight tooth and nail to gain full custody and that I was a danger to the baby (not sure where on earth he got that idea–I’ve spent my entire career in youth services and am about six hundred times more stable than he ever was). However, as soon as his PO was denied, he disappeared completely and I’ve not heard from him since.

        I think MatKnifeNinja is correct. He was just testing the waters to see what he could get away with.

      1. Re'lar Fela*

        It was, thank you. But all’s well that ends well! My daughter is 3.5 now and we have an incredible life. I’ve never been happier.

    2. Warm Weighty Wrists*

      That sounds like it was a really stressful time. I’m so glad your coworkers didn’t add to the stress. Hooray for people acting appropriately!

      1. Re'lar Fela*

        It helped that the vast majority of my colleagues were social workers. Even the ones who weren’t were people who chose to be in a helping profession. They were wonderful (and still are, though I no longer work there)! It was a horribly stressful time, but I was fortunate to be surrounded by incredible people.

  12. Holly*

    I was really worried when I saw the headline, but you seem like you’re handling this the right way, and I am thrilled for you OP that you both are in love and were single – people do meet at work all the time. That actually makes things way easier – your coworkers will probably be surprised but may be more happy for you than anything else!

    1. Peter Piper Picked a Peck of Pickled Peppers*

      I was also expecting that OP was in a stressful and maybe unwanted situation, based on the headline. Nice to see happy news.

  13. Pickles*

    Make sure Xavier knows you are doing this before you do it.

    You absolutely want to talk about the things you and he are willing to share, see as no one else’s business, or have a set answer for (that maybe is a deflection).

    And as someone with a similar age gap with Spouse, screw ’em if they can’t handle it. I advise keeping your age off limits. The sooner you treat it as normal, the sooner everyone else does, too. The topic goes away the longer you’re together, btw. And Alison’s advice on polite “how odd, why would you bring that up, what business is it of yours?” conversations remains apt for both workplace and in-laws, speaking from personal experience.

  14. CaliCali*

    Honestly, I think more of the gossip will be due to the “couple of months” nature of it — and also, because people fill in the blanks when there’s a lack of info. But ultimately, you’ve both decided that you’re going to build a family, so just lean into that hard, and be straightforward.

    1. Jen in Oregon*

      When they decided to announce their relationship, I think saying that they’ve been dating “for awhile” is perfectly honest enough for their coworkers. Anyone that asks how long “awhile” is should be given a funny look and maybe a little laugh followed by “plenty long enough” or whatever response you are most comfortable with.

      LW, congratulations and I wish you all the best!

    2. hbc*

      Yeah, I would de-emphasize that part. Not because there’s anything wrong with the timing of events, but there will be a lot more pearl-clutching and such if they know that this is was an unplanned pregnancy early in a relationship. Something vague like “We’ve been dating a while” or “Eh, if we were professional enough to keep it separate enough that no one knew when we started dating, I’d rather keep it private.”

  15. boop the first*

    Wait, people know you have a boyfriend but they’re going to outright ask who the father is???????? Buh????

    1. londonedit*

      I guess you’re always going to run into a tactless few people who will go ‘Oh, wow! Is it that bloke you’ve been seeing, or…??’

      Which sucks, but I can imagine it will happen because people can be clueless.

      1. Ego Chamber*

        Whaaaat? No. If someone says they have a boyfriend and they’re pregnant, it’s a totally normal question to ask who the boyfriend/baby daddy is. If she only said she had a boyfriend, people would probably still ask who it was or where they’d met or some other banal nonsense to keep the conversation moving.

    2. Turtlewings*

      Yeah, I think LW is overthinking it slightly. Everyone’s going to assume the father is the boyfriend she’s mentioned unless she says otherwise. The only question is when/whether to share that the boyfriend is their coworker.

    3. Myrin*

      Yeah, that’s actually what caught me off-guard about this question. Surely I must be naïve and out of the loop but the multiple times the letter mentioned “want to know who the father is” my first reaction was – well, how is that ever going to come up? People are so nosy, I swear to god! (I mean, I’m super nosy myself but no one but my family knows that because I keep that shit to myself.)

    4. Count Boochie Flagrante*

      I’ve absolutely heard people say that as a (shitty) joke, even when the pregnant person is married! But yeah, asking for serious is… kind of a different thing.

    5. Nom de Plume*

      Yeah, the “wanting to know who the father is” thing gave me pause. Like, do people really ask pregnant people who the father is? If I had a friend or acquaintance announce a pregnancy to me, I suppose I would assume it was a spouse/significant other if I had never met them. When I was pregnant with my son (13 years ago) a coworker warning me about people potentially asking me who the “baby daddy” was. She was trying to clue me into what the term “baby daddy” meant, but literally no one asked who the father was. They likely (correctly) assumed it was my husband.

      1. valentine*

        She was trying to clue me into what the term “baby daddy” meant
        Did she not know what it meant or did she not know you were married?

    6. WellRed*

      But the point is, the father/boyfriend works at the office. So, while it would be impolite to ask “who’s the father?” It would be weirder to not mention it in this case because they know him. He’s supposed to just work without mentioning his impending fatherhood? Will he look like an ass for making her do all the explaining while he’s a silent partner. What happens when she goes into labor? Or, god forbid, has a complication?

    7. Don't Send Your Kids to Hudson University*

      It’s bananas that anyone would feel entitled to ask a coworker about the paternity her baby. It also seems rather likely that curious coworkers will reach the wrong conclusion or look for a scandal where two employees with unmentioned (read “secret”) partners are both expecting at the same time, and then start missing work for appointments at the same time, or planning parental leave at the same time, and start carpooling to/from work. That’s when folks will reach the wrong conclusion and assume there is a juicier story than this one.

      Alison is right that heading off the “secret” factor by just announcing good news because there is good news to share (and not because anyone here needs to come clean) had the effect of shutting down the curious and the nosy by removing a mystery to solve. I also think remaining vague and private about the details of exactly when your relationship started is fine. The point is it’s serious now and that’s why you’ll be sharing it. Having the conversation with your partner ahead of time too about your shared boundaries will help you to keep private information private without feeding those nosy folks looking for a scandal in details that they’ve decided don’t quite add up. Politely letting folks know that your relationship is private, while happily sharing the exciting news of this pregnancy is perfectly OK — “Oh Xavier and I want to keep our personal life separate from work, but we’re very excited to share this news” will do the trick.

    8. MicroManagered*

      This was my thought too. I would never ask a coworker “Who is the father?!” when they announced a pregnancy.

    9. dealing with dragons*

      people are tactless when it comes to pregnancy. i’m 28 and married and keep getting asked if it was planned

          1. we're basically gods*

            That’s hilarious! Mine was in response to me mentioning that there’s a big gap between me and my older brother, and apparently the immediate assumption was that I was an accident, instead of…y’know, fertility issues, or living situations, or not wanting to have multiple young children at once…

        1. Doc in a Box*

          Someone once told me I was lucky to have been born in the US so my parents didn’t abort me for being a girl.

      1. wittyrepartee*

        This happened to a friend of mine at age like… 33? It was weird.

        It’s like “yes, you clod”

    10. Nita*

      I think it’s a possibility in OP’s case. Normally it probably wouldn’t come up at all – so OP has a boyfriend and they’re expecting, great, moving on… However, the boyfriend works with OP. Unless they’re carefully ignoring each other, at some point their interactions may set off the rumor mill (are they dating or aren’t they? is he the father?), and there’s just no reason for them to inflict that on themselves. Rumors are pesky things. It’s better to head them off at the source.

    11. Marthooh*

      People probably won’t ask who the father is in so many words, but they are pretty likely to ask when they’re going to meet the boyfriend, or express some curiosity about him.

    12. SarahKay*

      I assumed that OP meant her coworkers would want to know *about* the father, I.e. her boyfriend.
      If OP has just been casually mentioning a boyfriend, and now she says she’s pregnant, then her boyfriend could reasonably be assumed to be about to become a significant part of her life, at which point people often seem to feel it’s acceptable to ask further questions about him.

    13. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

      Take it from a pregnant woman: there is no end to the insane things people feel it’s ok to ask once they find out you’re growing a life. Suddenly a pregnant woman’s body, choices, and entire life are up for public debate!

    14. Environmental Compliance*

      People can be that dumb/rude/obnoxious.

      On a related-ish note, for example purposes: I had a coworker previously that asked me straight up in my first week if I had kids, and when I said oh, no kids, just pets! then asked me when I was going to have kids, and then when I gave her a very confused look and said that we’re not planning children right now (because I blurted out the first not rude thing that came to mind), actually gasped and asked if my husband was going to have kids. ????

      When it comes to children, people are frickin’ weird as all hell. I have also had acquaintances who legitimately have had people ask them who the father is when they’ve gotten pregnant. Both with and without spouses. Often seems to be the same people who ask 1) if you’re pregnant when you talk about your engagement/wedding plans (because apparently that’s the only reason to get married and 2) if the baby was planned (who the heck cares?) which then coincides with 3) are you going to keep the baby (why, do you want it?).

      99% of people are not asshats, but man is that last 1% loud.

    15. AKchic*

      It’s not uncommon because there will always be the “traditionalists” that assume that an unmarried woman is obviously (sarcasm) hopping into the bed of every willing man she can, and therefore can’t possibly know who the father is, and that, is the crux of the matter when you have premarital relations, doncha know?
      So *obviously* the father would want to make an “honest woman” out of LW as soon as possible and claim *his* child right away, unless, of course, he is doubting the paternity of aforementioned child…

      *sigh* I dealt with these nosy gossips in the workplace before. Even union intervention didn’t fully shut it down. You expect it from your prudish, religious family. You don’t always expect it from your coworkers / supervisors.

    16. Mills*

      I was just about to comment this exact same thing! I can’t imagine anyone being nosy enough to say something like “who’s the father?” Is that just me?

      But Alison’s advice is great and you should be open about this (if you want to be) as you have nothing to hide or be ashamed of!

  16. PracticalQ*

    Curious about the role of the boyfriend/father in rolling out this news — seems like a lot for the OP to be taking fully on herself?

    1. Naomi*

      Maybe so, but in this case there’s no way for the father to take part in the news without revealing the relationship, which is the crux of OP’s question.

    2. uncivil servant*

      If he wrote in asking how he should tell people, we’d be saying it was her private medical information and her choice in how to reveal it.

      1. Wednesday of this week*

        I disagree. He’ll likely be asking for at least some leave around the time of the birth, and he won’t want them to be confused when it aligns exactly with her maternity leave. He has to handle this as an employee too.

        1. uncivil servant*

          Oh yes, he has to handle his own side of it. But he could easily leave that for months – maybe even until he starts a new job – and the OP is the one who has to deal with it soon. She can absolutely discuss it with him, they should have a unified front, etc., but acting like this is another example of women taking on emotional labour that men should share is off-base. It is her pregnancy and her mat leave.

        2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

          Will he be taking time off? I’m curious about this POV because I’ve only recently met the first man who took parental leave. All the other ones have simply taken perhaps a day off because of a “family emergency” which turned out to be the birth of the child and then came back pretty much immediately.

          1. Foxgloves*

            I guess it depends on where they are/ the company policy? Here in the UK, almost all fathers/ partners of the mother take two weeks of paternity/ parental leave, and now we have shared parental leave, many take a lot more. I’m always so confused by the lack of parental leave in the US- particularly for mothers, but for fathers/ partners too!!

      2. Grapey*

        I can see that for the pregnancy, but the relationship itself is different.

        Someone outside the relationship needs to make the decision that there are no problematic power differentials. If I were the boyfriend’s manager, I’d seriously question his judgement on not telling me if I heard through the grapevine that he was dating someone that he is sharing projects with.

      3. Massive Dynamic*

        The pregnancy is her news to reveal, until the point where he needs to inform his work of an upcoming parental leave (their employee handbook will have wording on when he needs to tell work of that). The relationship is their news to reveal jointly. I assume even though she’s the LW, they’re working together on how to approach all of this in the workplace.

    3. Yorick*

      OP says he’s always been pretty private at work. So, even if he weren’t dating a coworker, he might not mention that a baby was on the way until it was truly necessary, like when he needed time off or maybe he’d make an announcement when it was actually born. But a pregnant woman is visibly pregnant months earlier, so she has to think about all this months earlier, and it makes sense that OP wants to go ahead and figure out when/what to tell people.

    4. Fake Old Converse Shoes (not in the US)*

      Yeah, it caught my attention too. I think it would be better to do the announcement as a couple, to make clear this is a serious relationship.

      1. MCMonkeyBean*

        I don’t agree, I think announcing it as a couple would feel weird. Even when coworkers date I think it’s important not to be “a couple” when at work. Making some sort of joint announcement would make their relationship more of A Thing than it needs to be in my opinion.

  17. Anonymous at a University*

    Congratulations, OP! Even if you have a gossipy workplace, straightforward is the best way to handle it, sharing what details you want in a casual way (and if any extra details are needed, like when you expect to go on maternity leave, those too). Academia is always always gossipy, but I’ve seen situations more potentially dramatic than this handled well, and situations far less so blown up because the people involved sneaked around and acted horrified whenever someone expressed a bit of interest. Now that you and your boyfriend need this out in the open, act like you want it out in the open! That’s the best way to make it blow over.

  18. MsMaryMary*

    It’s not entirely the same scenario, but we once learned two coworkers were dating when they announced their engagement. I believe they’d been together for over a year. Yes, there was a lot of gossip and chatter and surprise. It died off after a few weeks. Mostly, everyone was impressed that they had been so discrete and professional that no one even guessed they were together.

    1. Anonish*

      Yup! Actually the same thing as the LW’s situation happened at my office where we learned two coworkers were dating when one of them announced her pregnancy. It was Big News for like three days and now they’re an established couple with a baby. There wasn’t any scandal and they both still work here.

      1. Jules the 3rd*

        Same here – maybe a week of conversation, but it was mostly ‘wow, y’all were professional’ and ‘congrats! so excited! you make such a great couple!’

    2. Robin Sparkles*

      This is probably how my former coworkers would describe my story with my husband – we dated and NO one knew so that was the story for a few days. I also announced right before I resigned for a new position and he had already left so it died down fast but the story was mostly about how people were shocked they didn’t realize we were together for that whole year.

    3. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      So many people meet while at work, that most people really aren’t shocked unless it’s either the dreadful “power difference” or in the same command chain that’s regularly against SOP or if there’s an affair going on, where one or both are married.

      Otherwise it’s just like “oh John in accounting is dating Jane in engineering! Oh and they’re having a baby, yay a baby!”

  19. Temperance*

    Okay so this very thing happened in my office, except the guy was married, apparently separated when his colleague got pregnant, and then she peaced out a few months after her leave was over.

    It was a scandal, but because the guy had a wife at the time that his colleague got pregnant. Otherwise, it wouldn’t have mattered.

  20. Zeee*

    Congrats, OP!
    I am married to a former co-worker who is 14 years older than me. We met at my old job (where he still works!) and started dating after becoming good friends. Similarly, we worked together on things but neither of us was in charge of one other or our work. We kept it to ourselves for awhile and then just… stopped hiding it. No big announcement, very casual and positive if it came it. I’m sure people talked but the less of a big deal we made it, the less people seemed to care at all.
    We got married, I left because my boss was crap and he stayed because his boss is not. We have a baby and no one seems to even care that we met at work!

    Also, NO ONE has ever commented on the fact that my husband is over a decade older than me. When we stared dating I was in my 20s and he was in his 30s. Now I’m in my 30s and he’s in his 40s. Sure at some point he’ll be in his 50s while I’m in my 30s, but so what? The age gap becomes less noticeable to people as we both get older.

    1. CupcakeCounter*

      My coworker is married to a former employee of the company. The reason is was a “thing” was because they worked together while he was married to his first wife, she met and married her first husband, she had her son, both got divorced (he got divorced several years before she did but both went through divorces at the company), then started dating (most of it was before me and no one really talked much about the timing of everything so not exactly sure if their relationship had anything to do with her divorce), and then married fairly quickly after that. Smallish company so all the people know all the things and she is not known to be subtle.
      Also a 10+ year age difference but no one talked about it ever

    2. New Job So Much Better*

      Also met my hubby of 30 years at work, and he’s 12 years older than I am. There was probably gossip way back when, but it all worked out fine.

  21. AnotherAlison*

    I guess I would frame it as a single announcement but keep it vague as to the dating timeline. Something like:

    I’m pregnant and due in XXXX. As you know, I’ve been seeing someone for a while. That’s actually Steve, and we were keeping our relationship private to keep a line between work and personnel matters, but since you all work with both of us, it seemed we should share the good news with everyone.

    I’d definitely bookend this and continue to keep the details private after the announcement. I have nothing but best wishes for the OP, but a couple months in is early in a relationship and pregnancy to foresee how this really will turn out. She doesn’t need to be answering to coworkers and having that influence how the relationship develops.

    1. MicroManagered*

      I really like your script: “As you know, I’ve been seeing someone for a while. That’s actually Steve.”

  22. things*

    This actually happened at a previous workplace of mine. A couple decided to announce that they were dating and having a baby together on the same day. AND one of the people had just recently finalized their divorce. Honestly, it wasn’t a big deal. There was an initial shock, a couple people had already figured it out on their own but a few days after the initial announcement people moved on.

    1. Jules the 3rd*

      Of course Xavier should have a say in this, I don’t see any reason to assume LW’s not going to include him in the decision-making process. It’s totally fair for LW to ask for advice to bring to the conversation with Xavier.

    2. MCMonkeyBean*

      It sounds like OP and Xavier have already had multiple conversations on the topic and there’s no reason to assume they aren’t going to have many more. That doesn’t preclude OP writing in to get an outside opinion.

      And while he should have a say, it’s ultimately going to fall more on her since she will be the one who at some point cannot physically hide it anymore.

  23. andy*

    The more mysterious and secretive you act, the more wild gossip will there be. The more matter of factly you talk, the more straightforward you are, the more boring story it will be for gossip.

    There is nothing outrage worthy in this story. No reason to act as if you had robbed a bank.

  24. NewHerePleaseBeNice*

    I think you can reframe this a bit. Your relationship (and your pregnancy) are not ‘secret’. They’re private.

    There’s a HUGE difference…

    1. MicroManagered*

      I have been privately dating a coworker (no reporting relationship, no violation of company policy, completely different departments with occasional overlap of work) for over 2 years and the distinction between “private” and “secret” is key!

    2. Mia 52*

      There’s a point where it becomes weird though to not mention the dad of your new baby is another person in your work group? For casual dating I agree it doesn’t matter. I mean, I guess it doesn’t matter and if its technically breaking no rules then hey live and let live. But I think it would come off quite odd to have a baby with your workmate and not share that (at whatever point you’re comfortable with).

      1. Analytical Tree Hugger*

        Hmm, I disagree.

        I see this as a parallel to AAM’s advice that it’s a good sign if a married couple don’t act married on the job. To me, it’s no weirder than being married to a coworker and not mentioning it.

        1. MCMonkeyBean*

          Well I think a lot of people would actually think it was fairly weird not to ever mention being married to a coworker. Not acting married on the job is not the same as keeping the fact that you are married actually secret.

  25. Someone On-Line*

    I actually had this same scenario happen at a previous job. We found out the two coworkers were dating when she accidentally got pregnant.

    I’m not sure how our boss took the announcement, but once it filtered down to the workers, we were all very excited for them. So maybe remove some of that worry from your mind, OP. Most people are just going to be happy for you.

  26. Interested Observer*

    OP, you don’t mention how far along you are — just that your relationship has been a “couple of months.” You are perfectly justified to wait until you are out of your first trimester (13 or 14 weeks) to share pregnancy news. Many people hold off until this point due to risk of first trimester miscarriage. You are under no obligation to announce earlier based on your relationship with your co-worker.

    When do you announce, however, I do think relating both pieces of information at once is the best approach.

    1. Clisby*

      Or later. With my first child, I didn’t tell anyone at work until I was about 5 months pregnant (of course, this depends on when it becomes obvious.)

  27. Joe-lean*

    I hope that the end result here is that everyone is thrilled for your pregnancy and find the relationship situation funny, like “oh my gosh, you guys really pulled the wool over our eyes! So happy for you :)”

  28. I Need That Pen*

    If there’s nothing scandalous (and it sounds as though there isn’t) and he is going to eventually get another job, I think the only thing I’d be interested in is what kind of cake we’re having at the OP’s shower. If I had a dime for every office romance that happened in my career, I’d have a lot of dimes. If there’s no made for TV movie here, I would announce the pregnancy when ready and quite frankly who the father is and what not is no one’s business. And when baby is much older and time has passed probably the only comments OP will get is, “Oh wow how lovely I’m happy for you.” At least from me anyway.

  29. An American(ish) Werewolf in London*

    I’ve been working long enough that I’ve seen plenty of pregnancies in the multitude of workplaces I’ve worked in. It would NEVER have occurred to me to ask ‘who is the father.’ Admittedly, all the places I’ve worked as a professional have been in the UK – are American workers just nosier?

    I am genuinely aghast that the OP has to worry about how to tell her boss/colleagues that the father is a co-worker early on. Yes, he’ll maybe want some leave too (though I’m aware maternity/paternity leave is practically an alien concept in the US) but frankly, it’s nobody’s business but theirs until and unless they choose to share their joint parenthood.

    I do feel, however, I’m missing a cultural something here (despite having grown up in the US, I’ve been in the UK all my adult and working life).

    1. Parenthetically*

      I think it’s definitely a generally rude question, but I also suggested below that if OP’s colleagues think she’s single, it wouldn’t surprise me if someone said, “I didn’t even know you were seeing someone, is it anyone we know” while congratulating her!

  30. Farming life, Farming wife*

    Firstly, congrats!! My two cents are that it might be wise to let your managers or higher-ups know the situation. Although not the exact situation, I was in something similar. I had been dating my now-husband for a few months. We both work in the same facility but different jobs. We didn’t tell anyone we were dating. We ended up getting engaged and married in a very short amount of time (7 months). I wasn’t pregnant but we just felt that everything was right. People at work were shocked and it caused some significant issues because his ex-girlfriend and her boss ended up making it a hostile work environment for me. To the point she was no longer allowed to be in facility and he was advised to have 0 contact with me. Their entire department had many meetings with HR because of their attitudes toward me. I think if we had told our managers and HR prior to the marriage they might have been able help us have a smoother transition. Good luck!!

  31. Annie Porter*

    Just want to weigh in and mention that I started dating someone 17 years older with the expectation of having a nice, fun summer fling. Neither of us thought it would last. We ended up getting along so well that we stretched it into the fall, and then winter…and now we’re married, very happily, with a home and a dog and careers and the whole bit. In my opinion, what matters is where you are in life and your shared hobbies, etc.

    Good luck with the announcement, and congratulations to both of you!

  32. The Bimmer Guy*


    I’m confused as to how it’s anyone’s business who the father is. I mean, people will put two and two together if you have to announce that you and Xavier are dating, and I suppose they’ll figure it out when he leaves and you start mentioning him by name as your boyfriend…or if he doesn’t leave before you actually have the baby.

    I guess it’s just the order that rubs me the wrong way. An announcement to your coworkers and boss about your pregnancy shouldn’t be responded to with, “Sooooooo…who’s the daddy?”

  33. Impska*

    I’m not sure she needs to explain anything about the father of her baby. When was the last time you responded to a pregnancy announcement with “Who is the father?” Especially at work.

    If someone at work asked me “Who’s the father” of my unborn child, I would respond with “Excuse me?”

    1. ACDC*

      This was my thought too. I can’t even imagine my most boundary-violating coworkers to ask my who’s the father of my baby.

    2. Close Bracket*

      Tbf, most pregnant people are known to have a partner. It’s an intrusive question either way, but people wondering who the father is when the pregnant person has no known partner are really just confused bc they thought the person was unpartnered and aren’t used to unpartnered people announcing that they are pregnant.

      1. Doc in a Box*

        OP said her coworkers know she has a boyfriend, just not who it is.

        It’s still a tactless question to ask someone who is unpartnered. Maybe they are going to be a single parent with the help of a sperm bank. Maybe they are a surrogate. Maybe a person’s sex life is none of the coworker’s business!

    3. Jennifer*

      I’d never ask someone at work who their baby daddy was either. I just think over time it’s going to become obvious that he’s the father, so why not deal with it now?

  34. Owlette*

    Congrats, OP!!! It will be awkward, yes, but I 100% agree that you just need to rip the band-aid off now. It’s going to be awkward, but stay confident and to-the-point with your conversations, and most of your coworkers will be happy for you and won’t gossip further. And if there is a Nosy Nelly at your work who keeps gossiping and getting into your business…well, it won’t look good to Nosy Nelly’s coworkers and boss for her to keep harping on something that’s so not her business.

    And remember you have a boyfriend/partner who can help squash rumors as well. You’re not in this by yourself.

  35. Betty*

    I would make a particular effort in these circumstances to cue to people that they should have a positive reaction. There are many scenarios in which someone could be dating someone new for a few months, accidentally get pregnant, and be absolutely devastated about it and not want to either commit to the boyfriend long term or keep the baby. It sounds like this is a happy event for the LW, so when announcing it (both to boss and coworkers) I would of course be cheerfully matter of fact rather than hysterically gushing, but would slip in something like, “…and Xavier and I are both thrilled to share this exciting news with you!”

    1. Betty*

      (I contextualise this as someone who, when announcing my planned pregnancy with my husband of several years, was apparently too matter of fact and several people checked with me that it was actually good news. After the third time that happened (we only announced in person, not on Facebook or whatever, so I had The Conversation a lot of times) I started leading with “I have some exciting news!” rather than just, “How am I? Oh, I’m pregnant” or whatever it was I had been saying.)

  36. Special Agent Michael Scarn*

    The headline makes this sound so much more scandalous than it is, lol. Congrats, OP!

      1. Phony Genius*

        Maybe that’s why she said they were both “very” single. Although, I’m not sure how you can be less single but still single.

        1. Ego Chamber*

          Oh come on! Very single is dating someone and being in a committed relationship with them but not in a committed relationship with anyone else. As opposed to kinda single, which is dating multiple people and not being in any committed relationships.

          (Yeah I dunno either. I think OP was just concerned about the potential for affair stigma and comments going off the rails, even though that’s a little weird to be concerned about if you’re both single.)

  37. bookartist*

    “…I do not know how to handle the questions that will follow about who the father is! ”

    You open your eyes wide and in a shocked voice you say, “Excuse me?” and then you look at them coldly and walk away.

    1. RagingADHD*

      Why would you do that to someone you like and have a good working relationship with?

      If someone is disclosing that they are pregnant, there has to be a dad somewhere. And if you are happy about the pregnancy (which OP says she is), then it’s a natural assumption that this is a happy relationship. It’s not a rude question at all, in that context. [If the discloser is obviously unhappy or conflicted, one would hope that the hearer would be sensitive and maybe just ask how they are doing or what their plans are in general.]

      You can always say, “I’m not prepared to talk about that yet.” No need to be cold or pretend to be shocked about it. The person didn’t do anything wrong by asking, and pretending to be shocked is just false and bizarre.

      1. Clisby*

        “The person didn’t do anything wrong by asking …” ? Not unless you consider being abominably nosy and rude to be wrong.

      2. bookartist*

        Let me turn that around and ask you why you think someone has the right to ask, and get an honest answer to, such a question. The question itself is infamous and totally out of bounds.

      3. Former Employee*

        This is like asking a coworker who they are having sex with.

        I don’t care if it’s a coworker you have a good working relationship with, can you imagine someone asking you that question?

    2. Environmental Compliance*


      Alternatively, pick a random obviously impossible celebrity each time someone asks.

      “Who’s the father??”

      “Oh, Teddy Roosevelt, of course. Those pince-nez!!”
      “By the way this little one kicks, possibly Beckham. Oof!”

      (this is awful advice, don’t do this, but it is endlessly hilarious to me as I am the type of person that throws stupid back at stupid)

    3. Parenthetically*

      There’s just no need for this kind of torpedoing of an otherwise cordial working relationship when, “I’m pregnant! Ted from teapots receivable and I have been together awhile and thought it was time to share our happy news” will cover all bases and forestall nosiness and gossip.

      It’s going to come out that OP and her partner are together. It’s going to come out that she’s pregnant. The more she can get ahead of that news with her preferred tone (happy, excited), the more her coworkers will follow her lead. There’s nothing scandalous going on here, and jumping on people with all this gasping and widening eyes and how-very-dare-you-ing and flouncing out is going to make it seem a thousand times more dramatic than it is. Two coworkers met, dated, fell in love, and are having a baby together which they are very excited about. Happens every day. It’s not a soap opera.

      1. bookartist*

        “There’s just no need for this kind of torpedoing of an otherwise cordial working relationship …”

        No one who asks who the father of your baby is is acting in good faith or interested cultivating a cordial working relationship. Were you all raised by wolves?!

        1. Raised by Remus*

          The OP is concerned that this will happen. People are offering advice to help her deal with that concern. There’s no need to be a jerk about it.

        2. Parenthetically*

          Huh, can you seriously not conceive of a good-faith, surprised, non-raised-by-wolves response to “I’m pregnant” that wonders who OP’s partner is?

          “I’m pregnant!”
          “Oh my gosh, congratulations, that’s great! I had no idea you were even seeing someone! Is it anyone we know?”

          Is that response the height of etiquette? No, because it assumes OP is partnered rather than choosing to parent alone for various reasons, some of which might be tricky or even painful. But is it abominably rude and deserving of a devastatingly icy shutdown sure to destroy a warm working relationship? Hell no.

          OP is apparently hoping to tamp down gossip, and I and others think the best way to do that is to simply state the completely non-scandalous, non-shocking news in a happy, matter-of-fact way, and that acting cagey and secretive is only going to fuel the gossip fires for absolutely no reason.

          1. bookartist*

            You are asking who placed s*men inside someone’s body. I cannot understand why you or anybody else thinks this is a normal question and that the asker is a normal person.

            1. Parenthetically*

              How bizarrely prurient. By your method of thinking about relationships, whenever someone asks me if I’m married to my husband they may as well be inquiring whom, precisely, I f*** a few times a week.

              I stand by the idea that a coworker, surprised, asking who OP is seeing (and thus, by logical extension, who the father of her child is) may be potentially insensitive but that that potential insensitivity is in no way worthy of acting like a huge drama queen and freezing someone out, particularly not when it’s within OP’s rights (and in her best interest!) to treat this as a very ordinary occurrence and announce both that she’s seeing Ted from teapot receivables AND that they’re thrilled to be starting a family, as casually and happily as she chooses, without feeling like she’s done something wrong or that her coworkers are disgusting pigs out to dig into the details of her sex life.

            2. Ego Chamber*

              So every time you see a pregnant person, you just imagine them being impregnated? What a gross and reductive way to view people.

  38. RagingADHD*

    I have found in my life full of awkward situations and awkward conversations, that you can open up almost any topic by saying, “I need to talk with you about something that’s kind of awkward.”
    “I need to tell you something kind of personal, and I feel awkward about it, but you need to know.”

    Just getting it out there and acknowledging that it’s uncomfortable goes a long way to making it easier for yourself, and setting the tone for the hearer to be empathetic. There is no way to be smooth about stuff like this, and the more you try the worse it gets. You just have to embrace the messiness and get through it.

  39. NM*

    the article’s advice is solid. A few other things that I’ve seen be helpful/work well in my place of business when this happens.

    To coworkers: “Well, we have been dating for XYZ amount of time, and i personally haven’t noticed a conflict. if you have concerns on that you can take it up with my manager”

    Also: “I’m glad you’re excited about the baby, but, other than telling people about it i don’t want it to be the focus of my work here, i want to be sure i am working as hard as i can before i leave.” (if they are bothering you constantly about it)

    also: remember that maternity is an FMLA type protected status (usually) so people cant actually ask you about it, so you don’t have to answer questions you don’t want to. the gossip WILL die down. but, if it doesn’t after a month or so, remind your HR department that people really can’t talk about you and your health like that, and work does pretty much have to squash it for you.

    with your boss, if they react poorly to the news and go off on the conflict stuff: “Well, we have been dating for XYZ amount of time, and i personally haven’t noticed a conflict. if you have concerns we can document them moving forward and discuss them related to my performance. do you have any prior parallels?”

  40. Anon Work-Dater*

    Alison’s advice is great, of course. I would double-underline the “conduct yourselves professionally” at the end. I believe that is key for it very quickly being/becoming no big deal.

    I’m partnered with a guy I met at work, and because we always interacted very professionally — friendly, but professional — it took years for anyone to figure out we were together. Neither of us talked extensively about personal lives, but avoided naming each other. Observant people figured it out, asked, and we were honest (because we weren’t HIDING it). It became more well-known when we finally moved in together, which involved a fairly big move for one of us. But still, if it didn’t come up in conversation, it still took a long time for some people to figure it out. Because we were professionals when we were with them. Friendly, but professional. No pet names. No hand-holding. Not constantly glued to each other. Etc.

    I actually had one colleague, when all was revealed, looked shocked, and then just basically said, “I’m so impressed. You two are always complete professionals. I had no idea. Thank you.” Because there were couples in our workplace who were… not.

    1. Essess*

      I worked in an office for 2 years before I discovered that 2 of the people that worked within 5 cubes of me (in opposite directions) were married and had been married the entire time I worked there. They had different last names and were generally friendly to everyone so I never noticed anything beyond professionalism between them.

  41. anon4this*

    Why not just say nothing (literally, even when your 8 months showing) and then invoke the maternity policy as appropriate? What are they going to do?
    When someone inevitably brings your weight gain/appearance change, have a canned answer, brush it off or turn it back on them (“Well, it looks like you have gained/lost weight too.”).
    All of the advice to tell people (or how to) seems to be extroverts who want attention. But I just don’t see how it’s anyone’s business, or why you would want/need acceptance or acknowledgement from random coworkers?
    It’s such a temporary unknown situation anyway (guy could bail, baby has issues complications, etc.), I would treat it as a private situation at work.

    1. Zap R.*

      Telling your coworkers that you’re having a baby is not “being an extrovert who wants attention.”

      You’re making a lot of assumptions about OP here and none of them are kind. This is someone who considers their coworkers to be friends so it makes sense that they’d want to share major life-changing news with them. And heck, even if they were just cordial acquaintances, it is perfectly normal and reasonable to be excited about your baby and want to tell people about it.

    2. Jennifer*

      What about when dad needs time off for paternity peace – and they request the same dates? People will gossip and start asking questions. I agree that it’s no one’s business but humans gonna human.

      1. Parenthetically*

        Yes. anon’s advice is great if OP wants to really charge up the gossip mill. Add the fact that it’s a weird way to go through life to be constantly on high alert that someone might find out that you’re *gasp* in a relationship and *shock* starting a family! Like… all this stuff is fine and normal and boring. Treat it accordingly and nobody will have any reason to gossip. Treat it like some kind of weird cloak-and-dagger-ass game and it’s going to be D R A M A.

    3. Jedi Squirrel*

      Why not just say nothing (literally, even when your 8 months showing) and then invoke the maternity policy as appropriate? What are they going to do?

      Most businesses like a heads-up because they need to make plans for when an employee is going to be out for an extended period of time. Waiting until the last minute and then announcing that you’re going to be out for three months is just completely unprofessional.

      Because you are going to be out, at some point, it does become the company’s business—but only to that extent.

    4. Mia 52*

      I wouldn’t say having a baby with the person you’re in a serious relation ship with “such a temporary situation”

    5. Parenthetically*

      Also, cracking up at the idea that people encouraging OP that there’s no reason to be cagey or secretive about what is genuinely non-controversial, happy news are “extroverts who want attention.”

  42. RUKiddingMe*

    What if his name actually is “Xavier?”

    OP you have a boyfriend. You’re having a baby together. You happen to both work at the same company.

    That’s not all that …remarkable really. People spend much of their time at work do meeting a SO there isn’t/shouldn’t be surprising…to anyone.

    Your manager and coworkers will get used to it and any gossip will die down in short order if you act as though this is normal…because it is.

    If you act weird, or guilty, or shameful, then they will wonder why and gossip about *that.*


  43. Jennifer*

    Totally agree. It is your business and you don’t have to share it with anyone and in a perfect world you wouldn’t have to…but people can be nosy. If he is accompanying you on doctor’s visits and needs time off for the birth and paternity leave your boss also needs to know this for work coverage reasons. Plus that’s going to make it obvious the farther along you are.

    Keeping the paternity secret until the last possible moment will just add a soap opera reveal element to it which will up the drama. Tell your boss now, come up with a plan to deal with the questions from co-workers, then hopefully enjoy a drama free pregnancy.


  44. Essess*

    It would be very weird for a coworker to ask “who is the father” if they haven’t been meeting the people you date while you’ve worked there. Even if you told them a name, they wouldn’t usually expect to know the person since the expectation would be that it was someone you were dating outside the office. I could only see this getting asked if the coworkers are already suspicious of your relationship with the other coworker. It would be perfectly reasonable to simply respond that the father was your boyfriend. No names needed.

  45. Former Employee*

    What does the OP mean that it wasn’t an affair because both of them are single?

    There’s a famous movie, “An Affair To Remember”, starring Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr.

    Neither of their characters was married to someone else.

    The use of the term “affair” generally has to do with the clandestine nature of the relationship, which seems to fit this situation very well.

    1. Ego Chamber*

      Modern application of the term “affair” tends to use it as shorthand for “extramartial affair.” I don’t even hear it used the original way anymore, except by people my grandma’s age, who watched Cary Grant movies in theaters.

  46. Rexish*

    This is not a real advice but I’d love it if OP would go talk about maternity leave etc. with boss when the time comes without disclosing the relationship or anythign else that is necessary. OP and bf would keep their relationship not that public, but obviously not lie or anything and just see how everyone is connecting the dots.

  47. allathian*

    Sounds like they hit it off at the company Christmas party and she ended up pregnant. I think it’s safe to assume that the pregnancy was unplanned.
    At least they were both single so there are no third parties involved.
    She mentions being chatty at work and her coworkers knowing about her having a new bf, but not who it is.
    But sooner or later her pregnancy’s going to show.
    I figure the best thing to do would be to keep the timeline of the start of the relationship as vague as possible, although if she’s been talking about her new boyfriend, her coworkers will put two and two together about the timeline of the relationship and the pregnancy. I guess it depends on the office culture how much gossip that in itself will cause.

    People are judgy and it’s best not to give them any more fodder for being judgy than you absolutely have to. Accidents happen, but some people are very judgy when it comes to unplanned pregnancies, especially those that start before the couple has acknowledged the relationship in public. I’m in the Nordics, so unwed mothers of first children are more common than the other kind, but even here, the norm is for people to live together before having kids.

    I’m not a manager, but if I were, I wouldn’t want to know about my report getting pregnant on a first date, as I’m certain I’d start questioning her judgment on other issues purely based on that. If she’s careless enough to have unprotected sex with anyone other than a committed partner or foolish enough to not get the morning-after pill (available over the counter here, not sure about the US) if the condom broke or no contraceptive was used, I’d quite frankly rather not know about it.

    1. Ego Chamber*

      Um, the letter says the pregnancy was unplanned so I’m not sure what kind of detective work you think you’re doing on that one.

      The morning after pill is available over the counter in the states but people here are strangely lackadaisical about birth control, even when they can totally afford it (there’s no reason to assume LW could—shit’s expensive and private healthcare’s the worst pyramid scheme) and a lot of dude’s here just will not put out if you insist on barrier protection. It’s a whole different world, is what I’m saying, and your post reads as the kind of judgmental reaction you say you’re trying to caution against.

  48. *Marie**

    Congrats on your lovely new relationship and your child! Sounds like a whirlwind of magic for you both. Wishing you a lifetime of such happiness and love.

  49. nnn*

    I do not know how to handle the questions that will follow about who the father is

    I…don’t think any question would follow about who the father is.

    If an employee tells you that they’re pregnant and you don’t know anything about their partner, you’d assume the father is their partner whom you don’t know anything about. The answer to the question “Who’s the father?” would be completely uninformative to you, because the answer would be (as far as you know) someone you’d never heard of. There’s simply no reason to ask it.

    (Similar example: If a co-worker whose dating life you aren’t closely familiar with says “I’m getting married!”, you wouldn’t say “To who?” Even if you can’t name their partner, the obvious answer is that they’re getting married to their partner whose name you either have forgotten or haven’t learned yet)

    I agree with Alison that it would add enormous weirdness to keep it secret, but if in a given moment you don’t want to immediately announce that you’re dating Xavier, the pronoun “we” can be very useful. Example: “I’m pregnant, due in September! We’re very excited!” That particular use of “we” has strong connotations of established couplehood, so it conveys that you’re in a relationship that doesn’t require any explanation.

    Congratulations on your new relationship and on your pregnancy!

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