my boss says he can’t hire me at his new company because he’s attracted to me

A reader writes:

I’m a woman who works for a large company in my field, on a fairly small team. I’ve always felt like I’ve gotten along great with my (male) manager and my coworkers. It’s always been professional, no socializing outside of work, but I’ve enjoyed working for my manager.

About a month ago, my manager announced that he secured seed funding and would be striking out on his own at the end of the year to pursue an idea related to the work we do. It’s a great idea and I think he’s got a lot of potential to really make it big and, if not, the experience of working on the idea would be pretty fantastic both practically and as a resume builder. I talked it over with my husband and decided to ask my manager to meet me for coffee over lunch to find out if there was any possibility of putting my hat in to join him.

When we sat down, I broached the topic and he sighed and said he knew that’s what I wanted to talk about and he wanted to be honest with me that he couldn’t even think about taking me with him because he’s very attracted to me and has had a crush on me since we started working together. He said he knows that in a small start-up environment we’d have to work more closely together and would likely have to travel and spend time together outside of normal office work and that he doesn’t trust himself to not act on his attraction and can’t do that to his wife, even though he knows I would add a lot of value. He then went on to say that he offered a role to one of the men on my team and that that guy was going to take it. He said he wanted to be honest with me because it has nothing to do with my work. I was so shocked and blindsided that I just said “okay” and we awkwardly walked back to the office in silence.

I’m so embarrassed and I feel completely stupid that I didn’t pick up on this. He’s only ever been friendly in a professional way. He’s not leaving the company for two more months. I don’t know what to do or how to move past this in working with him and I’m really angry that this is the reason I’m missing out on this opportunity. Plus, how did I never realize this? What do I do for these next two months to work with this guy?

I just dropped an F bomb in a post yesterday and I don’t like to dilute the impact by using it again so soon … but screw this guy.

He doesn’t “trust himself” around you? As if it’s entirely up to him, and if he made an advance you’d fall delightedly into his arms bed? Despite never having shown that kind of interest in him, and being married to boot? I love how the concept of you having some agency doesn’t enter into his thinking at all. It’s all about him.

And what was his intent in sharing this with you? It’s not that he’s just a good guy trying to be transparent, because by telling you about his “crush,” now it’s out there and you have to deal with knowing. In fact, I suspect that he likes that you know, because in his head there’s now more chance of something happening between you. He could have used dozens of other reasons for not hiring you in his new venture; he chose to use the one that’s about his pants, without thinking or caring about how discomforting it might for you to hear that from your boss. Again: all about him.

And this does put you in a really crappy position. You’re supposed to be comfortable with him being your boss for another two months? And what about after that — will you be able to rely on him for references and networking without having to worry that he’ll be cooler toward you since you didn’t greet his declaration more enthusiastically? It’s an abuse of the position he’s in, and he’s fully in the wrong for putting you there.

For that reason, I’d seriously consider whether you might want to report the conversation to your current employer’s HR department. They can’t control his hiring practices at his new venture, obviously, but for now he still works there and they might have something to say about him telling an employee he manages that he’s attracted to her and can’t trust himself around her. Whether or not to do that depends on things like how good your HR team is and whether you’re up for dealing with the (hugely problematic) ways reporting can sometimes become as much your burden to carry as it is his, but know that option is there.

Meanwhile, though, you have nothing to feel embarrassed about. He’s behaved professionally up until this point; don’t blame yourself for failing to read his mind. Even if looking back now you do see signs — like if he was a little warmer toward you than others, a little more enthusiastic about talking to you — it was 100% appropriate for you to interpret that through the lens of him being your boss and to just figure he liked your work or you happened to have some natural rapport. (In fact, that’s one of the most insidious effects of this kind of thing — you think you’re getting attention for your work and later have to question whether it was your work or something else.)

But you didn’t miss anything or mess up in any way. This is all him.

Read an update to this letter here

{ 820 comments… read them below }

  1. Detective Amy Santiago*

    In addition to all of Alison’s excellent advice, I suggest you apply for his position and, when you get it, do it better than he ever did.

    1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

      I apologise, I didn’t read your comment before I said the exact thing?

      (Side note, always find myself agreeing with you. You give good advice)

        1. Send Caffeine*

          I am a slight bit feverish, so I read this as

          “Go for his job and wife”

          and thought that was perfect.

    2. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      Oh, I like this. The best type of revenge is going forward with you head high and living your best life.

      Even if I don’t know that revenge is really needed in this case. This soon to be former manager is a really gross and clueless waste of air.

    3. P. Dykstra*

      I agree with your advice, but almost none of Alison’s.

      Hiding deep desire for a colleague is no small challenge, yet according to the OP this guy managed it almost perfectly, and even prepared a clean exit for himself—that is, until the OP stepped in front of that exit and said “take me with you.”

      Many of us have watched colleagues leave to start their own companies. If those colleagues want to recruit you, they will contact you after their departure. If they don’t, they won’t. The OP interfered with this process, quite presumptuously, when she invited her manager to extramural coffee and asked him to hire her away from their current employer (try explaining *that* context to HR, Alison!).

      The manager then had two choices, tell a delicately crafted white lie or tell the truth. With hindsight we may agree that the lie would have been better, even if it left the OP confused and dismayed. But can we take a couple steps back from the human stain, just for a moment? If someone confesses a secret desire for you and you do not share that desire, you may feel creeped out, yucked out, nauseas, or worse. But if you share that desire, it’s one of the most wonderful things in the world. Human beings will continue to risk the former in hopes of the latter.

      Was he fishing for hope when he confessed? Probably yes. But getting nothing at all in return, should he not at least receive some benefit of the doubt? He has not propositioned her and he has shown full awareness that his desire is a problem, professionally and personally. Walk it off and let him leave in peace.

      1. Julia*

        Hm, I’m not sure I see it your way P. Dykstra. (Yeesh, it was hard to keep my tone neutral here…)

        “when she invited her manager to extramural coffee and asked him to hire her away from their current employer (try explaining *that* context to HR, Alison!).”
        1. It’s fine to approach a person/company about a job opportunity. It’s not illegal, and her HR would presumably have no reason to be shocked or upset by an employee exploring other job options.

        “If those colleagues want to recruit you, they will contact you after their departure. If they don’t, they won’t. The OP interfered with this process, quite presumptuously..”
        2. You can certainly approach employers without them having previously shared a job opportunity with you. It’s not presumptive (she didn’t pack up her office and expect an offer). It’s called initiative. For all she knew, he hadn’t yet considered who he planned to take, if anyone. It’s wise to inquire about opportunities when they arise.

        “when she invited her manager to extramural coffee”
        3. She made the wise choice to do this at an “extramural” coffee meeting, seeing as doing at work would be the only perhaps problematic way of seeking other job options. This is “off the clock.” I mean, I guess she could have cornered him in the parking lot…but that’s weird.

        “The manager then had two choices, tell a delicately crafted white lie or tell the truth. With hindsight we may agree that the lie would have been better, even if it left the OP confused and dismayed. ”
        4. Two options? Really? He could have given her a white lie and left the “OP confused and dismayed” or he could tell her of his inappropriate feelings and left her feeling…confused, dismayed, AND objectified. Hmm, which is better? Also, viable third option: he could have said, “Thank you for your interest. I’ll consider it.” That’s a white lie most anyone would prefer.

        Honestly, your response was a grossly misogynistic analysis of an inappropriate managerial interaction; women should not have to feel flattered or grateful for a romantic declaration, ESPECIALLY if that is coming from a married manager that is letting his feelings ruin her chances for professional progress.

      2. Jen S*

        Reading this comment has left me wondering who P. Dykstra did this to, and when. This reads like the internal monologue of the LW’s boss certainly must have gone, and is just as misguided and off base.

      1. Sigh*

        I really wish this (and all the other failure fantasies below) were likely, but in my experience, men who are starting new companies that require fundraising etc are allowed to act very unprofessionally without any blow-back. It is rare for people to turn down being the first few employees in a very rare for an investor to turn down a good investment because the guy is an asshole

        1. Sigh*

          Blerg, my kingdom for an edit button!

          That last sentence is supposed to be: It is rare for people to turn down the opportunity to be the first few employees at an exciting venture because the lead is an asshole, and even more rare for an investor to turn down a good investment/money because the lead is an asshole.

          1. not a doctor*

            You’re not wrong, but given the vanishingly small proportion of startups that DON’T crash and burn, the odds are pretty highly against him anyway.

    1. Orange stick*

      Considering the extremely poor judgement he showed here, I wouldn’t be surprised. OP might have dodged more than one bullet here.

      1. Meep*

        This. From experience, some people love the idea of a startup and have managed groups of people in the past, but do not exactly know what it takes to manage the whole shabang.

        Source: My boss. Most of the time.

    2. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

      ‘I can’t work with that client, she’s too hot’

      A year later he’s broke and begging for his old job back.

      1. Dumpster Fire*

        and then you (who, of course, are kicking ass and taking names in HIS old job) can say “No, I can’t hire someone who is attracted to me.”

        1. Abated*

          Even better, “No, you showed really poor judgment telling me how you felt about me personally and I can’t risk you putting anyone else here in that same awful position.”

          1. SeluciaMD*

            Comments like these are why I wish this site offered a “like” button or upvotes.

            Agreeing SO HARD. This would be *chef’s kiss*.

      2. GrooveBat*

        This right here is the reason she needs to report this to HR – to forestall any possibility that he would ever be allowed to return to the company.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          Yes yes yes yes. I wouldn’t want him back and if the HR department is any good, they won’t either.

    3. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      That was my 3rd thought upon reading OP’s letter. I had three, in this order:
      1) F him
      2) F his company
      3) I hope it folds.

      1. Exhausted Trope*

        1000000% agree, Bathroom.
        After reading OP’s letter, I am in despair for all MANkind. Do they ever make a decision without their pe___es?

        1. Ally McBeal*

          Only when forced to, I suppose. We’re only, what, 40-50 years into women having any agency at all in the public sphere – the misogynistic backlash is ongoing and continually evolving. Our mothers’ refrain of “a better world for our daughters” has become our refrain in turn.

        2. Sophie*

          Don’t give men like the disgusting guy in the letter more excuses. This kind of behaviour is not something ‘all men do’. It’s not something biologically innate that these poor pathetic men just can’t help. It’s an *active* choice that these creeps are making. Most men are perfectly capable of keeping their brains out of their pants at work. Lowering one’s expectations to below the bare minimum hurts both men and women. We need to treat these guys like the nasty outliers that they are, not give them the ability to whine ‘But it was inevitable!’.

        3. scribblingTiresias*

          a) yes, there are plenty of good men in the world, and like Sophie said, pretending that This Is What Men Are Like gives the creeps camouflage
          b) you do remember that not all men have those, right? trans men never stopped being a thing.

    4. SentientAmoeba*

      If his basis for hiring depends on how attracted he is to potential candidates…..

      Susan was exact what we needed for this critical role, but she was hot and I’m sure she wouldn’t be able to keep her hands off me, so I hired Joe instead. He doesn’t have a quarter of her experience but he’s not my type.

      1. GrooveBat*

        It’s actually worse than that. It’s not that “she wouldn’t be able to keep her hands off me,” it’s that “I wouldn’t be able to keep my hands off her and she would, of course, enthusiastically reciprocate my overtures because there is just no question in my mind that any woman would be honored to be the recipient of my advances.”

        1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

          Yeah – gotta love the cave man attitude combined with the confidence of Gaston (from Beauty and the Beast). Can’t wait till this mindset goes the way of the Dodo, but am not going to hold my breath waiting.

        2. LunaLena*

          And, on top of that, he clearly thinks of himself as a stand-up guy because he “couldn’t do that to his wife.” How noble and self-sacrificing of him, fending off all those women who are thirsting for him!

          Seriously. So. Gross.

          1. MissBaudelaire*

            Oof, you’re so right.

            “Look at me, being faithful to my wife. Aren’t I such a good guy?”

            Why is doing the basic level of being a decent person supposed to be praised that way?

          2. GrooveBat*

            Yeah, another really good point!

            “I couldn’t do that to my wife” not “I couldn’t do that to you.”

            1. Marzipan Shepherdess*

              Well, his wife could serve him with divorce papers and wipe him out financially – the LW can’t. (She could, of course, say “No!” but somehow I doubt that this possibility has ever entered his mind.)

          3. Not Tom, Just Petty*

            He is so the “nice guy” trope going around the internet.
            OP should go to the guy he hired and congratulate him.
            “Yes, SuperJag told me he hired you instead of me because he wouldn’t be tempted to sexually assault you in the workplace and end up hurting his wife’s feelings.”
            and then tell SuperJag,
            “I wanted to make sure Suckerwhosefollowingyou knows I have no hard feelings. I told him I totally understood. It’s not that I’m not qualified. It’s just that you feel that running your own company means you don’t have to control your sexual urges and that might hurt your wife’s feelings.”

          4. More anon today*

            If he actually *couldn’t* do that to his wife, why does he need to not hire OP? Apparently he *could* do that to his wife if it’s OP. I can’t decide if this is better or worse than the guys who won’t be alone with any woman in case they are tempted. Ick.

            1. Princesss Sparklepony*

              Good point. He was definitely thinking of doing it to his wife… If she said yes, he would have.

          5. Koalafied*

            It reminds me of the episode of Parks and Rec where they lampooned the old trope and the men in Leslie’s life kept saying something to Ben like, “take good care of her… But if you hurt her…!” Finally after the fourth or so time somebody says that he exclaims, “no I’m not going to hurt her, why do you think would I hurt her?!”

            This guy says, “I couldn’t do that to my wife,” and my thought is, “so it was on the table however briefly? Otherwise I don’t know why you need to volunteer in this conversation that you can’t cheat on your wife any more than you need to volunteer that you can’t eat ghost peppers. Nobody is offering that or expecting you to do that in the first place!

        3. Tau*

          Yeah, the fact that *nowhere* in his mental calculus he appears to contemplate the idea that OP might not be a) interested in him, b) interested in blowing up her professional career by getting involved with her boss and/or c) interested in being part of an affair… just adds that extra patina of creepy onto what is already a really shit situation.

          I cannot imagine being on the receiving end of this and then being expected to still be his subordinate, OP. I am so, so sorry.

          1. Tau*

            …and rereading I realised I missed d) interested in cheating on her husband.

            What on earth is WRONG with this guy.

        4. fhqwhgads*

          Yeah, if I heard dude saying what he said I’d be thinking “wait, are you saying you’re worried you might assault me? As though you have no control over that? Fuck you.”

          1. Emotional Support Care'n*

            That’s kind of it, isn’t it? He’s only worried about assaulting her and cheating on his wife to do it when someone else signs the paychecks. Once he’s signing the paychecks the only real consideration he has is his wife, and it’s barely enough to keep him from assaulting his female underling, so it’s best to remove the temptation and not even hire her in the first place.

          2. tangerineRose*

            “wait, are you saying you’re worried you might assault me?” This is what I was wondering, too.

            1. Zephy*

              Yeah, that’s also how I took it – “if you become my direct report in an organization that I am the head of, I will absolutely sexually assault you, the only thing stopping me from doing so now is that someone else signs my checks.”

          3. banoffee pie*

            And this type of man tries to make you feel, as the woman, that you have to say ‘Oh, of course, so sorry to be a distraction’ as if it’s your fault!! So annoying. I also can’t stand those ‘concerned, realistic’ women who go along with this type of thing. The ones who ‘explain’ it to young girls. You know the speech, ‘it’s so hard for men, you have to cut them a lot of slack on things like this.’ I’m sure I’m not the only one who has been given this speech by older women.

            1. banoffee pie*

              By older women, I just mean older than me at the time of the speech, so they felt I had to be taught. I didn’t mean any particular age is more likely to do this. I’ve heard that crap from 16 year olds as well. Not trying to be ageist.

            2. LadyPomona*

              Of course! How DARE a woman be a distraction to a man? That’s why we have to start socializing girls VERY early to ONLY wear clothes that won’t “distract” boys. Because, y’know, males can’t be held responsible for their own behavior when a female “distracts” them!

              Anybody else notice how this reduces boys and men to the level of animals who act purely on instinct and can’t be expected to control themselves??!

            3. Allegra*

              There are commenters in this very post saying they avoid socializing with male friends because it would be disrespectful to those guys’ wives. It’s just so infuriating to be told you are responsible for a man’s lack of self-control by merely existing as a woman in the same space as them.

              1. Despachito*

                Except that it was by no means meant like that.

                I do trust my male friends, and the thought that I could be responsible for their lack of self control (which I do not expect they lose) is so wild that it never crossed my mind. And I have always thought insinuating (that it is the woman’s fault that men are attracted to her) utterly disgusting; the recent proposal of a Polish politician that girls should wear long sleeves and long skirts not to PROVOKE their schoolmates AND TEACHERS regularly made my stomach turn.

                It is difficult to explain why I feel it would not be OK to frequently meet another person’s husband one-on-one, if you are also friends with that person (it goes along the way that it would feel strange to spend too much time with one and not the other; there definitely IS a gendered element though because I would not mind if I spent the time with the wife ) and definitely not everybody has to agree with me but PLEASE do not attribute me the motives I do not have.

                1. Allegra*

                  Genuinely asking: if you aren’t meaning to imply that people aren’t somehow fully capable of controlling their romantic impulses when working alone with someone of a different gender, then what DO you mean by “maybe [boss] didn’t want to give his wife reason to worry about being alone with another woman”? Why would being alone with OP be “reason to worry”, if it doesn’t mean that the presence of a woman could cause him to act badly?

                  You can’t have it both ways saying that “insinuating women are responsible for men’s bad behavior is disgusting” and then saying that wives should worry about their husbands being alone with other women. Presumably they wouldn’t worry about their husbands being alone with men at work, so it’s the woman in that situation that makes it “worrying”, right?

                  By a plain reading of your and other people’s comments, it was OK for this guy to not even consider OP for this job specifically because he was removing a temptation to be unfaithful. Allison’s addressed on this site in so many letters (“some men in my office refuse to be alone with women” and “my male boss won’t have closed-door meetings with me because he’s married”, for a few examples) how attitudes like this hold women back at work. It can’t simultaneously be true that men being alone with women is “reason to worry” for their wives and something women should take it on themselves to avoid, AND that that’s not an unfair burden disadvantaging women in the workplace.

      2. Cat Tree*

        See, third is why I think there could be a discrimination case here. It’s unlikely that bad boss would treat a man this way so it’s discrimination based on gender.

        1. Can't Think of a Name*

          In that case, could she sue him for not hiring her on the basis of sex discrimination? I feel like she definitely should…

        2. Black Horse Dancing*

          Sadly, an Iowa court upheld this. A dentist fired his female assistant because she was too pretty and it was upheld.

    5. Artemesia*

      Me too. ‘I can’t trust myself around you and ‘can’t do that to my wife” — disgusting — as if of course married you would not be able to resist someone as wonderful as him. This is one heinous human being and deserves all the bad things likely to happen to him. (or not because alas in my experience karma doesn’t generally happen)

      1. GrooveBat*

        Again, as I’ve said elsewhere, whether or not she is married is irrelevant. She has agency whether she is married or single.

        1. Mannequin*

          It’s relevant in that expecting that someone would not just fall in your arms the second you showed interest, but would step outside of their committed, partnered relationship to do so (whatever form that committed, partnered relationship takes) strips away an additional layer of agency from that person, making it even more gross.

      2. Not Tom, Just Petty*

        as if of course married you would not be able to resist someone as wonderful as him.
        FTFY. and not because you were wrong. but because I am so filled with ire right now, I just need to kick everything up a notch.

  2. Two Chairs, One to Go*

    What a sexist creep. I hope his new company implodes.

    OP: I hope you get his job when he leaves (if you want it)! Be glad he will soon be out of your life.

    1. Purple Cat*

      F this guy.
      And you know that he totally thinks of himself as a “Nice Guy” because he’s never ACTED on it.
      But instead he TOLD OP about it placing all this emotional burden on her AND is holding her back from professional development opportunities because of it.

      1. MusicWithRocksIn*

        Am I the only one that immediately did a word search to see what yesterday’s F bomb was about? I use the same technique – try to never, ever swear so that when I actually do people really take notice. Break glass for emergencies only.

        1. Not Tom, Just Petty*

          Oh, no, I did not because I caught yesterday’s when it was fresh and it was F worthy. I will not forget it for a long time.

      2. Two Chairs, One to Go*

        Yeah the more I think about this, the more I think he said what he said on purpose for some weird power trip. I hate him.

    2. Hey Nonnie*


      My response to “I can’t trust myself around you” would be “WAITAMIN. Are you saying that you’d assault me?” Because the fact that it apparently didn’t occur to him that I would have a vote in that circumstance is… pretty alarming, to put it mildly. And he should know the full implications of what his words mean.

      And hell yes I would take the above to HR and tell them I was concerned for my safety. I’m not messing around with something that alarming. I have no way of knowing where on the “actively dangerous” to “just a sexist egomaniac” scale he falls. I certainly couldn’t take HIS word for it.

      1. Working Hypothesis*

        I would have been so tempted to say the “Are you saying you would ASSAULT me?!?” out loud. In the most shocked tone that I could muster. Because this asshat SO deserves to have to try and wiggle his way out of that one.

        1. All Het Up About It*

          I’m down for making this the standard reply for when ever someone implies they can’t be around/work with people they are attracted to. This is the most egregious I’ve heard in awhile, but it’s not the first.

          But throwing it back at them this way would feel wonderful!

          1. Hey Nonnie*

            I also agree that there is no good reason for him to mention his “crush” at all, and so I strongly suspect that the reason he did was because he was testing the waters, expecting / hoping OP would agree with him and run into his arms. Because clearly if he said “I can’t do that to my wife,” well, if OP then rushes in for a great big kiss (just like a movie!) it can’t possibly be HIS fault that the hanky panky happened. (Or, you know, if he forces the kiss himself and tells himself that OP really wanted it. Because “forbidden love.”)

            If he were genuinely invested in remaining faithful, he wouldn’t confess anything; all that does is open a can of worms (and clearly it did) and it’s not like it’s not entirely predictable that it would. You quietly remove yourself from the temptation (as mentioned above, he could have made other excuses without confessing anything), and recommit yourself to your relationship. If you talk about it at all (to your therapist!), you talk about how this is a You Problem, not anyone else’s. And you certainly don’t act like your desire is the only thing that matters. “I want it, so clearly it WOULD happen, but it wouldn’t be my fault!” is just…. no.

            He wants to cheat on his wife. He also wants to blame someone else for his choices so he can tell himself it wasn’t his fault. He’s at the point where OP isn’t a person to him, just a trophy to chase after (and by saying it to her he IS chasing, whether he admits that or not). And that’s really gross and scary.

  3. Southern Ladybug*

    Frack this guy. I’m sorry this happened to you. You did nothing wrong.

    If you were my friend, I’d totally support whatever decision you make b/c you know the situation best. That said – with only knowing this context, I’d encourage you to report his ass formally. And not be shy in factually sharing what he said to you in informal settings as well. You have nothing to hide or be ashamed of. (Though I know in many settings this would not be an option.)

    Frack this guy.

    1. Ashley*

      But the conversation revolves around potentially leaving your current company which can out you to something you don’t want to disclose.

      1. Marketing Queen*

        I had this same thought about reporting to HR. On the one hand, HR needs to know about this. On the other, you wouldn’t necessarily want to include the entire scope of the conversation since it does revolve around pursuing other opportunities, but I can’t see how that wouldn’t come out at some point. Definitely a terrible position to be in.

        1. Polecat*

          Remember that HR has no responsibility to keep it confidential if she talks to them. I think employees put too much faith in HR. They are there to look out for the company and not look out for the employees

    2. MoreFriesPlz*

      If this happened to me today, which it would not because my boss is an absolutely lovely human not a sentient pile of dog feces like this man, I wouldn’t report it, just because it would be too risky for me professionally. If you can afford to likely tank a reference it would be gratifying to report him but I can’t imagine it would do much (even if he’s fired it’s not like it makes much of a difference unless he somehow looses funding also).

      Just raising this to say OP do what’s right for you. There’s no shame in protecting yourself.

    3. Three Flowers*

      What about reporting his ass formally to HR *and* his supervisor, to try to ensure his future references for when his new venture fails are accurate (aka, bad)?

  4. londonedit*

    I read the title of this one and reflexively responded with ‘Well, your boss is disgusting’. Not a lot else to add, really.

    1. The Dogman*

      I was in “vomit in my mouth a bit” mode reading this… That boss is a weirdo, that is deeply odd and vomit inducing levels of creepy!

  5. Athenae*

    This dude also obviously thinks a startup environment is some kind of permission zone, like all it takes is one late-night meeting to turn a professional venture into a tit fiesta. I feel bad for any women he DOES hire, because you know it’ll be all “we were just working late, and that was an imperative to mash my genitals on you.” WHYYYYY.

    1. a tester, not a developer*

      +1 for ‘tit fiesta’.

      I keep picturing this asshat in the coffee shop, off-key yodeling “I Will Always Love You” at poor OP.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        People forget that song is a soft letdown of a friend with benefits who fell in one-way love. (cf: Best Little Whorehouse in Texas)

        1. Lizzo*

          Somewhat off-topic, but didn’t Dolly Parton write it as part of her professional breakup with Porter Wagoner? (Source: interview with Dolly Parton)

    2. the cat's ass*

      This is…brilliant! And, based on my experience with startups, is not far wrong. Run away from this creepo, OP, minimize your remaining interactions with him, report him to HR if it’s safe, and go after his job!

    3. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

      Having worked for a couple of startups….worryingly accurate. I’d take bets on a ‘I can’t help it, I’m just a man’ sentence from him.

    4. L.H. Puttgrass*

      Yes. It’s like he’s saying, “I can’t harass people here because of HR, but whatever will I do when I don’t have an HR department to tell me to keep it in my pants?”

    5. CoveredinBees*

      Ahahahaha, tit fiesta! But seriously, there’s something about the “start up” world that makes people feel like they have a complete pass to be totally horrible. Because they’re “changing the world” or “disrupting” some shit. This dude is gross.

  6. Bernice Clifton*

    Everything Alison said, but I love how he’s suddenly decided that you can’t work for him now that it’s HIS company and the stakes are higher. As though it was perfectly acceptable for him to nurture this unhealthy attraction when he was your boss but not the owner.

    1. Rusty Shackelford*

      To be fair, it sounds like he was keeping it pretty well hidden. There’s nothing wrong with thinking “I’m really attracted to this person, and it would be harder to keep it under wraps if we were working together more closely.” What’s wrong is telling her.

      1. MCMonkeyBean*

        Yeah, if he had written in like “she asked me to bring her to my new company but even though I’ve managed to be professional at work so far I know I would struggle a lot more with the long start-up hours” or whatever I think I would honestly have some sympathy for him. But just… WHY WHY WHY would he tell her that!?? Especially when they are still working together.

        1. SnappinTerrapin*

          That’s how I see it. Part of his thought process makes sense. After all, even recognizing her agency to reject his advances, he is prudent to recognize the risks to all involved, including LW. There are so many ways that hiring LW could have, and probably would have, gone wrong, and they all come back to his responsibility.

          The mistake was in saying it out loud, which unavoidably spilled the ick on LW.

        2. generic_username*

          I feel like we have gotten letters like that and the response is generally, “grow up and learn to control your urges”

      2. Beth*

        Nah, it’s still wrong. Even if she never knew the reason why, if he’s not giving all of his employees equal access and equal chances for career progression just because he’s attracted to some of them, that’s still a problem. Crushes happen, but professional adults learn how to go “That person is very attractive, but I’m not going there, I will continue to treat them like I would any other colleague.”

  7. Al who is another AL*

    What a true idiot your Boss is, at least he’s going in 2 months. What does he seriously think will happen now? I think you need to let everyone you work with know about this, otherwise it’ll make the part where you don’t contribute to his leaving present and don’t turn up to his leaving party a bit awkward. I certainly wouldn’t be turning up to his leaving party

    1. Amber*

      Exactly. If this happened to me I would tell evvvveryone. Let him be embarrassed. Let him get a bad reputation. Public shame the MF.

      1. GrooveBat*

        Sadly, in situations like this it’s often the woman who gets blamed. Depending on how popular he is, she will likely get tagged as “crazy,” “psycho,” “stalker,” “delusional,” etc.

        Report to HR so it’s on record, but share the details only with those you trust.

        1. Pippa K*

          Yup. “He’s such a nice guy. Apparently she somehow got offended by a compliment and now she’s weirdly hostile about it.” Leading easily to “she’s so difficult” and the rest of the classic tunes of workplace sexism. Reporting this stuff is a perfectly good idea, but in a lot of workplaces (waves sadly from desk) no one will think he’s done anything wrong, and all those people will also think the OP should have “managed it better” because it’s women’s job to smooth this kind of thing over. I wish you the best, OP. At least he’s going away soon.

          1. Working Hypothesis*

            Or they’ll think “Hey, he said he wouldn’t do it, so what’s the problem?” The problems of being discriminated against for a job she wanted, made to feel uncomfortable and maybe even unsafe for months until he cleared out of their mutual current company, and either insulted or threatened (depending on whether the implication was that *of course* she’d be interested if he looked at her that way, or that it didn’t matter whether she was interested or not), are all irrelevant, of course. :-P

  8. TimeTravlR*

    My first thought (well, i actually said it out loud because I feel so strongly) was “What do you have to feel guilty about?” You did not bring this on. This is all on him. I guess, at least be glad you dodged the bullet of continuing to work for him. *sigh*

    1. Bernice Clifton*

      I completely agree with you, but I don’t think the LW’s reaction is uncommon, unfortunately.

        1. Bernice Clifton*

          Yes, and advertising their misogyny and entitlement. The men who get crushes on attractive coworkers, servers, bartenders, cashiers, receptionists, etc., and believe it’s mutual solely because these women are friendly to them in the course of performing their work duties are not comprehending being helpful and friendly to someone they don’t want to flirt with/date/hookup with.

          1. AnonEMoose*

            I’m a woman. And I’ve had crushes on male coworkers before. And I kept it to my own damn self because I was at work, I knew it was just a crush and it passes, and it wasn’t my coworker’s problem. It’s not the having the crush that’s a problem, it’s how you deal with it. Too many men in particular (women are not exempt, but it seems rarer in my experience) seem to think they’re somehow obligated to act on a crush or attraction, and that just isn’t the case. Nor does the person you have a crush on owe you anything.

            1. sub rosa for this*

              Absolutely. For me, that crush was nothing more than inspiration to, yes, bother with my appearance this morning; yes, take the trouble to do something with my hair; yes, have something to look forward to (will he be on the shuttle today? will I walk past her in the hall? will they smile at me?) and that was where it ended.

              If the crush ever finds out, or even suspects, it totally ruins the game. (Not to mention it can throw a serious wrench into, well, everything at work.)

              1. allathian*

                Yeah, this. In the best case, it also adds a bit of energy that I can redirect to my relationship with my husband.

            2. Distracted Librarian*

              This. Crushes happen, but you don’t have to act on them in any way whatsoever–if you’re a mature adult fully in control of your appendages. And if you aren’t, GTFO of the workplace.

      1. Southern Ladybug*

        It’s not. When I was a grad student – 24 years old – and got my first FT job the married/older guy (over 40, kids, etc) in my department I had my GA in who I thought was a professional contact asked if he could kiss me on my last day in that dept (I got the FT job in another area of the same, large, organization). I spent too much time wondering what I did wrong that he asked. I felt guilty. Like I did something wrong. Which is BS – but those years of conditioning took their toll and that was the first reaction. (He did back off when I said no and left me alone as I cut contact. I did not report it.).

        1. londonedit*

          The knee-jerk ‘Well, what were you wearing? What did you say to lead him on?’ assumption is sadly still horribly prevalent even now.

        2. Jay Gobbo*

          I’m so sorry this happened to you. A man does *anything* untoward — from making a pass at a woman, all the way up to sexual assault — and the woman spends weeks / months / years agonizing and wondering what *she* did wrong. Our victim-blaming culture is at fault, it’s sick and it needs to end.

        3. LaLa762*

          That’s so gross, and I’m so sorry that happened! I’m SO IMPRESSED you had it together to say no, rather than just stutter out an, “Umm, what?” or “OK, I guess” or laugh it off ‘like a joke’ the way I’m sure I would have at that age.
          Really girl, GOOD for YOU!

        4. MBK*

          What’s additionally infuriating about stories like this – when it’s a supervisor or a mentor – is that the guy might think of it as, “ah well, took a shot and it didn’t pan out” and think everything just reverts to the status quo ante.

          But for the woman, a *professional* relationship she may have spent years cultivating and was depending on as a reference, contact, or networking connection has just burned itself in front of her for absolutely no reason.

          If I thought the guy who *did* get the job OP wanted might be a decent, stand-up human who would care, I’d suggest she send him a link to this post and show him exactly who his new boss is. But my faith isn’t nearly that strong.

    2. PolarVortex*

      I spent the entire post swinging between “this dude is skeevy as frack” and “you are not responsible for anyone’s crush on you, don’t fall into the man-made trap of ‘i’m a woman and have therefore lead him on because that’s what women do we have irresistible boobs’ because this is entirely on him” which of course leads you back to “this dude is skeevy as frack he’s only saying this as a power trip/see if he can get into her pants”.

  9. TypityTypeType*


    “Who says it’s up to you, assclown?” was what came into my head, but I know I’d never have the presence of mind/nerve to say it if this came up in real life.

    So sorry this is happening to you, LW.

    1. Fran Fine*

      Yeah, I’m usually someone who has a snappy retort on standby for most occasions, but even I would have been sitting there with my mouth ajar in complete shock at what I was hearing.

      1. banoffee pie*

        The shock would be extra since OP has worked for this boss for some time. It’s way worse than a random stranger saying it.

        1. allathian*

          Yeah, exactly. Especially because she thought they had a good, professional relationship. I hate the thought that this might make the LW less trusting of future male supervisors or coworkers. I really hope not, because most men are decent and not creeps like this one.

  10. Evonon*

    Even though he’s leaving, he has to know that this level of sexism and blatant jackassery is not okay ESPECIALLY if he’s striking out on his own. Will he only hire dudes and women he doesn’t deem attractive at this new business? Will he be candid to interviewees that he has to pass on them because he can’t control himself? Good luck paying for a harassment claim on your start up resources my guy but he is managing her now and HR needs to know especially if he uses this company as a reference in the future

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Yeah — it makes me a think a Glassdoor review for his new business once it’s established, explaining he told a candidate he wouldn’t hire her because he found her attractive, wouldn’t be amiss.

      1. anonymous 5*

        Given that he told OP that he had offered the position to a male candidate instead and that the candidate had accepted it, is there any way for OP to report this to EEOC or something? Seems like this would be an open-and-shut kind of case in “known discrimination in hiring,” but I have no idea which channel would apply here.

        1. Anononon*

          Unfortunately, if this is US, federal discrimination laws will likely not apply to his small start up (need at least 15 employees). Depending on the state, though, local laws may have a smaller employee requirement.

        2. Tupac Coachella*

          This was one of the most confusing parts of the whole exchange to me. He had such an easy out: “I’m sorry, Fergus already beat you to it and I’ve offered him the job.” Why would you both make your coworker extremely uncomfortable AND set yourself up for legal issues?

          1. Cat Tree*

            I suspect he was looking for any reason to spring his feelings on OP in the hopes that she would say she liked him too.

            1. Batgirl*

              Yeah, because when he said he was thinking of his wife, my response was “Bullshit!” Not many spouses want to hear this sentence: “Oh I confessed longstanding feelings of attraction to my colleague today, how was yours?”

      2. Evonon*

        I also wonder if he’s showing his ass like this because he’s A) known OP a long time or B) is on the way out and thinks there won’t be consequences for that statement.

        Could be both but I shudder at the thought that the only reason he hasn’t “acted” on his desires is because they work for a company with many employees around

      3. LKW*

        Oh I love this idea. As long as she doesn’t need a reference from him in the future and can afford to burn that bridge. Because he would know exactly who wrote it. Women are told repeatedly that our emotions rule us but in this case, I wouldn’t trust a “man scorned” to have my best interests in mind.

        1. Ally McBeal*

          I’d argue that anyone with soft skills as poor as this guy isn’t someone you’d want a future employer calling for a reference. I think the bridge is already burned because he set it on fire. OP should just be sure to shore up her connections at her current workplace so she has more (and better) options.

    2. DG*

      I have to imagine he’d only hire dudes. Guys like this are also the type of people who won’t even bother to make small talk or eye contact with a woman they find unattractive, let alone hire/manage/coach/mentor them.

      1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

        Oh he’ll only hire men and make some thing of ‘blah blah #metoo I don’t want any harassment accusations and I’m just thinking of the women and-‘

        …I may have thrown up a bit writing that.

    3. Don*

      No, he’ll hire dudes AND women he finds attractive and who he thinks might sleep with him. If they don’t he’ll fire them on a pretext or make their lives miserable so they quit. Maybe he’ll be super conscientious of the firm’s ability to do good work and he’ll just flex this sleaze muscle on support staff. But he’ll do something. We know because he didn’t just carry his own burden and keep his stupid mouth shut.

      1. banoffee pie*

        Agreed, he’ll maybe try to hire women he deems attractive that he thinks have a chance of reciprocating his ‘feelings’.

    4. All the words*

      And to get it noted in this file that he is NOT eligible for re-hire.

      OP I’m so angry for you for all the reasons other people have already articulated.

  11. Loulou*

    Alison, I’m curious: if boss had written in, what would you have advised him to do? Obviously NOT this, lol! But I’m wondering what you would say.

      1. Badasslady*

        If you’re someone who manages people and have this issue, I would say you probably need to go to therapy (no judgment, therapy is awesome!) to work on your issues around attraction. It is very likely that someone who has these issues around an employee also has these issues affecting other parts of their lives and need to do some deep work to figure out what’s going on.

      2. Loulou*

        Thanks for the reply! I was remembering a letter like this but couldn’t find it. This line from that letter is so true: This is a you problem, not a her problem, and it’s not fair to let it affect her work life.

      3. GrooveBat*

        Re the linked letter…seems to me if he’s incapable of managing his employees HE is the one who should move to a new team or a whole new company. He’s the one who has the problem; why should he get to keep his job?

        1. quill*

          At least that one wrote in to Allison: evidence that he wanted a solution, even if Alison did not give him the one that he wanted.

        2. River Otter*

          Re: the current letter

          This guy actually is moving. So, I’m sure he’s not starting his own company to get away from one person, but getting out of an awkward situation has to be an added bonus. He’s doing the right thing by not hiring her, even if his delivery was terrible.

          1. Brightwanderer*

            Yeah, there’s like… an alternate universe where this could have been him doing the right thing? Realising that his crush isn’t going away, that the shift to a smaller startup culture could quickly turn it toxic, that he shouldn’t put her in that position. But in that case I think the conversation with LW looks very different from this awkward nightmare.

            You also have to wonder if there isn’t some subtext of “it would be unethical for us to do anything while I’m your boss but since I’m leaving soon and won’t hire you………? Maybe……?”

          2. Distracted Librarian*

            I disagree. Doing the right thing is controlling yourself so you can work with your crush and not behave inappropriately. She shouldn’t lose out on a potentially-lucrative opportunity b/c he isn’t willing to control his urges.

      4. MK*

        I am curious, Alison, would you say the same if he asked before this meeting? If he said he has had feelings for his report for a long time, has acted professionally so far and is now leaving the company to start his own business, but he thinks this person might want to follow him? Would you advise to hire her if she is the best candidate and continue to ignore his crush? Theoretically this is the correct answer, but from a practical/human perspective I don’t know how realistic it is.

        1. JB*

          What do you mean, you don’t know how realistic it is? Have you acted on literally every crush you’ve ever experienced?

          I’ve worked closely with people I’ve been attracted to before. I just kept my mouth shut and it was literally never a problem.

          1. MK*

            The options aren’t “act on the crush” or “hire this person and go on with a difficult workplace situation”. I don’t know how realistic it is to expect someone to continue in an uncomfortable and possibly painful situation, when they have a natural and easy way to get out of it. Realistically the simplest thing to do would be to keep the crush to yourself and preserve the professional relationship, but not hire the person you are attracted to.

            I am glad you have such a tight grip on your emotions, but I have known people become uncredibly unhappy from inappropriate feelings that wouldn’t go away. Sometimes you need distance to get over someone.

            1. I WORKED on a Hellmouth*

              Ooof, no, in that instance you need * t h e r a p y *. Because that is some abnormal and unhealthy shizz. Particularly if it is in regards to someone from WORK. Who is just EXISTING.

              1. A.J.*

                I don’t know, I think what MK was saying was pretty normal. It’s an almost universal experience to have a hard time getting over a crush. And to have crushes on a person it is inappropriate to have a crush on.

                He shouldn’t have told the letter writer that’s why he wasn’t hiring her, because he’s passing off the awkwardness to her, when it’s his issue to deal with. He should have done what MK said–not saying anything, preserve the professional relationship, but hire someone else for the job, unless she’s literally the only person who can do the job well. If he HAD hired her when he has a terrible crush on her, it very likely would be that he was doing that in large part to stay close to her, and we would all be giving him side eye for that as well.

          2. MCMonkeyBean*

            Right, but there is a difference between finding yourself in that situation and dealing with it versus actively choosing to put yourself in that situation. It seems like so far it’s been the former and he was dealing with it fine–not sure why he decided to blow that up now by telling her about his crush.

          3. TechWorker*

            No of course not. But at the same time – he’s hiring for a startup. Hiring another coworker (who is possibly less good?) because he doesn’t fancy them is REALLY not a good look. But if he chose not to hire anyone from his current workplace, but instead to interview more widely or lean on other contacts, and part of the (secret, not expressed) motive for that was to avoid hiring someone he has a crush on… well that’s not the end of the world? There’s no entitlement to a job in his startup either.

        2. River Otter*

          God, I hope not. I hope the advice would be, keep your feelings to yourself, crush the crush, and if you succeed, then revisit whether there’s a role for her.

        3. Software Dev*

          This—seems really weird to me? I mean, it seems like adults can and should be able to work with other adults they are attracted to without making it weird. I guess I’m not the best person to judge, I’m a little ace, but I have had crushes on people at work/in grad school and I never had any problem working closely with them (also I mean if you know the other person is married, that should make them immediately off limits).

        4. Purple Cat*

          “How realistic is it to ignore a crush”?
          It’s 100% realistic. It’s what professional adults do all.the.time.
          And I totally feel like there is misogyny at play here, because women would *never* claim they couldn’t possibly ignore a crush, when society tells men they’re entitled to act on any and every sexual feeling regardless of the intended target’s feelings.

          1. UKDancer*

            Yes definitely. I collaborate with a chap in a company that often works with mine on joint projects (we make teapots and his company makes tea sort of thing). He has lovely eyes and I do find him attractive. However he is not interested in me so I ensure I remain professional. I accept that I find him attractive but that’s my issue and I don’t make it his issue. We have an excellent working relationship and I like to keep it that way.

            It’s perfectly possible to ignore the crush if you want to do so. I would agree that societal narratives tend to tell men they can act on their feelings regardless of what the other party wants.

          2. pony tailed wonder*

            You can generally find a way to get over a crush. I used to have a crush on a pro hockey player and each time he spit when the camera was on him, my crush grew smaller and smaller. I finally got to cheering for just his skills and not his ‘aura’, so to speak.

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      I would imagine:
      a) Dude, you need to get over this and not let your private crushes affect how you treat your professional subordinates. Actively work to wipe out this crush.
      b) In the moment, you had already hired someone else for this role. You can just say that, along with assuring her that you think well of her work and will be a good reference going forward. You don’t need to tell her that it’s because her coworker has a d***. Also, that should not be your reason for hiring co-worker.

      1. Fran Fine*

        In the moment, you had already hired someone else for this role.

        This would have been the easiest out ever, and I’m perplexed that he didn’t use this ready-made excuse with the OP.

        1. Myrin*

          Yeah, I found myself momentarily wondering what I would’ve said if I had been in the boss’s shoes and then I got to that part I went “Oh, well, there’s your answer!”.

          1. Annony*

            I was thinking the same. He could have so easily said “I’m sorry but I already offered the position to Josh” that I can’t help but think he was hoping to start something with the OP or at least get an ego boost from her agreeing that the attraction was mutual or something. It’s so gross.

            1. quill*

              I think he took “don’t date direct reports” and went “Well, there’s nothing stopping me once I leave if I don’t hire her!”

            2. Rusty Shackelford*

              He may have thought it was a great opportunity for her to say “Wow, I feel the same way!” Or for him to save face if she didn’t. “Obviously I would never act on it. Unless you want to act on it?”

            3. Some dude*

              That’s my standard pick up line – hey babe, sorry I can’t offer you a job but you are too hot and I’d just couldn’t concentrate on work. Wanna do it? It is VERY successful. When a woman learns that her attractiveness has cost her professional opportunities, it’s like an aphrodisiac.

        2. Don*

          This was an employment variation on an unsolicited dickpic. It was testing the waters. Odds are it upsets her but when you have no shame or ethical boundaries that’s not a problem. But in that one in a million shot that she’s receptive, boom, he finds out and can try to get her into bed.

          1. LKW*

            You may be right. I took it as “I’m so ethical, see how I don’t hire you because I couldn’t possible not harass you.” whereas you are adding the “… unless you want me to? Hmmm?”

            Both tracks make me want to vomit.

        3. L.H. Puttgrass*

          It’s not about the hiring. Sleazebag was making a pass, pure and simple. This confession was the opening for OP to confess that she had feelings for him, too, and thus starts their torrid affair. Or however it plays out in the creepy fantasies of his addled brain.

          1. 2Legit*

            I feel bad for the BadBoss’ wife. And kids, if they have any. Imagine being married to this creep. Disgusting. What good could possibly come of “confessing” that you “have a crush” on someone when you’re already married? And – not only that- but this creep obviously has no respect for this woman’s husband. Horrible.

            1. Seeking Second Childhood*

              I fixed it for you: “…has no respect for this woman.”
              His statement would have been equally inappropriate for a single woman or a gay man to whom he is attracted

        4. Michelle*

          Because, like Alison said, he LIKES that now she knows about his crush. In his fantasy, she tells him that she has a crush on him too, and then they make out right there in the coffee shop.

        5. JB*

          I am perplexed on why everyone keeps reading it as ‘there was only one position and he gave it to someone else’. That’s not what the letter says at all.

          1. Fran Fine*

            Doesn’t matter. Even if he had 100 positions open, the OP doesn’t know that, so he could have fallen back on that excuse and she’d be none the wiser.

      2. TechWriter*

        I get the impression it’s “startup!!!” so not one *specific* role (“we don’t have a corporate structure! We’re flat! Everyone wears many hats!”) but, more she approached him with “I want to work with you on this, do you see me fitting somewhere?” and him being like “Ur hot, sorry. Oh and FYI I hired one of the other dudes, you should know that he’s jumping ship too.”

      3. treesinthebreeze*

        Yes, this is where the issue is – why TELL her?! People have crushes, whatever ok. And frankly, if you don’t want to work in a close environment with your crush and it’s within your power to ensure that doesn’t happen…ok too. People are allowed to make choices that are best for their mental/whatever health. And honestly, in some ways, it seems like he had been handling it professionally because she didn’t have a clue – you SHOULDN’T know your boss has a crush on you! But then…he told her? With two months left? When he’d already hired someone else? (I assume he hired other coworker not *just* because they’re a man, but because they’re qualified. No one wants their new business to fail by hiring people who can’t do the work…) Boss could’ve given so many other valid, work-related reasons why he hired that person and not OP.
        Gross gross gross.

        1. Lab Boss*

          “People have crushes, whatever, OK”

          Exactly my thought. I’ve managed and worked with and for people I found attractive- some of whom I didn’t merely find attractive, but actively had a crush on. You know what I did about that? Nothing, and kept it to myself, because it was work. It didn’t make me a bad person to have the feelings, it would have made me a bad person to structure my business interactions around the feelings.

        2. Hornswoggler*

          He’s telling her because now he’s not going to be working with her, he thinks he’s going to have a chance with her.


        3. 2Legit*

          If he was *so concerned* about doing the right thing and *so concerned* about not crossing a boundary with his crush, then why was he indulging in time with her at the coffee shop? I’m not saying that men and women can’t enjoy professional relationships, mentoring, etc. but this guy is trying to make it sound like he had noble intentions when he is clearly a wolf in sheep’s skin. If you’re really concerned about crossing a line and being unfaithful, wouldn’t you put distance between yourself and your crush? Of course you would.

          1. Batgirl*

            That’s such a good point. Having coffee is about as social a work meeting as you can get. If he can’t handle travelling to a distant conference centre with her, and all the boring tedium of travel where you tend to part ways* for your hotel rooms as soon as the work is done anyway, how can he survive her loveliness seated across a coffee table in a fairly relaxed setting? Relaxed until he opened his mouth, anyway.
            *I’m sure in his imagination they round off the day in loosened work outfits, laughing in a bar until the early hours because that’s what she’ll probably suggest in order to snare him!

        4. MarfisaTheLibrarian*

          People get super weird about crushes, the day I got into a relationship, someone who I’d turned down 6 months before pulled me aside at a gathering to let me know that this really was causing him a lot of pain 0.0
          They’re just making *their* problem a you problem and taking up real estate in your brain rent free.

          1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

            Oh wow, I just remembered the guy I rented a house with who, just after I started dating my now husband felt the need to tell me that I had deeply hurt him because he had a massive attraction to me and the least I could is wait till he got a girlfriend before bringing my boyfriend around to the house.

            All about *his* feelings. I moved out pretty fast.

            1. Tiny Soprano*

              The old housemate who told me about his crush the day after he’d made a morning coffee for my very obvious fling. No.

              1. Tiny Soprano*

                Oh and let’s not forget the one who kicked me out shortly after I started dating my ex girlfriend. That was a hoot.

          2. MissBaudelaire*

            Mmm, yup.

            Someone in my friend group had a crush on me. Was really, really sad all the time when I was in a relationship. Wrote me a very bizarre love letter after that relationship ended. Offered to duct tape their mouth shut if I’d only date them, anything I wanted. Was very confused and hurt when I turned them down again.

            Told many people how I had broken their heart.

            Ten years later, I’m coming to terms with the fact that I wasn’t the one crossing boundaries in that situation.

              1. MissBaudelaire*

                Because they thought I’d say yes if I was single. I guess they thought I was desperate, I don’t know.

      4. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        Yeah – if he approached it as “this is awkward, but I’d already offered the job to Matt and he’s accepted” is a perfect out. All the inner monologue crud just stays in his head and no fallout if the startup fails. Now – well, everybody knows who and what he is.

    2. Person from the Resume*

      I feel that people can’t help who they are attracted to in their own minds. They can help how they act.

      I think the thing for the boss to do would be to tell her he can’t hire her and then stop talking. It is actually good that he didn’t hire someone he knows he’s attracted to and has a crush on, but he shouldn’t have ever told her. That’s creepy. That also strikes me as fishing to find out if she feels the same. Telling her is opening the door to a possible relationship despite the other words he said.

      1. Fran Fine*

        Okay, I should have kept reading before posting above because after seeing your second paragraph, I suspect this is why he didn’t just tell her he’d already hired someone else so his staff was in place.

      2. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

        I’d disagree. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with hiring someone you have a crush on. Unless you mean ‘in this case it’s good he didn’t hire her because he’s a colossal dickhead with the self control of a fruit fly’.

        (I’ve had crushes on people at work. Being pansexual it’s a wide range too)

        1. Mister Lady*

          Truth. You absolutely CAN work with people you have crushes on, and neither tell them nor act on it in any way! The difference between “gah I have this silly crush that sometimes makes me a little tongue-tied / babbly” and “I am attracted to this person therefore my ONLY RECOURSE is to make it their problem” is…a pretty big one.

          1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

            Yep. I’ve gone on very long car journeys with people at work who are just…wonderful beautiful gorgeous witty kind and all the stuff that I go for and somehow I managed to make not one mention of their attractiveness.

            Several hours of debating Star Trek episodes yes. You can run the mind on a separate thread to the ‘attraction’ processor.

            1. MissBaudelaire*

              Yeah, I’m always confused at the people who think you *have* to do something about a crush. No you don’t. You’re entitled to feel your feels and think your thoughts. But they’re your problem, and you’re never entitled to hurting someone else because of them.

              1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

                There’s a friend of mine from back when we worked together who if I was single, and she was single, and she swung that way (I know she doesn’t) and she felt the same then heck yes I’d run to be with her.

                She doesn’t know this. She doesn’t need to know this. Because I have enough control to never ever mention it, let alone act on it.

                My husband knows I find her attractive. It doesn’t bother him because he knows I’m perfectly happy being married to him and have the control to not eff up.

                1. MissBaudelaire*

                  No kidding. I had people that I would have dropped everything and *ran* to. They never knew. It wasn’t their business to know that! Why would I ever want to make someone I care about so unhappy and uncomfortable? Not to mention ruin whatever friendship we had.

                2. Falling Diphthong*

                  To take this outside of work: An old college friend came to visit my mother-in-law, and cheerfully confided how she had obviously had an immense crush on mil back then. Back when my mil was dating the person she would marry, and at the visit was still married and had been married to for like 40 years. No one needed to know. MIL felt awkward for the rest of this visit, as the crush had been unnoticed and unreciprocated, then and now.

                  That you have a current or former crush on someone is not vital information that you must share with them

              2. UKDancer*

                The worst situation I had of this type was the woman who came to my grandmother’s funeral and told my father that she’d had an incredible crush on him when they were both teenagers and thought he had definitely fulfilled his potential. This was in front of me, my mother and his uncle. He had not seen this woman in the 30 years since he left that city and didn’t know what to say or do. I mean I think my father is a handsome guy but he’s not the sort to be comfortable with compliments.

                It made the funeral really quite awkward. I don’t know why she thought that it was appropriate to say all this at the funeral tea. I mean think it by all means but keep the thought to yourself.

        2. MK*

          It depends what you mean by having a crush. People get crushes all the time, and usually it goes away if you don’t feed it. But occasionally it doesn’t go away, and you need to distance yourself from that person to get over it, which, if they work for you, probably means leaving your job. If you feel attraction for a candidate you barely know, yes you should ignore it. But if this guy has been trying to get over his inappropriate feelings and isn’t managing it, it was a good idea to not hire the OP.

          1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

            Again, disagree (but willing to say this is a particular very hot topic of mine so I’m not able to be unbiased).

            If you’re so attracted to someone that literally the only way you can continue to operate at work is to not see them at all….it’s time for professional help. Therapy, whatever. It is not ever appropriate, least in my eyes, to say ‘I’ve got such strong feelings for this person that I can’t work with them’.

            1. JB*

              Agreed. If I were experiencing that I would think it was a symptom of my BPD, I’m mystified by the number of people in these comments treating it as normal for a crush to be obsessive or somehow ‘irresistable’.

              He’s an adult who’s setting out on a business venture, he’d better be able to ‘resist’ his attraction to a subordinate!

              1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

                Yeah, I’ve been through enough years of psychiatry (done TO me, I’ve never studied it) to get…a little irked at this idea that it’s actually normal to feel like you can’t control whether you act inappropriately toward someone.

                It’s not. I’ve BEEN the clingy obsessed ex girlfriend in my life, convinced that I can’t help what I’m doing because my feelings are just so strong. What stopped that wasn’t moving away from my ex – it was professional help.

            2. Health Insurance Nerd*

              Agree with this 100%. If you’re so enamored by someone that feel that you have to leave your job to get over it that is a sign of severe emotional immaturity.

              1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

                And to go as far as ‘In order to protect my marriage I can’t work with you because I’d be unable to hold myself back from making a move’ I’d say it’s a call for urgent, really urgent professional medical help. Because one cannot function in life with that level of lack of control. There are many ways to help fix that, therapy, medications, whatever the professionals decide but it’s not a state that can continue.

                (And believe me I know all about having to control my actions, although it never involved sexual stuff. I sometimes get delusions but I can control how I respond to them)

            3. MK*

              Being unable to operate at work and/or incapable of stopping yourself from inappropriate behaviour is a more extreme situation than most people find themselves in. There is a long way from “this is a silly little crush that I can easily get over” to “I need a psychiatrist to deal with my obsession”, and for most people in the middle staying away from their crush does resolve the issue.

              1. Can't Think of a Name*


                I think it’s unfair to say that if someone wants to prioritize their happiness (like not having to deal with an unrequited crush) or tempt fate by continuing a relationship (even a work one!), that their crush is unhealthy or pathological. A person can be perfectly entitled to decide they want to switch jobs if they have a crush on someone and are having difficulty getting over it – especially if they work closely with their crush.

                1. allathian*

                  Yeah, sort of. Although I must admit that my crushes have never been this intense. All of them have eventually gone away when I’ve decided to quit feeding them, including a couple crushes on close coworkers. It does help that we have long vacations, it’s surprising how a crush can die when you don’t see them for two months straight (each of us took a month’s vacation back to back) and you have lots of fun things to do with your family in the meantime.

      3. BabyElephantWalk*

        Making a hiring decision based on a crush that he has on her screams of discrimination though.

        On the one hand, I’m glad for her that she’s no longer working for Mr. Creep. On the other, how shitty to miss out on a job opportunity for no other reason that the boss finds you attractive.

    3. MK*

      Not tell her. I must admit that I wouldn’t hire someone I was attracted to in this situation either, unfair as it may seem. In his shoes, if I was in love with a man that worked for me for a long time and then I had an opportunity to go into business for myself, I confess I would think it a godsend chance to extricate myself from a painful situation without harming the other person’s career. It wouldn’t occur to me that hiring them to work for me in a small company, where people by necessity work together more closely would be a good idea, no matter how talented they were. But I certainly wouldn’t dump all this on them as a goodbye present.

      People can’t help their feelings, but they control their actions. If you become attracted to a subordinate, the right thing to do would be to not let them know, remain professional and deal with your feelings in your own time, which this guy seems to have done before this conversation. If the feelings persist and you find it difficult to interact with them, leaving the job is probably the best solution, which is what is happening here. This might have been a situation handled as well as is humanly possible, because, yes ideally he shouldn’t let his feelings affect hiring decisions, but I don’t know how realistic it is to expect someone to perpetuate a painful situation indefinitely. And then he hits upon the frankly unhinged idea that it would be unfair to her to not tell her the real reason he isn’t hiring them?

      1. Despachito*

        I was thinking along those lines, too.

        I actually think that the only thing he did wrong was to reveal his crush to her. Until then, I’d say everything he did was positive:

        1) He did not let show his crush at work, and until the revelation his behaviour was fully professional
        2) Not to hire a person I have a crush on is, in my opinion, a good and honest thing to do, unlike as if he tried to to hire her and then try and seduce her. I understand that if he has a choice, he does not pick a person who is not “emotionally safe” for him. It is probably unfair, but then, it is his own company, he had more candidates to pick from, and if he hired OP, the situation would possibly get awkward for her (if he revealed his feelings) or for him (if he didn’t). I would like to stress that in both cases, it would be on him and not on the OP, but it is his own firm and he has the right to select his coworkers as he sees fit.

        He should not have revealed the crush as OP is married and therefore unlikely to reciprocate, and under this condition I find it awkward as hell. But if he did just that (and all the remaining time behaved as a professional), I am not inclined to see him as the vilain of the month.

        And I am wondering – would your opinion change if OP was single? (Mine would).

        1. Despachito*

          Oh, I completely overlooked he was married. My bad. This changes the entire perspective – when I wrote the previous reply I somehow thought he was single (and my final sentence about changing your opinion if SHE was single now sounds horrible. Sorry for that. Of course if she was single and he was married, it would be EQUALLY awful for me. What I meant was “if both of them were single, my opinion would be different).

          Sorry again.

          1. Allegra*

            Why is the fact that he’s married such a huge factor in your decision? Why would both of them being single be different? How does relationship status change an office power differential?

            1. Despachito*

              Because if they were both single and she was attracted to him too, I can see how they could start dating AFTER ending their work relationship, and I would consider it to be a professional thing to do. And in such a case, I can also imagine that he would not want to mix his work and personal life and employ her in his company, and I’d see it as more professional than if he did.

              I think here on AAM there have been several examples of just this – people not starting dating while working together but waiting when one of them leaves the company, and it was approved as a good thing.

              1. Allegra*

                I think it’s a concerning erasure of OP’s agency to assume that she would be interested in him if she were single. It’s making the same assumptions that he is: that his attention would, by default, be welcomed and reciprocated were he to express it. And that’s not true. Existing in the workforce is not a de facto agreement to be seen as a romance or sexual object.

                Saying that this would have be okay if the odds were better that she might be into him (“He should not have revealed the crush as OP is married and therefore unlikely to reciprocate”) is weirdly heterosexist and reducing women in the workplace to their romanceability.

                1. Despachito*

                  No, by no means did I mean that, and I wonder why you infer such a conclusion.

                  What I mean is:

                  1) if either OP or the Boss or both are married, it makes any proposal indecent (as it would assume cheating on their spouse(s)). So for me married (or in a relationship) = inherently UNAVAILABLE
                  2) if both of them are single, OP may or may not reciprocate. Of course she has agency to decide for herself, and I never said differently! Neither did I say that his attention would be inherently welcomed and reciprocated!

                  But if both of them are not engaged elsewhere (and therefore would not be cheating) , AND they will soon cease to be coworkers (so the power dynamics would disappear), and he has a crush on her (or she on him), how should they proceed if they wanted to find out whether the other one reciprocates, without being inappropriate or harassing? Of course I do not assume that the other one MUST be interested, but what would be the proper way to handle it?

                  (I would personally choose something subtler, like telling Fergus that it would be nice to keep in touch and have sometimes a cup of coffee together after he leaves, and then see how it develops: if Fergus does not reciprocate, he can easily “be too busy” and never be able to meet, but at that point would have no reason to feel harassed. If he is interested, we can have the coffee and make gradual further steps).

                2. Allegra*

                  @Despachito – none of that is what he did, though, and we are not having a referendum on what’s the right way to tell someone you’re into them at work. What I’m concerned by is commenters prioritizing cheating over a person’s right to not be reduced to a romance/sex object in their workplace. Someone is a whole person deserving of respect in the workplace whether or not a hypothetical spouse is in the picture.

                3. Can't Think of a Name*

                  @Allegra I did not get the vibe that Despachito was prioritizing cheating over a woman’s romantic/sexual agency

                4. Despachito*

                  This is to reply to Allegra at 3:17 pm, it does not somehow let me attach the reply to that comment.

                  I am frankly baffled about the “prioritizing the cheating over a person’s right to not be reduced to a romance/sex etc.”

                  I explicitly said that cheating is a no-go.

                  I also said (or I hope so, and if I didn’t, I am saying it now) that a proposal from a boss to their employee is also a no-go because of the power dynamics.

                5. Allegra*

                  I said that the responses were prioritizing cheating (i.e., what this guy did was bad because he was being unfaithful and OP is married) and not prioritizing OP’s agency (what this guy did was bad because it was completely ignoring OP’s feelings on that matter) because of the comment upthread saying “oh, my answer is totally different because I just realized the boss is married”.

                  It reads like it’s privileging the state of matrimony over the real OP who has just found out her boss has been making decisions affecting her career because of his pantsfeels. (we have no way of knowing that he hasn’t treated her differently at work because this crush, just his word for it.)

                  But this is getting derailing so I’ll drop it. I’m just seeing a fair number of commenters saying that the various parties being married makes it somehow worse or better, or saying how disrespectful this is to boss’s spouse or OP’s husband, and I would rather we focus on how disrespectful this is *to OP, full stop.*

      2. JB*

        ‘A painful situation’? We’re talking about two adults, right? Not two kids in junior high?

        Do y’all really leave a job if you have a crush on someone? I feel like the answer is no, you aren’t about to disrupt or limit your own career because of a crush, but apparently you’re happy to punish the person you have a crush on.

        1. MK*

          People aren’t on allowed to be unhappy and spare themselves pain after junior high?

          No one said you should leave your if you have a crush. In most cases it goes away or in easy to ignore. Rarely it doesn’t, and it is making you unhappy and keeps you from moving on with your life (even if you are an old foggy who has graduated junior high). And, yes, in those cases a decent person might choose to leave their job for their mental well-being. I know people who have done this, I am sorry it is so unimaginable for you.

      3. learnedthehardway*

        Agreeing with you – I think the only wrong thing he did was reveal that he has a crush on her.

        But of course, that would leave the question open of why – knowing she would likely be interested in joining his company – he didn’t offer her the opportunity, but rather hired someone (presumably) more junior.

        He couldn’t have said that he had a non-compete clause, because he is hiring someone else away from his current company. He couldn’t say “You’re not qualified”, because she IS qualified. It would be really hard to say, “You’re just not a fit for what I have in mind” without sounding like he dislikes her or is being sexist (which she could reasonably interpret, given that he IS hiring the guy).

        About the only thing he really could have done would have been to say, “I’m not in a position to hire you right now”, which have worked in the sense that he didn’t need a senior person like her but did need the more junior guy, but that would also perhaps have deferred the conversation to a later time.

        The whole situation feels terribly like a modern Jane Austen novel, (although at least the guy admitted the impediment rather than pretending everything was fine).

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          Presumably a more junior employee would be a lower salary — and would have been a completely professional rationale.

          1. Fran Fine*

            Yup. “I can’t afford to staff with someone at your level, so I already hired someone more junior. I’ll let you know of any other opportunities I see that would be a good fit for you, though.” Done.

      4. All the words*

        If a person’s sexual attractions (and their resulting possible discomforts) are more important than their job duties I would suggest this is a person who has no business managing people.

        This is a person who refuses to manage themselves, first and foremost.

  12. Hacker For Hire*

    WTF. This is a man unable to keep his dick in his pants. I wonder what his wife would think of the conversation he had with OP.

    1. LKW*

      No, he’s bragging because it was so very very hard for him to act professionally but he did it! He acted professionally! And didn’t harass her! He deserves a medal for not being a total dickhead (until that moment). Sadly if he’s in charge, he couldn’t possibly be expected to act professionally when his ” feewings ” are so strong.

      He’s a man made from garbage.

    2. Ally McBeal*

      Unless OP has receipts – which it sounds like she doesn’t, since it was an in-person meeting – or is already very close with the wife, that’s too risky in my opinion. It’s different from this morning’s letter because there hasn’t been any actual cheating or legal wrongdoing – it’s just one more dude being inappropriate.

      1. Ally McBeal*

        “Legal wrongdoing” was the incorrect phrase, since this almost certainly falls under sexual harassment – maybe “criminal act” is better.

  13. noahwynn*

    First, I seriously can never understand why some people (mostly men) have zero self-control. Sure, we can’t always help who we crush on, but we can certainly decide on if we are going to act on it. Letting it affect a hiring decision is gross and seems unethical.

    Second, even if you do let it affect a hiring decision you don’t have to reveal all of that. All the dude had to say was “sorry, I’ve already hired Sam and don’t have any other openings right now.” It is truthful and while the OP would’ve been disappointed I don’t think she would be thinking WTF.

    1. Slow Gin Lizz*

      I think I’m naive but I’ve always wondered about the narrative in TV and movies of “We just couldn’t help falling into bed together!” Like, really? REALLY?? You just accidentally took off your clothing and didn’t once have a thought to stop the whole time you were doing so???

      Yeah, I know. I’m naive.

      1. Loulou*

        It reminds me of a great line from Danny L, the former Dear Prudence (paraphrasing): “you are not an infidelity robot set to chaos mode.”

      2. Naomi*

        Captain Awkward calls it the Couch of Plausible Deniability, e.g. oh look, the couch is full so I “have to” sit snuggled up against the person I have a crush on. In other words, when two people “just couldn’t help” falling into bed together, what actually happened was they really wanted to but knew they shouldn’t, so they kept finding excuses to edge closer and closer in plausibly deniable ways.

        In the context of this letter… I fully believe that if this guy had hired OP, he would have found lots of reasons to stay late at work with her and spend time in one-on-one meetings and go on business trips together. Things that aren’t in themselves unprofessional, but create a situation where (he can imagine) Something Might Happen. I guess it’s good that he was self-aware enough to realize that would be bad, except that confessing his crush is another kind of Couch of Plausible Deniability: “I’m just telling you this to explain why I didn’t hire you (not because I’m hoping you might have some reaction to it, or to suggest that maybe something could come of it now that I won’t be your boss).”

        1. Slow Gin Lizz*

          Oh yes, the Captain is wise and I missed her making that point. It’s very good. Bossman is not.

      3. More anon today*

        Dan Savage calls that out a lot too. People write him and describe everything in the most passive way, e.g. “we wound up in bed together.” Um, no, two humans with agency each decided to get in bed together.

    2. Don*

      I’d argue this isn’t a lack of self control, it’s horrible shitty judgment and bad priorities. Dude was totally in control of himself when he decided to drop this steaming load on LW’s shoes. Lack of control implies he knew just how awful and bad this was but couldn’t help but do it. I think it’s more likely he’s like a lot of dudes who have been able to get away with this shit, know they’ll probably get away with it this time, and just don’t care who they hurt along the way to getting their jollies. His revealing this was a choice because he believed he’d get away with it and hey, maybe he gets a vibe that the attention is welcome and gets to cheat. If he doesn’t and hurts someone, eh, so what? Dude’s in total control. Of being a complete jerkwad.

      1. TypityTypeType*

        Yes — he obviously got some kind of thrill out of telling LW this, since there are approximately 10 million other ways to handle this that would not involve such a skeevy announcement. What a creep.

      2. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

        You make a good point. He really had no need to tell her any of this unless he was trying to work out if he had a chance.

        Which implies a certain amount of forward planning. Ick.

    3. Elbe*

      “He said he wanted to be honest with me because it has nothing to do with my work.”

      This made me rage. He’s framing it like he’s telling her this for her benefit, so that she doesn’t doubt her talent. But he’s actually just confirming for her that her talent is less relevant than her looks. He’s outright telling her that being attractive to him has cost her professional opportunities that she wanted. Like that’s not supposed to make her feel bad. What good is talent when the people who are hiring can’t see you first and foremost as a coworker?

      Imagine saying “I’m going to withhold an opportunity that you’ve earned” and feeling like a good guy about it.

      1. Jacey*

        You nailed it! He thinks he’s being magnanimous by announcing that he will always see her as a sexual object first and a professional second.

        1. Elbe*

          In my experience, guys like this always feel that this is the ultimate compliment.

          For these guys, being sexy is the most important thing that woman can be, so it doesn’t occur to them that she’d rather be seen as capable or competent or talented or that she’d rather have a good job opportunity. They do see her primarily as a sex object and they feel, deep down, that she should see herself that way, too, and be grateful for the ‘validation’.

          1. banoffee pie*

            Agree, he probably feels it was a massive compliment, and she’d rather hear he finds her attractive than get the job :/ Some people are this big-headed, unbelievably.

      2. Mannequin*

        “ Imagine saying “I’m going to withhold an opportunity that you’ve earned” and feeling like a good guy about it.”

        WOOP there it is!

    4. Me*

      Cause (at least in American society) we condition men that way. Think about school dress codes and how they are primarily directed at girls for being a distraction. The boys will be boys culture. This is how it all plays out as children turn into adults. People who are conditioned to not be responsible for their behavior but rather it be other peoples responsibility for how they act unsurprisingly grow up to think they are entitled to behave in certain ways.

    5. LKW*

      Self control is just so hard. The lightbulb for me was understanding that rampant gay hatred was because hetero men assumed that gay men had as much self control as hetero men. Which for those who are skeered of gay men… is apparently none. Hetero men have no self control according to hetero men.

      And let’s not even bring in the autonomy of women to make their own decisions. I mean, come on! Ridiculous!

      1. MissBaudelaire*

        Hetero men are the first ones to admit that they are disgusting, and it baffles me. How are the people who perpetuate this not embarrassed/seeing the problem?

  14. spek*

    It’s creepy manipulation by him. He gets to gauge your reaction to telling you he’s attracted to you risk-free. In his mind, you either:
    – Tell him you have feelings for him also, and something starts between you two
    -Tell him you have feeling also, but he’s married and you have professional boundaries so it’s off limits, so no downside for him there.
    – Reject him, either aggressively or politely, and he rides off into the sunset and his new company: no big loss for him.
    It also opens the door for him to hit on you in the future, and he can say, “I told you I had feelings”.
    It’s awful – you definitely DO NOT want to be working for him, especially in a small company environment when there is no HR and professional norms are at the owner’s whim.

    1. Bernice Clifton*

      Yup. And he gets to pretend he “had to” tell you because you asked about working at his new company.

      1. londonedit*

        It’s so gross. ‘You know I’d love to hire you, but you’re just too damn attractive and I just can’t trust myself around you’ – yuck yuck yuck and a thousand times yuck. And it’s having exactly the effect he wanted, where the LW now feels guilty for somehow ‘leading him on’ or ‘not doing anything to dissuade him’ or whatever. Because of course women have to constantly police their looks and behaviour so as not to attract the poor men who just can’t help themselves. Vile.

        1. Badasslady*

          This dude is totally either trying to hit on OP, or is doing this weird “I was interested in you but you’re not interested in me. So I’m going to reject you.” Thing. Either way, he’s a creep.

          1. londonedit*

            It’s totally a weird power move. And he gets to pat himself on the back at the same time and tell himself he’s such a Good Guy for not physically shoving his tongue down a woman’s throat.

            1. Sharpieees*

              And his wife should be so grateful that he has chosen to remain faithful to her even though there are so many many many many MANY women out there who are just waiting for the chance to sleep with him and make their lives complete.

    2. ContractsKiller*

      I am confident that this is why he told her. He has nothing to lose and was testing the waters. If OP acknowledged a mutual attraction or even seemed on the fence, 100% he would have tried to start an affair and/or brought her on with his new company to take advantage of the close “working” conditions.

    3. rnr*

      Yep. I had an old boss do this on his last day with the company. He had a get-together at a nearby restaurant and only 2 of us showed up – because most of the team hated him by then, and I was just hoping to get a good reference by showing up. The other person left and I was planning to finish my drink and leave, and that’s when he made the creepy comment. And it’s exactly the way Alison said in her last paragraph, because then I started wondering if he only hired me because he was attracted to me, if that’s why I got good reviews, and so on. That whole job was a toxic dumpster fire, but he was by far the worst boss I’ve ever had. And it sucks because it does feel embarrassing, even though I know I didn’t do anything wrong. Ugh, OP, you’re well rid of this jerk.

  15. Cold Fish*

    I don’t know about reporting to HR. That seems like an over-reaction at this point. If he does ANYTHING in the next two months to make you uncomfortable then yes, HR. But until that happens…you were off company property, at a meeting you requested to talk about a non-company related topic.

    All-in-all, this doesn’t sound like an opportunity you want to pursue anymore. As your manager is leaving, is this opening up any additional opportunities you could take advantage of at current company?

      1. DC Cliche*

        I would also be very curious to know if my boss ever passed me over for a promotion/kept me out of a project/failed to present opportunities to me because he was attracted to me. I would ask HR to investigate that.

        1. Elbe*

          It sucks that the LW is feeling so uncomfortable, but this may end up being good information for her to have in the long run. She can make an informed choice, now, about using this guy as a reference or about working for him again in the future in a different role.

          In a way, the worst situation is that her looks are factoring very heavily into her work relationships and she’s completely unaware of it and she can’t make choices that would help her down the road. At least now she can avoid this creep forever, even if he eventually feels “able” to work with her again.

          1. Rusty Shackelford*

            We don’t know that it’s about her looks. You can get a crush on someone for other reasons.

            (Although, this guy seems pretty shallow, so yeah, it’s probably about her looks.)

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Sexual harassment rules don’t stop just because you’re off company property or at a meeting you requested. They remain fully in effect when a manager hits on an employee in any setting. Any competent HR would have a huge problem with this.

      1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

        The coworker who many years back approached me outside of work to tell me that he got a boner every time he saw me at work? HR were very, very interested in hearing that.

        (Don’t know exactly what they said to him but he never even spoke to me again. No great loss)

        1. PT*

          My former work fired a male employee who was call/text/email-stalking/harassing a female employee entirely outside of work.

          And incidentally, they fired him after being tipped off by the employee’s parent. The employee was in her early 20s and afraid she’d get fired if she reported it (because Causing HR Drama was Frowned Upon there, her general perception was accurate.) The parent was afraid their daughter would be killed if they didn’t grossly breach protocol and call it in.

          I don’t think I’ve *ever* seen HR move as fast as they did that day. The guy was gone as soon as they got the information they needed for the termination paperwork.

          1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

            Way to go HR! I hope that the woman feels safer these days and is doing well.

            And that maybe that guy got a rude awakening and changed his ways. One hopes.

      2. We’ve all been there*

        I mean, I agree in principle, but we all know how much sexual harassment gets swept under the rug and the professional risks there can be for reporting it. Maybe OP has great HR, in which case, awesome. (But maybe don’t mention that this happened in the context of your current plans to leave the company…?) But this guy is two months away from not being the company’s problem any more and the lure of inertia can be very powerful. It’s possible that reporting him would lead to a good outcome for OP and the world, but I think ignoring that that risk exists and might require management does a disservice to the letter writer.

    2. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

      I’d say he’s done plenty to make her uncomfortable! How can you work for someone who you now know is eyeing you up the entire time?

    3. ChemistryChick*

      Except he’s already done something to make her uncomfortable. Doesn’t matter that it wasn’t on company property and non-current company things were being discussed, he’s still her boss. It’s really no different than if they’d run into each other at the supermarket and he did something gross.

      It wouldn’t be an over-reaction for OP to report this if she wants to go that route.

    4. The New Wanderer*

      I thought this at first too, that it might be an over-reaction. Not because they were off property but because the boss hadn’t done anything until now to make OP feel uncomfortable.

      BUT, then the boss basically said if we spent any more time together than we currently do I would definitely sexually harass you. That’s a threat.

      I couldn’t continue to work for him under those circumstances and I would tell HR why and ask about a transfer until the boss is completely out of the company. If HR decides to expedite that departure process to protect OP, all the better.

    5. anonymous73*

      I would 100% report the incident. He’s put OP in a super awkward position, and it doesn’t matter where this happened. He’s her BOSS.

    6. Harper the Other One*

      But if he says something in the next two months it will be his “first offence” as far as HR knows. Plus, is he going to be doing year end reviews/assigning projects/etc. in the next few months? Then OP may need protection from (assuming the best of manager) his skewed decision making, and (assuming the worst of manager) retaliation because she didn’t respond to his attraction.

    7. Omnivalent*

      “at a meeting you requested to talk about a non-company related topic”

      Surely you didn’t intend to blame the OP for this jerk’s actions.

      1. Cold Fish*

        I am not blaming the OP at all. OP did nothing wrong and should not have had to go thru that. The manager is a massive tool.

        However this is not a perfect world and given the situation around this meeting, I think there is reason to pause and think before running to HR. There are multiple scenarios running thru my head about how coworkers/past coworkers I know would use this to look poorly on OP. (yes they are judgmental, sexist, hypocritical people but I have no control over who my boss hires and I have to pay my bills too) I hope that I am wrong and that OP’s HR would treat this properly but at the same time I’m not going to hold my breath.

        1. Le Sigh*

          If your intention was to point out that there are some unfortunate but strategic and realistic reasons to not report this (e.g., a crappy HR, it could potentially hurt OP more than her boss, etc.), then I’m confused by your original comment. Unfortunately, OP does have to decide if reporting does more good than harm, but your comment didn’t really address any of that.

          “If he does ANYTHING in the next two months to make you uncomfortable then yes, HR. But until that happens…you were off company property, at a meeting you requested to talk about a non-company related topic.” 1) The boss has already done something to warrant OP being uncomfortable; he doesn’t get a freebie. 2) Why bring up that this was off property and at OP’s request? None of that is relevant as to whether this is reportable, so including that here very much feels like putting blame on OP.

    8. Foxy Hedgehog*

      Oh my, please report this OP.

      “I don’t know if I can trust myself”? If he can’t trust himself to not act on his attraction, the company shouldn’t trust him either.

    9. 2Legit*

      The problem with reporting is… what will actually be done? Are there witnesses? And, how can it be proven that his conduct was unwanted? I am not disputing any of this account… I say this as someone who HAS gone to HR and was basically told that “it helps to have witnesses”… for harassment that was not sexual. The investigation was not kept confidential. Does your company policy forbid workplace dating? Does it forbid dating within the same chain of command? What this guy did was wrong, plain and simple. But will HR help you? They would need to investigate, and he will be gone soon, so what would your desired outcome of their investigation be?

      1. Working Hypothesis*

        Desired outcome is that they keep him under extremely close watch for the last couple months he remains at the company, and then mark his file “Do not EVER rehire” with plenty of details about why.

    10. GrooveBat*

      I think she should report it to ensure he isn’t able to come crawling back when his sleazy business inevitably fails.

    11. SeluciaMD*

      The fact that they were off-site having a discussion not related to work is completely irrelevant! He’s still her boss for TWO MONTHS. That’s enough time to do plenty of damage. And as others have noted, this is new information that might provide a whole new world of context to things in their shared past. If he told her AFTER he left the company, that would be different – HR wouldn’t have any reason or responsibility to act because he doesn’t work there anymore. But he’s still working there now and he 100% made it a hostile working environment for the LW for these last 2 months.

      I can understand why she might not want to go that route but 100% support her if she wants to. She’s well within her rights to do that.

  16. Belladonna*

    Allison’s advice is spot on. What a creep. A word of caution about reporting it though: you may have to (or he may) that you were seeking employment elsewhere. So as Allison said: be sure you can trust HR.

    1. Sara without an H*

      This. A lot depends on how both the competence of the HR people and how much authority they have within the company. If they have neither competence nor clout, the OP would be better off not reporting, especially if she is thinking about applying for Scurvy Boss’s position.

    2. Strict Extension*

      Yes. I was wondering if I was missing something. How does LW report to HR without revealing that she was seeking to change jobs? Even if she doesn’t mention the context of his remarks initially, it would surely be asked about in any real investigation, and if nothing else, there would be a risk of Boss throwing her under the bus. She knows that it was because of this particular opportunity, but I don’t know how you prevent them from putting you in the “looking for an exit” box as soon as they find out you were proactively asking about leaving.

      1. Ally McBeal*

        I think OP could finesse this. “He was telling me about his startup, and in the interest of networking for the future I asked if it’s the sort of company that might be able to use my skillset at some point down the line.”

  17. Justme, The OG*

    EEW. You doged a bullet not working for him again, you deserve better than to work for assclowns like that. He is so gross and should not be out in public around people.

  18. Evonon*

    I think also for a future reference (if his company goes under or if he becomes a consultant or something) sake, people need to know this guy is a jack ass who can’t be trusted with attractive employees apparently

  19. Falling Diphthong*

    Oh, dude: Lie!

    There are times for the professional lie, times for the polite social lie, and this was the time for both.

    (Also for getting over it all on your own and not letting it impact how you treat a coworker for work things. But this was really not a time to go for the bonus honesty points.)

    OP: I guess I can say bullet dodged that you hadn’t realized this jerk had such trouble with boundaries, and now you know? This sucks, I’m sorry. Your boss sucks.

    1. AndersonDarling*

      In my mind, lying would have been the best case scenario. “I already offered a role to Bob and he accepted.” Done! No icky feelings sliming up the place.
      The only other scenario would have been to hire the OP and then the inevitable would have occurred. Boss would have made a move and the OP would have refused and then there would be an even worse awkward work relationship which would likely end with the OP leaving to find another job.
      And honestly, the boss didn’t even need to lie! He could have just said that he already hired for the roles and that would be the truth.

      1. stefanielaine*

        I mean, the true “best case scenario” would be hiring for skill and not for attractiveness, right? This dude has deprived a qualified employee of an opportunity because he doesn’t think he can control his hormones. Lying about it to protect people from finding out how shitty he is doesn’t improve the situation much imo.

        1. BabyElephantWalk*

          Yes! I’m shocked at the number of people who think this employer has done nothing wrong by eliminating a potential candidate because he finds her attractive. That’s discrimination, it is such a limiting thing for women’s careers, and it’s so, so gross.

          Yes she has dodged a bullet and it likely would not have been a good work environment. But still, it’s not ok at all.

      2. Mannequin*

        “ and then the inevitable would have occurred. Boss would have made a move”

        Why are you assuming that this would be inevitable?

  20. ChemistryChick*

    So gross. Why do men think this an acceptable way to think and behave? Just…ugh.

    OP, I just wanted to echo Alison and say you did nothing wrong and have nothing to be embarrassed about. This is about him, not you. You do not want to work with this guy once he leaves.

    As Amy Santiago said up top, take his job and be awesome.

    1. Middle age has made me cynical*

      They do not assume that it’s acceptable, they just know there won’t be any consequences so they figure why not. It’s what happens when some people are given unearned, repeated passes for bad behavior. They assume another pass is always coming so why not do whatever they want, even if it is blatantly hurtful to others.

      Sadly they are often right that nothing will happen to discomfort them the way they have inflicted on others.

  21. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

    What an absolutely disgusting revolting utter sleezebag. Saying ‘oh I can’t hire you because I can’t control myself around a woman I find attractive’ is just basically him admitting that he has no self control, is driven entirely by base instincts and is a shitbag to boot.

    (I’ve never ever accepted that ‘men are visual creatures and can’t concentrate if there’s a pair of boobs in sight’ bs. Not only is it wrong it’s really insulting to men!)

    So yeah, report him for his revolting behaviour at your current firm and when he leaves make a shot for his job. Also, delete/block that guy from any contact you have because yuck. He’s a irredemiable git.

    /strides off ranting in feminist

      1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

        I’m attracted to men, women, non binary people, gender fluid people…if I thought like this bloke does I’d never be able to go to work ever!

        1. londonedit*

          Whereas I’m only ever attracted to quite a narrow range of men, and yet I’ve still managed to find myself fancying someone at work. Still somehow managed to control myself.

          1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

            And yet men are regarded as more ‘rational’ and not ‘beholden to their hormones’ as women. /weary sigh

            1. quill*

              We’ve got a weird cocktail of Athenian “Men are rational, women are easy” and post-victorian “men just can’t help themselves if they see an ankle,” rationality being deployed in our current society. But only ever in ways that excuse the behavior of men like this boss, never in ways that would cause someone to assume a woman is a better / more competent leader, candidate, what have you.

              Funny how misogyny works.

              1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

                With a side order of ‘but think about his feelings!’

                I’ve been a woman in IT for decades now. I work mostly in male dominated industries in the male dominated IT departments.

                I have had quite enough of being told I’ve got to consider what my very existence does to a bloke’s feelings.

              2. Elbe*

                Funny how it works, isn’t it? He CAN’T control his feelings, so denying her the job opportunity is the only RATIONAL choice he could make. It really sets it up so that he can be a total jerk and still feel like a good guy about his behavior.

                After all, shouldn’t we all just be happy that he kept it in his pants at all? Lots of guys are worse! Don’t fault a guy who is TRYING! He can’t be a jerk because he’s trying to be faithful to his WIFE. He’s just doing the best he can. It’s a shame that the LW lost out on work and feels gross and may not be able to use him as a reference, but oh well, the really IMPORTANT part is that this nice guy did the ONLY thing he could.

                1. quill*

                  In a discriminatory system, whatever the person in power does is somehow justifiable, and whatever the person discriminated against does was wrong.

                  That’s how we know sexism is far from over.

        2. HereKittyKitty*

          Yeah I’m bi+ and by some people’s standards, I should not be able to function because I find a large portion of the population potentially attractive. Oddly enough I function just fine.

    1. Be kind, rewind*

      Yeah, I’m leaning on the side of reporting here. HR may (really, should) decide to shorten his notice period (ie, ask him to leave immediately) and update him to “do not re-hire” in case his business fails and he tries to come back.

      One important note, OP: If you’re worried that reporting it will reveal that you were expressing interest in leaving the company, just be vague about the nature of the conversation (talking about his future endeavor). Really, you don’t have to give too many details of the conversation at all, just the awful parts he said. The tricky part is if he ends up being the one to bring it up. Any thoughts from the commentariat on how to counter that?

      1. Kyrielle*

        If OP reports, I would own it, because that way she can set the tone of it and not give him control. I’m not sure I have the right phrasing, but something that conveys something like this: “I love working here, but I’ll be honest, I thought Fergus’s new idea sounded so awesome I really wanted to be a part of it if I could, so I talked with him to see if that was a possibility. It’s not, and I no longer have any interest in working on any of his ventures, because of what I just told you. I’m planning to stay here, and wanted to make sure you were aware of this in case it comes up during his remaining time, or after it.”

  22. Snarkus Aurelius*

    I don’t care if he’s leaving. Please report him to HR immediately because there’s no such thing as a singular infraction with men like this.

    Plus if his business fails and he tries to come crawling back, please ensure that it’s difficult for him to do so.

  23. Amd*

    I’m really curious now what Alison’s advice would be for the guy if he’s written in before this conversation, like “I have always been attracted to my employee, though we are both happily married and I am careful to keep all my interactions fair and professional. She does great work, and I think she’d be a huge asset at my start-up, but I’m afraid that with how closely we’d e working together including overnight travel that I’d be tempted to act on my crush and make a fool of myself, and drive off a great employee. Is it okay not to hire her, and if she asks what can I tell her?”

    1. londonedit*

      Probably grow up, act like a professional and don’t assume you have any right to hit on a woman just because you work with her and you think she’s attractive.

    2. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

      ‘Get therapy. Stop making your issues into other people’s problems’

      Although more professionally worded. And without the ‘grow the eff up’ bit I’d likely add.

      1. Hlao-roo*

        Captain Awkward answered a letter where the guy asked “I’m afraid one of my attractive female employees will report me for being a creepy old man” (because he was a creepy dude) and the Captain’s response could have been distilled down into the two sentences you wrote, Keymaster.

      2. Despachito*

        Or “keep your trap shut about your crushes”.

        It would be much cheaper than therapy, and enough to save him trouble.

        Because frankly: given all the circumstances, after all, not hiring OP was a better solution than hiring her for everybody. She dodged a bullet, and I assume Boss’s company is not the only one around, nor is there any certainty that it will be a good one.

        How many times was there an advice not to become engaged in a lousy company with plenty of red flags? This looks to be exactly the case, and the Boss was “kind” enough to show the red flag in advance. Yet nobody sends all the lousy bosses and interviewers to therapy, although it is obvious they could benefit from some.

  24. bunniferous*

    On the bright side, major bullet dodged…..but what in the holy hell…..

    First rule of inappropriate crushes is-do not tell the crushee. Anyone, even the best of us can have an inappropriate crush-so no shame on that part-but we can choose to not be a dingbat about it. My husband and I have been happily married for decades. One thing we do is tell EACH OTHER when we find someone else attractive (because, we are married, not dead, and BIOLOGY.) We trust each other, and we choose accountability. But there is absolutely NO GOOD that can come of mentioning it to the other person. You either freak them out and make them uncomfortable or you wind up on a path that can and often does lead to broken marriages and other non lovely life events.

    OP I am so very sorry you had this happen and I wish you wonderful career success going forward.

    1. STG*

      That’s how the hubby and I handle crushes as well. Awhile back, we met another couple that we were hitting it off with and I ended up with a crush. We sat and talked about it, both recognized that it was infatuation that would pass and that was that. We’re still friends with this couple now, the crush is completely gone and the couple are still unaware as far as both of us know.

      Plus, he got some good opportunities to rib me for it playfully.

    2. Susanna*

      I have two friends who have been very happily married for decades. Abut 20 years ago, female part of the couple (and she considers herself straight) had this crush on a female law enforcement officer whom she was dealing with for a week or so. Told her husband, who sort of shrugged, and teased wife about suddenly wearing perfume and well-applied makeup at work. Friend didn’t tell her crush of the crush.
      Best part of the story is who it was time for crush to go back to her home office, friend tells her how much she enjoyed meeting her and hearing her take on things. And crush says, “what did you say your name was, again?”
      Talk about being crushed! And her husband, to tremendous credit, felt sorry for her!

    3. Despachito*

      I would even think that telling your partner you find someone else attractive (apart from, let us say, an actor who is not a real threat) is unnecessary burdening them with an emotional work I should do myself (of course meaning I am not going to act on the crush).

      1. bunniferous*

        It’s how we chose to handle things but of course it definitely depends on the individuals. If your current relationship won’t work with that that’s ok…..just figure out what would and go from there.

        1. Despachito*

          Yes, of course – I did not by any means want to criticize your choice, just to say mine would be different – if Hubs told me he is attracted to someone else, I’d be hurt and would not want to hear that (and I’d assume the same for him).

          But there is no reason it could not be OK for someone else.

          1. allathian*

            Yeah, I’m the same way. I might tell my husband I find a celebrity attractive, but I’ve had crushes on coworkers before without telling him about it. There’s no way I’d ever act on any of my crushes, so I figure he doesn’t need to know about them. I also wouldn’t want to know about his crushes on coworkers or other people he knows or we know. Thank goodness, our thoughts are still private…

            But I’m glad you’ve found someone who’s compatible with you in this, bunniferous.

    4. SnappinTerrapin*

      I agree.

      Except that, for me, Despachito’s approach of working through it on my own would work better. Managing my own temptations – and my commitment – is my responsibility, and I wouldn’t feel right burdening my wife with it.

      But I see the logic in your approach, and am not criticizing what works in your relationship.

  25. Elbe*

    This guy shouldn’t be a manager. If you can’t “trust yourself” to professionally manage the people on your team, you don’t deserve to be in charge. He has horrible judgement, both in declining to hire a valuable candidate and in telling her why.

    It’s awful that he’s the one being a jerk and she’s the one losing professional opportunities. And that a guy was hired instead.

    1. Daniel Canueto*

      He is not a manager that needs to prioritize the company and their reports. He is the boss of a new company. I feel totally understandable that he does not want to add mental obstacles to his maybe once in a lifetime chance.

      1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

        I’m trying to make this constructive but…what? If he keeps this attitude of not being able to work with people he finds attractive his company will fail.

      2. SeluciaMD*

        I’d argue as the head of a startup that is HIS COMPANY he has an even greater need to prioritize the company and his reports! It’s not so much that he didn’t hire her, it’s that he felt like this was the right time for him to reveal his totally inappropriate crush on her. There was exactly ZERO reason for him to “be honest” about why he didn’t want to bring her on board at his new company – and the only person it harmed was the LW. That’s a dick move no matter how you frame it.

        And not for nothing, but if he’s going to be the head of a company that will presumably employ other women in the future he better freaking figure out a better way to handle any “feelings” like this. Dude needs some therapy so he can learn some tools for managing his feelings better ALL BY HIMSELF.

      3. Elbe*

        Yikes, really? If this guy can’t “trust himself” to behave well around a female coworker, I don’t have a lot of hope for his company. Maybe he should have taken this as a sign that he isn’t ready for this once in a lifetime chance.

        What happens if he develops an attraction to someone he’s already hired? Do his hiring practices just rely on blatant gender discrimination going forward? If one of his employees sexually harasses another, is he going to be sympathetic to the harasser because he knows how it feels? Would he blame the victim for being too attractive?

        This guy is awful.

      4. BabyElephantWalk*

        Gross. He doesn’t get to discriminate just because he doesn’t want mental obstacles of having a crush.

  26. lex talionis*

    I wonder what the source of his “seed funding” would think about trusting this guy with what is presumably a decent amount of money? Bad judgment, big mouth, feelings, none bode well for a successful venture.

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      I feel like this is a really good point (and why it’s good OP won’t be tied to this ship).

      I think how people behave in one context doesn’t necessarily map to all other contexts (you can be scrupulously honest at work but go straight to the easy lie when your mom calls) but man: terrible judgment, no self-control, and can’t keep his mouth shut about his feelings–those are not what I want in someone who is about to have control of my money.

  27. bamcheeks*

    LW, I probably wouldn’t actually do this because I am sure there would be Unintended Consequences for me, but I would definitely, 100% fantasise about pasting a bright smile on and saying to lots and lots of people, “Yeah, Dave hired Sam for the new company– I did have a conversation where I said I’d be interested, but he said he won’t hire me at the new company because he doesn’t [air quotes] trust himself [/air quotes] around me. Anyway, I’m sure we all wish them lots and lots of luck!”

  28. IT But I Can't Fix Your Printer*

    I would lean towards reporting to HR because you might need a reference from this job someday and I think you now know you can’t count on this douchecanoe for anything, except possibly to tank your professional reputation in his network. You could say “I don’t need him to have any consequences now, but I want to know that I can count on Company to confirm my excellent work here.”

  29. Don*

    It sucks that this dickhead’s pantsfeelings are keeping you out of a venture you thought was exciting, but console yourself with two things: One, none of this is on you and your not being aware of his weird internal life is nothing to be ashamed of. Be glad you’re not in tune with the inappropriate desires of a jagoff manbaby. Two, given the reality of his jerkdom you have in fact dodged a bullet in not getting to join him on his venture. Both for your own personal avoidance of being exposed to his nonsense AND because someone who makes this big a boneheaded move with you over this will be making plenty of other boneheaded moves at this new fragile venture.

    That’s not something I’m making up as a consoling statement; I’ve lived this nightmare. I worked at a fairly successful government contracting agency where one of the three partners decided to promote his mistress to a project management position she wasn’t qualified for. By the time it was all over the most knowledgable and connected partner had bailed, the cheater had left his wife for the mistress, about ten percent of the company workforce went out the door and who knows how much future business was flushed down the toilet. I left not too much later and wasn’t around for the subsequent five year tailspin, but the whole thing never fully recovered.

    That was at an established and profitable venture. I don’t know that a place with someone coming in the door with his zipper at half-mast will ever make it to that level before it turns into a full-time clown show. It sucks that he sucks, but at least you’re not hitched to their nonsense.

    1. Be kind, rewind*

      Yes! OP, this probably wasn’t the opportunity it seemed to be. These “brilliant assholes” may have some success for a while, but eventually they crash and burn.

  30. sequitur*

    I’ve seen so many startups torpedoed because their leaders are self-important dudes who believe they deserve to lead but are fundamentally terrible people managers. Everything about this sucks, but I suspect the OP has dodged a bullet career-wise by not actually having to work for a “leader” (this role gets heavy scare-quotes from me when it’s entirely self-determined by a guy who thinks he deserves to be in charge of other people) who thinks this was in any way an appropriate conversation to have with someone he still currently works with; with this attitude and these communication skills, I can’t imagine he’d be a good boss to work for.

  31. DataQueen*

    I’m so sorry OP! A very similar thing happened to me when I was in my early twenties, although he didn’t tell me he had a crush on me, he just said he couldn’t hire me because I was too pretty…

    I was laid off by my first company, and didn’t know what to do. An ex-colleague of mine had started his own firm, and I’d always gone to him for mentorship and advice. So I called him to see if he was hiring and if I could go work there. He led me on and went through a whole lunch only to tell me (paraphrased) “I know you’re smart, and I’d totally hire you, but there’s no way I can tell my partners I’m bringing you on, they’d never believe why.” I then spent the next 10 years bumping into this guy at industry conferences and had to physically kick him out of my hotel room multiple times. Ugh.

    If it wasn’t a startup, I’d tell you to call one of the other partners/managers/whatever for an interview. “Hi, I would love to work there and I know Fergus, but he said he can’t interview me because he’s too attracted to me. Are there positions outside his team I could apply for?” Not because it will work, but just because he’d get a reaming.

  32. animaniactoo*

    I would not contact HR. He told you this in the context of trying to explain to you that your work IS good enough, it’s his personal issue. It’s not a compliment, it’s just the right move for him.

    I think that this is about removing himself from temptation, so that he is not tempted to do something that is inappropriate whether the LW responds or not. And I think that he is not telling because he likes that she knows, but because he would like to take her work skills and really wants her to know that he DOES hold her work skills in high esteem.

    I’m so embarrassed and I feel completely stupid that I didn’t pick up on this. He’s only ever been friendly in a professional way.

    You weren’t supposed to pick up on it. The fact that you haven’t means that he has SUCCESSFULLY been keeping his feelings in check and not allowing it to affect you or your work.

    He’s not leaving the company for two more months. I don’t know what to do or how to move past this in working with him and I’m really angry that this is the reason I’m missing out on this opportunity. Plus, how did I never realize this? What do I do for these next two months to work with this guy?

    Yes, it definitely sucks to be missing out on the opportunity. Moving past it – recognize that it is AN opportunity, not the ONLY opportunity. Can you apply for the position he’s leaving? Do you want that? If not, maybe it’s time to look around and see what other opportunities are out there that ARE available to you.

    For the next two months, you do your best to do what he has been doing for apparently a few years now – pretend that you don’t know this, and treat him no differently than you have. It’s fine to be a little more reserved now that you DO know this. But do your best not to let it affect work. And accept that he’s human and he would probably rather NOT have these feelings for you, but he is, he does, and he’s apparently been doing an excellent job of not making that your problem.

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      But… he just now made them her problem. You don’t get credit for not doing the thing if you go ahead and do the thing.

      Alternate script for the meeting: “I am really impressed with your work and would be happy to be a reference, but I already hired someone for this role.”

      1. Fran Fine*

        This. Period. That’s all he had to say. OP did not need to know about his stupid little crush at all.

    2. Former Young Lady*

      You are being much too charitable here.

      There is no “partial credit” for leaders concealing inappropriate attraction to their subordinates. If you blurt it out during your notice period, you have still failed. This man’s behavior is a red flag that he shouldn’t be in charge of any direct reports, let alone his own company.

    3. Tib*

      Nope. Your reasoning makes it seem like he had to tell her so he wouldn’t hurt her feelings and make her think her work was subpar. If he was really working to keep his feelings a secret, he could have given some bland reason for not hiring her. Maybe throw in a few empty promises. He could have even dodged her invite for coffee. He only had to keep it up for two more months. There was absolutely no need for him to be “honest” in this situation.

      1. animaniactoo*

        Not that he had to be honest – just that I can understand the impulse to be, to think that he was giving her the respect of explaining that it had nothing to do with her work, and the decision is entirely about him.

        1. GrooveBat*

          He was not respecting her at all. He reduced her to a sexual object and denied her a professional opportunity because of that.

          1. Charlotte Lucas*

            And he implied that if he did make a pass at her (old-fashioned thinking gets old-fashioned phraseology), she would immediately fall into his irresistible, virile arms, weak-willed woman as she is. Ick ick ick!!!

          2. Two Chairs, One to Go*


            If anything, what he said disrespected her – he’s still her boss! How many professional opportunities was she denied because of him???

          3. BabyElephantWalk*

            This. I’m so sick of reading comments excusing his behaviour as ok because it’s his business and he’s protecting himself.

            That does not make it ok to objectify and discriminate against women! This is a real, active issue that holds up career advancement and equality.

        2. JimmyJab*

          His ‘impulse’ was to drop some totally inappropriate information on his report to see how she received it, and hope she might act flattered and maybe he could get an affair going. Or, he just gets off on making women uncomfortable.

        3. ABBBBK*

          “entirely about him”….and how he can’t put his feelings aside for what’s best for the company. A great move for her career and his company is unavailable because he can’t control himself.

          1. SnappinTerrapin*

            Honestly, this would not have been a great move for her career. The way he handled it was wrong, but it prevented him from putting her in a much worse situation.

            LW dodged a bullet.

            1. allathian*

              Yeah, I agree. I’ve seen statistics about startups, and they aren’t pretty. Regardless of the field of business, about 10% of startups fail within the 1st year, and 70% fail in the 2nd to 5th year. If a startup makes it to 5 years, the the failure rate tapers off a bit, because after that, only about 10% of the original number of startups fail (but it’s still only half of the remaining 20%). But only 10% of startups survive to become viable businesses in the long term.

      2. dresscode*

        He could have easily just said that the job is spoken for! He already offered it to someone and he accepted! He wanted to tell her- he wanted to shoot his shot, in the off chance that maybe something could have happened.

        1. Fran Fine*

          Yup, this. Somebody else was already offered the role so he could have easily told her that and used that as the excuse while praising her work and saying he’d be a reference for her if she’s considering other options outside of their current company. That’s it – that’s all he had to do.

    4. Littorally*

      I’m suppressing a lot of really rude things I want to say in response to your comment.

      He told her that she is not safe in close proximity to him, and that when they are in the same space he is almost certainly thinking about having sex with her. In no way is that taking any kind of accountability for his actions, and discriminating against an employee is not “the right move for him.”

      “I can’t offer you this job because I will have sex with you (whether or not you want to have it) if we work closely together” is absolutely this piece of shit making the whole thing the LW’s problem.

      1. animaniactoo*

        That’s taking to an extreme what either I or the guy here is saying I think. “Because I don’t want to hit on you/flirt with you/make ANY kind of a move on you/have my feelings develop any further than they already have” is, IMO, a lot more likely to be what he is trying to avoid.

        And he is 100% allowed to make that decision for himself about what he needs to do that – including adding distance between them.

        1. feral fairy*

          Sure, he can make that decision himself, but he should have also kept the reasoning to himself. His only reason for being so straightforward about it was because he wanted to see how the LW would respond and if she felt the same way about him. I’m 100% sure that he saw this as an opportunity to test the waters. I think that in his view, he’s leaving in two months and since she won’t be working for him at his new company, he doesn’t have to worry about ~mixing business with pleasure~ if she did reciprocate his feelings.

          Would you not feel extremely uncomfortable working for someone who said something like that to you, even if you were only reporting to them for two more months? She still has to worry about whether he’ll retaliate against her on his way out.

          1. Charlotte Lucas*

            Yep. He should know that just because you think it doesn’t mean you have to say it. Like we all did around age 7….

    5. GrooveBat*

      Sorry, but this advice is 100% backward and I think it is inappropriate to defend him. The idea that she should be somehow reassured that it’s not about her work skills, the idea that he has somehow done her a favor by keeping his feelings to himself…???

      And how do you know he hasn’t made this her problem? How do you know that his feelings haven’t affected his decision making about his team and her role on it? Just because she hasn’t noticed anything overt doesn’t mean it hasn’t impacted her career in ways she has no visibility into.

      Plus, as was noted above, by making this “confession” now, he HAS made it her problem. And, as someone who has been through something similar in the past, I can tell you that working for someone who “has feelings” for you is a profoundly disturbing, demeaning, and isolating experience that has repercussions that extend beyond that job and that particular manager. It makes you doubt everything about yourself, your capabilities, and your achievements because you will always wonder whether you truly did it on your own or if you just got that raise/promotion/award because your boss had the hots for you.

      1. animaniactoo*

        I agree that he has made it her problem… now. I am only speaking about what he has done/said prior to now that made it possible for her to miss the fact that he is attracted to her, and trying to give a perspective that helps her get through the next two weeks until he is gone.

        1. GrooveBat*

          But you don’t really know what he has done/said prior to now that could have impacted her career and advancement opportunities. Just because he didn’t make an overt pass at her or leer at her in meetings doesn’t mean his feelings and lack of self governance didn’t hurt her in other ways – even if he framed it in his own mind as “being good and avoiding temptation.”

          Did he exclude her from one-on-one meetings because he was afraid to be alone with her in a conference room while extending those same meetings to her peers? Did he give her a smaller-than-normal raise because he didn’t want to give the impression that his feelings were affecting his compensation decisions? Did he shut her out of business trips because her presence in the same hotel might give rise to inappropriate behavior on his part? Did he hold back praise on her performance reviews because he feared anything too effusive would get him in trouble?

          We don’t know any of this. What we DO know, however, is that this is a guy who does not trust himself to not allow his sexual feelings to get in the way of his business judgment. And the idea that his confession was somehow “respectful” to her, or would make her feel better, is just…odd.

    6. Strict Extension*

      What is the difference between:

      a) not hiring her because he “doesn’t trust himself” and wants to add distance so as not to act on his illicit desires and fully informing her of that


      b) not hiring her because he made a pass at her and she shut him down (which I think most would probably agree is entirely not okay)?

      In both cases, the feelings of the boss are resulting in the employee being punished. In both cases, they are because the boss is allowing his physical attraction to be given priority over her talents and work history. In both cases, his personal comfort is being prioritized over her career. In both cases, she knows that it is 100% someone else’s attraction to her that is preventing her from gaining an advantage in the workplace that is freely available to others that are not attractive to the person with the power to bestow that advantage.

      The difference is that in the first case, the employer gets to tell himself the lie that this is happening because he’s a good guy. He thinks that by keeping her away from him, he’s respecting his wife. In reality, if he is correctly assessing the danger of working in close proximity with someone he finds attractive, then he is ignoring work he should be doing internally to strengthen his resolve. He thinks that by telling the employee that “it’s not you, it’s me,” it can stand as a reassurance as to her work quality. In reality, even if she’s totally solid in her self-esteem in that department, he’s told her it doesn’t matter and she can never trust that the work is what people are responding to.

      I was pushed out of what on paper was a good job because my supervisor was attracted to me and wasn’t allowed to act on it. I knew with certainty that I was good at my job, that I earned my place there, that all that was recognized by everyone else in the company. Did I feel that he was doing the right thing by making sure he could be more comfortable by making sure I wasn’t in his life anymore? No, I was pissed that I no longer had a job because the person with the power over my employment couldn’t deal with his feelings in a mature way and continue to interact with me professionally. And I still worry that no matter how good my work is, if the wrong person has power over me, it won’t matter.

      This is the sort of thing that can stick with a person for a long time and follow them into completely unrelated areas of their life. Giving this guy the benefit of the doubt because he’s dealing with “his personal issue” in the way that’s best for him is an unearned grace, because he has most definitely made this her problem in way more ways than he probably realizes.

      1. animaniactoo*

        Fwiw – pushing someone out to handle inappropriate feelings about them – jerk move, penalizes them. Denying them a promotion they have earned at the company they are already at because it would put someone in closer proximity – jerk move.

        Moving yourself away – you take the brunt of the action. LW isn’t owed this work opportunity at a new company. Even though she has worked with the boss for this period of time and he respects/likes her work.

        I agree that he shouldn’t have told her what his personal reasons are, and I’m sorry for what happened to you.

        1. GrooveBat*

          He’s not moving himself away to avoid being around her, though. He’s starting his own company, which he probably would have done anyway, and he is refusing to hire a woman because he is sexually attracted to her.

    7. Jacey*

      I disagree quite strongly with this take. If he had simply never hired her then, yeah, it sucks that his feelings took an opportunity from her, but that happens. But he went out of his way to tell her that he was attracted to her—and worse, that he didn’t trust himself not to make a pass at her! In other words, someone in a position of power over OP told her that he would inevitably sexually harass her. That’s the definition of making it her problem.

    8. Purt's Peas*

      “You weren’t supposed to pick up on it” — she was definitely supposed to pick up on it when he told it to her directly.

      “It is AN opportunity, not the ONLY opportunity.” — yes; and the opportunities missed by women when they don’t join the strip club trip are just some opportunities, not the only opportunities.

      This guy failed in two dimensions. He failed primarily by sexually harassing the LW, by introducing the sexual element to their relationship. He failed secondarily by choosing to consider her attractiveness rather than her qualities as an employee.

      He has, just now, by telling her that he won’t hire her, affected her emotional state negatively and her work negatively. This is laid out in the letter pretty explicitly. Most people actually don’t have to hold themselves back, so constantly on the edge of sexually harassing their colleagues that the restraint is more praiseworthy than the slip is condemned.

      1. allathian*

        Yeah, I agree. But the guy’s a creep. I honestly don’t get it why people are so worked up over the fact that he didn’t want to hire her because he was attracted to her. At least he was honest. He could’ve kept things secret, hired her, and then started to harass her when they’re working at the small startup with no HR and where harassment laws don’t apply because the number of employees is too small.

        That said, he should’ve kept his feelings to himself and not bothered her with them, that’s all on him. No doubt he was testing the waters and hoping that she’d reciprocate his feelings, but now she might be left second-guessing every interaction she ever had with him and wondering if his feelings for her meant that he made sure she didn’t get some opportunities she should’ve had, such as working elsewhere in the organization, or doing projects for other departments, etc.

        Now, I’m fully putting the blame on him and his inability to deal with his feelings in a professionally appropriate way. I just don’t know what he could’ve done better except not telling her about his crush.

        1. BabyElephantWalk*

          We are getting worked up because the more men who behave this way, the more it systematically reinforces women getting fewer opportunities for career advancement, which leads to income inequality and disparity.

    9. BunBun Babbin*

      This comment is a big ol’ bag of NOPE. For every point you made, the response is…”But he didn’t need to tell her? WHY tell her? If it’s his issue, why is he involving her BY TELLING HER?” We don’t need to defend gross men doing gross things because they cleared the very low, ankle height bar of “act professionally at work”. And he didn’t even do that! Because he told her!

      I feel like I’m taking crazy pills.

    10. Allegra*

      You cannot, cannot excuse this guy’s actions because “he’s human” and “he’s trying not to make it your problem” and “he’s ACTUALLY respecting you by being honest and he’s doing the best thing for himself.” What about OP’s humanity? What about OP’s right to exist around people without them objectifying her and placing her sexiness above her work?

      This comment is a) essentially applauding this man for having what should be the absolute minimum of decency to not actively sexually harass his employee, and b) ignoring that he has literally told OP that her work quality (and honestly her personhood) does not matter to him as much as her potential sexual availability to him. If he was really trying not to make it her problem he would not have opened his mouth about his crush, period.

      When you see a person you have a crush on as a temptation that you cannot help but act upon if you are in proximity to them, you are externalizing your own responsibility for self-control and foisting it onto that person, who is merely existing around you. It is not an act of respect to say “sure your work is outstanding but I find you too sexually tempting to exist in my presence.” By telling her that, he has functionally erased his previous behavior, which was, again, the absolute minimum expectation of not sexually harassing someone! You do not get cookies for not sexually harassing your subordinate despite having a longstanding crush on them!

      Our culture bends over backward to give men so much grace and forgiveness and leeway for performing the bare minimum standards of decency to other people, and I’m sick of it. The argument in your comment is essentially “forgive him because he didn’t do things worse.” No.

    11. Delphine*

      C’mon. Would this be acceptable if, instead of singling out one woman, he happened to say, “I can’t work with any women because I may develop feelings for them and act on them. Therefore all positions in my company will be filled by men.”? This is how misogyny and sexism hold women back. Because men make decisions based on their own *personal issues* with women and not on women’s skills or capabilities.

    12. American Job Venter*

      You might as well have said, “Yes, OP, this is your fault for tempting your boss, you Jezebel you.” That’s what this line of reasoning boils down to.

    13. Tali*

      Yes, why don’t we have more sympathy for this guy who has successfully kept his feelings in check, until the moment he could safely act on them with an exit plan, at which point he could no longer hold himself back from temptation.

      Um…what??? If he was able to “control himself” for so long, why didn’t he “control himself” for 2 more months? It is the height of impropriety to tell a coworker/subordinate that you see them as a TEMPTATION. If he can’t “trust/control himself” around the “temptation” that is his coworker, he should have quit his job and sought help long ago, not continue to supervise OP and affect her career!

  33. QKL*

    I can help explain why he thought it was a good idea, I’m not a man, but this is straight out of those pick up artist playbooks. He said no, the reason being his own “uncontrollable desires.” He expects you to not only continue trying for the big opportunity, but to have a conversation with him where you try to work within the confines of his “weaknesses” and emotionally take take responsibility for any missteps he has. That way he can sexually harass you with permission after you beg him for the job. He wants you to beg for that job.

    Why do I suspect this is the motive? Because he told you he was attracted to you and included some delusional narrative that he was not in control of his “passions.” Typical manipulative tactic. You know how a dude with no interest in acting on his attraction behaves? He doesn’t say anything and he doesn’t do anything because it keeps that door closed. This guy is too busy starring in his own movie to successfully run a company.

  34. Chickpea*

    OK – people aren’t going to like my response to this, but I slightly disagree with Alison on this. If I, a female, were in his position, I know I certainly wouldn’t want to bring someone onto my new business if I had a crush on them! Of course it isn’t OP’s fault and YES it sucks to be missing an opportunity, but why is he wrong for not wanting to hire someone he has feeling for? Regardless of him or OP acting/not acting on this crush, I don’t think that it’s all that terrible that he doesn’t want to closely be around someone he has feelinhs for in a work environment, where he has control over the hiring. If he were hiring a different female, would there be less repulsion towards him? I just don’t understand the hate.

    1. Gracely*

      At least part of the issue is that he did not need to tell her that his crush was the reason he wasn’t hiring her. He had an easy out b/c he’d already hired someone for the role she would’ve been considered for. But by telling her he can’t hire her because it’s about his pantsfeelings, he made it weird and creepy.

      1. Fran Fine*

        All of this. There was no need to divulge the true reason for passing her up for a role when he’d already hired one of her coworkers. The confessional was entirely unprofessional and inappropriate.

    2. Texas*

      If your boss told you he’s so attracted to you that he’s worried he wouldn’t be able stop himself while he’s still actively your boss, wouldn’t you have an issue with that?

    3. Falling Diphthong*

      Much of the repulsion is that he shared his reasons with OP. If you don’t want to be around someone because you have an obsessive crush on them, you can just… not tell them. They don’t need to know. No, it doesn’t give them helpful and wonderful context to understand your professional treatment of them through the lens of your crush.

      Ideally this is a problem you only ever have one time in your life, and you deal with it by minimizing your time with this person. If OP had coffee with him and he explained that he already hired someone for the role, but would be happy to be a reference for her going forward, then… probably nothing for a letter to Alison.

    4. Don*

      What if I told you it was possible for him to not hire her AND keep the reason to himself?

      What if I told you it was possible to just have a crush on someone and just never act on it and let it fade?

      What if I told you that attractive people should be able to have their own careers without having them messed up by other people’s inability to control their own feelings?

    5. Bernice Clifton*

      His feelings are his feelings and he’s not required to offer the LW a job. Part of being an adult professional is not making your feelings your employee’s problem, which is what he did when he told the LW why.

    6. S*

      Let his feelings be his feelings. It’s the part where he *tells* his direct report that he’s sexually attracted to her and then doesn’t hire her because of it that’s gross.

      The correct answer would be to say, “Hey, we just brought Bob in and don’t have a spot right now, but check in with me again about six months after we’re off the ground!” Because crushes dissipate when they aren’t fed by proximity, and maybe in six months he’d be thrilled to bring a competent professional aboard.

    7. bamcheeks*

      he doesn’t trust himself to not act on his attraction and can’t do that to his wife

      This bit, right here, is profoundly, deeply disrespectful to OP. By telling her, he IS acting on his attraction– it’s an act, and it’s already making it weird FOR HER.

      But he is framing it as if this isn’t “acting on it”, and as if only the “acting on it” that matters is doing something physical, and as if the only consequences that matter are that he’d hurt his wife. That’s just so profoundly disrespectful to OP: he’s disregarding both her consent (as Alison points out), and the impact that his decision to tell her about his crush will have on her. Both things are really objectifying and de-personing.

      Not wanting to hire someone because you find them too attractive and you can’t “trust yourself” — it’s a failing! It’s something you should work on and feel a bit bad about! But it’s a choice you get to make if you run the company. TELLING someone that’s why you’re not hiring them, and framing it in a why which totally denies their agency and response? Gross as hell.

      1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        Oh, good point. I think “he can’t do that to his wife” went over my head when I read the letter because of how incredibly gross and unprofessional it is. That = hiring OP? OP is somehow a danger to his wife now?!?! Flames, flames on the side of my face.

    8. Former Young Lady*

      If I, a female, were in this situation, and just absolutely couldn’t contain my lust for a prospective hire, I would either (a) just tell the prospect that I was going with another candidate, or better yet, (b) ask myself if, as a person who such poor self-control, I was really fit to be in a leadership role.

      There’s always a chance that the best candidate for any given opening is going to be drop-dead gorgeous. If I’m only willing to hire people I don’t find attractive, I risk losing out on top talent.

      Leaders are supposed to hold themselves to a higher standard. If high standards stifle someone, they are free to stay out of leadership.

      1. GrooveBat*

        “…ask myself if, as a person who such poor self-control, I was really fit to be in a leadership role.”

        THIS right here.

    9. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      1) It is a crush. We all get them. They come and go, and, if you ignore one long enough, it *will* go away. You don’t have to act on one. It’s no different from a food craving. It is not love, it is not an actionable feeling of wanting to be in a person’s life romantically, it’s just, I don’t know, a vague feeling of lust for the person? Sometimes I want nothing more than to sit down in front of my TV with a half-gallon tub of pistachio ice cream and demolish the whole thing. I don’t act on it, and nothing good would come out of it if I did.

      2) He is letting his “pantsfeels” (© the Bad Advice blog) affect his hiring decision for a business he hasn’t even gotten off the ground yet. He has already picked a man over OP for no other reason than he thinks he has feelings for OP. It can only go downhill from there. Does he plan on hiring all guys, or guys and women he’s feeling really unattracted to, or ? What would he do if he were bi – not start a business? It is so ridiculously unprofessional for him to bring this crush into his professional decisions as if it is some force of nature he can’t control.

    10. I WORKED on a Hellmouth*

      If you, a woman, were to tell a dude “Listen, I knew you were going to ask about this, but I, your superior, have been secretly sexualizing you for YEARS, and if we were working together in a small start up I totally wouldn’t be able to resist bedding you upon the copy machine and I just can’t do that to my husband, so I went ahead and hired Mabel because I am not interested in her lady bits–I know you would be incredible at the job, but I just can’t have a torrid affair that obviously you would be totally all about even though you are happily married because I am married and I actually care about not hurting my husband” I would ABSOLUTELY be just as repulsed and have just as much to say about your behavior. So… yeah. NO BUENO ALL AROUND FOREVER.

    11. n.m.*

      It’s not necessarily wrong to decline to hire but it’s def. not appropriate to explain why in *this particular case* and especially not in that kind of detail! This is bringing way too much sex into the workplace. Besides, he had already made an offer to someone else, he could simply have said “sorry I already offered that position to Other Coworker”

    12. londonedit*

      Niche reference for most people here, probably, but whenever I hear someone referring to women as ‘females’ I can’t help hearing it in the voice of Friday Night Dinner’s Martin Goodman (may he rest in peace).

    13. Mister Lady*

      I mean…I can understand not *wanting* to hire someone you’re crushing on bc it might be awkward. But think about what that is saying about you–can you not work with anyone you’re crushing on? Do you have to have your own business, to protect yourself from the possibility that someone else in the company might hire someone you’re attracted to? If you ended up with an attractive coworker, would you demand that they be fired or else you quit? I know these sound like ludicrous extrapolations, but the basis is the same: can you or can you not be professional around someone you’re attracted to? I don’t mean to pile on–and I think you bring up something a lot of us might be thinking (“Can I take my attraction to someone into consideration when making hiring decisions / Am I obligated to offer a job to someone when I have this kind of uncomfortable reason for not wanting to?”) but as a manager, I think you have to be capable of setting that aside.

    14. Despachito*

      I think the same.

      It is understandable he does not want to work with someone who attracts him, if he has the choice. Which he does, it is HIS company, and it is only fair he has control over the hiring. It’s him who is going to bear the brunt of his bad/good choice.

      It might feel as if OP is missing on an opportunity, but was there any real opportunity ? OP did not have any right to be hired, the boss did not owe her a job. The only problem was that he did not lie (and I think he absolutely should have lied and told her that although he thinks very highly of her work he already hired Fergus, with no reasons).

      If only he lied everything would have been OK.

      1. feral fairy*

        Right, but the key thing is that he did not lie. Nowhere did LW say she feels entitled to work for his new company, but she is absolutely entitled to feel safe at her current company where he is still her boss for the next two months. I feel like his motive in telling her was to test the waters and see if she reciprocated his “crush”. Clearly she doesn’t, so what’s going to happen next? If I were the LW I’d be very concerned about the manager retaliating against me for the next two months- either directly by sabotaging her ability to get a promotion or raise, or indirectly by cutting off communication and leaving her in the dark about information that’s important for her job. There are very real implications for the LW here, and this is actually a clearcut example of sexual harassment.

      2. Tali*

        I mean, it still would have been gross that he was sexualizing his coworker from his position of power and affecting her career (choosing not to hire her) because of her attractiveness instead of her professional qualities. He should have recused himself from managing her if he couldn’t get rid of his crush. But if he had lied, at least OP wouldn’t know about it, I guess.

    15. Purt's Peas*

      And I really don’t understand why you wouldn’t want to hire someone you had a crush on, if they were a really good fit for the job. Maybe they smell good and you have to do a little extra introspection to make sure you’re not giving them plum projects every time, but if they’re the best for the job they’re best for the job!

    16. Cat Tree*

      Meh. Lots and lots of people would find it easier to discriminate in hiring. That doesn’t make it acceptable.

    17. Sharpieees*

      Because for all intents and purposes he told that he sees her as nothing more than a piece of ass whose talents and good work means nothing because his libido is uncontrollable.

      It’s not about him being attracted to her. It’s about him not acting like a reasonable human being who can separate his sexual urges from his professional responsibilities.

    18. American Job Venter*

      The “hate” is because this is yet another example of a woman being punished for men’s desires — this time the punishment is a loss of a career opportunity. It’s not that she’s *owed* a job, but to find out that she would have had a job if her boss didn’t want her sexually does make not getting the job a consequence, a punishment, for being female and attractive. He could have just not told her the reason.

      And the thing is, this happens across society sooooooooooooooooooooooooo many times. It’s kind of horrifying to see how many people in the comments find the boss’s behavior justifiable and thus find women responsible for whatever men decide to do because they are attracted to us.

      1. Paris Geller*

        +1. The situation itself is bad. The dude behaved poorly.
        But for those in the comments not understanding why people are so incensed, it’s because it’s never JUST one dude. As others have put it more eloquently, it’s that this is just yet another door closed to a woman because a man saw her first as an object of desire and not a complete person.

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

    I wouldn’t be surprised if OP is not the first person who was told the same “excuse”.
    (Also, I’d be very tempted to leave a review warning about how weird this guy is)

  36. Recovering Adjunct*

    This was likely a planned attempt to test the waters. What a tool.

    One of the best things I did early in my career was to learn how to experience and move on from being attracted to a co-worker without letting them know or making it weird.

    1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      Oh hell yeah. He’s leaving, he’s not going to be OP’s boss anymore, which in his mind, gives him the green light. But he’d complain about how guilty he feels for “doing it to his wife” the entire time, no worries!

    2. Littorally*


      I am ragingly attracted to the manager of a department that works closely with ours. The fact that she’s a manager makes the power differential pretty different, but also, if I have anything to say about it she will NEVER, EVER KNOW, because holy shit would that be weird and awkward and bad for all involved. This is distinctly a Me Problem and her even being aware that the problem exists would mean that I’m failing at handling the Me Problem.

  37. Texas*

    Yeah I think it makes sense to go to HR since he said he’s worried about not having the self-restraint to not act on his attraction, which, while he might not have intended this, implies that he feels he could come on to/sexually harass the OP at any moment. That’s super unacceptable (and threatening) and definitely under HR’s purview when he’s still managing OP.

  38. SentientAmoeba*

    **Screams into the void*** Allison, you said it perfectly. The paternalistic male cow excrement that the boss is spewing is insane. I’m attracted to you but even though you would be a great asset, if we work together it will obviously ruin our lives. What a bunch of malarkey.

  39. Lobsterman*

    I just want to join the chorus of people saying that LW has nothing to be embarrassed or ashamed about.

    1. Despachito*

      Are you serious?

      He offered the post to Fergus, Fergus accepted. Where is the discrimination?

      (If it was the other way round and he offered the post to her, would Fergus have a standing to claim discrimination as well?)

      Let us save the word for situations which truly deserve it.

      1. Happy*

        He explicitly said that he was not hiring her only because he was attracted to her.

        The EEOC website says, “the law forbids discrimination when it comes to any aspect of employment, including hiring, firing, pay, job assignments, promotions, layoff, training, fringe benefits, and any other term or condition of employment” and “an employment policy or practice that applies to everyone, regardless of sex, can be illegal if it has a negative impact on the employment of people of a certain sex and is not job-related or necessary to the operation of the business.”

        That sounds to me like this could qualify depending on the details, but IANAL and I certainly may be mistaken. I would be interested to hear from people who are experts on discrimination law.

      2. HereKittyKitty*

        If his future company was exclusively men because he’s heterosexual would you not feel a tickle of discriminatory hiring practices?

        1. Despachito*

          Yes, but so far we only know he does not want to hire ONE PARTICULAR woman because of his crush on her. Not that he is against ALL women.

          1. HereKittyKitty*

            So when someone discriminates against a person, we must wait until we see dozens discriminated against before we feel comfortable noting that it’s discrimination? Like if someone is racist against another before we point out they’re racist, we should start a tally and see if he’s racist against a dozen more people before we come to the conclusion that he’s racist? Or maybe I should stop calling my abusive ex a misogynist because maybe the fact he was abusing me was more about “me” than my gender?

            1. Despachito*

              It depends.

              If you say something explicitly racist, or if you say that you did not hire this person because of their skin color then no, you do not need any proof.

              But if you just do not hire ONE person of color/ONE woman without specifying it was because of their color/sex, it does not necessarily mean it is out of racism/sexism, and to establish this you will need a pattern (do you NEVER hire women, or did you just not hire this one woman but later you did hire other women? And if you didn’t, was it because there were equally qualified people and you always preferred the man, or did all the good candidates happen to be men?)

              The same with the misogynist – I do not want to pry in this, and I am very sorry you were abused, but from the mere fact it is impossible to tell whether the ex was a misogynist or just a general asshat (but I would like to stress that either way it was not about “you” but about HIM)

              1. HereKittyKitty*

                See here’s the issue- you are decoupling action and how it relates to identify. In the example I gave related to domestic abuse you say you can’t tell if misogyny is at play; however social sciences specifically say domestic violence (in my case heterosexual) always has the root of misogyny. He himself may come up with a half dozen “reasons” for abuse that, technically, have very little to do with my gender. However the action itself is in fact misogynistic. He is commiting misogyny, behaving like a misogynist, and pushing forward a misogynist agenda when he commits abuse. The thought process leading up to abuse is paved with misogyny. He may, in fact, never abuse another person in his life. However- that does not mean he is not a misogynist (barring reformation.)

                Same for this dude. The actions he’s chosen to take here are paved with sexism, misogyny and discriminatory hiring practices. Regardless of whether or not he continues down the path, he has behaved like a sexist and misogynist. He has done an action that is the same action that has been done many a times before women were afforded some protection against discrimination.

              2. Tali*

                That’s not how this works. If you do not hire ONE person, but the reason is because of their sex, gender, race, etc., you don’t have to wait to establish a pattern. The reason is what matters, not the number of people affected.

                We know here that he chose not to hire someone because of their attractiveness, that is textbook discrimination.

                1. Marie*


                  Certainly a pattern and practice of discrimination against a protected class is helpful for a plaintiff, it is absolutely not necessary for an allegation or finding of discrimination.

  40. anonymous73*

    Is he related to Mike Pence? Or the men who made up the dress code rules for girls in school because instead of teaching the boys to respect the girls, the girls have to hide under clothing instead of daring to show a peak of a shoulder or a thigh?

    You dodged a bullet and I would 100% report him to HR. It doesn’t matter if he’s leaving, he’s going to be there for 2 more months. They need this incident on record and hopefully they will get rid of him sooner. At the very least when his business venture fails they will know not to re-hire the creep. Gross.

    1. Charlotte Lucas*

      I was wondering if he calls his wife “Mother.” (This always added an extra frisson of grossness for me…)

    2. AthenaC*

      I just thought to myself that I was wondering what Mike Pence was up to these days. I guess now I know!

  41. LifeBeforeCorona*

    This is very disrespectful towards you because you are also married. The implication is that if he acted on his impulses you would also be willing to blow up your own marriage for him. He can’t control himself and believes that you will not be able to either if you work together alone in close quarters. Only one person in this scenario is a functioning adult and it’s not him.

    1. I WORKED on a Hellmouth*

      Even if OP wasn’t married, the fact that he’s just assuming that she’s some passive receptacle for his urges is SO GROSS AND TELLING.

      1. quill*

        Thank you! Women’s level of relationship commitment is not the only reason for them to not be sexually available.

        Sometimes she’s just not into the dude.

    2. GrooveBat*

      It’s disrespectful to her whether or not she’s married. If she were single, does that make her fair game for every creep who wants to hit on her?

      1. LifeBeforeCorona*

        Of course not, what is disrespectful is his assumption that she would be willing to cavort with him even though they are married to other people.

  42. Bernice Clifton*

    LW, you have nothing to feel guilty about. This horrible thing happened to you by someone that you respected and trusted, and you thought he respected and valued you as a professional and it must have been flabbergasting to find out that he didn’t in this way.

    It’s natural to wish there is something you could have done to prevent this, because it’s awful and has changed so much. But you did nothing wrong – he did. This is 100% about his entitlement and crappy judgement.

  43. Hiring Mgr*

    I’m sorry this happened to you – i know i’ve had some co-workers attracted to me over the years, but they’re professionals so they’ve never mentioned it or given any indication in any form.

    1. JelloStapler*

      I have to ask- who did you know they were attracted if they gave no indication or didn’t say it? Not being snarky, just curious. :)

  44. n.m.*

    What a bozo! He could simply have said “sorry but I already offered the relevant position to [colleague]”! but no he must bring his sex feelings into it

  45. Pan Troglodytes*

    What makes me most furious about this is the fact he won’t hire her, and can’t put aside his stupid feelings for his career and hers. The declaration of attraction is crappy, but the bare-faced preference for guys because having lovely ladies around might mean he trips up on his duck (I mean something else) is so effing infuriating. His business is clearly going to be a bro culture boys club circle jack (I mean something else).

  46. Moonbeam*

    This SUCKS! It also rubs me the wrong way that he “happened” to include that he hired a man to join him. The way it’s phrased, or maybe just the way I’m interpreting it, is that he hired a male colleague instead of LW in part because he is a man. What is he going to do? Screen out women that he finds attractive? All women? Sounds like a great business plan.

    1. Robin Ellacott*

      He will have hired and harassed some unfortunate young woman within a year of starting up, I am guessing. Because he “just can’t help himself.”

  47. DataGirl*

    Normally AAM is not my usual source for red hot rage but between this and LW1 earlier today with the creeping husband it has been one doozy of a day, and it’s not even noon yet.

  48. Dust Bunny*

    “And what was his intent in sharing this with you? It’s not that he’s just a good guy trying to be transparent, because by telling you about his “crush,” now it’s out there and you have to deal with knowing. ”

    yeah, this. This is manipulative as f*ck.

  49. Minerva*

    I think that Alison is 100% right on the “liking that she knows” part. This just screams of “well we won’t be working together soon, so why don’t I just put it out there and see if she’s up for a fling.”

  50. Butterfly Counter*

    The ” he doesn’t trust himself to not act on his attraction” actually kind of scared me a little before Alison pointed out that he was just denying agency to the OP. Had someone said that to me, I’d have assumed that he was talking about potentially assaulting me in a quiet, alone moment because there is no way that I would reciprocate the feelings he had.

    So either he won’t care about OP not wanting to have sex with him, thereby assaulting her OR he doesn’t see how OP could resist his amazing charms (barf) not considering she has thoughts, ideas, and preferences of her own.

    Either way OP, thank goodness you only have to work with him for another few weeks.

    1. Despachito*

      I read this as “I am not sure I’d be able to behave as a professional, and I want to avoid that risk”.

      Still no need to tell OP, but very much less creepy than making a pass on her .

      1. Texas*

        … it’s not okay for a manager to tell their direct report that they are just barely holding in their sexual attraction to [report] and if they just had the opportunity to have more alone time they wouldn’t be able to have self control. That’s pretty basic.

      2. Tali*

        What does that mean, “not sure I’d be able to behave as a professional”?
        What behavior exactly does that refer to?
        What behavior does not also fall under “making a pass”? Because that venn diagram is a circle no matter how I draw it.

      3. BabyElephantWalk*

        Why are you so intent on making it ok for dudes to exclude women from opportunities because they (the dudes) have no self control?

  51. Janet Snakehole*

    OP, I recommend that you do some reflecting on your time as this guy’s employee in your current role and see if there are any opportunities you’ve missed out on because of this lech and his attraction to you. Were you passed up for any big projects or promotions? Left out of any decisions? He may have said that it would be harder to work with you in a smaller startup but who knows what other dastardly things he’s already done based on his attraction to you?

    And if you can think of anything that may apply, go right to HR.

    1. GrooveBat*

      Yes – this! I was debating this one, because there’s a chance it could work both ways, e.g., she got extra raises and promotions because of the attraction so why bring it up. But it seems to me much more likely that this guy probably excluded her from opportunities due to his fear of “slipping up.”

      1. Despachito*

        I was thinking this too – if he has a crush on her and is acting on it, he could as well deny her something or favor her over Fergus to whom he is not attracted.

        But I think the second option would be equally gross, despite the fact she would technically have an advantage from it.

  52. JelloStapler*

    The career equivalent of expecting women to be responsible for men’s sexual feelings and actions.

  53. Come On Eileen*

    Curious: what would have been a good alternative to boss’s explanation for why he won’t consider hiring her at his new gig? He has feelings, he can’t put the burden of those feelings on her, so I’m wondering what he SHOULD have said. Should it have been politely high-level and vague — a la “right now the new venture is so small and on a shoestring, so I’m purposefully keeping a small team until I see how things pan out” or something to that affect?

    1. Minerva*

      “I have been expecting that we might have this conversation. While you are a stellar employee, I’ve had to make some choices to get us off the ground and I just don’t have a place for you in my new organization. But I know you’re going to excel here!”

      Completely professional, compliments the employee and lets her know her work was valued, keeps penis feelings to himself.

    2. DogAnon*

      ‘He then went on to say that he offered a role to one of the men on my team and that that guy was going to take it. ‘

      Exactly what he said minus the entire preface about his pantsfeelings.
      “I offered the job to Bob and Bob’s taking it, at the moment there aren’t any more openings”

    3. Purt's Peas*

      Either he should have hired her if she is a good fit, or explained that while she does good work, she’s not a good fit for the venture.

      Telling her explicitly about the attraction is bald-faced sexual harassment. Discriminating against her in the privacy of his own noggin, though, is still discrimination that is materially affecting her livelihood.

    4. Cat Tree*

      He should hire her if she’s genuinely the right person for the job and act professionally towards her just like he should towards everyone else. If she’s not the right person for the job, he should explain it with those reasons. It’s this really such a difficult concept?

  54. Free Meerkats*

    To paraphrase a comment from yesterday, he should have kept that thought for intra-cranial use only.

  55. AE*

    But how can she tell HR without them figuring out that she’s pursued other job opportunities? Doesn’t this open her up to being pushed out or overlooked for internal advancement, as Alison has cautioned in the past? LW could end up doubly screwed over.

    1. Ginger Baker*

      I think “longstanding relationship with manager leaving to open a new company” is a specific and fairly rare situation. I don’t think an awareness that you might be willing to jump ship for this One Special Opportunity indicates that you are “likely out interviewing every week”. (I know in my case, when my boss left it was pretty clear to all – including the admin manager – that I would be happy to go with him if asked [and in fact did, though it took quite a few months longer than expected for that to happen]. However, if I did NOT want to jump ship, I could easily have said a few weeks later “I was curious about Specific Opportunity, but have decided that I would rather stay here as I really enjoy [the team/the role/whatever]” and shortly thereafter my name would have been back in the hat for whatever new interesting projects were open at Old Company, no harm no foul.

    2. Despachito*

      Given that HR’s role is mainly to protect the employer, and the boss is leaving the employer and, apart from his “confession”, he has not done anything inappropriate, I do not see much room for HR to act.

  56. SuspectedDragon*

    Sending vibes that this guy is never able to find a good parking spot, that restaurants are always out of his favorite item, and that he gets pooped on by seagulls every time he goes to the beach.

    But seriously, he had the option to just keep his mouth shut and he instead chose to be a creep. This had nothing to do with being honest and everything to do with making his pantsfeelings your problem.

  57. Susanna*

    Ugh. No, this is not a bullet-dodged situation, where OP is supposed to feel grateful for not having to work for a disgusting person.
    This is the most insidious kind of misogyny – that women are just such a darned distraction, pretty little things, that we obviously can’t have them working with us or for us (let alone managing us!), or playing goalie on the school hockey team or whatever. It’s the same mindset that has law enforcement advising WOMEN to curtail their movements because there’s been a rash of rapes (why not make the men stay home?). Or having a dress code for girls at school, since those poor boys can’t possibly be expected to focus on math when a girl next to them is wearing yoga pants.
    Women get crushes too. So what? Keep it to yourself, wait for it to pass, and don’t let on to the crush what your feelings are. But what doe she think – that she’s supposed to be so damn flattered she’s being passed over for an opportunity because, oh, honey, you’re just too appealing?
    This is just another way of telling women their first role is to be attractive to men – and of course, you can’t be attractive and professionally successful – that’s too intimidating for a man.

    Like, maybe this bozo should consider the possibility that he shouldn’t be in the workforce at all, since he’s so easily distracted.

    1. Despachito*

      I feel you are being unjust – you assume the boss does this to all women, but for all we know, it can be an one-off thing and he can be attracted just to OP.

      This of course does not make it right, but speaking about “women” in general seems to me a pretty wild speculation.

      1. Jacey*

        I read Susanna’s comment as being about a well-known, documented trend in how many many many men treat many many many women.

        1. Elbe*

          This is actually a much rarer take – the #okayprobablylotsofmen but #nottoallwomen combo. If makes you wonder what the “not right, but still acceptable” number of instances of job discrimination is.

          In my experience, a guy who would rather deny someone a job than try to get his feelings under control is exactly the type of guy who would do this repeatedly. He’s not interested in making changes on his end, so the underlying problem won’t get fixed. He’s so very comfortable viewing the LW as collateral damage that he told her that to her face.

          1. Despachito*

            But it is HIS OWN COMPANY. Does he not have the right to hire whoever HE feels fit?

            (I know a lawyer who publicly claims she only wants to hire women. She was told in the past by a law firm that they do not want to hire her because she is a woman, although a brilliant one.

            I find both those situations extremely sexist and disgusting, because she was denied a job JUST ON THE BASIS OF BEING A WOMAN, and she is now denying jobs to men JUST ON THE BASIS OF BEING MEN.

            I see a difference in OP’s situation in that it is not “women in general” but “just this particular woman”. We have no indication that the boss would not hire any other woman, and just avoids OP because of the crush. I see it closer to a situation when you do not hire your brother or your wife because you cannot trust yourself (and it is officially recognized) to behave 100% professionnally around them, and the best solution is to avoid this situation.

            I know it is not exactly the same but if we do officially assume that you will probably not be able to be professionnal around a specific person because of your relationship to him/her, why do we accept it for your brother but not for your secret crush?

            1. I WORKED on a Hellmouth*

              At this point MANY people in the comment section have explained the MANY flaws in every argument you have attempted to mount to excuse this dude’s gross, sexist, and unprofessional behavior. Maybe you should go hydrate, take a nap, and read through said comments again afterwards. Maybe go touch some grass first, too. Or write a nice letter to Alison asking her to explain it to you–if she decides to break it down for you, you can then have your very own comment section where you can ignore her expertise and and also engage in all of the bad faith arguments your heart desires.

              1. Despachito*

                Wow, this is a pretty disrespectful and unkind comment.

                If somebody does not agree with your opinion, it is OK to disagree, as long as you keep it polite and respectful. To send someone who has a different opinion “to go hydrate and take a nap” does not meet this standard. I get that we may differ, it is interesting for me to see different opinions, and often they make me see the problem from a different angle and change my opinion. But this is achieved by arguments I consider valid (and there are many of them on this forum), rather then by ironic comments and mockery.

                1. I WORKED on a Hellmouth*

                  That wasn’t me being unkind. I genuinely believe it might be good for you to step away from the computer for a bit. You have 21 comments so far and are showing no signs of stopping. You are discounting every ounce of labor that the commenters here have performed for you. Quite frankly, I don’t actually owe you any further labor, and “maybe you should take a break” is actually just pretty good advice. You’re genuinely starting to come across as being willfully obtuse in addition to deeply problematic. I recognize your username, so I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, based on some of your past comments, but you legitimately seem more like someone who enjoys trolling than someone who is just looking for open minded discourse.

                2. Texas*

                  You are being willfully obtuse by focusing on the hiring/not hiring rather than that the boss told someone whose career he has power over that he’s so attracted to her that he can barely control himself. That’s not an appropriate thing to say to a coworker, and it is sexual harassment. If he had just said he didn’t have a position open (because he doesn’t, he’s hired someone else)? End of discussion.

                3. American Job Venter*

                  This isn’t a game.

                  This is about the harassment, stolen opportunities, and judgement by appearance rather than accomplishment that millions of women endure every day, that billions of women have endured across human history. And it’s about the fact that you and Chickpea and Daniel Canuto and animaniactoo and Ghu knows who else are willing to defend all of that. It’s about the distressing certainty that women in the lives of these commenters have suffered because of the practices all of you are championing here today.

                  It’s just a little frustrating and distressing. You could have been told to do much more strenuous than “touch grass”, really.

            2. Allegra*

              It is not sexist to say “women have historically been and are currently being denied opportunities in this field based solely on their gender, as I have had happen to me in the past, so I choose to exclusively provide opportunities to them to rectify this historic and ongoing inequality”. Men have literally every other opportunity.

              1. Elbe*

                It’s pretty rich, isn’t it? He’s arguing that men are perfectly allowed to deny women opportunities based on their gender, and when women try to compensate for the discrimination by creating their own opportunities he’s yelling sexism.

                If people like the LW’s boss were able/willing to hire on merit, then we wouldn’t see the pattern of discrimination that we see today, and there would be no need for women-led companies to take a stance on it.

                To spell it out, Despachito: The people who have a hard time taking attractive people seriously as professionals are disproportionately male. The people who are losing out on job opportunities are, then, disproportionately female. This is how individual decisions made by individual people can contribute to a larger systematic discrimination, even if that isn’t necessarily the intention of those involved. That’s why this guy’s attitude (and yours) are contributing to larger issues within the workforce. And it’s one reason why your “but it’s JUST HER” argument is falling flat. It’s not just her. It’s not just a matter of personal preference. Things like this happen all the time, and the burdens fall disproportionately on women.

              2. Despachito*

                Two wrongs do not make one right.

                The right thing would be not to discriminate against ANYBODY based on their gender.

                How can you condemn discrimination and justify reverse discrimination? If discrimination based on gender is wrong, it is wrong BOTH WAYS.

                I find it very dangerous to condemn one but justify the other.

                1. Allegra*

                  “Reverse discrimination” is not real. It is a term most often used by people who historically have done the discriminating, when they are not given what they perceive they are entitled to. Claims of reverse racism or reverse sexism almost always come up as backlash to things like affirmative action and feminism, and it’s frankly insulting to keep hearing “what about the poor men” in this post like gender equality has been achieved and the working world at large does not privilege the needs of men constantly.

                  Sexism and other -isms are defined as historical embedded structures of power that have benefited one group. One female lawer is not creating a thousand-of-years structure of consistent and ongoing discrimination against men by not hiring men in her practice.

                2. American Job Venter*

                  “Reverse discrimination”. SERIOUSLY?

                  Some links to follow because I really cannot let myself say what I’m thinking here.

            3. Elbe*

              “Does he not have the right to hire whoever HE feels fit?”
              NO. That’s the point. He can’t legally discriminate against a lot of groups. And he can’t ethically discriminate at all. If he’s a decent person, a decent leader, a decent businessman he should be trying to hire on merit only. Denying someone a job because he doesn’t want to check his feelings is unethical and sexist and it’s going to make a lot of people dislike him, as we’ve seen here.

              Keeping a level head and making good professional decisions is one of the biggest requirements for a manager, let alone the owner of a company. This guy sets the tone of the work environment from the top down.

              Why would you assume that the LW is the only person this guy would ever have a crush on? What happens if he develops a crush after someone is hired? Can he fire her? At what point would you say that this guy just needs to get a grip and learn to manage his own feelings instead of making them everyone else’s problem?

              1. Despachito*

                But if he can just hire a limited number of persons, does this mean that he discriminates against all groups whose members he does not hire?

                (If he refused to hire OP just because she is a woman, it would definitely be discrimination.

                But what if he refused to hire OP because he personally dis/liked her, and hires Fergus who he thinks would be a better fit (for whatever reasons he may see valid and which may be purely subjective) – would THIS be discrimination too? If Fergus has similar qualification as the OP and he had to pick just one of them? He was stupid enough to blabber about it, but if he didn’t and just picked Fergus (for the very same reasons), would that be OK?

                1. Elbe*

                  “But if he can just hire a limited number of persons, does this mean that he discriminates against all groups whose members he does not hire?”
                  No. That’s not what discrimination is and no one is saying that.

                  You should look into gender discrimination, because I think you’re a little confused about what it is and how it applies to situations like this.

                2. allathian*

                  Except that nobody’s entitled to any job. This wouldn’t have come up as an issue at all, if he’d had the sense to keep his mouth shut about his crush, and let her go on her way. He can hire whoever he wants, on whatever terms he wants. There’s no law, or ethical principle for that matter, that says he has to offer the job to anyone who could potentially do it, is there?

            4. BabyElephantWalk*

              So we can discriminate because we own things? Seriously, please stop talking and go examine your thought process. It is disturbing.

      2. HereKittyKitty*

        Except this behavior has historically kept women out of the workforce. On good news Friday last week we had a woman walk out of an interview because the boss said she would be the only woman and “boys would be boys.” It’s a well-known documented phenomenon that women in the workplace suffer when their male counterparts fixate on them. From dress codes in school, to women being asked to drop classes that their abuser/stalker/rapist is also in, women are consistently asked to leave the room when men feel uncomfortable. Sure, this could definitely be a one-off thing, but that doesn’t mean he’s not participating, and a part of, a large (and historical) pattern of events. You don’t have to have larger, nefarious intentions to become part of that tapestry.

        1. allathian*

          This is definitely true. But I’m not sure how it would’ve helped the LW if the creep had hired her and acted on his urges at the new company?

          1. American Job Venter*

            From what I’ve read here I don’t think it would be to LW’s advantage if he had hired her.

            But he did not need to tell her that her attractivness to him supercedes any and every piece of work she has ever done. That’s how he harmed her, by telling her/reminding her that by so many in our society a woman’s value is judged entirely on our attractiveness and not at all on our accomplishments. He could have just said he didn’t have a job for her instead of setting out to undercut her professional confidence.

      3. Observer*

        but for all we know, it can be an one-off thing and he can be attracted just to OP.

        The thing is that the crush is probably a one off. The way he’s handling it? Comes from a general attitude.

  58. Daniel Canueto*

    Almost always I agree with Alison. But this time I can’t.

    – He is hiring other people from the team for his new company. If he didn’t tell her about the crush, this would signal that he prefers the other team members to her so he is diminishing her value compared to the other ones. It is hard to find a good lie that can justify that. Which alternative do you prefer: lowering her self-esteem through a lie, or telling the uncomfortable truth?
    – It is his new company where he’ll be the boss. Of course it is about him. He is not a manager that needs to think first about the company or their reports. He needs to think about what is the best for his new company.

    Also I’m a little disappointed to see so much toxicity in the comments, as if no one had ever felt a crush or the pain to make someone feel down. It is the opposite of the empathy I would expect from the average reader.

    1. Flames on the side of my face*

      So weird, I’ve had lots of crushes, but somehow never used them as the basis to undermine someone’s career and professional self-worth. I guess I must just lack empathy.

      1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        Clicked Reply to say something like this, but your comment sums it up really well.

    2. Peridot*

      The point is not that he has a crush. The point is that he lets it interfere with his work life to this extent, as if OP is responsible for causing him to act irrationally. He has made it her problem.

    3. Me*

      Oh no. Absolutely not. No one is being harsh because poor wittle manager has a crush.

      1. There is a power dynamic. He is her current manager.
      2. No one cares that he has a crush. Everyone is disgusted that he told her he wouldn’t hire her because he was sexually attracted to her. That is not okay to tell someone on any planet.
      3. His disgusting implication that its all about him is because he is essentially stripping the OP of her autonomy. Just because he thinks she’s hot, does not in anyway mean the OP would just magically fall into is bed.
      4. Telling someone you won’t hire them because you want to sleep with them is called sexual harassment.
      5. You seem to be unfamiliar with this, but woman have a right to exist without their managers sexualizing them.

      The ONLY toxicity here is the manager in questions behavior and your sticking up for him.

    4. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

      A lot of us have had crushes. We’re just professional enough/adult enough to not let them affect our work.

      If you’re so into somebody that you can’t work with them you need a) professional help and b) to not be a manager of anybody until you get this sorted.

      1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

        By the way, as a bit of info, I suffer from schizophrenia. I get delusional moments. If I can manage to not inflict any of that on my staff then no man can use the ‘but my pantsfeelings!’ excuse.

        Or any person of any gender for that matter. If your base desires are powering your decision making centres then you done goofed.

    5. J.B.*

      Grown ups can have a crush and keep it to themselves. This is a man making decisions that automatically harm women. Take that to the societal level and cut out the “not all men” stuff please.

      1. Despachito*

        Not women, just THIS WOMAN.

        And I would be wary to call it “harming her” as he had no obligation whatsoever to hire her.

        1. Blue*

          Except that it indicates that his whole view of women and how men and women relate is completely skewed. You don’t think that ever ends up affecting the other women in his orbit?

          1. Despachito*

            No, not necessarily.

            As someone mentioned above, it is perfectly imaginable that if you have a crush on one of your coworkers and you are unable to get rid of it (as we said, we are not always able to control our FEELINGS, but should always be able to control our ACTIONS), you may consider leaving that job to avoid the presence of that person. It does absolutely not mean that you would otherwise attack or harass them, and it does not have to mean that your view of women/men is skewed either, it can just mean you have a huge crush on Fergus which interferes with your ability to work as a professional, and you are aware of it, and the logical and fair solution is to remove YOURSELF from the situation (as YOU are the one unable to handle it). It would be awful to push Fergus out of his job because of that (recently there was a post about an employee “too hot to handle” for her manager and said manager wanted to transfer HER out of his department, which I think most of people agreed was awfully wrong because he was punishing HER for HIS OWN problem).

            But this is different. Boss is not pushing OP out of her job. He does not offer her the job (pretty much for the same reason as above with Fergus, just that in case of Fergus, you could – and should – leave yourself but in Boss’s case, he cannot leave his own company).

        2. feral fairy*

          Based on your comments on this post, it seems like you lack basic awareness of the consequences of workplace sexual harassment. No one here is saying that LW was entitled to work for his new company. LW did not even say that. Overall, women getting passed over for jobs because some men see us as temptresses and refuse to view us as professional & autonomous individuals is harmful, but there are several other ways that LW is potentially being harmed in this situation. She has to spend the next two months working for a boss who has already proven himself to be unprofessional and could now potentially retaliate against her directly or indirectly because she did not respond to his confession how he wanted her to. What if he denies her a raise or promotion? He also basically said to her directly that he can’t trust himself around her. Now that she knows this, is he going to stop communicating with her at work about things she needs to know to do her job? I wouldn’t be surprised if he decides to freeze her out over anger or embarrassment.

          Before you say that there isn’t any indication that these things have happened- I’d argue that the boss has already demonstrated extremely poor judgment and is likely to be unprofessional in the future. But even if his confession was an anomaly and he goes back to acting like a normal boss, the damage is done because LW will likely be anxious about the possibility of him sabotaging her professional life until he leaves the company and afterword. If I was in LW’s shoes, I would be nervous about even being aline with this guy.

          1. Despachito*

            IF he does retaliate, then she would be fully within her right to push back.

            But he so far behaved OK. Yes, he MIGHT do something in retaliation, but as far as we know, he did not. He might as well not. How can you be so sure he certainly would?

            Again – I am not defending what he did, it was poor judgment, and I understand how it can be awkward to work with him the following 2 months. But you anticipate that he will certainly do a lot of mean things, and I just do not think it is certain.

            1. Le Sigh*

              “But he so far behaved OK.” “Again – I am not defending what he did, it was poor judgment,”

              Which is it? Because this feels contradictory in your own comment. He has not behaved okay and it is wildly bad judgment. He is her manager for two more months and it should have occurred to him that even if he wasn’t going to hire her, he needed to keep the real reason to himself. And he didn’t *just* tell her that he had a crush, he told her felt he couldn’t control himself around her. I can 100% tell you that as someone who has been on the receiving end of this behavior, if I had to work with him for two more months knowing he felt he couldn’t control himself it would make me feel paranoid and unsafe. This is the person in charge of my job, my livelihood, my reviews, and future references, and I would be so angry at the position that puts me if, if I were her.

              1. Despachito*

                Retaliated for what?

                At the moment when he was telling her that he cannot hire her because of his crush, there was nothing to retaliate for?

        3. Delphine*

          Do you think this is the first man to make a decision about hiring a woman based on his own issues? He’s a part of a larger problem.

        4. Observer*

          And I would be wary to call it “harming her” as he had no obligation whatsoever to hire her

          There is a real ethical argument to be made that he owes her (ethically) the same chance at a job as any other person, as long as she is qualified. He’s denying her that chance because of his issues.

          But even if you come down that he is ethically in the clear to place his feelings over her being given a fair shot, you still cannot claim that he did not harm her. He most definitely DID harm her just by telling her this.

          Telling her that she’s too attractive to hire IS harmful to her. And if truly doesn’t know that he should not be running a company.

          1. Despachito*

            I think we all agree that he absolutely should not have told her about his crush, and that this part harmed her.

            But I see this as a separate issue from the decision not to hire her.

            1. Telling her about the crush = definitely wrong, I do not dispute this, and I think we all agree that it was wrong.

            2. Not hiring her (and I’d like to treat this separately from “the crush affair”, assuming he felt the same but did not reveal it) = in my opinion, I cannot see how he owes her any chance to that (and at the moment when she asked, the place was already taken, so not available).
            If he announced there was an opening and she applied for it, then yes, you would have more of a point. But remember? It was her who asked if he had an opening (and he didn’t). I cannot wrap my head around WHERE he was wrong in this. He had absolutely NO OBLIGATION to offer the job to her or to anyone else. He did not have an obligation to offer it to Fergus the coworker either, and he would be entitled not to do this because Fergus pops his chewing gum too often and it irritates him. He would have to put up with it as a co-employee, but I cannot see how it can be his obligation to take the irritating Fergus to HIS OWN company, and he would be absolutely within his rights to deny Fergus the chance because of HIS OWN (i.e. the Boss’s) issues.

            So again – I agree that he was horribly wrong to reveal the crush, but not for not offering/denying the job per se, because I cannot imagine forcing the owner to give a job in his company to one particular person and deny them the discretion to select for themselves.

            1. Tali*

              As everyone has said, his obligation is to give everyone a fair shot at any position he wants to hire for. And he can’t base his hiring decisions on race, sex, gender, etc. He is not giving OP the same chance as Fergus because she is a woman whom he finds attractive. This is sexual harassment.

              If he had offered the job first to Fergus and told OP that, OK, fine. But he told her that he didn’t offer it to her because of the crush, and that hiring decision is not OK.

              1. allathian*

                Yeah, well. She’s still better off not working for a manager who has a crush on her, can we agree on that at least? It still comes down to plausible deniability. The creep was stupid to say that he didn’t want to hire the LW because he had a crush on her. If he’d only said that he didn’t have a job to offer because he’d already offered it to Fergus and he accepted, no matter what his internal thoughts were, it wouldn’t have been provable harassment. Again, he wasn’t obligated to offer her a job at any time, just because she expressed an interest in working for him.

                1. Tali*

                  I see this phrasing a lot on this topic: “he wasn’t obligated to offer her a job”. I don’t think anyone has ever argued this point. Everyone agrees that he didn’t have to offer anyone any job. It’s honestly becoming a strawman argument.

                  The question raised by the post above mine was: is it inherently unethical to base a hiring decision (who to offer/choose for a job) on how attractive the candidate is? Or is the issue solely that the boss told her about his crush? My response, as many others have said, is that both are unethical: whether he told her or not, basing his hiring decision on the attractiveness of the candidates is unethical (and illegal!).

                  Very very confused why it seems like you want to raise the bar for acceptable behavior to “plausible deniability” and “at least she won’t be working for her harasser”, and stop there? Is “he was morally wrong to deny her career opportunities for sexual harassment reasons” too high to hope for?

    6. MicroManagered*

      If he privately knew that he would never hire OP at his new startup because he has successfully hidden this massive crush on her the entire time they’ve worked together–FINE. I’m sure people make hiring decisions based on their private feelings about people more than they admit*–“more than they admit” being the operative phrase.

      Telling her about these feelings, while he is still her boss, is gross. He could have just said he didn’t have the funds to hire her or he’s already selected for the positions he has. “I decided to go in another direction” is the time-honored non-answer for why a company doesn’t hire someone.

      OP should report him to the current company’s HR. He is still her boss at this company and this is sexual harrassment.

      1. Boof*

        I wouldn’t actually say it’s “fine” if he kept it private but… no one would know I suppose. Unless he gets uncontrollable crushes on all competent reproductive age women (I mean, I’m sure OP is amazing but really what are the odds this is a one-off?).

        1. MicroManagered*

          I was saying “fine” as in, nobody can really control being passed over for a job because of the hiring manager’s personal feelings. If he hadn’t said anything, OP would’ve never known. AAM answers letters from people all the time who complain they didn’t get interviewed/hired for a job they’re qualified for, asking what they can do. The answer is always: nothing.

          It’s not “fine” in the sense that I want to buy this guy a beer or anything…

    7. I WORKED on a Hellmouth*

      Uh. What the actual eff.
      My dude, if you honestly can’t see the power imbalance, the lack of appropriate professional boundaries, the gross skeeviness at play, and the general Not At All Appropriate: Workforce Edition of it all, I desperately hope that you don’t manage anyone. If you think that the reaction here shows a lack of empathy, I have to ask why you apparently have zero empathy for the OP, the actual wronged party, but SO much empathy for Mr. Pantsfeelings. Based on this ridiculous comment alone (oh please let it just be standard trolling) I’m guessing you also believe in and complain about the “friendzone.”

      1. Observer*

        If you think that the reaction here shows a lack of empathy, I have to ask why you apparently have zero empathy for the OP, the actual wronged party, but SO much empathy for Mr. Pantsfeelings.

        That’s the key question I would like an answer to, as well.

    8. idwtpaun*

      “It is his new company where he’ll be the boss. Of course it is about him. He is not a manager that needs to think first about the company or their reports. He needs to think about what is the best for his new company.”

      My eyes just rolled out of my head. He’s not thinking of what’s best for his new company. What he’s saying is that only the existence of an HR department and managerial level above him that can fire him for it currently prevents him from sexually harassing her. He literally said that the moment he is no longer threatened with consequences, he will sexually harass her. Imagine giving him kudos for that.

      1. Despachito*

        “He’s not thinking of what’s best for his new company.”

        But it is absolutely HIS call to make. If he tanks his company with his bad decisions, it is on him.

        And he AVOIDED the situation in which he could potentially feel the urge to harass OP. Still nothing specially nice but still I see a huge difference from actually harassing her.

        1. GrooveBat*

          Well, he didn’t avoid the situation in which he could potentially feel the urge to harass her because HE HARASSED HER BY MAKING THAT “CONFESSION.”

          1. Le Sigh*

            Yes, this is what’s killing me about these comments. We’ve got 5 or 6 people in here who want to hold a ticker tape parade for the manager’s ability to keep this to himself and stop himself from sexually harassing OP at work. But it’s moot because he undid all of that the second he made this confession WHILE STILL HER MANAGER. He could have just said he hired someone else and kept it to that.

            1. Despachito*

              Nowhere near a ticker tape parade. And I am surprised at this take because I do not have the impression that anyone “applauds the manager for not sexually harassing OP at work”

              As for me, it just seemed to me disproportional to accuse this man of all kinds of sexual harassment that he MIGHT POTENTIALLY do and wildly speculate in this sense, while in fact he did ONE INAPPROPRIATE THING. Which I think nobody denied that WAS inappropriate.

              If I steal a bottle of wine once, it is wrong, it is theft and I deserve to be punished. I also do not deserve a ticker tape parade for not stealing before. But neither do I deserve being automatically accused of potentially robbing a bank and murdering someone, if I didn’t.

              1. Elbe*

                Is it unreasonable to think that someone who boldly, unapologetically denied someone a job (!) based on his own feelings may harass someone in the future? Is it?

                Because I think it’s the most reasonable guess to make. Past behavior is the best indication of future behavior, especially when the person doesn’t acknowledge any wrongdoing.

                1. Allegra*

                  I think it’s the “doesn’t trust himself to not act on his attraction” part that tips it toward “might harass someone on the future” side. If he himself says he doesn’t trust himself to not make a pass at your employees, well. There ya go.

              2. Le Sigh*

                I mean, yes, ticker tape was hyperbolic, though I wasn’t only referring to your comment with that — because there are people in this comments section straight up saying there’s nothing reportable here and a few even saying basically, “what was he supposed to do, not tell her?” But I was also referring to your comment that, “he AVOIDED the situation in which he could potentially feel the urge to harass OP.” He didn’t avoid harassing OP — he is her current manager for two more months and confessing this information was straight up harassment, so he failed even at that. Avoiding it would have been keeping his mouth shut about the real reason. OP shouldn’t have to work under someone knowing that.

                Does this mean the boss is a prolific harasser? I can’t say for sure. But he’s demonstrating pretty awful judgment across the board and it sure makes me question his leadership and ability to run an equitable work place as the owner. As for taking it to HR — it’s not uncommon for individuals to keep quiet about something because it’s just one time, only to find out there was actually a larger pattern once the truth is uncovered. That might not be the case here — but that’s where a decent HR team can either deal with the individual incident or document it as part of a larger issue and deal with it accordingly.

    9. Elbe*

      I really encourage you to rethink this stance.

      “Which alternative do you prefer: lowering her self-esteem through a lie, or telling the uncomfortable truth?”
      Those are not the only options here! The best outcome would be for people who are unable to give their employees a fair work environment to just not be in a management position until they can get a hold of their feelings. As a leader, he needs to take responsibility for his own feelings and actions so that he’s not denying opportunities to qualified people based on their gender.

      ” …as if no one had ever felt a crush…”
      I think it’s the opposite, actually. Little workplace crushes are normal and I can’t imagine denying someone a job because I can’t get a grip on myself. I can’t imagine feeling qualified to run a company and have people depend on me for their livelihood, but not feel able to treat an attractive person professionally. It’s actually really bad.

      I think that the person who lacks empathy here is you. You don’t seem to care at all that the OP, who is feeling horrible about this, lost out on a good job through no fault of her own. You seem very comfortable considering her just collateral damage in this situation. This type of attitude (where a guy’s inability to behave professionally is treated with more sympathy than a woman losing opportunities and better career paths) is exactly the type of thing that snowballs into really toxic environments.

      1. Bernice Clifton*

        “Which alternative do you prefer: lowering her self-esteem through a lie, or telling the uncomfortable truth?”
        Those are not the only options here!

        Not only is it not the only option, it’s telling that this commenter assumes “the uncomfortable truth” would *not* lower the LW’s self esteem. “I won’t hire you because Pantsfeelings” isn’t a compliment.

        1. I WORKED on a Hellmouth*

          Right?! Like, my self esteem is just fine if I hear “I went in another direction,” but it is NOT okay with my boss telling me “I’ve been keeping it to myself, but you give me boners.” UGH.

        2. Elbe*

          “I won’t hire you because Pantsfeelings” isn’t a compliment.

          Yes! Exactly. “You’ve tried hard and done well, but none of that is worth anything because I view you primarily as a sexual object” is actually a much more depressing thing to hear. You prove yourself and perform well and the job goes to some guy because your boss can’t think of you as just a coworker. What is the LW supposed to do with that info, other than feel bad?

        3. Le Sigh*

          +1 I wonder if this commenter has been on the receiving end of these types of comments. I have and I would much rather hear that someone decided to hire my colleague rather than tell me this sort of thing — especially when they’re still my manager and a possible future reference. I really don’t think people realize how unsettling and upsetting hearing this sort of thing can be — it’s not a complement or any form of reassurance. Quite the opposite.

        4. Observer*

          “I won’t hire you because Pantsfeelings” isn’t a compliment.

          True. But all of the people telling women to “lighten up” about some “harmless COMPLIMENTS” wouldn’t agree.

    10. Green tea*

      It’s almost as if you’ve never felt the pain of losing out on an important career opportunity for reasons that have nothing to do with your professional competence.

      It’s almost as though you have never gone through the uniquely painful experience of knowing that the discrimination you are experiencing is statistically much more likely to happen to your demographic than the demographic in power – – and that this is reinforcing why your demographic is under-represented in power.

      It’s almost as if you’ve never been part of a demographic that has been sexualized, often against your will, by others in positions of authority over you beginning at a young age when teachers begin policing your body and older members of the demographic in power yell at you in the street to smile for them, so that you will be more attractive to them. And lost out on mentoring opportunities because of the uncertainty of WHICH authority figures from the demographic in power will see you as an object and which will see you as a human. And you have never felt the betrayal where one of the people in power, whom you thought had seen you as a human, actually had only seen you as a sexual object this entire time, and is punishing you for it, professionally.

      1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

        If there were Oscars for comments I’d award you one for this.

        Just…beautiful, accurate and my word ain’t it just the truth.

      2. HereKittyKitty*

        I think what some people aren’t getting is the WEIGHT of stories like this. It is CRUSHING. This is one story in a pattern that never seems to end.

        Imagine walking through life hearing that you’re a temptation for boys at school so you should cover up, or leave the room. Then imagine going to college and being harassed and your school suggests that you leave your classes while they investigate the harasser, who gets to stay in all his classes. Then imagine hearing stories like this from your family members, from your friends. Imagine teaching a class where young women start to share their experiences of harassment and being told to leave the room when they make men uncomfortable. Imagine that floodgate opening and hearing dozens and dozens of stories. Imagine experiencing them yourself- the rampant misogyny blocking your career. Imagine being denied grad school opportunities because you won’t clean a male professor’s office, or accept rides home from another male professor. Imagine the cost of paying out of pocket for your education because getting the funding required working with a male professor you testified against in an investigation last year. Imagine decades of these stories piling up in your brain. Imagine the COSTS of these experiences- therapy, medication, etc. Then imagine reading another story on this website and seeing the spiderweb in front of you. “Oh yes, this is another string in the web.”

        Now imagine someone saying that you’re not being nice enough to the man in the story and that nothing that happened was particularly wrong. Imagine having a collection of stories the length of the Bible in your mouth and having to collect another one while someone else tells you that this story is isolated and unrelated to anything else you’ve heard.

        My gosh, it’s infuriating. That anger they’re hearing- that anger they reject as “extreme”, it’s all of us flipping through the pages of the stories we already know and tucking this one away in the same damn book.

      3. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        +1000 to all this – and then, when you are fortunate to actually find yourself on a healthy team and to be able to advance professionally, you have your coworkers outside of the team speculating about whether you had to provide sexual favors to get that raise or promotion. Because, you know, if a man gets one, clearly, he earned it. If a woman gets one, hmm something is fishy here!

        So tired of all this after seeing different variations of it throughout my whole career (and I started working in the late 80s).

    11. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      So, personal story: My first two jobs in the US were at small, semi-dysfunctional companies, for a boss (same one both jobs) that was severely lacking work ethics. I was also stuck in a failing marriage. All that unfortunately messed with my head and led me to develop a raging crush on a dev lead at my first job. I then wisely left the job, for a better opportunity, but also specifically to get away from him. Problem was, I didn’t just find another job and leave. I was poached by my former boss from my first job, who was also close friends with my crush. Boss knew about me having the crush on Crush. Meanwhile, Crush had also changed jobs, and was miserable in his next one, wanting to get out. Crush asked Boss if he could come work for him. Crush was incredibly good at his job. Boss came to me asking (out-of-whack work ethics, remember?) ASKING ME IF I WOULD BE OKAY with Crush coming to work with us at my new job. As messed in the head as I was at that time in my life, I did have the common workplace sense to tell Boss that this was not my call, and if Crush working at our company was a good thing for both Crush and the company, then Crush should do it. I’ll manage, I said. (I did not, in fact, manage, damaged my working relationship with Crush, changed jobs again, to finally enjoy a normal career away from both Weirdo Boss and Crush, the end.)

      Like, even back then as someone new to the US work world, it never occurred to me that another person should miss out on a work opportunity, and a company should miss out on acquiring talent, all because the person gives me a tingly feeling I cannot act on?!?! I dare say I think I showed some empathy in this reasoning.

    12. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      And another thing!

      He needs to think about what is the best for his new company.

      Ohhh, well, then, what better place to start than discrimination and a weird mix of retaliation/sexual harassment! I guarantee that’ll do wonders for his new company! Thanks for the laugh, I needed it.

    13. Falling Diphthong*

      When the uncomfortable truth is your pants feels for someone, you can just not tell them about it. At work, at the deli, at the gym, at D&D night. You don’t have to go up to various people in your life and honestly share how you figure if you’re ever alone in the same room after dark the clothes would all just come flying off.

      1. I WORKED on a Hellmouth*

        While the issues other peoples pantsfeels cause in the workplace is the more pressing issue, I also heartily wish that more dudes would leave their pantsfeels issues off of the D&D table. NO ONE LIKES IT, KEVIN, YOU ARE MAKING IT WEIRD AND CREEPY FOR EVERYONE ELSE IN THE PARTY.

        1. quill*

          Learned the hard way that if you are the only girl at the table, and your DM has to utter the phrase “roll for venereal disease” you’re in the wrong D&D group.

          (Don’t worry, my current DM is lovely and the group is mostly queer with a better grasp of boundaries than the average straight guy. My giant preying mantis character can groom enemy gunk off the drow cleric without anyone making it about how we feel about each other in real life…)

          1. Foofoo*

            Mine didn’t say it out loud but he did pass me a private note that the critical hit “cut off your leaf bra”.

            He had been inappropriate multiple times to me after dumping out the pantsfeelings (and I’d told him I wasn’t interested). The private note harassing me was the final straw and I never went back. I had to abandon all the new friends I was making because I didn’t know how to handle a 35 year old man hitting on 18 year old me other than just not showing up ever again.

            Eff these guys in the ears.

            1. quill*

              That’s damn gross, sorry you had to go through it. Mine was at college, so yeah. I just didn’t play during the school year.

    14. Observer*

      He is hiring other people from the team for his new company. If he didn’t tell her about the crush, this would signal that he prefers the other team members to her so he is diminishing her value compared to the other ones. It is hard to find a good lie that can justify that. Which alternative do you prefer: lowering her self-esteem through a lie, or telling the uncomfortable truth?

      False dichotomy. If he knew what she was after, he could have prepared a very bland “I’ve thought about this and I don’t think it’s a great idea.” and “You do great work and are excellent at what you do but it’s not in line with the way I’m hoping to operate.” It may not be great for her self esteem. But if she’s a mature adult, she’ll deal.

      On the other hand, there is NO WAY that this can be good for her self esteem. And it’s especially bad for her ability to function in that workplace for the next 2 months.

      And that assumes that he actually had good intentions – which is highly doubtful given how out of line this is.

      People are being toxic about this guy because they have empathy for the OP. Which is something you seem to be lacking completely.

    15. American Job Venter*

      Are you serious in your assessment that disapproving of the manager’s behavior is “toxic”?! Are you writing in from the Republic of Gilead?

  59. Flames on the side of my face*

    God DAMN but it is enraging that women lose professional opportunities because of some men’s insistence that their sexual behavior is completely out of their own control. SCREAMS FOREVER

    1. The Prettiest Curse*

      Waaay back when I was a teenage girl interviewing for a place at university, I was interviewed by a dude who was a total patronising dick. I didn’t get the place and assumed he was just a patronising dick, because he didn’t do anything creepy in the interview (probably because there was another lecturer present too.) It later transpired that he was a major sexual harasser who wrote erotic fiction about his female students. (!!!)

      It took them years to act on the many complaints about this dude and finally get rid of him. And to this day, I wonder if I didn’t get the place because I wasn’t good enough intellectually, or because Mr Patronising Dick didn’t find me attractive enough to be erotic fiction material. Being on the receiving of this kind of nonsense can really screw with your mind. I hope the OP is reading these comments and realising that she did nothing wrong.

  60. Sara without an H*

    Hi, OP — By now, I hope you’ve realized that this is not your fault or responsibility. Now what?

    Reporting Skeevy Boss to HR does carry some risk that only you can evaluate. How has your company handled sexual harassment complaints in the past? What’s HR’s reputation within the company? Would your standing in the company be compromised if it became known that you were talking to Skeevy Boss about possibly joining his new firm? (Even if you don’t mention that, he probably would.) If you decide that it’s not worth it to make a formal complaint, my recommendation would be that you spend the next two months being cool, polite, and professional around this dude. Document anything he says or does that’s even slightly off-kilter. If he tries to refer again to his Coffee Shop Proposition, tell him something like, “I know how you feel, and I don’t think we should discuss it.” If this makes him uncomfortable, good.

    You may want to spend the next two months setting yourself up as a candidate for Skeevy Boss’s job. I don’t know your field, but would it be useful to have a discreet chat with your Grandboss about plans for filling the position and what you would need to do to position yourself to compete for it? Give it some thought, anyway.

    Good luck, and please send us an update.

  61. Robin Ellacott*

    I hate this SO MUCH. His blithe certainty that “something could happen” just because he wants it to, with literally no recognition that MARRIED letter writer is likely not interested. His apparent inability to restrain himself when he has pantsfeelings, even at work. His total unconcern with how uncomfortable it is to OP to know about his “feelings”. Argh. I just hate it all so much.

    We just can’t win! If we’re not considered conventionally attractive, we are invisible… and if we are, we’re a problem somehow.

    1. quill*

      He’s married, she’s married… but his brain isn’t working on a “I’ve made a commitment, gotta honor it,” it’s working on “The Rules of being in this company, and the consequences of if my wife found out are what’s stopping me. But if I tell OP, there’s a chance she’ll tell me how attractive I am too!”

  62. Jack Straw from Wichita*

    This is all kinds of wrong. Also, let me go ahead and request now that you reach out to this LW for a holiday time update!

  63. Trek*

    OP you never realized this because he was able to keep his relationship with you professional and friendly. This is a good thing it means he was able to work with someone he was attracted to without making them feel uncomfortable. But don’t blame yourself for not noticing.

    Why he went so far to provide so many details as to his feelings I’ll never know but people do fall in love with other people even if they are married and don’t have any intention of acting on it. I don’t think he should have shared any of this with you while he was still your boss. If he wanted to clarify later I guess he could have but again not necessary. Also too many things can change in two months and what happens if he ends up not leaving his current position but now he’s told his direct report he’s in love with her. Not good.

    I don’t think this guy is a sexist creep. I think he’s trying to not cause damage to his marriage and to you. I don’t think it’s automatic that because he wouldn’t trust himself not to make a pass at you especially if you are traveling together that it means he wouldn’t regret it or not want to leave his wife. He was too honest in sharing that he doesn’t think he could fight that desire long term. Maybe this isn’t right but he knows himself better than anyone and is choosing not to put himself in that position. He also didn’t want you to think the reason was related to your performance. He could have stated this 100 different ways but I think he did want you to know he does respect/appreciate your work and abilities.

    How many stories have we read where men convince themselves that woman are attracted to them over the smallest interaction? She smiled! She handed me a folder! OMG she’s in love with me! He’s not putting this on you saying ‘our connection is too much and I can’t resist you.’ He’s saying his own feelings make it impossible for him to work closely with you. This may be a surprise and not a good one but again he knows his limits and he’s not willing to put himself in that position. If anyone I knew, man or women, had an option of working closely with someone who is married and they have a very intense crush on I would advise them against it. No good can come from it. The fact that he hired a man vs a woman and pointed that out makes me wonder if again he is worried about his marriage and it’s possible crossed the line in the past and doesn’t want to again.

    For the next two months focus on the work and be grateful he’s leaving. Look for other opportunities elsewhere if you feel the need to start again. Whatever you do don’t every blame yourself for his feelings. Don’t blame yourself for not knowing his feelings. I think we are all in the dark about feelings that others have for us, both positive and negative, and that makes it easier for us to work with them.

    1. TiredMama*

      I’m with you. I think he shouldn’t have told her this with two months to go but I think he is making the right choice. As to whether to tell her not…I mean, on the one hand I would want to know that its not my skills but I would be super frustrated that its something I can’t control.

    2. learnedthehardway*

      Agreeing with you – I don’t think the guy’s intention was to be sexist. I would follow the rule of “don’t ascribe to malice what is better explained as incompetence”. My guess is that he was hoping that the topic of the OP joining his new company would not come up, and didn’t do an adequate job of figuring out how to say “No, I can’t hire you” that wouldn’t come across as sexist, so resorted to honesty, which was sexist in its own particular way.

      1. GrooveBat*

        But it IS sexist. He is denying a woman a career opportunity because of her sex. He is also denying her agency by assuming that if HE wants something to happen it WILL happen, with no apparent regard for what she wants.

        1. TiredMama*

          It’s not because of her sex, it’s because of his personal attraction to her specifically. Would it be sexism if he was attracted to a man and decided it best not to hire that man? I thought embedded in the definition of sexism is that you think women/girls are less than. He doesn’t believe that about her and there is no indication that he thinks that of women generally. I agree it was problematic to tell her he wants to sleep with her and has a crush on her while still being her boss. Not okay. At all.

          1. Leg MIA*

            So there have been court cases – a few in the circuit courts – in the US about paramour preference. Boss A promotes Subordinate/Lover B and Subordinate/Plaintiff C goes to the EEOC for sex discrimination. Subordinate/Plaintiff C lost those cases because if C had been a different sex, A still would have promoted B over C, so it’s not sex discrimination (towards the plaintiff).

            On the other hand, in OP’s case, it’s very likely that the boss would have acted differently if OP had been a different gender (even if boss is bisexual, I’ve yet to meet a bisexual person who’s attracted to the exact same characteristics in men as in women – though I’ve no doubt they exist), so it’s sex discrimination.

            1. TiredMama*

              So what can he do if he doesn’t want to work with her? I guess not start a business she wants to work at?

              1. Le Sigh*

                At the very minimum, he could just tell her he decided to hire someone else and not tell her that he can’t trust himself around her *while still her manager for two more months.*

                1. Le Sigh*

                  Well, in terms of the new company, I don’t know that he’s really equipped with the leadership skills if he can’t, at a bare minimum, show the good judgment not to tell her this, especially while still her boss.

                2. Le Sigh*

                  So, to answer your question, I guess not start the company, if he lacks such basic good judgment and management ability.

              2. HereKittyKitty*

                He could not hire her using a myriad of reasons that have nothing to do with wanting to bang. If whether or not you want to bang someone is the deciding factor of your hiring practices, I’d suggest not starting a business.

                There’s always the option of hiring the best person for the role, keeping your feelings to yourself, and if you’re incapable of resolving those feelings on your own to use the help of a professional to do so and not let your lusty feelings impact key decisions in your business or hiring practices.

                1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

                  “If whether or not you want to bang someone is the deciding factor of your hiring practices, I’d suggest not starting a business. ”

                  THIS THIS THIS. Why do multiple commenters seem to think that this guy deserves a medal for not having banged her at Current Job, and turning her down as a job candidate for the sole reason of him wanting to bang her, at Next Job?

          2. Nina*

            Yeah, but his personal attraction to her specifically is… because of her sex… so congrats for moving the question one (1) chain of reasoning out, I guess?

      2. Elbe*

        This is exactly sexist, though.

        Do you think that every sexist person specifically intends to be sexist? The effortless nature of it is part of the problem here.

      3. Boof*

        Not hiring someone because of personal attraction to them IS sexist, unless I guess theoretically the person is perfectly bisexual, and even then it’s still wildly unprofessional even if harder to put in a specific discrimination bucket.

      4. Recovering Adjunct*

        He was coming on to her in a way that gave him plausible deniability. That’s malice.

      5. quill*

        Few people these days intend to be sexist. Their intention does not change the impact of their behavior.

    3. I WORKED on a Hellmouth*

      Okay, so there is just no way I can even address all of this (and some of the other nested comments agreeing with you) without literally bursting into flames of rage, but OH. MY. GOD.
      1) Even if this guy didn’t “mean” to be a sexist creep, impact greatly outweighs intent.
      2) WHAT.
      3) If HR would say “Oh no, this is sexual harassment, not good, we have liability here if we don’t step in” about your behavior, then you are a sexually harassing creep. That is definitely what competent HR would say about this dude, soooooooooo…
      4) Interestingly enough, most people are able to regulate their own emotions and wants without acting like this, saying these things, or needing to hire penis that they are not attracted to in order to respect their marriages.
      5) Again, WHAT.

      I can not fathom how, in 2021, people are still excusing this kind of behavior and/or acting like it shouldn’t be called out because someone “can’t help” their feelings and is “just trying to respect their marriage” ew, ew, gross, ew.

      1. Elbe*


        It’s always insanely frustrating when people feel entitled to behave in a certain way but disagree with the label that is assigned to that behavior. I can just imagine this guy saying, “Yes, I denied her an opportunity because of my unprofessional feelings towards her… and yes, I unapologetically told her to her face that she was missing out on a job because I didn’t ‘trust myself’ around her… and yes, I hired a man instead. But calling me sexist is DEEPLY unfair.”

        If you don’t want to come off as creepy, learn to get a grip of your feelings. Behave professionally with all of your coworkers. Hire based on merit. Take other people’s feelings into account when you speak to them. Recognize that other people have agency.

    4. feral fairy*

      But what he said to her is by definition sexual harassment. It doesn’t belong in a workplace or in a professional relationship, especially one between a boss and a direct report. There are pretty straightforward rules about what is and is not appropriate to say to a colleague and someone who has been managing people and is now starting his own company should know that never under any circumstances should a boss, married or not, confess to their direct report, married or not, about romantic and/or sexual feelings.

    5. Observer*

      I don’t think this guy is a sexist creep. I think he’s trying to not cause damage to his marriage and to you.

      Really? In what way does telling the OP this do ANYTHING to avoid damaging his marriage or the OP. I mean beyond the fact of denying her an opportunity that should good for her career, I mean.

      What POSSIBLE benefit can you see coming from this disclosure? What POSSIBLE reduction of harm could come of this disclosure? NONE.

      How many stories have we read where men convince themselves that woman are attracted to them over the smallest interaction? She smiled! She handed me a folder! OMG she’s in love with me!

      It’s a decent bet that that is EXACTLY what he’s doing, and he’s trying to give the OP a “chance” to confirm this, and act on it.

  64. A Pinch of Salt*

    Ummm I would like to know if my husband was so hard up for a co-worker that he can’t be around her. In addition to HR, may I recommend notifying his wife? If you’re feeling generous, maybe a “I’ll wait 24 hours to tell your wife so you can give her a heads up and start begging.”

    1. Fran Fine*

      OP should absolutely NOT contact this man’s wife for all the reasons Alison gave for why the company in one of today’s earlier letters should not have contacted their employee’s wife when he was behaving inappropriately at work and had to be fired.

      1. Bernice Clifton*

        This. I also think it’s a lot easier to say that someone would want to know if they were his wife.

        For one thing, you’re an outside observer already coming from a place where you believe this happened. Secondly, this guy’s wife isn’t responsible for her husband’s predatory behavior.

    2. Observer*

      No, the OP should most definitely NOT contact the wife.

      There is no scenario where it does the OP any good, and a LOT of ways that it could go bad. And for what?

  65. Colorado*

    Fuck this guy. This infuriates me so much. As a 49 year old woman in general and also being in a (professional) male dominated field for 29 years of that, I am sick to death of men and their dicks getting away with such bullshit. Women’s careers have been held back and sabotaged because of this crap. Keep it in your pants dude and STFU. Ugh.

    What did he hope to gain by telling this to the OP? Relief? No – to put the onus on her now. You have nothing to be embarrassed about. I’m so sorry you’re dealing with this.

    1. Nina Bee*

      Probably a high likelihood this guy is also one of those “there’s no racism/sexism/ableism (etc)… we should just hire the most qualified people” types

  66. Selina Luna*

    Yuk. It’s times like this that make me glad to be sapiosexual. If I had had any attraction toward the boss, it would have flown out the window with that ludicrously stupid comment.

  67. Another Random Internet Person*

    Something similar but much milder happened to me and I’ve always struggled with how to phrase why it was gross. Several co-workers and I were going to lunch, two backed out, third ghosted me and went on his own. Fine, it was confusing, busy day, etc. Later he pulled me aside to say he couldn’t go to lunch with only me (the only woman in IT) because he doesn’t do things with only himself and another woman to respect his wife. I think it’s the lack of agency that bothers me the most. You can’t “trust yourself” to what, not assault me?

    1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

      Oh god, that’s revolting.

      It’s not respect either. It’s actually disrespectful to your spouse to say they’re the only force in the universe that can stop you falling underwear-first onto the nearest warm body.

      It’s gross.

    2. Shiba Dad*

      You can’t “trust yourself” to what, not assault me?

      Could be that. He may not trust you and think that you will accuse him of sexual harassment, because reasons.

      Either way it is gross.

      1. Despachito*

        Or he might just not want to give his wife a reason to worry that he goes out alone with another woman?

        I can understand this, and do not see any malice in it, on the contrary. I do not go to pubs to chit-chat one-on-one with my male friends out of respect for their wives (who are also my friends).

        1. Le Sigh*

          Your male friends aren’t losing career opportunities and advancement when you don’t go to the pub with them.

        2. LizB*

          That is indicative of a pretty disturbing view of cross-gender interactions, honestly. I hang out with my male friends one-on-one, including going out to eat with them, and my husband doesn’t feel disrespected. He likewise goes to the movies or out for drinks with his female friends, and I don’t feel disrespected. Why in the world would spending time with friends be disrespectful to your partner? Do you actually think, or would your friends’ wives actually think, that Something Might Be Happening? Or is it all just about The Impropriety? Either way, it’s pretty gross.

          1. Allegra*

            Thank you! Speaking to, working with, or having social interactions with people of a different gender is not a magical infidelity equation!

            1. UKDancer*

              This so much. In my last job pre-Covid I travelled a lot with my then boss. He was married and I was engaged. We went to a lot of European cities and even sometimes stayed on after the business meeting for sightseeing together. At no point did either of us feel overwhelmed with lust. He was a good travelling companion and we worked well together but that was it. Merely being in proximity doesn’t mean you’re going to have an affair with someone. You actually have to find them attractive and want something to happen. Ex boss and I still have virtual coffee regularly and we are continuing not to have a wild and torrid affair.

        3. Bernice Clifton*

          There are benefits to going to get coffee or lunch with a coworker 1:1 out of the office. You can get a chance to know them better in a social situation, you can speak more candidly about projects, clients, development, and office politics.

          If you think your husband is inherently disrespectful to you by recognizing that and treating his women coworkers the same as men by having lunch with them, that sounds like a You problem.

        4. Tali*

          Huh?? Are you Mike Pence???
          Most people in 2021 go out on work trips, to pubs, to chit chat with coworkers and friends of the opposite sex who may or may not be married and it is fine, because we are adults who can control who we have sex with (seriously why does this need to be spelled out)!

        5. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

          That’s the kind of viewpoint that leads to ‘I won’t have meetings alone with a woman/travel with a woman/socialise with a woman at work because something something disrespectful to marriage’

          Which Alison has letters about.

          Unless you refuse to meet with anybody of any gender alone then it’s sexist and damaging af.

          (I’ve gone on overnight trips with one of my best friends, who is male. My husband doesn’t worry. Additionally since I’m pansexual, me avoiding being alone with the gender I’m attracted to would be daft)

      2. fhqwhgads*

        Too late. Having the conversation is sexual harassment. He should think she will accuse him of sexual harassment because he literally just did it.

      3. Another Random Internet Person*

        I was being angrily flippant when I typed that. What I meant is – it doesn’t matter if you can’t “trust yourself” to not act on feelings because there are two people in the equation here and one is entirely uninterested in you. The end result being, you do anything sexual to me and it’s assault because * I * have a choice here. It is exhausting to be treated like a non-person and I get a bit testy about it sometimes.

  68. HS Teacher*

    I am glad Alison focused in on what, for me, was the biggest issue with this. He is acting like you have no control over weather or not y’all hook up. What the actual heck?
    So he is not only denying you an opportunity that could be good for your future because of his misogyny, but he doesn’t think you have the ability to resist his advances? Squick.

  69. MissBaudelaire*

    Mmmmm, yuck.

    This guy is a creep. Even worse, he’s one of those creeps who assumes that he’s just such a great guy. He was honest, after all! He told you you’re attractive, after all! It’s really a compliment, after all!

    Seriously. You didn’t do anything wrong, OP. I’m sorry that it’s worked out this way.

  70. Little Lobster*

    Hm. Honestly, I’d think about consulting with a lawyer. Not for this situation where he’s declining to hire you for a spot in his new business. For the existing situation: He might have consciously sabotaged your career trajectory at your current job on the basis of your sex. If he decided not to give you a promotion because that would put the two of you in close contact and he didn’t want that because he’s attracted to you? That’s discrimination.

    It’s worth exploring your legal options.

  71. Boof*

    Uhhhhg, some truths should never be shared. “I have a crush on [someone I have authority over]” just needs to be kept private forever and ever, and should never be used to make professional decisions!!!!

  72. LondonLady*

    Awful. Suggest you say when next in 1:1 that you want to reassure him that you feel zero attraction to him and are happily married, so would be a safe hire if circumstances change. (No need to add that you have no intention of working for him ever again!)

  73. yala*

    ” He said he wanted to be honest with me because it has nothing to do with my work.”

    It doesn’t?

    Huh. Then…that…kinda seems…illegal?

  74. Purple Cat*

    And you know this guy is patting himself on the back for being a “Nice Guy” because he didn’t ACT on it.
    Instead he dumped all of this emotional baggage onto LW AND is sabotaging her professional development because he can’t handle himself appropriately.

  75. Jedi Sentinel Bird*

    Wow, what a creepo. Just imagine how more awkward/uncomfortable it would be if he put you on his company and then told you about his creepy thoughts. Yuck. Like the other posters, you should apply for his job. Hopefully, he stays away from you. I would tell him what he said was completely inappropriate to you and probably say a few Choice words telling him to stay back and not get around me.

  76. Jean*

    I bet this guy also doesn’t understand why #metoo happened and why women keep railroading poor men with allegations of sexual impropriety at work. He basically loaded a career-suicide gun and handed it to you, rather than just tell you thanks but all the positions at the new company are already filled. The mind boggles.

    1. MissBaudelaire*

      It would have been just as easy, in fact, simpler to say “I’m sorry, OP, I don’t have any openings. Why don’t I keep your resume on file, in case something comes up?”

      That’s it. That’s all he had to say. It wouldn’t have been a lie, either.

      But. No. He had to take a sharp turn in Butthead Town.

  77. Jacey*

    OP, I’m really sorry this happened to you. I don’t have concrete advice beyond what Alison already said, but I just wanted to comment that this is not your fault. It is not your fault that an adult human is so obsessed with his own emotions/physical reactions that he’s refusing to treat you like a full person. You do not in any way deserve this treatment. I’m sending you good wishes, and I hope your career continues to flourish!

  78. Employee#5*

    I am trying to put my finger on something I can’t quite clarify…I agree that this was wrong and sexist and should not have happened. But from many of the comments, it seems some people agree that he has the right to make the decision he did, but just shouldn’t have told her and instead should have come up with another reason he would not hire her. So, it’s okay to do it, it’s just not okay to explicitly say you are doing it?

    1. Jacey*

      Personally, I think it’s crappy of him to make the decision that way at all, but if he WAS going to make the decision to limit her career because of his crush, he could at least have refrained from telling her about the crush. IMO, it’s not “fine to do but not to tell” so much as it is “if you’re gonna do that, at least don’t make it worse.”

      1. River Otter*

        He is not limiting her career. She has many career options that she can pursue. OP is not entitled to work at this guy’s company just bc she wants to. I bet she’s been rejected for jobs before, and those people were not limiting her career, either.

        1. HereKittyKitty*

          Are you arguing that discriminatory hiring practices should be legal because other jobs are available that may not discriminate?

          1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

            And because the (insert protected category) are not entitled to any job they apply to! Freaking lovely.

            1. Despachito*

              But you are indeed NOT entitled to ANY (= EVERY) job you apply to, whatever category you may belong in!

              Almost everybody has been somewhere along their working path refused when applying for a job, sometimes it might have been because of discrimination, and some other times not.

              1. Software Dev*

                But if he would have hired her if she were a man, that is by definition gender based discrimination.

                1. Despachito*

                  But what if he would have hired her if she were another woman he did not have the crush at?

                  (Which we do not have enough information to tell)

              2. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

                As multiple commenters have explained, being told “no you cannot work here, because I have a boner for you, and yes that’s the only reason why you can’t” just… hits different, as they say.

                I dare say this is not too far removed from saying “you cannot work here because I don’t want any ” (race/gender/sexual orientation/age group) “working at my company.” If I have to explain why *that* is wrong, I give up.

        2. socks*

          The problem with this dude deciding not to hire OP isn’t so much the impact on OP’s career options (I agree she’ll probably be fine), but the *aggregate* impact on *women’s* career options if we decide it’s OK for men to refuse to hire women they’re attracted to. That’s why we have anti-descrimination laws!

          (And that’s without getting into the issues with *telling* her that’s why he didn’t hire her….)

          1. BabyElephantWalk*

            Exactly this. It’s not a one time thing. This is a systemic issue, and he is feeding into a system of discrimination.

        3. GrooveBat*

          She is not entitled to work at any company she wants to, but she IS entitled to a fair, unbiased, non-discriminatory consideration of her qualifications wherever she applies. She didn’t get that from this oaf.

          1. Despachito*

            Technically, the job was already taken when she applied, and the boss did not have any obligation to tell her about the opening.

    2. Purt's Peas*

      I am also disturbed by this conclusion–it’s really not ok to do it. He has a significant responsibility toward LW as her current manager to not discriminate against her in this way, and would have a responsibility as a hiring manager to not discriminate against her in this way either.

      Just because he _also_ sexually harassed her doesn’t make the discrimination-without-harassment automatically ok.

      1. Despachito*

        I’d absolutely agree that he has a responsibility towards LW as her CURRENT manager, and from this point of view, it was very wrong to tell her about the crush. And if he let his crush have an impact on her work as his subordinate, this would be VERY wrong too.

        But this does not seem to be the case (as she says she was completely unaware of it until the meeting in the cafe), and I therefore assume that he did not discriminate against her in the current job, otherwise she would mention it.

        On the other hand, he has (in my opinion ) NO obligations work-wise towards her in his NEW job. The dynamics changed, he is no more her boss, and it would be absurd to think he has an obligation to offer jobs to all his former coworkers.

        So in my opinion his only real (but really big) mistake was to tell her about the crush.

    3. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

      So, it’s okay to do it, it’s just not okay to explicitly say you are doing it?

      I almost feel like the letter is the story, and the real reason is something else. Like the guy was trying to tell OP “It’s not you, it’s me,” and just fumbled himself into a sexist rejection.

      Hang the cad either way, but it wouldn’t surprise me at all to discover that he’s not attracted to her and was trying to compliment her and let her down at the same time.

      1. Observer*

        That’s almost MORE gross.

        Does he really think that she is incapable of an honest assessment that she’s not the right match? That she needs to be “let down easy”? And that essentially blaming her for being “too attractive” actually feels like being “let down easy”?! Because if he does. . . wow!

    4. Elbe*

      I agree with you that too many people here seem to have that mindset. It’s disturbing how many people think that the best way to deal with a workplace crush is to just to deny the crush job opportunities so that you don’t have to take responsibility for your own feelings and actions.

      I also think that others are pointing out that his decision to say it out loud, to her face, is an additional indication of poor professional judgement. And also maybe an indication that he was, in fact, actually intentionally opening the conversation to gauge her feelings for him. Tacking on a “but I don’t want to act on it” does seem like it could have just been a ploy to a) seem like a decent guy while b) letting her know he’s thinking about having an affair with her. It’s an additional layer of gross.

        1. HereKittyKitty*

          Point to me the comment where someone explicitly says she deserves the job just because she wanted it? Again- are you arguing people should discriminate against their employees based on their personal feelings?

        2. Elbe*

          …what? No one ever said that wanting a job means that you’re entitled to it.

          The LW says, “He said he wanted to be honest with me because it has nothing to do with my work.” This guy literally told her – to her face – that his decision not to hire her wasn’t work-related. That’s completely unethical.

    5. Falling Diphthong*

      I think in the messiness of real life, one person can one time have two equally qualified candidates and go with Alex over Chris for less-than-glorious reasons. Like, Chris’s voice hits hiring manager’s last nerve, or Chris’s eyebrows are just like hiring manager’s ex’s eyebrows and now HM can’t unsee it.

      Ideal world: Hiring manager gets over it and doesn’t let these things affect their decision.

      Not ideal but sometimes the world isn’t: HM doesn’t hire Chris but it was a one-off they privately own as irrational.
      Common: HM thinks up a different reason, and convinces themselves that the objective rational reason is the real reason and not the gut response talking. (For example in politics, whether voters value experience or new ideas more depends on whether they like the candidate, not vice versa.)

      Not ideal and affects the world: HM doesn’t hire Alex and it was for a reason that fits in with a pattern of discrimination. (For example on Survivor, nonwhite women get voted out first in numbers far greater than their presence on the show. It’s not for being not-white-men, though–it’s because they just didn’t fit in as well.)

      WTF HM: Doesn’t hire Chris and confides in Chris the less than glorious personal reasons, so this can be Chris’s problem going forward, HM was just protecting himself and gets brownie points for telling Chris how Chris failed. (“The problem, Chris, is that you are the hotness and only a layer of management above us has kept me from harassing you before now.”)

      1. River Otter*

        What’s that saying about why stories get rejected from publishers? Sometimes it’s because a character is named after your ex’s cat? Sorry Chris and OP, sometimes you don’t get the job you want and it’s not always for a good reason.

        1. HereKittyKitty*

          Women weren’t allowed in the workforce for many a bad reason, that doesn’t mean that practice wasn’t discriminatory.

        2. Elbe*

          I can’t tell if you’re intentionally trolling or not.

          The odds of a single person disliking their ex’s cat’s name enough to reject you is pretty slim. Cat name discrimination isn’t really a thing and so, while it’s shady, it’s unlikely to cause systemic issues within a society.

          But for a woman (who is also maybe young and maybe conventionally attractive and maybe working in a male dominated industry) the odds that many people would have feelings is very high. A single person may encounter many instances of this particular discrimination in her life, and it’s absolutely something that would have large consequences on her career. How are young women supposed to get a fair shake in a culture where young women are so objectified? At some point, you have to just hold men accountable for managing their own feelings fairly.

          Women deal with the same one-off prejudices that men do… and they have gender discrimination ON TOP of that. This isn’t just a “we all deal with unfairness in life” thing.

        3. Falling Diphthong*

          Any publisher with half a grain of sense is going to NOT agree to have coffee with this hypothetical rejected author so they can explain “Look, it’s not you, it’s me–You remind me of an ex and I just can’t retain any control over my actions when that happens. It would be so terrible if we were working closely together and then I started replaying old arguments with my ex’s cat but with you in her place. Alone. In the office. Late at night. With all that intensity…”

          If someone agrees to an informational meeting about his new venture and then he says “Look, Chris, I’m going to level with you: You will never get this job because of your (gender/race/religion/ethnic background)” then that would be both a) a terrible thing for him to be doing because discrimination is bad and simultaneously b) a sign that he really doesn’t have the self control and ability to retain a veneer of plausible deniability that you want in your firm’s hiring manager.

    6. Boof*

      I don’t think it would have been ok for him to not hire her for non-professional reasons and not tell her, either, but if he did that likely no one would be the wiser unless he makes a habit out of it.
      I mean it’s a bad thing to do; but why oh why if you do something that’s bad does someone then go ahead and /tell the victim/ about it???

    7. Observer*

      So, it’s okay to do it, it’s just not okay to explicitly say you are doing it?

      No, it’s not OK that he did it. But TELLING her about it is, in this instance, exponentially worse.

    8. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      Yeah, I’ll be honest – as someone who was on the receiving end of discrimination in Home Country, as were several of my friends – not being told the real reason is NOT better, if the real reason is discriminatory. I disagree with the comments that say it would’ve all been fine if he hadn’t told OP the truth. The truth would’ve still existed.

      In my and my friends’ cases, we were denied various educational opportunities. With me, I was accepted and had to send in the paperwork for a boarding prep school, and the paperwork just plain never came. With my friends, they applied to a higher ed institution of their choice and (as was the process in Home Country) went on to take the entrance exams, received a failing grade on the very first exam, which meant they did not get into the school. We all knew that the real reason was that these schools did not accept ethnically Jewish applicants. To this day I have a hard time explaining this to my fellow immigrants of other ethnicities. “How do you know your friend didn’t just do poorly on the exam?” (Uh, my friend had placed in the top ten on the nationwide math olympiad a few years before, so yeah I find it fishy that he would suddenly fail a math exam.) How do I know my paperwork wasn’t just lost in the mail? I do. More importantly, the school knew damn well what it was doing.

      Regardless of what this guy says or doesn’t say, he has already started his new business with a discriminatory hiring decision. I guarantee you he will continue down that road as he hires more people. How he’s going to explain that away is irrelevant.

  79. Leg MIA*

    “Oh,” said OP, undeterred, brightly.
    “That, would not be a problem at all,
    you, good sir, are rather unsightly.
    Your shoe size is small,
    and your mouth rather smelly.
    Your biceps – your triceps!
    They constitute jelly.
    Your occasional missteps
    I’d kindly forgive
    As I’ve always been told
    To live and let live.
    But your manner is cold
    and your ethic is lacking
    A come-on from you
    Would thus have me packing.
    That toupee, that ‘hairdo’
    It’s almost obscene
    Kindly back off, sir,
    you’re causing a scene.
    Sir, there is no need to fret
    Millions you could pay me,
    We’d never share a bed.”
    OP was filled with glee.

    “Now, you’ve been reassured,
    your delusions cured,
    I trust I’ll start tomorrow?
    If you’re not sick with sorrow?”

  80. Bruise Campbell*

    Like my son used to say when he was little but overheard me talking, “Mom, he’s a juicebag”

  81. Elielle*

    Other than what Alison has said above, you are being discriminated against during a hiring process, no matter how informal that might be, based on your gender being the one he happens to be attracted to. This is incredibly misogynistic, especially now that he’s projectile vomited his grand declaration of love in your face, he put the burden of renegotiating boundaries on you. Do not feel bad for not reading his mind. You have done nothing wrong.
    If you trust your current HR department and the reporting process, you should report him for sexual harassment so that you can spend the next two months not dealing with this creep.

  82. Veryanon*

    Jesus Rollerblading Christ. That’s it, that’s all I’ve got. What an unmitigated piece of excrement.

  83. NutmegS*

    So there’s already a ton of good advice but I wanted to add: please don’t talk to him about his business anymore LW! You seemed really interested in the business and I’m sure you have a ton of great ideas, and he shouldn’t profit off of *any* of it. Don’t give him unpaid labour!!

  84. Isabel Archer*

    His statement that he “can’t do that to his wife” — gosh, how gallant! — is pure gold. What can’t you do to your wife, good sir? Make an unwanted advance on a professional colleague that would be rejected so hard you’d end up in traction? Please, by all means, do spare your *wife* that humiliation.

  85. Prof*


    Unfortunately I think everyone is a bit optimistic about how HR will respond to what is basically going to be a he said/she said situation. He will deny it, and then nothing will be done…

  86. Lils*

    OP, I just wanted to say how awesome you are for taking the initiative and pitching yourself to fill a role at this new company. You thought it through and were strategic and bold and I admire you greatly. Please remember this was a badass move and you should do it again when you see an opportunity. Your boss is an asshole and he ruined it for you, but that’s his fault, not yours.

  87. Dreamachine*

    For those who haven’t heard it, Dan Harmon’s public apology to Megan Ganz, for how he acted out his crush on her in a TV writers room, and acknowledging the toll it took on her career, is an excellent example of accountability, transparency, and vulnerability in describing these issues. Your boss’ was the opposite.

    This is a perfect example of how the “nice guy” act can be excellent cover for entitled jerks to do what they want without repercussions. He used the appearance of vulnerability to cover his discriminating against her, and from where I sit it reeks of a lame attempt to plant a seed for possible future romantic overtures. Having established his intentions were pure, if you’d shown the slightest interest, it would be a short, fraught “what are we doing” until the inevitable “the heart wants what it wants.” There are a million plausible reasons he could give as to why it wouldn’t work, or he could have kindly accepted your application and then followed up later to say they went another direction. Inconvenient crushes do form, adults who don’t wish to hurt others can easily navigate it by keeping it to themselves. By telling you he couldn’t pursue something romantic, when you asked him about a job, was actually him coming on to you, and as your boss, and that is not ok.

    1. River Otter*

      Declining to offer OP a job at his new company is not taking a toll on her career. That is ridiculous hyperbole. She has a job that he has no control over because he is leaving. There are also multiple other jobs, should she wish to take her career in one of those directions. OP’s career is not limited because one guy is not going to offer her one job.

      1. Dreamachine*

        I’m not sure if you meant to respond to my comment, but I didn’t say anything about it taking a toll on her career.

      2. Delphine*

        Dan Harmon’s behavior took a toll on Megan Ganz’s career.

        But honestly–I take issue with your suggestion that it’s “hyperbole” to imply that losing out on opportunities doesn’t take a toll on a person’s career. Women have explained at LENGTH how sexism and misogyny in the workplace affect women’s careers both directly and indirectly in a myriad of ways. Restricting women’s opportunities is always going to have an impact. You can minimize it to “one guy,” but it’s not that. It’s never one guy and one woman, it’s a pattern.

        1. Dreamachine*

          Oh, I see, yes, I said it took a toll in that instance. And absolutely, losing out on opportunities, and an insidious second-guessing of the motives of all those who professionally interact with you (a natural outcome of learning this kind of thing), is the definition of toll taking.

      3. HereKittyKitty*

        Correction- she has a job that he’s had control over the entire time he’s been there. We have no way of knowing if this “crush” of his, and that he self-admits he has no control over, has cost her projects that might result in her having to work more closely with him, has cost her promotions that may have resulted in working more closely with him (or even moving her off his team, which would make him sad), or if she’s missed out on conferences, after-work happy hours or any other access out of his “uncontrollable” crush on her. OPs career could absolutely have become stunted if he consistently has done those things and would absolutely become stunted if there were a pattern of managers that denied her roles based on their crush on her.

      4. Elbe*

        What? Getting in on the ground level at a promising start up is one of the best ways to boost your career. Even if the start up doesn’t work out, it’s great experience. This very well could end up being a significant opportunity to miss out on.

        One person deciding not to offer another person an opportunity is literally how careers get limited. It’s odd that you’re choosing to frame this as an single, insolated incident. Because that’s all a career is – single, isolated opportunities that add up to more over time. I’m not sure why you think that this would be different?

        The mechanisms that ensure someone has a fair chance all rely on individual people making fair decisions. Just as no snowflake feels responsible for an avalanche, a lot of people don’t feel like their specific shortcomings and poor decisions contribute to systemic inequality, but it absolutely does. It’s the only things that CAN contribute, because companies are just groups of individual people.

      5. Ally McBeal*

        How do you know that his PREVIOUS actions, based on this apparently long-standing attraction, haven’t already taken their toll on her career?

  88. HotSauce*

    How spectacularly gross. I cannot stress enough how much I support Allison’s advice to talk to HR. This guy sounds like a major creep with extremely poor judgement and a severe lack of professionalism. I’d keep my distance from him until he’s gone.

  89. raida7*

    To be clear, the letter writer didn’t say he thought she’d jump into bed with him.
    He said that HIS behaviour would fall short of how he wants to behave. And the HE isn’t going to put HIMSELF in the position to be right by his crush constantly including on work trips.

    I think he shouldn’t have said anything while he’s their manager for two months, but I don’t fault him for being honest – he’s managed to be professional and friendly for a long time now and is scared he’d fail to do that in a more intimate work environment so he’s avoiding the situation at all. His behaviour at work after this point would be most telling, instead of us judging what he thinks or will do because LW didn’t lean into his attraction. There’s a good chance that actually he’s just humiliated himself and will not be an arsehole about it at work for 2 months.

    IMO He should have given a different reason, including that he’s already got someone. And at a later date, after speaking with his wife to get it off his chest, he could consider if there’s value in telling LW since she genuinely would have been an asset to the team.

    1. I WORKED on a Hellmouth*

      You don’t get to tell your direct report that they give you boners, dude. Also: You not only CAN control your lustful urges and treat all employees professionally, you HAVE to do so, and you don’t get to discriminate against them because wah your boner.

    2. Observer*

      I think he shouldn’t have said anything while he’s their manager for two months, but I don’t fault him for being honest

      No, you absolutely SHOULD fault him for “being honest”. The fact that he told her this says that this is not about his trying to behave himself appropriately. It’s about him trying to BLAME HER for his issue. Either that, or it’s a come on (and he’s going to blame her for the results if she takes him up on it.)

      Because there is absolutely NO purpose in him telling her about this. If he REALLY means it that he doesn’t want to do this to his wife, the what is the purpose of telling the OP about his crush? What actionable information did he share? What positive outcome can come of this disclosure? The answer to all of these questions is absolutely NOTHING.

      He should NEVER share this, not with his wife (if he is sincere about not hurting her) and CERTAINLY not with the OP, unless he thinks she’s up for getting divorced and / or an affair while still married.

      1. GrooveBat*

        Yeah, there is no way he should share this with his wife. It’s just another way to make himself feel better by hurting an innocent woman under the guise of “honesty and transparency.”

  90. Ezri Dax*

    Gah, I’d be SO tempted to share this incident with the employee the boss DID hire, to warn them what kind of creep they’ll be working for, and in the hope that it would scare off anyone else he wanted to bring on. (Not saying that is a good idea, just that I’d want to.)

  91. SnappinTerrapin*

    He shouldn’t have said it to you, or to anyone likely to repeat it to you, because it put a burden on you that you shouldn’t bear.

    He was absolutely right to admit *to himself* that it would be a mistake to hire you. In the long run, he saved you from an even more uncomfortable situation. Given his weakness, which he recognized, hiring you would have risked harming you, his wife, and his business.

    For all the reasons Alison pointed out, he absolutely should not have told you what he was thinking. He should have realized that doing so generated another set of issues. He should have respected you enough to have borne his burden silently, without creating this unnecessary “ick” factor.

    Every time I try to imagine his thought process, with some effort to look for good intentions, I keep coming back to the same conclusion. He should have kept this piece of information to himself.

    1. GrooveBat*

      “He was absolutely right to admit *to himself* that it would be a mistake to hire you. In the long run, he saved you from an even more uncomfortable situation. Given his weakness, which he recognized, hiring you would have risked harming you, his wife, and his business.”

      Hard nope. There’s nothing noble or self aware about anything he did. He discriminated against an otherwise qualified applicant and sexually harassed her to boot. “Given his weakness,” as you put it, he should maybe reconsider his own fitness as a manager and a leader.

    2. Software Dev*

      Wow. “Yeah it’s fine for men not to hire women they think are hot, it’s really for the best” is certainly a take.

  92. Observer*

    I haven’t read most of the comments, but one thought: You’ve clearly dodged a bullet. I know that the situation is infuriating, and I really sympathize with you.

    But this guy is a predator, a jerk and an idiot. He also clearly won’t take responsibility for his own behavior. That’s not someone you want to work for, work with closely nor be dependent on for your income. And, unless he gets his head (and character) together, his company is going to fail. Quite possibly spectacularly enough that you will be glad that no mud can stick to you.

  93. Middle Aged IT Guy*

    That guy is seriously creepy.
    I am an IT vendor, married, heterosexual male, middle-aged. Sometimes I’ll get crushes on my female clients. In fact there’s one I have a bit of a crush on right now. You know what I do about it? NOTHING. I keep it professional, I don’t flirt, I check myself to make sure that I’m not crossing any professional boundaries.

    Even if I weren’t married I wouldn’t be hitting on my co-workers or clients, or denying them professional opportunities because of how I feel about them.

    Your former boss is gross, and I’m sorry he dumped that info on you. He should have kept his mouth SHUT. If I told a female client or co-worker that I had a crush on them, even if I never had any intention of doing anything about it, they’d be creeped out. And rightly so!

  94. MsInMS*

    It is his start up, he can hire or not hire as he sees fit. Is the main problem here that he told the OP his feelings?

    1. cwhf*

      Yes. He could have just said he didn’t have a position for her. By dumping his attraction on her, he is being incredibly selfish and creepy, and she has to work 2 more months with him as her boss. Completely inappropriate.

    2. quill*

      Yup, it’s inappropriate because he’s her boss (still) and it means she can’t rely on him for professionalism down the road if their paths cross again.

      But it’s also a problem that his hiring decisions involve his pants to such a degree.

    3. Allegra*

      And because indicating that he has these feelings, uses them to influence his business decisions, and “doesn’t trust himself not to” act on them, all casts a retroactive shadow on the entire time he’s been her superior. OP has nothing but his word that he hasn’t treated her differently than colleagues because of it.

    4. Dragon_Toad*

      The main issue is that he would’ve hired her, but decided not to, not because a better candidate showed up or because he had concerns about her ability to do the job, but because he thought she was hot and couldn’t control himself around her.

      Not only is he basically declaring “I’m a casual predator with NO ability to be professional and do my job”, but he’s also being so discriminatory, a lawyer would have a field day. Under NO circumstances can you refuse to hire someone solely because they are good looking and you can’t handle it.

  95. cwhf*

    It’s hard to say what’s more infuriating, his assumption that if he turns his charm toward a woman she immediately uncontrollably swoons and falls in bed with him (free will, marriage and professionalism be damned) or that he full well did this in an equivalent of a deniable dick pic move to judge her interest in some hanky panky since he’s clearly been hot for her all this time (and he is of course irresistible) because he knows he’s outta there in 2 months and he doesn’t have to care about how gross it make her feel.

    OP, I hope you go to HR. This guy is disgusting and I wouldn’t be shocked if his record is not clean prior to this AT ALL.

  96. LGC*

    …I salute his honesty? (Like, this is half sarcastic and half not. At least he avoided the likely trainwreck that would have been you working for him…but in the process he caused a plane crash.)

    Also, I know Alison avoided one four-letter word, but I’m going to use another one: holy rape culture Batman. He said that he couldn’t control himself around you with his entire chest. I might be part of the woke mafia, but woooooooow he really woke up that morning, did his routine, got dressed, and decided that yes, today was an awesome day to confess his burning, barely controllable lust for you.

    Because apparently, he thinks he’s the lead in a terrible romantic comedy.

    Yeah, I’m seconding the calls that you have no responsibility for not picking up on this or for his feelings in general.

    1. SubbyP*

      “I might assault you, so you can’t work for me. Somehow declaring this makes me feel mature and responsible rather than incredibly creepy.”

  97. American Job Venter*

    ” did all the good candidates happen to be men”

    Oh this one again. I’ve been hearing it for decades. How likely is it, unless women are simply inferior candidates to men?

    Besides, the boss did tell LW it’s because she’s female.

    I mean, I don’t expect this objection to convince you when many others have eloquently presented painful examples of the actual existence of sexism and how it has warped their lives, but the fact that you’re defending this boss, defending the practice of judging women by our perceived fuckability instead of our work skills, is so literally incredible I couldn’t let it pass without comment.

  98. TiaraWearingPrincess*

    I can see smoke coming out of Allison’s ears from here. Lol

    But seriously, this guy is an ass.

  99. American Job Venter*

    ” did all the good candidates happen to be men”

    Oh this one again. I’ve been hearing it for decades. How likely is it, unless women are simply inferior candidates to men?

    Besides, the boss did tell LW it’s because she’s female.

    I mean, I don’t expect this objection to convince you when many others have eloquently presented painful examples of the actual existence of sexism and how it has warped their lives, but the fact that you’re defending this boss, defending the practice of judging women by our perceived attractiveness instead of our work skills, is so literally incredible I couldn’t let it pass without comment.

  100. men, meh!*

    What an assshole! I’ve heard the same garbage when someone is trying to justify hiring a less qualified man. Crapshoot as to whether he is attracted to you – or using some dumb@$$ excuse for not hiring you and going with a GOB (Good old boy) instead. Hope you apply for and get his job!

  101. laser99*

    Anyway, what it really boils down is this: The LW ought to see to it that his wife finds out. She can certainly make his life more miserable than HR ever could.

  102. Attorney advocate*

    I recommend speaking with an attorney. Depending on your state, you may have a sex discrimination case against him for the new position. Contact your state bar’s attorney referral service and ask to be connected with a plaintiffs’ employment attorney on workplace sex discrimination. It’s amazing what an attorney can get through a demand letter.

    And ps. I’m sorry this happened to you. It’s not your fault. He sucks!

  103. The Witch of Sanity's Annex*

    what in the actual fleahopping folderol…
    I mean, could he not have just said “Sorry, OP. I’m not looking for employees just now.” – would have been 100% acceptable and professional. Oh, no. This dippydoo had to profess his pants to her. Sheesh.

    you 100% dodged a MOUNTAIN of red flags on this one OP.

  104. Niki T*

    Have to disagree here, my response might not be liked. My father was a real estate broker who left his company and took one his agents with him to start up a new agency. My mom begged him not to bring her along, he did anyway. The two spent hours together getting the business off the ground. Working that closely builds an intimacy that excludes spouses. The two had an affair, broke up their marriages and families, and married each other. Lasted 10 years… and for what? This guy was trying to prevent that. Maybe he was being honest so she would know it wasn’t due to poor work performance or lack of skills.

    1. Observer*

      Maybe he was being honest so she would know it wasn’t due to poor work performance or lack of skills.

      Why exactly would he do that? There is simply no way that there can be any positive outcome of his telling her this. Which says to me that he is NOT acting in good faith.

    2. Dragon_Toad*

      “I’m going to assume for zero reason that you’re as unprofessional as I am, and if you DID suddenly develop the hots for me after all this time, you would also be as unable to control your urges as I am, and we would have an affair. That absurd hypothetical with no basis in reality would be bad, and I want to prevent that from happening, so I’m going to deny you a career opportunity I admit to your face you are the first pick for”.

      Yeah…doesn’t really hold water.

    3. Marie*

      According to this logic, there could never be a two person or close team working together because of sexual desires. Who gets to make this decision? The man gets to choose that he’s too attractive for the potential female candidate, so he doesn’t hire her? Lol. Not all people are heterosexual, too.

    4. American Job Venter*

      Because your father lacked the self-control to keep from having an affair, and thus to keep from betraying and harming your mother and you, does not justify punishing all women in the workplace.

    5. BabyElephantWalk*

      If your dad hadn’t had an affair with his agent, he would have found someone else to sleep with. Stop making discrimination ok.

  105. Rika*

    Maybe I’m paranoid, because I haven’t seen anyone else say this (although I haven’t read all the comments), but my first gut instinct when reading this was: could he be lying about his attraction in order to shut down this conversation as effectively as possible? The fact that OP never noticed the slightest sign of this crush would support that possibility.

    I mean, it’s just such an odd thing to say. I would imagine that if someone who’s married had a crush on someone else who was married, their subordinate no less, they’d be more hesitant to confess to it and if asked if they would hire them at their new company, would come up with a plausible excuse.

    I wasn’t there, but from reading this it just reeks like he doesn’t want to hire OP for whatever reason and wanted to make sure the topic would be shut down with a BANG (and it worked).

  106. Anonymous Today*

    He had to say something to the OP since he’s taking someone else on the team with him. However, he could have said he decided to have Bob join him because (fill in the blank). Of course, he knows the real reason, but should have kept it to himself.

    I don’t think the OP should go to HR. The guy is leaving. I see no upside.

    Besides, maybe she can leverage the situation so that he will recommend that she be promoted to his old job when he leaves.

  107. SleepyWolverine*

    Poor OP. I’m a man myself, but I also lament the fact that SO MANY MEN out there are just abject creeps! I really hate that “I don’t trust myself around you” for the exact reasons Alison describes– it supposes that you have no agency at all in the hypothetical situation, so either he considers you to be some horny gold-digger who is going to jump at sleeping with the boss, or…he’s a secret sexual predator.

    I really hope this guy faces some sort of karmic retribution for this. Assholes who think they’re being Nice Guys are the literal worst.

  108. Jam Today*

    Guuuuuuuuuhhhh this sux.

    I was the person that the manager had a crush on and it put the brakes on my career for as long as I was working for him. He went from trying to convince me to have an affair with him to punishing me, either for saying no (which I eventually had to say out loud) or for his own embarrassment that he had behaved that way, or more likely some combination of both.

    I have no advice for how to handle this, since I handled it very badly myself, but the relief I felt when he was no longer at my company was immense. Actually I do have some advice: white-knuckle the next two months, then he’ll be gone, and other opportunities will open up elsewhere and you’ll be much better off.

    I’ll also say that, as gross as it is, this is not legally actionable and there is precedent for that: many years ago a dental hygienist sued her dentist employer for sex discrimination after he fired her for being too attractive, and judgement was found in his favor. The argument was that the discrimination wasn’t because she was a woman, but because she was *pretty*. A plain woman would not have been fired, therefore discrimination was not based on sex.

  109. Nanani*

    Just adding to the chorus – he’s sexist, you’re okay, he should rot under a pile of turnips, you deserve better, and none this is okay

  110. JessicaTate*

    The part that makes me all “flames on the side of my face” about this is the whole “I don’t trust myself not to act on it, so you don’t get the career opportunity.” Why the EFF should your career suffer because of HIS utter lack of basic adult self-regulation?? Men of the world, listen up:

    If you literally can’t CONTROL yourself on something as basic as not hitting on your employee, you should not be in any position of power whatsoever. None. Nada. Zip.

    When I hear this BS excuse (and you hear it ALL the time), all I can think is: Why the F*** have we let men be in charge of things this long? If men are so WEAK and unable to control their emotions, we should collectively demote them out of positions of power until each individual proves that he can control himself in the most basic of ways.

    The only advice I can give OP is, welcome to the fight against the patriarchy. This is what it looks like.

  111. BabyElephantWalk*

    I have to say, I’m more than a little disappointed at the amount of misogyny and need to justify situations in which it’s ok to sexually discriminate here in the comments.

  112. Miller _ admin*

    I suspect that he made the comment since he’s out the door. Think about what he’ll be like working for himself. I assume he’s behaved because he could be fired. Once he works for himself and doesn’t answer to anyone, he’s going to get in trouble. Talk about narcissism.

    I keep wanting to say there have been lawsuits where attractive women have been “let go” because the male colleagues cannot be mature adults. One was a Mercedes sales woman; the other a dental assistant?

  113. WTF*

    WTF!! This guy came outright and said all this??? Unbelievable!

    How do you get past the next 2 months?
    Be just barely Just be yourself and pretend the conversation never happened. Get over the next 2 months and also like someone suggested way above, talk to your manager’s manager that you’d like to apply for the current manager’s role when he moves out.

    I don’t agree with Alison’s advice on reaching out to HR. You will come across as the fox in sour grapes story! And this will create weird tension in the office while he’s here and also after he leaves. Do not discuss this with attraction business with anybody at work. You don’t want any limelight on the manager’s attraction to you, but you want all the limelight on your work and your capability and professional attitude.

    This guy’s behavior is not a reflection on you or your work or your professionalism but lack of all of those in the guy.

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