awful HR person is married to the owner, can I push my start date back to the fall, and more

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

1. HR person yells and calls people names — and is married to the owner

The owner’s wife holds the HR position at our company. There’s been an opening for an HR generalist, but every time someone is hired, they stay for 3-4 months and then quit because the only “responsibilities” they are given are interviewing, on-boarding, and payroll, and it’s not the position they were expecting from when they got hired. The company has also been hemorrhaging a lot of employees, which in part is due to poor decisions made by the higher-ups, as well as competing companies offering better pay. I’m staying because I like my coworkers and I don’t have the energy to search for another job at the moment.

The other day, the owner called my coworker and left a message. Before he hung up, his wife could be heard in the background saying, “[coworker’s name], that dumb bitch.” This isn’t the first time that she has been overhead calling people names. She’s also yelled at people, been really abrasive in general, and has been the cause of people quitting.

My coworker has been working for this company for a few years and has considered quitting over this since this isn’t the first time the owner’s wife has done this either — it’s just the first time that it’s been recorded. She has tried to raise the issue to the owner and other higher-ups, but nothing has been done. Is there anything that can be done, since we can’t take it to HR since HR is the aggressor?

Not if no one above her cares, and it sounds like no one does. This company sounds like a mess; your coworker has the right idea in thinking of leaving!

2. Can I push my start date back to the fall?

I accepted a new job at the end of June and set my start date for next Monday. (I was on a pre-planned vacation for two weeks, gave two weeks’ notice and took two weeks off.) I would really like to change my start date to be later. For example, starting in the fall so I could have the rest of the summer off would be so amazing! Is this something I can do? Would it make me look bad? Would this start me off on the wrong foot? How would I ask for something like this?

You can’t really ask for that at this point! Even just asking to bump your start date back by a week could be an inconvenience to them so close to your scheduled first day — they’ve made plans around having you there on Monday (like having training set up and projects that depend on your presence) — although they’d probably be willing to try to make it work if you needed them to. But asking at the last minute to bump it back all the way to the fall would be an enormous request since they’re counting on you being there to do the work they need done for the next two months. It’s the kind of thing that could sound so off that they might end up pulling your offer over it — it risks making you look flaky and like you’re not thinking about their needs or the commitment you made at all.

It would be different if you had a genuine and serious need for the request (for example, a medical emergency that you needed to handle before you could start). But even that isn’t something every employer would be able to accommodate.

3. How many interviews is too many for a promotion?

I’ve worked for a large organization for the past six years. I know that I’m well liked by colleagues, and that my supervisor and her bosses have been impressed by my work and leadership. I enjoy my job and am in the process of applying for a promotion. I’m well qualified for this role and have had multiple colleagues encourage me to apply.

Here’s my dilemma. The interview process that my supervisor and her bosses have laid out is borderline torturous. They chose to do an open recruitment so there are now external candidates I’m competing against. I submitted my application in early March. Since then, I’ve had one informal interview and four formal interviews (one of which required giving an on-the-spot presentation) and had to submit a writing sample. It’s now mid-July and they still haven’t made a decision. In fact, I haven’t heard a single thing about the position for the last two months. This week I finally asked about the status, and the response was that they’re still conducting interviews.

This is the second time I’ve experienced this. Last year I applied for a similar promotion that was (understandably) given to an internal candidate with a lot more seniority. I also had to go through the same interview process for that position, which is virtually identical to the one I’m applying for now. So in total, in the last two years I’ve sat for nine interviews, given two high pressure presentations, and submitted two writing samples in the attempt to get a promotion.

Given how highly my colleagues and clients seem to regard me, I don’t think it’s unreasonable to think I should be at the top of the list for this promotion, especially over an external candidate. There are no requirements of the job that I don’t have. I’ve also been told I’m a quick learner so if they did have hesitations, I’d like to think they’d provide training so I could grow in whatever skill I may be lacking.

I don’t want to say anything and jeopardize my chances at getting this promotion, but I am seeking reassurance that I’m not totally bananas for thinking this process is both crazy and disrespectful? If I get passed up for this promotion, I honestly don’t think I would ever apply for one again. I don’t want to leave my job but I’m starting to think I’ll have to if I ever want to advance in my career.

Yes, this is a lot. Five interviews is excessive for an internal move. I don’t agree that it’s a given that you should be at the top of their list (that depends on how similar the skills needed for the new role are to what they’ve seen from you in your current role, and sometimes external candidates can genuinely be stronger matches) but they should be treating you and your time with respect, which it doesn’t feel like they’re doing. I suspect they’ve decided that fairness means that you need to go through all the same steps as external candidates do, regardless of what they know of your work first-hand … but this is an overly long process for external candidates too. And it doesn’t excuse them leaving you hanging with no updates for two months, and then giving you a rather dismissive sounding “still conducting interviews” response when you asked.

4. People are talking about my short-term assignment like it’s permanent

I work for an independent team inside of a larger corporation. I am employed by the team, paid by the team, and love the work I do and the people I work with. (This is a common set-up in our industry.)

Last week, the person who does my job for the corporation (Susie) learned she needs surgery. My team leader asked me to help corporate during her recovery. Recognizing that this is an emergency and that helping the company ultimately helps my team, I agreed to help for the 6-7 weeks of her recovery. This means I am working part-time for my team and additional hours as needed to complete her tasks, paid by corporate.

While meeting with Susie, she made several comments about me potentially taking over parts of her task for good in the future and being glad she can take these things off her plate. I was surprised, but she has a lot going on so didn’t comment on it. The next day, our branch manager came up to me to say, “We’ve been talking about having you do this task for us for a while. I’m really glad you’re doing this. This is really exciting for our company!” He also listed ideas of things he thinks I should implement once I officially take over.

While I appreciate everyone’s enthusiasm, I am not interested in doing this long-term! Every time someone says “So you’re the new Susie!” I correct them and say, “Just temporarily while she’s recovering!” I have personal reasons for not wanting full-time work at this time and, as I said, I love working with my team. I have no intentions of leaving them to work for corporate.

I haven’t even officially stepped into this role yet and I’m already overwhelmed by everyone’s reactions to this news. So how do I manage the expectations of everyone else in the office, other than saying “this is just temporary!” in every conversation? I know another staff member said they would gladly do the task if they were given training and I’m glad to offer to help them if they have questions after they do training, but that’s the most I want to do for this role after this temp period ends.

As soon as possible, talk to the person who will be managing the work you’re picking up for Susie (i.e., whoever you’ll report to during the temporary assignment) and say, “I want to make sure we’re both on the same page about the length of this assignment. I’m happy to help out for the six to seven weeks that Susie is out, but I’ve multiple people have indicated that they think the arrangement is longer-term or even permanent, so I want to be sure everyone is clear that this is temporary and only until Susie returns.”

It’s also worth having the same conversation with your manager for the non-Susie work, to ensure she can reinforce that message if it comes up in her own conversations as well.

5. Telling employers I’m moving to join my boyfriend

My partner and I (both in our late 20s) have been in a long distance relationship for over five years. He lives in a big city about two and a half hours away from my small town.

I’ve been applying for jobs in his city off and on for over a year but have never heard back from any of them. I worry that it’s because hiring managers see that I don’t live in their area. I’ve considered mentioning my intention to move to the city in my cover letter but I worry I’ll come off as flaky or childish if I mention that I’m only moving because of my boyfriend.

How can I bring it up without sounding like John Mulaney’s “can my giiiirlfriend cooooome??” bit?

You don’t need to explain why you’re moving, just that you are — and making it sound like a done deal with a specific timeline can help non-local employers take your candidacy more seriously. But it also won’t sound childish if you say, “I’m moving to Boston to join my partner, who’s already based there.” That’s a solid-sounding reason, and “partner” can have more grown-up connotations than “boyfriend.”

{ 490 comments… read them below }

  1. Banana*

    Sry OP, HR is married to the owner she could commit theft an fraud before she got fired smh

    1. Littorally*


      She’s not gonna get fired until/unless they actually divorce. OP needs to bail, this situation will not change.

      1. Petty Betty*

        Even if they divorce, the HR manager might actually end up with the company, so I’d be really wary of thinking that a divorce would save the company from her.

      2. Meep*

        The best OP and their friend can do is file a EEOC complaint for workplace bullying and harassment and include info about how they attempted to resolve it but the workplace was unwilling. They have the voicemail to help.

        1. MCMonkeyBean*

          Unfortunately this is not harassment in the workplace sense. Unless the names she is calling people are slurs or otherwise discriminating based on any protected class it is not likely crossing an *legal* lines, just crossing the line of not being a terrible human being.

      3. Meep*

        The best OP and their friend can do is file a EEOC complaint for workplace bullying, and include info about how they attempted to resolve it but the workplace was unwilling. They have the voicemail to help.

          1. Sam I Am*

            No. “Workplace bullying” by itself is not illegal. This is a good reminder that just because a behavior is terrible and unethical doesn’t mean it is against the law!

      4. RebelwithMouseyHair*

        That’s what we were hoping when Big Boss divorced her toxic husband, but in fact she left and let him take over (even though she was the one qualified to do the job, he had just started out helping out informally and then elbowed everyone else out)

    2. Sharkie*

      YEP. I was hired by a company like this. Head of hr was upset her husband (the head of the firm) hired me without her knowledge since she was out of town at a ballroom dancing thing, so she fired me without his knowledge. It was so awkward watching them fight over me in the firing meeting

      1. LT*

        Yikes, definitely awkward. My mom as a nurse would see this a lot in small practices where the doctor is the husband and office manager was the wife. Those were usually ones to avoid working for.

        1. Mrs. Hawiggins*

          Definitely avoid working for, and if I may say even going to. One doctor I had hired his wife just because he thought she should run the practice, but had never done anything close to it before. Typically an office visit was $250 not $2500. She couldn’t understand why claims were being denied and they weren’t getting paid. And why their office staff never came back from lunch breaks.

  2. AcademiaNut*

    For the last LW, moving for family reasons with accommodation already in place is a big plus compared to a generic “want to move” statement, particularly if you can say that you can relocate and start work within 2 weeks of accepting an offer.

    1. Sloanicota*

      Yeah I think OP is seeing it as a downside, but it shows you have a plan for relocation and aren’t likely to leave because you don’t know anyone/can’t find an apartment/don’t like it here. Can you use your boyfriend’s current address on your resume and just commit to driving the two hours for an interview? I don’t see this as being unethical, and it is the address where you plan to reside shortly.

      1. Pickle Pizza*

        I was thinking the same thing. Put your boyfriend’s address on your resume instead of your current address. That way you don’t have to explain anything in the cover letter. Also, if/when employers offer you an interview and ask when you’re available to start, that would be the time to explain that the situation (briefly!) and that you’re available to move by “x date”. And as Allison suggested, using the word “partner” instead of “boyfriend” sounds more vague and more mature (as in, it could be your fiance/husband).

        1. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

          That’s exactly when I did East to West Coast to be with Mr. Gumption. On my resume/applications I had his address/city. In my cover letter I said something like, “I am relocating to City A on X date and will be available to start X+[reasonable time after cross-country move]” but didn’t explain why and no one asked. Now that might have been because it was the same region I had gone to college in and where I was moving from was where my grad school was and people in City A thought “of course you came back! This area is the best!”, but had they asked, I had the, “closer to family, not being snowed on” excuse queued up.

          1. Move it move it*

            It’s good they read the cover letter and didn’t automatically discard it without reading because of the address/city.

      2. Meep*

        That is what my then-boyfriend did at the time to get a job that was 2 hours away from his current city.

      3. Bee*

        Yeah, “I’m moving to join my partner” signals serious interest in that specific city and an existing safety net, not “I can’t go anywhere without my boyfriend.” It’s a very easy and comprehensible explanation!

  3. la dee dah*

    Re: #5 What is the deal with the term “partner”? I heard it used more the 90s to indicate any romantic partner, the current usage I hear implies that it’s a heterosexual relationship. Is it just me, maybe it’s a regional thing?

    1. it me*

      I’m in the eastern US and “partner” is currently being used around here for relationships of any orientation. There was a shift in maybe the late 2010s? to use the term more generally, partially as support to those who may not be comfortable broadcasting their sexual orientation to strangers but still want to mention a romantic partner.

      1. Passionfruit Tea*

        Agreend. Many also feel that boyfriend/girlfriend starts sounding a bit weird once you’ve reached, say, your 30s and beyond.

        1. Weaponized Pumpkin*

          That’s where I fall. I feel a little odd about it — knowing about the co-opting vibe Dino notes — but when you’re middle-aged and have been cohabiting for an extended period of time, boyfriend/girlfriend feels both incorrect and juvenile. I’m not a girl! It’s the best word I have for a grownup, non-married, deeply committed relationship. I’m open to suggestions!

          1. cubone*

            I mean, at least where I live, a co-habiting partnership of a certain length makes the person legally your “common law partner”. I use it because I have no desire to marry ever and it gets across “this person is (effectively) my spouse” much better than “boyfriend/girlfriend.” People can be super condescending about non-married, long term relationships and I find it seems to deter a decent amount of rude people from asking “sooooo when are you two getting married?!?”

            1. Poly Not A Parrot*

              Strangely only 10-15 US States recognize common-law marriage. That makes it more convenient and less confusing for those of us who live with and acknowledge more than one person as committed partners.

            2. Chris*

              Where is that? Nowhere in the US does cohabiting by itself (even for decades) create a common-law marriage.

              1. SnappinTerrapin*

                In jurisdictions that recognize common law marriage, if a long term couple separate (and the separation isn’t amicable), the courts exercising jurisdiction over divorces can entertain an action to determine whether a marriage exists, and if a marriage is found to exist, a divorce can be granted.

                You are absolutely correct that cohabiting alone does not establish marriage; a fact-finding hearing will get pretty detailed if one party claims a marriage existed and the other denies it. Referring to the partner as a spouse is a piece of evidence supporting the inference that the parties intended to establish a common law marriage. I met a man a few decades ago who had lived with a woman for over 25 years, and was very particular about specifying that she was not his “wife,” to leave a trail of witnesses in case she ever sued for divorce. (I didn’t need to know that, but he’s the one who brought it up. Different strokes for different folks, as they say.)

                That circles back to the point that “partner” is a useful term for unmarried couples, regardless of gender or orientation. It’s ambiguous enough to fit any couple who choose to use it, and to include whatever level of commitment they prefer, without sharing all the details with casual contacts.

          2. Rebecca*

            Yes, I stopped being someone’s girlfriend a long time ago. Around the time I moved into his house and started parenting his kid. I am also not legally his wife, and that’s not a conversation we need to have with the general public, so partner works.

            Funnily enough – I live in France, and here, when it asks for my relationship status, “en concubinage” is an option. I check it off every chance I get. I introduce him as my concubine to my friends, he is not amused.

            1. Less Bread More Taxes*

              I used to live in France as well, and their system is very friendly to serious but unmarried couples. I’m thinking of the PACS, where you can sign a document making your relationship official in the eyes of the government.

              1. SheLooksFamiliar*

                In the late 70s, the US Census had a term that came and went very fast: POSSLQ, or Persons of Opposite Sex Sharing Living Quarters. Even platonic friends of the opposite sex living together was A Very Big Deal back then – anyone watch the TV show ‘Three’s Company’? Very zeitgeisty.

                Yeah, ‘partner’ is a better term. Opposite or same sex, it works for people in a committed/long-term/serious/acknowledged relationship.

                1. wendelenn*

                  I had to go find the poem:
                  My POSSLQ

                  Come live with me and be my love,

                  And we will some new pleasures prove

                  Of golden sands and crystal brooks

                  With silken lines, and silver hooks.

                  There’s nothing that I wouldn’t do

                  If you would be my POSSLQ.

                  You live with me, and I with you,

                  And you will be my POSSLQ.

                  I’ll be your friend and so much more;

                  That’s what a POSSLQ is for.

                  And everything we will confess;

                  Yes, even to the IRS.

                  Some day on what we both may earn,

                  Perhaps we’ll file a joint return.

                  You’ll share my pad, my taxes, joint;

                  You’ll share my life – up to a point!

                  And that you’ll be so glad to do,

                  Because you’ll be my POSSLQ.

                  Charles Osgood (born 1933)

                2. SheLooksFamiliar*

                  wendelenn, thank you, that’s awesome! I love Charles Osgood, he was a witty and intelligent man.

            2. Chilipepper Attitude*

              That’s how I saw it used; encouraged by the queer community where I was for everyone as a way to normalize all relationships (the same way we all use our pronouns). I’ve been saying partner for a very long time and as a result, I now feel saying husband only serves to try to emphasize I’m hetero, introduces gender where it is not needed, and feels vaguely sexual where partner does not.

              1. Rainy*

                I say “spouse” and “partner” quite often because “husband” implies I’m straight, and I’m not.

            3. MT*

              In Sweden there is an official option for a ‘sambo’ relationship, essentially cohabiting partner. Many people introduce their partner to others this way, and in most contexts it is considered to be as valid and legitimate as a marriage, socially and legally.

              Moving back to the UK recently has been a bit of a shock. We’ve been engaged for several years with no immediate plans to marry, and we have a very planned baby due later in the year. We’re now considering quietly going to the registry office because it feels like we have taken 5 steps back in the seriousness of our relationship in the eyes of others.

              1. allathian*

                Yes. To top it off, Swedish is the only language I know of that has a word for people in a committed relationship who don’t live together, särbo.

          3. LittleDoctor*

            I’m a lesbian and personally I did find it annoying as fuck when it first started (mainly because it made identifying other gay people more difficult—I remember complaining about it with a lot of gay friends), but I don’t really care anymore. We’ve clearly lost the linguistic ground on this one, and also I see it’s utility. So don’t worry about the co-opting.

            1. All Het Up About It*

              This is really interesting!
              When I first started referring to my live-in, co-house owning romantic hetero partner as “partner,” I was worried about co-opting the word from LBTGQ individuals. But in several conversations with those I knew, they said they liked it becoming normalized for hetero couples, because it didn’t make them stand out as much. I wonder if it might be location because we are in the deep, deep south and blending still, unfortunately feels important for many people I know and care about.

              1. Weaponized Pumpkin*

                I think it’s more individual than regional. To some, it feels co-opting. To others it feels normalizing. Both are valid.

              2. Parakeet*

                Also, there’s a lot of partnered LGBTQ+ people who are in dissimilar-gender relationships! Trans/nonbinary people partnered with a dissimilar-gender person. Cis bi women partnered with a man and cis bi men partnered with a woman. Etc. And there are polyamorous LGBTQ+ people whose partners might not all have the same gender – is a polyamorous bi woman with a female partner and a male partner, “allowed” to refer to her female partner as her partner but “supposed to” refer to her male partner as her boyfriend so as not to somehow be appropriative?

                There are also people who are in similar-gender relationships, but one of them is trans and their paperwork hasn’t been updated, so legally it’s a “different sex” marriage. I knew a cis woman/trans woman couple that got married that way before same-sex marriage was legal in their state.

                I’m in a blue state and I’ve never heard anyone here get mad about a dissimilar-gender couple using “partner” terminology. I’ve only really seen negative reactions to it on the Internet.

            2. Justice*

              Yeah, it was pretty galling when we had no other options, but since we have marriage equality (for now, anyway), I don’t mind it at all.

            3. Emily Dickinson*

              I can see the identification issue. My spouse has a name used by people of all genders, and after we moved in together but before we got married I used partner to describe our relationship. It frequently led people who hadn’t met him to assume I was a lesbian. Either way it’s not like I was available so I’m not sure if my orientation would have been relevant.

            4. DisgruntledPelican*

              I’m a queer woman and I never use partner. It’s just a reminder that for so long I wasn’t allowed to have a wife (and if certain supreme court members have their way, won’t be allowed to have one for very much longer). To me, it’s a very othering word.

              1. This-is-a-name-I-guess*

                This is so real! Probably somewhat generational. I had to explain to the “young people” at work (I’m only 35) what is was like to see marriage equality pass in each state I lived in during my teens and 20s (minus Texas). They don’t really know a world without marriage equality, which is wild to think about.

                I’m in a same sex relationship, but we’re not married yet, so we sometimes use “partner” to describe each other. I use partner when I want to connote the seriousness of our relationship. I use girlfriend when I want people to know without a doubt I’m queer. Interestingly, we’re sort of engaged (getting married in a few years…or at the courthouse if things get messy), and one term I never want to use/be is “fiancee”. I’m bi, and for me, the whole public spectacle that is engagement feels too much like weird gender pageantry. I imagine it’s easier to make engagement your own if you’re both lesbians, but as a bi person whose dated men, I just don’t want to participate in any of that bullsh*t.
                To me, being in a queer relationships means I’m freed from that stuff.

                Of course, this is just my own opinion/feeling, and I think people should do what feels best for them.

        2. nnn*

          When I was a young woman in a relationship with a man, I also found that referring to him as my boyfriend when talking to co-workers was not well-received. It seemed to make people view me as some ditzy girl who’s obsessed with her boyfriend. Whereas when I switched to calling him my partner, I was perceived more as an adult in a committed, stable adult relationship.

          (I’ve been using the term “partner” ever since, so I have no data about how that might extrapolate across other ages or other gender combinations)

          1. pancakes*

            It’s such a small thing to pin such a big impression of a woman on, though. Where is “obsessed” coming from, for example? I know some people feel that way and at 45 I not-infrequently say “boyfriend” anyhow, because as a word it doesn’t bother me. “Partner” is popular here for all types of relationships but sounds a bit business-y for me. We’ve been together off and on, almost entirely on, since 1998. I have definitely encountered people who think I’m ditzy — I look pretty femme much of the time, too — and my feeling is that it’s often to my advantage to have an element of surprise. People sometimes back down and off when they realize they’ve made a very wrong guess about me. I don’t dislike when that happens.

        3. Justin*

          That’s how my now wife and I felt. We joked ourselves into getting engaged because we didn’t like boyfriend and girlfriend, and then we actually did

        4. Irish Teacher*

          And when your relationship becomes more established. I mean my sister and her partner are paying a mortgage and have a child together and they are both in their late 30s/early 40s. To call him her “boyfriend” feels a little like he’s somebody she’s dating casually, not somebody she has been living with for 5 years and is raising a child with.

        5. L.H. Puttgrass*

          Is this conversation reminding anyone else of “Young Frankenstein?”

          “He vas my…BOYFRIEND!”

        6. Pool Noodle Barnacle Pen0s*

          Yeah, my SO and I are both in our 40s and I feel a bit cringe referring to him as my boyfriend. Partner just sounds more adult and more fitting for a serious, committed relationship.

        7. Cringing 24/7*

          This. Plus it’s also helpful for those of us in relationships with nonbinary people, where “boyfriend” or “girlfriend” is not accurate.

        8. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

          We have been doing the “partner” thing since we had been together for 10ish years. After that long boy/girl-friend just sounds weird, but we aren’t getting married so spouse also sounds weird. For a while we said “co-mortgage debtors” (relationships come and go but a mortgage is 15-30 years) but then we paid off the mortgage. Funniest thing is since our parents say “partners” when referring to us, 7 or 10 times folks are surprised we are not a same-sex couple

      2. Rain's Small Hands*

        I think it goes back even farther than that – I’m in the Midwest, not exactly a hotspot of trends, and in the mid 1990s before I was engaged to my husband but when we were shacked up, we used the term partner. Because boyfriend/girlfriend wasn’t appropriate for two people in their late 20s living together and “person I’m shacked up with” is pretty long. Yes, it did sound like either a business relationship or like we were gay, but most people figured it out from context pretty fast. We would also jokingly use “spousal substitute” after a friend who worked for some non-profit agency put a spot for “spouse or spousal substitute” on a form.

        1. Sally*

          I used to say “spousal equivalent” for my then-(female) partner. It was accurate, and it amused me every time I said it.

      3. Lydia*

        I think it’s pretty common in poly relationships to refer to them as partners. One of my friends is actually legally married to one of her partners, and to demonstrate no hierarchy in the relationships she has, refers to both of the men in her relationship as partners.

        1. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

          I usually use “partner” for similar reasons, unless I want to make it clear that I’m not straight. In that context, I sometimes use “girlfriend” for my female partner. (Some forms get “spouse” or “husband,” because the fact that I’m married to one of my partners matters for income tax and insurance purposes.)

          Being bi and poly, I like that there’s a term that can be used for all my partners, regardless of their or my gender. If I refer to “my husband and my girlfriend,” people may parse “girlfriend” as “close female friend” and assume it’s a platonic relationship.

          1. SimonTheGreyWarden*

            Me, too. I have a husband and a partner, and they are different relationships. My partner is also my business partner, so people can assume what they wish.

    2. Dino*

      It USED to indicate a non-heterosexual partner but like many queer culture things has been co-opted outside the community. I understand the utility of it but after seeing too many homophobic and transphobic coworkers/acquaintances emphasize their paaaartners over the years, I must say it’s kind of a bummer.

      1. wordswords*

        A lot of the time it was used to indicate a non-heterosexual partner in an ambiguous, plausible-deniability kind of way, though? I don’t believe it was ever a statement of 100% unambiguous queerness the way, say, “my boyfriend” said by a man was. In my experience, at least, it was always a usage that had a certain amount of ambiguity about it.

        Personally, as a queer person who uses “partner” and “girlfriend” (and now “fiancee,” woo!) interchangeably, I have absolutely zero objection to people using it to refer to a partner of a different gender. (Plus, I often have no way of knowing if someone is actually using “partner” to refer to their spouse as a way to indicate that one or both partners is queer in a relationship that looks heterosexual at a surface glance, you know?) Like, I get the baggage from people being weird about it to and around you, and that sucks! But it also seems to me that it’s hard to call it co-opted when the fact that it’s not an exclusively queer term was baked in from the beginning.

        1. Caramel & Cheddar*

          Isn’t it a shortening of the definitely unambiguous “life partner” that was used broadly in the 1980s/90s before gay marriage? I don’t know that there was mainstream use of “partner” while “life partner” was still very much a thing.

          Congrats on your engagement!

        2. Rolly*

          I’m a straight man and use “partner” instead of wife a fair part of the time to normalize the term to mean any sort of long-term romantic/domestic relationship.

          1. Not for This One, Sorry*

            Huh. If I heard my husband referring to me as his “partner,” I’d be pretty annoyed, frankly, if not outright hurt and upset. I mean, if your wife is okay with it, that’s what matters, of course, but for me personally that would bother me.

            But then, I’m really surprised to see the number of non-straight people talking about feeling co-opted or mildly annoyed by the use of “partner” by straight couples, because some time ago I commented here that one reason I’ve never used “partner” was because I felt like it was co-opting the word, and I got reamed out pretty well for that by several other commenters (which was quite hurtful, actually). I’m not saying that to try to start anything–honest, and I won’t discuss it further–just that it’s really interesting to see how different the opinions are, and how the tone of the letter or original comments can change what’s “right” or “wrong” to say further down.

        3. skadhu*

          In the 1970s the term partner was in common use, and not just by queer people. It was a time when very few hetero people I knew got married, refusing to do so on principle because we all, male and female considered marriage a patriarchal institution (maybe I was in more progressive social group than was general, but it was a pretty common attitude and accompanied the push for legal rights for common law marriages). Some also saw it as standing in solidarity with those who could not legally marry. Most people I knew had commitment ceremonies that were not legal marriages instead. When people did get married it was generally only for legal reasons, especially relating to children.

          I would NEVER have gotten married if I hadn’t come out as a lesbian and wanted to marry my girlfriend because it was such an important right to attain—but the whole institution of marriage still makes me twitchy and I find it very hard to say the word “wife.” In any case, I have absolutely no problem with anyone using the term partner.

      2. Despachito*

        I am not a native speaker but I have always perceived it as “the person I am seriously living with but we are not officially married”.

        I actually think that it was handy for both gay couples (who did not have to reveal whether their partner is male or female) and unmarried heterosexual couples (because they did not have to explain that “this is my de facto but not de iure husband/wife”).

        As there were. and unfortunately somewhere still persist, prejudices against both these groups, I think “partner” is an ideal word. And I am sorry if bigots still find a way to express their disrespect.

        1. I'd Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

          Yeah, I’m with Dino in that a huge amount of LGBTQ culture has been incorporated into the mainstream in a weird way…but partner is a very pragmatic term that applies to how a lot of couples are living these days, so I think the widespread adoption also reflects the decreased popularity of legal marriage.

          I’m a native speaker and I have the same interpretation as you: a partner is a romantic person who you basically orient your life with; to me it implies a level of seriousness beyond boyfriend and girlfriend, aligned to being married but not indicating the legality of the relationship.

          Or you’re a character in a buddy cop film.

          1. Despachito*

            Yes, you are right – it is definitely a higher level than “boy/girlfriend”.

            I perceive “boy/girlfriend” as a person I date but do not live with, and the compromise to them is much lighter than that to a partner. And it definitely sounds that they are young (I would not expect people in their forties and up to call their romantic interest a “boyfriend/girlfriend”)

            1. CPegasus*

              I’m genuinely curious then, what would you call someone a 40-year-old had just started dating and didn’t live with, who wasn’t serious enough to be Partner but was in a relationship? I’d call that boy/girl/themfriend at any age, it doesn’t connote youth to me, so it’s fascinating to hear what the other options are!

              1. As per Elaine*

                I’ve heard “ladyfriend” sometimes, for people who had an adult female partner they did not wish to refer to as a girl. (Both hetero and queer, though probably more queer.)

              2. Despachito*

                Date? Romantic interest?

                I am not a native speaker, and perhaps I do not capture all the nuances but I get it that even native speakers feel differently about that.

                Native speakers, help!

              3. Rain's Small Hands*

                “Person I’m seeing” – As in “Jane, the woman I’m seeing, said to me the other day” Or “Thanks for the invite to your BBQ on Saturday, is it OK if I bring Henry, this guy I’ve been seeing….”

              4. Weaponized Pumpkin*

                I do end up using boyfriend when we’re dating significantly but not long-haul committed. Then switch to partner at the point when that feels true. But “boyfriend” remains weird and I find workarounds where I can. I use his name without a label often, people will figure it out. “The guy I’m dating/seeing” works pretty well in the earlier stages with friends.

              5. Paris Geller*

                I started dating my now-husband when I was in my late 20’s and he was in his late 30’s. I half-jokingly called him my gentleman caller for a good 6 months.

              6. allathian*

                I had no problems calling the guy I was dating exclusively in my early 20s my boyfriend, but I was 33 when I started dating my husband, and calling him boyfriend felt awkward. At first he was the guy I was dating, then my LDR partner, and when we finally moved in together, I called him either my partner or my SO, because we were in a committed relationship, and intended to get married at some point although there was no proposal and no engagement. We ended up getting married when I was 8 months pregnant because both of us wanted to be married before our son was born. If a hetero couple is married, the husband is automatically assumed to be the father of the child, and we wanted to avoid the red tape that would’ve been necessary to confirm an unmarried father’s fatherhood.

          2. Lunch Ghost*

            And on the other side, I think the tilt away from gay couples reflects the increased legality of marriage, because I think what it used to indicate for a lot of gay couples was “basically my spouse except we can’t get married”. Once those couples could get married, they probably did, and started using husband/wife/spouse.

            And yes, I started using it to indicate the seriousness of my relationship for, among other things, exactly the situation it was suggested here: “moving to be with my partner” sounded more like the relationship was going to last, thus less likely to raise the question of “If she moves for him and they break up, will she leave?”

      3. bamcheeks*

        For me that’s not so much CJ cooption as a sign the gay agenda is working. I’m happy if straight people can be taken seriously in long term relationships other than marriage! That’s the positive change I wanted to see in the world!

      4. Rebecca*

        When I was in undergrad, the queer community at my school really encouraged everyone to use it, regardless of orientation, to normalize it, in much the same way that now I see encouragement for everyone to post their pronouns so that it becomes normal and accepted. Was that unusual?

        1. NYWeasel*

          That was my experience living in NYC too. The idea was that if everyone used “partner” it took pressure off of the LGBTQIA+ community to have to decide how to refer to their relationships.

          1. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

            It does seem to blow minds that straight people get called partners, especially if your elderly relatives use it at their 4th of July block party. I think we ruined some prime gossip about “Zozia’s gay grandaughter” when my partner we not a woman

        2. Chilipepper Attitude*

          That’s how I saw it used; encouraged by the queer community where I was for everyone as a way to normalize all relationships (the same way we all use our pronouns). I’ve been saying partner for a very long time and as a result, I now feel saying husband only serves to try to emphasize I’m hetero, introduces gender where it is not needed, and feels vaguely sexual where partner does not.

        3. Harper the Other One*

          That was my experience as well – it was encouraged because it could refer to any romantic pairing, no matter who was involved or the legal status of their partnership, and therefore encouraged by the LGBTQ community in my area.

        4. Michelle Smith*

          Not unusual at all and as a queer person, I really appreciate the normalization of it. Same thing with cisgender folks sharing their pronouns so it’s not as othering/outing when I share mine.

      5. kicking_k*

        Dino, this is good to know. I’m possibly slightly LESS likely to use it of my friends in queer relationships because at this juncture, they’re just as likely (in the UK) to be married, and I don’t want to make it seem like I’m forgetting that. But I’ll ask them what they prefer. (That said, when it’s my friends, in practice I probably know their SO’s name and use that.)

        From my own perspective I barely notice if you call my husband my partner, as it’s very standard in the UK and has been for years, but I call him my husband because he is. I feel it’s a good thing to have one word available that doesn’t require you to divulge details of sexuality or marital status, and partner now seems to be what we have, but I’m aware I’m coming from a position of straight privilege.

        1. Pocket Mouse*

          “I call him my husband because he is.”

          See, my partner and I are married, but I usually call her my partner because she is. The key piece of information around who we are to each other is that we are a family and a team in life, not that we signed and filed a paper so the government and various institutions recognize us as family. (If the paper/recognition is relevant, sure, we use ‘spouse’ or ‘wife’. Same for when it’s helpful to pointedly remind someone that our family is just as legitimate as theirs.)

          One thing that was painfully obvious from the outside, pre-marriage equality, was that any strangers could get married as long as they had the correct arrangement of sex markers on their IDs. The paper isn’t what made, or makes, any pair of people a family. ‘Partner’ is more apt a descriptor that way.

          1. Anonym*

            I’m similar to you, Pocket Mouse. I’m married to an opposite gender partner, but sense a lot of baggage around the concepts of husband and wife (in addition, that is, not to imply that you do!). People assume so much in those terms. Also, I feel my marital status or partner’s gender is not information most people are entitled to, nor are they entitled to anyone else’s. Keeping it non-specific can cover many types of relationship from judgement and assumption. All you need to know – if I’m referring to it – is that there’s someone in my life that I’m in a serious relationship with. No deets for you, rando.

            Plus… the term partner is genuinely romantic to me. It’s what I always wanted in a relationship – not a husband or wife, but a true and genuine partner in all things, and that’s what I’m grateful to have now. I know some people feel the term is a bit clinical, but it’s the opposite for me.

            1. bamcheeks*

              It’s what I always wanted in a relationship – not a husband or wife, but a true and genuine partner in all things, and that’s what I’m grateful to have now

              Yes! Happy for anyone else who wants to have a wife or be a wife, but it’s neither a relationship nor a role I’ve ever aspired to.

          2. Alict*

            Yes, this is the a big reason I use “partner”. The others are:

            – it doesn’t come prepackaged with implications about what our roles in our relationship can or should be

            – and, “husband” feel like it give an unnecessary amount of information about my sex life and living arrangements. Frankly I’m uncomfortable with just how much that one word tells people about my personal life.

        2. bamcheeks*

          I’m the opposite — I am CP’d but not married, don’t have a wife and don’t want to be a wife! Since equal marriage came in and people started using “wife” and “husband” for same sex partners, people have started saying “your wife” to me, and I don’t exactly flinch but I certainly notice because I do not have one of those!

        3. FridayFriyay*

          Your inclination to avoid using partner for same sex or queer couples if you don’t know whether they’re legally married and/or whether they use the term partner themselves is a good one – it’s probably seen as “old school” now but having come out long before marriage equality was legal I get very annoyed when people switch to partner from spouse when referring to my relationship once they find out I’m gay. Often I’ll say “wife” and the (always straight) person I’m speaking with will revert back to “partner” and it definitely has implicit bias in it and makes me uncomfortable and annoyed.

          1. allathian*

            No wonder you’re annoyed, that reaction is so homophobic. It’s like they want to replace the gendered term you’re using with the non-gendered partner, so I’d say it’s pretty explicit rather than implicit bias.

            Life would be simpler if people’d just use the terms that we prefer for our spouses/partners/significant others.

            I’m happy to be married to my husband, and to be referred to as his wife.

      6. BubbleTea*

        Personally (and I’m gay) I’m glad straight people use the term partner. It means the word has become sufficiently normalised that I can be ambiguous about the gender of my partner without essentially outing myself. The problem with homophobic/transphobic people is the bigotry, not the use of the word partner.

      7. bf*

        i am queer but in a straight-presenting relationship, so i use the term “partner” to signal my queerness.

        1. pancakes*

          I don’t think it reliably does that. So many hetero people use it, where I am at least, I would not rely on that alone. And fwiw I’m bi and often use “boyfriend” for the man I live with, and have used “girlfriend” for women I’ve had relationships with, and they’ve used it for me. I don’t feel like it’s been a problem to connect with other queer people without using code, but there are lots and lots of queer people here (NYC).

        2. ThatGirl*

          We have friends who are siblings; one is a trans man engaged to a queer cis woman, the other is a mostly-straight cis woman who just married her cis male partner of 9 years – they had even bought a house together. They both have used partner to describe their relationships.

          I think it’s a flexible enough word to connote any number of layers including “we’re not straight” and “we’re not married but we take this relationship seriously”.

      8. Eldergay*

        I’m an old gay man and “in my day” it meant homosexual romantic partner. I do kind of feel like it was co-opted, but at this point, if straight couples want it, they can have it. I’ll use boyfriend or (when it happens) husband. I’m not interested in being vague.

        1. kittycontractor*

          I have noticed that more of my gay friends are using the more gendered terms “girlfriend/boyfriend” whereas my straight friends use “partner”. I’ve never thought that in-depth about it, but I wonder if it’s because each group feels more empowered to own the untraditionalness of their relationships that didn’t used to be as accepted as it is now (at least in some places, of course).

          1. pancakes*

            It’s funny you say that because that’s often true where I am as well. It reminds me a bit of a building in Harlem I lived near for a year or two. It was a new build, fancy-ish building with amenities like a parking garage, a gym, etc., that pre-war buildings and row houses in the area tend not to have. I watched a short promo video for the building and all the white people featured in it talked about Marcus Garvey Park, and the black people talked about Mount Morris Park, which is the historic name for the area around the park. It was funny to me, as a white woman – there was a bit of a “check me out, me and good ol’ Marcus Garvey” vibe, haha! It sometimes seems to me that hetero people who are strict or pointed about “partner” are possibly a tiny bit overly-invested in being seen as allies to the queer community by way of doing something that is quite low-effort and not terribly meaningful. Language is important, yes, but this particular language is less important than, say, challenging representatives who want to take away gay marriage, not funneling money to them, etc.

            1. Alison2*

              This is so insightful– thank you! Was trying to figure out why it feels totally meaningless when straight people do this.

            2. skadhu*

              In my experience in the 70s the straight people I knew who called their significant other a “partner” did so specifically because they were resisting patriarchal structures and refusing traditional marriages and the terms man and wife—it didn’t have anything to do with queer people at all. I imagine the usage has shifted in its meanings and relationships to different identity groups many times over the past decades.

              1. pancakes*

                That sounds on point, but yes, the landscape has changed quite a bit since the 70s, in so many ways.

          2. FridayFriyay*

            The straight people I know who do it mainly do it bc they think it makes them sound more progressive. They are all married though, so I find their use of it a little co-opting and cheap in a way that doesn’t bother me about non-married long term couples of any gender.

            1. allathian*

              The straight people I know who refer to themselves as partners rather than spouses seem to be doing it for the reason that was common in the 70s; they’re progressive and oppose the patriarchy, but they also want to provide each other with the financial security of marriage. I’m in Finland, and unmarried cohabiting partners of any gender have pretty much the same rights, including inheritance, as married couples. Children born to unmarried parents have the same inheritance rights as children born to married parents, for example. The one exception is the widow’s right to continue to live in the dwelling the couple lived in during their marriage, regardless of who inherits the property. It’s not possible to dispose of your property completely freely, because half of the estate is granted to the heirs as their legal share regardless of the existence of a will.

        2. Mynona*

          I’m with you, Eldergay. My boyfriend of 18 years is my boyfriend because we’re not married. It’s really not as complicated as people make it. And if they think I’m in a not-serious relationship because I call him boyfriend and not partner, then that’s their hang up. FWIW, I’m a straight woman.

      9. ursula*

        That sounds really different than the context around the word “partner” where I’m from (southern Canada)! There was actually a movement from the queer community to encourage male-female couples to use the word partner as a sort of gender-neutral catch-all term for serious relationships, partially so that queer people could talk about their partner at work (or wherever) without automatically outing themselves in homophobic spaces (and to normalize serious but unmarried relationships at a time when gay marriage was illegal). From there, it got normalized really quickly and became a pretty standard term for unmarried but serious couples regardless of their gender configuration. It was the progressive/inclusive term at one point! And it stayed around for all the reasons others have noted.

      10. Smithy*

        While I see this from the queer perspective, I do think that coming from the perspective of a straight woman in the workplace using the term “partner” over “boyfriend” I often found useful particularly when I was younger. I started my professional life in a somewhat conservative Midwest city where talking about moving in with/living with your boyfriend (as opposed to partner) could often invite some concern trolling.

        Not in the straight up “living in sin” perspective, but rather questions about when we’d get married or concerns about moving in with a partner before being engaged or whether I’d be concerned of him “ever marrying me”. Not that the word partner fixed it entirely, but it did somehow manage to make the conversation seem more formal and different from how they’d talk to other young women in their personal lives.

      11. Littorally*

        It isn’t co-opting when the ambiguity is the point. If only queer couples used “partner” then it would be just as much of a coming-out statement as just owning up and saying ‘boyfriend’ or ‘girlfriend.’

      12. Thisguy*

        This co-opting/appropriation thing is getting out of control. Use whatever word that you are most comfortable with and don’t worry about what other people think. I think when society gets to the point to where we need a 50+ thread on rather or not someone can use the word partner to describe means we’re seriously overthinking things.

      13. Kit*

        As a pansexual AFAB and still mostly femme-appearing person whose spouse is a cis guy, I am assumed to be hetero all the time. Any language can be coopted by bigots, but some of the complaints I’ve seen here are biphobic, and that is just as big a bummer. Just because a relationship looks straight at first glance doesn’t mean that the people in it are.

      1. short'n'stout (she/her)*

        New Zealand here, and yeah. I remember a brief period in the 80s where the more widely-used term was “de facto” as in “this is Bob, my de facto”, but it’s clunky. And more recently civil unions became a legal thing for couples of any gender and orientation, and the term “partner” became more widely understood following that.

      2. Asenath*

        I’d have said this meaning of “partner” came out of a period, back in the 80s or maybe even slightly earlier, in mainstream culture. There were a number of words (and non-words, anyone remember POSSLQ?) proposed for serious adult relationships, and “partner” seems to be the survivor. I don’t know if it was used in the gay community before, at the same time, or later. I’d have guessed about the same time, but that’s only a guess.

        I still rather like “common-law” (as in “My common-law is picking me up after work”), but I only ever heard one person use it so I suspect I like it because it’s rather unusual and yet easy to understand, not because it is widely used and practical. Common-law relationships have legal status in Canada; I know they often don’t elsewhere.

        1. AcademiaNut*

          Common-law tends to have a specific legal meaning in places where it’s recognized, however, more than just being in a serious relationship. Some people found this out during COVID border lockdowns when they needed to provide proof of the relationship to bring in their partner into Canada (basically, that they were acting like a married couple – cohabiting, shared finances or property, filing taxes together, things like that).

          I think partner came about due to two different trends. On one hand, same-sex relationships became more acceptable, but for a long time marriage wasn’t an option. On the other, you had an increasing number of long-term, serious relationships where the couple weren’t married, for whatever reason. Prior to that, the cultural norm was boyfriend/girlfriend -> fiancé(e) -> spouse as the relationship progressed. In both cases, a term was needed that indicated the relationship was more significant than simply dating, and you were a social unit.

          The other issue, more relevant now, is that boyfriend/girlfriend are intrinsically gendered. There’s spouse for an un-gendered reference when you’re married, but partner lends itself well to non-binary people as well.

        2. pancakes*

          “My common-law is picking me up after work” – I’ve never heard that and would very likely internally puzzle over it for a moment or two. I’m not fond of it; it sounds overly-legalistic or formal to me. A bit too “here is the category the state puts my relationship in.”

          1. Hiring Mgr*

            That sounds like something Archie Bunker would call Mike (“COMmunist son in Law).

            1. pancakes*

              Ha! I saw someone suggest a contemporary version with Meathead vs. Zoomers. Rob Reiner is still in good health, it’s not a terrible idea.

        3. Valancy Snaith*

          Common-law relationships do have a certain status but no one refers to “my common-law.” Never heard that in four different provinces of residence, and anyone who did use it would get a weird look.

    3. JR*

      I find it’s often intended to be inclusive of all genders, and also inclusive of both married and not-married relationships. (That’s been my experience on both the west and east coasts, for the past 15+ years.) Agreed that in the 90s, it specifically meant same-sex partner.

      1. nnn*

        I find it useful for that very reason when talking about in generalities, for example about any or all past partners, or hypothetical future partners. (e.g. “I’ve always found it easier to sleep if my partner and I have separate blankets.”)

        1. bamcheeks*

          heh– a rare situation where using “wife” or “husband” (in the plural!) would be far more exciting than “partners”.

    4. Princess Xena*

      I’m on the west coast of the US and it seems to be used as a non-specific descriptor for romantic partner. I’ve heard it used more for non-heterosexual couples but it seems to be gaining ground to indicate ‘person I am in a long term romantic or near-romantic relationship with but not necessarily married to’ over ‘boyfriend’ and ‘girlfriend’.

    5. Cheerfully Polite Grey Rock*

      In my circles it’s somewhat of a catch-all that incorporates all genders and a range of relationships, including (but not limited to): lover, regular friends with benefits, boyfriend/girlfriend, been dating long enough that ‘person I’m dating’ feels odd but one/both of us don’t like the term boyfriend/girlfriend, fiance/fiancee, and spouse.
      It’s also useful for poly relationships, so you can mention “oh, my partner and I saw that show on the weekend too!” without having to go into your whole relationship dynamic at work for an off-hand comment.

    6. kicking_k*

      In the UK it’s so standard to use it to refer to your significant other that it’s become the default. I’m never surprised if my husband is referred to as my partner.

      1. si*

        Yes, I’m in the UK and I’ve used it all my adult life for romantic partners of any gender – it’s the default I’m familiar with. In my relationship now I use it interchangeably with husband. I wouldn’t read it as inherently queer or straight, it’s a catch-all.

    7. Harriet Wimsey*

      I use ‘partner’ when referring to other people’s relationships at work because it makes no assumptions about orientation or marriage status. I also like the Scots word ‘bidey-in’, which Urban Dictionary defines as a live-in lover or common-law spouse.

      1. After 33 years ...*

        I have used “partner” to refer to relationships for ~15 years, and it’s common usage across our town. I find it both non-judgmental when referring to others, and very accurate in describing my own relationship with my partner of more than 30 years.

    8. Phryne*

      I’m not in the US, but in my country it is a normal neutral way to refer to, well, a partner, without knowing or presuming the exact details of the relationship. Registered partnership was introduced in 1998, and about 20% of couples choose that over marriage. Gay marriage was legalised in 2001. So for over 20 years, it has not been the norm to presume a couple is married or that their significant other is of the opposite sex. And as others have mentioned, after 25 years together, a mortgage and two kids, (I know at least 6 of these) boyfriend/girlfriend does not quite seem to cover it anymore :)

    9. Spicy Tuna*

      I’m 48. I’ve been with my boyfriend for 18 years. We own our home together, we own our business together, we are the primary beneficiaries of each other’s wills. Referring to him as my “boyfriend” makes the relationship seem too casual. But… we are not married! So he is not my husband. Although I do refer to him as such in certain circumstances. Partner just seems to cover the nature of the relationship better

      1. Hillary*

        Same – my partner and I have been together for a long time, we own a home together, we’re each other’s beneficiaries, and we’ll probably get married eventually to make paperwork easier.

        We refer to each other my partner, but for some audiences he’s my husband and I’m his wife, mostly for short interactions where we don’t want to keep talking. “my wife needs me” to the neighbor when he’s grabbing the mail, or “my husband’s picking me up at the airport” to someone I’ll never talk to again. We also do the pronoun thing and do our best to be supportive allies, especially since we’re both relatively senior in our workplaces.

        1. Pocket Mouse*

          Genuine question: why not just say partner in those situations? Isn’t more up the ally alley to normalize gender-neutrality and focus on the nature rather than title of relationships? Referring to someone as your spouse when they’re not your spouse feels like a little bit of an erasure of something that is a huge deal for so many people (legally, tangibly as well as emotionally, intangibly) and took decades of fighting for the right to access.

    10. Fuzzy Crocodile*

      I’m close to 40. My partner and I have been together for 10 years. I’m not sure if I want to get married, but I don’t think I’m going to trade him in. So I use “partner” since it sounds more long-term and permanent.

      People still refer to him as my husband on occasion.

    11. Murphy*

      I’ve heard partner used to describe any long term relationship, of any gender. It’s a good gender neutral term.

    12. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      I use it and love it! At 55, I’m no one’s girlfriend, and I certainly don’t want a boyfriend. I shouldn’t be dating a boy in the first place. I started using it when I briefly dabbled in ENM 5 or so years ago, and then continued to use the term.

    13. Phony Genius*

      I missed the funeral for the phrase “significant other.” I barely hear it anymore, so I assume it’s dead.

      1. Cool Tina, Train Conductress*

        Though I saw the initialism SO long after I stopped seeing the actual phrase.

      2. Significant Other Resurrection!*

        This is my favorite and I will continue to use it. Not as business-y as partner and still says nothing about legal status or orientation.
        FWIW, when I hear partner I think of same-sex couplings, metropolitan Chicago here.

      3. Pocket Mouse*

        In general but especially for this: I recommend watching One Day At A Time (the new version)!

    14. Cool Tina, Train Conductress*

      It’s meant “significant other” (of any orientation or legal status) in the UK/Canada/various Commonwealth countries for decades upon decades.

      This usage is increasingly common in the US as well, as hetero-marriage-as-default becomes less emphasized.

      1. LittleDoctor*

        I’m in Canada and I disagree, prior to about 2005-2010 it clearly and always meant same sex partner.

        1. skadhu*

          And I’m a Canadian who would very much disagree with that—in the early 70s I encountered it far more often referring to hetero relationships. As I recall the usage started with hippies and feminists resisting the patriarchal relationships of the institution of traditional marriage. Lots of discussion back then about the best language to use, various terms were tried out and discarded. Its use may have co-existed in the queer community at the same time, or even preceded hetero usage, but I wasn’t aware of it in the queer community until the late 70s/early 80s and certainly didn’t associate it with queerness in any way. Whether used by straight or queer folk, it served the same purpose: to establish that the relationship was real, valid, and deserved respect. As I said elsewhere, I think that the meaning of the word relative to queer/straight relationships has likely been different in different decades and served different purposes. But I’ve used it since the 70s, both when I thought I was straight and after I figured out I wasn’t, and all my friends of that vintage use it, regardless of whether queer or straight. These days I’m more likely to hear queer people say husband/wife to deliberately make the point that they are and can be legally married. Outside of that purpose most people I’m around use partner because it’s far more inclusive, whether they’re legally married or not.

    15. sj*

      interestingly, the New York Times updated their style guide to reflect that either ‘partner’ or ‘boyfriend’/’girfriend’ are appropriate for long-term relationships between adults of different genders. I believe they default to however the couple describes themselves. ‘Companion’ used to be more popular in formal writing, but my sense is that NYT editors in the late 00s and early ’10s strongly disliked ‘companion’ because ‘longterm companion’ had been used as a euphemism for gay relationships for decades, and they didn’t want to apply it in a euphemistic sense to queer relationships, or have a different term for straight relationships and gay relationships, or stigmatize unmarried couples.

      From Wikipedia – “As of 2007, The New York Times style guide discouraged the use of the term “girlfriend” for an adult romantic partner: “Companion is a suitable term for an unmarried partner of the same or the opposite sex.”[11] The Times received some criticism[11] for referring to Shaha Riza as the “girlfriend” of World Bank president Paul Wolfowitz in one article about the controversy over their relationship. Other news articles in the Times had generally referred to her as Wolfowitz’s “companion”.

      The 2015 edition of the New York Times Manual of Style states, however, that the view on the term “girlfriend” as being informal is now relegated to the realm of traditionalism, and that it has become accepted to use “girlfriend” and “boyfriend” to describe people of all ages (with consideration given to the preferences of the people involved).[12]”

      Personally, I think ‘partner’ is great for committed adults of any gender and any marital status: it’s immediately clear, it’s private, and personally I find it more meaningful than ‘husband’ or ‘wife’ – ‘partner’ in the context of my relationship encompasses elements of ‘friend’, ‘lover’, ‘confidante’, and ‘person with whom I am building a household and family’ without being corny or overly detailed. I plan to keep using ‘partner’ as well as the occasional ‘husband’ to describe my fiance after we get married. It’s what I default to if I don’t know a couple’s preference in terms of what language they want used to describe their relationship (but I also know that it’s a highly personal set of semantics, so I default to however a given person describes their relationship with a significant other.)

      1. pancakes*

        “and ‘person with whom I am building a household and family’” – I think it does have that connotation for many people, but personally I don’t care if people know that’s what my boyfriend and I are doing or not. If anything I don’t like the idea of being taken more seriously because we share an apartment, pets, household expenses, etc., and are one another’s closest chosen family. That isn’t a big part of my identity and I don’t think people for whom it is are superior or inferior for that – it’s simply one of many ways people relate to one another. I don’t think it needs more emphasis as a milestone or signifier than it already has.

        1. Significant Other Resurrection!*

          Someone can be a significant other without cohabitating, a point being missed in this discussion.

          1. pancakes*

            Yes. What is the importance of other people knowing whether one lives with their significant other or not, though? Is there a need to communicate that with a single word or phrase? There are some words that suggest it, of varying suitability and popularity.

            1. allathian*

              It probably has something to do with how easy or difficult it would be to disentangle oneself from a relationship. Divorce takes a long time and is expensive. Separating your finances when both of you hold the title to a house, even if you aren’t married, is also time consuming and can be complicated, often more complicated than getting a divorce would be.

              But no matter how emotionally committed you say you are, if your finances are completely separate and you don’t share a dwelling, all it takes for you to break up is for your boyfriend to tell you that he no longer wants to be with you. Or for you to say the same to him. You’d never have to see each other again if you neither have kids nor own property together.

              It’s impossible for outsiders to judge how emotionally committed a couple is, so the standard by which many people judge if a relationship is serious or not, is how complicated it is to disentangle oneself from it in practical terms. That’s why many people consider relationships between people who don’t live at the same address to be less serious than those of people who do live together.

              My MIL and her husband live at separate addresses and have completely separate finances. This is mainly because each has children from an earlier marriage, and they don’t want to make the probate any more complicated than it has to be when they die.

              My sister and her SO have never lived together. When they met, both of them were recovering from breakups of long-term cohabiting relationships. Because they’re child free, they decided early on that they value their independence enough that they don’t want to live together. In practice, they spend most weekends and vacations together, but don’t see each other during the workweek.

              I have no doubt that my MIL and her husband are committed to each other and their marriage. My
              sister loves her SO very much, and no doubt she’d be devastated if they broke up.

              1. pancakes*

                I suppose, but people who aren’t married can and do become financially entangled all the time, in all sorts of ways. It can also be difficult for one of them to find a new place to live, where I am at least – finding a new apartment in NYC, particularly if you have kids and really need more than a studio or 1-bedroom, is not easy, and many people aren’t able to immediately move out of where they live when their relationship ends.

                I suppose I do consider relationships between people who aren’t living together to be generally or typically less serious, but not because of anything to do with the potential difficulty of separating – it’s because they spend quite a bit less time together and very likely won’t know one another as intimately as people who live together and share a bed most nights do.

                I think in many, many, many situations, the seriousness of a relationship is primarily the business of the people in it. How either of them would handle a break-up isn’t really anyone else’s business beyond an idle thought here or there, in most circumstances.

    16. Alex (they/them)*

      I’m nonbinary so it’s kinda the only good word my partner has to refer to me lol

    17. Elizabeth West*

      I think partner has started to replace boyfriend or girlfriend. Those sound very high-school and a lot of adults are uncomfortable with them. Plus partner covers cohabitation, which has become much more common.

      1. allathian*

        Yes, for committed adult relationships. But for casual dating at any age, boyfriend/girlfriend is common and appropriate, even if they’re rather gendered. I wonder if there’s anything better than “the person I’m dating” when one or both parties are non-binary?

    18. Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain*

      I think “registered domestic partner” has been a legal option (taxes etc.) since the early 80s in California and it wasn’t just for the LGBTQA community. Married, registered domestic partner, same sex marriage, and civil union are three distinct legal terms so it isn’t just a catch-all but it gets used that way. Lot’s of people don’t want to get married but RDP gave them some limited legal protection on property rights, health benefits, inheritance, etc. So from my perspective, the legal term just got shortened and applied in a generic way that covers every option. I’m probably wrong but to me it paralleled the demise of “Mrs.” especially in professional settings, and now all adult women are referred to as Ms. regardless of their relationship status.

    19. Nanani*

      The whole POINT of spreading “partner” instead of gendered terms is that it means same-gender, gender-fluid, and other non-hetero couples can refer to each other without needing to come out.
      Straight people using it is a GOOD THING since otherwise “partner” becomes an outing in itself.

      It does not imply straightness, queerness, or anything other than the fact that the relationship exists, and -that’s the point-

      1. Lydia*

        In the early 2000s, I had really only heard it used in same-sex relationships, so when one of my professors referred to her partner, I thought, “Oh, she’s a lesbian.” Fast forward several months at a department gathering when she was introducing her partner and it was a man and my whole understanding of using that word shifted.

      2. pancakes*

        It seems that some of the people using it feel they’re in places where it conveys “ally to the queer community,” “maybe in a same-sex relationship,” or various other things, though. A number of people think it conveys seriousness.

        Outing people is to be avoided, yes, but I’m in a place where more people are out than not (NYC), and as a principle this maybe doesn’t drive day-to-day language choices here as much as it seems to in some other parts of the world? Something for me to continue thinking about. I think what I’m trying to say is that it’s not a paramount means of support here.

        1. allathian*

          Does it have to be a paramount means of support? Isn’t it enough to have an inclusive descriptive term without any implicit assumptions about the gender of the people involved?

          No doubt many married homosexual couples are happy to use the gendered terms husband and wife, but partner and spouse also work for non-binary people.

    20. SereneScientist*

      In my experience (as a queer person with a queer fiancee), its usage has shifted towards gender neutral over the last 10-15 years. Plus it has the added benefit, as other have pointed out, of assuming nothing about the relationship beyond its significance to the person.

      1. fhqwhgads*

        Yeah. In the 1990s, if someone said partner (in the US) it was basically outing yourself maybe without plausible deniability if you wanted. Today, it doesn’t do that. Depending on your goal, it’s either intentionally ambiguous or all-inclusive. In many countries other than the US, it’s been the latter for decades and was never an LGBTQ+ specific thing.

    21. Hrodvitnir*

      To be fair, I don’t know exactly the trajectory this went through in NZ, but “partner” has been the default regardless of orientation in NZ for decades now. I think that’s less true in particularly conservative circles, but I can tell you that even straight married couples may use “partner” and almost no one would be offended by you using that for them.

      The shock at use of the word partner for straight couples is actually an online Americanism that can really irritate me. I understand it’s more recent in your country that straight people use it, but it’s not exactly brand new.

      My main objection in NZ is it’s become so common that my early 20s friends use it for people they’ve been seeing for 6 months… partner is meant to indicate a committed long term relationship, people. OTOH I love the lack of gender specificity so oh well.

      I also despise husband or wife for me: I know it makes some people super happy and I support them! But for me personally, the fact people would want to use those if I got married is another point against – I cannot not hear the implicit historical power differential, and I Do Not Like It. (I appreciate it more in same sex relationships for obvious reasons.)

    22. RebelwithMouseyHair*

      I use it as a synonym of significant other, which can be of any gender. For reasons I can’t quite fathom, I hate SO. In real life I’ve only ever heard my gay colleague use that expression, before he had officially come out at work.
      I like partner because it can also be a work term, I think of us as “parenting partners” because that’s the most significant work we have done together.

  4. MEH Squared*

    OP#1, the HR person at your work called your coworker an insulting name to her husband, the owner, while said husband was talking to your coworker, and the husband/owner did nothing to rebuke her. Your boss (owner) and his wife suck and aren’t going to change.

    1. EPLawyer*


      OP1 – your company sucks and is not going to change. The owner KNOWS how his wife treats employees and talks about them. He does NOT care. There are no magic words you can find that will make him care.

      You are too tired to look for work because you are dealing with this toxic place. the only solution is to stop thinking anything about this will change or you can do anything to change it. Focus your energy on getting OUT OF THERE. Use vacation time to look for a job. Use your weekends. Stop caring so much at work so you have energy when you get home to job hunt.

      1. pancakes*

        Using vacation time for looking is not a bad idea. Airports are mostly a mess right now anyhow.

        Maybe it would help, in the meantime, to think of working there as internally gathering material for a book about dysfunctional relationships you’ll write one day? I don’t mean literally take notes, I mean try to shift to observing them for you own amusement and educational purposes rather than thinking you’re gathering evidence of their behavior to present to them. They know who they are. If they wanted to be different people than this, they would be.

        1. Keeley Jones, The Independent Woman*

          I’ve mentioned this before, but how I dealt with a terrible job was I pretended I was writing a workplace sitcom, and I would message my two good friends “episode” ideas when anything crazy happened. I still needed to get out of there, but it did help in a strange way.

          1. pancakes*

            That’s a great idea! I don’t think it’s so strange, it’s a framework that can give one a much-needed sense of distance from very unpleasant people, and opportunities / a reminder to interject humor, spotlight a bit of irony, etc. It’s healthy to cultivate a sense of distance from people like this, and necessary in terms of what has come to be known as “self-care.”

      2. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        All of what EPLawyer said. OP, the company is on its way out because of how the owner and his wife are actively running it into the ground. I doubt that this was their first case of terrible judgment when it comes to their business. I can easily imagine them getting themselves entangled in some kind of legal issues someday. The people that you love to work with, are either going to be gone in a few years, or you won’t be working with them because the whole company will have shut down. Get out get out get out.

      3. Rain's Small Hands*

        And they are sticking around because they like their coworkers – but here is the thing – the coworkers will (and are) leaving. The ones you really like you can maintain relationships with them after you or they leave. The ones you don’t maintain relationships with will become “what was that guy’s name again? ” And you don’t want to remain in a toxic work environment for someone who in five years you will have a difficult time remembering their name.

        Its a good time to look for a job, and don’t be one of those people who finally gets fed up when the job market isn’t in your favor. Or have the company lay you off when the job market isn’t in your favor.

        And a final piece of advice, if you can, restructure your finances so you have the freedom to say “shove it” if you need to while you look for work. I got so much freedom and frankly job satisfaction off the ability to say “I CAN walk out if I need to.” And, there was the time when my boss said “well, the situation here isn’t perfect, but all of us here need to work” and I said “you know, I really don’t – or at least I can be jobless for a few months and gave notice (well, actually they were looking for people to lay off and I volunteered to get unemployment.)

        1. Observer*

          And a final piece of advice, if you can, restructure your finances so you have the freedom to say “shove it” if you need to while you look for work.

          Your whole comment is very much on target. But this is a key.

          1. Gumby*

            Just being able to reframe it in my mind as “I am *choosing* to keep this job that I kind of hate at the moment” made such. a. difference. Somehow dealing with the annoying parts became less annoying since I was choosing to deal with them and could, if I decided to, walk away at any moment. I managed to stick around at that job until the office shut down and I got severance. (Office itself was good, loved the team at our location, corporate was a pain and a half.)

      4. Saraquill*

        I was working in a company with a similar owner and toxic spouse-employee dynamic. Though I looked for other jobs, I was laid off before I found something. Being unemployed felt so relaxing compared to being there.

        1. Pisces*

          Sara, did you find that being laid off made job interviews easier in a way? I mean, in the sense you didn’t have to think of a more plausible reason for looking for another job.

          1. Lydia*

            I know it did for me. Reason for leaving? Position was eliminated. When I was last job searching, I was still employed and was looking to save my mental health, it did take just that little bit more energy to phrase it. “Looking to move into a different role” is what I came up with, but I did worry about having to expand on it. When you are laid off, there’s really no more information needed. And most interviewers don’t dig more deeply.

          2. Saraquill*

            I didn’t think about it until you mentioned it, but yes. Giving a polite reason for my layoff sounded less awkward than “looking for new opportunities.”

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      One of the realizations of my adulthood was that The Nice Person Dancing Around Trying To Accommodate The Difficult One was a major component in the bad dynamic.

      1. Lily*

        You just described my parents’ marriage. It took many years of adulting and therapy before it truly sank in that the ‘good’ parent was really a co-conspirator.

          1. Lydia*

            I used to know someone whose mother was actively mean to her and encouraged it in the rest of the family. At one point she was going on about how her dad was really the person she spent the most time with, and I gently told her that her father was just as bad because he saw what was happening and did nothing to stop it. He was complicit. Granted this was after knowing her for YEARS and hearing so much about how awful her mom was and what a nice guy her dad was, and she had kind of opened the door to some feedback, so it wasn’t like I was just blurting it out.

    3. Observer*

      Your boss (owner) and his wife suck and aren’t going to change.

      Bingo. OP, whether you stay or go is totally up to you. But make your decision based on the firm understanding that this is NOT going to change.

    4. Cringing 24/7*

      THIS! OP, it’s not just that your HR person sucks (they do), it’s that your boss and company and environment suck.

    1. HR Jedi*

      This may as well be a cult and not an employer. My opinion is that the point of any selection process that is this long and this tedious is to make the person selected feel like it was a huge triumph to be chosen so that means that they will put up with bullshit like this. The LW mentioned going through this once already for a promotion, and I would speculate that day went through a similar process to get their current job. I think that this should be considered deprogramming and that it is time to move on.

      1. MK*

        Eh, this sounds like an absurd overreaction to me. Five interviews are a lot, but…a cult? Deprogramming?

        1. Loulou*

          Yeah I think they just have an overly lengthy recruitment process, which is not really the same thing as a cult (!!) We also don’t know based on the facts in the letter that OP is definitely not getting the job, but I agree that assuming they don’t, it should be a wakeup call to go job searching elsewhere if they want a promotion.

        2. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

          Sounds lie a government or nonprofit job where policy has too many opinions and politics in decision making. Classic hiring by committee where consensus is needed and not being achieved for reasons beyond the Lw’s control

      2. Snow Globe*

        You think the point is to make the person selected feel a certain way? I think you are giving the employers too much credit for being able to plan and go to so much trouble for a secret motive. Never ascribe to ill intentions what can be ascribed to incompetence. They just don’t know how to make hiring decisions.

        1. pancakes*

          Yes. And there are lots of feelings people might have about this, not just the one. “This is a ridiculous number of interviews, maybe I should be looking around elsewhere,” for example. The idea that everyone or even most people are likely to feel very flattered by having been selected and extra compliant as a result is incredibly specific, and doesn’t ring true.

          1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

            … which means that the most competent candidates go elsewhere, and the one who is finally selected is truly grateful because nobody else would have them.

        2. Anonym*

          This. Crap processes are endemic in companies of all sizes, especially around hiring. They’re running a script – this is how we do promotions – without thinking through what’s really effective. Plus, hiring often happens around the edges of many people’s day to day work. It sucks, and they may well lose OP over it since they’re clearly not getting the impact on morale, but frazzled cluelessness and failing to assess processes effectively are just way, way more common than grand, laborious schemes to manipulate a single person into gratitude… for something they’d probably be quite grateful for anyway.

          My company (well, some areas of it) approaches promotions this way, and despite management being painfully aware of losing people because of it have still failed to change the process. It’s just like the 78th thing on their list of priorities. Hopefully they’ll get to it eventually.

          1. Falling Diphthong*

            I think people can get hung up on “But is the incompetence malicious?” when the secret thoughts thought by the incompetent don’t matter nearly so much as the incompetencies’ effect on you.

            1. DJ Abbott*

              The only thing is, it’s also common for people or employers to have malicious intent and pretend it’s because they’re incompetent.

          2. Münchner Kindl*

            I don’t see a contradiction in “crap processes are really common” and “crap processes are used to manipulate (most) people into a certain mindset”.

            Just like people learn bad coping behaviours, bullying, gaslighting, bad argumentation – or good methods etc. – from family, school etc. while growing up; and managing from their first managers, but then don’t activly reflect on “is this good or bad? and why? If bad, how do I change it?”; instead, most people go the easiest route “that’s how I learned it, that’s how life/ the world/ this company works”.

            Which is both cluess incompetence and malicious manipulation.

        3. Daisy-dog*

          Yep, 100% incompetence. Their thought process: *Of course* OP is willing to wait around this whole time. She is so happy working for this company that she will keep up the good work in her current role. And she certainly values the needs of the company very highly, so she will wait to ensure that we get the best. possible. candidate. for this role even if it takes another 6 months. She’s so terrific, just not terrific enough that we don’t want to first exhaustively search for other candidates for this position.

          I worked for a company that did this to me 3 separate times. I had just started to make progress on the 3rd application when I got an offer from an external job. Internal job – 2 months before I heard anything about starting interviews, External job – 5 weeks from application to offer

          1. ferrina*

            That thought process is if they are even thinking about OP. Plenty of companies just….don’t think about their employees.

        4. turquoisecow*

          Yeah I think they just don’t know how to hire.

          A former coworker of mine was hired after like 4 or 5 interviews. There wasn’t anything malicious about it, just that her boss couldn’t make a decision. He narrowed it down to two finalists and then had his peers and his boss interview them as well. There was nothing malicious about it, he just couldn’t make a decision between the final two candidates and wanted outside opinions. She confessed to me after being hired that she thought it was kind of drawn out. But that was not the norm for the company at all – myself and another peer in the same role were hired after one interview each.

          If it’s the same department then OP might just be dealing with a fairly incompetent or indecisive department head running the hiring/promotion process. Coupled with a large company where bureaucracy moved slowly, and I could see it taking 4-5 months to hire and the process being drawn out. Doesn’t necessarily mean the company is a cult or the boss is malicious.

        5. Rain's Small Hands*

          My husband works for a company with an onerous interview process – and right now they are losing people faster than they can hire them – and they aren’t compromising on the process – or the salary – making it even harder to bring people in. They’ve STARTED to talk about both the process and the salary…but the wheels of a big corporation move slowly.

      3. Smithy*

        5 interviews is a lot and is tedious and arguably not the sign of effective HR – but it’s also fairly common in certain sectors without remotely being cultish.

        I think that there is a dispassionate, if irritating, reading of the OP’s story – first that due to whatever equity policy exists in this company, it’s easier or encouraged to make positions externally available. And their policy dictates that external and internal candidates go through the same interview process. Inclusive of the 30 min HR screening (knock off 1 interview right there….). Then because the OP applied as soon as the job was posted, they went through the extensive process early and the reason it’s dragged on is that they haven’t been able to recruit well or enough candidates combined with internal schedules potentially delaying processes.

        And while it may very well be that the OP is not getting this job and should DEFINITELY be looking elsewhere, the hiring committee/manager may also be very confident that they don’t owe the OP expediency because the OP is already there and hired. If/when they opt to go with the OP, there won’t be an extensive waiting period of giving notice/taking time off.

        In terms of long interviewing processes – I will also add that I like them. Yes, they are standard to my industry and on occasion I have found the processes to be either disorganized or asked for more than I’m willing to give. In both cases I’ve withdrawn, however I like that I had the chance to see employers show how messy they were. I don’t know how much employers gain by 1 half hour and 4 one hour interviews with me conducted by different people – but I feel I learn a LOT more during those 4.5 hours over two months rather than 2, one hour interviews during two weeks.

    2. MK*

      May I ask where you base this? The OP lost one promotion to a more experienced candidate and is being put through the regular interview process for this one. This does suggest that she isn’t the shoo-in she considers herself, and she should revise her expectations, but not that she has no chance.

      1. Passionfruit Tea*

        Because they’re still extensively shopping around when OP is right there. I they were actually considering OP they wouldn’t make them jump through hoop after hoop nor would they make the dismissive ‘still looking’ comment. They did that because they are in face still looking.

        1. Lab Boss*

          I’m with MK here. It sounds like OP is overestimating what an obvious choice she is, but there’s no reason to assume that the company has already decided not to give her the job and is stringing her along on purpose. The interviews are excessive but that just sounds like they’re on the fence about her and are hoping for the one interview that makes it easy to give her a definitive yes or no.

          You say “extensively shopping around” like it’s a bad thing, but if OP is a borderline choice then they’d be wrong to not see who else is out there. “Still looking” isn’t dismissive, it’s honest.

          1. MsM*

            She’s a known quantity. If they’re still dithering this much in spite of that, then deep down it’s a “no” and they’re stalling until someone comes along who can help them justify that “no.”

            That, or they just don’t know how to manage hiring, period. But if I were OP, I’d be shopping my resume around.

          2. Falling Diphthong*

            When people are extensively shopping around to find an alternative to you, that is a bad thing for your prospects of them picking you.

            It may be the right thing for them to do–I don’t know if the concern with offering to OP is because of her skills, or because one person on the hiring committee really dislikes her, or because they are unsure what they want and hope local meteorological conditions will conspire to send them a sign. But moving into the mindset “I need to go elsewhere to get promoted” is where OP should be shifting, even if come October they still aren’t quite sure what they want in the role and are still interviewing.

          3. Mill Miker*

            There’s also the possibility that OP, being so good at her job, is seen as very valuable in her current role. The company could be selfishly looking for alternatives in hopes of not having to replace her.

            1. Jora Malli*

              I’ve seen this happen to a lot of people. The person who has worked their butt off for the company ends up stuck because management doesn’t think they’ll be able to get a replacement for their current position who’s as good as they are.

          4. Smithy*

            I agree with this.

            And without knowing now senior the role is or the type of role….that level of slowness being thorough and thoughtful as opposed to “dithering” is a real possibility. And then based on summer availability/vacation time – particularly for a process with that many interviews, this doesn’t seem intentionally slow as a matter of being harmful or disrespectful.

            I was in one job where there was an internal candidate for a position posted externally. It took over six months before she was hired and someone (who was understood to be the #1 choice for that position) came on in a different role. Was the internal candidate the most qualified perfect choice for the role? No. But they also couldn’t find anyone else who was and would take the job, but before deciding the internal candidate would work (albeit in a growth capacity) they wanted to make sure. And because of this deliberate pace and tough job to fill, around the Christmas/New Years period – this process basically was entirely paused for at least a month if not more.

            Now….if all of that makes someone’s skin crawl and think they couldn’t work in that type of environment, that’s fair. But it’s not quite the same as being cultish or dismissive.

        2. Loulou*

          Making internal candidates go through the full recruitment process is mandatory in plenty of settings. The hiring manager doesn’t choose to do it and can’t skip it because they like the internal candidates.

          Definitely sounds like OP is not a shoo-in but we don’t know that they’re not being considered.

          1. Rain's Small Hands*

            And there may be other mandatory components – I worked with a company that had a court ordered mandate to interview and hire X% African-Americans after a lawsuit. Their hiring process was slow – it was a slog to find enough people to interview – obviously the company had a reputation to overcome which made some people who would help fill the quota choose not to apply.

        3. Falling Diphthong*

          This. They have an OP in the hand, five interviews in, and yet have spent months combing through the brush, and plan to keep doing that indefinitely.

        4. Just Your Everyday Crone*

          The LW reports their comment as still “interviewing,” not still “looking,” which to me are different. With that many interviews, they may still be doing the final rounds with an original pool of candidates. Interviews can be hard to schedule.

        5. Anonym*

          Disagree. Many companies have strict policies around this sort of process – mine does. If that’s the case, their hands are tied. No in-seat promotions past a certain level, X number of interviews, all candidates treated the same regardless of whether they’re internal or external; they have to run a full hiring process, both for equity reasons and to ensure they’re actually getting the best person for the role (in theory). Now, I’m not saying it’s the most effective – it has terrible effect on morale and we’re actively trying to change the policy since we lose great internal people over it – but in many places it is policy.

          1. Lydia*

            That doesn’t change the fact that we’re almost 5 months down the line and they didn’t share anything with the OP for two months. If that’s normal in any industry, that industry has major process problems.

            1. Anonym*

              Absolutely it’s a process problem (that my company certainly has). My point is that it’s not necessarily indicative of how they view OP as a candidate. OP should do what’s best for them, but it’s not helpful for them to assume that a crap process means they’re being personally discounted as a candidate.

              1. Lab Boss*

                This. There’s two different potential issues here: OP is being kept waiting because the company specifically is delaying choosing her, or OP is being kept waiting because the company has an inefficient process that drags on over multiple months & multiple interviews. Either of them might give OP reason to look elsewhere, but (to borrow phrasing from other answers here,) it’s not clear that the company is being slow *AT* OP.

        6. Observer*

          Because they’re still extensively shopping around when OP is right there

          Given everything else we know, that could just mean that they are incompetent or that they have some fairly rigid rules about the process, such as needing to interview X number of people or proving that they made serious efforts to recruit Y number of people of a certain demographic. And, of course the two issues are not mutually exclusive. In fact, I would be willing to bet the the Venn diagram of the two types of HR are almost a smooth circle.

          1. Rain's Small Hands*

            There is also the corporate reality of “MAYBE we can get by without this position….maybe a recession is coming…..maybe our sales will come in below target….maybe this job will end up being affected by the reorg we are in the early stages of drafting and end up with a different management structure – in which case Jane will want to be the one who makes the decision” I’ve been in plenty of situations where “delay this position for a bit while unrelated things pan out” was the directive from above. And that’s so frustrating as both a candidate and a hiring manager – because sometimes you have a great candidate – and you know if you string them along, they might not be there when your boss says “oh, go ahead on that position.”

      2. fhqwhgads*

        I think either there’s a mismatch of expectations. The way the letter describes the first experience, it sounds like this was less a promotion, and more applying for an internal opening that would be a step up. So, ok, they didn’t get selected for that and an external person did. But the way the letter describes the more recent situation, it sounds like they were surprised the company decided to look at external candidates – which implies this wasn’t a higher-level position vacancy but intended to be an eval of LW’s current performance etc and if it merited the promotion. Like an in-place promotion. If it were just a matter of “yes you are promoted from widget-maker II to widget-maker III” LW’s take would make a ton of sense. But if both situations were “a widget-maker III left so now we’re hiring another”, then the inclusion of external applicants is completely normal, and multiple interviews is completely normal. 5 is still excessive for an internal candidate, and the lack of follow up with an internal candidate is still crappy. But it’d probably help the LW to reframe the situation from “denied promotion” to “applied for new job internally and didn’t get it”.

    3. Anya Last Nerve*

      I think it really depends on how senior of a role this is. In my industry, 5 interviews for a senior role would not be considered excessive and for the amount of money the person will be paid, the company is certainly inclined to have a rigorous and competitive selection process. And I have seen internal candidates who are the only ones in consideration for a role be subjected to this many interviews.

      I also think it’s important to keep in mind that many companies require a rigorous selection process to ensure a diverse slate of candidates is considered.

    4. EPLawyer*

      This is a very strong possibility.

      OP your colleagues think you are a great cnadidate. But they aren’t the ones making the decision. The higher ups are. It is possible that they decided they just aren’t going to promote you. Or you are lacking some skill they think is critical. What you need to do is talk to someone about what is going on. Not just a check in on the status but what you can do to make yourself more competitive. I would talk to your boss not those involved in hiring.

      Depending on what they say, you will then have a lot of information to use to decide if you can stay with this company and grow or if you need to go elsewhere to move up in your career.

      1. Artemesia*

        People get pigeonholed. They considered her for another role she didn’t get. Maybe they now have a firm impression and just aren’t going to select her for advancement. It can be ridiculous and unfair, but it is common for someone to just not be viewed by higher ups as ‘promotion material.’ The OP may get this promotion but I would be surprised. She definitely needs to be looking elsewhere if only to feel more confident about herself.

        1. My Useless 2 Cents*

          Whether OP is missing critical wanted skill/experience or if they do their job so well that company just doesn’t want to try and replace, I don’t think we have enough info to judge. But to me 2 months of silence on an internal job candidate is just not respectful. I would expect some kind of update even if its “We’ve had a lot of really excellent external candidates applying for this position.” or “We’ve had to back burner filling this position, we’ve just been so busy.”

          Related side story: I was originally hired in a receptionist position but not long after being hired made a lateral move to another department where I excelled. A year later, the company was sold. Shortly after that I was promoted. A few years later I learned that I would have never been given that promotion if the company hadn’t been sold. The reason, the old owner thought I did so well at the job that they couldn’t afford to lose me in that department. The kicker is, if I had stayed in that job, I probably would have pursued outside opportunities and left after another year or so. Because I was promoted, I’ve just passed my 20 year anniversary at company. Moral of the story… sometimes higher ups don’t realize they are just shooting themselves in the foot when they try to keep a high performer in a position rather than advancing them. OP, please keep this in mind if you are passed over again.

    5. Purple Cat*

      In my org someone was (unreasonably) testy because he wasn’t offered a promotion to fill a vacant spots days after it was announced – but behind the scenes they were trying to get that person to stay. Dragging the process out for MONTHS, means they’re just not that into you. That’s also a terribly long recruiting process in general, and I’m sure they miss out on tons of candidates.

    6. tennisfan*

      The fun ways that recruitment can be inscrutable even if you are an internal candidate.

      The one piece of data OP might have is whether recruitment always takes a long time at their company. With such a lengthy interview process, it sounds like it might. But if the company has shown an ability to move quickly when it wants to, then it’s likely not the internal process that is the hold-up here.

      It would bother me especially that my own supervisor, who appears to be the hiring manager, isn’t doing a better job of communicating with me. They wouldn’t need to reveal privileged information to me of course, but at least acknowledge what’s going on periodically.

      1. Anonym*

        Good point! OP, is it possible to ask a few trusted colleagues who have been promoted in recent years what the experience was like? This would definitely help fill out the picture for you.

      2. Lora*


        How do promotions normally go, and what have people who have been promoted internally gone through? Regardless of what the official policy is?

        PreviousJob just lost a ton of people because they didn’t want to do internal promotions and came up with 1085614306106 excuses why they didn’t want to promote this or that person internally. There were several reasons given, all of them ridiculous:
        -They had a policy that you had to have done X, Y and Z and have A, B and C specific educational qualifications for that particular level (they had a more-senior person with none of that experience OR the qualifications, but he had done a really great powerpoint for the COO so he was promoted all the way to VP).
        -According to policy, the promotion level requested had to be approved by the full executive office and after seven years of hearing presentations from one of the directors, they somehow still couldn’t recall who the guy was, nor did they think he had done anything outstanding despite a track record of many successful big projects.
        -They thought they had found a more suitable outside candidate who ended up reneging on his acceptance of the job when he realized the true cost of living in the area, but by then had already rejected the internal candidate who promptly found another job elsewhere, and had to restart their entire hiring plan rather than take a third or fourth choice, who had realized by then that the job wasn’t paying commensurate with the level it was advertised.
        -The interim guy who had been doing the job kind of crappy but vaguely OK for a year, had no operations experience and it was an operations job – this by itself was disqualifying as far as I was concerned, but when I asked why they didn’t go ahead and make him the Actual Role since they hadn’t found any better candidates and Interim Guy seems to actually want the job, the reason I was given was “he can go off and marry his boyfriend at Other Company.” Same company had a lot of homophobia nonsense in other aspects.

        Who ended up getting the jobs? In some cases nobody, they couldn’t find a single person who wanted the role, and in four cases that I know of the guys who got promoted were nearly identical down to the facial hair, and all were promoted based on “potential” rather than demonstrated capability – and all lived in areas that left them without too many better options.

    7. V. Anon*

      As a counterpoint, I had to do 5 internal interviews for a lateral move between departments. I did get the job (I think I was always going to get the job), but the whole process was terrible and allowed various people to go on petty power trips and generally make a mess of something that should have been a lot more straightforward. Only now, in a serious hiring crunch, is this stupid, stupid process being revised. I am guessing OP works at a very desirable company that doesn’t feel the pressure to hustle for good employees like everybody else right now.

      So, OP, all is not lost. But if they don’t give you this promotion, start looking. You are probably an interview pro at this point. Might as well use that skill to get a great new job!

    8. Thin Mints didn't make me thin*

      Whether or not you’re getting the promotion, consider this an opportunity to look at similar jobs at other companies. It might be that you could find a much better situation by reaching for the same title at another organization.

      1. Observer*

        This is the best advice.

        Don’t make assumptions about this job. But do look elsewhere.

    9. Artemesia*

      Yeah. Start using that interview energy to interview somewhere else. These people are yanking you around. If you want to make progress and get paid more find another job.

    10. justanobody*

      Definitely agree. If they wanted Lw#3 to have this promotion, they would have given it to them by now. Still waiting with no word for 2 months after 5 (!) interviews. Writing is on the wall.
      “If I get passed up for this promotion, I honestly don’t think I would ever apply for one again. I don’t want to leave my job but I’m starting to think I’ll have to if I ever want to advance in my career.”
      Better start looking outside your company for that promotion.

    11. Sam I Am*

      This. It’s probably incompetence more than malice, but at the very least, they are not being respectful of OP as an internal candidate. Reading slightly more into it, they don’t seem motivated to move her through the pipeline, which suggests they are not all that excited by her candidacy. Imo if management wanted OP to get the promotion, she’d have it already. The lip service about how amazing OP is possibly just that…talk is cheap. Look at how people treat you, not what they tell you.

  5. Albow*

    OP 5, dom’t mention the move. Just put his address on your CV. “I’m planning to move” sounds like you’re not committed or there might be issues. Just … live there, on paper.

    1. Ja Raffe*

      This could be an issue if OP 5 is currently working in the smaller city, as presumably that would be listed on the resume, etc.

      But if not, it could be a reasonable decision.

      I once did much the same thing, listed a local address to get a job in another city. I was not recently unemployed at the time, and was VERY motivated to move to this larger city without too much delay, for personal reasons, and as such was willing to make the drive for an interview if given at least a days notice. I was pretty sure the entry level positions I had been applying for were just screening out my resume without a local address listed, never mind a cover letter, and was feeling caught in this catch-22, since trying to move to the area (find an apartment) first without a local job was also problematic.

      So I asked someone I had recently started seeing in the new city if they minded if I listed their address to apply for jobs in the area, they agreed, and it worked. 7 years later, I’m still at the same company, in the same city. I’m also now married to the same person who let me list their address, so I guess we would legitimately list the same address as each other now, heh.

    2. Ewesername*

      I never put my physical address on my resume anymore. Name, email, phone number.
      I changed cities during the pandemic. When I was applying, I wrote in my cover letter “ I am moving to (city) in (month). I would be delighted meet with you to discuss this opportunity.” It worked. Some of the employers I met with confirmed that I was definitely moving on my own volition – they just wanted to make sure I wasn’t going to ask for relocation allowance because that wasn’t in their budget.

      1. LawLady*

        I also don’t put my physical address anymore. It just seems… odd? Who needs to know that?

        1. Pisces*

          A recruiter told me to leave my address off anyway, saying it’s no one’s business where I live and who knows what they might do with that info.

      2. Lizzo*

        Same–no need to put a physical address, especially for privacy reasons. (I’ve found my resume posted on the internet without my permission.)

    3. Drake Mallard*

      This is exactly what I did when I was trying to move to my now husband’s city. Just use his address and don’t mention it again unless they ask in the interview or you get the offer and need time to arrange the move.

    4. Lauren*

      I did the same. I used my actual address and kept being rejected before the interview stage. One job I met every requirement, had the exact experience they asked for so was disappointed when I wasn’t asked for interview. When I reached out to the recruiter to ask what I could do in future to improve my chances, he laughed at me and said I should check the location of the job more carefully in future and I lived too far away to be considered. I don’t understand how a recruiter not consider that relocation was an option! I updated my address to my partners going forth and landed the next job that I applied for

  6. Anona*

    I would rescind an offer for someone who agreed to start very quickly and wanted to delay their start for MONTHS because they thought a vacation would be nice. There are plenty of serious candidates who would stand by their word.

    1. Can Can Cannot*

      LW2, you might want to re-think your idea of postponing your start date. It’s pretty common to hear about offers being rescinded these days, so starting quickly might be a better strategy to avoid that fate.

    2. Well...*

      Agreed it’s hella unprofessional but also part of me vibed with how amazing it would be to have summer off.

      Yes, it WOULD be amazing. Nobody gets it though :(

      1. The Person from the Resume*

        I think the LW could have asked for a longer break (perhaps not until fall, though) if they had done so when they were originally negotiating the start date. It’s too late.

        Asking for a change now is going back on your commitments but also makes it appear you didn’t think things through in the beginning and you seem kind of flaky meaning your plans/commitments change suddenly based on whims.

        1. Allonge*

          Yes, even for places that would have agreed to a later start date in the initial negotiations, the ‘I changed my mind, need a longer vacay’ would be too much.

          OP, this totally depends on your individual circumstances and the industry, but – can you afford (finanically, reputation-wise, etc) to not start this job, have your summer off and look for something that starts in September? There are some industries desperately hiring! Make your calculations based on a bit more than ‘it would be amaaaazing to have the summer off’ is my point.

        2. Sasha*

          This – LW, the last person who did this to me (and people really do ask for stuff like this) was delaying because they were still interviewing and were using our organisation to leverage a better offer. They delayed their start date until the better offer was forthcoming, then no-showed on their new start date (my industry is a small one, I know his referees and also know where he ended up working).

          Obviously he is now on our “never hire” list, and he also made it onto the “never hire” list of everyone who knows the story (we work in healthcare where no-showing is a serious matter, he was extremely lucky I didn’t report him to the regulator).

          Anyone pulling a similar trick (delaying start date repeatedly) would have the offer pulled instantly. And LW, you have no idea whether your org has had their own Vikram in the past.

        3. Lab Boss*

          Agreed. My wife and I got engaged just as she was starting an interview process and she negotiated a delayed start date right up front so she could focus on laying wedding-planning groundwork. They made sure she knew she’d have slightly less seniority than others who started on time, but had no problem with it *because* she negotiated it from the beginning.

          1. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

            I did that once too. I got a job offer in mid June but had to give a month’s notice, then I was getting married, then I had to relocate across the country so I ended up needing 2 months between jobs. It was totally fine since we arranged it from the start, but I can’t imagine waiting until a few days before I was set to start to ask for another month or two!

        4. Keeley Jones, The Independent Woman*

          My current job there was 5 weeks between the offer and when I started, I had a vacation planned the week after the initial start date they gave me, and they were totally fine waiting a few more weeks.

          However, it was only two extra weeks, and they knew during the process I couldn’t start earlier. Asking for months delay in general isn’t something a lot of companies would accommodate, even with advanced noticed (unless you’re have a very specialized skill set that’s hard to find) let alone literal days before.

          Yes, having the summer off would be nice! My youngest son asks me every summer when I get “summer break” and I have to burst his bubble that as an adult, that really
          isn’t a thing.

          1. KRM*

            This. After our layoff when I got the new job, I asked for a start date that was after 1-a preplanned vacation and 2-after the oldjob would stop paying our salaries (layoff triggered the WARN act). This was for a nice break, so as to not go into vacation debt (already had a big family vacation planned/paid for later that year that I used all my vacation for) and to not have to do any paperwork with oldjob. But I asked for that up front! And there may have been other negotiations if they had really needed me to start earlier, but they said yes, so that was fine. But I don’t think it would have gone well if I had asked for two weeks and then a week in called and said “you know, time off is really nice and I want more, so can I start 4 weeks from now?”.

        5. Falling Diphthong*

          Exactly–it’s totally normal to build in a break when you’re first negotiating, and a lot of people have done that. We had two months before my husband started his post grad school job, and used it to travel, and I would encourage anyone considering that option to take it–it was great.

          A few days before you start, and going back on what was previously agreed–those are going to really mar your reputation.

        6. kittycontractor*

          When I first read “fall” my mind went to October/November. I live in FL so that’s probably when we get as close to anything resembling fall.

        7. Kes*

          Agreed with this. When I got my first job out of school I interviewed in early summer but asked to start in September and they were okay with that, so I enjoyed a final summer off before starting work full time. But coming back later asking to change the start date significantly just because you want to looks very flakey and is likely to go over badly.

        8. Observer*

          Asking for a change now is going back on your commitments but also makes it appear you didn’t think things through in the beginning and you seem kind of flaky meaning your plans/commitments change suddenly based on whims.

          Exactly. It’s not just the long lead time. It’s that you are reneging on a commitment at the last minute.

        9. MCMonkeyBean*

          Yes, I think in general asking for a later start date because a vacation would be nice is a perfectly reasonable thing to do! Between jobs is the best time to fit in a long vacation if you can afford to be unpaid during that time and that’s a totally normal thing to ask for, even if it’s also common that the new job might respond with “no we really can’t wait that long.” Certainly no harm in asking!

          But it is definitely not a good look to agree to a start date, wait a month until right before you are supposed to start when they’ve probably already gone through the logistics of getting your email and laptop all set up and put meetings on their calendars for who will train you on what when, etc–and then say wait actually let’s push this back.

          It’s the late notice that is the issue, rather than the request itself!

      2. MK*

        Oh, people get it. They also get how amazing it would be for the future coworkers to not have to cover the workload for the vacant role for two more months.

        1. Allonge*

          I think Well… was talking about ‘getting’ the summer off, not ‘getting’ that it would be amazing :)

        2. Well...*

          Yes I meant we don’t get the summer off, not that nobody gets why it would be great lol

        3. I'd Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

          I mean, also they get it in general….and trying to justify the time off by explaining how amazing it would be to have will come off as a little tone-deaf for sure.

          Like, we get it. We’re not pooh-poohing the time off because we don’t get how nice it would be to have.

          1. Well...*

            I meant nobody gets to have summers off. Not that nobody understands how great that would be.

            1. ThatGirl*

              Teachers kinda sorta get summers off.

              My husband got a month off from mid-May to mid-June at his last job (university staff, 10-month position).

              But in general, no, most people don’t get summers off.

                1. ThatGirl*

                  I know many teachers and professors and about their contracts. Some/many teachers can prorate their pay to cover the summer, and either way, there is a chunk of time where they’re not expected to be at their primary jobs every day. “Off” may be a relative term, but that’s why I said “kinda sorta”.

                2. New Jack Karyn*

                  I’m a teacher, and I’m not working for two months. I think it counts as having the summer off.

                3. Evens*

                  I absolutely have summers off. And spring break, and 2 weeks at Christmas…..

                  I know not all teachers have this break, but a lot do!

                4. Books and Cooks*

                  I’m confused…are you saying teachers are actually teaching empty classrooms over the summer? Or are doing administrative work in the school building all summer? If “teaching contracts usually cover ‘a school year,'” and a school year is typically September – June, how is that not having the summer off?

                  I’ve only known a couple of teachers (outside of when I was a student), but one of them I knew because she worked with me at my part-time job during the summer, and she left when her district’s school year started because she had to go “back to work.”

                  I’m not trying to be argumentative, I genuinely do not understand what you’re saying here.

              1. California Dreamin’*

                Teachers, yes! My mom was a teacher for many years, and it was great when I was young and needed summer supervision. We took a lot of summer trips. Later she moved into district administration and had to give up her summers. However, I believe teachers aren’t paid during the summer break. My aunt was a teacher in the same district and she took some option that spread her salary out over 12 months so she didn’t have to budget it and save up for the non-paid months.

                1. Artemesia*

                  typical in teaching is a 10 mos contract where the pay and benefits get spread over 12 months. I think most teacher do it that way; I certainly did decades ago.

      3. Passionfruit Tea*

        It would have been possible if LW had said that from the get go. If you negotiate for a job starting in September that’s what you will get if they hire you but you can’t do that post negotiations.

        1. Well...*

          Ok, I’ll correct to: it’s exceedingly rare to get summers off, and that’s why I vibed with the desperate and unrealistic craving.

          I guess it’s not as relatable to others as it was to me.

          1. After 33 years ...*

            I guess I can relate to it, but I wouldn’t accept it. I’d feel badly for both the co-workers and the other candidates who were rejected because someone accepted the position.

          2. I'd Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

            I think you’re reading some disagreement in the comments that isn’t there. Most people can relate to it, and that’s part of why it’s a tricky thing to ask for.

            We’re not saying you’re wrong, we’re just relating it back to the question in OP’s letter.

            1. Julia*

              It’s coming off as weirdly nitpicky to me. Well… just said “ahh, wouldn’t it be nice to get the summer off? too bad we can’t.” and people are responding with a bunch of exhausting Well Actuallying

              1. Clobberin’ Time*

                The letter was off-putting and likely people are reacting to “but OP has a point about summers off” negatively for that reason.

              2. I'd Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

                I agree with that perception but I also think it’s a little bit a facet of how online discussion threads evolve.

                People aren’t necessarily refreshing the page as they comment, so you can get multiple comments pretty quickly, and then people start responding to each other. So, for example, I didn’t think of my nested comment as a response to Well…, I thought of it as a response to MK; and then people are also bringing it back to their reactions from the letter.

              3. Well...*

                Yea I think I hit a nerve, and yes it is indeed exhausting. The commenters these days seem to give the LWs far less grace than days past. If people who are a little rough around the edges in the professional world get piled on when they write in (to the point that even empathizing with the idea of wanting vacation is harshly reacted to), it’s a shame because they are the people the site could help most.

                1. Sam I Am*

                  This is what I was thinking (and I wholeheartedly agree with your original comment). My impression is that the LW is a young professional and was genuinely asking because they know it might be a bad idea! Someone seeking a gut-check and trying to learn is not deserving of a pile-on at all. When you’ve been a student with summers off your whole life, coming into the working world with a year-round schedule can be an adjustment, and that’s ok.

                  (Before someone says “well I worked every summer of my life as a student” — sure, but students still generally have more schedule variation/flexibility and more vacation time than full-time working professionals.)

          3. Colette*

            Oh, I understand the impulse, but it’s not a reasonable request at this point. And the OP has already had 4 weeks off, so I don’t think those who have been working this whole time will be terribly sympathetic.

          4. KRM*

            I think it’s pretty relatable to WANT that, but everyone is essentially saying “We all want things, but can’t always have them, especially when we didn’t negotiate them ahead of time.”

            OP, I agree that time off is great! I had 6 weeks off after a layoff! But I ASKED up front at new job! From your letter, you have basically had 6 weeks (planned vaca, notice, and time off) in their eyes (doesn’t matter that they weren’t all ‘off’ for you), and they accepted that. Suddenly having you say “actually what if I didn’t start for ANOTHER six weeks?” right before your start date is both unrealistic and unprofessional. You either have to negotiate up front, or risk getting the job pulled because they feel they can’t rely on your word.

          5. Falling Diphthong*

            To have as a passing thought is relatable, to consider acting on it not so much.

            For a work analogy, there’s a time to propose big things and a time to propose small tweaks. We do not appreciate the coworker saying “Hey, what if we completely re-imagined what this should look like? Sure, it would render our last few months’ work moot, but I just really like this completely different concept….”

      4. Epsilon Delta*

        Oh, I agree it would be awesome and I *get* it! I have been feeling the desire for an extended vacation (more than 5 days) for awhile now. We do not get enough time off in the US and sabbaticals are not a common thing.

        But if I hired someone and we agreed on a start date a month out, then they came to me a week before the start date and said, “actually I’d like to take the whole summer off,” I would have serious concerns about whether they would ever start at all. And if they did start, whether we would have issues with the way they used PTO (ie, more than they have available, taking two week vacations with a days notice). So if they asked me this way, most likely they would get the summer off but they would not be starting at my company at the end of the summer.

        1. Well...*

          I meant (pretty much) nobody gets summers off. Not that nobody understands how great that would be.

      5. Raboot*

        I took 3 months off last time I switched jobs, and accepted the new one before I gave notice. I just made it part of the negotiations. I don’t think it’s that out there.

        1. Captain Swan*

          It’s not the 3 months, it’s the asking for additional delay of many more weeks just before the start date.
          You negotiated for a delay of 3 months and the hiring manager accepted, so that’s all good.
          OP2 wants to ask (after a negotiated 6 week delay) for another month or more off, that’s likely to get the offer rescinded.

    3. AnotherLibrarian*

      Yeah, don’t do this. There’s reasons to need to delay a start date that are real (medical issues, death in the family, other types of emergencies), but this is not that. This is “I want a longer vacation” and that’s going to come off as super flaky. Your future coworkers have been covering this job for a while and they deserve some consideration.

      1. Anona*

        Plus it sounds like she’s already had four weeks off. Don’t get greedy. Or there may be no job to go to.

        1. ecnaseener*

          There’s nothing wrong with wanting a long vacation. What’s relevant here is that LW already agreed to a start date, not that you think long vacations are “greedy” (?!)

          1. londonedit*

            Yeah…I once got a new job and it just so happened that my month’s notice period with the company I was working for at the time took me right up to the start of the three-week summer holiday I’d had booked in for ages. I explained that to the new company, and they agreed that I’d start the new job on the Monday after I returned from my holiday. That wasn’t a problem at all – but I explained it all and agreed it right off the bat when I accepted the job offer. I didn’t wait until I was getting to the end of my notice period and then contact the new company and say ‘Hey, I’ve decided to take another three weeks off, can I start in the middle of August instead of the last week in July?’ There’s also the financial aspect to take into consideration – of course the OP knows their own finances, but I know I’d struggle to make ends meet if I had a two-month gap between jobs. It was difficult enough having that three-week gap!

          2. GythaOgden*

            Long vacations aren’t greedy. But with resentments already simmering around some aspects of the workplace, eight weeks is going to look a bit…off colour. I don’t think people should be chained to their desks, and most people are going to take some time off between June and August, but the work is still there and it needs to get done, and in our case (facilities/maintenance) other people have to step in to take care of stuff that can’t often wait until /tomorrow/.

            It’s like people swanning in and out of the office at the moment, crowing about how awesome it is to work from home and how they could maybe commit to one or two days in the office per month…when we’ve been here for the duration and spent the darkest days of the pandemic doing the admin equivalent of being up at dawn to milk the cows so you can have a latte with your breakfast.

            I’d say ‘optics’, but actually it goes deeper than that. The feeling that someone else is not just getting something more than you do but rubbing your nose in it is the part that is tone-deaf. That can begin to wreck even the most understanding and flexible of business relationships, and then people wonder why others are getting upset.

            The best way to do this is not to give up the perks, the WFH or the long vacations, but to recognise how you come across to people who aren’t able to take that time, have jobs that enable you to do yours, and to show a bit of respect and decorum around others. Maybe the solution is not to take things away from you, but to give things to me. But at the same time, when inequalities get much more /obvious/, you can handle things a bit better than standing in front of me saying ‘I got mine’ or ‘Why can’t you eat cake?’

          3. anonymous73*

            The wanting a long vacation isn’t the greedy part. It’s the asking for an additional 5-6 weeks off AT THE LAST MINUTE after pushing the start date out 1 month from accepting the job part.

            1. ecnaseener*

              That would look bad (and be inconsiderate/unprofessional) regardless of whether LW had already had 4 weeks off.

              1. Observer*

                Yes, it would. But it looks even worse. Because when someone is coming off a tough job, for instance, people can be understanding. But when you’re coming off what is essentially a long vacation it just sounds like you’re just not ready to take the job seriously.

          4. Anona*

            That’s your take and not my opinion. She agreed to a start date and should stick with it.

          5. MCMonkeyBean*

            Yes, OP definitely cannot ask to change so close to the start date, but I hate that a number of people here seem to be acting like the concept of having that time off at all is so absurd. It’s not greedy or unreasonable to *want* that time off. It’s just something that would have needed to be agreed to much sooner.

          1. SnappinTerrapin*

            Wanting a good thing isn’t inherently greedy. However, if the desire for more of the good thing leads one to lose out on a greater good, or puts the greater good at risk, then acting on that desire could fairly be characterized as motivated by greed.

    4. Um...?*

      Hasn’t OP2’s new employer waited 6-ish weeks already (2 weeks’ vacation, 2 weeks notice period, 2 weeks off)? What more can a person ask at this point? It’s not as if they are completing an academic program, have a contract to finish out, etc.

      1. Hlao-roo*

        I think the new employer is waiting about 4-5 weeks. Assuming the start date of “next Monday” is July 25, I think a likely timeline is something along the lines of:

        – accepted the job offer while on the 2-weeks pre-planned vacation
        – gave notice at old company when back from vacation (possibly June 27)
        – last day at old company July 8 (this is just a guess)
        – two weeks off are the weeks of July 11 and July 18
        – start at new company July 25

        This is my best guess of the situation. It’s possible that the new employer has been waiting longer (maybe the OP accepted the job offer before the two weeks of vacation–sometime mid-June).

      2. Anona*

        This is where being greedy comes in. OP is not concerned with the work load of the company, her commitment, and other employees who may be picking up slack. If Company knew she wanted to delay another 8 weeks they just may think they made a bad hire. Plus unexpected things happen. She could start and life could happen and she could be out for months.

        1. Sam I Am*

          It feels very late-stage capitalism to call someone “greedy” for wanting more of a break between jobs, because the company (where LW doesn’t even work yet) *might* have a high workload and LW *might* have an unpredictable, future emergency that takes them out of work…? This is also just a really unkind interpretation and projecting a lot onto the LW, who asked a genuine question and may still be new to the working world. They asked if it would be ok to request more time before starting a new job, and Alison said no. Presumably LW will take that advice and it will all be fine. No need to get up in arms of behalf of the company.

          1. MCMonkeyBean*

            Yeah, I agree, it’s really gross honestly. Disappointed to see so much of that in this thread.

    5. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      Exactly. Anytime I changed jobs, new employer already had a specific task for me in mind, and a specific start date that they needed. Some wouldn’t budge by even one day. (Looking at you, Old Boss who’d insisted that my start date be September 11, 2006, because the 9/12 start date would’ve been too late and no good.) I can see an employer *maybe* agreeing to delay a start date for something unexpected and super tragic, but not because “having the rest of the summer off would be nice”.

    6. Rolly*

      The OP should ask themself who they would feel if they needed the money, but the organization told them a week before the start date that things were slow, so they’d like to push the start back two months.

      Would you trust the company?

    7. LaLa762*

      In the future (because this won’t be your last job) LW, consider telling Job B you need to give three weeks notice to Job A.
      Then, depending on how you feel at Job A, give two or one weeks notice, and give yourself one or two weeks off.
      It’s what I’ve always done, and it IS lovely. (Once I gave a toxic Job A NO weeks notice. No regrets.)
      Getting a start date months away? That would be AMAZING, as in I’d be amazed if any new company went for it.
      Really, sometimes the three weeks was a stretch, but I always got it.
      Good luck in the future, and congratulations on your new job! Maybe start planning your next, amazing PAID vacation now?

    8. Goddess Sekhmet*

      I would certainly not change the start date and would rescind the offer if a new hire actually said that they wanted to do it to have the summer off, having previously agreed a start date. It shows really poor judgement and professionalism.

    9. Observer*

      There are plenty of serious candidates who would stand by their word.

      Yes. Even in a market like this.

  7. Mid*

    I don’t want specifics about LW 4 that they didn’t share, but the structure of their team/job sounds really interesting! Does anyone else work in an industry like that, with teams that function like mini companies of their own? How does that work?

    1. The Prettiest Curse*

      My husband used to work in records management for a big law firm. For years, he was employed by the law firm, but then they outsourced his position and he carried on doing the exact same job in the same office, just for a different, more cheapskate, employer.

      This kind of arrangement doesn’t seem uncommon in large corporaye employers, particularly in finance and the legal industry.

      1. Frank Bookman*

        This is very similar to an experience my friend had in medical billing so this answer crosses industries as well.

      2. Snow Globe*

        When my eyes saw “records management” that made me think of record companies, and how it could be something like that. Many of the big name record companies have small “independent” labels that are owned by the big company.

        1. The Prettiest Curse*

          Ha, in this case it involved managing all the law firm’s case files. And they laid off 90% of their records staff after the pandemic hit, so let’s hope that nothing crucial went missing.

    2. Riot Grrrl*

      Not sure if it’s the same type of arrangement, but a good friend of mine is on the curatorial and art team for the museum at the CDC. (Yes, they have a museum!) They don’t actually work for the CDC however. They are paid by–of all entities–Northrop Grumman, which is a defense contractor. The government is weird.

          1. KRM*

            The Mutter Museum in Philly does as well! Not sure if that one is on display all the time though!

    3. kittycontractor*

      I kinda work like that (I think). I recently started in a new job for a particular company which operates under the umbrella of a much larger corporation. The larger corporation has probably over +100 smaller companies all over the country but mine is very small. We share a building (also rather small, maybe about 30 people or so) with the higher ups of several of the other companies (and the corporation) and a few of the workers do the same job across a few of them. So Susie may be doing clerk worker for Company B and D, Tom is doing accounting for D and C, but they’re across the hall from each other, and then I may help them out once in a while but technically I only work for Company P, meanwhile we all get paid from Corporation A.

        1. kittycontractor*

          They are all very different. Let’s say where I work strictly does llama grooming, another company may do sheep grooming, another may do puppy breeding, another does criminal law and then the corporation does gas drilling. It’s weird, but it works for them.

    4. Smithy*

      Versions of this happen in the nonprofit sector a lot. In some cases it’s where secretariats or umbrella networks will be housed in a larger nonprofit, or a smaller entity lives within a larger nonprofit. There are typically avenues for independence in these structures, but then this avenue often allows for the smaller/network entities to benefit from cost-sharing around administrative needs/benefits and all that.

    5. LT*

      Healthcare in some instance. Last job, IT was a separate company owned by the larger hospital network. Before that all administrative (IT, billing, call center) same setup.
      Now even more with hospital systems merging and buying each other out, my small 3 hospital system if is half owned by 2 different larger system. In my department, we don’t even work under the same umbrella. We even have different holiday schedules so that gets weird.

    6. H.C.*

      It happens a lot in creative / entertainment industries too, where they (sub)contract to agencies for specific creative/technical tasks and those employees are embedded within the client organization for the duration of the project even though they are on agencies’ payroll.

  8. The Prettiest Curse*

    OP#1 – unfortunately, you may have to find the energy to job hunt pretty soon. It sounds like your organisation is so badly managed that it wouldn’t be a surprise if it went out of business. Start updating your resume now.

    1. Hannah Lee*

      All I could think as I read LW1s post was:

      More Bees! Bees Bees Bees!
      So many bees!

      LW, run run run.

      – Put your head down at work
      – Update your resume, refresh your references and networks
      – find a new job

      The situation at this current employer will not end well, it’s only a matter of time before this whole thing implodes and you want to be well clear of this company when it does.

    2. Delta Delta*

      OP1 says they don’t have the energy to job-search right now, except this seems like the time to start the search. Because this employer is not good, and by the time the wrath is laid on OP, it’ll be too late/too miserable to start a job search. There’s that analogy about rats jumping off a sinking ship, or however it goes. That’s because rats are survivors and want to get out before everything goes down.

      1. mlem*

        Yeah, as soon as I saw “don’t have the energy”, I both thought that made total sense … and thought the LW’s energy level is VERY unlikely to increase while they stay ….

    3. Observer*

      nfortunately, you may have to find the energy to job hunt pretty soon. It sounds like your organisation is so badly managed that it wouldn’t be a surprise if it went out of business. Start updating your resume now.

      OP, take this very seriously. Start looking because you will be better off if you can leave on your own terms rather than being laid off.

    4. Sara without an H*

      The company has also been hemorrhaging a lot of employees, which in part is due to poor decisions made by the higher-ups, as well as competing companies offering better pay.

      OP, I’m sorry to say it, but The Prettiest Curse is right. Your letter describes a poorly-run business, and the odious HR director isn’t the worst part of it. If the economy slows down, your employer may not survive. Since there are competing companies in your area, start applying.

    5. Books and Cooks*

      And not just because it could go out of business, or because a company like this is unlikely to have any sort of decent shutdown plan or severance plan (and by “decent,” I mean as in “human decency,” not “financially acceptable.” This is the kind of place where you show up one morning to find a sign on the door, and are lucky to get a final paycheck with all of your hours properly accounted within two weeks), or because they’re unlikely to give you any kind of reference or anything else, or because it’s possible their ultimate destruction will be so big and disastrous that having worked there near the end will become a black mark against you in whatever industry it is, and may make it difficult for you to find a job elsewhere. (Look at the people who worked at places like Theranos or WeWork in the last stages before their respective crashes; I’ve seen and heard stories about some of them having terrible problems finding employment.)

      But none of that matters as much as your own mental and emotional health! You are better than this, OP, and you deserve better. Leave this awful boss and his awful wife to destroy their business on their own, while you move on to something much better. Please find the energy, and start looking today.

  9. HR Jedi*

    #2, you need to look at this from the employer’s point of view too. They made an offer and have already planned on waiting a month for you to start, which they probably hoped would have been sooner. There is someone doing the work right now, either a contractor who is costing the company extra to do the work for which they are hiring you, or people on the team who are trying to do their own work plus the essential functions of the job you have been offered which means that they are probably feeling stressed. So this is a big disruption. The question they will ask themselves is: can I get someone else started before they would start? The answer is probably yes, since you seem to be asking for around four to eight more weeks, especially if they are comfortable asking choice #2 if they are still interested, so that is the path they will most likely take.

    1. Varthema*

      And even then I feel like they’ll be likely to be pretty peeved, since it’s been over 6 weeks since they cut their #2 loose. I definitely think a bridge would be burned here.

    2. anonymous73*

      If I were on the hiring side, I’d probably rescind the offer even if my second choice was unavailable. Thinking a company would consider that is pretty entitled IMO.

    3. Antilles*

      The question they will ask themselves is: can I get someone else started before they would start?
      In a lot of fields right now, the answer would be no. But even if they can’t hire someone before OP would start, this request is going to seem flaky enough that they’ll be asking themselves bigger-picture questions about OP:
      Is OP someone we should be hiring in the first place? Will OP be reliable once on the job? Are we even sure that she’ll actually show up four weeks from now?

      1. Hannah Lee*

        “Are we even sure that she’ll actually show up four weeks from now?”

        This is a really good point.
        If I were on the hiring team, given this:

        “I accepted a new job at the end of June and set my start date for next Monday. (I was on a pre-planned vacation for two weeks, gave two weeks’ notice and took two weeks off.”

        where the candidate already pushed back the start date once for 2 weeks time off, if they came back again to now request a 1-2 *month* delay in starting, I’d be thinking the weren’t really enthused about the job and were just keeping it active while hoping some other opportunity they really want comes through.

        Unless there was a compelling reason, like the emergencies Alison mentions, I would not allow any more flexibility on the start date, and if I was at all wobbly on the candidate before this, might rescind the offer ( I don’t think I’ve ever rescinded a job offer, so this would be the first.)

        If I didn’t rescind the offer, and the LW did start this Monday, LW would be on a very short leash as an employee, because I’d be wary they were a “give me an inch and I will take a mile” person who would constantly be bumping up against the limits of policies and practices or assuming leeway where there wasn’t any. Employees like that might be great for forcing an organization to tighten up any holes in their HR and other policies, but they can be a PITA to manage, for example becoming the employee who takes ALL the t-shirts instead of just one because ‘no one told me I couldn’t’.

      2. Lydia*

        I was thinking about this, too. OP might consider it’s unlikely she’s the only person they considered making the offer to and if the company is pushed, they can easily reach out to their second choice. It’s just not wise to make such a big request this close to the start date.

    4. Sloanicota*

      It is actually possible that OP could have negotiated to start in the Fall if that had been clear previously – I have negotiated for a month before I start after receiving an offer, but if you wanted three or four months I’d probably say that in the interview – but OP has accepted certain conditions at this point and now it will be too late to change. It would be similar to the new job coming back and deciding they’re going to pay you a different rate. That wasn’t the deal. Sorry, OP – next time you start a new job, perhaps you can swing this now that you know you need more downtime between roles :(

      1. Koalafied*

        Yeah, especially for hard to fill roles (a label that currently applies to a lot more positions in the office-job world than it ever used to), companies are often willing to wait an extra month or two for someone to start. It may not be ideal, but a candidate you like who’s willing to say yes, albeit with a long lead time, is still a candidate you like who’s willing to say yes, and they may not have m/any more of those in the mix.

        1. Sloanicota*

          Right, realistically, if they just went through the interview process and has identified a candidate they like who has agreed but needs a month or two, that’s a better deal than starting the whole thing over, which could take three or four months and maybe not result in a candidate either. (However, this is the calculation *before* you accept and set a start date, not after).

          1. Observer*

            (However, this is the calculation *before* you accept and set a start date, not after)

            Yes. This is actually the key, and I would not have even put it in parenthesis.

  10. WoodswomanWrites*

    #4 — In addition to Alison’s advice about talking with Susie’s manager/your interim manager, make sure you follow it up in writing to document everything so it can’t be misconstrued and you can share it with others if anyone tries to claim otherwise. You can write something along the lines of this: “Thanks for the conversation about my work while Susie is recovering. This email confirms what we discussed and agreed upon, which is that my position is temporary until she returns to work. I appreciate the opportunity to clarify that I am covering her duties in an interim role for approximately six weeks, at which point I will return to my regular job duties.”

    1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      It seems fairly clear to me that corporate are intending for this to be permanent, and have most likely already communicated it to the people of corporate as such.

      If i were OP – next time someone says “so you’re the new Susie” I would ask them what they’ve been told / how it’s been communicated to them.

      Situations like this where a sub-team is “owned” by a parent org do seem to generate politics like this quite often.

      Ultimately if it’s deemed good for the company that OP pick up that work, that’s what will happen.

        1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

          It would be nice if we could just “flatly refuse” to do certain reasonably asked duties we don’t like (I can list about 5 I’d refuse off the top of my head…) but how do you think that would work out for OP if corporate has decided that that function is moving into OPs role/team…?

          1. BubbleTea*

            As I understand it, LW doesn’t actually work for the corporation. They’re being lent by their own employer.

            1. Snow Globe*

              Big corporate owns LWs smaller team; it is not clear that they are so independent that they can refuse new responsibilities that corporate wants to hand them.

              1. MCMonkeyBean*

                Yeah, I honestly would be a bit worried that this decision may have been somewhat taken out of their hands. It would be nice if it turns out to be as straightforward as just saying “this is temporary” and that’s that… but it sounds like it may be more a case of *asking* your boss rather than *telling* your boss at this point. I would ask for clarification on what the company’s expectations are.

                I’m also a bit unclear though–it sounds like maybe their normal role is part time and they are continuing that as usual but also adding in the other pieces so it is now adding up to more of a full time job. If that is the case then OP probably has more say over the situation if they just need to clarify that they are not able to do full-time hours beyond the emergency coverage. But if they are giving up some of their current role to take on pieces of this other role, then they might not have the power to just declare “no actually I will just be continuing with my usual assignments after this” if the boss wants them doing the new stuff instead.

          2. Despachito*

            But is this indeed “reasonably asked”?

            It seems to me rather a “bait and switch”. OP was lured into doing this by being told it is only temporary while Susie is out, and that was reasonable (and OP had no problem with it).

            But surreptitiously transferring her into this role without an official decision by the corporate that this function is moving into OPs role/team (which would again be potentially reasonable but was not done), and even without letting OP knowing is definitely NOT reasonable or fair, and OP is totally within her right to push back.

            If the company wants OP to take over Susie’s duties, it would probably assume a substantial change, and they should definitely discuss it with her beforehand (and then possibly let her go if she is not willing to do that but it is important to them), not to force it upon her like this.

            1. Artemesia*

              The fait accompli is how so many women get stuck permanently answering phones while their former male peers continue to progress. I fear the OP is stuck — the PTB have already re-assigned her in their plans and it is unlikely that this will change. The only hope here is a really firm and clear meeting with several levels of boss.

              But if I were here I would also be job hunting in this nice market. It will give her a little more confidence in asserting herself in this situation as well as possibly offering a great new option for her.

          3. Despachito*

            But this seems to be a substantial change in her work responsibilities.

            Imagine that you have been hired to do X, but suddenly they expect you to do X and Y, without discussing this with you and with no title or salary change. And I assume from OP’s letter that Y is not an insignificant task and that it requires for her to work overtime to be able to accomplish both X and Y.

            How this can be normal?

            1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

              Is it a substantial change? OP described: the person who does my job for the corporation (Susie). To me that means that it’s essentially the same function, but for head office (?) as opposed to a branch. In the meantime she’s working part-time for her original team and the rest of the time for corporate. Which does raise the question of what’s the rest of her (presumed full time) workload been like up to now, and who is now picking that up? Or was she part time and is temporarily working the part time hours plus the additional time for corporate, which does change things. It does seem like the work is of a similar level (since it’s the equivalent job) so there wouldn’t necessarily be a title or salary change, if the job is (for example) Receptionist and that is pretty similar between the two offices.

            2. anonymous73*

              It’s not a “substantial change”. OP claims it’s basically their job but for corporate.

              A few jobs ago I was a Business Analyst. We were building an application and I wrote the requirements for it. Our Project Manager left part way through the project, so I assumed some of their duties and worked closely with a few others to make sure the project was completed. When the application went live my boss approached me and said they were creating a support position specific to this application and asked if I was interested. I said I needed more details before I accepted. I asked and asked and asked until one day he presented me with the paperwork for the new role. I could have refused…and ended up unemployed. We always have a choice, but sometimes that choice leaves us without a job and that’s not an option for most.

          4. Just Your Everyday Crone*

            I don’t put this in the bucket of reasonable additional duties. It is a different employer, a different team, and additional hours.

            1. MCMonkeyBean*

              I think the additional hours are really the only piece that OP has a lot of room to hold their ground though. If the company owns their team, at the end of the day sometimes you employer decides they want you to be doing something else and you usually can’t just say “no.” Ideally they would listen if you say you don’t want to take something on, because if they don’t they run the risk of you quitting and then they have two roles to cover instead of just one. But it’s still something to keep in mind as OP navigates these conversations and is why the most important thing to do first is sit down with your own boss and get on the same page.

          5. DisgruntledPelican*

            It sounds like they’re trying to make OP full time when she is currently part time. If they’re not willing/able to work full time permanently, then no, this is not a reasonable ask.

      1. Mockingjay*

        Also depends on how much clout OP4’s manager has, to get her back. The only thing that seems to work in these cases (happened to me many years ago) is for the manager to provide a business case of the impact OP4’s transfer has on her original job/team. Outline why it’s imperative that OP4 come back: they’re needed to complete a big project, etc. And then offer solutions. OP4 provided a solution themselves: “I know another staff member said they would gladly do the task if they were given training.”

        OP4 Manager to Corp Manager: “I’m glad OP4 is able to help temporarily while Susie is out. Regarding special task, this coverage issue points to a cross-training lack. OP4 mentioned that Susie’s Coworker is interested in doing this task, but needs training. How about if OP4 trains Coworker over the next 6 or 7 weeks? When Susie returns, both she and OP4 will be available for questions/assistance.” If needed, OP4 Manager can point to an upcoming deadline or workload pace to bring OP4 back. “I’ll need OP4 back by x date or a week after Susie returns to get her caught up; we have a big deadline to meet.”

        1. Certaintroublemaker*

          This. The fact that there is a coworker interested in taking on Susie’s hated duties should be a complete get out of jail free card for LW4. It’s not like corporate is stuck for someone to take on the hated duties and HAS to strongarm LW4.

          1. Artemesia*

            This but she has to be really firm about it with her boss and orchestrate this or she will be stuck.

  11. Inkognyto*

    LW 3: You have practice at interviewing, try looking outside the company. The leadership takes WAY too long to make decisions if 5 interviews is not enough, it often means they either do not know what they are looking for or keep changing those.

    As an external Candidate if you call me in for more than 3 interviews, I’m probably bowing out already if it’s been taking since March. 4 months? That’s a long time to string any job seeker along.

  12. Luna*

    LW1 – Run. All of you, run away from this job. The owner doesn’t care what his wife says, and yes, she is first-and-foremost his wife, not the HR employee of his company. There are no boundaries, and there are no consequences, so why continue to stay?
    You may like your coworkers, but once they continue to leave because of her (and the owner, as being the gardener that is not cutting off that root causing problems for the metaphorical tree that is the company) and because other places offer better money, and a better environment, one of the big reasons you are staying is gonna be moot.

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      This is drawing up a lovely image of OP and coworkers reading AAM, realizing this is the correct course of action, and streaming out through the windows.

    2. Dr. Vibrissae*

      Yeah, if the only reason you can state for not leaving is you like you coworkers and your coworkers are leaving…

      I guarantee you can find another job with nice coworkers, and you shouldn’t stay in this terrible situation out of a misplaced since of obligation to your fellow targets…I mean coworkers. The tone oand phrasing of your letter is really passive and detached, so I can’t tell if this doesn’t bother you, but is affecting your work because of turn-over, or if this is the cause of your not having ‘energy to search for another job right now,’ but it’s easier to find a new job while you’re already employed.

      Maybe just start with brushing up the resume, looking to see what ads are being posted, and waiting to see if there are a few opportunities you might like. It sounds like the idea of a full press job search is overwhelming to you, but dipping your toes in with some moves in that direction might make it easier to get things moving and you’ll be ready if that good position does open up.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        This. It costs you nothing to put out feelers and start looking while you’re still employed.

        Plus it’s easier to find a job if you have a job (which should not be the case because unemployment bias is bullshit! but I digress), and I guarantee it will be more stressful if you’re suddenly not working because HR McTerrible runs out of coworkers to pick on and inevitably turns her wrath on you.

    3. Antilles*

      You may like your coworkers, but once they continue to leave because of her (…) one of the big reasons you are staying is gonna be moot.
      In any case, it’s not like you can’t stay in touch with them once you leave – it’s entirely possible to maintain those friendships once you’re all working elsewhere. So you can get the best of both worlds by remaining friends while also being in a non-toxic company.
      Alternatively, maybe you find out that actually the biggest thing you had in common was the shared experiences / convenience, and those friendships fade and get replaced with new work friendships – the same way that your friend group might change going from high school to college, then again from college to adult life.

  13. Josephine*

    I was living in Australia and coming from a Nordic country I didn’t handle the heat very well.
    On one of the hottest days after work, I saw a guy wearing a thick Burberry scarf. I don’t know why it annoyed me so much but it did, maybe it was the heat. I texted my boyfriend to vent. Except I texted my boss instead… The texts included me saying I saw a guy with a scarf and how stupid it was and it included capital letters and multiple explanations points. The last text I sent said, “you think you’re so cool but you’re NOT!!”. I quickly apologized to say I meant to text my boyfriend. I hope I was quick enough and he didn’t see a message from me pop up on his phone that said “you think you’re so cool but you’re NOT!!”. He texted back saying “thanks for the laugh!” but I was still so embarrassed.

    1. Lance*

      Was this meant for one of the mortification week posts? Not sure if it was meant to relate to one of the above letters.

      1. Riot Grrrl*

        Probably meant for mortification week. But I think we can all agree that reminders about terminally hip people who wear scarves in the heat are never out of place.

  14. Skippy*

    LW3: My former company did the same thing when my boss left and I applied for their job. I had been there for 10 years and had received outstanding reviews for both my ability to do the job and my management skills, but our department director wanted to do their due diligence and conduct a search. They put me through a six-month process of interviews, assignments, and a presentation, all for a group of people who knew me well and knew my work. I took it all very seriously and put all of my efforts into preparing for every round, but when all was said and done, they hired someone from the outside with less experience — and never gave me an ounce of feedback as to why I wasn’t chosen.

    Needless to say, I immediately took all of my skills and experience out on the open market. Their loss.

    1. Miette*

      Good for you!

      OP3: take this as a lesson. Your company does not value you as much as you will be valued elsewhere. I think your resume must be somewhat polished due to this process, so why not test the waters?

  15. Jay*

    I’m a doctor, and we use “partner” to refer to the clinicians in our group (at least in the US, where I have always lived and worked). I’m not in that kind of practice any longer; when I was, I started to say “work partner” or something like that in social settings. It only took one very weird encounter at a party – someone said “Do you know John Doe?” and I replied “yes, he’s my partner.” The other person looked at my husband standing next to me and paused, with a confused look on her face. So I explained. And that’s part of the reason I use “husband” instead of “partner.” Some of my queer friends continue to use “partner” after they’re married. I figure people do what they’re comfortable with and I try to follow their lead.

    My daughter is 22 and I don’t understand her language of relationships at all. “Dating” does not mean what I thought it did. It’s neither “going out on dates” nor “seeing steadily” but rather implies some sort of agreement to monogamy (at least for her) and is different from “boyfriend/girlfriend.” More than once I’ve use the term “boyfriend” to refer to the guy she is seeing every weekend and spending the night with. “No, Mom, he’s not my boyfriend. Maybe in a month or two. We’ll see.” I am confused.

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      My great aunt managed to carry off “companion” for her romantic partner in social situation. As we are past the era of that evoking an impoverished relative who follows you around picking up your fan.

      1. Gumby*

        I did have a job that was essentially a “lady’s companion” type thing – though it was referred to as granny-sitting. About 8 years ago. I made sure she was comfortable, played cards or dominoes with her, listened to her stories (which were great!), tried to convince her to go on walks and to exercise classes, set out lunch (it was mostly prepared already), etc. I greatly enjoyed it. Though it was part-time and not on my larger career path, I was sad to leave it when I found full-time employment.

    2. Constance Lloyd*

      This is reminding me of that Grace and Frankie episode where Robert and Sol are explaining to everyone (at a funeral!) that after decades of being law partners, they are also now romantic partners.

      I think your approach to follow each person’s lead on their own vocabulary makes perfect sense. My husband and I were a couple for almost a decade before getting married. This time involved three moves across state lines before teleworking was widespread. The first time I was job hunting, I simply explained I was moving to be closer to “family.” The other two times, I said my partner was relocating for work. In real life, I don’t really talk about him to people who don’t know me on a more personal level, and with those people I just use his name. But while I was interviewing, using the term partner made me less worried about what the interviewer might assume about how serious the relationship was and what that might mean for my longevity as an employee.

    3. KnittyKnerd*

      I feel like this is just on of those generational complaints that gets passed down and can guarantee your parents had the same complaints about you. Language changes, I don’t understand the need to get curmudgeonly about it.

      1. DisgruntledPelican*

        What about Jay’s comment was curmudgeonly? All it said was their daughter uses language differently than they used to and it’s confusing. Yes, language evolves. Doesn’t mean there isn’t confusion around it (hence this whole entire thread discussing all the different when and hows people use the word partner versus boyfriend versus husband.)

    4. Wants Green Things*

      Shall I find you a cane to thump on your front porch?

      Language evolves, younger people realized they don’t need to be tied down to marriage or a relationship, and context matters. You could just follow your daughter’s lead in how she refers to things.

    5. Cool Tina, Train Conductress*

      Wait I don’t get what’s confusing about that use of “dating.” Sounds like she is seeing him steadily, and regularly having dates (if not going OUT cuz who can afford that). They’re dating each other, and likely not dating other people, in anticipation of possibly making a deeper commitment (boyfriend/girlfriend) when they’re ready.

    6. Lunch Ghost*

      I read this as genuine confusion and wanting to understand how she’s using the word (which, relatable, I also don’t like not understanding what people mean) so to try to help with that, I would assume the difference is either: while in practice they’re only seeing each other, there is no actual agreement to be exclusive with each other yet (and she doesn’t want to bring up the topic and ask for one yet, hence the “we’ll see”), OR they have agreed to exclusively see each other, but they don’t want the relationship to be very public yet (probably because they’re not sure of the long-term potential: once you start telling people you’re in a relationship, people start wanting to know about them and expecting to meet them, which means if you break up, you’ll have to tell those people you broke up).

    7. Artemesia*

      My husband years ago started saying ‘law partner’ rather than partner. Others chose ‘business partner’. The word became firmly associated with gay relationships for a long time and now has migrated to being used for spouse and girl or boyfriend regardless of sexual orientation. If it is a business partner then it needs a modifier.

    1. Other Alice*

      That’s unnecessarily harsh. It would have been a reasonable request if it had been made in advance and with understanding that the employer might want an earlier start date. It’s not reasonable to ask now so close to the start date they originally agreed upon.

  16. Spicy Tuna*

    OP5, you don’t need to reference a reason for moving to the city. You can just state that you are moving to the city, or are in the process of moving.

    If it does come up, I agree with Allison that you can call your boyfriend your partner. My “boyfriend” (age 50) and I (age 48) have been in a relationship for 18 years. We own a home and a business together. But we are not married. He recently started having some medical issues and I have had to end a consulting job that I have in addition to our business. For some reason, instead of referring to him as my “partner”, I’ve been telling people that my “boyfriend” is ill… so C-level executives are telling me that they hope my “boyfriend” recovers, etc, etc. and I feel like it’s making me look flaky, like I’m passing up a lucrative income stream for something temporary.

    We are not technically married, but our relationship is a lot more involved legally than many people’s marriages, which is not to disparage marriages – just as an example, we had friends who got divorced. They had no kids, didn’t own their home or any joint assets. They decided to split up, the husband packed his things and drove off to live with his sister and they filed paperwork with the court. Marriage over in a few weeks. My “boyfriend” and I could never split that easily.

    1. KelseyCorvo*

      But that’s the main reason people get married – to better deal with the situation you’re in now.

      1. Books and Cooks*

        The main reason people get married is that they love each other, and want to spend the rest of their lives together, and want to make a public and legal commitment to do so.

        A big benefit of marriage is that it provides a simple and automatic way to deal with some emergencies and situations. But it is not the main *reason* most people get married.

  17. Linda Evangelista*

    OP3, I applied for an internal position at my last org and had 1 interview before getting an offer. Your process is absolutely excessive.

  18. Riot Grrrl*

    #4: I agree with the advice around clarifying what’s expected. I would also add, be prepared to have that exact same conversation a few times. People may nod in agreement and say, “Oh yes, yes, of course!” But 3 weeks later, they will slip back to their baseline of assuming you’ll take over the job permanently. This is especially true if you do a good job. Don’t let them get comfortable.

    1. anonymous73*

      Documenting is key. I always follow up with an email when a decision is made. That way when they come back and argue, you have proof on what was agreed to…

      1. Artemesia*

        It doesn’t matter how many emails there are if there is not someone else trained to take that role.

        1. anonymous73*

          It certainly does matter. If everyone on both sides is in agreement that this is only temporary, and it is documented, if falls under the “not my circus” for OP and their team. If it’s a verbal agreement, it’s easier to push for corporate to get what they want.

    2. Artemesia*

      Unless there is a plan to bring someone else into the role, the role is hers. She needs to not be subtle about this and make sure someone else is being trained. She can identify that person and offer to train them. (wasn’t there someone interested?)
      Anything subtle and it is her job.

  19. anonymous73*

    #1 nothing is going to change. You and your co-worker can either choose to stay and work for a company who is lead by incompetent jerks, or you can find different jobs with a company that treats their employees with respect, and an HR department that’s not run by children. Staying in this type of messed up environment because “you like your co-workers” is your decision, but IMO a poor one that will eventually suck out your soul and start affecting your mental health (if it hasn’t already).
    #2 Yeah that’s not how life works. You can choose to do what you want, but be prepared for them to pull the offer. And even if they agreed, you would probably have an “unreliable” stamp on your permanent record that wouldn’t do you well moving forward. How would you feel if you were excited to start a new job and they pushed back your start date 2 months because “they felt like it”?
    #3 way too many interviews, and honestly as an internal employee they know you and your abilities/work accomplishments better than a stranger, so you shouldn’t have to go through the same tedious process as an external candidate IMO. They shouldn’t give you a pass either, but something in between. Personally I wouldn’t trust this place and would start looking elsewhere. It sounds like they have policies in place and follow them to a T without making sure that those policies make sense in every situation.

    1. Observer*

      And even if they agreed, you would probably have an “unreliable” stamp on your permanent record that wouldn’t do you well moving forward.

      Whether or not they agree, the OP will almost certainly have “unreliable” become part of their identity, and it will be extremely hard, if not impossible, for the OP to shake it off. So much so that I would not be shocked if the company went ahead and found a replacement for the OP, then fired the OP.

  20. Falling Diphthong*

    Re #3, this morning I am really struck by how we all know the likely response to OP telling management “So I’ve decided to move to a higher position by taking a job in another company.” And it’s not “That makes a lot of sense–you’ve been clear that you want a promotion and we haven’t acted on that in the last two years. Looking outside the company was the right move.”

    1. V. Anon*

      I can see them making a counteroffer, like so many letters here: FINALLY they see the light! But no, you then write back because Terms and Conditions.

  21. Not You Admin Ass(t)*

    #4: In my experience, people assume that the job you’re doing is the job you’ll always have, and it sucks, because it means you have to be very careful to NOT get pressed into that role permanently if you don’t want it. Even your regular team might end up assuming you’ll be “the new Susie” forever, and if the people over you decide the same thing, you might find yourself answering to the name “Susie” whether you agreed or not. I think the advice of being firm on correcting people every time they imply that’s your new job is a very good course of action. And definitely be very firm to with the higher-ups that you only intend to do it on the temporary!


    Someone who took a front desk reception job because a better position was supposed to open in a few months and the company (supposedly) promotes from within. But in spite of being upfront that it was only until a more suitable job came open, am now being viewed as “just the receptionist” and “only the receptionist” and not being told about internal positions when they open. Because everyone knows people only take front desk and other admin assistant work due to not being smart enough for other jobs, right?? *Eyeroll* Not EXACTLY like your situation, but with the same undesired result you’re at risk of getting, Though I hope it’s just a misunderstanding and not an actual path you’re being forced on!

  22. Falling Diphthong*

    OP2, pushing your start date back two months, a few days before you were meant to start, makes you look flaky and unreliable because that IS flaky and unreliable.

    Yes, sometimes there’s an emergency and you all make it work. Sometimes you’re a huge rock star and the project timeline is very flexible. Even in these extremes, they might pull the offer and look elsewhere.

  23. Ms Marble*

    It’s been said already, but LW5, you can definitely mention that you’re moving to be closer to your boyfriend! I made a move like this just a few months ago. In my cover letter, I emphasized why I was excited about joining the company, and mentioned that I had family in the area who spoke highly of them. Then in the interview, when they asked why I wanted the job, I said that my partner’s family lived in the area, so we (I) wanted to live closer to them…..and also the company was just so impressive and I really liked that—

    Essentially, you can fold it in naturally. It will help them understand why you’re invested in relocating. Plus it gives you a jumping-off point to make them feel like you’re really excited about the position.

    I also referred to my girlfriend as my partner, though, for all the reasons Alison and others have mentioned. It just “sounds” more “mature.” Professional? I guess? It’s an unfair distinction, but there it is. Although I think if you said boyfriend in conversation, no one would bat an eye. It only really stands out in writing.

    1. Constance Lloyd*

      It is an unfair distinction, but I think it can also help signify the level of commitment in the relationship? At least that’s how and why I used partner when I was moving for my then boyfriend/now husband. I look very, very young, and I was worried telling employers I was moving to be with my boyfriend would leave them wondering if I’d quit if we happened to break up. It’s very possible none of them would have thought that, but if nothing else using partner helped *me* to feel more relaxed in the interview, which was reason enough.

  24. Purple Cat*

    I’m *amused* at the outrage over LW2.
    I mean, yes, it’s really a bad look, and LW should have thought about this in advance, but we all know how generally pitiful time off in the US is, and between jobs is the only time you really get to take a complete break. I get the desire to shoot for the stars.

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      Timing matters. If you shoot for the stars while standing in your garage, it doesn’t go well.

    2. C in the Hood*

      Can we not with “how the US is”? That doesn’t change anything for anyone.

      1. pancakes*

        The idea that anything anyone wants to say ought to “change things” is an unreasonably high bar to clear, I think, and not one applied to other comments.

      2. Cool Tina, Train Conductress*

        I don’t understand this comment. Context doesn’t… contextualize?

        1. Observer*

          Depends on the context. There is nothing about the US culture around work that is really relevant. The OP’s idea would not fly anywhere in the world (at least for anyone who actually needs a job and is not closely related to someone “important”.)

        2. New Jack Karyn*

          Because people in the US are pretty tired of people in other places telling us how bad workers have it here. Yes, we get it: no worker protection, no paid parental leave, health insurance sucks, etc. Thanks for rubbing it in, can we move on now?

          1. pancakes*

            The comment is closer to “Realistically it’s probably best to make plans to take your biggest chunks of time off between jobs, considering where you are” than “[Nelson Muntz ha ha! sound].” In my reading, obvi.

          2. Books and Cooks*

            Yes, exactly.

            Especially when it’s not like all of those things are perfectly wonderful and without flaw in the countries that have them, or that there aren’t benefits as well as drawbacks to the US not having them, or some good reasons why we don’t. (Not that all of the reasons are good, but some of them actually are.)

            I’m not saying that to get into a debate about those benefits and/or drawbacks and/or reasons, or to justify any of them right now; I’m just saying that it’s not as simple as “US bad, Other Countries great!” and it gets very tiring when people who have not considered those things, or experienced them, make those comments. Repeatedly.

            1. pancakes*

              “Especially when it’s not like all of those things are perfectly wonderful and without flaw in the countries that have them” – Why “especially” when no one suggested they are? To the contrary, people who live in other countries said trying to take a big chunk of time off with very little notice just before the scheduled start of a new job wouldn’t go over well there either.

    3. Clobberin’ Time*

      This isn’t an LW shooting for the stars. This is an LW shooting themself in the foot.

    4. londonedit*

      I understand the impulse, but a) it isn’t really realistic anywhere and b) it’s the last-minute timing of it that’s the problem.

      I’m in the UK where we get a decent amount of holiday as standard, and where we have one-month notice periods as standard (if not longer for senior positions) but still, if someone rang a new employer days before they were due to start and asked if they could leave it until September, I really don’t think they’d be met with a favourable response, unless they had some sort of medical/bereavement/other life emergency reason for it. It would come across as being extremely flaky, like you’d just woken up one morning and decided to go on holiday instead of honouring the agreement you’d made to start a new job. And I don’t think many employers would take kindly to having to rearrange everything they’d put in place at the last minute.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        This. It’s not the time off–if you’re looking to take two months off, between jobs is often the most workable time. The last minute timing is what’s bad.

        We’d say the same if the company tried it:
        “OP, rather than have you start Monday we’re thinking more like mid-October?”

        Unless the company’s offer is “Hey, we realized that we should offer you more money and vacation time than what was agreed to,” we wouldn’t be sympathetic to the company feeling like it just really wished it had set the whole job up differently, and why not say that now, a few days before OP starts? Shoot for the stars!

    5. Unaccountably*

      I’m pretty sure this would not be a good look anywhere. The fact that the US gives pitiful time off does not give anyone carte blanche to be unreliable. LW2 isn’t working for “the US,” she’s working for a company that contains people just like you and me and her, who are currently covering another FTE’s worth of work.

    6. CTT*

      In addition to echoing everyone on that this would be a tough ask anywhere, the LW said in her letter that she’s starting next week! If she had made this request when she accepted the job, it’s more in a grey area, but asking to delay the start date for several weeks when she starts next Monday is way too short notice. The employer’s probably already arranged training, even projects for her to work on. They were relying on her starting on a certain date.

    7. Observer*

      but we all know how generally pitiful time off in the US is, and between jobs is the only time you really get to take a complete break.

      None of which has anything to do with the issue. Yes, this much of a break is a lot to ask, and that might have made the OP look a bit odd. But the thing that is causing people to flip out is that the OP is thinking of asking for a LONG extension mere days before they start. It’s a “bad look” because it really reflects a potentially significant problem. It is totally not just optics.

      1. Well...*

        Absolutely I agree nobody would or should be cool with this. I also remember staring down the barrel of working for the rest of my life with very little vacation, dying inside, and wishing things could be different. If LW knew their future had more vacation, would they be trying to squeeze blood out of this rock? Idk.

      1. Well...*

        Uhm, what? How little time off people get and how it affects their state of mind re: their work is literally the point of this site. This site and (probably) a majority is based in the US. See the COVID-19 info page. The prevalent amount of time off is absolutely relevant. It’s not country-bashing to say “in our country workers should have more time off.”

        1. Books and Cooks*

          And there are a lot of companies in the US where workers DO have more time off, and a number of companies in other countries where they do not. But none of that changes the answer for the OP, and since she didn’t mention anything about wanting the summer because it’s been years since she had more than a week off and in fact mentioned a two-week paid vacation taken recently, that’s not necessarily got anything to do with her reasons for thinking it would be awesome to take off the whole summer.

          It’s possible to say that maybe she hasn’t had a lot of vacation time available in her career without it turning into, “Workers in the US never get decent vacation time because the US is awful.” That type of statement (I believe) is what Anona is referring to, and frankly, it really bothers me, too. I’ve lived in other countries and know other people who do as well. No country is perfect, and the US is far from the worst, despite what seems like a concerted effort in some places to convince everyone that it is.

    8. MCMonkeyBean*

      I definitely think they need to check themselves as far as making the request so last minute, but there is a lot of “If I can’t have that much time off then you shouldn’t get that much time off” attitude which I would not have expected to find here! If you can get that much time off between jobs and you can afford to be unpaid that long, then you should definitely go for it! (Just be sure to go for it *before* agreeing to a start date.)

  25. thelettermegan*

    #5 there’s nothing like good ol’ ‘personal reasons’, as a reason to move.

    You could also not specify a reason at all. Many people move to larger cities close to them just because it’s there, and many cities dwellers will happily sell you on the merits of city. If you told me you were planning on moving to Chicago to be closer to Al’s beef, that’d be enough information for me.

  26. Danielle*

    LW #5 – I did this successfully about 12 years ago. Because I was planning to move into my boyfriend’s apartment, I used his address but acknowledged in my cover letter that I was in the process of moving from city X. I stated that I could interview in person, reiterated that I had housing lined up, and that I could start the new job within X weeks. I had no problem getting interviews. I had a few interviewers ask me why I was moving. I was younger than you (23) and my relationship was newer so I didn’t feel as comfortable mentioning him in interviews. What I did say was that I had a better support network of friends and family nearby (true – my parents were my only connection in my current town but I had boyfriend + other old friends and extended family), already spend much of my time in the city, and love x, y and z about it so it’s where I want to establish my life and career. That was a fine answer for everyone.

    I think that’s important for you to spell out right now because so many people have moved into smaller towns during the pandemic and want to stay and work remotely. So indicating that you aren’t asking for remote work, you actually plan to be physically nearby will be a bit plus.

  27. MimiTimi*

    LW 2: Please don’t do that. Asking for a 2 month extension, right before your start date could cost your the offer at worst. but, could also have your new employer going, “hmmmm” about your level of professionalism or commitment. That whole, “first impressions” thing is true when you’re starting a new job, and you don’t want to start off a new job on even a small sour note.

    LW 5: Use your partner’s address. Many applicant tracking systems and some job posting portals can be set to screen out candidates who don’t live within a certain radius of an employer. You can explain in a cover letter and again when you’re interviewing. But if you get screened out by software, no one’s even reading your cover letter, let alone interviewing you!

    1. AnonymousReader*

      LW#5 – This! If I were looking at resumes and saw that your address was out of state, I would automatically disqualify you if this is an in-person position. Use your boyfriend’s address but I don’t think you need to tell them that it’s his address (some employers might be concerned about what might happen if they hire you but you break up before your start date). Simply say “I’m moving and this is my future address” if asked.

  28. Radical honesty*

    #2 – I think we’d all love a summer off :) Unfortunately the reality of most people’s working world is not that, unless you live in a country that offers a ton of time off or work as a teacher.

    Your best bet if a summer off is what you’re aiming for is to not take new job, have a fun summer, then apply to jobs in the fall.

  29. Clobberin’ Time*

    LW #2, you’re probably going to be a bit taken aback but the negative comments you’re getting, and that is because you don’t seem to have thought about how this request sounds to others.

    To you, the question is “can I get more time because summer off would be awesome!” But what everyone else is seeing is, “having agreed to a start date that would let me take time off already, can I, at the last minute, renege on that agreement because I don’t wanna work yet?”

    And asking about whether it would make you look bad comes across as having given almost no thought to how your actions would impact the people you agreed to start working for – because if you had it would be evident why this would “look bad” to them.

    I’m guessing you are just out of school and used to annual summer vacations? That is not a normal thing in the working world, even in companies with very generous leave.

    1. Cool Tina, Train Conductress*

      I thought the “just out of school” as well, but they said they gave notice so probably not?

      I deeply sympathize with this LW but yeah, they should’ve finagled a later start date to begin with–and two months out is almost never going to fly.

      1. AnonymousReader*

        “I’m guessing you are just out of school and used to annual summer vacations? That is not a normal thing in the working world, even in companies with very generous leave.” – I wish this was related in school so students could make smart decisions on when they want to join the workforce and what kinds of jobs are round-the-year and which ones are seasonal before they pick a major. I remember when I graduated, there was so much pressure to secure a job, any job before they were all gone! (I appreciate my professors’ good intentions but as someone that has been working year round for 10+ years and still has 30+ more to go, I wish I could’ve taken those few months off).

        My partner hired someone on his last semester and the hire was clear he wanted to finish school first and take the summer off. So it’s not uncommon but LW, you need to state that DURING the start date discussion, not the week before. Like Alison stated, there is a lot of prep that has to happen to onboard a new hire that will make you look bad if you decide to push the start date at the last minute.

  30. Observer*

    #2 – Pushing back your start date –
    If you do that, not only will you probably lose the job, it’s quite likely that you will become unhireable over this. It would be one thing if you had a genuine emergency. A company might not be able to accommodate that, but if the people are reasonable they would understand that stuff happens. But a last minute request to push of your start date by MONTHS for a vacation?! Nope.

    Even if they didn’t pull your offer over this, it WILL negatively affect your standing at the job. Because you have just shown that you are flaky, don’t think things through, apparently don’t plan appropriately (unless they think that this WAS the plan, assuming that you had them over a barrel, which would make you look even worse!) and just don’t understand how workplace work. Also, if they don’t pull your offer it will probably be because they are desperate and can’t fill the position. Normally I would call that a red flag…

  31. Mill Miker*

    LW #2 – Apart from anything else, if you ask to push the date back now on such short notice, the company’s going to be trying to work out what the risk is of you trying to push it back further as the summer comes to an end. If there’s an emergency or medical reason, then that’s pretty exceptional, and the company would feel there’s a low risk of it happening again. If it’s because you’re enjoying the time off, then they’re going to see that as a coin flip at best.

    1. Observer*

      Yes. And a very likely reaction is that they are going to start looking for a replacement. Which they may not tell you about, until they find one. Which might happen just before your newly schedule start date. Or maybe a few weeks in to your new job.

      Don’t think that they “couldn’t” find someone before you start, and that once you start you will blow them away SOOO hard that they will stop looking. They might find someone before yous start. And if they didn’t you would have to be a magician AND the best relationship builder on the planet to undo the bad impression you have made, in a short time. And the fact that you even think that there is a possibility that this won’t make you look bad, tells me that you are not the best relationship builder (at least in work terms) that exists.

  32. B Wayne*

    LW#1: My goodness! Take a couple, three days off to rest and recharge and hunt up one of those jobs that pay a good bit more. Work friends are nice but really, is working there all that good you? Or anyone else? Leave, go make better money for yourself!

  33. LaLa762*

    In the future (because this won’t be your last job) LW, consider telling Job B you need to give three weeks notice to Job A.
    Then, depending on how you feel at Job A, give two or one weeks notice, and give yourself one or two weeks off.
    It’s what I’ve always done, and it IS lovely. (Once I gave a toxic Job A NO weeks notice. No regrets.)
    Getting a start date months away? That would be AMAZING, as in I’d be amazed if any new company went for it.
    Really, sometimes the three weeks was a stretch, but I always got it.
    Good luck in the future, and congratulations on your new job! Maybe start planning your next, amazing PAID vacation now?

  34. ScruffyInternHerder*

    Letter 5 – half an ice age ago (it seems), ScruffysNowHusband and myself decided we needed to condense our two one-person-households into a single one. We both applied for jobs in both locations using the appropriate address (mine and his) for the location of the potential job. Whoever got the first good offer jumped and moved. There was very little discussion of addresses and location, even given the fact that neither of us were unemployed, and the addresses of our respective employers were 100+ miles apart. That we both had extended family in his location, and that I lived in a very large metropolitan area with a large state university, would have covered any questions though.

    And 25 years later….here we still are, even though the actual location of “here” has changed as have the employers.

    It can work. Best of luck to you!

  35. Dorothea Vincy*

    LW 2, another problem is that it’s impossible to know if the employer has been burned by something like this in the past and is thus gun-shy about such requests in a way that someone else might not be. At one point I “worked” with someone I never met, who asked to push her start date back by a week to go to a family member’s wedding, then another week because she was feeling really bad, the another two weeks because she had a family emergency, and when my employer got the fourth call about how “I just need another week to recover from taking care of the ill family member,” they pulled the offer. They probably would have done it sooner if it wasn’t a slow time of year for us and if the majority of these calls hadn’t seemed to relate to health. After that, they were pretty much primed to be suspicious of anyone who wanted to push back their start date multiple times.

    And yeah, that’s an extreme case, but even a less extreme case could make the employer extremely suspicious of whether someone who declares they want extra summer vacation is going to show up at all.

  36. H3llifIknow*

    I really hope the colleague kept that recording of the voicemail. I’d quit and file for unemployment until I found another job, and if it were denied, that voicemail might make all the difference!

  37. H3llifIknow*

    I dont know how old LW2 is, but that whole “having the whole summer off would be awesome!” came off so young and immature. If one of the dozens of people I’ve hired through the years said to me, “Hey can I start in the Fall because having the whole summer off would be awesome,” I’d have said, “You can have forever off if you like. I don’t think this is going to be a good fit. Maybe explore being a teacher if you want summers off.” Soooooooo tone deaf and lacking in self awareness, that one!

  38. A Pound of Obscure*

    #2. Here’s something I learned in my first job out of college, and it’ll be good for you to learn, too. All staff at my first company attended mandatory customer service training. Older employees grumbled about it, but I enjoyed it, because I was so new to the working world. The trainers used a simple analogy to get us to think about our purpose as employees. The analogy was: A full-service gas station owner asked an employee what his job was. He answered, “To wash people’s windshields.” The owner replied, “No, your job is to provide clear vision to the driver.”

    Remember, your job is to provide whatever skills you were hired for to the employer, in return for wages and benefits. Your job is not to tell the employer when you’d like to show up and start collecting a paycheck. (Also, don’t call in sick and then tell your coworkers and boss the next day how much you enjoyed the concert yesterday. After I’d been at the aforementioned job awhile, a younger coworker did exactly that. She learned a lesson the hard way, and I’m glad you didn’t try and convince your brand new employer how important it is for you to enjoy a summer of leisure. The adult working world doesn’t operate that way, at least not until you’ve put in your time and built up a lot of retirement savings. :) Best of luck!

  39. As Close As Breakfast*

    LW #5 I’m going to say that the only important thing you need to communicate is that you want to and are looking to move to the new city. Seriously, no matter how you say it, just make sure to say it! I get applications to jobs more and more where the applicants aren’t local and give absolutely no explanation on why they’re applying to a job somewhere else. It makes more sense to me when it’s one of my higher level jobs because people more frequently move for positions at that level, but when it’s my lower or mid level jobs I’m always confused. And I know it’s not the best thing to do (my own and many other people’s time is stretched thin) but when I have local applicants or applicants that included *some* explanation… I start with them because it’s easier. Half the time I wonder if they even realize they are applying to a job many hours or states away. A simple statement that says you are interested in moving to the city the job is in is enough, for me anyway, to consider you more closely. Without that, your resume is going in the “maybe I’ll reach out to these people if all the local or not-local-but-gave-a-reason people don’t work out” pile.

  40. Nina*

    I’m bi, in a relationship with a person of the opposite sex (previously I was in a relationship with a person of the same sex!) and I use ‘partner’ because saying ‘my boyfriend’ feels like I’m actively closeting myself, which… not a fan. ‘Partner’ is vague enough to both be true and not make people assume I’m straight. As far as ‘appropriation’ goes, it’s just a really useful term. What would you rather adult ‘non-gay’ people used to describe a person with whom they have a long-term, usually cohabiting, romantic and often sexual relationship, but to whom they are not married or engaged?
    I’m finding something about your tone in this thread is really rubbing me the wrong way (I’m sure unintentionally!) so I’m gonna stop here to avoid saying something rude.

    1. Nina*

      …meant this as a reply to Little Doctor upthread, whoopsie. Putting it where it belongs.

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