my boss and I share an office with a volatile jerk

A reader writes:

My boss, Ned, shares office space with his partner, Peter, in another business. It was made clear to me in the interview and repeatedly since then that I do not work for Peter, but to help Ned focus on our work I sometimes step in and assist with technology assistance and personal help (think setting up online banking, or helping balance his checkbook). Ned is very grateful and makes sure that if I am uncomfortable with a requested task, I can let him know and he will step in and stop Peter from bugging me. Now on the the actual reason for my letter.

Peter is volatile, throws temper tantrums, gets angry at perceived slights, and doesn’t listen in conversations, only listens for his next chance to speak. It is uncomfortable but Ned has told me to ignore it as much as possible. Sometimes Peter starts screaming and threatening Ned with physical violence. When this happens I have permission to leave the office and only return when I feel comfortable. The final straw happened today. Peter accused Ned of not answering a question, Ned did and I heard him but Peter was not paying attention. In the past, Ned has told me not to step in because he would never want me to have to take any heat and has told Peter to never bring me into their disputes. Today Peter demanded my side of things, I told him that Ned did answer him and I heard it and he needed to remember they were friends first and take a breath. This set him off further and I responded in kind, which I am not proud of. I have since apologized to Ned, who told me he should be apologizing to me for putting me in this position.

My question now is, once Peter starts asking for help from me again, how should I proceed? I am unsure how to handle this level of contention. I can currently hear Peter through his office wall talking badly about Ned and me to anyone who will take his calls. I am confrontation-averse by nature and have not gotten involved in their disputes in the almost four years I have worked here.

I want to be clear that Ned is the kindest, best boss I have ever worked for. He pays me well, provides benefits, cares about my family and home life and works with me through any situation, including setting up special work from home options when my husband has surgery later this month. The majority of my work needs to be in the office, so this is a big favor he has done for me. I do not want to leave here, I love Ned and my job and they are not the issue. But I do have to share space with someone who makes me feel in constant fight-or-flight mode and brings the office down based on his moods. There is added complexity for Ned because he also shares a home with Peter so he is never away from this and it feels like an abusive relationship, and I want to be here for Ned should he choose to end this partnership/friendship.

Whoa, you buried the lede at the end there — are Ned and Peter romantic parters as well as business ones, or do they just live together?

Either way, it doesn’t change the advice that much, which is that if you’re going to stay in this job, you need much stronger barriers up between you and Peter. Peter is abusive to you and to Ned, and since you don’t work for him there’s no absolutely reason you should be helping him with technology or banking. Stop that entirely. Ask Ned to let Peter know that you’re not going to be helping him further and that he shouldn’t ask.

But even with a complete firewall between you and Peter (which frankly doesn’t sound possible, given the shared space), I’m concerned about you staying in this situation. Peter is angry and volatile and even if you don’t interact with him, you’re still going to hear him yelling at Ned, having temper tantrums, calling people to badmouth both of you, and threatening physical violence. No wonder you’re constantly in fight-or-flight mode; this is scary stuff that would keep anyone on edge. It’s all well and good for Ned to tell you that you can leave the office anytime it happens, but that does nothing to address the fact that you’re stuck being constantly on guard, wondering what will happen next and trying to assess if things are about to get bad enough that you need to gather up your things and leave.

It’s horribly unhealthy to spend months/years in fight-or-flight mode! Maintaining that kind of prolonged stress response can have long-term physical health effects, to say nothing of your mental health.

Given what you wrote about Ned, I can understand why you’re hoping to find a way to make this work. But Ned has an enormous flaw as a manager, which is that working for him requires exposing yourself to Peter’s volatility and rage long-term. That’s a big, big deal. It’s not a reasonable price to pay for even the kindest, most flexible boss.

One more thing, especially since you clearly care about what Ned is going through: It is possible that by staying in this situation with him, you are normalizing Peter’s behavior and allowing Ned to believe it’s not that bad. Ideally, by seeing someone else subjected to Peter’s rage, he would realize that it’s not okay … but so far he’s just been looking for ways to make you okay with it (like giving you permission to leave the office). It might be more helpful to Ned to hear you say, “This is not okay, and neither of us should be treated like this. I can’t decide that for you, but I am deciding it for me.”

{ 147 comments… read them below }

  1. LG*

    I can’t believe you have been able to put up with this for four years! You should be prioritizing your own mental health in this situation. I would be on my way out the door.

    1. Artemesia*

      At minimum, the OP should have a separate office space where they never have to interact with Peter or be in his shared space. If Ned cannot do this for you OP then you are putting yourself at risk by continuing this.

      1. Sleepy*

        It sounds like everyone needs space from Peter and Peter needs his own space as well. This seems all around bad.

    2. Blisskrieg*

      I am thinking OP should also prioritize physical health. This guy sounds (potentially) dangerous, especially since he has actually threatened physical violence.

      1. Zweisatz*

        And as Alison linked, if you’re in a stressed out state long enough, your physical health will suffer too.

  2. Been There*

    If the boss and Peter are actually in a relationship, Ned should seek help. Having been in a relationship like that (no longer), I know what Ned is going through. Gently suggest he contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline:

    1. Pants*

      Once I read that they lived together, the “partner” description took a turn towards domestic partnership over business partnership. While they may be both, it’s 100% abusive regardless of personal/business relationship status. It was bad enough in the office, but that they live together sets off my spidey sense that this may (or may already have) escalate to physical at home. #SaveNed

      1. JustaTech*

        Even if Ned and Peter’s relationship is business partner and roommates rather than a romantic/sexual relationship, it’s still a domestic situation and I hope the hotline can help Ned/OP.

        1. BubbleTea*

          Yes, this absolutely. In the UK at least, a roommate would meet the definition of an “intimate personal relationship” required for something to be considered domestic abuse.

          1. Ozzac*

            Let’s hope so. Even if it’s not romantic in nature (and with the caveat that referring to a relationship like this romantic in any way feels wrong) Ned really need to cut Peter away from his life.

          2. Splendid Colors*

            That’s interesting. I have had abusive roommates, and California does NOT consider roommates “intimate” enough to qualify for a restraining order if there are threats unless they’re also having a sexually/romantically intimate relationship. The reasoning was that “too many people just decide they want their roommate to move out and make up accusations to get a restraining order.” Seems there should be better ways to detect perjury, rather than just telling people they have to leave everything behind, break the lease, and live on the street if their roommate turns abusive.

            1. Hark! A Squirrell*

              Having been through this situation on the other side (my downstairs neighbor got so mad over a parking space argument that she filed restraining orders against all other 9 tenants in the building, plus the landlord, and also did things like pouring lemonade into my roommate’s gas tank), yes, there are certainly people who lie about threats of violence for their own gain. You can still file for a restraining order against any private citizen you want, although the judge won’t necessarily grant it, and the terms of the RO are probably not going to be as protective or as easy to enforce as they would be against an abusive partner. California is known for having strong tenant protections, so it’s weird that you were told otherwise.

              1. Hark! A Squirrell*

                After reading through other comments, I think the problem might be what the state (in my case CA) defines as “domestic violence.” You can file a different type of restraining order to gain many of the same protections. If OP lived in my county, for example, they could file a Civil Harassment Restraining Order, and they would qualify for free or reduced filing fees since Peter made physical threats.

            2. Hark! A Squirrell*

              After reading through more of the comments, I think the confusion might be coming from the legal terms. Although an abusive roommate situation IS domestic violence, the state doesn’t offer the same protections as it would if they were an intimate partner or parent/guardian. For protection against non-family-members, whether they are your roomate, your boss’s partner, or some random creep, you would file a different type of restraining order. (In my city it was labeled Civil Harassment.) The process is the same, although you may have to pay higher filing fees, depending on the local rules.

  3. Melanie Cavill*

    I’m confused. Ned and Peter are a couple who share an office for separate businesses, correct? That’s what I took from this sentence: My boss, Ned, shares office space with his partner, Peter, in another business. If that’s the case… oh boy. I have nothing really constructive to add, but I hope things work out for LW and for Ned.

    1. Melanie Cavill*

      Apologies, it occurred to me that my speculation might be in poor taste. But I do hope Ned has peace at home.

      1. Artemesia*

        Well he isn’t his business partner, so yes, we most all probably misread that line — he is pretty clearly his romantic partner.

        1. Melanie Cavill*

          Fair! But I meant more that I shouldn’t be speculating on the private life of two consenting adults that are strangers to me. And I don’t want to derail the conversation LW is attempting to engage in.

        2. WonkyStitch*

          Are we sure he isn’t his business partner? The way this line is worded – “shares office space with his partner, Peter, in another business” – means his partner in another business, right?

          1. Irish Teacher*

            It might or it might mean “he shares office space with his partner Peter, who runs another business.” I could read it either way. I read it two or three times trying to work out if it meant “who runs another business” or “his partner in their other business.”

            Though as others have said, it doesn’t really matter anyway. It probably matters as regards the situation Ned is in, but the main thing for the LW is the impact Peter’s behaviour has on her and whether he is Ned’s romantic or business partner, she shouldn’t have to put up with that.

          2. fhqwhgads*

            I read it as Ned and Peter are business partners in a different business than the one OP is employed by Ned for.

    2. Ness*

      I interpreted it as “Ned owns two businesses, LW works for one and Peter is a partner in the other.”

      1. Video killed the radio star*

        I really read it as ‘Ned and Peter are together. They work separately, but in the same space.’

      2. OP*

        This is correct, they also live together as friends only. I have never gotten romantic partner vibes from the two of them.

          1. Spero*

            It’s not IPV if they aren’t romantic partners, but it IS still Domestic Violence. That’s a lesser used term now but many of the same protections actually can apply.

            1. Melanie Cavill*

              True! I used that specific term deliberately, but I shouldn’t minimise what Ned is going through in his living situation.

      3. Yorick*

        This is what I thought at first, but by the end of the letter I wasn’t sure if it was this or romantic partners.

    3. Video killed the radio star*

      I think that’s correct. Which means Ned really needs to leave Peter, but since the OP can’t make that happen… they need to get out!

    4. acmx*

      I read it as there were 2 ventures (Ned’s company that OP works for, and a Ned + Peter job) and that they are friends and business partners that live together but weren’t romantic.

      Not sure.

      1. cleo*

        that’s how I read it too, because of the last sentence:

        “I want to be here for Ned should he choose to end this partnership/friendship”

    5. londonedit*

      It sounds to me like Ned and Peter both run their own separate businesses, but they share an office space. Peter doesn’t have an assistant; the OP works for Ned in his business but as they all share a workspace it’s sometimes easier for the OP to jump in and help Peter with his IT issues rather than having their and Ned’s work disrupted by Peter banging on about how he can’t connect to his email or whatever. And then Ned and Peter also share a house in some capacity – the OP mentions their partnership/friendship so it isn’t entirely clear whether it’s a couple or a housemates situation. Either way, Peter shouldn’t be behaving like this.

    6. Antilles*

      That was a bit unclear to me too, but based on OP’s last paragraph, I think that’s the situation.
      -Ned and Peter are romantic partners.
      -They work in completely separate industries, each with their own business (Ned’s Teapots and Peter’s Llamas let’s say).
      -Rather than each business renting their own small office space, paying individual rent/upkeep/etc, they instead rented one larger office space which they share.

      1. Antilles*

        Though it’s worth noting that for OP, the answer is basically the same either way – except that if it’s romantic, it might be even less likely to change.

        If it was purely an office sharing to save costs, OP could easily suggest moving to a different office “hey, I hear office space is really cheap right now, bet we can get a similar or better deal” and Ned would just look at the bottom line costs. But if there’s also romantic partnership involved, there’s another layer of entanglement that might keep Ned from being willing/able to listen.

      2. Manders*

        This is how I read it too, and I think there’s an added level of control on Peter’s part over Ned by being present in his life 24 hours per day.

    7. Maggie*

      I thought Ned was involved in two businesses, one with Peter and one that OP works for. But it could also be that he’s sharing with his partner in a dating sense who has another business. That’s not clear.

    8. CLC*

      I think it’s either what you described OR Ned has two businesses, one of which is a partnership with Peter. Either way, I think they are *also* romantic partners.

  4. Cool Tina, Train Conductress*

    Until that last bit I was going to say, “Peter needs to work from home” or something like that. But clearly it’s a much bigger problem.

    1. Caramel & Cheddar*

      When it was revealed they live together, I actually started to wonder if they were working out of a home office, not an actual office.

      1. Cate*

        I really hope OP hops in and clears this up – the more I try to figure out the dynamic, the more confused I am!

        1. OP*

          Peter and Ned are not romantic partners, just business partners and friends. They live together to share expenses and work together because of convenience in their joint business.

          1. AnonInCanada*

            With “friends” like Peter, who needs enemies?

            I’ve had bosses like Peter. It is not a healthy environment for either you or Ned. You need to look out for Number 1 here, and while you say Ned is the polar opposite of Peter and how great Ned is, your mental health needs to come first. You don’t want to dread having to go to work every day. And Peter is likely making this so.

            1. Hannah Lee*

              Also, I hate to say it, but Ned actually isn’t that great a boss or a nice person if he exposing an employee to a raving raging anger monster at work. For years.

              Peter is a classic missing stair.
              Ned advises OP about stepping around it, ignoring it, and continues going along like this is normal. It’s not!
              Ned is never actually fixing the stair eg confronting Peter about his unprofessional and threatening behavior, with real consequences or establishing a safe workspace for himself and LW.

              If Ned were actually a good boss, this would have been resolved years ago.

              OP, I think it’s time for you to get out of there. Like tell Ned you’re working from home. Do that today. Because exposure to a powder keg every day is not healthy for you! And there’s no guarantee that tomorrow won’t be the day the Peter’s rage ends in violence that causes physical harm in addition to the emotional damage he’s already done.

              And then start job searching because this isn’t going to get better. You’re not Peter’s stress reduction outlet or Ned’s parent or counselor or emotional support animal. (Go ahead and forward him info on domestic violence hotlines if you want, but as they say on airplanes, in the case of an emergency put on your own oxygen mask before trying to help others. This one of those emergencies.)

              You’re a human being who is entitled to work at a job where safety and professionalism is the norm, and without threats or temper tantrums or other forms of emotional abuse exploding all over the place.

              1. Payne's Grey*

                I think Ned is way too used to Peter and has lost sight of how utterly abnormal his behaviour is. He is being kind to OP as he sees it, but he’s been putting up with Peter’s crap for so long and in so many areas of his own life that he really doesn’t understand that this shouldn’t be happening AT ALL, that just being around it for this amount of time is an intolerable stressor.

                I’m worried for Ned, and I think OP should definitely start job hunting.

  5. King Friday XIII*

    I think if Ned is as good a boss as you say he is, you should be able to have a serious talk with him about how not okay you are with this situation and at least ask him to find an office space where you don’t have to see or hear Peter, let alone interact with him at all, and see how he responds to that.

    1. Salt*

      I can guess you’ll not want to rock the boat until after the surgery, but while working from home, take some time to really try to feel how it is not worrying about a sudden angry outburst or screaming fit. It might be the time to recalibrate since slowly over 4 years you’ve likely become desensitized and don’t truly see how toxic the office is.
      I agree with King Friday- if Ned is as decent as he is- set some strict boundaries (if you’re not willing to leave yet). There is SOOO much that can be done from home or via teams- WFH has become so much more viable. Either Ned lets you WFH or remotely at a cafe or something to get away from the toxic Peter atomosphere or he doesn’t really mean he ‘cares’ about your mental health as much as he says he does.

      1. MigraineMonth*

        That’s a great suggestion. When you’re away from Peter for several weeks, take time to really feel the difference in your body and thought patterns.

        When I’ve left particularly stressful situations, I noticed that my jaw unclenched, my shoulders came down from around my ears, my mood and concentration improved, etc. Then ask yourself if working for Ned is worth running that gauntlet of potential violence every single workday.

  6. Talula Does the Hula From Hawaii*

    Being a witness to abuse can be traumatizing over time.
    And you have been doing this for 4 years.

    You need to save yourself. Feel free to encourage Ned to do the same but whether he does or he does not please get out ASAP, before you pay the price and need years of therapy (if you don’t already).

    1. Zweisatz*

      And if you have trouble feeling like you’re leaving Ned in the lurch, consider that you can keep in contact with him while being in another job. But it is not necessary to stay in this stressful and possibly harmful situation on his behalf. (And as Alison pointed out, it might not even be helpful in the grand scheme of things.)

  7. Precious Wentletrap*

    As nice a boss as Ned may be, spend your work from home time with your husband getting ready to hit da bricks.

  8. FG*

    I TOTALLY understand loving the job & working for Ned, & I hope changes happen that make staying worthwhile. Truly.
    If and when you do leave – or Peter is completely removed from your situation – it will take you a while to decompress & learn what sane & normal is supposed to look like. And you think you can imagine the relief you will feel when that happens, but you have no idea.
    I’m not gonna say get out get out as many will, but when you look back later, you’ll wonder how you put up with it for so long.
    Also: Consider counseling, now or afterwards, to deal with the daily trauma.

  9. VermiciousKnid*

    I just want to double down on what Alison said about fight-or-flight mode. I spent six years working for a man with severe mental health issues. He was a good person, but not a good boss. When I left that job, I started having panic attacks. My doctor told me I probably had mild PTSD from spending every day on-edge, waiting for the boss to explode about one ridiculous thing or another. Once that stress was removed, my body didn’t know how to recalibrate. It took three months before I could take a deep breath and the attacks stopped. It’s worth noting: I never had an attack at the job. It was only after I left.

    OP, maybe stick around until after your husbands surgery. Then start hunting.

    1. Baby Yoda*

      “I just want to double down on what Alison said about fight-or-flight mode.”

      And your body stores all that adrenalin as fat when you don’t actually need to ‘fight” and use the energy.

      1. pope suburban*

        That is a very weird thing to say and I’m honestly not sure why it needed to be said. OP is having to work on edge, with someone who threatens physical violence. These are reasons enough to look for another job.

      2. River Otter*

        No, adrenaline is not stored as fat. There is an overall relationship between cortisol levels and metabolism, and cortisol and adrenaline are both stress hormones that are released in flight or fight situations. Neither cortisol nor adrenaline is stored as fat, however. That is a wild misunderstanding of metabolism.

      3. bookworm*

        I understand you’re trying to be helpful here, but this is both an inaccurate oversimplification of the relationship between chronic stress and weight gain and also conflates health and weight in a really unhelpful way. The body doesn’t “store” adrenaline. The combination of chronic high levels of cortisol and adrenaline can mess with the body’s endocrine system and insulin sensitivity, which can trigger a range of health problems that also can cause weight gain. Cortisol and adrenaline levels can also affect eating and sleeping behavior, which also can have an impact on weight.

        Stress is not good for your health. But the way this comment comes across is like the worst thing about being in this situation is that it’ll make you fat (a thing that some people just are while also being perfectly healthy!). OP needs to leave this situation for her mental and physical health and safety, not to lose a few pounds.

      4. Marthooh*

        “…your body stores all that adrenalin as fat…”

        That’s just an old wives’ tale. Adrenalin is actually stored as a small dwarf or toad living in your stomach.

  10. Global Cat Herder*

    I’m going to channel all those relationship advice columns that say “you don’t have a mother-in-law problem, you have a husband problem.”

    You don’t have a Peter problem, you have a Ned problem. Ned is intentionally subjecting you to Peter’s abuse. He’s aware of the abuse – he told you that you can leave the office! he knows! – but he’s not willing to establish boundaries or stop the abuse. Which makes him 100% complicit in it.

    Good luck to you and your husband on the pending surgery. Spend the time looking for a new job.

    1. Cate*

      I think this is the best advice – whatever their dynamic is, it’s not healthy for you to be in it. There are lots of good jobs with good bosses, there are a lot less where you have to deal with their abusive partner daily.

    2. pope suburban*

      I agree wholeheartedly. I haven’t dealt with this in the workplace, but it is how I grew up, and I recognize the feeling of gratitude that OP feels for Ned. But you’re absolutely right that Ned is the problem because he is well aware of how volatile and menacing Peter is- and he has not taken any *actual* steps to help OP out. He’s just sort of hanging around putting band-aids on things, when the appropriate response would have been to stop the cause of all the injuries. I understand that’s a difficult thing to realize about someone who is otherwise kind, but it’s just the facts of the matter. It’s a better bet to try to get out than to think that Ned will suddenly see the light, after all this time and walking on eggshells.

    3. Putting the Dys in Dysfunction*

      OP, there is a dynamic here that is eerily like classical abuse, which is a cycle of love-bombing followed by the worst of the abusive behavior. The difference here is that the love-bombing (in this case the kindest, best boss you ever worked for) and the abusive behavior are coming from two different people. Nonetheless, these two people are joined at the hip, and in a way they might as well be the same person.*

      Ned’s love-bombing keeps you in this (work) relationship, and makes you care for him — you want to be there for him if he ends his relationship with Peter.

      But please see this for what it is: an abuse cycle perpetuated by Ned and Peter together. Getting out seems like the best option.

      (*If someone made a movie about this, changing the facts somewhat, Ned and Peter would actually BE the same person, a la Norman Bates.)

      1. Spero*

        Also, I think specifically what is happening here is that Ned is acting codependently around Peter’s abuse. This may be because of a mental health or substance abuse issue underlying Peter’s actions that makes Ned feel it is impossible to address the actual cause – but either way it’s not OK. For the OP, this is problematic because Ned is roping you in to part of this codependency relationship – he is using your skills (with tech and checkbook balancing) as one of the ways in which he is trying to control Peter’s moods/rage. You don’t want to be part of that and that’s a fair call! It may seem hard to refuse a ‘simple request’ like ‘5 min tech help’ but you SHOULD refuse because it’s not actually just ‘5 min tech help’ it’s ‘tech help to keep the control dynamic over his mood’ and THAT is not a reasonable expectation. It’s not a reasonable belief on the part of the codependent person that the action will control the rage/abuse, and it’s not a reasonable request to make you part of the control when you are an unrelated employee with no desire to control Peter.

        1. 1LFTW*

          I agree wholeheartedly that this is a codependent abusive dynamic.

          Peter is the “Bad Parent” who has abusive rages (whatever the cause); Ned is the “Good Parent” who steps in to “fix” the rage. Ned’s “simple requests” are using OP to control Peter’s mood, kind of like when Bad Parent comes home in a mood, so Good Parent whispers to the kid to clean their room or set the table so that Bad Parent “doesn’t get mad”.

          Keeping Peter from getting mad is not OP’s job, and it’s not OK for Ned to rope them into it. I wish OP the best of luck in getting out of this situation.

          1. Irish Teacher*

            Yup, I was thinking that in many ways this reminded me of a domestically abusive marriage with the LW in a similar role to a child of the relationship who the abuser isn’t targetting directly but who sees parent who is the victim being threatened and yelled at in front of them and has the constant fear the abuser might turn on them. And the victim tries to keep the “child” out of the way of the abuser – advises them to leave the house or go to their room when things get out of hand – but for whatever reason is unable to take the child out of the situation permanently.

            The big difference of course is that the LW doesn’t have to wait for Ned to realise how bad this situation is. There are difficulties like needing another job and her husband’s medical situation but she has more agency than a child.

    4. PotsPansTeapots*

      This. Ned sounds like a good person who is muddling through as best he can. But he’s not providing you with a safe and supportive environment where you can do your best work. That makes him a bad boss.

      Get your ducks in a row financially and consider some counseling. If it helps get you out, remember you can be much more supportive to Ned once he and Peter no longer control your livelihood.

  11. Cait*

    I’d be tempted to say, “Ned, the next time things escalate to the point where I’m afraid for your safety or my safety, not only am I going to leave the office, but I’m going to call the cops as well. I might not be able to advocate for you, but I need to advocate for myself. If you won’t leave this abusive relationship, I will.”

  12. Ama*

    OP, it seems to me that both you and Ned have been immersed in this situation for so long you can’t see how out of line Peter is. Professional adults should not be having temper tantrums in offices at all — Peter is having these tantrums regularly and expects you both to tiptoe around him while he terrorizes you.

    I can attest from my own experience that when you are in a highly stressful work situation it can mess with your brain and make you think “every other job is probably also like this and at least here I have [small good things about the job].” All other jobs are not like this, you can find something better and you *deserve* to find something better.

  13. ZSD*

    Wow. I feel so sorry for both the OP and Ned. What a terrible situation!
    I think it’s telling that Ned’s solution to Peter’s threats of physical violence was not to ensure that Peter made no such threats, but to give OP permission to leave the office when he does. Ned’s normalcy meter is incorrectly calibrated at this point.
    How awful.

  14. SJ (they/them)*

    OP, I’m so sorry you’re dealing with this. Vicarious trauma is VERY real, and while it seems like Ned is trying to take steps to protect you, as Alison rightly points out you are still much too close to this situation for your own wellbeing.

    I’m sure you’ll get lots of good advice here so I just want to reinforce that it is okay for you to want and need to get out of this situation. You do not need to stay, and you cannot save anyone who is not themselves ready to leave. (This applies to any type of abusive situation, personal or workplace or otherwise).

    You sound like a very compassionate person so please know you do not need to set yourself on fire to keep others warm. Sending love and strength your way.

  15. AG*

    I’m kinda taken aback that the “my coworker wants us to call her boyfriend her “master”” story is linked as a similar letter.

    1. Ann Ominous*

      I wonder if the related theme is personal relationships entering the workspace in extremely inappropriate ways.

      1. Essentially Cheesy*

        Oops I meant Peter. Ah juggling too many things at the moment.

        (Ken is a good guy in my world so not projecting, I promise.)

    2. GraceC*

      Things often end up linked because they use the same names – terrible-boss-adjacent and boyfriend-master are both called Peter

    3. AGD*

      At a guess, those are generated automatically based on which earlier posts have the highest number of similar words.

  16. SereneScientist*

    I don’t have much to add besides what other commenters have said, but much solidarity and empathy to you, LW. I worked for a boss like Peter for two and a half years right out of grad school and it was the worst job I’ve ever had. That kind of environment really can warp your sense of social norms, never mind workplace norms. I understand you like Ned as a boss but you should take care of your own mental health too.

  17. Essentially Cheesy*

    Run away! Ken will not change his behavior. I worked for a CheesyBoss not unlike that for over 14 years and it was way too long (I kept convincing myself he was going to retire soon …).

      1. Essentially Cheesy*


        Oops I meant Peter. Ah juggling too many things at the moment.

        (Ken is a good guy in my world so not projecting, I promise.)

  18. jSPA*

    the LW is presuming uncomplicated abuse, and that’s the simplest explanation. But the solution still holds, no matter what the underlying dynamic(s).

    If this is a dynamic that Ned wants in his life–again, that’s not my first assumption, but people are psychologically complex!–then he needs to not allow it to happen in the office. If Ned is in fact getting something out of being ignored and degraded to and in front of others? Then he needs to find consenting third parties (and his office staff isn’t it).

    Maybe, instead, this is something Ned hates but is doing out of sympathy because Peter has some sort of condition that leads to emotional dysregulation, and he’s keeping an eye on Peter by having him at work (I mention this because I’ve seen it play out in one circumstance, when someone’s partner had early-onset dementia, and in another circumstance, where a family member had an addiction that was not so much managed as white-knuckled, by never being left alone, and others where there were other underlying, untreated issues). Same take-home, though! Ned needs the wake up call that this “fix” isn’t working. There’s only so long that you can hold a house together with your arms and chewing gum, while the walls fall down around you.

    Maybe Ned’s the one with some underlying issue, and Peter’s the one that’s hanging on, incredibly resentfully. Same result: its not working.

    Maybe Peter’s the brains of the operation, or holds the patents, or majority ownership. Same result: the price is too high, the work-arounds are not working.

    LW, I suppose it’s possible that Peter has isolated Ned to the point where you are the only person he can turn to.

    But you know what? That’s pretty unlikely, considering they’re apparently working with a multi-person staff and have a bunch of longstanding clients.

    Furthermore, you’re an employee, not a personal friend.

    And of course, if you really were the only recourse? Well, Ned isn’t going to instantly lose your number if you stop working for him.

    Here’s a script of sorts, if you want to reach out as you go.

    “Ned, I’ve been offered a job at X, and I am planning on taking it, with [date] as my last day. You have been everything one could wish for in a boss. The actual work in this job has been a pleasure. But there’s no way to sugar coat it; whether or not you experience your time with Peter as abusive, the stress of waiting for his next uncontrolled threat or outburst or anger campaign can’t be cancelled out by having the right to step outside. It’s damaging for me just to be around it. I don’t want to tell you it’s unhealthy for you, because that’s not my place. But if it ever starts to feel that way to you, please remember my phone number and my email, and please reach out.”

  19. BRR*

    The ultimate answer is you probably need to look for a new job because it sounds like Ned and Peter are way too intertwined for them to disconnect smoothly. But in the meantime you need to strongly push Ned for a different office set up. Either you/Ned or Peter need to work someplace else. While it can be interpreted that Ned is a great boss for how he allows you to deal with Peter, he needs to make it so that you don’t even know Peter exists.

    Also, for the “want to be [there] for Ned” part, I don’t know exactly what you mean by that but I would encourage you to try and keep a work/personal boundary. Especially if Ned and Peter are romantic partners.

  20. Keymaster of Gozer*

    This is not a problem that you can fix, but you can distance yourself from it.

    If leaving the job entirely isn’t on the cards I suggest getting a space away from this abusive person (and verbal abuse is absolutely abuse) – so you do not have to deal with them at all. Say to your boss that you cannot work in such an atmosphere and need space and zero contact with Shouty McRageface.

    Ultimately, if someone is in an abusive relationship – business or personal- it’s down to them to get out but there’s no obligation for others to be exposed to the conflict in the meantime. Sometimes the kindest thing you can say to someone is ‘this is clearly wrong, you are being treated badly, but I can’t stick around to see it’

  21. JustA___*

    If you’re determined to stay at this job (not saying you should–just if), and absolutely need to be in the office regularly, would it be possible for Peter to work from home (at least a couple days a week or all the time)?

    Maybe you could be in office M-W, and he could be in Th-F while you’re wfh those days? Or Peter could wfh unless he needs equipment/meeting space for a client? Since Ned and Peter live together, it might be easier to ensure Peter has a viable wfh space/setup.

  22. Irish Teacher*

    This is one of those letters I really hope we’ll get an update to, hopefully that the LW (and ideally Ned too) get well away from Peter. I am genuinely concerned for them both. My impression is that Ned is genuinely afraid of Peter and that is why he is telling the LW to just leave and not to get involved (fearing it may escalate things).

    However, that is not the LW’s issue and if Ned cannot get away from Peter for whatever reason (romantic relationship, money invested in a joint business, fear of reprisals, unable to afford a home and office on his own, whatever…), the LW really needs to protect herself. She can’t get Ned out of the situation and witnessing it can’t be doing her any good.

  23. Let me librarian that for you*

    My script for a conversation with Ned might be something like this: “It is not physically safe for me to continue working in proximity to Peter. I need a safe workspace. What can we (or you) do to provide that?”

    It gives Ned a chance to solve the problem and leaves the obviously complex feelings/relationship out of it. It’s just saying what you need to do your job, like “I need a laptop!”

    You can make suggestions if you want (rent a different space, more WFH) but make it clear this is a non-negotiable need, not a want.

    Of course, you have to be ready to follow through if Ned says he can’t/won’t fix the issue.

  24. brjeau*

    I believe you that Ned is a nice person and that he does his best to try to be kind to you, but based on the degree to which you seem to be tied up in each other’s personal lives and finances (it sounds like the bank stuff is outside of the official job description?) he’s not actually a very good *boss* even before getting into the nightmare situation you’re both dealing with regarding Peter. It sounds like you both have developed a pretty warped sense of what is normal in the workplace. I don’t have any advice to add beyond what others have said, but I hope you’re both able to get out of this situation soon and start healing. Don’t wait on him to get yourself out though.

    1. Anomanom*

      I completely agree

      This guy’s baseline is rage. I can’t imagine how he would behave if he got even angrier

      1. Anomie*

        Yes. Sadly a relative was involved in a horrible workplace shooting. It can happen anywhere with angry people.

        1. Carol the happy elf*

          Peter probably started out on his hellish abuse by continually going over the line and making a “fauxpology” for his revolting behavior, escalating, testing the boundaries of those around and escalating every time he’s not slapped down.
          Time for Peter to go to “time-out”.
          But for your health, you’ve gotta get out of there. 4 years of taking emotional violence, even if most of it isn’t directed AT you, normalizes the concept of violence, and accustoms you to toxicity, like the proverbial frog in a pot of water. This is probably what happened to Ned, as well. Odds are that early in their working relationship, Lil’ Petey had a little fit and made a pathetic little “Fauxpology”. Then, he kept escalating because he is basically an asshole who got away with it, again and again.
          Pity there’s not an HR with firing power who can mandate anger management classes.

          Let’s hope Peter doesn’t get his much-needed, court-mandated anger management treatment because of harming Ned physically. He’s already done that emotionally, domestic partner or not.
          Use the next time to find a healthy job, then as soon as you are financially past the medical needs, walk away.
          You can serve Ned best by showing him how to be safe and emotionally strong.
          Show Ned the example of strength, and leave this toxic situation behind.
          You can’t fix him, but maybe your refusal of any more abuse will give him the eye-opener he needs.

    1. ThatGirl*

      yeah, I agree – he might be the best boss LW has ever had but that doesn’t make him a *good* boss.

    2. Decima Dewey*

      OP says Ned is the kindest, best boss they’ve ever had. My thought is that, consciously or not, Ned is using the nice and kind stuff to keep OP in an untenable situation. How can you ignore Peter when he’s sharing office space with your boss, depending on you to fix his workplace problems, and screaming at you and your boss?

      1. KRM*

        At a minimum, Ned’s kindness is extending too far to Peter, letting him scream and shout and generally be a terrible person at the office, to people in the office. This isn’t actually kindness, OP! Ned is probably a genuinely kind person, but he’s also spineless, because he won’t stand up for himself or you in this situation. He’s just letting Peter get it all out because it’s easier for him than having the difficult conversation of “you cannot behave this way in the office, to anyone, and we may have to rethink how this all works if you can’t stop”.

      2. Hark! A Squirrell*

        Yes, that’s what I thought as well! Ned’s kindness may well have been what made the job bearable for this long, but I’m guessing it’s also what allowed Peter to become so dysfunctional in his treatment of Ned and OP. Kindness and flexibility can be beneficial traits most of the time, but occasionally, they can be exploited. In this case it looks like Ned’s gentle nature is making him a worse boss, not a better one.

  25. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

    I would encourage LW to stretch the WFH period for as long as possible. Getting away from the environment may have the following effects:
    1. Adjustments to your work process to make it more fully WFH may allow you to keep the job without keeping the stressors for personal/emotional safety that these outbursts are causing.
    2. Being out of the toxic soup may help you clarify your vision about what you want for yourself, and maybe give you some time to do some job search for a better situation.
    3. Modeling appropriate boundaries about respectful behavior may assist Ned start to see ways that he could do the same for himself. You could even say, “I’m feeling so much better without the strain of monitoring Peter’s emotions for safety that I’m going to have to look for other opportunities, even though I have really enjoyed working with you and would want to continue in the future in other circumstances.”

    Also, do a bit of research about the costs/benefits of a separate office so you can toss that into some of the conversations. Sometimes providing the scaffolding for a change can help someone tackle the process.

  26. CLC*

    Reading this column really opens my eyes to the bizarre work situations that are out there. Two people who are either romantic partners or are least friends/roommates have an abusive relationship and operate two different businesses from the same office and an employee of one helps the other with things like setting up online bank accounts and other, apparently personal, and simple tasks? The situation itself is bizarre even before you add in Peter’s volatile and aggressive personality.

  27. Mx Burnout*

    I can’t believe the substance of this letter turned out to be about something other than the wildly inappropriate, on-entire-fire red flag that is LW being asked to *balance their boss’s partner’s checkbook*!! And yet!! It did in fact get worse!!

    LW, I hope you find a safe way out of this situation. You don’t have to live and work like this.

    1. Irish Teacher*

      I suspect that is likely related to Peter’s temper tantrums, that Ned is doing whatever he can to placate him – “you’re having trouble with your checkbook. My employee is good with that stuff. I’ll ask her to help you out,” fearing that if his checkbook situation starts annoying him, he’ll get volatile again.

    2. urguncle*

      The number of jobs that I applied to as a broke 20-something (and thankfully either didn’t get or never heard back from) that expected a similar level of … almost pampering from their employees is probably in the double digits. Literally just “I don’t want to [task], so you should do it for me.”
      LW, get another job. Seriously. Even if you enjoy some of the assistant portions of whatever you’re doing, you shouldn’t be doing online banking for a volatile, dangerous person.

  28. Memento*

    This is a very bad situation. OP Peter has threatened physical violence, screams at you and Ned and you feel unsafe in your workplace you should leave. Please don’t feel responsible for trying to fix the situation for your own sake you should go. This isn’t normal, this isn’t fine. You said Ned the best boss you’ve ever had, but he’s aware of Peter actions and says you could leave the room and not tried to stop Peter, given that Ned lives with Peter he might simply be used to his behaviour and has gotten into the mindset of trying to avoid him, step on eggeshells around him. Other commenters have said that Ned might be afraid of Peter as well and given he shares a home and office with him, explaning his actions. I just want to emphasise something here if Peter has made you fear for your safety don’t think you should brush it off. You’ve been in this situation for 4 years. I think the best thing you can do is go to your boss explain why your’re leaving and that the situation is very toxic and unsustainable.

  29. Former Retail Lifer*

    As so many others have mentioned, Ned is a good person but he is a terrible boss. There is absolutely no way he should allow you to be a regular witness to violence. I’ve had bad bosses with tempers and I’ve been in an abusive relationship so it’s not like I don’t sympathize, but HOLY HELL. THIS IS NOT NORMAL AND THIS IS NOT SOMETHING YOU SHOULD HAVE TO DEAL WITH. If a customer or someone else visiting your office acted like Peter, you would kick him out and probably call the police. Once you’re working from home while your husband recovers, I hope that allows you to calm your head, step back, and realize what you’re being subjected to. You’re constantly in fight-or-flight mode, but just wait until you have the peace and quiet to ruminate about the situation.

    1. OP*

      Unfortunately not, it is just Ned and I in this office and one employee in another city 3 hours away (her job can be done entirely remotely). A large part of my duties are bookkeeping, processing mail, processing paperwork from clients and meeting with clients in office.

      1. Fluffy Initiative*

        If you have to stay in this job, is there any way that you could arrange to stop by at certain times to pick up the mail and necessary paperwork, and WFH? That, or as someone else mentioned, have designated days/times where you can work alone in the office with no Peter? I’m so sorry you are in this situation, it doesn’t sound safe for either you or Ned.

      2. mlem*

        You meet with clients in the same office where Peter starts screaming and threatening violence? Does he somehow control himself when clients are present, or is Ned’s determination to share space forcing the clients into this dynamic, too? Neither is good. Ned should probably start paying for an off-site location where you can work and meet clients, and let you restrict your time in Abuse Central to hours when Peter isn’t there.

        1. OP*

          He can pretty much control himself when Clients are in, the abuse towards Ned has gotten steadily worse over the last 12 months but this was the first time I had been pulled into the mix. Ned did tell Peter to leave me out of it at the time right before I exploded a bit. Peter has been ignoring my existence since the incident that triggered my writing to Alison.

          1. Venus*

            If he can control himself around clients then he can control himself. He’s choosing to say abusive things to you and Ned. I have worked with people who could and couldn’t control themselves, and the latter group are socially awkward but everyone would address it with a simple “Peter, that’s crossed my line, please be more polite in future.” For the ones who could control it, our bosses made it clear that they had to control themselves around everyone or leave. You have a Ned problem more than a Peter problem. I think Peter needs an office at their home, so that you and Ned can get a break from him. I think Ned is probably realizing that he needs to split from Peter at some point, although it’s hard to do.

            I have seen this dynamic in business and charities, where best friends from childhood pair up and one of them is a complete asshole that only their best friend would ever tolerate… until one day the nice friend breaks and can’t take it any longer, and the friendship quickly falls apart. Sounds like you might be headed that way.

      3. LC*

        So you need to be in the office at least part of the time for your job with Ned, but do Ned and Peter need to share an office space for their separate joint venture? Or is it simply more convenient (and probably cheaper) for them to do so?

        if your working elsewhere isn’t viable, that’s where I would recommend starting your conversations with Ned: where can Peter work that is not in your and Ned’s shared space? What Peter is putting you both through is abusive and unacceptable. Ned can handle himself and his intertwined business as he sees fit, but it’s not ok for him to continue to put you in Peter’s vicinity. It’s fully appropriate to state that you will no longer share an office space with Peter or handle the sorts of tasks you have in the past, and to make clear to Ned that if you can’t handle your tasks elsewhere (as it seems from your response above), Peter needs to vacate the shared office space.

        Perhaps Peter can work from the home he shares with Ned until he can find separate office space.

  30. L'étrangere*

    OP, there’s much to be said here, but it’d take a lot longer than we have here . I’d like to recommend to you an excellent book, to clarify your own thinking most of all: “why does he do that” by Lundy Bancroft. It’d also be a kindness to share it with Ned, when you have integrated it. It will make it clear to both of you what abuse consits of, and the thread of control under its many variations. It’s much better than most books on the topic in not victim-blaming at all. It also addresses gay relationships naturally and constantly, instead of setting them apart as somehow less understandable. And finally it has excellent advice for the bystanders, on how to counteract the isolation that is the primary tactic of the abuser, on how to help the abused by emphasizing their agency even when you think you know better. I can’t recommend it highly enough, and I guarantee your local public library has a copy. You’re a good friend OP, this will help you be a better one without getting abused yourself

  31. anti social socialite*

    LW I’m just going to echo most everyone else: Get. Out

    I had a horrid boss. Aggressive, temperamental, violent, a real bully. I stayed there longer than I should have and I’m still trying to fix my messed up thinking/approach to things as a result, 10+ years later.

    I understand you feel loyal to your boss but that kind environment is not safe or beneficial to anyone. Start looking for new jobs because that guy is never going to change.

  32. Velveeta v. Cheddar*

    Very good advice here. One thing that you didn’t mention but I was maybe picking up on? You are staying because of the pay/health benefits / health insurance.

    While many states typically don’t award unemployment if you quit versus being laid off, if you have an extenuating circumstance and do quit, there are carve-outs for when you’d still be eligible for unemployment (here in PA the reasons are:,a%20necessitous%20and%20compelling%20nature.)

    Check your local state laws and please get out as soon as you can.

    Anyway, hope this is helpful perhaps…..

  33. Zelda*

    “Sometimes Peter starts screaming and threatening Ned with physical violence. When this happens I have permission to leave the office and only return when I feel comfortable. ”

    Never. That would be never.

    I can see how Ned deserves to be consulted before you actually involve the *police*, but he does not deserve to be consulted before you Get The Ever-lovin’ Hell OUT.

  34. Kel*

    You’re also being subjected to the emotional abuse that Ned is. You’re tip-toeing around waiting for the next tantrum, the next threat? This is abuse!!!

  35. Morgan Proctor*

    Hey, OP: Ned is not a good boss. A good boss would not expose their employee to a volatile, potentially violent situation every single day. I know you say that he acts as a wall between you and the violent person. But a good boss would not try to be a wall. A good boss would remove the violent person from the situation permanently.

    And besides: Ned is not a wall. If this violent person comes to work with a gun, the bullet will go right through him.

    Ned might be nice. He might be caring. But he is not a good boss.

    Please leave this situation. You WILL find another employer that’s flexible and kind. Offering benefits and paying well are not the hallmarks of a once-in-a-lifetime good boss. They are the bare minimum requirements of any decent employer.

    Your situation is not normal, and it is not safe for your mental or physical well-being. Now that you know this, what are you going to do about it?

  36. NotHappening*

    Ned and Peter aren’t friends. Friends don’t scream at each other and threaten violence on a regular basis. Please get out of the way of their abusive relationship before it hurts you physically as well as mentally. You don’t have to take the first job you come across, but start looking for something else that’s stable with decent benefits as well as zero screaming and violence.

  37. AnnieB*

    OP you are super super kind to be worried about Ned and want to be there for him if he ends the partnership/friendship, but it’s so far beyond what should be expected of you as an employee! I hope you can look after yourself and put yourself first

  38. LW, GTFO*

    Ugh, LW. My parents were in a toxic relationship AND owned a small business together. It was the two of them plus one admin assistant, and even as a kid I always felt bad for the admin My parents were individually dysfunctional and brought out the worst in each other, at home and at work — so the admin was basically the third wheel to all of those issues. She stuck it out for a long time, but when she finally left it was all the drama of leaving a “we’re like a family” small business on top of the drama of leaving a toxic relationship.

    Get the heck out for your own self :(

  39. Danish*

    Agree with Alison’s point about not normalizing Peter’s behavior being ultimately helpful for Ned as well. I have a friend who left an abuse partner after YEARS because the first time the partner was nasty to me they realized how awful it was and they didn’t want to subject anyone to that. It’s been four years so that might feel like an abrupt change for you to make, but this really isn’t minor stuff from Peter. I hope you can work something out sooner rather than later, for both of you!

  40. Screen Porch Office*

    “This is not okay, and neither of us should be treated like this. I can’t decide that for you, but I am deciding it for me.”

    Beautifully worded, Allison.

  41. Pobody’s Nerfect*

    OP, I can empathize, and strongly recommend for your own safety & mental health, to either negotiate WFH permanently or preferably to find another healthier job. I just got out of a very traumatic unhealthy job situation, with a volatile quick-tempered loud threatening yelling coworker, and a bullying inept boss who refused to do anything about it. I felt afraid every single day going into work, wondering if that would be the day the coworker would erupt in workplace violence. Like you, I remained in fight or flight mode constantly; I scoped out alternative exits, and closed/locked my door if I was ever alone with that coworker in the office. I reported my fear, the danger warning signs, & the inappropriateness of the situation repeatedly but boss chose sides & like you, told me to just take a walk if and when I ever felt afraid. When the world/workplace shut down because of the pandemic and we started WFH, I’ve never been so relieved, because I finally felt safer. And I never went back in person. But I still have PTSD, panic disorder and many other issues I’m now working on overcoming and healing. No one should have to develop or deal with these issues because of an unsafe or abusive workplace/coworkers, it’s unconscionable. Please get out and start to heal.

  42. GlitterIsEverything*

    OP, you’re right in the middle of a classic abusive situation. To put this in stereotypes, Peter is Dad, Ned is Mom, and you’re the kids.

    Ned is trying to be the buffer between the abuser and the innocent. No matter how hard Ned tries, the innocent will always feel some of the abuse – just not as directly as Ned will. You’re even feeling some of the protectiveness that kids in abusive households feel about Mom, afraid to leave Ned for fear Peter will do something worse to Ned.

    Your husband’s upcoming surgery is a perfect opportunity for you to evaluate exactly how much harm is coming to you by staying in this job. As others have said, take this time to pay attention to how much stress you DON’T have when you’re not around Peter.

    I hope, truly hope, that you find your way out soon, and that your WFH time sheds some light on what you’re dealing with. If you can, I’d love to see you provide some resources to Ned on your way out, so he can get out, too

  43. Curmudgeon in California*

    So, I’ve sat with this most of today, and thought about it.

    I used to have a volatile temper. It got worse the more stress I was under. I’m not proud of the person I was. Yes, sometimes I was an absolute asshole at work, although never to the degree that Peter gets away with.

    I worked on it. It took years. But the first thing I had to do was realize that it was a problem that no one but me could fix. Some of what drove it was a need for control in a world I couldn’t control. I had to accept that the only person I could control was myself. I had to tame my raging beast myself.

    Peter has no interest in fixing it, because that’s how he controls his environment. His temper successfully makes both you and Ned walk on eggshells and try to appease him so he won’t explode again. But you know he always will. It is working for Peter, so he’ll never have a reason to change for the better.

    You need to leave.

    Yes, start to work from home until your husband is over the medical thing, but use that time to “go to medical appointments”, i.e. interview. Take your things home because you need them to do your work. But find another job.

    When you do find another job, don’t go in to the office to quit. Peter probably believes that Ned and you are his to control, and will not take it well when he loses a punching bag.

    You can’t do anything for Ned except advise him to get out. But if they are codependent, he won’t, at least not until Peter puts him in the hospital, and maybe not even then.

    You have a family, and a life outside of work. You should never have to put up with a violent jerk like Peter in order to make a living.

    Run, OP, run.

    1. Elana*

      Peter sounds like my ex-husband. For years people around me normalized his behavior and I, desperately trying to figure out whether this was okay or not, reached out to others and saw people treating it as acceptable. Other people pushing back made a big difference for me. If Ned isn’t ready to go, if he’s not ready to see situation with Peter for what it is, and you push back in a big way then you almost certainly lose any relationship or connection with Ned because maintaining the relationship he has with Peter will necessitate severing all relationship with you if you stop tolerating Peter’s behavior. This is almost universally true in cases where someone is not ready to leave and another person pushes back hard against the abuser. But, that doesn’t mean you have to normalize and accept this behavior. I would really really strongly recommend that you speak to a mental health professional, especially one who has experience with domestic abuse. This is that bad of a situation, and there are degrees of response that you can make, there may be ways you can navigate this to keep a door open with Ned, if that is something you want to do, but you need to talk with somebody who understands these situations and is trained to handle them. This kind of thing is absolutely no joke, and however you proceed you need to take it seriously. If you are going to stay in that office you need to have a safety plan. These situations can and do turn violent, and often at the point where the abuser feels like they are losing control of the person they are abusing is the point where it is most dangerous and likely to escalate to violence. Please please please seek out professional help from a counselor, a domestic violence program, or some other person who is trained to help you more closely assess the situation and make a safety plan, for you and hopefully in the future for Ned as well.

  44. Grammar Penguin*

    I’m really disappointed at the leap to romantic partners. I didn’t get the impression at all, not even at the end. Then there is Allison’s very first sentence, making that leap. Because it’s just not possible for two men to have a close relationship that isn’t romantic, apparently.

    1. Dawn*

      She literally said that Peter is Ned’s partner, that they share a home, and that they have a relationship. It’s not a leap at all.

      1. Dawn*

        It doesn’t happen to be the case a/p OP’s comments, for the record, but it’s absolutely understandable how one could read it that way.

  45. Dawn*

    Please do what you need to be safe, first and foremost; sharing an office with Peter, even with the “options” you’ve been given, ISN’T safe, because you just don’t know when the switch might flip to physical violence. It’s already unhealthy for you, but it could absolutely get much worse, and almost inevitably will.

    That aside, please do send us an update on this one when you have news and are able.

Comments are closed.