my coworker posts love notes from their partner all over our shared office

A reader writes:

I work in an office where everyone has a hybrid work schedule, in part because our physical office space doesn’t have enough office space for everyone to be in the office at the same time. It’s extremely clear that someone else uses your office on the days that you’re working from home.

I use my coworker’s office two days a week. They had that office space before we had to start sharing space, decorated it, filled it with their books/supplies, etc. so I’ve always treated it like “their” space — I don’t have any work or personal items there. They know that I use that space, as we’re often in Zoom meetings where I’m in their office space on their WFH days.

Lately, they’ve been bringing in and leaving lots of little “love notes” from their partner, and I’m just curious to get your thoughts on this habit. These are sticky notes all over the desk, pinned on bulletin boards, etc.

The notes aren’t sexual, but they’re still clearly very personal and detailed. Things like, “To my [Pet Name], you’re the most gorgeous, loveliest, kindest, perfect person I know. You inspire me everyday and I’m struck by your beauty. I love you more than you’ll ever know.” They’re overall pretty benign, but it just feels odd to me, like I’m getting a glimpse into a part of my coworker’s life that I shouldn’t know about (or, that if roles were reversed, I wouldn’t want them to know about).

It’s also worth noting that we occasionally have in-person client meetings in these office spaces.

Do you have any thoughts on this habit? I’ve been in plenty of shared office spaces before, and this is the first time I’ve encountered such intensely personal things in a shared space.

Oooooh. Yeah, not appropriate for a shared office. Not really that appropriate for an un-shared office either, at least not in this quantity, but the real issue is that your coworker is posting these all around a space that is also yours.

This isn’t just “their” office anymore. It’s yours 40% of the time; you both should be treating it like you share it equally. You probably haven’t been doing that because it feels awkward to come into a space that is already so clearly marked by someone else and try to make it your own … but when you’re using it 40% of the time, you really do have standing to consider it both of yours, not just theirs.

It sounds like there was already a bit of a problem with the dynamic, where your coworker was declining to acknowledge that the space is now shared (or at least hasn’t gone out of their way to say something like, “Hey, would you like me to clear off some shelves for your stuff?”). But the very personal love notes take that to a new level, to the point that I’m almost wondering if it’s a way of asserting additional ownership over the space, although it’s more likely that they’re simply oblivious to what it’s like to work in a space with someone else’s highly intimate love letters posted up all around you.

I recommend doing two things: First, let your coworker know you need to “move in” a bit more. Explain you need space for your own things and ask them to clear out some shelves and drawers for you. Be matter-of-fact about it, as if of course this is something you need and of course they’ll see that — because if you dance around it and ask like you’re requesting a special favor, you’ll reinforce the idea that it’s their office and you’re just a guest. So for example, you could simply say, “Now that we’re sharing the office, could you clear out a couple of shelves and drawers for me so I have space for my things? Or I can tackle it if you want, but I figured you might prefer to move things yourself.”

It’s possible that your coworker might take care of the love letters as part of that, if the request drives home that the space isn’t exclusively theirs.

But assuming the notes remain, then after the first step is taken care of and you’ve asserted more claim to the space it’s reasonable to say, “Would you mind if I put the notes from Bob in the top desk drawer? They’re so personal that I don’t feel comfortable working with them right in front of me all day.” Or you could just … go ahead and put them all in the drawer and send an email letting them know you did. (You could also just do this part without making more of a claim on the space generally, but you really are entitled to some room for yourself, love memos aside.)

I do worry that someone who thought it was appropriate to do this in a shared space to begin with won’t be thrilled that you’re making these changes … but it is a shared space, and at some point they’re going to need to come to terms with that, unless they can successfully make a case to your boss for a private office (The alternative is that you go on acting like you’re a guest in the office, but you shouldn’t have to do that.)

{ 204 comments… read them below }

  1. A Poster Has No Name*

    Seriously, people. Do not involve coworkers in your sex life.

    Even if the notes aren’t explicit, they’re still involving your coworkers in your sex life.

    1. Loulou*

      I don’t really think this is “involving coworkers in your sex life.” It would also be uncomfortable to see notes like that from a parent, sibling, friend, etc.

      1. MigraineMonth*

        I’d say it’s involving coworkers in your private life. Some pictures of family members on a desk or children’s drawings on the bulletin is about as private as an office space should get, in my opinion. Even if she weren’t sharing the office with LW, any area where client meetings are taking place shouldn’t have private things like gushing notes from loved ones.

    2. Presea*

      I’d say this case was more ‘love life’ than ‘sex life’ based on the sample letter. I agree with your overall point, though! I’d be interested in an update on this one when the time comes… I’m hoping the coworker will be reasonable.

      1. Ms. Hagrid Frizzle*

        Agreed – especially since it’s not just involving coworkers in very personal relationships, but also clients! I’m really hoping the coworker will take this in stride, but there’s absolutely room to push back on the public-facing aspect of the office as well.

        1. Ann Onymous*

          I also wonder if the coworker’s partner knows that they’re posting these notes in a shared office space and if they’d be comfortable with it if they did. Even though the notes aren’t sexual in nature, they still sound like the sort of thing you write to a partner with the expectation that it’s not going to be read by anybody else.

    3. Cringing 24/7*

      This is not about peoples’ sex lives – please don’t equate romance (as ickily public as it might be) with sex. My asexual spouse could very easily write me these same notes.

      1. Distracted Librarian*

        It’s the love life part of their relationship. That probably sounds like splitting hairs, but the distinction matters. Mentioning your spouse, a trip you took together, even your wedding as an event, is involving co-workers to some degree in your relationship, but posting love notes is involving co-workers in your love life, which is much more personal in a way that’s pretty inappropriate in an office.

    4. Maggie*

      How exactly? How does seeing a non sexual note involve me in someone’s sex life? For all we know LW’s coworker is asexual or in a sexless relationship. “I love you and you’re beautiful” is not sexual in nature. OP says they’re benign even.

  2. Mianaai*

    A question on pronouns – the OP uses “they” to refer to the coworker; the response/title probably should too?

      1. Rose*

        Um, no we don’t. This comment doesn’t make sense. Coworker could be male, female, or nonbinary, so the sensitive thing to do is to respect the pronouns used in the original letter

      2. Presea*

        Clarity is not the concern here, respect for the LW and their coworker is. We don’t know if the use of they/them is for anonymity, because the coworker uses they/them, or some other reason.

      3. Jack Straw from Wichita*

        Yeah, but we don’t because using the wrong pronoun is like calling a canine a wolf instead of a dog when we are unsure. It’s a pretty big difference, and it’s not the same thing.

        It’s not even the sensitive thing to do, it’s the accurate thing to do. We don’t assign someone else’s gender.

        1. Loulou*

          The point about accuracy doesn’t quite work since these are anonymous letters! We have no idea what the actual gender of anyone involved is, or what pronouns they use IRL. If I were writing in I would definitely use “they” to try to make the letter less identifying, or might even switch (using “she” when my coworker is a man), which I wouldn’t call “assigning someone’s gender.”

          It definitely makes the most sense to just use the same pronouns as OP does, but not doing so is not at all like misgendering someone whose gender we actually know, IMO.

          1. ShinyPenny*

            I have a different take on this. I think it DOES matter, because all the members of the audience here, witnessing this, are also affected.
            I mean, when my dad made sexist jokes about women we passed when we were driving in a car, those women had no idea and thus were not personally harmed. But I, as a non-targeted bystander, WAS harmed. Even as a kid, I totally understood that I, too, was scorned and mocked and devalued by his words, and it felt really awful.
            I suspect that there are readers here who would feel similarly awful if they witnessed someone else being misgendered. But who would feel completely different witnessing an error that was then corrected.
            I’d like to save another person from feeling as awful as I did, and I’m ok with spending a little extra energy/time/awkwardness on it.

            1. Loulou*

              Okay, but I didn’t say “it’s okay to misgender the subjects of letters because they’re not reading here” I disagreed with the comment that said using different pronouns than the LW used is “inaccurate”…we have no idea which pronouns are accurate!

      1. Wordnerd*

        Still a “she’s” at the end of your first paragraph of response! Also THANK YOU for being a person who cares about these things <3

  3. Thin Mints didn't make me thin*

    Another option is to use this as a reason to push for full-time WFH if that’s something you want. “I’m using Cindy’s space but she really seems to need a lot of room for her items, so it’s just easier if I work from home.”

    1. I'm just here for the cats!*

      Doesn’t sound like that’s an option if they use the offices to meet clients.

    2. I'd Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

      That seems pretty transparent to me; I think OP should be straightforward if they want a full WFH.

    3. Dust Bunny*

      This doesn’t actually seem to be the problem, though, and if full WFH isn’t possible–because, yet again, not all jobs can be full WFH–Coworker still needs to share the space. Or maybe LW doesn’t want full WFH. But full WFH shouldn’t be assumed to be the solution.

    4. Loulou*

      But if you were a boss and you heard that, wouldn’t the right response be to order the other person to make some space for OP? Jumping straight to WFH as a solution to the problem of “my coworker is taking up more than half of our shared desk” feels off to me.

    1. Tedious Cat*

      Alison’s advice is extremely reasonable. Sadly for OP, I still expect coworker to go nuclear.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        That’s when you bring in your own love notes and battle it out for space on the walls. Your love notes should be very large, possibly include illustrations, and ideally be from multiple suitors.

          1. I'm just here for the cats!*

            Get a bag of Dove chocolates and keep all of the tinfoil that has encouraging messages and tape them all over the wall!!

            1. Keeley Jones, The Independent Woman*

              Omg, I knew someone who did that. And always the worse ones. Every now and then they would share a funny one.

              My desk on the other had had items from, which specializes in demotivational messages for those who aren’t familiar.

              1. MigraineMonth*

                [Image of a grizzly bear catching a salmon in its mouth]

                Caption: “The journey of a thousand miles sometimes ends very, very badly.”

                1. My heart is a fish*

                  I’m very fond of the rusting shipwreck. “Remember: the purpose of your life may be to serve as a warning to others.”

              2. pagooey*

                I once grabbed a six-pack of ankle socks at Target, not realizing they had “motivational” phrases *knit into them.* So then I was disproportionately angry every time I put on a pair of stupid socks that exhorted me to ACHIEVE or to BREATHE or whatever. Shut up, socks, I am not in the mood.

                1. Putting the Dys in Dysfunction*

                  Be happy they weren’t crew socks, or, god forbid, knee-highs. They could have knitted an entire motivational screed into those.

                2. mlem*

                  I found a line of women’s pants that I really like … other than the inspirational-phrase-printed inner liner. Every time I pee, my pants offer encouragement. It’s … very strange.

                  (Lee “Sinfully Soft”, if anyone else wants to read that they’re “valued” or “confident” or “successful” or “creative” while they’re on the pot.)

                3. philmar*

                  Lululemon has phrases written on the inside hem of shirts like “run with heart.” They don’t bother me though, I think it’s kind of cute. No one can see them, not even the wearer except when putting them on or taking them off, for maybe a second.

                4. English Rose*

                  Someone once decided to convert me by buying socks with encouraging biblical verses sewn into them. I put them in the Salvation Army clothes collection bin!

              3. dawbs*

                Remember the (disastrous, IMO) attempt by playtex to put perky sayings on period products?
                This is a perfect time to hang up those wrappers. That and the halls cough drop wrappers that tell us all to go to work sick and make me wish to buy other brands.

                1. Ampersand*

                  The Halls cough drops motivational wrappers missed the mark even pre-covid (please stay home if you’re sick, no matter what your cough drop says!) but since 2020 I feel like they’re especially awful. How are these still a thing?! Does Halls not know there’s a pandemic??

              4. The OG Sleepless*

                A friend of ours had the one with the snowball (I think it said “Teamwork: A bunch of flakes working together can unleash a whole avalanche of destruction.”). He was a fairly high-ranking military officer. Every once in awhile a *really* high ranking officer would see it and snort laugh.

            2. Koalafied*

              Now I’m thinking how funny it would be if they just taped up a bunch of those impersonal-trying-to-sound-personal letters that big businesses sometimes send customers to try to portray the company as having a heart. Like, “I wanted to personally thank you for your recent visit. Customers like you are at the heart of everything we do and we’re honored by the trust you’ve put in us. Kind regards, Jiffy Lube #134”

            3. InsufficientlySubordinate*

              If you’re really bored on a call (and not on video) you can use your fingernail to smooth those out incredibly smooth, although it does take awhile. With no holes if you’re very careful.

              1. just passing through*

                I smooth them out and then make tiny origami cranes out of them.

                No, I don’t work in a particularly crowded office, why do you ask?

                (Actually I’m in academia so even if I did, it wouldn’t be the strangest thing.)

          2. Le Sigh*

            But you have to do it in the goofy pet voices people use — rife with misspellings and cutsey pet language like, “Aww what in the heck. Dis bestest bone eva.”

        1. Cringing 24/7*

          Oh my goodness, absolutely. Different handwritings. Competing love notes where multiple suitors are fighting to be seen as more in love with you.

          1. L.H. Puttgrass*

            This seems like the kind of thing that AAM could crowdsource.

            And I am now devoting far too much thought to the logistics of how this could work without (1) violating the LW’s privacy or (2) giving Alison work to do. (“So, we set up a PO Box somewhere near where Alison lives, then ask Alison to forward all the submissions after they come in…” Yeah, I should get back to work now.)

        2. Joanna*

          You can buy those huge note pads that are often used in large meetings on Amazon. Some of them have adhesive on the top like sticky notes. I’m not saying you should post love notes on 25 by 30 inch paper around the office, but I might do it.

        3. Dust Bunny*

          I need some giant 1980s kitten and unicorn inspirational posters. If Coworker wants the LW to share it with Coworker’s SO, Coworker can also share it with Lisa Frank.

        4. Extroverted Bean Counter*

          Kindly, can I ask why this thread got your engagement? I’m a decade+ reader of AAM and you frequently have pushed back on people doing the whole “popping popcorn, can’t wait for an update!” standalone comments because they’re dramatic and unhelpful. You’ve also historically pushed back on people spinning details (“the coworker is crazy/unhinged”) when there’s no evidence of that in a letter.

          That you didn’t this time puzzles me, especially with the added layer of you – the professional advice giver – suggesting a mocking escalation.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            I don’t believe I have pushed back on those standalone popcorn-popping comments, aside from situations where the context made them cruel. They’re pretty common around here.

            I do occasionally drop in to join the conversation when I have a break in my day and have for years (although less so lately). I thought this was funny. The whole situation is pretty low-stakes (which can often make for a very interesting and entertaining letter, as it does here). I’m obviously not suggesting the OP post her own love letters; that would be ridiculous. I am pretty sure that’s clear to readers.

          2. MigraineMonth*

            The main rules I’ve seen enforced in the comments are “Don’t pile on the LW” and “Don’t be unnecessarily combative”. A bit of humor on light, low-stakes questions is completely on brand.

          3. Sparkles McFadden*

            I don’t think this response is a mocking anyone. It’s just a little fun at a time when we could use a little fun. The workplace is a weird situation where you are forced into sharing goals and workspace with people who have wide ranging views of the world and an even wider range of personal habits. It’s really where you get to view the rich pageantry of life.

            I have, quite literally, hundreds of highly entertaining workplace stories very similar to that hypothetical Post-It war. This includes two people who shared a workspace and had the same fight every day on how markers should be placed in a cup. One said cap side up so you could see the color and the other said cap side down so the ink would run to the tip. (…and yes, they each had their own office supplies, but they both thought the other person should capitulate to superior logic.)

        5. Aggretsuko*

          I saw “illustrations” and thought “NSFW.”

          Seriously though, I feel like the manager there should be telling the officemate to depersonalize the office rather than OP. God knows we all got told to take home everything of ours before we went officially hybrid and I can’t even keep a drawer of stuff there any more.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            I thought stick figures kissing or holding hands while walking under a stick figure tree. I used to draw them doing figure skating elements for choreography instructions, which is probably why my mind went there.

        6. Lizard Breath*

          And at least one should really be penned with a quill on parchment and use iambic pentameter.

          When in the course of my benighted day
          I see thy texts appear upon my screen
          Or see thine eyes of glorious, depthless gray
          Behind a filter used mostly by teens
          I bend again to work with reclaimed will
          With thoughts of next Friday for ‘flix and chill.

          1. TeaCoziesRUs*

            Now my hand is itching for my dip pen, a beautiful sheet of paper, and my sparkly metallic ink… I need calligraphy practice!

        7. Goldie*

          If you don’t have a sweetheart, just make your own post-its
          “I love myself so much! I am inspiring and gorgeous”
          “I want to hug myself day and night, I am just irresistible”

      2. Nancy*

        Some people like personal items in their workspace, and when your coworker is in the office, that space is theirs. It really isn’t more complicated than that. Talk to your coworker like an adult, say you need some space for your things, and that you can move the post-its to a drawer for safekeeping while you are there.

        1. Dust Bunny*

          Yeah, my office is technically shared. Nobody is sharing it right now but if we ever need it, the other half will be someone else’s. I moved into “my” corner but taking over the whole thing would be out of line.

        2. MigraineMonth*

          I think there’s a good chance these notes are making clients uncomfortable as well, since they sometimes have meetings there. I’m trying to imagine going to meet with someone in their office and there being these sappy notes all over the place. I’d worry about the LW’s professionalism/boundaries, not realizing they weren’t her notes.

      3. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        Same here – I suspect that the coworker is marking their territory with those notes, making sure OP understands that the office is still “theirs” (which it in reality isn’t); and won’t take kindly to OP pointing out that it is now OP’s too.

    2. College Career Counselor*

      Unfortunately, I agree. I think it highly likely (not just possible) that the longer-tenured co-worker is going to overreact. Someone who festoons a *shared* office with deeply personal notes as if they’re the only tenant of the space is
      a) not super thoughtful of others
      b) probably going to be resentful if asked to take them down/move them

      1. Hlao-roo*

        I’m hoping, for the OP’s sake, that the outcome is similar to the “Religious decor in a shared work space” letter. That letter writer shared a computer with their supervisor, and the supervisor put up some religious decor along the lines of a Bible verse taped to the shared monitor. The LW asked nicely if the supervisor could take down the religious items, and the supervisor agreed.

        But I will read any update, no matter how little (or how much) drama it contains!

    3. Artemesia*

      This is escalating pissing all over every corner to make sure the space is marked as ‘not yours.’ I think Alison’s words here are perfect including ‘do you want to move your stuff to make room for me, or do you want me to do it?’ That way if she is passive aggressive about it, you just proceed. Carefully clear a shelf and put 3 books and a plant and a photo of family or dog on it; carefully move stuff from one of the side drawers to her other drawers and put your special office stuff in it. Even if you don’t need space — take space — have a box of kleenex and pens and some wipes etc — inhabit the space. And yes, remove the stick notes and put them in a manilla envelope in her top drawer.

      This is some pretty aggressive shade she is throwing; throw it back with impeccable politeness and low key matter of factness.

    4. The Other Dawn*

      There’s absolutely nothing in the letter to indicate the coworker is an unreasonable person.

      1. e271828*

        Apart from taping private love notes all over the office, nothing indicates this person is unreasonable, nothing at all…

  4. Lady Ann*

    I once had the opposite problem where I had an office and a coworker moved in two days a week. She proceeded to throw away a bunch of my stuff, including my desk caddy full of pens, pencils, loose change, just dropped in the trash (I guess it didn’t match her decor?) and an art project one my clients was working on, took my stuff off the walls and hung up her own stuff, etc. I left her a voicemail about it (“hi, maybe you didn’t realize that this is a shared space and I’m still here 3 days a week…please ask before throwing my stuff away…) which she never responded to. She quit after about 6 weeks. Some people are really bad about sharing space, I guess.

    1. Ms. Hagrid Frizzle*

      Oh no! I’m so sorry your coworker trashed your things; I’ve unfortunately been there as well.

      I once worked a job that theoretically had six of us sharing a single office on rotation (but we only ever had 5 people in the role during my time) and it was such a nightmare sorting out who had left what mess/how personal things should be. We eventually found out it was down to one person who wanted to overly personalize everything, including plug in scent diffusers that I was allergic to because “well, some people eat dinner in here and it’s smelly”. Our manager’s solution was to have the last hour of the night shift do a massive deep clean of the office and submit a report on what cleaning tasks had been done each day. And you’ll never guess which coworker ALWAYS hosted a lunch party in the space and RARELY worked night shifts. . .

      1. Lady Ann*

        I shared that office with a bunch of people over the years, mostly with minimal issues. Generally all it took was a single conversation along the lines of, “I’ve cleared off that shelf in the closet for you, leave whatever you want in the desk drawers, nope I don’t mind if you move that picture to hang up your painting.” But I also had someone who always left dirty dishes on the desk, and someone else who kept stealing my nice pens that were clearly ones I had purchased, not the cheap ones our company buys. But dropping my entire desk caddy into the trash definitely took the cake! Luckily I never had anyone who wanted to douse the place in strong scents!

        1. Artemesia*

          The beauty of having your own shelves and drawers is that those dirty dishes can be set right onto her shelf or into her drawers or even in a box in the corner labeled with her name. It would be the coldest day in hell every before I washed them.

          Alas personal supplies probably have to travel as many people will mooch the nice pens or other nicer officer supplies.

    2. Curmudgeon in California*

      I have to admit I’d have flipped my sh!t if a coworker threw away my stuff. However, I’ve learned over the years not to leave anything I really gave a damn about out on my desk because of things that would walk off.

      One job I had to literally lock my pens and pencils in a drawer when I left my desk even for a break. My cube was just outside a conference room and people would brazenly take writing off my desk, even if it was obviously too nice to be company issue. They would also take writing out of my drawers if I didn’t lock my desk. If I didn’t lock up when I took a day off I would come back to zero pens, pencils and post-its, even the stuff I brought in. No one ever returned a damn thing. I started putting out a caddy of crappy pens, and had to replenish it about every other day.

      1. OyHiOh*

        At a previous job, my boss had a caddy full of crappy pens the organization bought. I had a small handful of nice pens in my drawer, and a caddy of the cheap ones out on my desk.

        I had learned, through error, that my boss would rather grab a pen off my desk (to be fair, on the way to the printer) than get one from their office, and that if there were not visible pens on my desk, they would happily rummage in drawers to find one. I kept the nice pens bought out of my money in a drawer with a lock, and cheap pens very visible on the desk. Annoying, but also, problem solved.

      2. Elizabeth West*

        This happens a lot when you’re the front desk. I kept anything I didn’t want pilfered in a drawer because people at OldExjob would just walk up and say “Lemme use your stapler,” snatch it off the desk, and I would have to go hunt it down to get it back. All my pens would also regularly disappear. Apparently front desk = fair game for the entire office. And my desk was directly opposite a fully stocked supply closet. :\

        I bought a brazenly salmon-colored X-Acto stapler and put a sticker with a picture of Milton from Office Space and the caption “Mine!” on it. They stopped borrowing it after that, or at least didn’t take it back to their own desks.

    3. Dust Bunny*

      What on Earth.

      That’s just . . . so, so, weird. Like, why would anyone do that? She knew she was only there two days a week–it’s not like she could assume it wasn’t anyone else’s stuff!

    4. Mallory Janis Ian*

      I had a shared office once where I was in it by myself for several weeks while they searched to fill that position. They ended up hiring someone from another department, and he moved in.

      Apparently there was only one trash can in the office, because he took mine out from under my desk and put it under his desk. When I missed it and found it under his desk, I put it in between our desks so that we could share it. He kept taking it back from in the middle and putting it under HIS desk, after it was mine in the first place and I tried to share. I finally said something to him about let’s share it, and HE accused ME of being possessive over the trash can!

      1. Artemesia*

        Every time I had a snotty tissue or a wadded up draft I needed to toss or a banana peel, I would walk over and bend down over his lap and reach between his legs to get it in the waste basket.

        1. Ellen Ripley*

          Or better yet just start throwing trash into their lap! I jest but it would be tempting…

  5. ABCYaBye*

    I am sitting here wondering if this is a situation of someone being oblivious to social conventions or someone marking their territory. Regardless, it is inappropriate. The notes don’t need to be X-rated to be inappropriate. The sheer volume is inappropriate. I like my sticky notes on my desk, but I work in my own office. If I shared the space with someone, I would definitely be conscious of what I left out, just so that it didn’t disappear…let alone make someone uncomfortable.

    LW, I think you should start with a quick conversation with your co-worker and do as Alison suggests and just matter of factly request some space for your stuff. You shouldn’t have to be carting your preferred writing utensils, etc. in and out of the office every day you’re in person. And if your co-worker isn’t understanding, you can raise the level of involvement to your boss. I don’t think you need to specifically call out the notes to begin with, but if that’s not part of them making space for you, you could just ask them where they’d like to put those notes. Even a little white lie about one blowing off the desk as you walked quickly past one day might be reason enough for them to move them.

    1. Meep*

      Giving the coworker a slight benefit of the doubt, it is possible that their partner is putting those sticky notes in their lunch and they are just hanging them up because they don’t want to throw them away and forgetting to take them home, so I see why Alison is going towards the clearing out room angle first.

        1. Loulou*

          Yes, agreed. Could be any number of things, but we don’t need to jump straight to assuming this coworker is hostile to OP.

      1. Lydia*

        I can see forgetting a few, but if there are more than five or six, that’s no longer about forgetting.

      2. Daisy-dog*

        I can see that too. I share an office with someone (separate desks) who has left a random spare piece that goes with the desk on top of her desk for months. It’s in her way, but she just stacks things on top of it when she needs the space. Some people just aren’t that aware of their surroundings. It’s not interfering with my work, I just think it’s a funny way that we are different.

      3. Elizabeth West*

        I would give them a little three-pronged folder with pages they could stick the notes on and a heart drawn on the front. :)

    2. no longer working*

      I was immediately struck by the coworker “marking their territory” aspect too!

      1. ABCYaBye*

        I was just going from one extreme (not realizing) to the other (marking territory) but I sure hope a simple conversation will sort things out for both. If the coworker is not realizing the shared space aspects, they’re probably going to feel a bit embarrassed, so LW making it a conversation that is “of course I should be able to get some space” and not focusing on the love notes would save the embarrassment for sure.

  6. OyHiOh*

    I mean, I keep a little stash of notes my partner has sent me, that I flip through when I’m having a rough day (like, the little cards from flower arrangements, and similar). But, I keep them in a binder clip, in a drawer, not out on display for the whole world to see.

  7. Gyakuten Manager*

    Oh lord, I’d be over the schmaltzy notes if they were on my neighbor’s desk, much less my own. But at least then it’s just my problem to roll my eyes about and move on, not something in my way as I work. I’m reminded of a job I had processing rebates in a shared cubicle; the woman I shared with had filled it top to bottom with family photos and folksy religious sentiments (think footprints in the sand, but more homespun), neither of which had much interest for me. No room for me to even set my headphones down! It’s amazing how distracting a very foreign environment can be, especially one that shuts you out.

    At the least they need to take the notes down at the end of the day if they’re that important, rather than emotional exhibitionism, but hopefully they clear space for you beyond that.

  8. Llellayena*

    If you think they’ll get a subtle hint, in your next zoom meeting with them when you’re in the office, maybe mention the content of the latest note: “It’s so sweet that hubby wrote -insert specific wording here- to you. He writes a lot of that doesn’t he!”

    1. River Otter*

      No, don’t do that. That is just being an ass. In a shared space, there is an understanding that we politely ignore things that are not meant for us. That’s why we don’t chime in to the conversations of strangers on public transportation or ask the person sitting next to us at a restaurant how they like their meal. If politely pretending the notes are not present is beyond the emotional regulation capabilities of the LW, then she should be direct about asking for the notes to be taken down.

      1. Gyakuten Manager*

        I mean, let’s be real – if the person is making it everyone’s problem by being loud and obnoxious sometimes we do chime in. Sometimes that’s the only way people understand to take the phone off speaker on the bus.

        This isn’t quite that level but it IS someone putting it in LW’s face, so it’s understandable to push back on it.

      2. Avril Ludgateaux*

        If politely pretending the notes are not present is beyond the emotional regulation capabilities of the LW, then she should be direct about asking for the notes to be taken down.

        I had to scroll shockingly far before reaching a comment that even subtly suggested that maybe the LW is making something out of nothing. I could imagine being perturbed by sweet notes of support if I were going through a breakup, divorce, or worst of all, death of a partner, but I’m astounded by the amount of people who are arguing that it is disgusting or even exhibitionist(!? calling it a invitation to their sex life???) of the coworker to put these mundane, utterly banal motivational notes up. If it were notes from a parent or child, I wonder if they would have the same opposition? Is it the romantic nature of the relationship – even if the notes themselves are not explicit – that is scandalizing people? I don’t understand. I really don’t see how it is egregiously different from family photos or children’s drawings, to the point the advice is “confront your coworker about it” instead of “ignore it – it’s their space as much as it is yours.”

        And I say this as somebody who, when I worked in the office, never brought in family photos, notes, or personal decorations of any kind (other than knickknacks given to me by coworkers). I’m not dying on the hill of “let people personalize their space!!” but I am very, very confused by how this is A Thing and we have all collectively validated it being A Thing instead of stepping back and being like, “… really?”

        I would love if the coworker read AAM, too, and wrote in from the opposite side: “I’m going through a rough patch, and supportive notes from my partner are the only thing that keeps me from breaking down at work. I’ve occasionally forgotten to take them down before leaving because I’m perpetually in a fog, and my officemate confronted me about it. Now I feel embarrassed and beaten down, when I was already at a low point. How do I go forward?”

    2. Frank Doyle*

      Direct conversation is preferable to subtle hints. People don’t get hints. And it’s more than the notes, it’s the space for books & supplies as well.

    3. 3lla*

      I’d like to say that I would one million percent take this as an endorsement and approval, not an objection.

    4. Frankly*

      This has the high potential of making the coworker think you (1) don’t mind the notes, and (2) are a weird busybody.

    5. Lemons*

      Saying the complete opposite of what you want to convey (“it’s so sweet” and instead of “I dislike it”) is not being ‘subtle’, and in no way a ‘hint’.

  9. voyager1*

    I am probably the minority, but I wouldn’t have a problem with them. It makes me happy to see others in happy relationships, I wouldn’t want to be that Debbie Downer.

    1. Yoyoyo*

      I wouldn’t have a problem with them per se, but I definitely wouldn’t want to meet with clients in the space. It’s unprofessional. And the fact that some people don’t have a problem with it doesn’t mean it’s okay to involve others in your relationship in this way when they don’t have the option to bow out of seeing it. A picture of the couple on the desk is one thing, but love notes all over the place is different.

      1. Avril Ludgateaux*

        If clients haven’t complained – and nothing in the OP suggests that they have, OP merely pointed out that they occasionally have client meetings in the space – they likely haven’t even made a note of it. If I, a client, meet with my financial advisor and she has a crayon stick figure unicorn drawing that says “i lov yuo momy, you are th BEST mommy”, I smile. I don’t think of it as a poor reflection on the financial advisor at all, and my eyebrows raise at the thought of a person who would. I don’t think I would even notice, let alone read, somebody else’s sticky notes.

        1. Lydia*

          Clients aren’t necessarily going to complain. That’s not how it rolls when you work with clients. You have to be aware of what the perception might be, not what has been explicitly stated.

    2. Free Bagels in the Breakroom*

      This is where I stand. I might get a laugh by telling some of my friends about it, but unless the coworker is using the notes as wallpaper I really don’t see this as much of an issue.
      Since it bothers LW I would ask, but I feel like it’s more of a funny story than anything else

      1. Lydia*

        I think it depends on how many and where they are. If a shared space includes a shared computer, I can see not wanting them hanging all around the monitor, or covering the desk, or anywhere that’s going to actually used by more than one person. I can also understand how, aside from the flowery language, it might look untidy to a client.

      2. tessa*

        If I were a client, I really wouldn’t want to see a barage of love notes in the space in which I engaged with a company rep.

        It’s just not a professional look.

    3. Critical Rolls*

      This feels more like a last straw than a standalone issue. The coworker is not treating this as a shared space, and the profusion of personal notes are the latest manifestation of that. So even if you don’t think the notes themselves are over the line (I’d find them a bit too personal for a work space and definitely too personal for a public facing space), they are part of a larger pattern that ought to be addressed.

    4. Maree*

      I agree with you. I don’t see the issue. If their partner thinks they are beautiful – great!

      It is obviously an industry/cultural thing but from my perspective we bring ourselves to work. I don’t understand why people feel the need to hide who they/we are to be considered professional. My colleagues have little notes from their kids hung on their cubicle walls. After a short period I don’t even notice them anymore.

      I find this subs ‘rules’ fascinating. Bathroom problems – let it all hang out, you do you! Anything that indicates a life/personality outside the professional – hell no!

      1. KoiFeeder*

        When people can get fired for facebooks posts of them at a bar on their time off, my willingness to bring my “self” to work drops dramatically. My work gets my worksona. If they want my “self” they have to pay enough for me to be able to afford rent and medication on unemployment when they decide that my whole self isn’t professional enough and fire me about it.

        1. Maree*

          Hhhm, perhaps I’m speaking from a place of privilege. In my country it is illegal to fire someone for such a reason.

          OTOH, we often read here about bosses drinking (or praying) with subordinates. Why is that allowed but not a non-sexual, inoffensive note

          1. tessa*

            In the U.S., most states have “at will” employment laws, meaning a person can be fired for any reason. ANY reason.

          2. RebelwithMouseyHair*

            It’s not that it’s not allowed. It is allowed. Only OP doesn’t feel at home in her workspace and wants to know how to go about getting rid of the items she least likes to see.

      2. philmar*

        I totally agree. I had to cover a co-worker’s duties and work specifically out of their office to do so (an office they had to conduct business out of and often met with people in), and they had notes from their spouse on the walls/cabinets by their computer (a computer I would also have to use). I thought it was cute.

        And I agree that it’s weird that this crosses a line, but bathroom problems do not….

      3. Waiting on the bus*

        “My colleagues have little notes from their kids hung on their cubicle walls. ”

        Yes, exactly. THEIR cubicle walls. The issue here isn’t that the coworker has love notes from their partner up at all, but that they’re hanging love notes up in a shared office where they aren’t acknowledging OPs right to the space. If coworker had their own office or cubicle – not a problem at all, it’s their space.

        If coworker made space for OP in the office and kept the notes to their part of it – also not an issue.

        But coworker isn’t sharing the space, they still treat it as if it’s their office alone. So the love notes become part of a larger pattern. And in that pattern, the love notes are irritating in a way they wouldn’t be in a different context.

        And to touch on that point of your post: the coworker is bringing who they are to work. But in this situation, it’s their inconsiderate and self-absorbed self. Which, in general, isn’t the part of yourself you want to bring to work.

    5. Frankly*

      Joining you in the minority. I really don’t get all the comments predicting craziness or attributing hostility. All I can think is “good for them!”

      1. Avril Ludgateaux*

        I really don’t get all the comments predicting craziness or attributing hostility

        Honestly I find these predictions wildly inappropriate. I’m surprised they’ve not been removed. And I find that the assumption that only a “crazy” person would put encouraging notes up in their workspace is, to me, more a reflection on the commenters making the accusation than the “crazy” person.

    6. Bagpuss*

      For me it would be dependent on how many, where they were, and waht they sid.

      For instance, if they are on the monitor or other desk furniture then they would be distracting and that would be true regardless of what they said (including if they were saying work related things)

      If it’s a room that people see customers / clients in then I think that if there are a lt, it it likely to lot untidy and unprofessional – I think having a few photos, or even pin board where you have photos, thank you notes, notes forom family etc would look more professional and still let her have the notes / some of them on display if she wants.

      In terms of contact I think if it is anything overtly sexual or intimate then it is potentially a bit uncomfortable and I also think that OP is allowed to feel uncomfrtable even if others might not – in a similar way to if her coworkers partner were coming to th office and there were a lot of PDA in the workspace.

      Maybe the way forward would be to suggest that you each have an individual pin board for personal photos/notes etc , which wouldallow the coworker to have her nites up but would keep them to one area so they are less obtrusive and so the overall appearance is more professional.

    7. Delta Delta*

      I don’t disagree with loving sentiments. I can’t function if I can see just the wrong volume of clutter. If I were OP, and there were a note or two, I’d probably ignore it and move on. If it were notes everywhere, I’d probably have to put them all in a stack so that they weren’t a distraction.

  10. Opalized*

    I was in this situation in one of my first jobs – I was working night-shift at a call center and was sharing a desk with someone who worked days. She was well established in the office cubicle, tons of pictures up, and the shared desk situation was new. She had one picture of her and a friend showing their tongue piercings that was exactly at eye level. I wasn’t really a “put pictures up at work” type of person but eventually looking at their tongues with no counter-balance was too much. I brought it up with my boss and ended up with half a wall to put up my own pictures and got a shelf space. The tongue picture stayed but at least I could shift my gaze to something else. It didn’t stop it from still being burned in my brain all these decades later though.

  11. bennie*

    reading this one sweating because i left my BF a secret stickie note that read “you’re the project manager of my heart” and he now keeps it pinned up on his cubicle wall (his desk, not shared

    1. Hlao-roo*

      I give you permission to relax about your note. There are important differences between these situations:

      – one note vs. a cascade of notes
      – individual cubicle vs. shared office
      – simple and sweet vs. ” very personal and detailed”

      A “you’re the project manager of my heart” note is akin to having a photo of you and your partner on your work desk, which is fairly common and acceptable.

      1. KateM*

        Now bennie may relax about the particular note – but may start worrying where else could she have missed important differences (a la the employee from Monday’s post who made off-color jokes). :D

    2. NopeNopeNope*

      Alison’s advice is right on as usual.

      OP, I sincerely apologize if I’ve got the wrong idea with this sentence that you wrote:
      “I use my coworker’s office two days a week.”
      If you need to, please reframe your thinking for this space as “our shared office” not “my coworker’s office.” This is as much your space as theirs. Your coworker isn’t doing you the favor of sharing their office. The company or orginization you both work for has decided that this how the the space they have will be used.

      Being charitable, your officemate may be suffering from an “out of sight, out of mind” problem. It sounds to me like you two work in the office on opposite days and may not use the office at the same time much. Even though your coworker sees you in the office on Zoom meetings, they may not have completely thought through the fact that they now share an office with a coworker (you know a real live person) and that that person has access to the same space they use for all their personal and work items. This includes all their publicly displayed love-dovey notes. Calmly asserting your need for to permanently put your own items in the office should give them the jolt they need to make that mental transition.

      1. Firefighter (Metaphorical)*

        YES to the adorability & acceptability of “project manager of my heart” sticky note

    3. JustKnope*

      This is so innocent and cute! I would be delighted if I were visiting a coworker’s desk and saw that. Feels very different than multiple gushy notes all over. (Also maybe because it’s a work-adjacent love pun!)

  12. Riley and Jonesy*

    This is why I keep my desk really monastic – just a mug and a plant. In the drawers a single folder of paperwork stuff, a fork, spoon and 3 pens.
    I used to keep more stuff, but now it really gives me the eebie-jeebies at the thought of sharing a desk with someone, having had to work surrounded by colleagues personal things/3 different mugs/6 pictures of their kids at various stages of school photos/hang-in-there type inspirational photos and quotes. All of those things abound in my own office at home. But at work, keep it to a minimum. Especially when sharing.
    OP, I hope you can get the office more share-y at some point. The love messages wouldn’t offend or bother me, but feeling like I’ve dropped into someone’s living room would irritate me for sure.

    1. NopeNopeNope*

      After working in corporate retail stores for too many years I have the same attitude. For a myriad of good, bad, and inexplicable reasons you could not personalize anything. I remember that one of my store managers was required to remove an plain, cheap wall clock from the back room that no customer ever saw because it “didn’t fit store standards.”

    2. tessa*

      I have a direct report who has a picture of her family, a plant, a mug, a small lamp, and a cup of pens on her desk. It’s like I can breathe whenever I stand in her doorway and we chat for a few minutes. Your post reminded me of that.

  13. DrSalty*

    I would guess your coworker has probably just forgotten you share their space. Bringing it to their attention will probably solve the problem … I’d even bet they might be embarrassed you saw their love notes!

  14. JustA___*

    Can we take a minute to speculate wildly and maximize the drama/pretend you are a supporting character in officemate’s rom-com?

    What if your officemate is writing these notes themselves in an attempt to make you see they are super sought-after, and, like, totally relationship material?!?! :’-D

  15. calvin blick*

    I agree with Alison’s advice here…but after the last two posts (wildly inappropriate co-workers with sexual harassment added and bosses’ abusive business/life partner)…too many love notes around the office actually seems kind of heartwarming.

  16. Kevin Sours*

    If the change to the hybrid schedule is recent, I would be concerned that Coworker resents the arrangement and this is a form of “territory marking”. Which doesn’t really change the advice, but OP might want to be prepared for blowback and have plans to escalate to get a suitable sharing arrangement worked out.

  17. Agnes A*

    The way this coworker posts the notes around so that others could see them, makes me wonder if she writes those notes to herself.

    1. Sparkles McFadden*

      This was my first thought. But, I always thought that the people who received flowers at the office were sending them to themselves, so I might just be an incurable cynic.

    2. Avril Ludgateaux*

      People are really going off the rails with their uncharitable assumptions in this thread. What on earth?

  18. thelettermegan*

    I think a lot of this comes down to the coworker not really processing how things have changed – it’s really not her office anymore! It’s now a shared office space, and should be treated as a public space rather than a private one. There shouldn’t be anything more personal there aside from generic office supplies.

    1. Markie*

      I agree.

      I feel like the original occupant is treating the situation as “someone sits at my desk when I am not in the office”

      When they should see the situation as “I no longer have my own desk, I now share a desk”

      1. Esprit de l'escalier*

        The fact that LW seems to feel that LW is sitting at coworker’s desk, in coworker’s work space, and not in their shared space, has to be a factor too.

  19. BatManDan*

    Plot twist; the co-worker got into a friendly bet or challenge to see how long it would take / how far they would have to go with the love notes before the OP/LW actually said something. As in, the love notes are fictional / fabricated. (But yeah, I got a “marking my territory” vibe, but I’m also pretty cynical about human nature.)

  20. AvonLady Barksdale*

    I’m super nosy. I am also super discreet. I like to collect random information for my own amusement. I would totally just read these things and maaaayyyyyybe discuss them with a random friend, but really, I think there needs to be more, “Oh, that’s weird” and moving on in the world.

  21. Jealous of the Water*

    I feel for OP. Many years ago, I desk-shared as a part-time receptionist at a law firm. I had the desk 4 hours and then the other receptionist was there to finish the day. She marked her territory in every possible way, even setting the screen saver to be a changing photo display of her personal photos-including ones of her kissing her BF and one of her breastfeeding her baby. Note that the desk sat in the front hall of the office and that everyone who walked by, employees, clients and visitors could see them. I was glad to nope out of that job after a year.

  22. Me ... Just Me*

    I have been well known throughout my career as someone who does not keep a particularly well-organized desk. I am quite content to sit behind multiple stacks of paper/folders and work on projects & will meet people in my office after a brief 30-second straightening. I imagine that if I had to share a desk, it would go poorly for me. I feel for both the OP and the original desk-owner. I literally spring up from my desk, almost mid-task at the end of my day and return the next day to resume whatever I was working on. In addition, the nature of my work is that of numerous interruptions, so projects and papers accumulate throughout the day/week. I shudder at the possibility of having a cubicle or a shared desk arrangement (or hot-desk). I have so much respect for those who can function in an orderly way.

  23. Calamity Janine*

    bad idea you shouldn’t do:

    their love notes? OUR love notes.

    begin writing replies thanking Workmate’s Partner for all the kind words. stick the post-it notes up as appropriate rejoinders.

    also add some affirmations for yourself, but make them as frankly bizarre as you possibly can. “the most inspirational thing i’ve ever seen has to be LW trying to open a jar of pickles at 4am. there’s just something magical about a perfect embodiment of man’s struggle against both nature and fate.” “just twenty-four hours after the first dose of LW, and my constipation was gone!” “LW: full flavor, but half the calories!” “these new albums were okay but you’re not a true LW fan unless you know about the prog rock debut album.” “the wise words from LW were really key to me unlocking my fursona’s true potential. thank you for all that you do, awwwooooooo!”

    actually, make sure a few of the notes of affirmation and endorsement are from your pets. “MEOW MEOW MWAAAOOOOOH MEW MEOW , $yournamehere! (and then a pawprint stamp.)” it is, after all, important to remember how your tiny knife-footed feline goblin wishes you to survive at work so that you may come back home and feed them the good wet food.

    …just go ahead and order that custom lego minifig now. you’ll need it if all this goes unnoticed so you can have a statue built in honor of yourself (as per popular demand, just look at all these post-its). you can decide on if it needs to be spray painted gold or not when you get there.

  24. Seeking Second Childhood*

    OP, Look up “5S” methodology because shared work areas is what it’s designed for.
    It applies equally well to shared office space as the shared manufacturing work areas where it originated. ASQ (American Society for Quality) has an extensive discussion on its web page. The original “s” words are inJapanese; my company used the translation “Sort, Straighten, Shine, Standardize, and Sustain”.
    If your company is having more than one pair of people share offices like this, it might be useful across the board.

    1. Frankly*

      We use this in our office where we have individual work stations and I hate it so much! All our desks have zero personality. It’s all boring white spaces. 5s is useful in manufacturing, but in your usual office, it’s just stifling.

  25. rubble*

    I think you should definitely ask to move the notes because of client meetings – blame it on an external factor instead of personal preference, which they might ignore (I wouldn’t say this if it meant lying, but from the way you mentioned it, it seems like you’re uncomfortable with that).

    if the coworker also has client meetings in the space it might also make them think about how it looks to *their* clients – this might not have occurred to them before.

  26. BeenThatDoneThere*

    I think the letter writer should just leave this be. The dynamics of shared office space are tricky, but regardless of why you are there, the LW is in what, potentially for years, was “her” space. And if the coworker’s notes were not a problem for the coworker’s boss in the years before the LW moved in, then it isn’t the LW’s job to decide they are inappropriate now.

    This is a difficult situation all around, but looking at it from the perspective of the coworker? I’d find it tremendously presumptive if in addition to having to share what little bit of personal space had been mine (again, perhaps for years) at work? That that person was effectively now telling me what’s appropriate and isn’t, especially when (presumably) her boss hadn’t objected in the past.

    My suggestion would be to just leave it alone.

    1. A Genuine Scientician*

      But it’s NOT that person’s personal space any longer — it’s a shared space.

      And what is appropriate for a personal space and what’s appropriate for a shared space are two different things.

    2. PinkHairAnalyst*

      I agree. This whole thing doesn’t seem like it’s worth the fight to change. In the grand scheme of things, this is a very minor thing. There’s bigger fish to fry than this.

      The coworker might be taking them down when clients come around and put them back up when the meeting is done.

      If the boss hasn’t objected to it, it’s not really a problem in my opinion.

      I find it heartwarming that the SO of the coworker is that sweet, but that’s me.

      Personally, if I were in OPs shoes, I wouldn’t mind it at all! I’m also a whatever floats your boat type though.

  27. LisaNeedsBraces*

    I would be so tempted to leave a sticky note that said something like, “Thank you for all the lovely notes you’ve left for me, but I don’t think it’s appropriate for the office. How about we both just stay friends and coworkers, but thank you for noticing how pretty I looked last week! New haircut!”

    But yeah, just reminding your coworker that it’s a shared space and moving in some of your things should do the tribk.

  28. FleaCircusMaster*

    When I think about the times when I’ve needed constant reminders that I’m loved, it’s when I’ve been in crisis. This note posting is new. Any chance this colleague is going through a really hard time?
    Part of me was sad at this response to simple affectionate notes, like, “where’s the humanity?”
    Anyway, client meetings are the main reason these may have to go, but I’m posting this just in case the colleague is hurting.

    1. Talullah*

      That is a really astute observation, FleaCircusMaster. I certainly go back and read kind notes/texts/emails when I need a boost.

      OP, you mention this is new, and I’m not sure how good of a relationship you have with your co-worker to know if it’s a possibility, but it maybe worth waiting a bit and seeing if this situation resolves itself.

    2. Firefighter (Metaphorical)*

      Thank you, yes! This rings a bell with me, too – you can track the state of my mental health by the number of cards/post-it-notes/drawings of horses (long story) from my girlfriend around the office. Definitely they need to be taken down & put in a drawer/box/binder/whatever in a shared space, but I really appreciate this reminder that they might be a sign of distress, not just a territory-marking thing.

    3. NotaBird*

      This was my thoughts too. I have some loving notes from my partner on my desk and they cheer me up after bad work calls/bad mental health days. Admittedly I work from home so no one sees the notes, but I feel for the colleague if this is a strategy to help them when things are tough at work. Maybe they are having rough times at home or self esteem woes, and the notes are a bright spot in their day.
      Some of the comments here are seeming to even mock the coworker for having notes, with comments about reading them aloud during calls or speculating that the person wrote the notes to themselves. That would be insanely embarrassing for anyone to be commented on/accused of.
      The LW should be given the ability to put the notes away if needed, like when clients are around, but it looks like that hasn’t been a conversation that happened yet so the coworker might not even mind putting the notes in a book or in a drawer

    4. Avril Ludgateaux*

      I wrote the same in a subthread above:

      I would love if the coworker read AAM, too, and wrote in from the opposite side: “I’m going through a rough patch, and supportive notes from my partner are the only thing that keeps me from breaking down at work. I’ve occasionally forgotten to take them down before leaving because I’m perpetually in a fog, and my officemate confronted me about it. Now I feel embarrassed and beaten down, when I was already at a low point. How do I go forward?”

      The responses and accusations here are out of proportion to the “crime”, and kind of out of tune with what I had always gathered as the tone of this website’s comment sections. There are multiple people: claiming these notes are an invitation into the coworker’s sex life; accusing the LW’s coworker of writing the notes themself, of “marking territory” rather than decorating their own space for comfort and wellness (nb: shared doesn’t mean it’s NOT theirs; it means it is theirs AND somebody else’s); and even arguing that the coworker is most definitely going to blow their lid over the request not to display the notes. It’s truly bizarre and uncharacteristically ungracious.

      And as for the client meetings, I noticed the LW just brought up that “client meetings happen” in a throwaway sentence, but not that it’s actually been a problem. I see a number of comments talking about how it is unprofessional, but I truly cannot recall the last time I was in an office setting – as a professional or as a client – and made a point to read somebody else’s sticky notes.

    5. RebelwithMouseyHair*

      I keep heartwarming notes in a folder on a shelf, not dotted around everywhere. This colleague could do the same.

  29. Chilly Delta Blues*

    Question. Could this be part of them mentally transitioning back to being in office? If both the office mate and their partner have been WFH the last two years maybe they’re adjusting to not seeing each other all day and the notes are taking the place of texting/seeing each other in the kitchen?

    I know that doesn’t help but it’s just me widely speculating what could be behind the sudden notes.

  30. CravingLemonMeringuePie*

    OP, if you feel like sharing your mailing address (ideally a PO Box or similar), I’d be thrilled to send you a love/appreciation note — or 2! or 3!

    As Im sure, would many of us here. Our pens & coloured markers await!

  31. SofiaDeo*

    But IMO things like this (excessive personal items/marking territory in an office that does *not* belong to whatever staff happens to be assigned there, it belongs to the company ) contribute to this “blurring of the boundaries” surrounding problems relating to work-life separation and balance. When at work, one should be focused on work. A few things to “humanize” a space, sure. I have no opinion of what is “appropriate” for any given workplace, because work needs and workplace culture varies so much. But I do think when we overly “personalize” and thus invest in a *work space*, it can contribute to this problem. And now that people are sharing space more, these types of problems will continue to arise. So assuming good intent is always the easiest thing; I love the “do you want me to move X or would you like me to do so for you?” is very gracious and assumes good intent on the part of the person now having to change to sharing a workspace.

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