update: my boss is rude to my husband

It’s “where are you now?” month at Ask a Manager, and all December I’m running updates from people who had their letters here answered in the past.

Remember the letter-writer whose boss was rude to her husband? Here’s the update.

The situation remains an odd one. Whilst I wussed out of taking your advice when it came to actually talking to my manager about it (I thought there was enough plausible deniability that it might make me look like a bit of a nutter), I did start shutting down the comments when they cropped up, and being rather icier than I normally would be. As women we’re so socialised to be warm and accommodating that I think this took him aback a bit, and the snide comments stopped pretty much dead.

I’ve also set a firm boundary on socialising with him in anything but the largest, most work-centric outings. He got a bit snippy when I didn’t come to his birthday (!) but…sorry, I was out with my husband. Some friends of ours recently had a baby, so we had a very fun evening playing house with said baby whilst the new parents got to have a rare night out together. I even showed my boss some adorable pictures of my husband cuddling said baby. (I know it’s petty.)

However, the sheer wealth of commenters speculating that my boss has a crush on me has me thinking…they’re probably right, and if they are right, then the way he’s going about things is uncomfortable, creepy and unethical. As we move into the much much busier period in our shop, he’s started scheduling just the two of us to work late in the shop to catch up; normally this is a job that a team of at least three people would do, presumably to avoid…well, situations like this. To add to the issue, as my commenters predicted, I didn’t end up getting my own store – imagine I needed a 90% on my performance review to get promoted into it; they gave me a 89.999… Boss and the HR rep (who always sits in on these reviews, as a representative of the regional manager) said in recognition of how hard I work and how many additional duties I take on, they’d enter me for a specific excellence award, which comes with a cash bonus. They’ve since come back to me and said unfortunately, it turns out that’s not what the award is for. I then set a meeting to discuss pay and advanced the points that a) I’m taking on much more work than I was at this point last year, and b) getting paid effectively less for it, due to rampant inflation. The answer was that a raise was not possible, and the plan going forward would be to schedule another performance review after Christmas, and discuss it then. Following this I attended the Christmas meeting, where they told us all how our shop was forecast to take upward of £60k a day. I’ve had a couple of days since then to reflect on how I feel, and I’ve come up with: undervalued and PISSED.

So in short, it’s become time to fall back on your wealth of CV and interview advice, Alison. Thanks to your website, I’ve never felt better placed to job search. There’s a vindictive part of me that really hopes I find something new before Christmas – I know everybody feels like their workplace would collapse if they left, but realistically our store is already a bit like a Jenga tower on its last legs. If I take off during the peak season, it’ll fall apart like a wet cake.

As a last note: this aggressively festive season, please be tender and mild to your retail workers. Especially if you happen to be in (very large bookshop) in (artsy English city), and you notice the conspicuous absence of a certain shaggy-haired, no-makeup, baggy-clothes-wearing team leader…

{ 185 comments… read them below }

    1. tw1968*

      Ditto! Too bad you didn’t say (during the Christmas meeting) “so we’re projected to do this massive amount of sales and yet we can’t get any raises??” (I wouldn’t have either tho)

      1. JSPA*

        “Take” is sales, not profit, I believe? (Or not?) If it’s gross sales, they could be making money hand over fist, or losing money with every item sold, or breaking even.

        1. ThisIshRightHere*

          @JSPA, you definitely called it. I saw this from you in the original comment section:

          “OP, I’m sorry, but I don’t think the “mentoring” is going to last past the Moment when he finally recognizes that you are a hard no on any hanky panky (or ditching your husband and proclaiming your boss as your soulmate).

          In fact he may get quite vindictive and declare that he was mistaken about you in any number of ways. Muster laudatory documents (from other people and from him) now, in case the winds shift.

          And don’t let his favoritism make you less appreciated in the eyes of your co workers. This is not to say that you are not excellent and worth promoting and all of those other things that he currently thinks you to be! But if he were to put as much energy into taking you down as he is currently putting into promoting you… your fortunes could look quite different.”

  1. Hills to Die on*

    So unfortunate that there’s no proof because it sounds like harassment because the boss has a crush and when you shut it down, he retaliated. I’m sorry. I hope you find something better and I hope you say something to HR on your way out.

    1. EpLawyer*

      yeah, sounds like either retaliation or sexual harassment. Trying to keep you close but not giving you what you needed to move up.

      Since you indicated you are in England, I cannot speak to your employment laws. But it might worth a chat with a barrister. Or do you talk to a solicitor first?

      Best of luck on the job search. I hope you wind up someplace FANTASTIC.

      1. Generic Name*

        It would be an employement solicitor but OP could also get free advice from ACAS (Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service) – they can give her practical advice if she wanted to navigate a sexual discrimination grievance.

    2. HufferWare*

      Yup,sounds that way to me as well. I’m so disheartened by how many people have written in over the years with these predicaments. So many creeps swindle their way into power over others, makes me sick and sad.

    3. MigraineMonth*

      Yeah, sometimes it really sucks when the commenting section is right. OP, I’m so glad you’re angry. You deserve to be! When you find a better opportunity, they will rue the day they didn’t follow through on their promise.

    4. MK*

      I don’t disagree, but I doubt there is enough substance to make a sexual harassment case. It’s part of what makes this behaviour so difficult to prove; until the harassed says or does something unequivocally objectionable, it’s difficult to explain to others without sounding hyperbolic.

    5. Fishsticks*

      Could be retaliation, but it could also be that the manager, with a crush on her, promised her things he didn’t have the authority or ability to actually give her. Like, why did he get to decide if she ran her own store or not? Is his position one where he would be able to make those promises?

      I think the lack of raise, the ‘omg bonus lol just kidding no bonus no raise but you can ask after Christmas, during our absolute slumpiest slowest season, when we will deny you again because ‘sales are down’ and tell you to ask at your next yearly review’ isn’t necessarily retaliation, could also just be a crap employer making crap choices and losing a great employee as a result.

      THAT SAID. Any or all of it could also be retaliation when he realized she wasn’t interested. But I wondered when reading the original letter if ‘I’ll give you your own store to manage’ wasn’t just a way to pique her interest and keep her working with him one-on-one, rather than something he could actually provide.

  2. HannahS*

    I mean this in the most encouraging sense possible: Living well is the best revenge* and you’re already partly there! You’ve got a happy relationship and you’re obviously a really capable employee–you’ll go on and have a happy life and successful career and your mopey, creepy boss will be left amongst the dregs of wet cake once you leave.

    *insert best Fraser:
    Frasier : You know the expression, “Living well is the best revenge”?
    Niles : It’s a wonderful expression. I just don’t know how true it is. You don’t see it turning up in a lot of opera plots. “Ludwig, maddened by the poisoning of his entire family, wreaks vengeance on Gunther in the third act by living well.”
    Frasier : All right, Niles.
    Niles : “Whereupon Woton, upon discovering his deception, wreaks vengeance on Gunther in the third act again by living even better than the Duke.”
    Frasier : Oh, all right!

      1. Keeley Jones, The Independent Woman*

        Same. As a geriatric millennial I was always a Frasier > Friends side in the NBC 90’s sitcom battle.

      2. Frasier stan*

        Unrelated, but I had the most beautiful cat named Frasier Crane. He was so fluffy. I miss him as much as I miss the show.

      3. Cait*

        Sigh. Me too! David Hyde Pierce is so underrated (one of my favorite episodes is Three Valentines when he does a completely solo sketch (albeit with Eddie) where there’s no dialogue, just him doing physical comedy as he prepares for a date).

          1. Slow Gin Lizz*

            Yes, I think so! It’s the one where he tries to iron his pants and then he drops the iron on the sofa and sets it on fire. It’s absolute GOLD, I agree.

            Cait, I don’t think DHP is underrated at all, I think he was the breakout star of that show. And to think his getting hired was only an afterthought because someone saw a photo of him and thought he looked just like Kelsey Grammar so they added a brother character. Amazing.

          2. Cait*

            Yes! He cuts his finger on the scissors while trying to get rid of a thread on his sleeve and keeps passing out!

        1. MAC*

          I love that scene SO MUCH. When he passes out (twice) after seeing the blood? Physical comedy perfection.

          Another standout for me was when they bought the restaurant and everything is going sideways and Frasier tells him to kill the eels … he does this amazing little hop of protest, then is seen hacking at a tank of water with a large cleaver. He always stole the show for me.

          1. Cait*

            My absolute favorite episode is Ham Radio where Frasier tricks Niles into doing a radio play and a he has to voice several characters off-the-cuff including a German, an Irishman, two old women, and Peppo the dwarf.

    1. Clobberin' Time*

      Living* well is indeed the best revenge!

      *at a different job, where she isn’t putting up with gross, disrespectful management

        1. Slow Gin Lizz*

          And I also get why DHP doesn’t want to do the show, makes total sense to me. But that doesn’t mean I don’t miss seeing him onscreen regularly.

    2. PennylaneTX*

      Shameless plug, but I co-host a podcast called Craneiacs where we re-watch Frasier (me, who grew up with it when it was first on, and my co-host who started watching it in 2018). We’re currently on season 10 and it’s been a real delight to rewatch it as an adult.

  3. Hills to Die on*

    So unfortunate that there’s no proof that the situation is retaliatory. I hope you say something to HR on your way out.

  4. Critical Rolls*

    Ugh. “We’re wildly profitable but there’s no money for you.” PICK A LANE!

    For now I hope you find a way to work around the alone time, either by getting another person assigned or swapping out. Yuck/yikes.

    1. Don*

      Well they didn’t say that there was no money, just that it was “not possible.” I’m not calling “we’re not going to give you any more money because we want to keep it all to pay for the boat we hang out on while you do the work” a better message ethically. But it’s an honest reflection of what to expect from them in addition to “you need to stay here for this jackass to bother.”

      1. Sel*

        Yeah this feels like a “we assume we can keep getting your high quality work for a low price so we’re not gonna give you more!” Which… yeah it’s a rotten cherry on top of the shit sundae of having to work for a gross boss. :(

    2. Warrior Princess Xena*

      That is, at least in part, because a lot of companies will say “We had profits*!” and then in the footnotes *if you ignore our taxes, depreciation, capital interest, and the massive legal fines we had to pay for being terrible people. Or they have increased sales but can’t actually get customers to pay their bills.

      Also because they don’t want to pay people more. But revenue/profits doesn’t always mean ‘more cash’.

      1. Putting the Dys in Dysfunction*

        It’s that old Hollywood game, where a contract specifies that someone gets a certain percentage of the profits, and the studio says they had no profits despite the film being a blockbuster.

        These folks are glassbowls and I imagine that OP is not the only person being screwed over.

      2. Antilles*

        That might be the case in some scenarios.

        But it’s definitely not the case here given all the surrounding context. They’ve gone to every extent they can to not reward OP – ineligible for promotion by giving an 89.999 rather than a 90 rating, saying they’d give a cash bonus instead then mysteriously backing off, and pushing off with saying a raise is impossible but ask again later. They’re pulling every trick in the book to avoid giving OP more money – and in that context? I’m absolutely not buying any explanation other than “they have the money but don’t want to give it to you”.

      3. Nicosloanica*

        Everyone seems to be playing this game in the book world right now. I’m in publishing and, whattaya know, despite reporting massive profits and apparently finding the funds for expensive mergers etc, publishing can’t seem to find the funds to compensate their overworked, overburdened employees. There are Harper Collins folks striking in front of the building right now.

  5. Madame X*

    Companies love to brag about their increased revenue and/or profits, but the minute that employees demand a raise suddenly there’s not enough money.

    To the letter writer, I’m sorry this happened to you. You’re clearly a very valuable employee but your company does not recognize that appropriately. I hope you find a place that is much more respectful, better for your overall career and general wellness.

    1. AnonThisTime*

      I have some small insight into my company’s finances. Our profits are not actually up this year. But you know who got raises? Everyone. Because they want to keep the staff they have. (It’s not a perfect employer, but at least this area is one that they do the right way.)

    2. Lacey*

      Yup. My fav is when in the SAME announcement they’re like, “We’re not doing raises like we normally do, but it’s really exciting to see how high are profits are!”

      1. Fishsticks*

        “We’re making record profits this year, more than ever before! Our shareholders and members of the board are getting some handsome dividends, our CEO got a performance bonus in the six to seven figures, but oh whoopsie, no raises for anyone, we’re so poor now because of inflation :( sadface employer, won’t anyone think of the poor sad company?”

  6. SMH*

    Yes start job hunting immediately. In the mean time show them how much they need you. Call off more often or have appointments mid day and leave and return. Schedule PTO. Focus on working your wage and doing what you were hired to do vs the above and beyond.

  7. Southern Ladybug*

    LW – I am sending all the positive vibes for you to be sending us a delicious update complete with details on a fabulous new job and the total downfall of the manager.

    1. OP*

      Thank you so much! I’m THE MOST pleased to report that I’ve been offered another job! It’s with the civil service in my country, so comes with much, much better pay and benefits, and I’m so eager to get started.

      1. Tio*

        Amazing! Have you turned in your resignation yet? I want to know what his face looks like when he hears, because I am petty like that. Congrats OP!

      2. To the Analytical Engine!*

        So happy for you, OP! This is a truly wonderful update to the update! A civil service job is definitely a happy ending, especially in the UK. I wish you all the best with your new job and the new year!

      3. Music With Rocks In*

        This is so great to hear! I hope you’ll have a smooth transition and maybe come back to us with an update once you’ve had a chance to settle in?

      4. Miette*

        Congratulations! And may I also crown you queen of similes, because nothing has made me laugh as much as “fall apart like a wet cake” did today. :)

      5. Seeking Second Childhood*


        I’ve learned from this site that the UK has a longer notice than the US. Does that mean you’re still stuck working late shifts through the Christmas rush?

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*


          I’ve learned from this site that the UK has a longer notice than the US. Does that mean you’re still stuck working late shifts through the Christmas rush?

      6. learnedthehardway*

        Fabulous!!! Please tell me that your resignation “letter” will read something along the lines of “I am not able to work further for a company that undervalues me”, spelled out in merchandise, of course.

        (A la the legendary fish counter employee who wrote “I QUIT” in tilapia filets).

      7. MEH Squared*

        This brightened my day, OP. I was mad reading your update (in part because the commentariat, sadly, was right about your boss), and now I’m so pleased for you. I hope your new job is all you want and need it to be. Your (soon-to-be old) boss can go pound sound.

      8. L'étrangère*

        Wonderful!! Congratulations on the new job, that’s the best that could happen.. Now can you possibly stop working before Christmas, even if only for a well-deserved vacation? It may be a slightly petty revenge, but you could enjoy leisurely wrapping presents, or knitting yourself a new hat, while basking in the remote dumpster fire set off at impossible-raise-headquarters. More seriously, the new job will go better if you can shed some of the stress of the old one before starting.

        I’d also refuse to work late at night alone with the creep. One, because that’s not ok, everyone knows it, it’s even against regulations. So speak up about it, demand a 3rd person as soon as the schedule is announced, and walk off with a ‘sore throat’ at the last minute if it’s still scheduled. I don’t want to frighten you unnecessarily, but keep in mind that abusive creeps are maximally dangerous when you seem like you’re escaping – if he’s going to switch to full-on assault mode, it’d be now. So OP please, please pay attention and protect yourself carefully in these last few days

        1. OP*

          I’m very pleased to say that I don’t have to work Christmas! I was incensed enough that I handed in my notice before I got another job, so my last day was November 30th. Husband and I have been actually enjoying the delights of the season for once. Mulled wines for all!

          1. Observer**

            That’s even better!

            Please post what your manager and HR had to say when you handed in your resignation. (also what their faces looked like.)

          2. Allegra*

            I also worked in a bookshop for years and as much as I genuinely loved it, that first holiday season free of a retail schedule was GLORIOUS. Congrats on the new job!

          3. Insert Clever Name Here*

            Sooo excited for you!

            But also please tell us how Gross Boss took you handing in your notice, because as Rachel said above, some of us are petty :)

      9. Observer**

        I’m THE MOST pleased to report that I’ve been offered another job! It’s with the civil service in my country, so comes with much, much better pay and benefits, and I’m so eager to get started.

        Yay! ~~insert Cheer-leading banana emoji~~

        If you can afford to do so, give your notice TODAY, even if it means there is a gap in employment.

      10. Becca Rosselin-Metadi*

        Oh that’s so great! I’m so glad you’re getting away from creepy manager (what was that bullshit with scoring you just a hair under the percentage you needed to get your own store and HR going along with it?) and it’ll be lovely to tell them all goodbye, hopefully leaving them with a gift of wet cake for the holiday.

      11. Madame Arcati*

        From one U.K. civil servant to another – welcome! It’s not perfect (put payrises from your mind as that requires protracted negotiations with the s tusk government lol) but it has several good points, not least security and sales/market forces being less of a thing.

  8. marvin*

    Ugh, this boss is so gross. It sounds like his plan all along was to pretend to offer career advancement opportunities to the LW as a flimsy cover to spend more time alone together. Also he gets all pissy about her missing his birthday and makes all these weird side comments about how he would prefer for her to dress?? I hope you’re able to find somewhere to work that actually appreciates you, LW!

    1. Putting the Dys in Dysfunction*

      There might have actually been advancement if OP had played along (ugh!). But we’ll never know because OP had enough smarts and self-respect not to get too close to the tar pit.

      “A strange game. The only winning move is not to play.”

      — Wargames (1983)

        1. Don*

          I’m more partial to “I’d piss on a sparkplug if I thought it would do any good” but I’d recognize that quote anywhere.

    2. many bells down*

      I hissed like a cat when I got to the part about him scheduling just the two of them to work late.

  9. Three Flowers*

    LW, I wish you were in my city (but I’m on a different continent). I’d try to come to your store and be a verrrrrrrry sloooooow customer when you’re stuck working with this harassy glassbowl on your own.

    (Do you have some local friends he doesn’t know who can take turns doing that? Scheduling you two alone sounds like escalation. And what are your local laws about recording? Can you keep an audio recorder on during those shifts to try to catch evidence of sexual harassment and/or retaliation? I am wishing for you to get safely free of this, but also to have the ability to wreck this guy legally if you so choose.)

    1. CaliUKExpat*

      I know LW is free, but just throwing it out there in case anyone needs it: the UK has one-party consent for recording, so this would be allowable. The husband looked it up a few years back and actually was able to get a recording of his manager and an adjacent manager (same role but different team, effectively) hassling him about his refusal to violate company policy and the law, as well as openly admitting that they had been doing said thing for years on the other team. He was able to use it as part of his report for bullying and harassment, got them in a heaping load of trouble and made himself effectively untouchable while he looked for a new position.

  10. grumpy old lady*

    Please send in an update to tell us you have a new job. The current employer is taking advantage of you in a huge way. You deserve so much better. Happy Christmas and hope there is a job offer letter in your stocking!

      1. Slow Gin Lizz*

        WOOOOOOHOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Alison, I hope you’ll get more details from her to post an update to this update when you’re back from vacation.

  11. Bagpuss*

    OP, as you mention you are in the UK I would look into your employrs policies around sexual harassment and consider spaking to ACAS or Citizens Advice, or even to an employent lawyer.
    It sounds as though there may be a pattern of sexual harassment and if the boss has also taken staeps to prevent you from advancing then that makes it more serious.

    Document eveything – the times that you are scheduled with him and no one else, the fact that you missed outby a hairs breadth on a promotion / opportubity for advancement which would have taken you away from him, the pattern of rude and inappropriate behaviour towards your hsuabnd or any mention of him, his ainappropriate comments about his sexual ./ romantic tastes.
    It may be worth raising a formal grievance .

    1. Keymaster of Gozer*

      It’s worth a call to ACAS. They’re pretty good at telling you if they can or cannot help with an issue.

      (They couldn’t help me when I had the boss from hell but they were pretty helpful when I was being harassed)

    2. Storm in a teacup*

      Coming here to say the same. If you work for a large chain they’ll definitely have some clear guidance on this. Especially the working late – if you can ask where the third person is, of course they’ll have them etc…
      Wondering if I’ve shopped in your store. Used to live in an artsy English city on the coast many years ago…. Always find great book recs on the staff recs shelf

    3. Storm in a teacup*

      Coming here to say the same. If you work for a large chain they’ll definitely have some clear guidance on this. Especially the working late – if you can ask where the third person is, of course they’ll have them etc…
      Wondering if I’ve shopped in your store. Used to live in an artsy English city on the coast many years ago…. Always find great book recs on the staff recs shelf

    4. learnedthehardway*

      Raising the issue with the HR department would also be a good idea. If it’s a major chain, there will be an HR department and they’ll likely at least keep an eye on the guy

  12. Bagpuss*

    Just to add – you mentioend in July that he has been there about a year, so I am guessing you’ve been therre over 2 years, which makes it hard for them to dismiss you with following proper processes and having a genuine reason, so it should be safer for you to raise a grievance than if you were a more recent employee. And of coruse the fact that you’ve had excellent reviews and been suggested for a particuarly award would also be protective factors as it’s harder for them to argue either that you were a bad employee retaliating against poor reviews, or to ‘manage you out’ , without it being very obvious that their actions were a retaliation for raising the issue.

    Best of luck .

  13. OP*

    So, I can already come back with an update to the update: I got another job! Everything unfolded beautifully, in that the new job offer came in on the last day of my notice period.

    My new job is within the civil service (notoriously hard jobs to get in my country!), and as a cherry on the cake, how’s this: whilst I already have the job offer, they need to do a full background check before I start work. This will likely take into the new year – meaning that I’ll get my first Christmas off in years!

    Thanks everyone for your kind comments and good will, and Alison: I cannot thank you enough for all the fantastic advice offered by this site.

    1. JustKnope*

      What a DELIGHTFUL update! Congratulations, OP! Wishing you a very merry and restful Christmas season and all the best in your new role :)

      1. I Am On Email*

        Congrats and welcome to the CS!

        If you’d don’t mind providing a couple of extra details – did you end up handing notice before you had a job offer? How did your boss react to you leaving??!

    2. Keymaster of Gozer*

      Very huge congratulations! We’re CS-adjacent and despite the eons of red tape it’s a really good environment to stay and progress.

      (Just – get used to reorganisations. It’s not uncommon to sit in the same desk for 10 years and hold 10 different job titles. Doesn’t hold you back though)

    3. Posilutely*

      Huge congratulations and I really hope it wasn’t our local bookshop because I love everyone who works there and we would miss you!

    4. MF*

      Amazing!!! Hope you enjoy your Christmas off and love the new job! (And your husband-hating boss can suck it.)

    5. allathian*

      Congrats! Glad you’re out of there. I’m also very curious, how did your horrible boss react when you resigned?

      An additional benefit of working in the public sector in a country that doesn’t have separation between church and state; unless you work in emergency services, you’re pretty much guaranteed at least Christmas Day off. Probably also Boxing Day, and if you’re lucky, Christmas Eve.

  14. Purely+Allegorical*

    I was one of the ones who suspected a crush, and the OP reaching only 89.999% doesn’t surprise me at all. Of course the boss would orchestrate things to keep OP around longer — ‘let’s work really closely together moving forward so I can help get you across the 90% mark’. It will never happen.

    Based on what you’ve said about the store’s precarious situation, I would be extremely skeptical that they will ever let a high-performing employee (who seems to be the glue holding things together) move on. The icing on the cake is how Big Store is bragging about profits, but those profits couldn’t possibly trickle down to you. (Been in that situation recently, and nothing there will change — I might feel differently if you had a different manager, but this guy isn’t going to do much for you.)

    Others have suggested going legal, but I’m not convinced there’s enough overt evidence here to hold up well in a legal battle. A better use of your time is probably to focus on the job search.

    Oh, and really lean OUT at work. Stop doing so much, since they’re not gonna pay you for it. Again, use that energy for the job search.

  15. Retired To Morning Room To Write My Letters*

    I am thinking “artsy English city…artsy English city…????” …and so far I’ve got Brighten or Bristol. Hmm.

    Feel an urge to drive to a big bookstore in either city and SPY

      1. Redaktorin*

        Specifically, you need to ask for the manager and then tell him about the [person matching OP’s description] who was so very helpful to you on a previous visit, and how sad you are that she isn’t here.

        1. Retired To Morning Room To Write My Letters*

          I thought I could go as an “alternative but very done up, feminine” woman (the manager’s type, allegedly) and ensnare him in a honey trap!

  16. Veryanon*

    OP, I am in the US and so can’t speak to your discrimination laws, but in the US, you’d have a very solid claim of harassment and retaliation. I’m hoping you can speak to someone who specializes in these issues in the UK and examine your options. Best of luck to you in your job search.

    1. Sloanicota*

      Honestly, I wish this was true, but this would be a tough case to prove. The 89% thing – well, they’ll just smear OP’s performance, and how can she really counter that? His actions have been in that ambiguous gray zone that guys like this are pretty good at staying in. He’s making her uncomfortable with the scheduling etc, but I’ve seen way worse cases that didn’t get the result the employee deserved. What does she really have, “he was rude to my husband”? Not that OP shouldn’t document everything that happens, but it’s a lot easier to focus on getting out than trying to take this case in a legal direction sometimes. Usually HR is a lower bar, but HR can also be terrible.

      1. CommanderBanana*

        Providing retaliation is SO hard. I reported being assaulted by a member at an event and in a TOTAL COINCIDENCE (sarcasm) I just received my very first negative performance review ever at my organization, plus got pulled off of a couple of programs.

  17. raincoaster*

    There’s a bookstore manager in Oxford who just felt a strange chill run up and down his spine.

  18. Chirpy*

    OP: good luck on your search!

    And also that last paragraph: please, please, PLEASE everyone be kind to retail (and food service, etc) workers. This is the absolute worst time of year and I’m so burnt out I am currently trying to talk myself into going back inside after eating lunch in my car. Most of us don’t get paid fairly, our jobs suck and are extremely taxing, and the last thing we need is customers throwing merchandise all over the floors letting their dogs destroy stuff, and screaming because it’s apparently our fault that they waited until the last minute to shop. Thanks.

    1. OP*

      Thank you so much! I’m pleased to report that I’ve found something else already, and I’m super excited about it :)

      I’m so sorry to hear that you’re feeling so miserable and burnt out, though. People absolutely SUCK at this time of year – I hope everyone treats you as kindly and respectfully as you deserve.

  19. Tesuji*

    I remember thinking this letter was wild, and really felt for the poor husband here.

    I mean, “So, my male boss keeps wanting to spend time with me outside work and openly despises my husband; I can’t figure out what this could possibly mean?” was kind of mind-blowing to me in the obliviousness.

    I legitimately wouldn’t have thought that there were people over the age of 18 who believed that when a male friend tells a woman how he doesn’t find her sexually desirable, that it’s anything other than a ploy.

    To me, this all came across as a burgeoning emotional affair that the boss was just too ham-fisted to pull off. A more skilled operator would have known not to straight-up badmouth the husband and instead play the long game: listen to any minor complaints the spouse has and magnify them, or give an ostensible compliment with a concealed sting.

    Feels like the husband was in a lose-lose situation: the tenor of the post made me think that an honest conversation had a good chance of backfiring (because she wouldn’t believe him), and just sitting around and hoping she wakes up and realizes what’s going on has a pretty obvious failure mode.

    Glad it worked out in the end, though, due to the boss’ ineptitude.

      1. Observer**

        Both the comment and this response seem like a very weird take here. I don’t see the comment centering a man.

          1. rebelwithmouseyhair*

            No, there’s no comparison of the husband’s feelings with those of anyone else. But hey, he was the person most slighted until OP fell from her pedestal, so why not take the time to imagine how he might have felt. I’m sure that had genders been the other way round, there would be plenty of sympathy for a slighted wife.

    1. OP*

      I appreciate your good thoughts, but this is making some pretty strange assumptions about me and my relationship. Saying that I wouldn’t believe my husband is particularly odd? This is something that he and I discussed a lot. Because he trusts me enough to know I wouldn’t cheat, our conversations mostly centred around a) what I could to make him feel better about the whole situation, b) making sure I was being completely truthful with him and keeping him in the loop always, and c) trying to just give some space and time to the emotions we were both having about it – he felt angry on my behalf, and also sort of upset/strange with the idea of somebody who didn’t know him talking about him like that, so my focus was more on validating those feelings and keeping communication open.

      You also kind of infer that I’ve been totally oblivious: hey, maybe I have! I’m just not used to people fancying me. I grew up as more of a funny girl than a pretty girl, so it’s really kind of hard to get my mind to go there.

      And finally, ‘a burgeoning emotional affair’: no. Because an affair requires reciprocation.

      1. L'étrangère*

        OP, there you go, being too considerate again! Practice ignoring the trolls, you don’t owe them -anything-

      2. Tesuji*

        > Saying that I wouldn’t believe my husband is particularly odd?

        Perhaps ‘believe’ isn’t quite right, since we’re talking less factual things and more personal perspectives.

        What I’m saying is that your perspective on the matter at the time was that the boss was a good person who had your best interests at heart.

        In hindsight, it’s probably obvious that this wasn’t true, but in the moment, it can be hard to convince someone that their take on a person (especially someone that they have a lot more time interacting with than you do) is so completely wrong.

        It’s really easy for that kind of conversation to go sideways, and to think that your SO only thinks this guy is a creep because your SO is being jealous and controlling. (If this happens after the guy has already driven a wedge into the relationship, that gives him more ground to keep, er, pounding it in.)

        > You also kind of infer that I’ve been totally oblivious: hey, maybe I have! I’m just not used to people fancying me.

        Yeah, that was kind of the vibe I got, but didn’t want to armchair-psychoanalyze (and I might have been projecting because I have my own history of not seeing when someone is obviously flirting).

        You were in a situation where some of the things you believed weren’t true (e.g., “it’s obvious that he can’t be hitting on me, because he’s a good person (and good people wouldn’t do that) and guys don’t hit on me”), and that can be hard to untangle.

        > And finally, ‘a burgeoning emotional affair’: no. Because an affair requires reciprocation.

        Nascent emotional affair? My point was that the boss was trying to pull off an emotional affair, and screwed it up.

        It was basically textbook: Find someone who respects you at work (as a mentor or otherwise). Leverage that to spend time with them, and slowly cross lines (I mean, you get that him “often” telling you his preferences in women was completely inappropriate, right?). Try to drive a wedge between them and their SO. Keep it innocent and plausibly deniable as long as you can.

        I’m not saying that you reciprocated. What I’m saying is that this was Step 1 of an X-part plan to have an affair with you–a plan that hopefully never would have worked–which he botched by being too eager.

        1. nonee*

          Your comments are awful. You’re trying to read things into this situation that aren’t remotely evidenced, while being incredibly unkind to the OP.

        2. To the Analytical Engine!*

          I think applicable phrase here is “When you’ve dug yourself into a hole, stop digging.”

          Your first comment was completely out of line and had some very strange takes. OP gave you a much more gracious answer than many of us would have. In return, you instead doubled down.

          You have been insinuating that, if OP’s boss had done a better job of making a play for her, she would have been willing to have an affair. Who knows why! Just because he was interested in her, I guess.

          Let’s be very clear. OP did not have an affair with her boss, emotional or otherwise, because her boss somehow “botched” it. He could have been smooth as silk. She was not interested. A guy can be interested in you. That doesn’t mean you have to be interested in him. It happens all the time.

          I don’t blame OP if a little willful ignorance got her through an uncomfortable situation. Especially since he was her boss and that was going to lead to some hard decisions. (Which, as it turned out, she didn’t have trouble making. Yay! And it worked out for her big time!! BIG YAY!!!)

          I think a lot of people can relate to OP’s situation, even without the work complication. You, instead, are fitting her for a scarlet A. You might want to ask yourself why.

        3. allathian*

          There was nothing to botch, because it’s clear the OP was never interested in having an affair with the horrible boss. Sure, him being “too eager” probably helped the OP see things more clearly sooner than she might otherwise have done, but that’s it.

          I’m just glad the OP’s out of there and never has to see the horrible boss again.

        4. kicking-k*

          Yes, please don’t continue with this line. You may not mean to, but you almost sound pro-affair when you say that Awful Boss “botched” it.

          Speaking as another happily married woman with a short romantic history, it never ever occurs to me to wonder if people like me That Way, as it has (as far as I know) happened so rarely as to be statistically insignificant. I don’t think this is oblivious but realistic.

    2. Observer*

      This is one of the weirder takes I’ve seen.

      For one thing, the OP *did* realize what was going on – at least to the extent that she realized that she needs to shut him down and find a new job. That’s all in the actual letter – you don’t even have to look at the comments to see that.

      For another, there is ZERO evidence of anything close to an actual potential affair, much less a burgeoning one. Unless of course an affair can consist of one person who WANTS to have an affair trying to force himself on the person who has zero interest in him.

      Honestly, I hope you don’t have any management responsibilities, because this attitude is bad. And it’s extra bad in a manager.

    3. The JB's*

      Some of us just are oblivious- sometimes it takes me years to think back and realize someone is flirting. Your comment is unnecessary.

    4. Tobias Funke*

      Don’t besmirch OP’s good name by retconning her into this whole cluster as an affair partner. Weird.

  20. Kes*

    Ugh can we add this guy to the worst bosses list lol.
    So glad to see the update and that you have a new better job!

  21. Original Post Bingo Scorecard*

    Okey-dokey, let’s check the results of the AAM Commentariat Pool & Bingo Scorecard:

    1. Ok, who had Manager has a crush on OP? Pretty much everyone? Check.
    2. Who had they will find a way to deny OP her own store because she will somehow, some way just barely “miss the mark”? Check.
    3. Who had they will screw her out of any raise, bonus, or extra compensation for all her extra work and responsibilities? Check.
    4. Who had Manager will turn ugly and retaliatory once he figures out OP isn’t going to sleep with him? Check.
    AAM Commentariat for the win.

  22. Not Tom, Just Petty*

    I looked back to see if I’d commented on the original letter. Yeah, 5 different comments. I was pretty het up then. I was also, apparently, right about the store being BS.
    Best of luck in your search. I am wishing all the good luck to be out of there a week before the holiday, and that’s not even my petty part speaking.

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