my employee has to deal with men constantly getting crushes on her

A reader writes:

I’m a woman who owns a very small company and rent time/space in a shared environment with many other small business owners.

We are all there whenever we are — first come, first served. Open space, open territory, sometimes sharing space. The only person I oversee is my employee, I have no authority over anyone else.

My employee is amazing! She truly makes work a joy and is really helping my business.

The problem is the other renters/companies. My employee is very beautiful. Several men from the other companies have developed crushes on her. They aren’t crossing the line with inappropriate behavior or comments. They’re just too persistently goofy. Really. She lets them know she has a boyfriend or that she’s busy/not interested, but it takes a day or two for the message to get through. They sort of dance around the situation because of the goofy crush and they know she’s not interested or available. They just make up excuses to be around her. And she’s uncomfortable with it. It does go away since they are all good people.

And, they are truly not being gross — just too uncomfortably goofy. It’s like having Giselle or George Clooney or Beyonce working with you … really just goofy momentary crush stuff that I’d like to help my employee navigate.

Is there just a way to cut this off more quickly?

First and foremost: Ask her what would be most helpful to her. Give her some options, too, because she might not know what she could reasonably ask for. For example, you could offer to interrupt the conversations yourself, speak to people privately to tell them to stop, speak to their companies, make sure she knows she can tell people to leave her work area because she’s busy, experiment with whether wearing headphones cut down on the interruptions, maybe even try a sign that says “on deadline / please don’t interrupt” … See what she’d like, because she should have as much agency as possible here.

Some people in her situation will discourage you from doing anything, because they’ll feel awkward asking for/accepting help or will worry they’re making too big deal of it (especially if she’s been dealing with her whole life, which she probably has). If you sense that’s going on here, you could say, “My sense is you don’t want to make a big deal out of it, but it’s really important to me that your work environment is comfortable for you. You deserve to be able to focus like anyone else. If nothing else, how about I make a point of cutting in with work topics when I see it happening?”

{ 409 comments… read them below }

  1. Not Tom, Just Petty*

    See something; say something.
    If you see the same person more than once a day:
    “Oh, do you need something from [my company]? I’m happy to help.” And wait.

    1. BatManDan*

      The LW may not always be in the space at the same time as her employee. Just a thought.

    2. JSPA*

      The employee may not even feel it’s abnormal, even though it’s momentarily awkward and distracting–she’s never been in someone else’s body.

      If so, having her manager watch the interactions and cut in on them may be more disturbing than, “yup, people, mostly men, are often goofballs when they are getting to know me.”

      I would not like my manager keeping that close an eye on how people talk to me, no matter how excellent the motivation, unless it was something that we’d agreed on.

      Especially as this can backfire, and derail people from becoming friends, once they’ve passed the goofy stage. Having them be distant or nurse a “forbidden” crush for longer isn’t necessarily going to be less distracting for the employee.

      Something passive like a sign or headphones, or something that empowers the employee are both better defaults, IMO, unless the employee sends up a signal flag that she’d welcome an intervention.

      1. LinuxSystemsGuy*

        You make a really good point here:

        “ Having them be distant or nurse a “forbidden” crush for longer isn’t necessarily going to be less distracting for the employee.”

        Even more then the possibility that it becomes more distracting for the employee, it also has the potential to prolong the whole situation. LW points out that most reasonable people (which seems to be most of others they work with) get over the whole thing in a few days when the employee displays a lack of romantic interest. Which makes sense.

        If the LW starts getting into the middle of things though it clouds how the other party sees the interaction.

        Instead of “Welp, Beautiful Woman says she’s not interested, I guess I should start acting like a normal person again”, guys might think “Aw man, Beautiful Woman’s boss interrupted us *again* just when I was going to say something clever. I guess I’ll try again tomorrow”

        There’s certainly a class of men out there that won’t take no for an answer, but even a lot of decent guys who’d totally accept “no” from the woman herself might see her boss as interfering or overprotective. You could wind up making the problem worse rather than better.

        1. Middle of HR*

          I’m sorry but this is a WORK space, not a bar or club. If one of these men becomes a daily problem, is sexual harassment and it would be both the letter writer’s and his employer’s responsibility to stop it. Just because he doesn’t work for LW doesn’t mean he can’t be reprimanded. At the harassment point I’d sure as hell be telling his employer that he’s bothering my employee every day!

          1. Paulina*

            Since this is a workspace used by very small companies, some of the harassers may be self-employed. I wonder what behaviour guidelines or rules about interactions are set up by those who run the workspace.

        2. Not Tom, Just Petty*

          I had thought about it this way. But is it any better to let employee be uncomfortable longer, waiting for “goofy guy” to get over it?
          “Sorry, I can’t stop them from bothering you because they will make it worse and neither you nor I can stop that. We just have to let them go through their emotions.”

  2. Observer*

    In addition, you may want to rethink your workspace. The issue your employee is having is just one of many potential issues that can come up in workplaces like this. It’s one thing when it’s just you, but you’re branching out a bit and are responsible for the welfare of your employee(a), now and in the future.

    Also, having a more set place makes it easier to work with share resources that belong to you rather than the space.

    1. Sloanicota*

      I agree that a completely open workspace in which the employee has presumably no private area to retreat to and no way of avoiding or minimizing interactions with everyone in the group is liable to lead to problems over time. OP might start considering if there are any other environments that might be possible that would be more comfortable for employees.

    2. Niche Non-Profit*

      I am curious – what type of businesses can operate using a shared workplace where workstations are first come first serve? Are their offices set up like this? My first thought was this must be a vendor at a farmers market or something similar?

      1. Sloanicota*

        I thought perhaps something like a WeWork. You can rent an office space, but small organizations sometimes just use the downstairs open area.

        1. CityMouse*

          I mean Wework as a long term space is a spectacularly bad idea for other reasons (cost being one of them).

          1. BigTenProfessor*

            There are versions of WeWork that are much less expensive. The one in my mid-sized metro is very heavily subsidized.

          2. Always a Corncob*

            What other reasons? It’s a 2-person company; they don’t need their own office space. My employer has a similar set-up and it’s worked fine for years.

          3. Michelle Smith*

            I looked it up in my area (NYC metro) and it can be as cheap as $112 a month per person. It’s really not that expensive.

            1. LinuxSystemsGuy*

              It’s probably more than that for five days a week, but still massively cheaper than trying to rent an office in any large city (let alone NYC). Plus you get snacks, electricity, water, and basic Internet covered. It doesn’t scale well to larger organizations, but certainly anything below like five people would be cost effective for most large cities.

              1. The Rural Juror*

                Some even offer access to printers and equipment that’s expensive to purchase if you’re not going to use it much and get good use out of it.

          4. Mockingjay*

            I worked for a small company that used a shared workspace. You could hot desk or rent a small office. Company rented an office and reserved a communal conference room as needed. It can be very effective to keep overhead costs low, crucial when for small companies with tight margins.

        2. bripops*

          I’ve worked for one of those companies (not WeWork specifically) and there’s almost always a clause in either the terms and conditions or house rules that prevents interrupting other clients while they’re trying to conduct business. If OP is reluctant to outright call it inappropriate (which I disagree, it definitely is) they can frame it to the front desk staff/community team as overly disruptive and preventing the employee from focusing on her work. We never would have tolerated it, and they’ll have a list of all the companies who use the space (or the companies of the specific guys bothering her, they can likely even look it up by date based on who checked in) and can send a reminder email stressing that they can’t interrupt others. If it persists even after that, it’s DEFINITELY time to single these guys out, and if you see someone still hovering you can bring it to the front desk on a case by case basis as it’s happening, if the team is any good they’ll address that person individually/directly.

          1. Always a Corncob*

            Talking to the community manager is a good idea! They have an interest in maintaining a safe, professional environment for everyone who uses the space, and IME they’re physically present most of the time so they can keep an eye on things (which may not be the case for LW).

            1. Hannah Lee*


              This seems to be a general issue in that particular shared workspace. It’s not just one guy who is causing the issue; it’s multiple people likely from multiple companies, so LW can’t really take a direct approach with individuals; that’s not going to solve the problem.

              If the people managing it are at all professional, they are going want to shut that kind of behavior down. Because if they don’t, they risk losing clients who decide to go elsewhere.

              1. Cyborg Llama Horde*

                I also staffed one of these places (not WeWork) and came here to say the same thing. If they’re working in one of the better coworking spaces (aka one that’s decently-staffed and the staff care about it being a good environment), both OP and the employee are well within their rights to ask the staff to make sure that employee is not excessively interrupted while trying to do her work.

                Sure, there’s a fine line between “just being friendly” and “excessively pestering other clients,” but people with experience moderating one of these spaces are pretty good at drawing that line.

      2. Stella70*

        I can only answer for my region, but we have offices that are open to any business which pays for access. Kind of like “hot desking” – they pay a set amount per month, and have access to the space, where they can meet with vendors, use printers, etc.

      3. fine tipped pen aficionado*

        I interpreted it as they rent space from one of the coworking space companies like WeWork. They have dedicated spaces you can rent but they also have options to pay as you go and grab anything that’s available.

      4. Anonymous*

        My office is open plan and everyone hot desks all the time. People tend to go to the same desks generally, but nothing is assigned.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          That’s the way mine is. Although it’s sort of recognized that X space is Gandalf’s desk, if Gandalf works three days a week and isn’t in the office that day, a wizard who doesn’t usually work in person can sit there.

          1. wendelenn*

            And you can count on the fact that Gandalf will never be early, nor will he be late. He will arrive precisely when he means to.

      5. Just Another Techie*

        A lot of tech startups where employees take their laptops home with them every night. I work for one of those right now — there are assigned cubbies where I stash my monitor and keyboard every night, and where I store my tea, headphones, paper notebook, etc. And my laptop goes home with me. It’s a bit of pain setting up my monitor every morning but meh, that’s the cost of working for a five man startup.

      6. Sacred Ground*

        Artists, designers, and other craftspeople often use shared studio and work spaces. Musicians and bands rent rehearsal space. It’s a really common arrangement when you don’t have the steady revenues to afford your own workspace and/or equipment.

        Another is small-scale food production or a catering startup. You want to sell your own sauces or jellies or cookies to the public? No problem, but you can’t use your home kitchen, it needs to meet health code standards AND be inspected by the health department. So you rent space in a commercial kitchen and usually get use of commercial equipment (giant mixers and ovens, etc.).

    3. CityMouse*

      I can’t imagine working in a space where the employer has no control over the workplace. If they do they need to handle kicking these guys out ASAP.

      1. yvve*

        interesting everyone is interpreting it as a wework style office! my first thought was something like a farmers market or food stands, vendors in a shared market type thing, in which case it would be very reasonable if not unavoidable

        1. Jujyfruits*

          I think that’s because farmers markets, at least where I’m from, have pre-assigned spaces.

  3. Healthcare Manager*

    If she’s uncomfortable, they’re not being ‘goofy’, they’re sexually harassing her.

    OP has a duty to protect her employee at the workplace.

    I’d expect OP to step in and shut it all down immediately. First step is to talk to the employee about her preference and make it incredibly clear sexual harassment will not be tolerated.

    1. reg*

      yeah, i feel like LW is being far too charitable to these men. no is a full sentence. the employee shouldn’t have to keep saying it until the message finally sinks in hours later.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        YES. As long as this is viewed like the full grown adults are harmless little puppies, the longer this employee is going to have to put up with this. It also normalizes it in the office culture–to the point where sending a new guy over to her desk is considered “cute” or some kind of initiation.

      2. JB*

        Complaints need to be raised with the other companies sharing the workspace, the words sexual harassment not inapt to bring up. If the people who work for these companies can’t control their impulses, that reflects more on them than it does how physically attractive the employee OP oversees is.

    2. Just Another Zebra*

      THANK YOU.

      OP, I want you to stop framing it as just “goofiness”. They aren’t teenagers just discovering hormones. This isn’t “boys will be boys”, and it is gross. It’s so easy to think things aren’t as bad as they are when they aren’t happening to you.

        1. Observer*

          True. But with teens it’s possible that they either don’t quite “get it” or they are learning how to regulate this stuff. And, of course, that part of their education. The adults in their lives should NOT go the “boys will be boys route”, but teach them that it’s a problem and help them figure out how to regulate their behavior.

          But these are supposedly grown men. They should have figured this out again!

          1. GreyjoyGardens*

            Yes, the teenage years are a time of learning. They need sensible adults to be role models and help them to figure out how to behave appropriately, especially because the teens might not have parents who set good examples. The idea is that boys learn while they are still in school, not having to be taught as adults in the workplace.

      1. PP Halpert*

        +1 for not using “goofy”. That was cringe to read so many times in the letter.

      2. AMT*

        I really, really wanted to know what “goofy” meant! I have a feeling that it’s a lot more noticeable than simple awkwardness (e.g. obvious flirting). Even as a guy, I’ve found work flirting uncomfortable enough that I wish a supervisor had been there to say something.

        1. MigraineMonth*

          Yeah, that’s an ambiguous description. I used to know a prankster who tickled me, I told him no, and then he immediately tried again. I did not consider it “goofy”, but I’m sure that’s how he would have framed it.

        2. Emmy Noether*

          Yeah, I’m not clear on what she meant either.

          I’m picturing this guy who was in my group during an organized trip in my early twenties. Always trying to stand/sit next to me, talk to me, compliment me, even though I was brushing him off constantly. I didn’t find it “goofy” (because goofy sounds endearing), I just found it forking annoying. Finally, he was hovering too close while I was getting money at an ATM, and that gave the behaviour just the extra bit of social inappropriateness for me to directly and loudly tell him to BACK OFF. Bystanders from the group were still shocked!! at *me* for saying something…

      3. Anonymous*

        Yes. And I’d add, stop framing it this way even if that’s how she’s framing it. It’s so common to not want to make a big deal out of something or to downplay it because you’re worried you won’t be taken seriously.

        Years ago, we had an auditor who put his hands on me in a suggestive but not vulgar way. I didn’t think it’d be taken seriously. I never had been before at any place I’d ever worked or studied. When I told my boss later, I just said that the guy had “gotten handsy” but that I’d dealt with it (I had) in a lighthearted way. My boss was not having it. He had our lawyers call their lawyers and the dude was banned from our site, the whole shebang.

        1. Caliente Papillon*

          Ugh, anyone who thinks they can just touch you cuz they want to- no. Good on your boss.

        2. MigraineMonth*

          High five for your boss! They sound awesome. No one should touch you without your permission.

          1. goddessoftransitory*

            Great boss! He did what needed to be done to let ALL the employees know this wasn’t “funny” or “harmless,” and made sure that kind of behavior didn’t snowball.

    3. Healthcare Manager*

      Exactly. OP has a very ‘boys will be boys’ attitude in this letter which the employee would be aware of.

      OPs attitude needs to change and to empower this employee to shut it down however is best and know their employer has their back.

      These aren’t ‘good guys’ they’re sexually harassing someone.

      1. Awkward Llama*

        When my son was a teenager and got crushes, he did not act like you’re describing, and he would’ve been mortified if he made a classmate uncomfortable. So, no, it is not teenage behavior. And grown men can control themselves.

      2. BlondeSpiders*

        I concur. The word “goofy” was used four times to describe the nature of this harassment, which sounds like they don’t take it seriously enough.

      3. Susan*

        A lot of these men probably wouldn’t get away with such behavior at parties, because the women would either walk away or ask the host or hostess to not invite these guys anymore. Here, on the other hand, the woman can’t walk away because it’s her job. That’s why a lot of these guys behave like that, I think.

      4. goddessoftransitory*

        And her celebrity examples? Those people have an entire employment network of bodyguards to keep “goofy” people away from them and their families.

        Would I act silly or starstruck around Clooney? Quite probably! Would I act in ways that would require deployment of large and unsmiling people whose job is to make sure I knock it the hell off forthwith? I would not!

        This young woman is getting all the harassment and “entitled to her attention” horror show side of being extra-noticeable without any of the perks of fame and money.

        1. yala*

          Also, I would think that most of the folks who work with those celebrities would refrain from acting “goofy” around them

          1. nobadcats*

            One time in LA, a few friends and I were at Sky Bar. I was waiting for my friends to get out of the ladies room. As we were leaving, they said, “Did you know you were standing next to Richard Gere?” Um, no? Apparently, I was standing next to him with his two bodyguards flanking both of us. I was just standing there minding my own damn business. Even if I had noticed, I probably would have had the same “I didn’t see you.” reaction. I thought the dude in the grey suit standing next to me was just waiting as I was.

            The only times I “fangirl” or act “goofy” are with authors whose work I love. And it’s not about them, it’s their work, the characters/stories they’ve created.

            There’s really no excuse for acting the way these men are acting. They know, they KNOW, that women have few ways to “politely” ignore/repel/reject them. They know what they’re doing.

            1. yala*

              ‘The only times I “fangirl” or act “goofy” are with authors whose work I love. And it’s not about them, it’s their work, the characters/stories they’ve created.’

              Heck, I try to keep that to a minimum too now, ever since this one time where I was at a comic convention after party with a bunch of writers and artists, chatting with a friend and this one other guy about the world cup. Then at some point, friend introduced us, and I had a bit of a freak-out because I was a HUGE fan of one of his more recent works, and…yeah, I think I made things awkward.

              My rule is now: if they’re not in a setting where they’re Being A Celebrity (like signing or doing photos or something), then they are Just Another Person.

        2. Cathie from Canada*

          We walked into a small bar at our hotel where, it turned out, a minor celebrity was also having a drink with his friends — as we walked past, we found ourselves facing two or three large young men who were unsmilingly making sure we didn’t stop. Only then did we recognize the celebrity sitting there holding court.
          So yeah, these guys do not permit any “goofing around”.

    4. Seashell*

      I don’t think feeling uncomfortable is the sole factor in a sexual harassment case. Someone could be made uncomfortable by someone being overly friendly or asking personal questions, but it doesn’t mean they’re being harassed.

      1. Dust Bunny*

        Except this is a series of otherwise unrelated men targeting a specific person based on her appearance, and not stopping even after she tells them she’s not interested until they finally have to give up. She is well within her rights to feel uncomfortable.

        1. g*

          Sure, but I don’t think anyone is saying she doesn’t have the right to be uncomfortable. I think the problem here, besides disruptions to the employee’s work and the ‘ick’ feelings she might have, is that this has continued. I don’t even really understand why anyone has to write in to figure out how to handle this. You put a stop to it however way you need to; I’d suggest using *all* the tactics Alison suggested in conjunction. Get that message through, loud and clear, and make sure it sticks.

          1. Dust Bunny*

            Hey, I wouldn’t write in–I’d give Employee permission to tell them as forcefully as necessary to go away, and I’d step in if she wanted me to, but I’m not the LW.

        2. rayray*

          What letter did you read? This is what the LW said:

          They aren’t crossing the line with inappropriate behavior or comments. They’re just too persistently goofy. Really. She lets them know she has a boyfriend or that she’s busy/not interested, but it takes a day or two for the message to get through.

          As a woman, I GET IT. It can be so annoying and can be uncomfortable but we really can not cry sexual harassment when it isn’t.

          1. Anastia Beaverhousen*

            One person’s “goofy” is another person’s “he follows me around and seeks me out to talk to me and it makes me uncomfortable. The employees boundaries of not wanting to have to deal with romantic interest at work needs to to be honored.

            1. yala*

              Oh man, shades of this one dude who used to work at the movie theater when I was a bartender there. He was rarely OVERTLY inappropriate. But he would make it a point to sweep up for long periods of time in front of the bar or concession stand if there was just one girl working, sometimes creeping on patrons (usually much younger than him), and cornering female coworkers into conversations (because we couldn’t exactly leave the counter). I think he couldn’t be fired because of his parents, but I remember being so grateful that a couple of the (male) shift leads recognized what he was doing, and would usually be quick to step up and redirect.

          2. Eldritch Office Worker*

            Did you keep reading?

            “She lets them know she has a boyfriend or that she’s busy/not interested, but it takes a day or two for the message to get through. They sort of dance around the situation because of the goofy crush and they know she’s not interested or available. They just make up excuses to be around her. And she’s uncomfortable with it.”

            That is harassment.

            1. AMT*

              Yeah, that is so clearly a form of harassment, as much as the LW downplayed it! Making up excuses to be around someone, especially to the point that it’s *noticeable to other people*, has got to be legit annoying and distracting, especially if you multiply it by several people. And since it’s so noticeable, I have to assume they’re not just making up excuses to be around her *and* acting stonily professional and completing work tasks while doing so—I imagine it’s something more like “making up excuses to be around her, compliment her, trap her in non-work conversations, get in her space…”

            2. GreyjoyGardens*

              I’m reminded of that letter where everyone wanted a follow up, with the attractive HR boss and the women from another department being persistent in devising errands to talk to him and getting sore at the LW for guarding her boss.

              Also the person who kept getting crushes on her boss and making the boss uncomfortable.

            3. MigraineMonth*

              Yeah, someone telling you that they already have a significant other or that they aren’t romantically interested in you is a red flag that your behavior is over the line (and probably making them uncomfortable). The only acceptable response is backing off NOW.

              Taking “a day or two” to get the message is NOT OKAY.

              1. NotAManager*

                Exactly! I’m uncomfortable on behalf of the employee that she even has to declare her relationship status so that these guys (who have no reason to talk to her beyond a bland, ‘Good morning,’ since they don’t even work together) will back the hell off.

                I’m also kind of creeped out by the manager’s insistence that they’re “good guys.” Actually decent people don’t flirt at work.

                1. WheresMyPen*

                  Yes! What if she didn’t have a boyfriend? She’d still be well within her rights to not have to interact with them or put up with their flirting. Someone shouldn’t have to break out the boyfriend card to get someone to stop flirting, ‘I’m not interested’ should be enough.

            4. goddessoftransitory*


              Once a person has said “your specific behavior makes me uncomfortable” you don’t get some kind of two day sinking-in period during which you can flop around like a Care Bear on molly and pretend you just didn’t get it. These guys know 100% how far they can push (not least because this person’s boss is going oh, another goofy crush!) before they “really” have to knock it off.

              1. Grizabella the Glamour Cat*

                LMAO @ “flop around like a Care Bear on molly”! That is such a hilarious image! X-D

          3. Dust Bunny*

            If you have to tell them you’re taken to eventually get them to back off, it’s sexual harassment. It might not be at the legally-actionable level, but it still is. If it weren’t sexual then they wouldn’t be there because she was pretty and she wouldn’t have to tell them she had a boyfriend.

          4. Observer*

            I don’t know if I would call it harassment. But I also do know that this *is* absolutely inappropriate behavior. Even if they don’t *say* specifically inappropriate things. When someone tells yous that they are not available, you need to respect that! Being “persistently goofy” and it taking days “for the message to get through” and for them to stop coming by multiple times *is* inappropriate by definition. It does not respect the speaker (ie the woman they have a crush on) in the least bit. It also seems to be an attempt to overcome the woman’s resistance despite her clearly stated lack of interest.

          5. Double A*

            I understand the impulse to think maybe it’s not that bad but… 100% of the time I’ve let a man know I have a boyfriend/husband is when they are toeing or crossing the line and only way I think they will accept my “No” is if they realized I am “claimed” by another man. When a woman goes for this move, she’s being harassed.

            Like, what if this employee were single? Would they accept “No”? It doesn’t sound like it.

            1. GammaGirl1908*

              This is also the reason women often resort to making up fake significant others as a deflection technique. “Thank you, but I’m not interested,” should be enough to make a dude back off, but it often isn’t. However, the existence of another man often IS enough to make a dude back off. It’s infuriating and unfair that my own independent feelings about how to spend my time and affections get dismissed and minimized, and that we are forced to lie for our own safety and comfort, and but here we are.

              I feel for the employee. She is minding her own business and guys she’s not interested in are making excuses to moon around her and hope she notices them. She DOES notice them and she wants them to go away. Ugh.

          6. T*

            They bother her for DAYS. Days. She has explicitly told them she is not interested and it still takes days for them to stop.

            You need to stop downplaying this.

          7. AlsoADHD*

            I think that it’s sexual harassment to ask more than once period in such a setting (and even once can be dubious).

          8. eddie*

            i was thinking something like

            “morning, bob. Hey, josh, good morning.”
            “✨️Good Morning, Sarah! :D ✨️ Nice to see you today! :D”

            i have to admit, id find it hard to intervene in that, even tho YES, guys, we can all see you doing it, its not as subtle as you think. But its not exactly harassment, is it? in fact i feel like its probably more obvious to other peoplw than to the person with the crush

              1. coffee*

                Also, the manager is taking it seriously by writing in and asking for advice on fixing the problem.

            1. Lucky Meas*

              Yes this was my read on it too. The word “goofy” makes me imagine stars in their eyes, a bigger smile than usual, a chipper tone, lots of conversational invites dropped.

              “Hi there! :D Nice weather we’re having isn’t it!”
              “Yep, you can drop the package right here.”
              “Right over here? I can bring it straight to the back if you want? :D”
              “No, right here is fine thanks.”
              “OK, well if you ever need anything else just let me know!! I’m always here to help!!”

              This wouldn’t meet any definition of harassment I’ve encountered. I still think OP is empowered to speak to people about their inappropriate behavior to tell them to turn down the cheerful special attention. But it doesn’t help to respond to OP as if they’re writing off stalking and physical assault.

          9. AcademiaNut*

            The problem is that it’s different guys each time, and it’s a shared work space, so the guys are neither customers, or employees of the LW. So it’s a lot like playing a game of whack-a-mole: you get one guy to back off and let her work, and another pops up to take his place. And it’s easy to see the pattern, but the guys themselves can be remarkably oblivious to the fact that an attractive woman in a semi-public place gets hit on *constantly* and it’s not really a compliment or a meet-cute situation but an annoyance that interferes with her going about her day.

            If they could figure out a seating situation where they guys have to go past the LW to get to the employee, that might help – the LW can ask what they need as they try to go by and head them off. Or maybe a large, “Do not disturb: working hard” sign on both of their cubicles to discourage them.

            1. Jellyfish Catcher*

              I don’t buy it that the guys don’t know to leave strangers alone When They Are Working In An Actual Working Space.
              I don’t buy it that they haven’t noticed other men try to get her attention.
              I don’t buy it that they have NO idea that bothering women minding their own business is rude.
              Let’s not rationalize rude and/or harassing behavior.

      2. g*

        Agree with you, Seashell. I don’t see how this is definitively sexual harassment, in that OP doesn’t say anything about demands for sexual favors, etc. I do agree that the unwanted part should be dealt with the same as any co-worker who walks around like an unsupervised child, visiting co-workers, and being disruptive.

        1. Healthcare Manager*

          Sexual harassment isn’t just explicit requests for sex.

          OP has described the behaviours of ‘a crush’ so we know this is more than just friendly socialising. Employee is uncomfortable – to the point OP can tell.

          Harassment cases include how the victim felt and not just what the perpetrator intended.

          All this added together, this is sexual harassment.

          1. goddessoftransitory*

            What a lot of people who think sexual harassment is a specific demand for sexual attention miss is: quite often, the discomfort IS the goal.

            I doubt most of these guys honestly think this employee is or would ever be interested in them. But, with this behavior, she HAS to pay attention to them, even if it’s in the context of “no, because XYZ,” and they are entitled to that attention. They aren’t really thinking they’re going to date her, and thus she “owes” them “at least this much” of her time and focus, because…she’s pretty and exists and they are men.

        2. Observer*

          I don’t see how this is definitively sexual harassment, in that OP doesn’t say anything about demands for sexual favors, etc.

          It’s been at least a couple of decades since we as a society have come to accept that there don’t have to be demands for sexual favors for behavior to be harassment. From a legal POV, that is certainly not the case either.

          Unwanted attentions that don’t stop when the recipient makes it clear that they don’t want them are definitely a legal problem

          1. Jellyfish Catcher*

            Darn right it’s harassment. These are grown ass men, trying to see how much they can push the issue, because she’s female.

            The first move is to speak to the manager that this clearly has to stop. Another option is to group both desks side by side.
            I hate even having to say that, it’s so crappy to be harassed anywhere, much less WHILE WORKING.

        3. yala*

          “in that OP doesn’t say anything about demands for sexual favors, etc.”

          That…is not the only kind of sexual harassment.

      3. CityMouse*

        I mean things do not have to rise to the level of lawsuit for LW to put a stop to them. They shouldn’t!

      4. Ask a Manager* Post author

        I agree that — with just the details we have from the letter — this almost certainly doesn’t rise to the legal bar for sexual harassment. But it certainly meets the more colloquial definition (given that it gets to the point where she’s having to tell them she’s not interested!) and is something the manager needs to stop.

        1. learnedthehardway*

          Agreeing – also, the issue is that it isn’t just one person. It’s a constant parade of guys acting individually.

          I think that the best thing the manager can do is to ASK THE EMPLOYEE how she wants things to be handled. She has probably figured out what works for the majority of the men approaching her, who are clueless but innocuous.

          However, the employee may appreciate a backup plan for people who are too persistent or who make her uncomfortable.

          Whatever it is, though, the EMPLOYEE should be the person deciding what to do about all of this, UNLESS her work is being compromised. IF her ability to work is genuinely being affected, then the manager should work with the employee to create a solution.

      5. rayray*

        Agreed. While we don’t know specifically what is going on, it sounds more like guys are just coming up to chat and trying to flirt. It probably is annoying and maybe some of the guys come off creepy which can be uncomfortable, but there is definitely a line for actual sexual harassment. The LW even states that they usually back off after a day or two and that it is just goofy not gross.

        1. Persephone Mulberry*

          Guys are JUST coming up to chat and trying to flirt? NO. Hard stop. The employee is here to WORK, not be flirted at.

          The *LW* interprets it as “just goofy not gross.” If I were in the employees shoes, having to put up with multiple men hanging around me for DAYS while I’m trying to work until they “got the message” would definitely feel gross.

        2. Sam Malone Was Certainly ”Goofy“*

          idk…when you saying ”goofy“ i get very suspicious. protesting too much, i guess.

        3. yala*

          “The LW even states that they usually back off after a day or two and that it is just goofy not gross.”

          I dunno, I think it’s goofy to take a day or two to back off when somebody–who is working, no less–makes it clear she isn’t interested.

      6. Lurker Cat*

        If someone is made uncomfortable by someone being overly friendly or asking personal questions they are being harassed. It may not be sexual harassment but the manager still has a, moral at least, responsibility to protect their employee from being harassed at work.

        1. Zak*

          If someone is being annoyed, or nuisanced, they aren’t necessarily *uncomfortable* though.

    5. fine tipped pen aficionado*

      I didn’t get the read that the LW was downplaying the behavior at all, but being very intentionally specific about what the problem was. There is a material difference in someone behaving as though they are entitled to your time and attention and aggressively pursuing it, and people just kind of cluelessly seeking attention.

      Both need to be stopped because of the negative impact on the person receiving these behaviors, but how you stop them can be different. I think the LW is doing just fine by noticing the problem and taking steps to address it, and I think the information that it seems to be more thoughtless than malicious is what makes it appropriate to let the employee guide the response rather than to go directly to the vendor they rent the space from and demand an ejection.

      1. Hannah Lee*

        “There is a material difference in someone behaving as though they are entitled to your time and attention and aggressively pursuing it, and people just kind of cluelessly seeking attention. ”

        But it sounds like ALL of those things going on, what with the finding excuses to be around her and talk to her, continuing to approach her (about not work stuff, since they don’t work together) even after she’s said she’s not interested in a personal relationship with them.

      2. Michelle Smith*

        Agreed. I don’t see any reason to be uncharitable to the OP here. There is a difference between legally actionable sexual harassment and other sexual harassment, and I feel that’s all LW was trying to explain as the advice might be different if there were legal implications.

        1. MigraineMonth*

          I think calling the people harassing (in the common, rather than legal, definition) her employee “good guys” struck a nerve with a lot of commenters, who have experienced some awful behavior from “good guys”.

      3. Ray Gillette*

        Yeah, it would be one thing if it were one or two men consistently harassing the employee. But the employee is dealing with a series of men who are being inappropriate without crossing any overt lines, then knocking it off or a day or two. It is 1000% a pattern to the employee, but it’s not a pattern to any given man in the equation. That makes it harder for OP to take specific action.

    6. zuzu*


      I watched this happen with a college roommate who did nothing to encourage anyone, but had men falling all over themselves trying to win her over because she was gorgeous. Sometimes they tried to buddy up to me to get to her. She was nothing but polite and gracious, but they were insistent, and it took a toll on her, particularly because some of them started getting entitled, and angry, and because they lived in our dorm, we couldn’t lock them out.

      It’s harassment, and just because she’s used to it, or because she doesn’t want to rock the boat because she’s not sure which one might get violent if she’s too blunt about turning him away, doesn’t make it okay. You’re in a position to do something about it, OP.

      Have you considered remote work?

    7. Ellis Bell*

      Even if it’s true ignorance of how to behave around a crush at work, the behaviour OP describes from these guys, isn’t really okay. Hovering around a person who cannot get away from you isn’t okay. Taking a few days of their bandwidth at work before you “get the message”, a message you deliberately slow rolled because you didn’t directly ask a question, isn’t okay. I’m aware this “not okay” mindset isn’t directly actionable in and of itself, but I think OP needs to really realign themselves from thinking “Oh here’s another silly moonstruck boy driven mad by beauty, I can’t possibly make this person feel bad about the pull of the tides” and feel free to behave more like you do when someone is making a terrible faux pas and they should know better already. Like, why not point out what they are *visibly* doing, without making it about the beautiful employee? I might be throwing around a few “Can we help you with something specific,Mike, we have work to do?” and “Dave, you may have noticed that we aren’t joining in with the work dodging” or “We don’t have time to chat today Luke, we’ll see you around though” or whatever feels appropriate and true.

    8. JSPA*

      You’re assuming a lot about the exact sort of discomfort. You can be embarrassed for someone, without feeling harassed.

      You’re also assuming a lot about what form their goofiness takes. There’s no way to make rules about, “don’t avert your eyes and blush” or “don’t forget that your hat is in your hands, and stumble over your own feet.”

      If they’re coming over “to be charming,” yeah, that’s something different. But even then, as its a) different people and b) the problematic behavior only lasts for a day or two and c) they’re not part of the same company and d) It’s some sort of coworking space, which prevents the LW from blocking off an area that is for their person’s use only, it’s easy to say “shut it down,” but hard to come up with a mechanism.

      She’s a pretty woman, not medusa or helen of troy. It’s not like you can give new people a welcome package that says, “and by the way do not look at Meddy Gorgonia, or you will turn to stone.”

      Especially in coworking spaces where people are often encouraged to mingle and chat, I just don’t see a mechanism for a pre-emptive message that “my person opts out of mingling and chatting.” And you obviously can’t single out people by gender (or gender and orientation) for that hypothetical messaging.

      Offer to buy her a hat or a shirt that says, “on deadline do not disturb.”

      1. yvve*

        yea, this is what i was trying to say– if its overt flirting, then ues, shut it down for sure. but its a lot harder to figure out the mechanisms when its a friendly group, everyone is going around chatting and greeting each other, but for some reason Helen is just sooo interesting and everything she says is 30% funnier than what other people say, and its important to make sure you say good morning to helen when she comes in! but of course, most people say hi to each other, no one is singling her out, they just never miss her, somehow, and its always particularly friendly and smiley.

        if anyone has a good phrasing or method to shut that kind of thing down, id love to know

        1. Mints*

          +1 it’s easy for me to see when people are extra nice to the hottest person in the room, even when they’re not doing anything really obvious. It’s hard to address behavior when you can barely explain what’s wrong – he laughed at Helen’s joke which wasn’t that funny, but he didn’t laugh at Petunia’s joke which objectively hilarious, but Petunia is frumpy. I hope OP talks to the employee, she might just want work related interruptions or something else easy

    9. Jellyfish Catcher*

      Yeah, agreed. These are grown ass men, who know exactly what they are doing – harassment – and seeing how far they can push it.
      This needs to be totally shut down by whoever is managing this space, backed up by OP.
      I also second the idea of a “working – do not disturb” sign on the employee’s station/desk.

    10. Beth*

      Very much this. OP, it sounds like your employee has already proactively let you know that she’s uncomfortable with this behavior. That tells me that this isn’t just ‘goofiness’ that you should ‘help her navigate’. It’s a problem that, as her boss, you need to figure out a real and meaningful solution to. I think you do have a serious responsibility to protect her here–if you just ask her what she wants you to and expect her to come up with solutions, you’ll be failing as an employer.

      I think you need to come up with a few possible options and ask her from there which she wants. Options could include things like 1) you commit to asking other renters to leave and let your team focus after X minutes of hovering, and give her explicit permission and a script to do the same if you’re not around; 2) you talk to the community manager, the crush-havers’ bosses, or whoever does have authority to put a stop to this behavior about the problem and work on a solution (because even if they’re not doing anything that would be wrong behavior at a singles bar, this is work and this behavior is inappropriate for this space, and someone with authority over them should be putting a stop to it); 3) you look into other space options for your team if plausible (e.g. renting a conference room at a coworking space instead of seats in an open area); 4) offer her company-paid noise canceling headphones for a combo of making it visually obvious that she’s not available for chatting and actually reducing how easily she hears these dudes; etc.

      Bringing serious action items to the table shows that you are hearing her that this is uncomfortable and bad and that you’re taking the problem seriously. Letting her choose the course from there respects her agency and also maximizes your odds of actually addressing the problem, since she probably does have a lot of experience with this and does have some idea of what’s historically worked.

    11. Red Flags Everywhere*

      This. It is not “goofy” behaviour but sexual harassment. It’s not “just a few days” but repeated behaviour over time. It’s not men “developing crushes” but acting completely inappropriately in a work space. A boss’s job is to protect their employees from having to endure this kind of behaviour at work. The wording (“goofy”) and dismissiveness “(“they don’t mean anything by it”) in this letter rings alarm bells for me. This is what dismissing sexual harassment as harmless looks like, and why women very often have a hard time getting work done, being respected, or even staying long at a job they enjoy. This has to be stopped immediately.

    12. Library Penguin*

      Yeah, my read was also “The only solution is for these men to learn basic control of themselves,” which is a bigger scope than any advice column on the internet.

      Am I reading this right that these guys aren’t business partners or customers? Because if so their “goofy” creeping on your employee isn’t part of her job(1), it’s something that can and should be shut down at high speed. Even if you think it’s harmless, her work day is being interrupted by unrelated creepers! And she might be worried about pushing back on them because she doesn’t want to make waves with people she’s sharing office space and has no influence over.

      It might be worth paying the extra to get your employee a room with a door. Or letting her work from home if she wants. :\

      (1) To be clear, I don’t think dealing with creeps should be part of ANYONE’S job, but I work customer service! I know that there is a certain about of BS that comes with working with the public!

    1. Not Tom, Just Petty*

      “It does go away since they are all good people.”
      No, they stop when they don’t get what they want. But if they were good people, they wouldn’t start at all.
      I love shoes. I don’t force a coworker to spend time answering my questions.
      For example, coworker has shoes I like.
      I pop over throughout the day and ask:
      “where’d you get them? how much were they? are they comfortable? what other colors do they come in?”
      Next day, different shoes and I start again.
      Third day, I get “I need to work, can’t do this now.” or OP sends me links to the stores.
      Fourth day, I get the same.
      Fifth day, I don’t ask.
      I’m not a good person because I finally stop doing what I want to do. I’ve stopped because I either have or haven’t gotten what I wanted.

      1. EPLawyer*

        THIS. They can have the goofy crush. What they can do is ACT on it.

        And what happens if a really not good person shows up at the shared work space.

        OP I get it, you are using the space because it works for your company right now. But think about other options if you can. Places where you can definitely mark your space which will make it easier for your employee and harder for creeps to bother her.

        1. Not Tom, Just Petty*

          Yep. And good people will be open to hearing that what they are doing shows bad judgment.

          1. New Jack Karyn*

            “But if they were good people, they wouldn’t start at all.”

            This is what I’m pushing back on.

    2. JB*

      Show everyone in the workplace professional respect as the default. Everyone is their to do their job, it’s not a singles mixer.

  4. Elle*

    I once had a coworker years ago who could NOT seem to focus on his work when I started working there. On time he brought in his magic kit (yes.) and my boss shut it down with an exasperated “get back to work, Mike.”

    1. Lime green Pacer*

      That brings up an interesting angle. Can OP agree to be described to these guys as an ogre who is *blaming the employee* for getting pulled off task?

      1. MigraineMonth*

        Like how when I was in high school, I blamed my parents’ curfew whenever I got in a situation I didn’t feel safe? (Wait, this sleepover is co-ed? Uh, my parents would freak. Not me, my parents.)

        I think the OP should empower her employee to do whatever she wants to get these guys to back off, and offer whatever help she wants.

      2. fish*

        +1 – want to highlight this, this can definitely be effective if your employee is up for it

      3. Fushi*

        I worry that this type of excuse will result in the men hanging around to bother her after hours. Better to just directly convey that it’s not appropriate to be bothering her full stop.

    2. Sloanicota*

      I used to process invoices and expense reports and we couldn’t figure out why our roads crew, which otherwise had unremarkable expenses for lunch and occassionally dinner, suddenly started reporting huuuuge dinner tips. I flagged it for the supervisor of the crew who immediately rolled his eyes and reached for the phone. There was a very pretty waitress at the Applebees the crew was eating at :P

      1. Skytext*

        Most companies I’ve worked at have a cap on how much you can tip. Those expenses would’ve been rejected—maybe even the whole meal, not just the tip. Those guys would’ve stopped real quick once they found out it was coming out of their own pocket and not the company’s. (Or not, but if they want to leave her a big tip on their own, that’s their business)

        1. Radioactive Cyborg Llama*

          Not paying for a meal that would otherwise be covered rather than just the portion of the tip that is excessive seems shady.

          1. Sloanicota*

            Yeah we paid it with a warning that next time we wouldn’t. It wasn’t really that expensive in whole dollars, just a weirdly large percentage of the total – but they were generally a frugal crowd and would have been within any reasonable per diem if we handled expenses that way (we didn’t). It was an Applebees and they all worked hard, including presumably the pretty waitress.

      2. Silver Robin*

        That is actually kind of hilarious, assuming they were treating the waitress respectfully. Customers tipping big for attention is a pretty good gig from the waitress’s perspective. If they were not being respectful, I hope the tips were enough for the waitress to consider it sufficient hazard pay (also they should obviously stop, but if they are going to be jerks, make it worth the aggravation).

        1. bamcheeks*

          I’ve got to say, I never minded getting extra tips from guys who thought tipping was a form of flirtation when I was waitressing. (Didn’t happen super often, but it happened often enough for me to decide I had a policy on it!) Claiming it on your expenses is an extra level of chutzpah, though.

          1. Silver Robin*

            I am quite impressed that they claimed it on the expenses. Chutzpah indeed XD XD

    3. Curious*

      I feel like this needs more elaboration.

      Did he mention magic before he bought in the magic kit? Did he bring the kit to you desk and start doing magic?

      1. Hannah Lee*

        What is it about some guys and magic.

        I have, more than once, been accosted in restaurant bars by men who want to show me magic tricks. Each time the bartender intervened and told the guy to get lost (like gruff characters in Star Wars shooing droids out of establishments …we don’t want your kind around here)

        Aside from 6 year old me’s crush on The Magician (Bill Bixby) from reruns, I have never once been even remotely interested in people doing magic tricks. Why do some men try to corner women with that performative nonsense -eek!

    4. embertine*

      Oh nooooo, not the magic trick guy. Did Mike play sad pop hits on the piano at you?

    5. Danish*

      Oh noooooo mike
      He wanted to impress you so bad
      I’m sorry that must have been deeply awkward and uncomfortable but you have a sympatheticly hilarious anecdote now.

    6. A. D. Kay*

      It sounds like Mike was trying to follow “advice” from a pickup artist. Several years ago, some of these guys advised that doing magic tricks was apparently one of those things that would make a man just _fascinating_ to women. Extra cool that Mike was trying that at work!

  5. Hummingbirdenergery*

    Not really advice but I’ll be honest, the “goofy” characterization is raising red flags for me. It feels very “oh boys will be boys!” and dismissive. These are adults in a working environment and they should behave as such. I get that the OP isn’t their boss, but whoever *is* their boss should hold their employees to a higher standard of professionalism.

    1. Dust Bunny*


      This feels like the LW is letting a bunch of stupid, childish, unprofessional behavior off the hook without considering how draining it might be for the employee.

    2. Not Tom, Just Petty*

      I’ll say it again, “It does go away since they are all good people.”
      Why? Because they aren’t making lewd comments or touching her, they are just “acting goofy.”
      that’s a pretty low bar for “good people.”

      1. Spearmint*

        I guess I have to be the one to standup for the radical stance that it’s not that big of a deal if people want to occasionally act goofy with or otherwise socialize with people at work beyond small talk about the weather (yes, even people who they think are attractive).

        1. bamcheeks*

          “socialising” is fine. If the only way to get someone to give up is to tell them you’re already “taken”, they need to stop treating work as their dating pool until they’ve developed their social skills like 100x.

          1. Maxie's Mommy*

            I had a large fake diamond engagement ring to discourage “goofs”. Some guys took the hint, some took it as a challenge.

          2. Hannah Lee*

            The thing with socializing at work … it’s like flirting and dancing. You should only be doing it if the person you’re trying to do it with is interested in doing it with you. Because otherwise you’re being a rude jerk, and are quickly approaching creep territory. Sure, there may be an initial “hey, look at us here in the same space. How’s your day?” to see if there’s mutual interest. But it should be one and done. And no one should be being goofy in the workspace in the first place.

            These men are not focusing on work in a work space.
            They are approaching a stranger with their non-work agenda, again, in a work space.
            They are not reading LW’s employee’s signals that she is not interested in socializing with them.
            They are not listening to her words when she is saying to them she is not interested.
            She is having to push back on them multiple times and they are STILL “acting goofy” (eyeroll) and finding excuses to be in her space and trying to get her to socialize with them.

            There is no problem with people who want to occasionally socialize socializing. LW’s employee Does. NOT. Want. To. Socialize. These men are being rude and disrespecting her. That’s not socializing.

        2. Just Another Zebra*

          The goofiness isn’t really the issue, though. They are acting “goofy” (re: inappropriately) towards ONE person, and it is making that person uncomfortable. This isn’t socialization for socialization’s sake. These men want something from OP’s employee, and her attempts to stop the behavior are failing.

          And I’d bet these men feel they can act more brazenly because OP’s employee isn’t their coworker – she just works in the building with them, so they feel there isn’t as much chance of recourse.

        3. Middle Aged Lady*

          Not when it interferes with work. Not when it’s the same employee who is getting this treatment over and over. Not when you are only acting goofy with the young, beautiful emoloyee and acting like ‘you can’t control yourself around her.’ That’s harassment.

        4. Dust Bunny*

          I see the devil sent one of his advocates.

          They are socializing because they think she’s attractive, and they’re making her uncomfortable. My coworkers socialize with me, a little, but they (I assume) don’t find me attractive so they’re not hanging around like hungry puppies.

          Men do not have an inherent right to hang around pretty girls with their brains dripping out their ears.

          1. Curious*

            “I see the devil sent one of his advocates.”

            I will be using the line. That’s all.

            1. Ally McBeal*

              I’ve started using the phrase “the devil doesn’t need an advocate” and I’m surprised at how well it’s worked! It’s a little less direct but gets to the point more effectively – the devil didn’t SEND an advocate, someone volunteered for the position.

          2. ferrina*

            I socialize with a lot of people at my work. It’s part of my job to maintain relationships across the company. I am often silly while socializing (the MCU makes a lot of appearances). That’s actually part of my professional skillset.

            This is not that.

            These guys aren’t ‘socializing’. They are attempting to flirt. For some reason the LW is choosing to describe it as being “goofy”- probably because these guys aren’t directly saying what they want (asking her out) and they aren’t reading the room (i.e., how the employee feels), but they are trying to show off like immature teenagers. They are making people around the uncomfortable. It needs to stop.

          3. g*

            “I see the devil sent one of his advocates.”

            Is that really necessary? I mean, people are sharing their takes on things here. Why the need to sneer them just because you disagree?

          4. Ask a Manager* Post author

            There’s no indication Spearmint is playing devil’s advocate! I don’t agree with their take, but they’re entitled to have it — and I don’t want all opinions except the dominant one to be suppressed here (which this kind of thing does) or we end up with an echo chamber.

          5. Psaradactyl*

            ^ This! A thousand times this!
            And they’re nowhere near as subtle as they think they are.

        5. Anon for this*

          This makes me think of how my new manager (new to management & our department) keeps trying to make a coworker (“George”) into a work friend. George is a great guy & awesome coworker, but he doesn’t want to be buddies with anyone. (Think Dr. Edison from “Bones.”) Since he sits near many of my team members, it is super awkward to overhear the overtures met with polite but tepid responses.

          1. Anon for this*

            Note: this interaction is between 2 CIS men at the same level in the hierarchy. What the OP describes is way ickier & needs to be shut down

        6. lucanus cervus*

          Oh come on, we’re not just talking about friendly goofing around between people who are all enjoying it. We’re talking about guys gawping at one woman who is not enjoying it.

          1. GammaGirl1908*

            AND trying to disguise it with “just being friendly.” Women know what this feels like. These guys are not fooling anyone, and minimizing it as “goofy” doesn’t change anything. And yes, even if the behavior would be somewhat more welcome from someone she was interested in, that’s not the point.

            It’s fine to have a chat with your colleagues, but spending a bunch of time mooning around the hot girl and trying to flirt with her such that she has to shut you down and get her boss involved is inappropriate at work.

            1. lucanus cervus*

              Exactly. Like, of course I socialise at work, and of course I socialise most with the people whose company I enjoy – IF they also want to chat. I do not find excuses to pester people I find physically attractive. That’s not the same thing at all.

              1. allathian*

                Yup, this.

                Most people who’ve been around for a while know the difference. Sadly some never learn.

        7. CityMouse*

          I mean to be blunt I’d guess the guy who kept touching my (and other female employees hair thought he was just being goofy. Thank goodness management didn’t agree (I was 17 years old).

        8. Siege*

          Why should OP’s employee have to forgive these grown men for their inability to let her exist in peace? Goofiness is like pranking: it’s great when both parties are having fun. If both parties are not, it is colloquially harassment.

          1. Observer*

            Goofiness is like pranking: it’s great when both parties are having fun. If both parties are not, it is colloquially harassment.

            I like this way of putting it.

        9. Not Tom, Just Petty*

          I put a toy dinosaur skeleton in the zen sand/rock garden that my coworker keeps on her desk. I had “we put the fun in mutual funds” in my email signature for a decade.
          That’s goofy.
          This is not being goofy, this is flirting.
          OP does not want to sexualize it by saying flirting, because to sexualize it puts it too close to harassment. OP is trying not say that these “good people” are sexually harassing her employee.
          Would OP be writing in if it was a female employee from the other company who came over to chat a lot? Maybe she WOULD ask Alison how to shut down someone she doesn’t supervise/employ. Or she might tell that employee to keep socializing to a minimum. Only OP knows for sure.

        10. Observer*

          ’s not that big of a deal if people want to occasionally act goofy with or otherwise socialize with people at work beyond small talk about the weather

          That’s not the problem. The problem is that you only get to socialize with people who want to socialize with you. The whole “two yesses and one no” thing. And that’s especially true when being “goofy” is an attempt to convince someone that they should indeed spend more time / date them, despite the other person having made it clear that they. are. not. interested.

          1. bamcheeks*

            The problem is that you only get to socialize with people who want to socialize with you

            This is so key, and it’s so simple, and it’s always so frustrating to me when people try and concoct elaborate analogies (but what if it *was* just friendly? What if it was two women? What if someone just really liked Bob’s charisma? ) I just cannot fathom people who go around seeing other people as their personal entertainment machines and don’t seem to care either way whether the other people are enjoying it! This us the crux of objectification to me: yes, it more often happens in sexual and romantic contexts, but whatever the context or the subject of the conversation, if you’re thinking, “I’m having a great time and that’s all that matters”, that is literally treating the other person as an object.

        11. LawBee*

          “I guess I have to be the one to [stand up]…”

          You didn’t have to, actually. OP clearly said that this behavior is making her employee uncomfortable, so it’s not just small talk.

        12. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

          Yeah, this just doesn’t feel like that big a deal to me. Definitely not on the level of sexual harassment.

          And yes, I am a young woman, and yes, I have had dudes interested in me at work before. It happens. Really not a big deal as long as the dude backs off after he gets the no.

          1. Shakti*

            Yes I agree, but maybe this is because if I got this upset about that type of thing that wasn’t graphic or malicious I’d be endlessly angry in this type of situation. It happens so much that you have to kind of triage the situation like are they being dangerous to do they just want to get to know me. It does get exhausting and I don’t have a solution to it, but the issue is volume for me getting talked to not individuals and in that type of workplace idk how to resolve that

        13. birb*

          Bless your heart. How about the radical stance that no one has a right to someone’s time and energy or to “shoot their shot” at women who are a captive audience?

          The woman described in the letter is at work to do her job, and fielding unwanted male attention seems to be impacting her and taking up enough time that her supervisor has noticed.

        14. Anna*

          I agree. I completely see how it’s annoying and uncomfortable for this woman, but that doesn’t have to mean any of these men are doing anything wrong as individuals. Wanting to find a romantic partner is normal. Seeing someone attractive and trying to flirt with that person is normal. In this case, they don’t even work for the same company, and are possibly in a space where some mingling is expected. It’s quite likely that plenty of happy relationships have started in such spaces.

          They try to get her attention and be extra nice to her, with hopes to flirt. Then she does turn them down, they mope for a few days and nurse their crush, and then they leave her alone. They don’t stalk or badger, they don’t get angry — they back off, after just a few days. If only all men were this courteous! If this happened once, or once a year, nobody would bat an eye. The woman might not even remember a few months later.

          It’s only because it keep happening that it becomes an issue, and I fully understand that it’s annoying: all these men don’t know that they’re part of an ongoing matter, not just one guy with a crush, but the woman is the one who has to deal with it all. the. time. That gets old and it’s not how she wants to spend her energy.

          I don’t know a good solution. Move to a different space with a different demographic, maybe? Or to a space with a more stable population, so you don’t have new hopeful guys with crushes coming in all the time? Maybe the woman could wear a big flashy engagement-looking ring? If there are not too many different companies working there, maybe you can ask the leaders of those to coach their new recruits in this?

    3. Dark Macadamia*

      Yep. I get that LW doesn’t have authority over these guys but unless they’re straight up wheeling through the office juggling on a unicycle or something this is an extremely weird way to characterize ongoing sexual harassment.

    4. CatCat*

      Yes. These are grown ass men behaving inappropriately. OP has an obligation to protect her employee from this nonsense in the workplace. The employee is uncomfortable because these men are harassing her.

    5. bamcheeks*

      Really truly! Like, if it gets to the point where she’s having to “[let] them know she has a boyfriend or that she’s busy/not interested” it’s way over the line.

      “Goofy” is trying one or two times to make a friendly work conversation happen and not getting signals that the other person wants you to keep trying. If she’s getting to the point where there’s an overt romantic/sexual vibe that she’s having to verbally address, that’s flippin horrible!

      1. Shakti*

        Sometimes yes it’s because I get uncomfortable or sometimes I do it preemptively because I don’t want to have a whole awkward conversation that I’d guess was going in an asking out direction. I think it’s the volume of conversations that’s exhausting to her, it certainly is to me when I’ve been in that situation and I don’t know how to fix that and would love a solution

    6. Jujyfruits*

      Yes. They have no reason to even talk to employees from other companies, much less “act goofy” (whatever that means). This needs to be dealt with but I’d rethink this sort of shared space altogether.

    7. JSPA*

      I feel people are second guessing the letter writer, which is against the rules of this site, and writing a lot of fan fiction about how extreme the interactions are, which is also against the rules of this site.

      Not one of you has ever had a goofy crush that was evident in small ways for a day or two, even when you went out of your way to keep it private, and to remain strictly professional???

      I understand that many people are jerks, and that many of us have had experience in dealing with jerks. But it is completely inappropriate to assume that people are jerks simply because a) they are a man and b) they have a crush that someone can detect for 24 to 48 hours, until they shrug it off.

      1. bamcheeks*

        I’ve really truly never expressed a crush in the workplace to the extent that someone had to tell me they had a girlfriend/boyfriend/weren’t interested, no. Really really truly never.

        1. birb*

          THIS RIGHT HERE. Literally ANY behavior that would suggest a crush is inappropriate at work, and puts the person in an awkward and precarious position. The amount of time even moderately attractive women lose in the workplace to managing other people’s crushes is absurd.

          I feel like a lot of these comments are men who are really struggling with “women at work are there to work and are off-limits” and who are giving the benefit of the doubt to the person in this story they relate more to… The men acting like sex pests because a pretty lady is in their immediate vicinity.

          1. bamcheeks*

            Yeah, it’s a truly mind-blowing level of entitlement or cluelessness. By the time you get to someone actively telling you in words that they have a boyfriend / aren’t interested, you’ve probably breezed past several dozen softer cues. You‘ve gone past half-smile and look away. You’ve ignored a polite laugh and turning back to their computer. You’ve interpreted ”awkwardly tucking hair behind ear” as flirtation. You’ve pushed it to the point where they’ve had to spell it RIGHT OUT, which is a horrendously awkward and frankly risky thing to do because you never which guy is going to switch around and go into the humiliation game of, “oh my god, you’re so up yourself, you think I was ASKING YOU OUT? In your dreams!” or worse. You’ve disregarded the entire person in front of you and their comfort and ability to get on with their work in favour of your boner and it’s just so grim to be objectified in that way.

        2. Aitch Arr*


          I’ve also (thankfully!) never been on the receiving end, except for once, when I was a teenager working at the mall.

      2. yvve*

        right, especially in a generally friendly environment.

        morning, bob
        morning, joe
        Good Morning Helen! :D
        hey jim

        the other issue is that in a lot of these cases i feel like the person doing it doesnt even realize how obvious it is or to what extent theyre doing this. especially if they get over it in a day or two– it would suuuuck! for helen! but its not nearly as easy to “put a stop to” as people seem to be implying

        1. Observer*

          right, especially in a generally friendly environment.

          morning, bob
          morning, joe
          Good Morning Helen! :D
          hey jim

          Talk about ignoring what the OP actually says!

          The OP tells us that her employee needs to tell these guys that she’s *not available* and that she’s uncomfortable with the behavior. The only way that squares with the scenario you made up is if the employee is “over reacting” and the OP actually is not accurately describing the behavior (as opposed to characterizing it). That’s pretty offensive.

      3. Observer*

        Removed — please stop using all-caps in your responses as it comes across as yelling. – Alison

      4. Emmy Noether*

        There is a right way and a wrong way to handle a crush.

        There’s a guy in my workplace I suspect may have a bit of a crush on me. I’m basing this on blushes and grins and the like, because he hasn’t acted on it at all. Only talks to me for true work purposes, never gets in my personal space, doesn’t take up my time or put me in awkward situations. This is fine by me – crushes happen, we can ignore it and let it fizzle out on its own.

        What these guys are doing is not that.

      1. Jennifer Strange*

        Except in this case the “goofy” behavior is making someone uncomfortable.

    8. MigraineMonth*

      Yeah, I think it’s clear that the behavior (thus far) does not meet the legal threshold for sexual harassment, but I think we all agree that there’s a lot of legal behavior that should still be shut down.

  6. Dust Bunny*

    My middle-aged, hilariously unsexy self would just butt in and go, “Sorry, she’s really busy–can I help you?” Basicallym yeah, c*ckblocking.

    I know you say they’re “just goofy” and not inappropriate but this kind of thing is really exhausting and doesn’t reflect well on the guys who are doing it–they’re adults and they should be able to get it under control without standing around mooning over someone who just wants to get her work done.

    1. Hannah Lee*

      Yeah, LW’s description of all of that started to bring up memories of old sitcoms, like WKRP in Cincinnati, or old cartoons where male characters were depicted as drooling, eyes popping out of their heads dopes when faced with an attractive female (sometimes it was Jennifer the bombshell co-worker, sometimes it was a cat, but the OTT response was the same). “oh they’re just goofy and lovesick, they can’t help themselves” with zero expectation that THEY would change their behavior, even though it was making someone else uncomfortable.

      It’s 2023; hopefully we’ve evolved past that? If not, can we please?

      1. Freytrix*

        “sometimes it was a cat” – made me spit out my coffee lol. Those old cartoon guys were real dogs.

  7. SJJ*

    Is there anything you can discuss with the group you’re renting your space from? I could see where they might want to intervene if one company is harassing another’s employee. It can drive away their own “business”.

    1. Bagpuss*

      YEs, I wondered whether there are any policies or terms of business that set out the expectations when using the shared space. If not, perhaps suggest there should be, to include both not sexually harrasing other users of the space and a more general requirement to respect that others are working and not interrupt or disrupt them. If you need to speak to them then being able to say ‘ You are harassing my employee which is a breach of rule 4 and are disrupting her and our use of the shared space which is a breach of rule 2, I will have to raise this with [landlord] if it happens again” may be more effective in getting them to stop and if they don’t, then you can formally report to the landlord as a breach of their terms of use. I would imagine that if that doesn’t work, a review that says not to use the space as women can’t work there without being subjected to harassment that the landlord isn’t prepared to address might be effective!

    2. GreyjoyGardens*

      I agree – the LW should discuss harassment policies with the group in charge of the space. Since I assume LW is more limited in what she can do about it, since the guys are not her employees, but the workspace owners might have more leverage.

      Meanwhile, LW, it’s time to set firm boundaries. These guys are skirting the edge of plausible deniability. And I am sure they are making life much harder for your worker. Do whatever you can to shut it down and support your worker in setting brick-wall boundaries. (Some people need these boundaries much more than others! These guys are among them.)

  8. Spearmint*

    I don’t know that you have to do anything here as a manager. This strikes me as the kind of minor, interpersonal friction that occurs in most workplaces and employees are expected to deal with without management intervention. I get that it feels different because they seem attracted to her, but since they’re not hitting on her or otherwise making things sexual, it’s not really any different than if some overly chatty straight women kept coming over trying to befriend your employee when she just wants to get her work done.

    1. Not Tom, Just Petty*

      I think a manager would step in for that, too. I know Alison has addressed it.
      If the chatty person were not under young person’s manager, manager would have standing to say, please let my employee focus on her work. And she would tell her employee that she can send chatty employee away.

    2. Dust Bunny*

      I mean, standing around figuratively drooling isn’t literally making things sexual, but it’s not not making things sexual, either. It shouldn’t have to be blatant sexual harassment for it to need to stop–the employee shouldn’t have to deal with an endless stream of men with poor self-control.

      1. Yoyoyo*

        Yup. I had an employee who unfortunately dealt with the same type of issue – most of the time it was men who needed to be told to let her do her work and focus on their own and that solved the problem, but on a few occasions it did rise to the level of sexual harassment which needed to be dealt with in a more intensive way (including making formal complaints about people who didn’t even work for us to their employers/regulating bodies). Either way, it needed to be dealt with swiftly so that my employee could feel comfortable at work, and it was my job as her manager to handle it.

    3. King Friday XIII*

      If random people who shared my building kept coming up to me while I worked and I didn’t feel like I could be rude to them since I wasn’t the one renting the space, I’d want my manager to intervene there too.

    4. Healthcare Manager*

      It’s the managers responsibility because they’ve realised their employee is uncomfortable in their workspace. Manager is responsible for safety in the workplace.

      Your own morals and standards on what you’d tolerate doesn’t come in to this.

      OP needs to be a manager and protect their staff member.

      1. Hannah Lee*

        ^ This!

        This issue has been raised to the employer. It’s negatively impacting their employee’s ability to focus on work and to simply exist comfortably in her workplace. Even if someone’s morals and standards tolerate people being drooling goofy idiots around strangers, a) as a manager and a human being, you’ve got a duty to protect your employees from that and b) as a manager, even if you don’t personally care that an employee is being made to feel uncomfortable in the workplace, wouldn’t you want to address issues that are negatively impacting their ability to do their job (ie hampering their productivity), from a plain self-serving viewpoint?

    5. Samwise*

      If the worker has to say multiple times, “I have a boyfriend”, then they are hitting on her and it is sexual.

      It doesn’t have to be blatant to be hitting on and it doesn’t have to be gross to be sexual.

      Also, there are too many “goofy guys” who are really scary if you don’t play along a bit and you don’t know which goofy guy is also a scary guy. So it may be hard for OP’s employee to feel safe about making them go away.

      1. Jojo*

        I had a friend in college who told me he was feeling “goofy” about me. I turned him down. About a month later he threatened to kill me a punched a whole in the wall next to my face.

        Also, the men not respecting that she’s not interested in them until she let’s them know she’s already in a relationship is gross too. Basically, they only respect that another man has “claim” over her, and don’t actually care about how she feels. Yuck. Do better.

      2. yvve*

        ah… that may be part of the different interpretations then. i was thinking something like

        “Hey Helen! do anything fun this weekend?”
        “yea… my BOYFRIEND and i went camping (hint hint)”
        “oh……… well i hope you guys had fun!”

        which is like, suuuuper obnoxious in agrate,
        difficult to police on an individual level

        i wouldnt describe overt flirting or hitting on as “goofy”, thus why i was confused by this interpretation

    6. Not A Manager*

      “It’s not really any different than if some overly chatty straight women kept coming over trying to befriend your employee when she just wants to get her work done.”

      Yes, actually it is. For one thing, I’d bet money that thirsty men “seeming attracted to her” make her a lot more uncomfortable than chatty straight women, even if they are outwardly behaving in similar ways. That’s not irrelevant and it’s not the employee’s job to be *as* okay with intrusive behavior from one demographic as she would be from another one.

      1. Silver Robin*

        And overly chatty straight women would ALSO be a problem if the employee was frustrated/uncomfortable with their constant interruptions. The manager absolutely should intervene to help their employee here. The fact that the actual situation has a sexual tint to it makes it extra ick, but the underlying “people keep interrupting me and trying to talk to me when I do not want to talk to them” stands regardless.

        1. Not A Manager*

          I agree with you, but there’s a form of reasoning that goes, “if someone in X demographic did Z then you would feel/act a certain way; THEREFORE you must feel and act in exactly the same way when Z behavior is performed by an entirely different demographic with very different social and historical context.”

          This is a pernicious fallacy.

          1. Silver Robin*

            Agreed there too; pretending that social/historical context does not exist is bad faith and frustrating, even if not always actively harmful.

            I meant to add to your point, not detract. The comment made it sound like we were apparently supposed to be okay with “chatty straight women” too, but we do not have to be? And even if it were “just that” the manager absolutely should do something about it too. The added social context of men doing it to women just increases the obviousness/urgency/etc.

    7. Ginger Cat Lady*

      They are making her feel uncomfortable because of the way they are acting – it doesn’t just FEEL different, it IS different.
      And the manager OP sees that.
      And any time any person is making an employee uncomfortable with their actions, the manager should absolutely be ready and willing to help in any way the employee wants their support.

    8. Bagpuss*

      I disagree on both counts.

      It making her uncomfortable and it’s disrupting her work. Those are two very good reasons to step in as a manager
      The dynamic of men behaving like this to the extent that they are making it uncomfortable for her means it *is* sexual, the idea that they have to make overtly sexualised comments before it can be taken seriously is really not OK. They aren’t her co-workers, they don’t have any need to approach her at all. Also, the society we live in means it is much easier and less dangerous for a woman to politely shut down another woman who is being disruptive by talking too much than it is to shut down a man behaving in the same way or a man who is making her uncomfortable but “just being friendly” .

      OP, I think as others have said, you need to talk to your employee about what she would be comfortable with and make sure that you are very clear both that it is totally fine for her to be forceful about shutting them down and telling them to back off, and that you will back her if she does, and also that you are very willing to step in and speak to them and/or their employers / the landlord, if she would like you to, and /to to step in and interrupt (if she is not comfortable with you confronting them directly on her behalf then maybe agree a specific phrase so you can intervene (e.g. “I need you to stop chatting and get the TPS report finished for me” where you and she both know that means “it looks like that guy was hassling you so I’m making him think he’s getting you in trouble and needs to back off”) I mean, you should have to work round it rather than being direct, but it might be effective if she isn’t comfortable with you addressing them more directly abut them harassing her

    9. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

      You’re partly right–this wouldn’t be appropriate from a hypothetical straight female stranger either. That doesn’t mean the LW’s employee should have to put up with it from men.

      It’s not minor, both because it’s interfering with work and because it is repeatedly making one employee uncomfortable.

      The employee has tried dealing with it on her own. She tells them that she is busy or not interested, and instead of going away, they keep making excuses to talk to her. That’s making her uncomfortable, and it’s interfering with getting work done. It’s not “Fergus has a Red Sox jacket and I’m a Yankee fan.”

    10. Observer*

      but since they’re not hitting on her or otherwise making things sexual, it’s not really any different than if some overly chatty straight women kept coming over trying to befriend your employee when she just wants to get her work done.

      But they ARE hitting on her. That’s why she is telling them that she has a boyfriend! And then it takes a “day or two” for it to sink in that YES, she actually MEANT it.

      People don’t have to explicitly say “Hey, I’m here to hit on you” for it to be that.

    11. Persephone Mulberry*

      This strikes me as the kind of minor, interpersonal friction that occurs in most workplaces and employees are expected to deal with without management intervention.

      This is not a “workplace” and these are not her coworkers. This is an individual being made uncomfortable by veritable strangers in a semi-public place. As the person who pays for the use of the space/whose name is on the paperwork, it absolutely is within their purview to ensure that the other users of the space aren’t bothering their employee.

    12. birb*

      Making someone aware that you are romantically interested in them is a sexual behavior that isn’t appropriate for the workplace, and I urge you to consider the mental and professional impact that your attitudes have on women in the workplace.

    13. Middle Aged Lady*

      You don’t usually run the risk of overly chatty women threatening you when you turn them down. Some Men are known to do this. That’s why we can’t say “Back off and quit bothering me.” Some will sulk, some will say ‘who do you think you are? Too pretty to talk to me?’ Some will threaten you, stalk you. I imagine this young woman is looking over her shoulder as she walks to her car/bus stop.

  9. Fikly*

    She’s working and being approached romantically while working, and it continues after she has explained she’s not interested. This is very much over the line.

    Agree that you should ask her if and how she wants to intervene, but stop right now thinking it’s cute and not inappropriate. Everyone deserves a safe working environment where they are free from being harassed, and that’s exactly what she’s experiencing – she’s being repeatedly harassed. It’s not a crush, it’s men trying to approach someone at their job romantically, and then continuing after she’s said no.

    1. Spearmint*

      But they’re not hitting on her or otherwise making it romantic. They just want to socialize with her platonically more than they do with other people because (the LW is assuming) they find her attractive. But is that really any different than if a bunch of people keep trying to platonically soicialize with Bob because he is really funny and charismatic (even though he’d rather be working).

      I know I enjoy socializing with people I find attractive a bit more because they have that “halo” around them, even if I have zero intentions of ever expressing or acting on that interest. That just seems like normal human nature.

      If they were asking her out or making lewd comments, that would be different.

      1. Dust Bunny*

        “They just make up excuses to be around her. And she’s uncomfortable with it.

        No, this right here. She should not have to keep putting up with this just because they aren’t literally grabbing her or whatever.

      2. Just Another Zebra*

        To be clear… you’re saying it’s OK for people to want to socialize more with Bob because THEY like it, regardless of what Bob himself likes?


      3. CatCat*

        Yeah, no. If men are persistently bothering a woman in the workplace after she’s told them she’s busy and not interested, OP needs to take that seriously and not downplay it/make excuses for why they are bothering her.

      4. Dark Macadamia*

        I just don’t think the employee would outright say that she has a boyfriend and isn’t interested if they weren’t pushing it beyond platonic socializing.

      5. Middle Aged Lady*

        Yes, it’s different because of our culture. If someone kept going over to your Black emoloyee because the liked the way his braids swung around or wanted to be near his natural hair to watch it move, you’s shut it down because racism. This is sexism. It’s not a level playing field. And they aren’t stopping wjen she tries ro shut it sown. If funny Bon says, “can’t joke today” he expects to be left alone and probably will be. When she says not interested and they don’t drop it, it’s because she’s young, female and they feel entitled to not conteol their actions.

      6. bamcheeks*

        I know I enjoy socializing with people I find attractive a bit more because they have that “halo” around them, even if I have zero intentions of ever expressing or acting on that interest. That just seems like normal human nature.

        Honestly, normal human nature is to care about the comfort and enjoyment of the person you’re socialising at. If you missed that part, go back to Human Socialising 101 and start again.

      7. Samwise*

        They ARE hitting on her. She has to tell them multiple times that she has a boyfriend for them to leave her alone = it’s sexual and they’re hitting on her. It doesn’t have to be lewd comments to be sexual.

        1. birb*

          The amount of hit dogs hollering in the comments pretending that “romantic interest” isn’t “sexual interest” has me slowly losing faith in humanity.

          1. Dahlia*

            It isn’t technically (split attraction model, romantic attraction and sexual attraction aren’t the same) but clearly in this situation there’s no a meaningful difference! She’s being hit on at work. Does it matter if they want to take her to bed or to dinner???

      8. Not A Manager*

        “They just want to socialize with her platonically more than they do with other people because (the LW is assuming) they find her attractive.”

        Do you realize how gross and objectifying this is? She’s not a zoo exhibit, and she’s not AT WORK in order to socialize with anyone. And if “Bob” would rather be working, then pestering “Bob” in order to bask in his coolness is also gross and objectifying.

      9. Qwerty*

        It does come across differently when you know that the reason people are talking to you is because they are attracted to you. I do get what you are saying! I’ve been the center of attention for both reasons – being the “hot” person like OP’s employee and being the socially engaging person like Bob in your example. The former is grating and can feel never-ending, whereas the latter is fun (and a little bit of an ego boost).

        OP’s employee is uncomfortable and is trying to very very nicely brush these guys off. Even if individually no one is doing anything “wrong”, the ongoing pattern is a problem.

        1. birb*

          On top of that, she’s probably having to put in a ton of emotional labor to not do anything they could misinterpret as flirting (and they’re likely intent on finding “signs” she’s into them), and letting them down easy so it doesn’t affect her safety or her professional reputation. If she ever did snap at someone or get angry then there’s going to be social and possibly professional consequences for that, too.

          That poor woman is probably exhausted.

      10. Former Young Lady*

        You seem to have put a lot of work into understanding the men’s perspective. Now, put yourself in this lady’s shoes.

        Imagine you (however you present) found yourself the target of several unrequited schoolboy/schoolgirl crushes. Picture people you do NOT find attractive or charming. Picture having a demanding workload and several competing deadlines.

        Suppose these “goofballs” were not even your colleagues, and they kept fabricating flimsy excuses to make you their conversational hostage and monopolize your time. Are their feelings more important than your productivity?

        No, right? Nobody’s loneliness or boredom gives them a right to be disruptive at work. She’s not obligated to provide attentive, appreciative companionship to lonely people from other companies, any more than you would be. She’s there to work, and it’s her boss’s job to make sure her environment allows for that.

      11. Ellis Bell*

        Hovering is not socialising. Trying to work out “well how serious is this boyfriend you keep mentioning?” is not socialising either.

      12. Observer*

        They just want to socialize with her platonically more than they do with other people because (the LW is assuming) they find her attractive

        Nonsense. If that were the case, she wouldn’t need to tell them that she has a boyfriend.

        This is all the more true in a context like this where there is no reason for them to be socializing with her in the first place.

      13. Trillian*

        They wouldn’t treat Bob the same way. Bob would say ‘I’m working’ and they’d be gone, because men respect men’s boundaries and men’s work. They’re making it clear she is here to entertain them and be flattered by their attention.

      14. birb*

        The “Halo Effect” is literally a cognitive distortion you’re supposed to fight, not an excuse to surround yourself by pretty people at work because you “enjoy” attractive people more.

      15. Middle Aged Lady*

        You seem to think that what they want matters. NO ONE has a right to socialize with a non-coworker they happen to share space with. They are there to work.

      16. NotAManager*

        But this isn’t just “socializing.” If they were just saying hi to the employee or took a few minutes out of the day to chat about their favorite sports teams or movies or TV shows or bands or whatever, that would be regular socializing. The fact that this employee needs to clarify with them that she has a boyfriend and that it takes a “day or two” for that information to “sink in,” implies that this isn’t socializing, it’s flirting, and that’s actually super inappropriate at work.

  10. EPLawyer*

    I do like that Alison has said the employee needs to be involved in the conversation. After all, she is the one getting the attention. She may not think she can do anything about it. But acting without her input is taking away here agency as much as the goofy guys who are imposing on her.

    Empower your employee to act. But let her know you will act too, if she wants your involvement.

    1. TinySoprano*

      This is an underrated comment. We don’t know if the employee thinks this is fine and she can handle it, or if she hates it and would like her manager to step in. The only way to find out is to ask her.

      When I was a young hottie (not that I’m ancient now, but it’s different when you’re 25), it depended so much on the situation. Sometimes I would’ve been fine to handle it on my own, and other times I would have really appreciated management backup/active intervention. I would’ve preferred management to ask when it was me, even just to make it clear they’d noticed it was happening and would’ve taken any complaints seriously.

  11. E*

    LW you’re kind of downplaying this. Being crushed on or hit on multiple times isn’t some goofy quirky thing, at work it’s serious & considered sexual harassment.

  12. Unkempt Flatware*

    I slapped a man in the face for grabbing my ass at work. My boss gave me two paid days off afterwards and helped me file charges. Be this boss but don’t let the “goofiness” get this far.

    1. Anon the Fed*

      So glad you had this agency at work. I still answer questions on the sexual harrassment training quiz wrong because I think I should have done a better job handling the guy who made moaning noises at me and found excuses to brush up against my ass while we were at work, instead of going to my manager, because I thought I wouldn’t be believed. I actively tell other people not to do what I did (I work somewhere totally different now, but have been in the position to informally mentor other young women), and you followed the exact advice I’ve seen that’s a best practice.

      If your “gut reaction” is to slap someone who touches you sexually when you haven’t asked for that, or you’re in an environment where you’d never expect this sort of touching (like f*cking work), GOOD – you embodied the “GET AWAY FROM ME” “STOP TOUCHING ME” energy/words that are ideal in this situation and get the most attention, so that it can’t be ignored by the person committing the action or others (supervisors, coworker witnesses).

      For the record, I’m sorry this happened to you at all – no one deserves that. I’m glad your boss supported you properly in the aftermath, because that’s what should happen. I also don’t like the use of the word “goofy” in this letter, really minimizes the harrassment that’s making the employee uncomfortable. If my manager used that word when talking to me, I’d think she wasn’t taking it seriously that I wanted people to leave me be.

      1. TinySoprano*

        Ugh I’m sorry this happened to both of you. I had an arse-brusher too, who I called out (and then me and another woman went to management about it, but alas, crickets). It’s equally vital for management to be on the lookout for retaliation after you’ve shut down any kind of weird behaviour. I had so much insufferable insubordination from the arse-brusher and his friend after I’d shut him down, and it made my job very difficult. I lost a lot of respect for that manager too.

  13. Skytext*

    When you talk with her, give her permission to shut it down. These are neither clients nor fellow employees. She doesn’t have to be “nice”, doesn’t have to protect their feelings, doesn’t need to smooth things over, doesn’t need to light herself on fire to keep them warm. I’m not saying go nuclear and yell “I would never be interested in a fat, old, bald, ugly guy like you” so that they tucked their tail and whimpered away. But she may be softening the message too much. Tell her it’s okay to be firm: look them straight in the eye, firm up her body language, tell them clearly she is busy and to leave her alone, or whatever works in the situation. Or completely ignore them. It will feel rude to her, but if they are making her uncomfortable she has the right to set boundaries. She may just need to hear from you outright that it is okay. Women are so conditioned otherwise to protect men’s feelings.

    1. Qwerty*

      She may just need to hear from you outright that it is okay

      Seconding this point so much! It also is just such a relief to hear that your boss has your back and is willing to step in.

    2. Sloanicota*

      I think there’s a line here that’s tricky – but not impossible – to walk. It’s good to tell the employee that she’s empowered to be rude or curt to these men *if she wants to.* She needs to know you have her back and won’t hold it against her if she ends up having to make some waves. But, when I was younger and prettier, I had soooo many people trying to ‘stage manage’ my reactions to things, telling me to “fix” my body language / voice / tone – all of which I had been socialized and conditioned to do differently my entire life – and it didn’t come across as empowering to me at that time, it came across as yet another way I was Existing Wrong. So I say offer to have her back and “be the bad guy” for her, if she is choosing to keep the peace herself. Alison’s point is to empower the employee and engage her in the solution that works best for her.

  14. Meep*

    “Sir, I am here to do my job. I suggest you focus on yours.”

    I am tired of men thinking they can be rude.

    1. g*

      Women do the same, though, at least some of them do. I don’t think this should be genderized. This kind of thing is universal.

      1. Unkempt Flatware*

        Good Lord. It is absolutely not a stretch to say that this happens to women 100 times more than it happens to men and we are at a societal disadvantage that keeps us in a place where we not only have to deal with it, but handle it gracefully and with the man’s feelings and reputation in mind. We don’t need to do the “women do this too” thing on this one here. Please.

        1. Jessica*

          And if a female coworker/customer is annoyingly chatty or whatever, I don’t feel like I have to be nice to her about it for my own safety.

          1. Trillian*

            Or that the rest of the world will be jumping in making excuses for his behaviour, rationalizing and minimizing it.

      2. Sleepy Snoopy*

        You should look up the statistics around sexual harassment in the office. 78.2% of sexual harassment charges and 62.2% of harassment charges were filed by women from 2018 to 2021. This is data from the US EEOC.

        No one is saying that women can’t harass men, but it is far more common for women to be harassed in the workplace (and outside of it…. I just want to pick up my groceries in peace, please).

  15. Delta Delta*

    I agree it’s important to include Employee in the discussion about what she would like to see happen. She may be out of ideas, or she may feel like she can’t express her ideas, for whatever reason.

    And as much as this idea is unfortunate – she may consider the fake wedding ring. Lots of women in customer-facing jobs wear a phony ring to help ward off unwanted suitors whose first glance is whether the person is wearing ring. It doesn’t stop everyone, but it stops some, and it might be worth it to consider. Sigh.

    1. Ellis Bell*

      I’ve used the fake wedding ring myself, but it’s something to deploy when you have a really crappy job, don’t have a supportive manager and therefore have to threaten the phantom husband instead. If OP is willing to be the bad guy by prearrangement: “Sorry my boss won’t let me chitchat on the job”, or the assertive boss who speaks to theirs: “Please have a word with your guys and ask them not to hit on my staff at work; it’s not welcome or subtle.”… or whatever support the employee is comfortable asking for, there should be no need. Also as you’ve noticed yourself, a shocking amount of guys could care less about a ring.

    2. teapot analyst*

      Yeah I have an extremely persistent neighbor who would literally come out of his apartment when he saw me outside to talk and talk and TALK to me. It stopped altogether when I bought a huge fake wedding set from the pawn shop and gestured a lot with my left hand.

      It’s terrible that we live in a world where the only way to live in peace is to advertise that you are already some man’s property but that is the world we live in.

    3. Yours sincerely, Raymond Holt*

      Does the fake wedding ring actually work? Wouldn’t a lot of men who ignore “I have a boyfriend, leave me alone” also ignore a wedding ring?

  16. ferrina*

    Give her permission to make them back off. If it makes sense, tell her she can be that b*. She might be biting her tongue so as to seem “professional”. Let her know that you have her back for whatever she needs to do to be left alone.

    Obviously this will vary based on what she personally feels comfortable with. But lending your support will open more options. (and also obviously, this shouldn’t be the only solution- couple with you lending your voice and other solutions that make sense for your situation)

  17. Guest*

    If they’re pestering her during work, they’ve crossed lines already. Deal with this or prepare to lose a great employee.

  18. Susan*

    I think this kind of “goofiness” might be excused at a singles party. Or in high school. But not in the workplace. I think such shared workspaces also need clear standards about when it’s appropriate to approach other companies’ employees and when it’s not. The fact that someone just feels like it for personal reasons should not be sufficient in any case.

    1. ferrina*

      This immediately made me think of high school. “I’m not flirting, I just happen to be showing off/doing something extremely attention grabbing/being distracting.”
      It wasn’t fun then, and it’s certainly not any better as an adult.

      But I’m fine with someone saying “Hey, nice mug! I’m also a fan of college/coffeeshop/band/etc.”

      1. Susan*

        The problem with “socializing” in shared workspaces is that you’re trapped in that place by your work (especially if you’re just an employee and you haven’t rented the office space yourself). So you can’t just run away from unpleasant people chatting you up, unlike in a café or at a party. Because they are the employees of other companies, management also has limited ability to intervene. It’s more like having annoying seatmates on an airplane, except you might have to deal with them for months or years. That’s why I suspect that sooner or later shared workspaces need a clear code of conduct for situations like this.

  19. Danish*

    Oh no, your poor employee. It is so awkward when you know someone has a crush on you and you’re not interested, I can see why she’d be uncomfortable even if they’re being otherwise perfectly normal and non creepy.

    Sometimes I think just having the boss be like “let me know if I need to handle that” helps, since even if she’s fine now she’ll know you’ll not shrug her off if it becomes a serious issue later on.

  20. AnonGettinHitOn*

    Ugh. In March I met up with my team at a WeWork space and lead a 4 hour meeting in a conference room fishbowl (windows on all sides). After the meeting I had 2 hours to hang out before leaving for the airport while the rest of the team left. I was working away and one man came and sat down and said he had been watching me and said “you have amazing energy. The people in the room and everyone here was captivated by you.” UH… then over the course of 35 minutes 3 other men came to speak to me. I finally packed up and headed to the airport early.

    If someone spoke up on behalf I would not be happy, I am capable of handling it, so please make sure you ask her. She probably has dealt with it her whole life and knows how to handle it, she may even choose to either ignores it or doesn’t even notice it anymore.

    1. Slow Gin Lizz*

      Whoa. Were they all wearing jaunty banana hats? Because that is all-around bananacrackers.

      1. AnonGettinHitOn*

        LOL, I might not have minded so much. I find this happens more in certain cities- Boston, Chicago, and San Diego seem to think these communal work spaces are a singles bar.

    2. negligent apparitions*

      Just a comment to say you’re not alone. I have been on the receiving end of some weird harassing behavior from male colleagues (who I suspect aren’t normally creepy!) because they are attracted to my “energy.”

    3. Sloanicota*

      The WeWorks had some weird boundaries, for sure. When I worked in one there was a big emphasis on community events that deliberately blurred the line between work and socializing (concerts in the commons area, alcohol taps that turned on at 4PM with happy hour snacks, a ping pong table, etc).

    4. Observer*

      <i.doesn’t even notice it anymore

      Oh yes she does! In general, this kind of comment is extremely grating. Being beautiful and attractive is not the same thing as being oblivious. And it’s hard for any woman who needs to think about her safety (ie just about any woman in the world) to NOT notice this stuff. I do know a number of women who have had this kind of experience. The *kindest* reaction they would have had to a comment about how they might “not notice anymore” would be a powerful eye-roll.

      But, beyond the generalities, we have some information. And that information is that she DOES notice it. According to the OP she is uncomfortable with this behavior.

      Absolutely talk to her. But please don’t approach her with these kinds of stereotypes. That just puts pressure on her to cool about it.

  21. Anastia Beaverhousen*

    If she is uncomfortable they are not “just being goofy” they are being inappropriate, stalking her to be around her, and sexually harassing her. Talk to their bosses and let them know it needs to stop.

  22. Relentlessly Socratic*

    Are there any clauses in the contracts for the shared workspace company that might be helpful?

    A shared workspace isn’t a singles mixer, it’s a workspace and I would expect that there would be something in the rental agreement (or whatever) that expressly covers on-site behavior of the leasees.

    1. Sloanicota*

      I agree that if this workspace *is* something like a WeWork or a coworking space you’re renting, there might be someone in charge like a community manager, and you could probably ask them to intervene with the other renters who are pestering your employee. They are probably used to handling all sorts of stuff like that since it’s sort of inherent in the coworking model.

  23. NeedRain47*

    I can’t really tell from this letter if there’s actual harassment going on, or if LW is reacting to the quantity of attention her employee gets and the employee is not actually bothered. “Goofy” could be anything.

    1. Been There, Seen That*

      My read of it, having been AROUND this but not the subject of it, is that they are purposely going out of their way to find little things to chat about ALL the time, likely with varying intensities of bravado and attention. This is why I think OP used “goofy”– not necessarily to underplay why it is making the employee uncomfortable, but because it’s the undertone everyone can see these guys are **literally doing whatever they can do to be close to employee or have an excuse to interact with her** without outright hitting on her/flirting on her/making advances – so it’s one of those that will probably feel like they’ll try to demure or have an easy out of NOT being creeps, despite everyone knowing what the end desire is.

      1. fueled by coffee*

        Yes, although I also think it’s highly likely that they know this won’t lead anywhere further, but they are exploiting this plausible deniability because they think “talking to a pretty woman” is an enjoyable activity in-and-of-itself, even if it doesn’t lead to more, which is why it takes several days after being rejected to stop the behavior.

        The problem is not in quibbling over whether or not they are hitting on her post-rejection, it’s that they are expecting her to give them her time and attention, and she can’t leave because this is her workplace.

        1. TinySoprano*

          I have one of these at work. It’s nowhere near harassment, and I have mentioned my SO a lot (they also have an SO and offspring, of course). It’s more that they just hang around wanting to chat. And you can tell when it’s “work chat” that’s not really work chat. Like. I have things to do? A job? Which is not talking to you?

    2. Observer*

      Do you really think that the OP would be writing that “she’s uncomfortable with it” if she were NOT uncomfortable? That’s really the key issue here. These guys are making her uncomfortable because they don’t want to accept the message that she’s not interested in them.

      1. NeedRain47*

        yeah…. “uncomfortable” could cover anything from mildly annoyed to about to lose it. I still don’t think there’s enough information about what exactly is happening to give real good advice on what to do. Mainly b/c it doesn’t sound like LW has discussed it with the person it is happening to.

        1. Ellis Bell*

          I mean, they’re hovering over her with lame excuses about why they have to be there, and it takes a couple of days of enduring this one-sided endeavour before they “get the message” and the whole time it’s patently obvious what they’re after. Then, when they’ve reluctantly ceded the field, there’s a new contender to deal with because this appears to be the culture of the building (..and the world). If she’s only “mildly annoyed” then she’s a saint.

          1. Micah*

            Are they all queuing up to talk to her? It seems ridiculous for them to notice her and not the random man de jour interested in her and getting dejected. Are they all thinking “YES she didn’t go for him, now it is my turn!”
            This is so ridiculous on all fronts, she has my utmost sympathy.

    3. Elsewise*

      The fact that she’s telling them repeatedly that she has a boyfriend makes me feel like she’s seeing this as them hitting on her. That, and LW does say that the employee is uncomfortable with it.

  24. CityMouse*

    Something I want to emphasize: this does not have to rise to the level of sexual harassment for LW to need to step in. In fact letting it get that far would be a management failure. They’re interfering with her work and making her uncomfortable. Walk over there NOW and tell them to leave.

    1. Observer*

      this does not have to rise to the level of sexual harassment for LW to need to step in. In fact letting it get that far would be a management failure.

      This is an excellent point!

    2. Radical Edward*

      Seconding this. If you see it, deal with it – and if you’re not around, your employee /needs/ to know, in crystal-clear and explicit language from you, OP, that she is empowered to shut it down the moment she feels uncomfortable (or even just unwillingly bothered/distracted from her work). A beautiful woman behind a desk or counter is an easy target because she’s perceived as being required to ‘be nice’ as well as unable to walk away; therefore risk of rejection is extremely low.

      I literally just came from an appointment where I was stuck waiting in line behind an older man who would not stop making flirty small talk (asking lots of off-topic personal questions, not getting the hint from the two-word answers) with the receptionist, who was being very polite and using a friendly tone but couldn’t bring herself to actually say anything like ‘I need to take care of the person waiting behind you’. He would. Not. Leave. It was excruciating to watch.

      In the ten years I worked in small business retail, I was often subjected to the same behavior, but lucky enough to have coworkers and a boss who strategically interrupted whenever possible. I try to be that person for others, and will sidle up to the counter with a question if I see someone alone and clearly uncomfortable with the attention they are getting from an idle customer/whoever. However, that only works if the employee then has the confidence to interrupt the time-waster and signal that they have to get back to their job – which, again, is where OP can help by explicitly making clear to their employee that that is okay.

      1. fueled by coffee*

        Yes, this. I feel like women in particular are often socialized to cater to other people’s feelings in these situations – where there’s just enough plausible deniability for it not to be considered harassment, and therefore reacting rudely or harshly is seen as an overreaction.

        I also think that framing this as “they’re being goofy because they have crushes but they’ll get over it” is maybe not the best way to talk about this dynamic. She’s trying to shut them down by explaining she’s in a relationship and that still isn’t immediately resolving the situation. These men see “chatting up a pretty girl” as an entertaining activity, even if they know it won’t lead anywhere further. The problem is that she’s at work and literally can’t leave. (And I agree that the men involved might legitimately think that as long as they are ‘being goofy’ and not trying to ask her out for drinks or whatever that this behavior is just ‘friendliness.’ But it’s motivated by a dynamic where attractive women are supposed to be ‘nice’ and ‘deferential’ to men who expect their time and attention, and LW should help with shutting it down).

        1. GammaGirl1908*

          the men involved might legitimately think that as long as they are ‘being goofy’ and not trying to ask her out for drinks or whatever that this behavior is just ‘friendliness.’
          Agree with this too. The people who are streeeeeeetching to say this isn’t harassment are selling this point. The men think that it’s work-appropriate because they’re just chatting, just lightly teasing her, just complimenting her! Not pursuing her aggressively, not asking her out, not bringing her flowers, et cetera. They are hiding their attempted office flirting behind plausible deniability. But Employee has enough years of being a beautiful woman under her belt to know when dudes are trying to tiptoe up to the line (I have enough years of being just okay-looking to know!).

          I’m sure most people have dealt with this, but beautiful women have dealt with this times about a million. Not only is this eating up her time and energy while she is trying to work, but the fact that people are acting like it’s no big deal just because the dudes are keeping the hitting-on-you energy simmering at a 4 instead of a 9 invalidates her and her experience and feelings. It’s not okay.

      2. Ellis Bell*

        Literally this evening I stopped by a chip shop to get some food instead of cooking and there was ThatGuyTM telling a young woman behind the counter “she should smile” and when she joked she’d definitely smile at closing time he says “I love work, you should love work too” uggggh shutttup.

  25. anoncat*

    This has gotta be a farmer’s market, convention, or craft fair from that description of the work place, and I can see how this could happen as that’s often the kind of venue where people are having a good time, doing manual labor, and have downtime during setup/slow times. Not office vibes at all, so this professionalism is often low on people’s priorities. That doesn’t make it okay, but it does mean you probably just need to be blunt. Be firm and tell them to knock it off. Your employee may protest that it’s not needed when you bring it up, but I bet she’d prefer it once she stopped getting harangued all the time.

    1. GreyjoyGardens*

      Agreed, I think that boundaries around behavior are more, not less, needed in a “hang loose” artsy type of environment. Because boorish behavior is boorish behavior no matter the setting. And where there is no expectations of buttoned-down professionalism, but more casual fun, it can be easier to cross a line.

      So yes, LW, protect your employee and set firm boundaries with these men. Also talk to whoever runs/owns the space and see if there are any policies that can be enforced; realistically, if these men are not employed by LW or her company, that limits the options, but if the owners of the space AND the companies that rent it can get together and have a nice firm no-harassment policy and this is what can be done if it does happen, it will be better for everyone.

    2. Quandong*

      It sounds to me like WeWork actually, which is office and business type of work.

  26. Hell in a Handbasket*

    LW, I’m glad you want to help your employee, but it sounds to me like you are justifying these men’s behavior a little too much. If they are hanging around and bothering her AFTER she’s told them she’s not interested (while the message “sinks in”), I don’t think they’re the great guys that you seem to think they are.

  27. Observer*

    OP, I want to pick up on something that a lot of people have mentioned.

    You are being waaay to dismissive of the behavior of these guys. You claim that they don’t cross the line, which is suspect, because your employee is uncomfortable with it. More clear are the following: You say that they are “too persistently goofy” – the persistence takes their behavior out of the realm of goofiness, for the most part.

    Worse – she makes it crystal clear that she is NOT interested. But they STILL “dance around the situation” and again, use the word goofy. But they keep coming even though they *know* that she is not interested or available.

    Goofy is making silly jokes in general, coming it to work with costumes, etc. Keeping on coming over to try to flirt with someone who has told you* that they are utterly unavailable moves on to pestering. Legally, you are probably in the clear because of the size of your company. But be clear that this is way more that “just goofy” behavior. They don’t have to say explicitly gross things for this to be pestering or even harassment.

    You really need to wrap your head around this. Because as long as you minimize the issue this way, you can be sure that your employee highly unlikely to push back any further than she has, and she will almost certainly not take you up on any offer of help. I’m sure she’s been through this before. And as bad as this sounds, I’d be willing to bet that she doesn’t want a boss who decides to help out in order to be “nice” to an employee who is “overly sensitive” to minor misbehavior that even has an endearing tinge to it. And be clear – the use of the word goofy carries that connotation.

    I’m going to point something else out. As I said, you are almost certainly legally in the clear, but the laws around this stuff can be quite useful in thinking about the subject. One thing to keep in mind is that if you are large enough for the laws to apply, you are legally responsible for ANY misbehavior in this area, not just that of your employees. If your customers or employees of partner organizations or co-tenants, are the ones who are misbehaving you still have a responsibility here. Also, when the law looks at this issue, harassment is not just defined as demand for sexual favors, unwanted touching or truly out of line comments.

    Which is to say that you have a problem on your hands that you have a moral responsibility to deal with. Your employee is dealing with significant *misbehavior* that absolutely is out of line, nothing endearing about it, and it’s up to you to take it seriously and make it stop without treating her like a child or fragile flower.

  28. But Not the Hippopotamus*

    just a thought experiment here… imagine these weren’t guys and it didn’t make your employee uncomfortable. maybe they are women coming over to share grandbaby pictures. it would still be distracting and a problem even if your employee liked baby photos, because it’s detracting from her ability to work. obviously, a moment of socializing can make a better work day, but this is persistent enough that OP write in, so it is a problem OUTSIDE of the grossness of it.

    I would add to Alison’s advice to tell the employee that they haven’t done anything wrong and the efforts to put up boundaries are appreciated, BUT this behavior is disruptive, so how can they work together to ensure it stops. that is, make sure the person knows they aren’t in any sort of trouble, but that it HAS to be shut down.

    1. Angstrom*

      Being trapped by someone with an album of baby pictures…the horror, the horror… ;-)

      The point is, your employee is having to deal with unwanted behavior that is distracting her from her work. Regardless of what that behavior is, you are responsible for helping her be safe and comfortable in her workplace.

    2. Mothman*

      I have “resting nice face” and stuff like this is a real problem. It’s not nearly as bad as being hit on when you’re just trying to work, but I used to have coworkers actually say “how do you constantly end up in 20 minute conversations with weirdos?” (Their word. And…well, I have stories!) This was when it was even less possible to tell someone to just leave.

    3. Observer*

      I would add to Alison’s advice to tell the employee that they haven’t done anything wrong and the efforts to put up boundaries are appreciated, BUT this behavior is disruptive, so how can they work together to ensure it stops. that is, make sure the person knows they aren’t in any sort of trouble, but that it HAS to be shut down.

      What exactly is the employee supposed to do? She is being harassed and now it’s HER fault that this time waste is happening? She’s not in trouble “but”? Trying to defend herself is “appreciated” but it’s not good enough?

      Aside from the issues inherent in ignoring the hugely significant differences between your scenario and what is *actually* happening, this victim blaming is bad. Given the reality of what’s happening, and the OP’s minimization of the issue (“goofy” is a minimization) it’s really, really out of line.

      The employee is doing what she can. Making the work impacts HER problem and her fault is beyond unfair. If the OP even thinks about doing this, she needs to think about whether she wants to lose this employee.

      1. Sleepy Snoopy*

        I really don’t think the person you’re replying to meant to imply the employee has done anything wrong. I think you’re misreading their comment a bit. To me, it comes off as them saying that LW and their employee need to come up with a game plan together to stop the distracting behavior of others, not that the employee has done anything wrong. It sounded like a way to say “I see you’ve been trying to stop this, but we need to do something more about it, what do you think would be best? What steps are you most comfortable with me taking?”

      2. New Jack Karyn*

        “She is being harassed and now it’s HER fault that this time waste is happening?”

        That is the opposite of what BNTHippo is saying. This seems like a very uncharitable reading of their comment.

    4. Ellis Bell*

      I have also tried to make similar parallels with treebeard chatterers etc … but to be honest I don’t think there are any non sexual interest examples which capture the whole experience of being hovered over at work by men when you’re a woman. First, even though you try to discount sexism, you know you’re going to be judged for being too friendly, or not friendly enough in a way a man would never agonise over because he’s never been called a bitch or a tease his entire life, (one friend got a high school petition calling her frigid, I got an inclusion in a calendar of hotties at an early job: nothing happened in either case). The other, truly annoying, thing is that you know they are simply barfing their thoughtlessness over you, because they’ve never had to think about this stuff and they can just tell people they’re busy if they’re busy, or give a blank, unimpressed expression without anyone being pouty and rejected about it. Besides, they deliberately danced around the possibility of a rejection, so whatever you say there’ll be an excuse. Thoughtless. They didn’t think about the effect endlessly hanging around might have on you, because it isn’t even about you. This is about something they find enjoyable and something they hope will pay off. If it doesn’t pay off, they think they didn’t lose anything by trying, not realising that you lose DAYS to this bullshit. Then, if you’re alone in the building with them you just tell yourself it’s more thoughtlessness; something else they’ve never had to worry about so why would they know you’re a bit freaked out that they’re getting ready for a more direct move. It’s not as if they could possibly think you want to be alone with them (but they didn’t pick up on the hints that you didn’t want to flirt either), and it’s not like they could get away with doing anything (wait was I too friendly?). No of course, they’re good people and you should endeavour to let them down easy…. and it just sucks the fucking life out of you.

  29. toadflax*

    High levels of physical attractiveness can render plenty of men temporarily nonfunctional or cause them to behave in ways they might not normally. Along with the correct desire to protect women from harassment, I do think there is also room for compassion for men struck by this, which I think can take a huge amount of willpower to overcome. Just one example — I dated a guy once in college whose sister was incredibly beautiful. The kind of looks and just aura around her that you see maybe once or twice in your life. She worked at a busy ice cream parlor and we went there once for ice cream. She was so stunning that when men got to the front of the line, made eye contact with her, and had to tell her their order, they lost the ability to speak, or else stammered and babbled and yes, acted “goofy.” It was actually kind of hilarious to watch these guys struggle to overcome their whole-being response to her gorgeousness. I am sure plenty of them went there often for ice cream after that. It is a weird thing to have to manage on all sides.

    1. Fuel Injector*

      I am not a man, and I have also been dumbstruck by an incredibly attractive person for like, a minute, and then I got ahold of myself and acted like a human being instead of a cartoon wolf. My compassion is limited to like, a minute.

      1. Silver Robin*

        +1 you can be rendered speechless for a moment, but OP talks about this being days of nonsense. Grown men can be expected to get a handle on themselves.

    2. Skytext*

      I still think men can control themselves, if they think there will be actual consequences. I would like to hear homosexual men weigh in on this issue. If they are in an unsafe environment, where they could be beat up, lose their job, arrested, or even murdered for showing they are attracted to another man, I’m pretty sure they could control themselves and act normally, even if the most gorgeous man on earth were in front of them.

    3. Emotional support capybara (he/him)*

      Yikes on the entire Tour de France.

      I am a man who likes women and I assure you, I have never been rendered so “nonfunctional” by the sight of an attractive woman that I forget how to be a decent human being who understands that “no” is a complete sentence. They get zero compassion from me.

      1. Moryera*

        I am a woman who likes snappy comments, and I’m definitely saving that Tour de France line for later use.

    4. metadata minion*

      People of all genders can have a sudden intense attraction to someone, and yet it’s primarily men who pretend they “can’t control it”. If it requires enormous willpower, you need to practice and work until you have that much willpower. Or excuse yourself from the situation until you get a grip; don’t babble at the poor person who’s just trying to scoop your ice cream in peace. Definitely don’t come back to the parlor when you know she’s going to be working if it’s about the employee and not the ice cream.

    5. Jennifer Strange*

      If the sight of an attractive woman makes a man behave poorly then he should seek counseling for his problem and, in the meantime, remove himself from the situation.

    6. Anon for This*

      I’ve known men who were so smoking hot that my brain would shut down on seeing them. I have had a colleague who was so gorgeous that I had to tamp down decidedly unprofessional thoughts whenever I interacted with him. I was still able to control myself and be calm and professional, because my hormonal urges were not the most important thing in the moment.

      I sympathize with men’s feelings of being overwhelmed by beauty/hotness/desirability. I don’t sympathize with their inability to master themselves.

    7. Observer*

      You know, this is incredibly disrespectful to men. The “need to get their heads back on” when they first see a beautiful woman is one thing. If that were all that is happening, I would have some sympathy. But after that first couple of minutes they need to get it together. To CONTINUE in that vein so strongly that the person needs to tell the guy that she has a boyfriend is a whole other level, and the idea that this is almost out of the bounds of a normal man to control doesn’t say much for men (or what you think of men.) And when it gets to the point that it takes “a day or two” for them to actually take that information seriously?! Do you really think that men are THAT unschooled and uncontrolled?

    8. Miyon Im*

      Oh no no no, we are not excusing men for their incapacity to function around beautiful women.

      And they think we’re too emotional to run a country? No. They need to grow up, not be coddled with “boys will be boys”.

    9. Anon for this*

      Come on. This is disrespectful to men who are mature enough to control these reactions as well as to the women who were just existing at them.

      I’m a woman and I’ve encountered men and women who were arrestingly attractive and I am pretty sure they never knew that – because I treated them professionally. I might have fangirled about them later with a friend but I didn’t lose the power of speech and I don’t think anyone over the age of sixteen should get a pass on that requirement.

    10. Middle of HR*

      The thing is, they don’t have to interact with this woman at all. They don’t work together, they’re not customers. They’re going out of their way to talk to her.
      All they have to do is leave her alone. That’s actually quite simple.

  30. Robin*

    I worked as an admin assistant for about six years, and it’s annoying and exhausting dealing with this kind of stuff even when it’s not overt sexual harassment–it’s having to manage another person’s feelings and responses to you.

    I can’t tell from the letter–has the employee actually talked to you about this, or are you watching it happen? It’s going to change your approach dramatically depending on which one it is. Either way try to work with her as much as possible to come up with a solution, since she might have picked up her own coping mechanisms throughout her career and knows the intricacies of her position better than you.

  31. H.Regalis*

    Agree with Alison: Ask your employee what you can do to help her. If their behavior is making her uncomfortable, it’s moved beyond, like, telling lots of punny jokes or something. Make it clear that you have her back. If your employee’s perspective on this is, “Men are sex pests to me all day at work and my boss just laughs it off”, then she’s not going to be your employee for very long.

  32. Fuel Injector*

    Then you would have me, earlier in my career, before I aged into invisibility. If there is an impact to the work or the morale of the person in question, then you would step in as appropriate. When that letter arrives with the body of the letter filled in, I’m sure there will be a helpful response.

  33. Mothman*

    “I need you to check on something in the back.”

    “I need you to return these phone calls.”

    “The computer is acting up. I need you to check on it.”

    Just remove her from the situation.

    You can also agree upon a code word or gesture so she can indicate when she wants your assistance.

    1. Anonymous*

      Library worker here – we have plans in place for these situations, including having a staff person in the workroom call the desk for something requiring the trapped person’s immediate attention. There are patrons who cannot take a hint and some that are downright creepy. And we especially keep an eye out for new casual staff because the serial creepers will be thrilled with new prey. Every library worker I know has had to deal with this. Beyond actual work questions and assistance, why do some men think we owe them our time and attention? As public service workers we cannot say what we would love to say. Some of them do get banned, but it is usually only temporary, partially due to the internalized misogyny of upper management but that’s a whole ‘nother issue.

  34. Persephone Mulberry*

    Just, just, JUST.

    I’m so [i]f*cking[/i] sick of people deflecting gross, overstepping behavior with “just.” They’re JUST being “goofy”, they JUST want to socialize, it’s JUST a harmless crush, they’re JUST trying to have a conversation/pay [her] a compliment (about her appearance, no doubt), the behavior JUST persists for a few days (days, [i]plural[/i], ffs).

    I [i]just[/i] cannot with this attitude anymore.

  35. Anonymous*

    I think that the LW can take this a step further than breaking in with a work conversation.

    She can persistently break in and ask them to please respect that she needs the employee to be focused on her work, please don’t hang out here.

  36. Bunny Girl*

    Spray bottle for your renters/companies.
    Any time they start to get “goofy” which I’m guessing is code for inappropriate, just give them a spritz like they are cats on the counter.

    **Please don’t do this but maybe.

    1. Forrest Rhodes*

      Thanks for the laugh, Bunny Girl—just imagining how that would play out makes me smile. Have to say that I’m in the “maybe” camp on this. :)

    2. bamcheeks*

      I am lightly tempted by the idea of LW’s employee keeping some kind of air freshener or essential oil spray at her desk and just giving a few loosely-directional spritzes every time the lurking gets too obvious. And everyone knowing what it means if someone comes into the break room smelling a certain way.

      (JOKING JOKING I know how AAM feels about people using sprays and scents.)

  37. Delphine*

    LW, talk to your employee. Ask her what she thinks first so that you know how to approach the situation.

  38. Pyjamas*

    Employee should be the decider of what OP does. A lot depends on whether the OP is more bothered by the guys themselves or the interruptions. If the latter, one possibility would be to let employee make OP the baddie insofar as shutting down interruptions. “Sorry can’t chat; boss is a real ogre about my staying on task.” Or OP could proactively interrupt if that’s what the employee wants

  39. MigraineMonth*

    The last time I dealt with a “goofy” harasser, his behavior included unwanted physical contact (tickling). OP, make sure your employee feels comfortable reporting the extent of the problem with these guys, since you may have a legal obligation to intervene even if she doesn’t think it’s a big deal.

    1. GreyjoyGardens*

      At work? Jeez! I remember that letter “My employee tickled her coworker and now there is chaos.” I don’t know on what planet people live that they think it’s OK to tickle (or otherwise physically maul) their coworkers.

      1. MigraineMonth*

        No, it happened outside of work (at a party). I felt embarrassed at the time that I raised my voice and shoved him away; it felt like I was ‘causing a scene’ instead of ‘being chill’. Fortunately I got support from bystanders who said what he’d done was wrong and I had every right to react that way. I think he was told to leave shortly thereafter.

        1. GreyjoyGardens*

          That’s still pretty awful. In my world, you shake hands at parties, you don’t tickle people unless you’re a kindergartner – and even then, someone should step up and talk to the kids about boundaries. Yikes!

        2. SB*

          Hold on…you were touched in an intimate way (tickling between adults is pretty intimate when you think about it) by a coworker without permission & were worried YOU would be in trouble? What a world we live in. Sorry this happened to you & I hope the positive experience (the supportive bystanders) has helped you realise that you do not have to put up with that sort of nonsense!!!!!

  40. College TA*

    When I was working as a TA for a college professor, one of his students figured out what time of week I was regularly in the office without the professor. For several weeks in a row, he came in and made himself comfortable trying to chat me up (I was not interested but didn’t know how to get rid of him). One day, my prof was unexpectedly in the office. He grumpily said “TA has a lot of work to do.” The guy left immediately. I was afraid I was in trouble, but as soon as the guy left he laughed and said “you’re welcome.” Never had that problem again!

    1. Ellis Bell*

      You know, I had a colleague who would come camp out in my office like that, for the same reason. It was never for very long and it was always during a really key time of day when he was specifically supposed to be doing something else; but it was also a time I was reliably available, even if I was reliably grumpy too. This made it really easy for my boss who was annoyed on two counts at his unprofessionalism towards me and the job. She knew exactly what he was doing and she made a point of saying to me “I know that you are always where you are supposed to be and that he’s the one off task”. She actually told him his job was in danger unless he stayed at his post for this time of day. He actually chose to get fired such was his expectation of being allowed to go wherever the mood took him.

  41. Cat's Paw for Cats*

    Yeah, like many commenters here, I’m TEAM RETHINK YOUR WORKSPACE. You have an obligation to provide a safe place for your employee.

  42. LooseSocks*

    Beautiful women work in offices all the time and, for the most part, men are able to get on with their work. Please don’t excuse “goofy” behavior. If it’s making her uncomfortable, it’s not ok. Even if she says she’s fine with it, you need to stop them. They aren’t being ok.

  43. Camellia*

    I’ve had to deal with this since I was 14, and I stumbled on the technique because I was so young and clueless.

    The technique is to respond as though they’ve said/asked something perfectly sensible.


    Him: Heeeeyyy, I saw you standing on the street corner on my way home from work yesterday! What’s a nice girl like YOU doing standing on the street corner?

    Me: Oh, I ride the bus every day! Our city’s bus system is so great! The schedule is very convenient and it is so economical! (continued extolling the virtue of the bus system for another minute or two. He finally walked away with a very confused look on his face. The male coworker sitting next to me said, I thought you’d take his head off for saying that! I replied, no need, he’ll not do anything like that again. And he didn’t.)

    Another example:

    Me: Do you need me to pass the sugar for your coffee?

    Him: No, just stick your finger in it!

    Me: STICK MY FINGER IN IT?!?! That would BURN me! Why would you want me to do that?!?!?!?!? That’s insane!!!!

    You get the idea. This has been the best solution for me. They can’t complain ‘why can’t you take a joke’, or anything like that.

    1. CanRelate*

      Slightly Aloof/boring and nerdy/alert and unafraid is such a great combination. I have pretty similar deflection instincts! Its a big signal that they aren’t going to get a satisfying interaction and its probably not worth it to continue.

    2. metadata minion*

      Ok, I had to read the coffee comment about 5 times before I realized what he was implying, and I suspect my initial baffled reaction of “my fingers are usually slightly salty; how would that help?” would also derail the conversation. :-b

  44. CanRelate*

    I dont know how to say this without sounding like I’m gassing myself up, but I sometimes have this issue.

    For sure make a game plan with the OP, because though its always uncomfortable, she may not prefer more direct mitigation all the time.

    Sometimes knowing the dudes name and where he works and telling him I have a husband is actually the diffusion I need to understand what sort of person I’m dealing with, and I can navigate that relatively quickly on my own. ITS STILL UNCOMFORTABLE and I’m not excusing the behavior, but being a stoned-faced crab is a tool in my kit that I prefer to deploy on my own when *I* feel like a line has been crossed, rather than having someone else attempt for me. She may not have this in her toolkit, but it also just could be that you’ve not seen it.

    EX: If you put a sign on her desk for no talking, or act as the “Overly attentive boss” will a dude then wait to try to catch her in the parking lot where its way scarier and isolating to have this sort of interaction? I’d much prefer to interact with “overly goofy joe” for a few days in the populated environment than have “Unknown man jogging up to my car because he can finally introduce himself without my boss here”

    Also, if at all possible, consider alternatives for your space. For me this is one of the benefits of working from home. To be honest, its just kind of exhausting to deal with. If its a revolving door of guys renting the space, she’s never going to have the eventual relief of all of the present men transitioning out of this phase, which will usually happen in a normal office setting (or has for me at least, unless someone is a danger-zone stalker type).

    1. Camellia*

      Wow, didn’t think about boss being omni-present making the idiot seek her out elsewhere, like the parking lot. Guess because I never had anyone intervene for me, I always had to handle it myself.

      You also make a great point about the revolving door/constant resupply of idiots to deal with. [sigh]

    2. bamcheeks*

      will a dude then wait to try to catch her in the parking lot where its way scarier and isolating to have this sort of interaction

      :-(((( I really wish all the men who defend this stuff understood the extent to which it’s always charged with the underlying worry about your safety. Even if it’s a tiny, abstract fear that seems a long way from a friendly, well-lit office space where everyone respects your professional skills, it’s still there.

    3. It Actually Takes a Village*

      Really great points here. Thank you for sharing and I hate that men are subjecting you to this violating behaviour.

  45. Camellia*

    The only advice I disagree with for this post is using the ‘husband/boyfriend’ attempt at deflection, simply because it feels like, to me, as being defined as ‘property’. I hope she can learn and use one or more of the many other great suggestions given, without having to rely upon her boss to intervene, or the ‘already taken’ excuse.

    1. CanRelate*

      Hopefully! I dont generally default to this deflection, however (especially in more conservative places) its also just very quick and effective deflection.

      In professional environments my goal is always to very quickly make it clear that I am not just being professional and courteous, I am also not interested. If sprinkling “Oh, my husband loves that place” into the convo real quick works, it works. This is something I consider with men I am going to continue to see on a regular basis as oppose to strangers, because I dont actually want to default to being unfriendly, as that’s not my personality!

      Most guys will take it as clear, overt cue and I want to get back to being seen as just a coworker as quickly as possible, so the principal of “I shouldnt have to say this” gets a bit minimized by “I am not going to, against my nature, be a standoffish jerk just so you take the hint”

    2. Middle Aged Lady*

      It’s safe. They have the mindset thst she is property. They are less likely to esacalate to stalking or threatening if they think she is another’s ‘property.’ Gross but that’s thrme world we live in.

      1. Is regression now the norm?*

        Unfortunately, you are correct. My granddaughter is 11, and I thought we would have this fixed by now. Feels like we haven’t made any progress at all, and in fact, are regressing in many areas.

    3. SB*

      It is pretty grating that men respect other men (the fictitious partner) more than they respect a woman who has told them no.

      1. Is regression now the norm?*

        Yep. I hate that my granddaughter will still have to deal with this. I thought we would have fixed this by now.

        1. Insert cool name here.*

          Regression….unfortunately things seem to be going backwards for women and girls. I would enroll her in a karate class so she can protect herself.

    4. Observer*

      The only advice I disagree with for this post is using the ‘husband/boyfriend’ attempt at deflection,

      All well and fine. But it’s not on a woman to not use an argument that works for her. If she were dealing with reasonable men, she would not NEED to use this argument. She’s not the problem her, nor is she the one whose defining her as property. She just using that reality as best she can.

  46. JustMe*

    I would also emphasize that if they’re acting this way when the boss is around, they may be way creepier when the boss is not around. Definitely take it seriously and don’t assume it’s always harmless.

  47. SB*

    My otherworldly gorgeous assistant has the same problem but I thankfully do have some control over the other staff here, even though they are not my direct reports.

    I gave it a couple of days after she started to let them get it out of their system (no one was being rude or suggestive, they just spent altogether too much time at her desk & not in their own workspaces doing their jobs) & told them that this was to stop as they all have work to do. By the end of the first week I had given her “permission” to let them know that she was entirely too busy to stop working to chat & she prefers to keep work relationships professional. This worked for most but a few persistent fellows needed to be pulled aside & told that this kind of persistence is not cute or endearing, it is disruptive & borderline creepy & they were no longer welcome in the office unless they had genuine business with her (very unlikely). This worked & now they only come in if they have a reason to come in & they are out quickly.

  48. Tiresome*

    I don’t think the employee needs this type of protecting, they are an adult and can handle it themselves, regardless of gender. Conventionally good looking people are used to this type of nonsense and actually are sometimes discriminated against because of it. Folks don’t want to take them seriously.

    1. WS*

      I mean, I worked with a person on this level of attractive, and she definitely liked it and was very into chatting with people who approached her as a way of getting out of working. But the letter clearly says that the employee is uncomfortable and telling them she has a boyfriend (i.e. looking for protection from their advances) and therefore the employer should act.

  49. Sleeve McQueen*

    I like the idea of talking to the manager of the shared place, I’d also be inclined to tell her if she wasn’t comfortable with me talking to them, she should feel free to throw me under the bus if it makes it easier for her to tell them to go away. “My boss has asked me to keep a lid on the amount of socialising during the day because we have couple of big projects or whatever.” A variation of the “My mum is such a b” routine I’ve told my kids that they can use against peer pressure.

    1. Milfred*

      To many men, this amounts to “there’s still a chance!” They will simply find a way to pester her in some other situation (like when she is arriving or leaving the office).

      With some guys, if the door isn’t completely shut, then they consider it to be wide open.

  50. ms*

    OMG as a beautiful woman myself, I am appalled by all this terrible advice from commenters! PLEASE, LEAVE YOUR EMPLOYEE ALONE! Do not become her mother! Do not become her babysitter! Do not assume she is so helpless she is incapable of shutting down these interactions herself. MIND YOUR BUSINESS UNLESS ASKED!

    She could easily choose to be rude and shut down these interactions quickly. She chooses not to. RESPET HER CHOICE! Do not over-rule her due to your own savior complex! These interactions are not a problem for her. They are part of her normal everyday life. Comical. Flattering. Not a big deal. It will only become embarrassing and awkward if you call attention to it. DONT MAKE WORK AWKWARD FOR HER!

    1. That is awful advice.*

      The letter literally says that she IS uncomfortable & has tried to tell them she is not interested but it doesn’t always work. As a manager, I would be in breach of company policy if I allowed this to continue without stepping in & telling them to leave her to do her work.

      1. ms*

        The letter is written from a single perspective. The writer perceives the employee as uncomfortable and in need of saving. That has not been validated with the employee. Do not make assumptions on her behalf! I have had people ‘save me’ numerous times. I do not need saving. It turned a comical situation into a highly uncomfortable one. I can tell you first-hand, (much like un-solicited advice) un-solicited saving is NOT appreciated.

        1. blue rose*

          You’re making some rigid assertions about how the LW’s employee feels, mostly connected to how you yourself would feel/have felt in similar situations. However, unless your boss told you that they wrote in to AAM and this letter is about your workplace, there really is no way to know how LW’s employee actually sees the situation.

          The LW says the employee feels uncomfortable, presumably based on their own observations. Maybe the LW is wrong, but maybe they aren’t. We just don’t know how the employee truly feels about the matter, which is why the first thing AAM advised was to ask the employee for input on how to handle the situation. We do not know that the employee sees these interactions as comical, flattering, or not a big deal. We do not know that she has chosen not to further address the situation, as opposed to tolerating something unpleasant to avoid a fuss. However, this is easily remedied by taking AAM’s advice and asking the employee what her ideal would be.

          Your perspective only applies to you specifically. Just as you say the LW cannot know the employee is actually uncomfortable (without asking, at least, which is what the advice is about), you cannot know that the employee is actually comfortable with things as they are. In your last paragraph, you talk as though the letter is about you specifically, but you are not LW’s employee. “I do not need saving.”≠ LW’s employee definitely doesn’t want support from her boss. The LW really cannot sit by and do nothing while their employee is harassed in the workplace, and still be a good manager.

          1. ms*

            Very good points. I see your perspective but still strongly disagree. Please do not mother your employees.

  51. ms*

    Also, it should be noted that my go-to signal for a lack of interest is to use awkward/uncomfortable body language. It is the easiest way to get my point across without hurting any egos or making things awkward. This is especially effective with goofy men who are harmless and there are attentions are more flattering than concerning (so it would make me sad to hurt their feelings since they were never trying to be hurtful themselves). Aggressive/dangerous men are an entirely different situation. And even then, trust her to discern the difference and be capable enough to escalate things if needed!

    Beautiful women know how to handle goofy men. She has been expertly managing these interactions daily since she was 13. TRUST HER TO HANDLE THIS AS SHE CHOOSES! Do not mother her. Do not infalitize her. Do not discredit her abilities.

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