update: I have to go to an awkward Valentine’s Day work dinner right after a breakup

Remember the letter-writer who had to go to an awkward Valentine’s Day work dinner right after a breakup? Here’s the update.

I decided to attend the dinner, and it was actually even more painful than I thought it would be BUT I was totally professional and represented my organization well. I had decided to see it as a challenge, and I stuck to my plan.

I appreciate everyone’s support.

I think it was the perfect storm of:
1) I had just gone through a breakup, and the conference happened to fall during that week.
2) I live and work in a very conservative area in which people get married young, delight in being married, and work hard on their marriages. Marriage and family are central to everyone’s life here (and they would be to mine if I had been so fortunate), and so being away on Valentine’s Day was a big deal. Absolutely everyone at the conference was married except for me. That’s not unusual for this area.
3) The conference was in a nearby city that is a fun and desirable destination that not many folks with families would be able to afford, so this was a huge treat for everyone. Spouses were thrilled to attend.
4) This conference and this particular dinner were critical to the company’s success, and my grand boss sent ME to the conference specifically so that I could make important contacts with three outside professionals who could only attend that night’s dinner.
5) I’ve noticed a trend in recent years of workplaces trying to include everyone’s family or at least their personal lives. I’m not a huge fan of that, but it’s the reality for many of us.

The dinner was rough. Unfortunately, try as I did, I still ended up being alone at a table of couples. Most people noticed and made a big deal about it, even though I was trying to avoid being noticed. It was awful. I wish I could say otherwise. I felt humiliated.

Still, I had determined to face it and hit a home run for my company, because I thought: What do you want the outcome to be of this in one month? One year? Five years? With this mindset, I decided to attend and make it not just “work” …  but to hit a home run. And I did that.

As for the future, I don’t think this particular “perfect storm” will happen at work again, so I think I’ll just do nothing going forward, as there’s no need.

Thanks, again, Alison and readers! I kept thinking of all of you and your kind words, and it got me through it.

{ 223 comments… read them below }

  1. Lacey*

    I’m so sorry it sucked, but that’s awesome that you were able to hit a home run for your company anyway.

    1. Artemesia*

      yup. What a nightmare and kudos for being able to handle it with aplomb. I’d have been tempted to lie and have a ‘Canadian’ boyfriend who couldn’t be there.

      1. Hobbit*

        This letter sounds like the opening of a fake dating Rom-Com, in which the OP ends up with the love of their life or something.

      2. Quill*

        Lying about relationships always reminds me of being in high school and everybody asking about celebrity crushes… getting no peace until I finally remembered the name of literally any actor who was “hot” enough that everyone else moved on…

        Anyway kudos to OP, if I’m ever forced to go to one of these events you can sit at my table and we can both pretend to be David Attenborough narrating the mating habits of birds or something.

    2. ariel*

      Way to make it work, OP, best of luck in your career and in not having conferences treat you weird about being single!! xo, singles everywhere

    3. Sloanicota*

      I’m so sorry, OP. I literally moved away from the area where I was raised because of this type of culture, so I believe you. I live on a liberal coastal city now and nobody here cares about family structure. Most of my coworkers are single in their 40s (okay, more than half of them are divorced, but still).

      1. Emily Byrd Starr*

        I also live in a liberal coastal city, and I wouldn’t exactly say that “no one” in such a city cares about family structure. To those folks who choose a lifestyle that includes marriage and children, it’s very important for them. To those folks who don’t choose such a lifestyle, it’s not a big deal.

        1. Hastily Blessed Fritos*

          I would say that in my liberal coastal city people don’t care about *other people’s* family structure. (For the most part. Polyamory still raises eyebrows.) But nobody will be judging someone for being single, or being married with kids.

        2. Spero*

          I would say no one cares about family structure is an appropriate way to describe COWORKERS even if one does care very deeply about their own personal family structure. If family status or structure doesn’t make a difference to work assignments, promotions, or event themes – it’s fair to describe that as no one at work cares about family structure. I don’t think it’s a hit on people who do care about their OWN family structure outside of work very much. Ex – an office that never sends unmarried women on site visits or never sends married women to multi day conferences, or organizes marriage themed events, is clearly an office that is invested in the marriage/family structure of staff (possibly to an unlawful degree). An office that assigns those duties by job title/role regardless of who is filling that role is an office where your family status is irrelevant to your role duties.

    4. Momma Bear*

      I’m so sorry that it was so hard and humiliating for you. I hope that you never have to deal with that kind of thing again, especially for work.

  2. John O*

    “Marriage and family are central to everyone’s life here…and so being away on Valentine’s Day was a big deal”

    [don draper voice] that’s what anniversaries are for!

      1. Marzipan Shepherdess*

        Or companies could recognize that many people DO celebrate Valentine’s Day and not schedule “fundatory” events that day. To me, that company’s decision to schedule a couples’ dinner on Valentine’s Day smacked of either (A) selfish obliviousness or (B) a not-so-subtle signal that “We expect you to put your job first and your family second!” Either way, it was NOT a good choice!

  3. MyStars*

    Hooray for home runs in difficult ballparks! I had been thinking about you a lot last week. Thanks for such a prompt update.

  4. Chairman of the Bored*

    It occurred to me reading this update that (outside of a few people with whom I’m genuine friends or otherwise had occasion to meet their spouse outside of work) I don’t actually know whether or not my co-workers are married.

    I’m sure most of the ones who are wear wedding rings, but I have apparently not bothered to clock that at any point in the last several years.

    Is this unusual? Like, do most people know offhand whether Bob from Accounting is married if they don’t interact with him socially?

    1. The Original K.*

      I’m in a department of ten, and I know the relationship statuses of five of them (married with kids, married with kids, married without kids, divorced and re-partnered with an adult child, divorce and single with a school-aged child). It’s come up pretty organically, particularly in the age of Zoom where a kid might wander through the background.

    2. Cats and Bats Rule*

      I know who is married in our particular group in the department (mostly because we all send holiday cards to each other) but otherwise I couldn’t really tell you who in my department is married, divorced, single, poly, etc. It doesn’t really come up.

    3. Sherm*

      I don’t think it’s unusual not to know if some person in a different department is married or not. It would be more unusual if you didn’t know about the people in your team who you interact regularly with.

    4. Happy*

      I keep getting put down on formal memos as “Mrs.” so everyone would know I’m married.

      I hate it.

    5. Adam*

      My company has 18 people in it, and I know the relationship status of probably 16 of them. Mostly it just comes up in lunchtime conversation or how was your weekend type things.

      1. Resident Catholicville, U.S.A.*

        Yeah, we have a relatively small company (just under 30 people) and most of them, I know general relationships (kids, no kids; partners, no partners; pets, no pets, etc) just based on asking questions when I am around them. But if you’re working from home or siloed from departments and your company is large, sure- it makes sense you wouldn’t know the status of various coworkers, especially if there’s not a chance to socialize on a daily/weekly basis.

        1. Lea*

          I work from home and know the relationship status (and pet status) of everyone on my team except one who is kind of secretive. I’ve never asked, but I think they’re gay and single?

          And the status of everyone I worked closely with over the years as well. I don’t make any effort but it comes up

      2. amoeba*

        Yup, lunchtime is why I do actually know that kind of thing about people in my department. Plus the ones I’m friendly with and meet up for lunch sometimes. Including number and rough ages of kids, spouses’ jobs and names, number of pets…..

    6. BigLawEx*

      Wow. I live in LA and I’ve always known everyone’s relationship status. (Now that I’m divorced I’m more conscious of that being one of the first questions people ask even now in 2024).

      I’ve never thought much about the heteronormativity of it all, but when I was practicing law spouses/partners were always invited to everything. Parties, trips, etc. I socialized with all of them quite a bit…

      1. Frieda*

        Yeah, I also know the marital/partner status of basically everyone in my immediate group, except people who are new enough that I don’t know them well. It seems like a very normal topic of conversation. For people in other work areas I know probably 1/2 to 2/3. There are admittedly also people I work with and have for a year or two whose names I’m not 100% certain of. (No one fits in both groups.)

    7. Antilles*

      It’s slightly unusual to not know among people who you interact with regularly. Even if you don’t meet up outside work, the various minor chit-chat topics of “how was your holiday?” “anything fun for the weekend?” and similar topics usually leads to people casually mentioning their significant other.

      For people in other departments or who you don’t interact much, yeah, totally normal to have those topics just not come up.

      1. ItDepends*

        This varies a lot depending on office culture and if they have events where partners/families are invited. I’ve worked at small companies where we’ve all gotten along but I had no clue about the status of any of my coworkers and larger companies where I knew the significant other of most coworkers and just about every other combination.

    8. Roland*

      I think it’s common to know if someone is married if they ever talk about their personal life at all. Not like deep conversations, just “me and my wife went to this new restaurant” or “oh yeah I’ve seen that movie, my husband recommended it”. Most people do make that kind of small talk on occasion in my experience.

      1. 2e asteroid*

        I think in my workplace that kind of small talk tends to be more kid-centric. I have several co-workers who definitely have kids, but where that’s the only (obviously not conclusive) evidence of marriage I can remember hearing.

    9. Nightengale*

      I work in a small medical office of a giant health system. In my specific office, we have 2 providers and 4 other staff members. We are not an office where people are close friends and we don’t really socialize outside work but we do chat here and there. Someone mentions her boyfriend discussing plans for the weekend. We hire someone new and he mentions his wife and kids and an upcoming vacation. Someone mentions her partner. Someone mentions her wedding anniversary and grandkids. People know that I live alone unless you count a dying windowsill herb garden. And I am really not a very social person!

      I would never notice a wedding ring but I don’t visually notice things and medical people often remove rings at work anyway due to the frequency of handwashing.

      Now people in the larger department or the whole giant health organization, people I know mostly as the senders of mass e-mails, giving information at large meetings, the occasional exchange of messages about patient care, who knows. I think someone who often sends me e-mails recently married because the last name changed on the e-mails.

    10. Helvetica*

      Enough people mention their significant other even off-handedly that you don’t need to make an effort to find out, in my experience. I wouldn’t know it for any random co-worker but if I interact with them in any way other than asking for the TPS report, I would know.

    11. Seashell*

      I once got an email with a picture and announcement of the wedding of a co-worker who had transferred to another office with our organization. The odd thing was that I thought he already was married. My guess is that there was a divorce, followed by wife #2.

      Sometimes my co-workers will mention a spouse or a significant other, but otherwise I don’t usually know if they’re married or not.

    12. Green great dragon*

      Most people I work with I know who they live with and how they holiday from small talk while we wait for a meeting to assemble.

      On the other hand I had a close colleague who only spoke occasionally of his partner. It was years before we found out he was straight, married and living with his wife (we’d vaguely assumed at least one of those wasn’t true but didn’t consider it any of our business).

      1. Anna*

        My brother moved from an English-speaking country back home, and from the habit he formed in that English-speaking country he referred to his partner as his partner. So everyone at his new company quietly assumed he was gay, and was surprised when a bit later he started talking about his partner being pregnant. His partner is his wife.

    13. Dust Bunny*

      Mine all are but it’s not really a presence at work. If they mention their spouses it’s just as other people in their lives, not in a “glorying in being married” kind of way. Mercifully.

      (I have a boyfriend but we are, by mutual consent, not moving toward more than that. If he hadn’t fallen into my lap I’d be single. I’m middle-aged and would really love to be over the idea of meeting a husband but if I were getting punched in the face with it all the time, yeah, it would be pretty raw.)

    14. LCH*

      i started at a new place in September. i know the relationship status of six of the twelve people in my department. our dept is split geographically so i don’t frequently see about half of the people. but my group discusses sig others A LOT. and for the people who never mention anyone, no one is nosy. it’s very you get to bring up your own personal stuff if you want.

    15. Jaunty Banana Hat I*

      I know if people are married, but for my non-married coworkers, I generally have no idea if they’re dating or in a relationship or single. Mainly because it doesn’t usually come up in conversation, whereas with married coworkers, if we’re talking about what we did on our weekends or vacations, spouses/kids/etc. get mentioned from time to time.

      Even if it did come up that someone went on a date or whatever, I’m not going to ask later if they’re still together, b/c it’s not my business.

      1. amoeba*

        I find that fascinating because I feel like here in Europe, the significance of marriage is quite different (lower?) than in the US! Like, I probably wouldn’t know whether a single colleague (not work friend) is casually dating somebody right now, but a serious relationship is considered basically exactly the same as a marriage. Like, I’ve been with my boyfriend for six years, and of course I mention him in exactly the way you say! Many people live with/buy houses with/have kinds with each other without getting married – the only difference is referring to them as “my boyfriend/girlfriend/significant other/partner” instead of “spouse”. I’m really sure nobody makes a difference.

        1. allathian*

          Yes, I’m in Finland and the same thing is true here, although I doubt it’s the case in countries like Hungary and Poland, at least not to the same extent. Nearly half of all first-born kids here are born to unmarried parents, even if a significant proportion of them subsequently marry. Ostrobothnia on our west coast is our “Bible belt” and there it’s much more common for young adults to marry as soon as they’ve finished high school or in their early 20s.

          I know the relationship status of about half of my coworkers in my department of about 20 employees. In each case, the matter’s come up naturally in conversation, usually when we’re talking about weekend and vacation plans or news.

          I work for the government, and while the rules here are more flexible in many ways than in the US in terms of perks like paid company events or free coffee at the office, the one rule with absolutely zero exceptions is that the employee benefits never, ever include family members. So no company dinners with spouses invited, and accompanying spouses pay for their own share of any business trips/hotels. This policy means that I’ve only met the (now ex) wife of one of my coworkers, when they visited the office with their baby about 8 years ago.

          I don’t wear my wedding ring anymore because it gave me a rash (the setting of 7 artificial diamonds was hollow on the inside and it collected gunk no matter how often I tried to clean the ring). My husband hasn’t worn his since the pandemic started because he’s lost some weight and he’s afraid of losing his ring. I generally don’t notice if people are wearing wedding rings or not, and regardless I wouldn’t assume anything about relationship status from a ring. Lots of (people who by their appearance are assumed to be) women wear a ring on their third finger without it being a wedding or engagement ring. If a (person who by their appearance is assumed to be a) man wears a ring, it’s usually a wedding ring if it’s on the third finger. In years gone by men in certain professions used to wear signet rings on the index finger of their right hand, but this tradition died out in the last century.

          But I agree with others, having this work event on a day intended to celebrate coupledom, and inviting all the spouses, sets my teeth on edge. I’m so sorry, LW, and kudos to you for being such a star even if it felt awful.

        2. SailAway*

          My experience (major American cities that skew very liberal) is the same as yours. I’d guess it’s more common in the U.S. to get married before having kids, buying a house, etc. — there’s definitely a cultural element at play, as well as financial and legal protections. But my coworkers talk about their serious/live-in partners and that’s very normal! We definitely don’t ignore any relationship that isn’t marriage. We have people at my small company who are single, partnered, engaged, married, kids, no kids, gay, straight, polyamorous…it’s all treated the same in terms of “hey here’s what I did over the weekend” and whatever people opt to mention is welcomed.

    16. Boof*

      And at this point my wedding ring is on a necklace because it’s a rolling ring and started falling off, and I didn’t want to fish through a trashcan (much less lose it!) one more time… so even wearing a ring might not tell you!
      … it’s probably A ok to not know which colleagues are married and I get trying to be inclusive of family needs etc but the key to inclusivity is to not start to get accidentally exclusive by focusing on only one need/group…. well congrats OP for getting through it. Agree a couples dinner as a major work event seems a little much.

      1. allathian*

        LOL, are you on your way to Mount Doom yet?

        Nah, just kidding. But one of my friends is married to a LotR geek who wears his wedding ring on a chain around his neck, and he’s made a joke about the ring growing heavier at least a couple times, and once mentioned going to Mount Doom, too. He’s a great guy but his quirky humor takes a bit getting used to. My friend told me once that she’s very glad that they got married in June 2001 about six months before The Fellowship of the Ring hit movie theaters because she’s afraid that her husband would’ve insisted on a LotR themed wedding if the movie(s) had been released before they got married.

        1. kicking-k*

          I had a wedding dress inspired by one that Eowyn wears in the second film (not a replica! Just a cream and gold mediaeval-style gown) and the number of people who asked if I was making my very non-geeky husband dress up LOTR-style to match… I didn’t. I’m sure he’d have looked lovely.

        2. Boof*

          lol I never thought of the reference before; I like to think my ring is a blessing not an attractive curse tho! XD

    17. Always Tired*

      I mean, I don’t know if it’s normal or not. I know most of my coworker’s marital status because as HR, I maintain emergency contacts and benefits. On the other hand, I was surprised to learn someone else was married because he’s solo on our insurance, but apparently it’s cheaper for them to have him on ours, her and the kids on hers. I wouldn’t have known if I didn’t have the habit of confirming emergency contacts every time I talk to an employee. It’s really none of my business outside of those aspects, and I have a firm boundary about keeping coworkers out of my personal life.

    18. RussianInTexas*

      I know everyone who I work with immediately. Even names, and kids/no kids. Pets too. That would be about 5-6 people, plus the owner of the company who’s wife is the CFO and who’s son runs the operations.

    19. Algernon*

      My work team is me and 8 other women who are all married with kids and I often feel like the odd person out. (we’re in a northern US city)

    20. Ms. Murchison*

      On a remote team, if spouses and kids move around behind someone on a video call, you tend to find out a coworker’s status.
      I think it’s normal to have teammates with a variety of comfort levels in sharing their romantic relationship status and what’s going on with that side of their lives. Some might share a lot of kid stories, others could be ace for all you know.

    21. Hrodvitnir*

      My experience is, mostly. Depending how well you know the person you might not be sure or not know at all, but if you work closely I’d say most people know. (I’m talking about “in a serious relationship” rather than married in particular though.)

      As demonstrated by the intense hatred some commenters have about revealing the slightest thing about oneself, it does require active effort to avoid mentioning partners/kids if you regularly make small talk about weekends etc.

      I live in a very indifferent-to-marriage bubble so I wouldn’t notice wedding rings or anything necessarily. Obviously OP lives in a pretty undiverse enclave: it’s not shocking to me you’d definitely know if being married is basically required to be Respectable.

      1. amoeba*

        Yup, the only way I could tell the difference between a marriage and a serious non-married relationship is from whether they talk about their husband/wife/spouse or their partner/boyfriend/girlfriend/SO. And I really, really don’t notice wedding rings (and in addition to that, I know many married people who either don’t wear theirs or don’t even have any!)

    22. Retired at Last*

      In my very small office (10 people) I know in general terms everyone’s relationship status and whether they have children – but then I do payroll and handle benefits (even though I’m technically retired, I’m still doing that) and most of us have worked together for more than 20 years. Some I know more about than others (it’s hard not to notice when someone in a group that small takes a year-long maternity leave). But there’s one staff member who I have known for all that time – I have pretty much always known she had a child (long since grown up), but it was many years before I was certain that she had a husband and I have still never met him. Nothing sinister – he’s a chef and is generally not available to attend office parties etc. (I suspect he also doesn’t like them – I can totally relate.) Sometimes I feel guilty that I know so little about people I’ve known for so long, but we’re not a group that socializes outside the office and that seems to work well (okay, yes, boring accountants).

    23. UKDancer*

      I have a general idea about most of my close colleagues because it’s come up in conversation “so when you chat about the weekend plans / holiday plans in terms of “my girlfriend and I are going to the cinema” or “I am taking the kids to my mum’s for Sunday lunch.” I mean people don’t tell you all the minutiae of their lives, but you have a general idea from small talk. So I don’t know who has a married as opposed to an unmarried partner but I have a rough idea which of my team have partners and kids.

    24. Alice in Spreadsheetland*

      I know for most of my immediate team (people I talk to regularly) but that’s because we’ve had 2 weddings and 5 babies in the past ~2.5 years. People that I don’t talk to regularly and who haven’t made an announcement though, or people on other teams- I have no idea.

    25. Decidedly Me*

      I know the marital status of most of the people in my department (30ish people) and a fair number of other people in the company as a whole.

    26. goddessoftransitory*

      I’m…not sure. People know I’m married because Husband sits next to me at work, so it’s kinda unavoidable. And two of my managers are married to each other (well, one of them is IT now because of medical issues.) And if I think about it I can recall the relationship status of a few other coworkers.

      But as for the office personnel, who work in the same building? No idea, except the owner because his wife is the co-owner. It’s simply never come up.

    27. Martin Blackwood*

      One of my coworkers wife works at the same company. another made a comment about the “mistress” and I spent a while figuring out what that meant. (He mightve meant “missus”? that would’ve made more sense in context. he is married with children, which I only found out bc his son is getting married)

    28. Christine*

      Two of my colleagues were recently widowed, so an event like this would be horrible for them, too! I am so glad I live in a “liberal coastal city”!

      1. GythaOgden*

        Eh. As a widow myself I’m fine with it. I buy myself something cute and enjoy the company and will say something about it if asked or I want to tell an anecdote, but part of the healing process was building back a sense of the world not having completely ended when my husband died.

        People are more resilient than it’s sometimes made out to be. If someone offers their condolences for my loss, even five years on, I accept it with good grace. If someone tried to tell me I wouldn’t enjoy something because it involved couples or happened on Valentine’s Day, I’d tell them that it was ok and it sounded fun. It’s hard missing my husband a lot and I’m triggered by certain Christmas songs because that’s the time of year we got together. But even then I don’t avoid Christmas parties — in a way, the sound of one of those songs is a way to memorialise what I’ve lost so as soon as the next song comes on I can enjoy what I still have. Like a chimney venting the toxic stuff so I can still have some fun between the bombshell songs.

        But it’s like I’m lame from an accident while hoarding …but the fact that my best friend runs marathons on behalf of a cancer charity isn’t triggering to me. It would actually feel a bit patronising for people to act like I’d be triggered all evening just from going to an event focused around couples or family. Because … well, I’m a family of one. And my husband was one in a million and he’s unlikely to be replaced, so in doing so I’m showing my strength as the person left behind who will join him later rather than feeling like a pinball in someone else’s machine.

    29. Storm in a teacup*

      My core department (18) yes and some of the people I work with closely yes. It comes up in normal chit chat. Wider than that – it depends on how much I interact with them.
      I do find it weird if someone has worked in a small group for years and knows nothing or says nothing at all about themselves. We are not robots!

    30. Chas*

      I’m in UK academia and I usually know whether the people in my lab group are in relationships (because they talk about them) but don’t usually meet any of their partners/families. There have been a few people in other teams that I interacted with (for other committees) where I found out if they had partners, but for most people in the department I only know about their relationship if it’s with someone else in the department.

      Oddly though, I’ve had someone completely mistake me talking about a friend as me talking about my husband and assumed I was married! Given I am ringless, aromantic/happily single I found it very odd that she’d managed to so thoroughly misunderstand me and my attitude (and disappointing that someone would immediately assume “man I mentioned more than once” = “husband”)

      1. Quill*

        One thing I have noticed as a fellow aromantic is that small talk around the office has gotten more awkward as I age. Apparently when you’re in your early and mid twenties and you mention going birdwatching with your parents it’s sweet that you share hobbies, and when you’re 30 people make various eyebrow movements about it.

    31. Greg*

      I run a business in small town upstate NY – the percentage of people at the company that are married to other employees is staggering. My company bought the business from a family that had operated it for 52 years and had very different ideas of what a professional workplace is than we do.

      Two such individuals are going through a very messy divorce and it is interesting to manage.

    32. Maggie*

      Yeah I talk to my co workers about the basics of their lives. I might mix up someone being married vs just having a girlfriend, or who has two boys as kids vs 1 or something. But I pretty much know if my co workers are in a relationship or have kids

    33. JustaTech*

      I’ve worked with my relatively small department for a long time, and we often have a lot of “standing around” time in the lab where you end up chatting, so I have a general idea of most people’s relationship status, but not a lot of specifics.

      Like, it wasn’t until the subject of my husband’s last name came up (it’s different than mine) that I learned that only one of the married women in my department took their husband’s name when they got married (although one happened to already share their very common last name).
      But the folks at the other sites? The only reason I know is either they went on parental leave or their spouse came up in some pre-meeting chit-chat.
      I do have one coworker who is very vocal about being single (and has some strong feelings about it that I don’t think come from interactions at work), but it’s not information I go looking for.

    34. Minimal Pear*

      I think I know the relationship status of most of my coworkers, I think we have about sixteen people in total. The only person offhand I’m not sure about is a new hire. I guess one other person I’ve assumed is single could have a partner she’s quiet about, maybe one who’s long distance? We have a pretty friendly/chatty company culture.

    35. Kelsi*

      Definitely not.

      The only folks I work with whose marital status I know, it’s because a. we are actually close, b. they have brought their spouse to a work social event (and I’m close enough with the coworker for my memory to have logged that), or c. they got married or divorced during their tenure here, and mentioned which it was when giving me the info to update their name in the staff directory.

  5. Dasein9 (he/him)*

    I am so sorry you had to go through that and applaud you for your sense of perspective. Congratulations on the home run.

    1. goddessoftransitory*


      I was extra impressed by you, LW, for deciding on your goal and that not being “try to enjoy this,” because that would have been even worse than this setup. You focused your energy on being professional and making sure you represented your company well, and you did it, with bells on.

      I hope the rest of this year brings you good things!

    2. ferrina*

      Yes! OP sounds very level-headed and aware. I’m so sorry they had to go through that experience. It’s so amazing that they handled it so well!

      OP, thank you for the update!!

    3. ArtsNerd*

      Yes, this is not the update I hoped for, but clearly LW knew what they were up against and tackled it extremely admirably. (May it never happen again.)

    1. Christi*

      I bet you’re right! I was thinking this has to be Utah but couldn’t think of what the fancy city would be. Park City didn’t even occur to me.

        1. Dawn*

          Same as well and I’m not even American, it was still the first thing that popped into my head for sure.

        2. Burying the lede?*

          I kind of think that the writer buried the lede on her original letter. I mean, when I read it, I thought the conference/dinner organizer was bonkers. But now that there is some context to what was going on (unique Utah culture of prizing marriage, rare opportunity for an upscale dinner) that is less so.

          1. Banana Pyjamas*

            I mean it not just Mormons in Utah. Mennonites are the same and have high concentrations in Indiana through upstate New York. Where I am they are mostly in construction or RV, but different communities tend to specialize in different industries.

      1. ThePear8*

        Yeah Utah occurred to me, I don’t know the fancy expensive cities there but I used to work with a team that was mostly based in Utah and marriage/family did seem like a big part of their culture, my coworkers were all married with big families and small talk often involved chatting about their kids.

    2. Ann O'Nemity*

      I was wondering if this was outside of the U.S. because I couldn’t think of a place where married was such a default and celebrated norm. Utah may be it though.

      1. MountainAir*

        I 100% read that description and thought “this it the most Utah letter to have ever Utah’d” so I am glad I’m not alone!

        1. Burying the lede?*

          I thought Utah-heavy attendees with the dinner in Las Vegas! But it could be Park City too.

          1. MountainAir*

            I figured Vegas was too far away from most major Utah cities (St. George notwithstanding) to be considered nearby, but also “nearby” is super relative in the mountain west so you may be right!

    3. ReallyBadPerson*

      Thank you all for enlightening me. I have lived in many places in the US, but have never encountered one like the LW’s description.

    4. Ex-prof*

      Oh, I was trying to remember the rules and whether we were allowed to guess! My money was on Lake Tahoe but I don’t really know that part of the country.

    5. Vada*

      Honestly, as someone who lives in Utah, married young, and places a high value on marriage and family, I still found this to be bonkers. I would find it very strange to base a work event around Valentines Day. I have never been invited to attend a work event outside of a Christmas party with my husband.

      1. Llama Llama*

        I could see if it’s for an uber small company. My husband is the only full time employee for a company. There are a few major events that occur each year all across the country and I could see me being included in the invite. I wouldn’t go though…


      2. Shan*

        Agreed… while I’m no longer married OR Mormon, once upon a time I was, and I was thinking that while it ticked a lot of boxes for Utah LDS, there are lots of single people in the church. The fact the LW was the only unmarried person at the entire conference is absolutely mind blowing!

        1. rebelwithmouseyhair*

          Not only that, the fact that all the spouses were willing to go to a work event on Valentine’s day really boggled my mind. I mean, I’ve been to any number of events where I’ve sucked it up and smiled silently for my partner’s sake but it’s never been something I enjoy and I would certainly balk at it on a day like that.

          1. Quill*

            Another question of course is – if everyone else at the event is married, and there’s such a focus locally on marrying youngish and having kids, then isn’t this event just another thing you have to find childcare for?

            Of course, if people are already staying the week or half week on location, that’s not as big a concern.

      3. Brooklyn*

        If this is truly the norm, OP should consider moving. I literally cannot imagine a conference large enough to have many organizers and, seemingly, many tables, where not a single other person was either un-partnered or whose partner was unavailable that day on short notice. Like, I have dinner parties that people come solo to, I can’t imagine 30+ people not having anything better to do.

        1. TW*

          My guess is every other single person didn’t have baseball related goals, went “EW”, and noped out of this event like OP would have done in an ideal scenario.

    6. RagingADHD*

      Oh, well that would explain my wonderment that not a single one of these colleagues observed Ash Wednesday. If the group is religiously homogenous Mormon, they don’t do that anyway.

  6. GreenDoor*

    It sounds like you did a great job setting your mind to separate your work-self from your single-person-status self. Good job. I feel your pain, having been single til I was 35. I’m glad you got through it and landed a win for your company!

  7. Visually Impaired Guy*

    I love your frame of mind that you focused on the outcome in a month, and a year, and years to come. If you didn’t go then you would have regretted not meeting those outside professionals, so that part of the trip made it worthwhile to attend, and hopefully that will be what you remember most in a couple months.

    I’m glad that we could offer some support, although it’s awful that it went so badly. It seems so unusual to have everyone married and present (i.e. no widows, no spouses travelling or too busy, no one too sick to join) or maybe there were a few at other tables and you missed meeting them. It’s also frustrating that they made a big deal of it, but in that culture I’m not surprised. I love being single, and deal with any of that fuss by laughing it off, but that’s hard to do when everyone is so culturally focused on being in a couple.

    1. Burying the lede?*

      What I think is so great is that the writer had an attitude of “I’ve got this! I’m going to score a win”, rather than “work never has the right to make me go out of my comfort zone” that we see so often here.

    2. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

      For serious. LW, I’m sorry the whole thing was such an ordeal for you. It would have been for me as well. Congrats for pushing through like a champion. I hope you did some self-care stuff afterwards.

  8. Ann O'Nemity*

    I applaud the LW’s perseverance to make the most of it and represent their company. I don’t know if I could have done it in their shoes. This was an event that was very obviously for couples, and it sounds like the event organizers and attendees had no idea what to do with a singleton intent on using this V-Day dinner for professional networking. I’m cringing for the LW. What an incredibly awkward ordeal.

  9. asturdysoul*

    Good for OP for making the best of a bad situation. But good grief, what a dystopian work environment. It sounds like anyone who is not half of a married couple (and I’m betting “married couple” translates to cisgender, heterosexual marriage) just has to accept being frequently “othered” in a deeply uncomfortable way at work. Ugh.

  10. Impending Heat Dome*

    You did a reverse Hallmark, LW! You broke off a relationship, then through your own perseverance, you went on to have a major career win. It sucks that it was so emotionally trying, but hopefully that will fade quickly while the positive ramifications continue to grow.

      1. Jam on Toast*

        Dumps the vet/firefighter/handyperson after they’re interrogated about when they’ll be getting married one too many times by the quirky, nosy, heteronormative neighbourhood association, before moving to a large city, getting a satisfying career with great work/life balance, and making wonderful friends with people who share their interests and never press them about their relationship status or their sex lives. HEA!

  11. HugeTractsofLand*

    Shame on your table-mates for making a big deal out of it! There are so many reasons you could have been there alone, and none of them were their business. I’m glad that you were able to pull off a success regardless of your personal feelings, but I hope that you’ll give yourself some time off as a treat to take care of yourself.

    1. Modesty Poncho*

      Oh my god, right? Like what the hell was OP going to do right there and then to correct the “problem” anyway? It’s a done deal! The end! Let it go!

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        Yes! Was she supposed to run out into the street and tackle the first male she saw, drag him into the venue, and force him to pretend to be her spouse??

        1. Quill*

          “I need a date for this event and can’t show up to it without one” is a great fanfic situation for a fake dating story, and something that also needs to never happen in real life.

        1. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

          OK, now I’m imagining a fake spouse made of a stuffed suit with a balloon head and terrible wig.

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

      That’s my thought too. This whole thing was odd. I think the OP should have been able to bring a friend (don’t remember if that was an option) or maybe a friendly coworker from the company to be her +1.

      Like, what are they going to do if this happens and someone is widowed?

    3. Elitist Semicolon*

      This is exactly the situation in which I would have let fake tears roll down my face and made up a tragic lie. Because sometimes “return awkward to sender” really needs a little extra awkward.

    4. Amazonanddogs*

      I know! I wouldn’t have been able to resist the temptation to reenact Bridge Jones’ Diary dinner scene. This kinda reminds me of a toxic family or working at a place/community that touts itself as being a family in that they can be rude to you, but Universe forbid if you fight back without some severe backlash and are not the “better person” and take it on the chin.

  12. Ellis Bell*

    I think you definitely deserve to be proud of yourself. I find it to be clueless beyond belief that you were put in this situation and I hope that this dawns on one of the organisers in the middle of the night. Also, that they simultaneously realise what an absolute champ you were.

  13. After 2 breakups and lotsa frogs …*

    You are a rock star who handled a ridiculous situation with grace and class, and your utterly tactless tablemates only reinforced that truth. May your heart find the healing and happiness you deserve!

    – Signed, someone who married for the first time at 50.

  14. Hybrid Employee (Part Human, Part Wolf)*

    Your mindset about this was so admirable and I’m really impressed, LW. I’m so sorry it was so painful but I hope you’re taking it for the triumph it was.

  15. rebelwithmouseyhair*

    Hmm don’t be so sure that it won’t happen again if everyone was thrilled to go there!

    1. Visually Impaired Guy*

      I think it’s likely that another work event could be at the same location, but it seems unlikely to have the big fancy meal on 14 Feb.

      1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

        Nor immediately following the end of LW’s relationship. The timing really was a perfect storm.

      2. coffee*

        IT seems likely they hold these kinds of events on the same day e.g. Wednesdays, so next Valentines will be a Thursday so off the menu.

  16. Aldabra*

    Someday, someday this will be a funny story! It will! Maybe not till you’re 80, but in the meantime way to take the bull by the horns! I feel a little sick in the pit of my stomach just imagining myself in this situation. PS I’m 42? and I just got engaged (for the first time).

  17. Seashell*

    The divorce rates are comparatively high in states where people get married young, so, if they do this again next February, you might get some divorced folks to sit with.

    1. old curmudgeon*

      If the speculations up-thread about the US state where this happened are correct, that is unlikely to happen regardless of how young the couple was when they married.

      1. Filosofickle*

        I don’t know…I grew up with a ton of Mormons and still know many, and a surprising number of them are divorced or have a divorced kid today. Granted, many of them live outside Utah so they perhaps weren’t kept in the fold the same way.

        I’m still a bit flummoxed by how extreme the writer’s situation was. I was one of the commenters saying it was statistically impossible for literally every other attendee to be married and every spouse was able to attend. No one was sick? Widowed? Had caretaking responsibilities? It’s wild. But one thing you can say for the LDS community is they turn out for each other. All those spouses could go because someone else stepped up to watch their kids and help out.

  18. OrigCassandra*

    OP, when I divorced I had to get a mortgage on our formerly-shared house to pay the ex his half of its value.

    The mortgage-paper signing and payment (which he had to be present for) happened (you guessed it) one February 14. Fortunately, I was done enough with him and the marriage by then that I honestly found it funny.

    Fistbump to you for doing what had to be done, from someone else who did.

  19. leeapeea*

    Thanks for sharing this update, OP. I’m sorry it was rough, but I appreciate you sharing your future outcome approach. I think I’m going to find that framing extremely useful!
    I wish you lots of love and happiness and fewer awkward conferences!

  20. Dawn*

    I sometimes remind my friends from outside the U.S. (and some who live here as well!) that the country is so vast and diverse that generalizing anything as typical of the U.S. is unlikely to be accurate. Wow, is this update a reminder of that. If I were sitting at a table of couples with a lone single person, I can’t imagine noticing, much less feeling it worth mentioning if I did, much less actually mentioning it, much less mentioning it so many times that the person feels humiliated!

    LW, I’m sorry this happened and was as bad as you feared it was. But good on you for turning a crappy situation into hitting that homerun!

  21. Yup*

    I’m sorry you were expected to fit a mold and were signalled out. But kudos for smashing that mold and using this opportunity to your advantage. Go you!

  22. lovehater*

    All I know is that they do not pay you enough. You are resilient and found a way to make the evening a success on your terms.

  23. linger*

    To be fair to the tablemates, according to the original account, the whole event was structured to bring relationship status repeatedly into focus (with selected couples sharing their meet-cute stories, etc). The table conversations couldn’t easily have been about anything else. The awkwardness (to OP, but to them too in this setting) is thus the inevitable result of the organisers’ complete failure to allow for singles in the seating plan — but that was just the extra curly deposit on the turd sandwich being served up.

    1. Insert Clever Name Here*

      At the same time, I cannot imagine that — as an adult — I would feel so duty bound to the table topics/theme/whatever that I would hardly deviate from it when clearly a tablemate is in distress because of it.

      “Oh, you and Sue met doing theater in college? How fun. Did anyone see SIX when it came through on tour? I though the characterization they chose for Anne Boleyn was a fascinating opposition to how she’s usually portrayed.”

  24. Properlike*

    You did it! You DID IT WELL!!!!!

    I wonder how to word this on a resume without flirting with any anti-discrimination hiring issues, because YOU ROCK, OP!

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

    I really want to know how big this conference was that EVERY PERSON WAS MARRIED except the OP. Like even if you live in an area where lots of people marry young, it is wild that the OP was the only one there with out someone else.

    1. BubbleTea*

      Made me wonder if they’re (illegally, I believe) factoring marital status into hiring decisions.

    2. Maggie*

      And every single persons spouse wasn’t sick, no one was at the end of their pregnancy and needed to stay home, not a single kid was sick and needed their parent, and everyone was able to secure completely reliable childcare.

  26. GreyjoyGardens*

    OP, I think I speak for the commentariat in saying that we are all so proud of you. You held your head high, kept your dignity, refused to let THEM drive you away, and made your company look good. Keep up the professional attitude and can-do spirit and this will do you good going forward! Congratulations.

    I live in one of those liberal coastal enclaves where nobody really cares about other people’s private lives unless they are doing something blatantly criminal or unethical. So all this Nosey Parker-ing into whether someone is married, and flaunting that familial bliss, is alien to me. And sounds really off-putting, tbh!

    Good to hear that this one “perfect storm” is unlikely to happen again. If you have a therapist, it might be a good time to set up an appointment just to get all this off your chest.

  27. DrSalty*

    Kudos to you for hitting a home run in such a difficult situation! It sucks you had to, and it sounds very hard overall. You must be a very strong person!

  28. Moama*

    OP : can you share any tips on how you managed to reframe your focus? I am currently dealing with a very unpleasant situation at work, and am trying to shift my perspective to ‘what do I want from this exchange? how do I best get it?’ rather than getting hung up on every weird/awful things being said. I’m struggling to get there though. any tips would be really appreciated. (also, well done!)

    1. Jiminy Cricket*

      I am not the OP, but when I have had to do this, I have found it useful to start from the end. What do I need to achieve? Do any of those weird awful things matter to my goal? If not, put them in a bucket to deal with with my therapist. If those weird awful things do get in the way of my goal, go at them head on, as obstacles to the work, not as emotional attacks.

  29. Tiger Snake*

    I don’t know how LW managed to keep from bluntly chirping “Oh, he doesn’t like parties so he’s out with his boytoy and three dominatrixes for the evening. I’ll see him later when he needs help with the burn cream.” or something equally as blazing when people asked. Just be so blunt and matter of fact and ridiculously over the top that no one can’t do anything but squirm and hate having asked because of how uncomfortable it made them.

    It’s GOOD that she didn’t do that. And probably better for both their longterm reputations. But I don’t know how she had the restraint.

    1. goddessoftransitory*

      Or sit up with a start and say “My God! With everything going on I forgot the memorial service is starting in ten minutes!” and rush out.

  30. Bookworm*

    I am sorry this is how it went, but kudos for your for reframing it and making it through. Thanks for the update.

  31. Retired at Last*

    Well done – after a lifetime of being the only single person (or at least one of very few) at parties, business dinners, etc., I’ve mostly learned to just go with it, but an event like that would push every single one of my buttons and I don’t think I’d have had the willpower to focus on the business side, let alone knock it out of the park.

  32. PinkiePieWorksHard*

    This is pure logistics…..and, yes, I do spend a fair amount of my day job interacting with an events planning team.

    For the future, once something has been turned from a work dinner into more of a social engagement, the best thing to do is change the setup of the evening. Turn it from plated sit-down dinner into more of a reception feel with a bar at one end, some passed appetizers, and a buffet table of heavier items with a smattering of tables and chairs. That way the folks who are there for business can actually have the biz conversation while allowing their partners to sit (likely with other partners) and then come back and socialize as couples. Is it a great Valentine’s Day evening? No. But it’s a more flexible and less awkward way to manage the combination of social/business dynamic. It’s also honestly far better for work type “dinners” at which folks will be looking and angling to sit next to the contacts they’re supposed to meet — if it’s not great for the whole night, starting off and/or ending in that way facilitates conversations with those not seated next to you.

    The other advantage of such a situation is that it also facilitates maximum networking in the more casual food and drinks setting (because, yes, deals and connections do sometimes happen better in that environment) while potentially allowing for serious deep dive business conversations and/or full-on escape from the work day/socializing with colleagues who are borderline friends to potentially happen later over a proper dinner.

    1. ArtsNerd*

      There were approximately 300 different ways the event planning team could have handled this better from our perspective. From LW’s update, though, it’s clear that their values are not our values. They probably consider this a rousing success. It’s a bummer, but that’s what LW is working with for now.

  33. BecauseHigherEd*

    I’m so glad to hear it was a professional success, OP!

    If it helps: one year, I went to a company Christmas party where spouses/significant others were strongly encouraged to attend. The company COO brought her husband, who I had never met before. He……………..was not what you would expect the husband of a highly successful COO to be. He was unemployed and working through his bachelor’s when he felt like it. That’s not terrible in and of itself, but he was also loud, annoying, and self-important. I think there were some jokes made about balls. The next time I heard about him, it was because COO mentioned in passing that they were getting divorced.

    Why I bring this up: if my COO had been trying to get important business done at this dinner and she’d brought this partner along, she would not have been successful. Flying solo but doing it well is better than being with someone along and floundering.

  34. The Straight Truth*

    I honestly thought I had the worst birthday/Valentines tsunami of suck in the universe.

    My birthday is Feb 9.
    My husband died on Feb 5, 2022.

    I solemnly pass the mantle to you.
    I swear to god, your story is worse.

    1. ThatOtherClare*

      The mantle that nobody wants to own, yet nobody wants to pass on. Glittering brown, it lives gathering dust at the top of a cupboard, reluctantly and solemnly passed from owner to owner, each new unwilling recipient adding a shiny new patch to the quilt of shitty stories. I hope it has pockets in the lining, at least?

      1. The Straight Truth*

        This is brilliant. Thank you.
        It has made me choose joy.
        He asked me to remember the best of him.
        It is a choice I make every day.
        It has made my life better.

      1. The Straight Truth*

        On paper, it was less obnoxious. And with some time, I see the madness in from a more, well, academic view.
        People understood and let me react however I needed to in each moment.
        There was no effort to lessen my discomfort that made me feel responsible for other people’s feelings.
        But overall, it sucked and do not recommend it.

        1. ArtsNerd*

          I definitely understand this. When you’re that deep in grief no one expects you to network with three (3) new-to-you prominent industry contacts. You can just be a mess.

          1. ArtsNerd*

            I mean, also what a nightmare. I’m sorry you had to go through that, and LW had to go through her excruciating dinner.

            1. The Straight Truth*

              I completely understand what you are saying. You are saying what I was trying to say, but much more clearly!

  35. ThatOtherClare*

    Oh you poor thing, I know that feeling when everyone is making a big fuss of you to try and be kind and it just makes everything feel infinitely worse!

    Burned into my mind is a summer holiday with my sporty cousins who love playing lawn games as a family. I have the gross motor skills of a newborn calf and I just sucked. At everything. I was busy humiliating myself in a game of lawn bowls, trying to laugh it off to my cousins and make out like I wasn’t dying of shame on the inside, when my Aunt spoke up: “Clare! We don’t have any put-downs here. Even ourselves. Nice thoughts only from now on!”.

    From that point on, red-faced yeet into the bushes, every soft thud of the ball landing in some sandy hole three feet from us, was underscored by well meaning encouragement: “Good try Clare!”; “You nearly had it that time!”; “Oooh, bad luck! Oh well!”; “See, that one was much better! Well done!”.

    I could tell they meant it all. They wanted me to feel better! I felt so. much. worse. Sometimes you don’t want any focus on the difference between you and others – even when they’re being extremely kind about it! You just want to quickly say “Haha, whoops, yeah I definitely messed up thereANYWAY, haven’t we been lucky with the beautiful weather?” and have them take the hint.

    So ANYWAY, well done on hitting those home runs and thank you for sending in your update! May you have equal or greater networking success at all your future conferences :)

  36. the cat’s ass*

    OP, you are a star!I am so sorry you had to go through that, and i hope that it never happens again. But it sounds like you did great.

  37. FunkyMunky*

    I’m sorry it sounds awful, I still don’t understand why you had to put yourself through this, it sounds like this wasn’t fun in any shape or form, and making these sacrifices for your job sounds really wild.

  38. ragazza*

    In the face of people so weirded out by someone not being coupled that they have to comment on it (!), would have been tempted to be an obnoxiously happy single. “Oh, aren’t you sad to be alone on the most romantic day of the year?” “What’s to be sad about? I get to do whatever I want, including buy my own chocolate and not share anything, and I’m never disappointed in my gifts,” etc.

  39. Ariaflame*

    I wonder how OP knows that everyone delights in being married. There’s a lot of people who get married and find it not entirely a delight. But nobody around them knows… because they mask it.

    1. CommanderBanana*

      Kind of like how some parents insist that having kids is the Best Thing Ever, Seriously, You Cannot Ever Be Fulfilled or Have Purpose in Life if you Do Not Have Children? ;)

      1. Mad mad me*

        And it amazes me how many grandparents are willing to step up with free childcare! My parents were out living it up well into their 70s, and I knew better than to saddle them with my kids when they’d spent years raising their own. This town sounds like someplace from the 1940s.

    2. ArtsNerd*

      I’m with you, but I don’t know if that’s actually helpful framing for LW, since marriage is something they actively desire. And their experience is that everyone is hyping up what they can’t have right now. Whether the hype is sincere or not, that’s painful to be subjected to.

  40. CommanderBanana*

    There’s a special circle of hell for people who do stuff like make a Big Deal about you being single on Valentine’s Day.

  41. Jiminy Cricket*

    Good for you!

    And a good reminder to me that, although I live in the same country as you, I might still live in a different culture from you — and you know it best. (I cannot imagine a situation like you just described happening where I live!)

  42. Lyra Belacqua*

    Ugh, OP—I’m so relieved for you that this is over! Given the context, I’m wondering—was there childcare at this event?

  43. Maggie*

    I’m so curious what all these family oriented people did with their babies and kids during the event? That must be a really desirable city that 100% of people were able to secure child care for the event, and so lucky that every single spouse was healthy, and not a single child sick, even in the middle of cold and flu season! I mean, what are the odds?!

    1. Jiminy Cricket*

      Never move away from or ever have any disputes with your family of origin and — bingo! — you can always go to any weird Valentine’s Day work events!

      1. ArtsNerd*

        Yeah, I don’t think this is particularly unbelievable given the culture LW describes. The young moms have young grandmothers who are on deck for childcare. Or send the kiddos to hang out with their cousins. In a community this conservative, extended families stay close (whether it’s a good idea or not!)

        1. Maggie*

          I mean, people’s kids still get sick or have their parents die or be sick. It’s pretty unbelievable that literally every single person was married and not a single person had any roadblock in attending

          1. ArtsNerd*

            It’s super believable if you assume that a) it’s actually a local/regional, small niche conference that doesn’t draw more than a couple hundred attendees, only a fraction of whom shell out for the special dinner and b) grandma is perfectly capable of handling an upper respiratory infection?

            I’ve been to conferences where there’s fewer than a dozen people at the post-session happy hour and almost everyone already knows each other. They’re not all giant convention center events.

      2. Maggie*

        Even if that were the case for everyone, no one’s parents or family were busy? Dead? doing their own Valentine’s Day? Sick? Watching other grandkids or nieces and nephews?

        1. Dahlia*

          If there were, those people probably just didn’t go, and LW would have no way of knowing that.

          Why are we trying so hard to disbelieve LW that it was an event full of couples?

          1. Quill*

            Yes, a room with even 20-30 people in it for an event dinner can feel like (and be) a huge crowd, but still be nowhere close to the number of people who could theoretically have attended.

  44. RagingADHD*

    Since this past Valentine’s Day also happened to fall on a significant religious observance for many church denominations, I’m rather surprised that absolutely nobody in the company / conference in a conservative area felt that going to church was more important than going out for Valentine’s Day. And that nobody had a sick kid, or an extracurricular conflict, etc.

    For absolutely every other attendee to be able to bring their partner must have really been a remarkable convergence of circumstances.

    1. ArtsNerd*

      If it’s in Utah as speculated elsewhere in the comments, then the religious holiday was a non-issue. (As LDS doesn’t do Ash Wednesday). We also don’t know how big this conference was, unless I missed something. I’ve been to some pretty niche ones that only draw from a local or regional member base so the dinner could have had 21 attendees.

      Maybe the people who had conflicts just didn’t sign up for the dinner, because their employers didn’t put such a priority on meeting the specific people who were at the dinner. Or because they looked forward to the dinner as a Big Event every year, they felt fine leaving the sick kid with grandma as previously planned (because it’s grandma and not a “stranger”).

      I dunno, I just feel squicky by the number of comments acting like this is an impossible scenario when it’s merely a very *specific* scenario and too much nitpicking is only going to serve to take away LW’s anonymity.

    2. J*

      Conservative areas of the US at least don’t usually lean Catholic or Mainline Protestant so much as Evangelical, or maybe LDS if this is Utah.

  45. DJ*

    Sorry to hear you had to go through that. Honestly ppl need to learn to keep their insensitive traps shut.
    But glad you were able to make the contacts you did!

  46. Burbonk*

    I wish I could give you a hug, OP, I’m sorry you had to go through that. I am glad you made the best of it!

  47. J*

    This remains the most insane thing I’ve ever heard.

    If Valentine’s Day is *that* central to everyone’s lives there, then surely the conference could just be moved to another day, rather than this.

Comments are closed.