Adapted from a recent online discussion.
Dear Carolyn: My husband and I have different views on what is an appropriate office relationship with someone of the opposite sex. One of us thinks that appropriate behavior is to be friendly in the office but otherwise keep it all business, the other thinks that it is OK to email one another (not business related) in the evenings, on weekends and when traveling. I wondered what your thoughts are.
My main thought is that if you both felt good about your marriage, then you wouldn’t worry about disagreeing on this, and in fact might not even have gotten to the point where you notice that you disagree.
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So, instead of talking at each other about the non-business-related contact, a symptom, please talk to each other about what ails your marriage. Listen a lot, too. Good luck.
Hi, Carolyn! I’m in my first year of a medium-sized graduate program: big enough that I only have classes with about a third of the program, but small enough that you tend to know a lot of the class and see them a bunch. I have a bunch of mutual friends with one guy, and I’ve been seeing him out and about. I’ve gotten vibes that he’s interested in me, and I’d like to ask him to grab a drink once finals are over.
The issue is that multiple friends who do know him well have mentioned to me that they think he has serious anger issues. This is based on things he’s told them (about a fight with a guy in a bar) and also some experience (he exploded when he thought someone spilled a drink in his car). I haven’t experienced any of this firsthand, so I’m wondering how much I should let this information influence my decision to go out with him.
Why would you not walk away now, when you have nothing invested? This is both a rhetorical and actual question. I’m wondering if you have direct knowledge of him as a person, as opposed to wishful thinking, that contradicts or mitigates what your — or I should say, his — friends know about him.
Without such knowledge, your interest in this guy is merely attraction, and that’s something we all should be good at saying no to, since our Department of Attraction is arguably the least reliable and productive office in our entire brain. Innocence until there’s proof of guilt is a bedrock legal principle that has zero say over whom you choose to ask out for a drink.
And do you really want to be with the guy who flips out over spills in his car?
Presumably you’re going to be stuck in this program for a while. Before you invite anyone to anything with the hopes that it will become something, please, for your own sanity, imagine what it will be like to be in a program with an ex who has whatever emotional iceberg you’ve already noticed peeking above the surface — and imagine having to see him “a bunch … out and about” till you graduate. That’s an answer unto itself.
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