Dating a "seperating" co-worker? WTF?
November 12, 2008 9:33 PM Subscribe
RelationshipFilter & BizarreSituationFilter: Turns out this Co-worker I have been flirting with seems to like me BUT is going through a separation (thinking about divorce). She is in a delicate situation and I have no experience with this level of (possible) relationship. Should I proceed? How? THERE IS MUCH MORE.
posted by DetonatedManiac to human relations (28 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Note: This is long, partly because I don't know what is relevant in a situation like this and partly because it helps me to sort this out to write it out completely. If you feel you know the situation from the teaser please skip to answer, but do check out the "blows my mind" section, it's kinda important.
Preface about myself: Young-ish 20 something guy, very little (almost no) dating/relationship experience (all of it basically in High School).
Started working at this job about 2 months ago. Really like the job. Possible pitfalls of navigating an office relationship is a big concern of mine if things continue to build. It is a smaller company of about 50 people in a typical office setting.
This co-worker is about 5 years older than me. She had been friendly (as everyone was) when I started but the last few weeks she started talking to me more frequently (which was weird since she is in a totally different department and job-wise we don't interact at all).
I started to suspect she was flirting with me last week when both of us stayed late (I had to lock-up and she was working on a project) and we struck up a long-ish conversation. I got the impression she wanted me to ask her to dinner, which I did in a round-about way, but then she hesitated and said basically "some other time". I figured I was just getting mixed signals or misinterpreting friendliness for something more.
We had some "lite flirting" this week, no big deal, but then tonight I was locking up and she was working on something and again she started to chat with me, which I pointedly stayed and made myself available to be talked to. We talked about a few things but quickly it turned to her personal situation (which was all her; I said as clearly and politely as I could that I don't want to pry but she insisted she didn't mind and indeed wanted to talk about it).
Turns out that she is one year into a separation and not sure if she wants to go through with a divorce (indeed she had been to see a lawyer to discuss that earlier today). She said this by way of explaining how she feels "conflicted lately" and "does not know what she wants" and "is unsure what to do", which I think she clearly meant as explanation for the mixed signals (which I totally understand).
She said "it was a long story", to which I said "I like long stories (but only if you are comfortable telling it)" to which she went on to discuss her whirlwind courtship, marriage and gradual growing apart from her (possibly soon to be Ex?) Husband.
HERE IS WHERE IT TOTALLY BLOWS MY F***ING MIND.
Turns out her husband has recently been diagnosed Bi-polar, and his erratic behavior (lots of debt, legal troubles (some serious), wild mood swings) is part of what made them grow apart. Now, he has been diagnosed and has had at least one "delusional" (which I take to be manic) episode, but refuses to be medicated.
At the same time, the wild behavior, sense of adventure and "being outside the box" and "breaking the rules" is what drew her to him in the first place (she is a very artistic, open minded type, which I totally like). And she has lots of fond memories of exciting travels and adventures with him.
HERE IS WHAT BLOWS MY MIND:
I too am Bipolar (Bipolar I, probably the same type as him from the description).
I had my time of being off meds and seeing where it leads, but for the last 3 years I have been totally dedicated to my meds and a solid support structure. I won't say I have my shit totally together (c'mon i'm in my early 20s and spent 2 years of my late teens in unmediated craziness!!) but I have NEVER been in anything even approaching legal or financial troubles, let alone the serious trouble he is in.
BUT, I know I am biased in this situation, so when she basically asks me for advice I try to be as non-pushy as possible, when what I really want to say is "run away from this guy, if he doesn't care enough about himself to help himself there is no way in HELL you can save him! He will just bring you down with him" The legal troubles, the financial troubles, all of it sound like a mess.
I did try to give her insight into bipolar (without acknowledging that I too have it) by talking about family members who have both been Psychiatric Nurses and the fact that I have read the DSM multiple times (which all happens to be true). I explained the typically degenerative nature of untreated bi-polar and other things to help give her context about it... And perhaps I did push a little--simply because the more I heard about this guy the more he sounded like a powder keg ready to explode.
Anyway... we talked about some lighter topics and then agreed we should go to lunch some time (maybe a dinner next week?).
SO now I am here digesting all of this and I don't know what to think.
No one in this state (aside from family and my medical advisers) knows that I have bipolar. I'd like to keep it that way. I really don't want to tell her (not for a LONG time) but if something happens here (big if) then I feel sorta obligated to let her know what she is getting into sooner rather than later. I don't know how early is too early and how late is unethically deceptive.
But that presupposes the answer to the most important question: Should I even proceed or encourage this, whatever happens, given the situation? I really like her... but this is just... weird.
What should I do?