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June 2, 2012 1:43 PM Subscribe
A married coworker made a pass at me - help me stop feeling like I need to peel all my skin off.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (38 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I work at an institution with several locations, and last week on a work trip a married coworker made a pass at me after a work dinner and drinks with a smaller group of people who primarily work in the location I do. He was probably drunk, I was not, and we were not been alone together at any point in the night, though he initiated several conversations with me.
After the evening concluded, he sent an email thanking me for letting him join drinks with the smaller group. I thought this was strange, but sent back a friendly response along the lines of "No problem, it was fun, too bad you have to head back tomorrow," as he had mentioned several times that he was leaving the trip early to return to work. After this, he emailed again, explicitly saying he was attracted to me and inviting me to join him in his room for "some company." I was asleep when he sent it, so I didn't respond, and half an hour later he sent a follow up message saying, "So I guess that's a no, then?" When I woke and saw the messages, I showed my supervisor, who instructed me to write back saying that his advance was inappropriate and I was uninterested. He sent a follow-up to that apologizing if he had insulted or offended me, and said he hoped I wouldn't hold it against him in the future. I did not respond. My supervisor has asked me to let her know if he ever tries to make contact with me again that is not strictly work-related. He works in a different location in my city, so I only see him every few months, and never while alone.
I feel like I did well in bringing the situation directly to my supervisor and I have no reason to think he won't drop it now that I've shown I'm not going to play along, but I can't stop feeling icky about the situation. Everything reminds me that this happened - I just watched last Sunday's episode of Mad Men and felt like barfing the entire time because the plotlines made it hard not to think about this situation. I keep going over and over the night in my head, trying to figure out if I did something to make him think I would be welcome to this kind of advance. I feel sick that I responded to the first email in such a friendly way and am terrified that could somehow be construed as an overture. I wish I could go back in time and pretend to be ill, skipping the entire evening. I wish I'd never said two words to him, much less friendly ones, and I don't feel like I ever want to spend any social/team-building time with male coworkers ever again for fear of somehow unwittingly doing this again.
How can I reframe my thinking about this situation to feel better and give this creep less power over how I feel?
Other relevant information: I'm female, in my mid-20s, and live with a longterm boyfriend. The people I work with in my location all know this. The married coworker in question is several decades older, has a kid, and is a director-level employee while I am significantly further down on the ladder.
Anonymous just because I've been open about my location and industry under my regular username. Throwaway: firstname.lastname@example.org