Playing with Fire
June 3, 2013 7:01 AM Subscribe
My older, senior colleague has been making some inappropriate advances towards me that have recently started to escalate. The catch is while he is entirely inappropriate for me on a number of levels, I can't deny there is a pretty strong chemistry between us that I've been aware of since the day I met him. How do I reestablish boundaries before this all turns really ugly?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (71 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
My 15 years older, senior (but not boss) male colleague has gone from mildly flirting with me to, over many drinks, really overtly hitting on me (he told me I was adorable, sexy, interesting, described his "type" as looking exactly like me, asked me if I wanted to have kids (he does and soon), interrogated me about the guy I'm casually dating) all while pretty actively encouraging me to get drunk. He also asked me a whole slew of really inappropriate personal questions (such as whether I've ever dated older guys. I told him I never had and had no interest and in fact often dated younger guys, but that only resulted in him trying to convince me my reasons for not dating older guys were ridiculous). There were also a lot more comments about my appearance and general attractiveness. This happened last week and I've been out of the office on leave since. I realize that agreeing to get a drink with him alone was poor judgment. And that then getting very drunk was monumentally stupid on my part, but nothing I can do to change it now.
So I sort of feel that I should be outraged over this. I mean it's kind of super inappropriate for him to say those things to his much more junior female colleague, and yet, I'm not... I'm ashamed to say that while I regret going out and getting drunk with him, I had a great time. I was uncomfortable and yet enjoyed his attention and hanging out with him is just fun in general.
I also have no interest in dating him. Simply put, he can really be an asshole and has an ugly temper. While sometimes he's great, other times he's callous, immature and just generally dickish (I've seen him scream at a bus boy for taking his drink away too soon and then tip a bartender $20 for making him a special drink). I've also had to feel the wrath of his fury at work, which was deeply unpleasant. I think deep down he's a good person, but is just very impulsive and emotional. I'm not sure I could get past the working together thing or the age difference, but even if I could this is a huge deal breaker for me.
That being said, there is an undeniable connection and attraction between us. Which makes it difficult to toe the line and I find myself allowing him to walk all over it. He's always the aggressor there is no question, but I let him wear me down. He's constantly testing my boundaries. I'll be mildly shocked and a little uncomfortable, and yet I'm sort of flattered and curious. It's a truly bizarre feeling that I've never really had before.
I'm not sure how to deescalate the situation. So far I've lied and said that I've been dating the guy I'm casually seeing right now for much longer than I have been so that I seem less available. I knew that if I lied too much and said I was engaged or something he would see right through it. I'm actually surprised I was able to sell that much of a white lie to him, he's scarily good at reading me, which is another big issue. I really don't want this to escalate to where he either tries to kiss me or does something else where I have to straight out reject him. I really have no idea how he would take that and while he isn't my boss, he could make my work life a living hell and even if he handled it gracefully, it would be very uncomfortable. Also, just on a personal level I don't want to embarrass or hurt him.
How do I maintain boundaries? I've already decided that "grabbing a drink after work" is over. I can't avoid being alone with him, but I'm pretty sure he would never try anything at work. I've thought about telling him that we can't go to happy hour anymore because I can't be "drinking buddies" with the senior attorney for career reasons. Although he will probably see right through that. That leaves just making excuses every time he asks, which has generally been what I've been doing. Other than pretending to have a boyfriend and being super devoted to hitting my yoga class right after work is there anything else I can do to stop this thing from boiling over?