Do I respond to this come on from a colleague?
February 4, 2014 8:05 AM   Subscribe

I've been Facebook messaged in an ambiguous way but don't want to create any awkwardness at work--how do I respond, if at all?

So I have just discovered that about a month or so ago someone in my office messaged me on Facebook to tell me I am hot and enquire whether I am into women (we're both women). I didn't see the message until recently because we aren't friends on Facebook, so it went into the abyssmal "Other" mailbox rather than the inbox.

I don't know this woman. I don't think we've ever been introduced and I don't recognise her, but my friend did and has confirmed that she works with us on our floor. So I very possibly have been walking past her and not acknowledging her which probably makes her feel like I am snubbing her because she sent me this message that I never acknowledged. But I never saw the message.

I feel this is a fairly unprofessional of her to Facebook message me something like that anyway, but I don't want to make her feel bad or create workplace hostility or anything. I was going to just ignore the message (especially as it's sat in my mailbox so long anyway) but my friend is insisting that I should respond. I am not sure if the insistence is purely based on good manners or if the aim is to stir up drama. I don't want to stir up drama. If you'd sent the message, would you want me to respond to it after this long? Should I acknowledge it in any way? I'm also aware that she may possibly be more sensitive about me not responding because we're both women and she sort of put herself out there and I don't want her to think the lack of response had anything to do with that.

(I don't think it's relevant but if it matters, I'm not interested in starting anything up with someone I work with and I've got a partner anyway.)

I realize this is a bit ridiculous so thank you for any help here.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (31 answers total)
Your friend is totally wrong. Ignore it. Nothing good will come of responding to this message.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 8:10 AM on February 4 [24 favorites]

posted by bunderful at 8:10 AM on February 4 [12 favorites]

I'd say no, just let it drop. What good is telling a woman you don't know that you aren't interested/unavailable now or ever? Yes, it was a pretty unprofessional message from what you say, but I'm also not opposed to trying for something you want. In the dating world, though, you try a lot and get ignored a lot. It happens.

Basically, I think mentioning it has way more potential for grief than ignoring it.
posted by Jacen at 8:11 AM on February 4 [1 favorite]

my friend is insisting that I should respond.

Friend is wrong/misguided. The easiest thing to do is just to ignore, act professional at work and just let this pass. People know about the "Other" mailbox and how things can go get lost there.
posted by jessamyn at 8:12 AM on February 4 [9 favorites]

Pretend it never happened.
posted by Lyn Never at 8:14 AM on February 4 [12 favorites]

I am not sure if the insistence is purely based on good manners or if the aim is to stir up drama.

If you are at all, ever concerned that a friend of yours is giving you advice on how to handle a delicate situation because they want drama stirred up, never take advice from that person again.
posted by griphus at 8:14 AM on February 4 [27 favorites]

Ignore. You never received unprofessional message from colleague at work. If it gets brought up, just stare at her and act like this is the first time you're hearing it.

Totally uncool for work shit.
posted by hal_c_on at 8:19 AM on February 4

I don't want to stir up drama. If you'd sent the message, would you want me to respond to it after this long?

Yes, with a violently passionate confession of your futile attempts to control your lust for me, and detailed instructions for immediate hookup. Unless you are going to do that, do not respond.

She has either gone over it by now, in which case you are just reopening the issue, or is still expecting for something to happen: you risk her not believing your excuse for a late answer, and further messing with her head. You may have hurt her feelings, but the best you can do about it is forget it, and be polite and professional to her in the future.
posted by Dr Dracator at 8:21 AM on February 4 [4 favorites]

Ignore and act professional. This is frequently the answer, and it is especially the answer when the event is in the past, as it is here because you didn't see the message for some time.
posted by J. Wilson at 8:24 AM on February 4 [5 favorites]

Ignore it, and ignore your friend's advice. Tell your friend the Internet has spoken and the matter is closed to debate.
posted by rtha at 8:39 AM on February 4 [2 favorites]

Ignore. You can treat this the same way you would treat any unsolicited message; the fact that you've apparently never even met or spoken with this woman makes her a stranger, even if she's one you pass in the hallway on your way to the elevators.
posted by sm1tten at 8:41 AM on February 4 [2 favorites]

That sounds like a message someone would send when drunk. She very well might be relieved that you never replied.
posted by BabeTheBlueOX at 8:43 AM on February 4 [16 favorites]

You don't have an obligation to make this person (or any person) feel comfortable or not be offended after she has acted inappropriately or made you slightly uncomfortable. I think this is a thing females are raised to believe (I'm one too): that it's our responsibility to soothe or apologize or defer to the other person, even if or especially when we're the ones being condescended to or harassed. (Not that this lady was particularly harass-y or anything, just making a larger comparison.) It's especially not our job to be open to or respond politely to every romantic overture we ever receive.
posted by dahliachewswell at 8:48 AM on February 4 [1 favorite]

Ignore it and be super leery of your friend in the future. She is a drama llama. (Really. Answering this message can do no good at all; but it CAN make things weird and - bonus - entertaining for your friend!)
posted by fingersandtoes at 8:53 AM on February 4 [5 favorites]

Also it could have been someone else messing from her account.

Carry on.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 8:58 AM on February 4 [3 favorites]

griphus: "If you are at all, ever concerned that a friend of yours is giving you advice on how to handle a delicate situation because they want drama stirred up, never take advice from that person again."

I think I want that framed and on my wall. Or maybe just tattooed...
posted by IAmBroom at 9:04 AM on February 4 [4 favorites]

It's entirely possible someone hacked her Facebook. Even in as simple a way as seeing it open on her desktop, typing this out, and hitting send. She wouldn't even know it.

Be alert around the office - are there other people trying to get your goat? Is it a prank-y workplace? What exactly is your relationship with this friend who wants you, so badly, to respond?

Either way, don't respond.
posted by Miko at 9:32 AM on February 4 [4 favorites]

Yeah, sending inappropriate e-messages from other people's unsecured workstations is, regrettably, a thing in some offices. Take it with a huge grain of salt and ignore with all your heart.
posted by BigLankyBastard at 9:41 AM on February 4 [1 favorite]

I guess I'm the weirdo here, because if I had sent a message like that, putting myself out on a limb, I think a response would just be courteous. "Hey, I'm sorry, this disappeared into the Other folder. Thank you so much for the ego boost, but I'm not available, I'm sorry."

But it looks like I'm an outlier.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 9:45 AM on February 4 [5 favorites]

It's a rude, creepy question.

Nthing ignore unless she tries something IRL, then tell her to back off and report it.
posted by brujita at 9:54 AM on February 4

I wonder if the reason your friend is so intent on you answering is because she also would like to know if you're into women.
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 10:00 AM on February 4

I would politely reply "not interested, hope you're well".

I say this because homophobia exists, and she might be panicking about your reaction. Unequivocally say you aren't interested (no need to mention a partner--it muddies the waters). Be polite enough that she doesn't feel the need to worry about your reaction. Move on.
posted by the young rope-rider at 10:12 AM on February 4 [1 favorite]


If it's been a while since she sent it, she probably figures the answer was no anyway. It would just be fresh rejection.

I'd also wonder a bit about a friend who seems to want to stir up shit.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 10:23 AM on February 4 [2 favorites]

Ignore! That message was totally inappropriate and rude.
posted by inertia at 10:26 AM on February 4

Do not tell your friend what you decide, either. The next step for stirring up drama would be for them to contact the woman to 'help'.
posted by winna at 10:32 AM on February 4 [3 favorites]

Ignore. If it makes you feel better, anyone sending a Facebook message who isn't in your network knows that it's going into that category called "other" and might not get seen. I think there's even a pop up or something that tells the person messaging you that.

Sending someone you've never met an unsolicited invitation to date is not the kind of effort that obligates you to respond. (It's not completely horrible, but there's no social convention putting you on the spot to respond. None AT ALL.)
posted by vitabellosi at 10:49 AM on February 4

This is the first time I've heard of the "other" inbox. I had to search for it, and omg I have messages I never answered from years ago >.>
posted by TrinsicWS at 1:37 PM on February 4 [2 favorites]

I'm with feckless fear-monger and the young rope-rider here. I feel for the other woman, putting herself out there like that, even though I think it was unprofessional and weird on her part. I don't think you owe her anything, but it would probably be kinder to respond. I'd say something like, "Hey, I didn't see this message at the time, but just wanted to say I'm flattered, but not interested."
posted by lollusc at 3:09 PM on February 4

As far as the "Other" mailbox is concerned: I don't know if this varies based on your privacy settings, but I've tried messaging people I wasn't friends with before and actually gotten a little pop-up explaining that, since we were not friends, it would go in the "Other" mailbox and did I want to pay dollar so it would go in the regular mailbox? ( . . . No.)

So, if she really did send it, she may already know that there's a good chance you won't see it. I don't know what's up with Facebook but lately even messages in my regular mailbox don't always seem to trigger an alert and so I may not even notice new ones for weeks, especially if I'm only checking on my phone. I think it's a fair assumption these days that FB messaging is not the most reliable method of communication, and if someone doesn't respond there's a good chance they simply never saw it. You've already ignored it for a month, the hard part is over. No reason to bring it up now.
posted by GastrocNemesis at 7:59 PM on February 4

Ignore; deeply, deeply unprofessional. No different than if the other party had been a man and had emailed you saying "you're hot, do you like dudes?". Ignore, and if they contact you again, go to HR.
posted by modernnomad at 9:05 PM on February 4

I am not sure if the insistence is purely based on good manners or if the aim is to stir up drama. I don't want to stir up drama.

It could be neither. Your friend would have to have good manners for the insistence to be based on that, and it doesn't sound like they do.

That doesn't prevent your friend from trying to stir up drama anyhow though.

If you'd sent the message, would you want me to respond to it after this long?

It is not good manners to point out to people who are not actively expressing interest in you at the current time that you are not interested in them. You have already expressed your disinterest by not replying to the message. That you did not see the earlier message is irrelevant.

If someone asked you on a date a month ago, and had not spoken to you since, would you be considering if you should approach them and tell them you aren't interested now?
posted by yohko at 3:05 AM on February 5 [2 favorites]

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