Boss hits on me, I'm gay, but I don't want to ruin things with him
June 14, 2014 7:08 AM Subscribe
My boss hits on me. I'm gay and he doesn't know it. But I don't want to end up souring my relationship with him because I think he could help my career. And honestly, I otherwise enjoy working for him and do think I can learn a lot from him too. It just makes me uncomfortable when he hits on me just because a) it's awkward. But also b) because sometimes I wonder if it's why he keeps me around. (Although he has been really positive about my work and I do think my work is very good, to be honest. But it still makes me wonder sometimes.)
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (30 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Sorry in advance for length.
I do some sports writing for a website while I separately work full-time to earn my real salary. The sports writing pay is peanuts, but I love doing it and my hope is that one day I can get a real job writing about sports. The website I write for is run by a journalist who is very respected in his field and has a lot of experience, and a lot of connections. Many people who have written for his website have gone onto do good things for very reputable publications and have real careers in sports writing. It's a lot of extra work and stress to have a full-time career and be spending all my free time doing the website, but I generally really enjoy it and can't imagine not doing it.
The one problem that I am not sure how to navigate is that I am female and my boss who runs the website hits on me. It isn't super blatant or creepy, but it makes me uncomfortable sometimes. We've never met and we live approximately 5,000 miles apart. He only knows what I look like (kind of) because I have been in wire photos covering certain events and he's spotted me. (Sometimes I'm the only woman covering certain things and we use the wire photos for our website.) But I don't know if I should do anything about it, or just try to avoid lengthy, late-night chat sessions and try to continue getting experience with the website. I definitely do not encourage the flirting or comments. Sometimes I actually am kind of rude to him, but I think he interprets it as me being feisty or playful when I am actually serious. He doesn't say that, but it seems it could be the case. He definitely doesn't notice that I try to change subjects sometimes (perhaps not well enough).
Here's an example of what I am talking about. We're talking via gchat and he says he has a random question and asks for my shoe size. I tell him that's a weird thing to ask someone, but I don't care and give him my size. He makes a joke about my shoe size for my height, and then teases me for being short. And then he says: "I have a thing for short girls, much like you have a thing for ____ LOL" - it was a joke about a certain athlete I joked was hunky before. Another example is me asking if he can look at a draft I wrote and he says "I'm enjoying talking to you too much to look at it." (Literally the only reason I was talking to him was to try to push him to read my draft, and I was just asking him about an event he covered - small talk.) One time I sent him a media conference call recording and he said he heard me laughing and it was "cute." (I wasn't laughing -- I think he heard some other background noise. Whatever it was didn't sound cute. Haha.)
The thing is, I have a very easy out. I am gay and I have absolutely no interest in men. He doesn't know this. Part of me thinks I should say it so maybe he will back off and treat me, to be honest, like one of the guys who writes for the website. But part of me wonders if now that we've been talking for so long and he very possibly may have misinterpreted our relationship as being flirtatious, if I tell him I'm gay it may damage his ego and make him resent me. I understand my job is not to protect heterosexual men's delusional egos - believe me. But I did have a former boss who was really helpful toward me, giving me career advice and stuff, and then someone told him I was gay and he kind of stopped being helpful toward me. Maybe it was just a coincidence - I can't be sure. My relationship with him was never really flirtly -- we worked in person, so that probably makes a difference -- but I wonder if he viewed himself as being sexually attractive to me and once he realized that wasn't the case, he didn't get any ego boost or power trip from advising me anymore. My current boss and my former boss seem similar to me in that they both are at the top of their fields and can be kind of know-it-alls who see themselves a certain way. At the same time, they do really have a lot of insight and expertise to offer someone like me. Another case study, although not of a boss, is a friend of mine. We were friends for several months and worked on our college newspaper together, had the same sense of humor, etc. Just got along well. And then I told him I was gay and he was shocked and said he thought I was into him. The thing is, I was just being normal the way I would be with anyone. Clearly, joking around and generally being friends with a guy can be interpreted as romantic feelings by men since I am a woman. This was sort of news to me, because the joking and such between him and I never veered into a sexual realm at all and I didn't think anything of it.
So, back to my current boss. Writing about sports is my dream and there's a very narrow path to earning a living writing about sports - it's very competitive and difficult. Writing for this guy who hits on me sporadically may be my only/best path. This is about practicality, not principal for me - it's not about me wanting to tell someone they are sexist or homophobic or creepy or anything. It's just about making this work for me. And I don't think my boss is a bad person - probably just immature and only unintentionally sexist. I did tell one of the guys who writes for the website that I am gay. I've hinted, but never outright said my boss hits on me. The co-worker just says that our boss is immature and awkward, but not a bad guy. So. Is there a way for me to mitigate this? What should I do? Can I get him to not do that, but not feel embarrassed/ awkward/ hurt/ resentful about the fact that he has been hitting on me? Lying now and saying I have a boyfriend, for instance, would be really hard since I clearly don't, and I'm not sure that would stop "innocent" flirting anyway.
All perspectives would be great. Thanks!