I've made a huge tiny mistake
November 12, 2011 8:14 PM   Subscribe

Should I run away from the job I just got because a to-be-coworker's wife is sending up danger signs?

On Monday, I'm starting a new job in the business side of software. I got this job because a few months ago I went to a party, met a guy (let's call him Brian) who recruited me pretty heavily, and ended up interviewing with the company he works for. They put up a really attractive offer, and since I was unhappy with my old job, I took it.

Meanwhile: at the same party, I met a great guy - Andy. Andy is the best friend of Brian's wife, Catherine (Brian and Andy are also very close.) Andy and I dated for a while, but it ultimately didn't work out. We broke up on pretty amicable terms.

Since Brian and I met, we've had lunch once a week and drinks every other week (with friends half the time and just the two of us otherwise.) He has been very, very encouraging about me pursuing this position with his company.

Today, I ran into Brian and Catherine at a local craft fair. He was reserved and skittish. She was just barely not hostile - she wouldn't make eye contact with me; her body language screamed that she wanted to leave; she would not address me directly. I felt like both of them wished I weren't around.

I'm worried that I'm about to start a job where a long-standing employee (Brian) has a wife (Catherine) who thinks I'm trying to steal her husband. If not that, I'm worried I'm starting a job where a co-worker's wife thinks I did something horrible to her best friend. (I'm not sure where that comes from; Andy and I have spoken since our break-up, and to me, it seems like we're on decent terms.) I can't think of a good reason for her behavior - when Andy and I were dating, she seemed very fond of me.

I've had issues in the past where male coworkers have latched on to me in less than wonderful ways. I am very young, cute, and relatively unencumbered. Given that, I am very concerned about how the partners of male colleagues perceive me. I've had a wife or two decide that I'm trying to seduce their husbands. (Truth be told, I'm insulted by this. I'm typically a decade younger than my coworkers, and I usually have a significant other; that they think I want their old, pudgy, taken spouse is simply sad.)

I've learned my lesson, and don't fraternize with coworkers anymore - when I was hanging out with Brian, it was as friends, not as colleagues. I don't intend to hang out with him anymore, and once I got the offer, I canceled our lunch dates. I mentioned to him that I like to observe certain boundaries with my coworkers, and he seemed to understand - I might be off here, of course.

So, at this point, I'm not sure what to do - should I take a job where a long-standing coworker either has a crush on me, has a wife who thinks he has a crush on me, or has a wife who thinks that her best friend was somehow injured by me? Is this just a disaster? Or, hopefully, am I just exaggerating all of this? At this point, I have a few options:

1. Continue with the new job, and everything is okay.
2. Continue with the new job, and not everything is okay.
3. Look for new jobs (people like me are in pretty high demand, and I am quite good at my job.)
4. Confront Catherine, or confront Brian.
5. Run away from all of this.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (36 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
For all you know, this might be a deal between (Brian) and (Catherine). I think the best step at this point is to just stay away from it. That may not be the answer in the future, but at this juncture, I think it's your best bet.
posted by Gilbert at 8:23 PM on November 12, 2011

1. Continue with the new job, and everything is okay.

I can't imagine why you would do anything else. Your nervousness seems to be based on a glancing interaction in which people were akward in ways for which you don't even understand the reasons. It could be and probably is something utterly unrelated to you. Just go do your job!
posted by Miko at 8:24 PM on November 12, 2011 [46 favorites]

I think you are racing up the ladder of inference here. Maybe she had an upset stomach, maybe her dog just died, maybe they were having a big fight about something entirely different.

Keep it professional with Brian, let Brian worry about his wife's emotional state, and save your mental energy for your new job.
posted by ottereroticist at 8:24 PM on November 12, 2011 [17 favorites]

Confront? Like a show-down at OK Corral? There's no need to mention anything to anyone. Do your job, don't have lunch or drinks with people who might miscontrue the relationship or who have partners/SOs who might, and you should be fine.
(And shocking as it may seem, sometimes younger people have been known to latch onto older, pudgy married colleagues.)
posted by Ideefixe at 8:29 PM on November 12, 2011 [7 favorites]

You are getting way, way, way ahead of yourself here - looking for problems before you can possibly know if they're there or not.

At the moment you have a job you are starting, and you don't know how it will go. Go and start it and see what happens. The only alternative is "look for a better job," which you should be doing all the time anyway, at least on the periphery.

Only if you actually get evidence of a problem to be solved do you have a need to confront anyone or take any other action. Especially since you say you don't plan to hang out with Brian anymore no matter what, and he already knows it.

(And I have no idea what option 5 is supposed to mean. You need to work, right?)
posted by SMPA at 8:30 PM on November 12, 2011

Screw these people. They are weird.

Enjoy and excel at your new job!

They were a stepping stone. See them as that. Move forward.

(For all you know, they could have just had a big fight right before you ran into them and this weirdness had NOTHING to do with you. And even if it did - why care? You're fine. Carry on.)
posted by jbenben at 8:34 PM on November 12, 2011 [3 favorites]

2. Continue with new job. Do not have lunch, drinks or any other out-of-work contact with Brian without someone else along until you've established that it's actually 1.
posted by jacquilynne at 8:38 PM on November 12, 2011 [5 favorites]

I think you're totally jumping to conclusions here. They could have gotten in a fight, they could have been upset for any number of reasons.
posted by sweetkid at 8:39 PM on November 12, 2011 [2 favorites]

It kind of feels to me like it would be normal to go get lunch together as colleagues. But going to lunch and for drinks pretty often with him "as friends" after meeting him at a party only a few months ago, now.. that's probably what causes his wife to think you are into him.

I'm not saying it's fair though. There is so much career advice out there about networking and how it's essential to getting ahead in the professional world and getting a better job. There is not a lot of good advice about navigating this when guys keep thinking you are into them when, in fact you are just trying to talk shop and/or get a better job. It happens to me frequently at events that are specifically designated as networking events, and I've started to be really guarded and uncomfortable when attending them for this reason.
posted by citron at 8:44 PM on November 12, 2011 [8 favorites]

I've learned my lesson, and don't fraternize with coworkers anymore - when I was hanging out with Brian, it was as friends, not as colleagues.

I think your account of all this sounds fishy. You met a married, older man at a party recently and you're meeting for lunch weekly as friends? And drinks regularly, too? It's a bit much. And you started dating his close friend whom you met at the same party? And you got a job with one of the guys, ALSO as a result of that party? It's a bit much social entanglement from single party? You're moving too fast among these people, the wife doesn't trust you because you come across as too much of an "operator" -- all from one party you got a close friend, a lover, a job ... I can understand why she would be wary of you. It reminds me of "The Talented Mr Ripley" in the sense that these people just met you and so much of your life is suddenly enmeshed with theirs.

That's not to say you shouldn't accept the job, though.
posted by jayder at 8:56 PM on November 12, 2011 [26 favorites]

Getting together weekly for drinks, sometimes just the two of you- I don't know who initiated that or why, but it doesn't sound like a professional relationship.

If you really want this job and you think that Brian is interested in your for purely professional reasons (or could be, could tone it down) then stop meeting him for drinks and tone it down.

But for some reason I think your instinct is telling you he wants to pursue more. It sounds like you may or may not have been encouraging that.

If you don't want to encourage crushes, etc, then not socializing with coworkers would be a good idea. Although I understand it's a fine balance as networking, etc might make it seem like these things are necessary. At the very least cut out the one-on-one drinks.
posted by bearette at 9:07 PM on November 12, 2011 [6 favorites]

Here is a little bit of general advice pulled from your prose. this bit - I've learned my lesson, and don't fraternize with coworkers anymore, you might want to expand it a little bit to also include guys who are married and are in a relationship, whom you just met and especially if they are not with the SO, or not part of a larger group.

Yes.. it is unfair. And, yes guys and gals can be friends without a romantic entanglement. But if you are "very young, cute, and relatively unencumbered" you are going to be seen as a threat weather or not you think it is fair. And you are one. Weather or not you intend to be one.

That being said. It is also just as likely you stumbled upon something entirely different that day, you just don't have the data to say with certainty what was going on. And for GOD'S SAKE, if you do decide to not take the job, do not start hanging out with this fellow again just because you are no longer work mates.

Take the job, strengthen your boundaries.
posted by edgeways at 9:24 PM on November 12, 2011 [11 favorites]

This may totally not be the case, but step back and consider all of these circumstances and situations as if they were happening in a world that doesn't totally revolve around you. If nothing else, it'll lend some perspective to your situation.
posted by Salvatorparadise at 9:31 PM on November 12, 2011 [16 favorites]

What?? You run into a work colleague when he was out with his wife not expecting to see you, they seem really out of sorts, and your instant conclusion is that he must have a crush on you and his wife must just be insanely jealous of you?? Seriously?? This is like moon logic to me.

I think you need to seriously check yourself. It sounds to me like they were in the middle of an argument or just received really bad news. I think most people, stepping into this situation would think, "Oh awkward, I bumped into them at a bad time, let me excuse myself."

It's honestly kind of bizarre to me that you leap to: "It must be that she thinks I'm trying to steal her husband." Especially since as you say she's always been perfectly nice to you.

I am very young, cute, and relatively unencumbered.

Be that as it may, I am worried that you are letting it go to your head, to an extent that you are inferring things revolve around you and your cuteness when most people would find that inference to be seriously off the wall. And I think this could lead to you acting in ways that very seriously alienate a lot of people.

I've had issues in the past where male coworkers have latched on to me in less than wonderful ways.

I believe you and this is truly a pain. Just, with this specific example and the information you have given us, I think there's no way to reasonably conclude that this is going on.

But say it is. Say Brian is super into you. What's with all the contempt here?

I've had a wife or two decide that I'm trying to seduce their husbands. (Truth be told, I'm insulted by this. I'm typically a decade younger than my coworkers, and I usually have a significant other; that they think I want their old, pudgy, taken spouse is simply sad.)

Is the contempt really necessary? Look, this may have never happened to you. But I'll tell you-- watching my one of partners become infatuated with someone was a very, very painful experience for me. Also, humiliating, dread-inducing, shame-inducing, etc. No, the wives shouldn't blame you for how their spouse acts if you don't egg it on, but at the same time, I think a little compassion for them would help in these situations. I think focusing on how young and cute you are probably doesn't help matters.

Say Catherine is actually gut-wrenchingly jealous of you which I majorly doubt, but say she is. Are you interested in how to put her mind at ease about you -- or if you interact with her at all are you only willing to have a drama-laden "confrontation?" If you want to put her mind at ease about you, I would say the following.

I have had a LOT of male friends all my life and some of them have had girlfriends who were genuinely insanely jealous, completely off the charts like writing psycho Facebook messages to his ex-elementary school teacher demanding to know how she knew him. Many of these women banned my guy friends from having most female friends. Yet, not a single one of these women has ever had a problem with me. Not once. I have never been banned and they all have trusted me. EVEN WHEN they know their boyfriends have dated me or been attracted to me.

This is why:

-I don't flaunt my looks around them, compete on attractiveness, or make them feel unattractive in any way or less unattractive than me specifically. Have you ever felt at times like you can flip a switch where you can draw the attention of the room and turn heads, or flip the switch the other way and be just another person in the room? The switch stays in the latter position around the girlfriends.

-I INCLUDE her in everything. Even if I don't know her at all. If I greet the two of them I greet her first. If I hug the two of them I hug her first and longer. If I am talking to my friend about something I fully include her equally in the conversation and make sure to fill her in on anything she doesn't know so that she doesn't feel excluded in the dark. I don't do in jokes around her or talk about any topic she doesn't know about without filling her in. I don't engage in long exclusive convos with my friend off to the side. If I make plans with my friend then I always invite her -- and I invite her personally myself, I don't ask my friend to do it.

-I am VERY genuinely friendly and warm to her, make eye contact, display that I am interested in her and who she is.

-If it's a situation where my friend is attracted to me, and he's unconsciously throwing out any flirtatious/sexual vibes, I put a total damper on that. And emit a very strong vibe of being Strictly Platonic and not at all open to flirtation with him.

If you don't do these things, maybe try them the next time you are in an awkward wife situation.
posted by cairdeas at 9:31 PM on November 12, 2011 [67 favorites]

What?? You run into a work colleague when he was out with his wife not expecting to see you, they seem really out of sorts, and your instant conclusion is that he must have a crush on you and his wife must just be insanely jealous of you?? Seriously?? This is like moon logic to me.

Did you read the rest of the question? :

Since Brian and I met, we've had lunch once a week and drinks every other week (with friends half the time and just the two of us otherwise.) He has been very, very encouraging about me pursuing this position with his company.

There';s background to her logic besides just that they seemed unhappy to see her that one time.
posted by bearette at 9:45 PM on November 12, 2011

i personally think you are jumping to conclusions.

but even if you're not, you are the cause of these wives' suspicions. why? bc of this:

Since Brian and I met, we've had lunch once a week and drinks every other week (with friends half the time and just the two of us otherwise.)

if i was the wife and knew this, i'd be upset, regardless of whether there was anything going on or not. and i am not the jealous type. at the very least, you contribute to it, if it's true, by hanging out with these married men by yourselves. it could be because you're young and cute and you enjoy the attention, it could be whatever other reason, but you really shouldn't be all that surprised that a wife would not like the fact that her husband is having drinks with a young, attractive woman.

i have many male friends, a lot of them married. i only have one-on-one social interactions with the ones i have known a really long time, often before they were with their significant others. the married male friends i'd only met recently, i would never hang out with socially (especially if it involved drinking) unless there were other people around—and they would not ask me to do so either.
posted by violetk at 9:55 PM on November 12, 2011

I did, bearette. She says Brian's wife seemed very fond of her while she was dating Andy -- and she was hanging out with Brian weekly during that period of time, same as now.

I don't see the logic that goes "she was fond of me" => "she was really awkward/upset-seeming one day" => "she must think I'm after her man."

It makes me think "evil be who thinketh evil." I don't mean literally that the OP is evil, but I think most people wouldn't leap to that particular conclusion if the idea hadn't been floating around in there somewhere already.
posted by cairdeas at 10:00 PM on November 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

It's hard to read between the lines here, but I'll offer up my own decades-old experience in case it's helpful: I too was a young, cute, innocently flirtatious woman in a male dominated field, and once had a consultant's wife become convinced that I was trying to hook up with her husband. I was mortified by this completely unfounded accusation, but it kind of didn't matter that from my perspective I hadn't done anything wrong. This was really a wake up call to me, and was when I started taking greater care in how I dressed (much less casually), spoke, and even how and when I made eye contact with colleagues of all genders, ages, and marital statuses. It kind of sucked to bottle up what I considered a defining bit of my personality just to bend to some crazy jealous lady, but it was the mature thing to do, and has served me well and eliminated a lot of potential headaches. I sometimes would even wear a faux engagement ring on my left ring finger, because it really does help make my lack of intention more clear.

So, I'd say go with option (2), as jacquilynne also advises above: Continue with the job, and things are not okay until you've changed your behavior and owned the situation a little bit, and then things WILL be okay, and it's all okay.
posted by gubenuj at 10:38 PM on November 12, 2011 [2 favorites]

1. You're jumping to conclusions about that specific encounter.

2. You're going to be given crap by some wives if you're attractive and young even if you have absolutely no desires whatsoever not in a million years to ever go there ever. I think their reaction is more fear about their husband's mind (the perving thing, not even really the affair thing) and not really anything to do with you. There's no way of shutting that down other than to indicate very strongly what your boundaries are and even then they're always going to be concerned.

3. Do your job, do it well.
posted by mleigh at 10:44 PM on November 12, 2011 [2 favorites]

i agree with a lot of people here that you might be jumping to conclusions about your encounter (and also that maybe you should shift your perspective about youth and such and maybe spend less time time much older married men if you don't want to look like someone who is courting).

but, another thought that hasn't been brought up - could she have been weird to you because you were all buddy-buddy with her husband, pursuing a job, using his connections, and as soon as he got you the job you told him you couldn't be friends anymore? i'd feel pretty crappy for my husband if someone treated him like that. i'd think they were using him.
posted by nadawi at 11:08 PM on November 12, 2011 [6 favorites]

do you have a significant other right now? if so, maybe the four of you can go out for drinks together next time. that might help calm down your fears
posted by saraindc at 12:26 AM on November 13, 2011

I agree that it might be wise not to spend lots of time having lunch with the husband, but on the strength of a single meeting which was uncomfortable you can't really suppose this much. You're putting two and two together and getting the revised annual budget forecast.

As others have said, stick with the job; it sounds like a great opportunity which you should keep if you can possibly help it. You'll bump into this man and his wife together at other times and have more chances to observe their behaviour - you'll probably find that in future meetings, she's as amiable as she ever was. There's a little saying that's probably useful in this circumstance: "Once is happenstance, twice is coincidence, three times is enemy action" - I wouldn't be convinced she disliked you until she'd behaved this way consistently over several meetings, and even then you still can't be certain it's jealousy.
posted by fearnothing at 12:57 AM on November 13, 2011

Was this frosty meeting after you cancelled all your lunch dates and told him you basically didn't want to be friends any more?
They could have been having a fight when you bumped into them. Or maybe they thought you were being hypocritical being all chummy with them after what you said. Maybe they felt used that you were hanging out with him/them until you got the job then you ditched them.

I have to say though, if you're concerned that you're so cute and unencumbered that otherwise happily married men are falling in lust with you at every turn stop going on dates with them. If they're not gay or your bff you don't have regular just the two of you 'meetings'.
posted by missmagenta at 1:13 AM on November 13, 2011 [3 favorites]

It's incredibly valuable to have someone more established on your side at a new job. This is the only reason I am not telling you to cut off the lunches. But any alone-lunches should be limited to once a month and very professional. This would mean no personal talk past the "how was your weekend, how's your dog" kind of light conversation. Using this as a way to learn more about your company and gain insight from someone who has been working a lot longer than you is great.

Drinks alone as "friends" is absolutely a bad idea. It's a little too close to a date to be always perceived innocent.

I work in an industry where going out and parties are the way you get work, and even still I don't go alone with men I don't know very well- just because it's a lot easier to not end up in the hole then to dig myself out of an awkward situation later. There have been (while I was young and single and a little clueless) a few times when I accepted a meeting over drinks only to find out the dude was trying to ask me out under the ruse of it being "business". Maybe I should have picked up on it, maybe they were being intentionally vague to test the waters- but there is no reason to get into that bullshit if you don't have to.

That being said, I kinda doubt the woman is thinking you're trying to be a homewrecker. Just go on as you are, do a good job, and keep to professional lunches, or group professional cocktail nights.
posted by Blisterlips at 3:58 AM on November 13, 2011 [1 favorite]

I agree that it's impossible to know what was going on between them.

I also think it's worth revisiting your belief that even if you hang out with their husbands once or twice a week at private lunches and drinks, the wives should just know that you're not interested in the men that they love just because you are so obviously out of their league, being so young and cute. Because they presumably find their husbands desirable - and really - if you were pursuing something with the husband, wouldn't your actions probably look exactly the same from the outside? Private lunches and drinks every week or two?
posted by Salamandrous at 6:46 AM on November 13, 2011 [4 favorites]

I've learned my lesson, and don't fraternize with coworkers anymore - when I was hanging out with Brian, it was as friends, not as colleagues. I don't intend to hang out with him anymore, and once I got the offer, I canceled our lunch dates. I mentioned to him that I like to observe certain boundaries with my coworkers, and he seemed to understand - I might be off here, of course.

Nadawi and missmagenta bring up a really good point about this. Your canceling the lunch dates is really weird. Think about it: you meet Brian at a party, where he encourages you to apply at his firm, you meet him for lunch weekly and drinks bi-weekly. The connection seems to be based on your shared professional interests, he's ten years older than you. You follow his suggestion, you get a job, and you then CANCEL all the lunch dates? You're being super weird, utterly weird. It really seems like you do think the world revolves around you and your cuteness, and the whole "thanks for the job, but now I think I will observe boundaries that will not permit us to have lunches henceforth" thing cannot have been well received. It was unprofessional, weird and cruel if you were, in fact, lunching as friends up to this point. Who STOPS lunching with friends because they work in the same place? Do you think female professionals don't have lunch with male colleagues? If you think that, you're very wrong... And the whole I can't lunch with you because you're male and I'm female just seems like you being weirdly over-impressed with your cuteness, it was probably taken as a major affront by Brian, and it just makes it seem like you love drama, or maybe you relish too much the possibility of drama arising from your cuteness.

Anyway, your course of action here seems immature, weird and unprofessional.
posted by jayder at 7:10 AM on November 13, 2011 [18 favorites]

I'm a female professional and think cairdeas has it right -- I'm not buying the "he's upset because you cancelled lunch dates" theory. He's upset because you cancelled the lunch dates, yeah, but more because he was enjoying the possibilities (even if nothing came to pass) of "cute, unencumbered" young-woman attention -- not because he misses the professional connection or feels its owed to him. And the wife? Betcha she's been in this place before, knows his type, and immediately sensed a loosey-goosey vibe from you -- rather than the work persona that drops into place with other people's SOs, and pretty definitively deflects personal interest.
posted by thinkpiece at 7:48 AM on November 13, 2011

When I read your question the canceling of contact was also what jumped out at me. If I'd met someone who I hit it off with, thought they'd be a good hire and encouraged them to come work with me... and then they said now we can't socialize the way we used to? I'd be something on the order of outright pissed off. Depending on how it shook out I might feel like I'd just been played for a recommendation. I'd at least think - and probably say to you - "well I wouldn't have suggested we be coworkers if I knew it meant we'd have to stop being friends!"

The description from an Ask question isn't usually enough to figure out a real inter-personal conundrum, but if you wanted "why might they be acting this way?" input that would be one possibility to explore.

Honestly, all this what-does-it-mean stuff... I lost my patience with this stuff long ago. Pick up the phone and call him and say "hey, is everything all right? Things seemed a bit off when we ran into each other the other day." Friends, whether casual coworker friends or the ones you call to bail you out of jail at 3am, can speak honestly with each other about their conflicts.
posted by phearlez at 7:49 AM on November 13, 2011

If you have a pattern of this happening, then I think the boundaries you should be thinking about (and thinking about how to set) are not between how you act with someone who is not a work colleague, and someone who is a work colleague, but between you and people-you-want-to-hang-out-with-who-are-often-older-and-married. If you took this to a therapist, they might well ask, Hmm, what's going on here?
posted by carter at 7:54 AM on November 13, 2011

As you process this, maybe think carefully about your self-image. This post gives the impression that you think very, very well of yourself and not that well of others - you are young and cute and men fall for you constantly even when you're trying to avoid it; you are so talented that unlike most folks you can get any work you want any time you want it; other people are crazy-jealous and/or old and unattractive.

Let me lay something on you: one day you'll be "old" (jesus, is 35 old?) and you could lose your looks any time, since illness and disability are no respecters of persons. One day your skills will almost certainly look dated. One day you'll realize that all the shitty stuff that happens to women in the working world (being passed over for promotion, being judged over the hill as soon as you're no longer nubile, getting your ideas taken, being spoken over because you're female....), all that stuff happens to you too, not just frumpy old other boring women who make the mistake of not being on top of their game. You're sort of protected now because you are young and attractive and think well of yourself, but you'll be looking back down the years at some other hot young thing who's working the room soon enough.

So think about how you want to be and how you want to be treated when you're "old" - will you enjoy it if some player chick comes in and works all her connections (including her looks and charm, even if she's not trying to seduce all the dudes) while thinking that you're some kind of frumpy, dated, jealous monster? Think about the relations you'd like to build with your female peers over time. Think about how you'd like to be treated in a world where everyone wasn't falling all over you for your looks and charm, then try to treat others that way. Life is long and the "I can cloud everyone's minds because I am hott and have mad skillz" years are short.
posted by Frowner at 7:55 AM on November 13, 2011 [26 favorites]

Your instincts may be right that there's something weird going on. Weekly lunch & regular drinks with a married guy is a pretty heavy schedule. But. Your best bet is to de-escalate the drama. When you see Brian at your new job, say "So great to meet your wife/see you and Jane at the show." and "Was Jane okay? She didn't seem very chatty. I hope I haven't offended her in some way." which gives him an option to say something. Be grateful to Brian, and show it by doing a great job, and supporting him at work. You'll have opportunities to (honestly) praise his work, and otherwise be part of his work network. Keep is professional, and you'll both come out well.
posted by theora55 at 9:34 AM on November 13, 2011 [2 favorites]

First of all, I find it bizarre that just last week or so I was like, "I don't think [straight] men and women should be friends" and people thought I was a weirdo, but this week a bunch of folks are saying it was inappropriate for you to be hanging out with a married man. My answer still stands, though--men and women, once adults and in committed relationships, should probably knock off the one-on-one time with someone of the sex you are attracted to. MAYBE you're jumping to conclusions, but it's also entirely possible the wife was threatened by you and is now even more threatened since you're going to be around her husband AND best guy friend (on preview, I guess they don't both work there, but...still!) EVERY DAY at work. I, as an insecure person, would have had my hackles raised at all the drink-dates, and would be straight-up crazy if I knew there'd be every day encounters. I think you should go to work, do your job, maintain professionalism, and if these people are important to you--cultivate a relationship with the entire couple as someone said upthread. Don't confront anyone, don't even act like you think something happened. Continue being your charming self, and if you don't harbor feelings for either of these dudes, it will become obvious to the wife over time.
posted by masquesoporfavor at 9:49 AM on November 13, 2011

First of all, I find it bizarre that just last week or so I was like, "I don't think [straight] men and women should be friends" and people thought I was a weirdo, but this week a bunch of folks are saying it was inappropriate for you to be hanging out with a married man.

I'm with you, I'm skeptical of freestanding opposite-sex friendships between people who are in committed relationships with other people. But I think it's more understandable to be work friends with people of the opposite sex, where doing lunch during the work week is the extent of it.

Here, I think the strangest thing is that she met this guy and their main connection seemed to be professional (heavily recruiting her, urging her to apply), they meet regularly for lunch and drinks, she gets the job (apparently largely based on this connection ... not to minimize her credentials, but it's a tough job market), then she CANCELS future lunches. Bizarre. It's the abrupt termination that is strange. Can you imagine any self-respecting professional cultivating her network doing that?

It's totally backward, really. It would have made more sense not to do lunches/drinks when they WEREN'T colleagues and to start doing them once they WERE colleagues. "We can be good buds when we don't work together, but not when we do," makes no sense, especially when the bud got you a job.
posted by jayder at 10:08 AM on November 13, 2011 [1 favorite]

I found out that my husband was having regular lunches on his own with someone we both knew. I was not included in these lunches. Catherine giving you the cold shoulder was much more civilized than I would like to do should I encounter this "friend" any time in the near future (and yes, ulterior motives have been confirmed in this case). Keep the new job, but keep your distance, be professional, and try to contain being cute around men you know have SOs.
posted by Lulu's Pink Converse at 11:21 AM on November 13, 2011 [2 favorites]

1. Continue with the new job, and everything is okay.

Yes, of course. None of this is your problem. Even assuming that Catherine didn't just eat some bad sushi that day, her (assumed) paranoid delusions about your relationship with Brian, and the workings of her marriage, are none of your damn business, and certainly not your problem.

Do your job, have fun, stopping worrying about your boss's marriage.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 3:30 PM on November 13, 2011

Wow, I love (sarcastically) the pile-on here. Apparently, it's your fault for being young and hot and why would you have lunch with him? I mean, it's not like you like having friends or were networking to get a job or anything innocuous like that.

That said, I too dislike the judgmental tone you use (that "old, pudgy, taken spouse" is someone they think is awesome and they love and they think anyone would rightly fall in love with. That's what love is, right?). I know you are getting defensive, and that's why you use the language, but it doesn't help.

I vote #4. I think "confront" is a bad term here. But it sounds like you have a friendly history with Catherine, so I think you should gently contact her and ask, "Hey, things seemed weird the other day. Is everything alright?".

That's what I would do. But I don't know, I'm just a man. Women have this whole other subculture and language with each other, and can get very catty with each other. I hope that is just stereotyping on my part, but I read it a lot on AskMe, and from the outside it looks kind of frightening.

Good luck with your new job!
posted by I am the Walrus at 10:17 AM on November 15, 2011

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