Where should I tell online dates that I work?
June 24, 2013 8:00 PM   Subscribe

I work for a well-known company and I'm never sure what to say when a guy I've met via an online dating site asks where I work. I don't feel comfortable giving this information out, just like I would never give someone my home address. Obviously 99% of the time it would be fine, but it's very easy to find my company's address, and there are some crazies out there who could conceivably show up at my office if things ever turned sour.

Problem is, I'm not sure what to say. I don't want to tell these guys that I don't feel comfortable giving out that info - I think they might be taken aback/not understand. I could obviously lie and say I work for [some other company name] instead, but that might get me into some tricky situations too and eventually I'd want to reveal my actual employer and it would be kind of weird to explain why I'd lied. Change the subject? Say it's a tiny company that he's probably never heard of? Other ideas? Thanks!
posted by whitelily to Human Relations (47 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
I don't know... I've never lied about where I work, and it's easily Googlable. Most peoples' workplaces are, honestly. I wouldn't lie about my job with a person I met at a bar or at a big party, so I wouldn't do it on an online date either. (I'm assuming you mean you are being asked this question on dates right? Not online before you meet?)

I'm not saying that an internet date would NEVER turn out to be nuts, but these days the people on dating sites aren't a nuttier-than-average percentage of the population, you know?

I don't mean to imply that you should do something that makes you uncomfortable. But your discomfort might not be necessary!
posted by showbiz_liz at 8:04 PM on June 24, 2013 [5 favorites]


Just don't name it. Say "Oh I work for a company that makes widgets. It's a good job; I really like widgets."
posted by Specklet at 8:05 PM on June 24, 2013 [20 favorites]


List the category of company that you work for. "I work for a consumer packaged goods company" or "i work in media" or "i work for a large blahblah" or "i'm in IT" or "i work in marketing". And then when they say "oh, which one?" (or "where?") you say "I don't really like to tell people where i work until after i've met them!".

Its both a completely reasonable, honest, and potentially flirtatious answer.

(this is the tactic i take with online dating, i've never once had any guy think it's weird or odd or a problem.)
posted by Kololo at 8:05 PM on June 24, 2013 [8 favorites]


I handle this is by simply saying "I work for a large, well-known (corporation/organization) in research and development.". That gives us something to talk about regarding work, gives them a clue about work-related sensitivities, and gives me deniability.

That's enough to get things started - and I can always let people know more as I get to know and trust them. I've never met anyone who has had a problem with this or otherwise pushed me for more info. People who get close to me are by necessity people who can handle this kind of thing with care. Consider it a filter.
posted by fake at 8:08 PM on June 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


You don't tell them. They are strangers on the Internet until you at least meet in person. Oh geez, and even then I wouldn't tell them for a bit! Work is like, second home.

What a lot of dudes forget is that it's a two way street. They wouldn't want you to know where they work until you've met in person, right? If not, would you want to be with someone who gives personal details to strangers online that could potentially endanger them?
posted by floweredfish at 8:09 PM on June 24, 2013


Answer the question "what kind of work do you do" instead.
posted by davejay at 8:20 PM on June 24, 2013 [3 favorites]


Say it's a tiny company that he's probably never heard of?

Right, then what happens if you actually end up dating the guy? When do you tell him that you lied, and you really work at Google?

Don't lie.
posted by alms at 8:29 PM on June 24, 2013 [5 favorites]


I think that if you're willing to meet someone in person, this information should be fine to share. I don't know that I'd give your work address or anything, but I think you could definitely tell him "I'm a developer for Twitter" or "I work at Goldman Sachs" and not be overly concerned that he might look up Corporate HQ, come to the premises, and find you there amongst all the gazillions of other employees.

I mean, if someone is that psycho, they might as well just drag you into an alley after the date.

If you have reason to believe that, simply by googling the company, a potential creeper might be able to find you, specifically, with minimal effort, you could always just say what field you work in or what position you hold, and then just not talk much about work. You could totally just say, "I'm an art museum curator". You don't have to say "I'm the curator of video installations at MoMA."

I think it's weird to give out details like the specific company you work for or your specific job title before you've actually met in person. In that case, I think it's fine to just say "I work in finance", or "I work for a nonprofit" or whatever.
posted by Sara C. at 8:33 PM on June 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


Just to clarify - I agree that it's weird to volunteer the specific company name. I'm almost always asked directly by my dates, though: "what company do you work for?" and I feel uncomfortable but unsure what to say. Thanks for all the responses so far!
posted by whitelily at 8:45 PM on June 24, 2013


I'm almost always asked directly by my dates, though: "what company do you work for?" and I feel uncomfortable but unsure what to say. Thanks for all the responses so far!

If you're actually on a date with them? You tell them.

It's just too weird and obnoxious to respond to "where do you work" with some vague talking-around-the-answer-without-actually-answering. if you think they pose that much of a threat that you won't tell them where you work ... when many people's work can be determined from a LinkedIn search ... you shouldn't be dating them.
posted by Unified Theory at 8:49 PM on June 24, 2013 [14 favorites]


If a stalker-y person shows up at your work, you're safer than if it happened at home.
posted by theora55 at 8:55 PM on June 24, 2013 [6 favorites]


there are some crazies out there who could conceivably show up at my office if things ever turned sour.

Is avoiding that remote possibility with maybe 1 out of 100 men worth the risk of scaring off the other 99? If I were on a date with a woman who seemed unwilling to answer basic questions about what she did for a living, I'd immediately put her in my mental category of "This isn't going anywhere beyond this date, because this is weird and she seems like she has something to hide."

There's always some level of risk in anything you do in life. This shouldn't stop you from behaving like a normal person on a date. The evasions that have been suggested by you and some other commenters are abnormal, and that's not going to make a good impression.

If you avoid questions about what you do, you might not scare off all men, but which ones will you get rid of? The best ones. The ones who are socially adept and have a good sense of when someone is BSing them. The ones who have plenty of options and can thus afford to make this one interaction a dealkiller. So I would think very carefully before using some clever line to dodge this question.
posted by John Cohen at 8:55 PM on June 24, 2013 [16 favorites]


I don't mind talking about where I work, or what I do, but if something comes up that I'm not ready to reveal (like where I live), I tell my dates that I want to wait to talk about _____ until I'm sure they're not an axe murderer. Then I laugh, and they usually think it's funny... but no one has ever kept pushing for information. (If they did, that would be the last date.) Most people are pretty aware of the dangers of internet dating, and don't want you to think they are one of the "bad ones". I find people are perfectly willing to wait until we've had a couple of dates and we're both equally sure that the other person is not crazy or worse.
posted by rakaidan at 9:13 PM on June 24, 2013 [3 favorites]


I'm sure they're not an axe murderer. Then I laugh, and they usually think it's funny...

I've heard this line before, and I find it pretty off-putting. It's just rude when people I'm taking my valuable time to get to know say this, because by saying this AND refusing to give the info you are actually acting like it's a possibility that I'm an axe murderer. It's just not polite.
posted by Unified Theory at 9:19 PM on June 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


Is avoiding that remote possibility with maybe 1 out of 100 men worth the risk of scaring off the other 99?

Yes!

But also:

a) the chances that someone will be scared off by you keeping your personal info personal are maybe more remote than the chance that you will meet someone crazy

and

b) if someone takes that much issue with you not giving out the name of your workplace, you probably don't need / want to date them anyway.
posted by january at 9:26 PM on June 24, 2013 [10 favorites]


I have a friend who picked up a crazy stalker on an online dating site. They never even met, but she had exchanged her real name and phone number. So, if you are trying to filter out the 1 out of 100 (I sincerely hope the odds aren't THAT bad), then your tactics might also filter out the 20 or so guys who are weirded out by you being cautious, but I'd rather spend time with men who have at least half a clue about the dangers of strange men who occasionally attack us and can manage some understanding and sympathy.

I've got a few standby statements in these cases, humour and topic changes are your best bet, but honestly have never had to use them as no one has asked for such pointed details before or during the first meeting. (If you are still unsure if you want them to know where you work on a second date, I'd say you probably shouldn't have a second date.)

And if refusing to give out personal information to people you don't know at all is impolite, then the serial killers of the world have already won.
posted by Dynex at 9:27 PM on June 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think most people understand that there are reasons to be on your guard when meeting a stranger for the first time from an online site. There are plenty of ways to say you don't want to answer that question directly just yet.

Something like, "I work for a [large/medium/small] company in industry X. I hope you don't mind if I don't go into specifics until we know each other better." But you can tell them about your job: What do you like about working there? What is the culture like? What kind of projects do you do? You don't have to go into all of that, but you can share something about your experience at the job, and then ask about their work. Ideally, they asked because they're trying to get to know you. So, be open about the getting-to-know-me side of it, even if you're less open about the company name and exact location.

I agree with others that is someone really pushes you on this, he's being creepy and you should move on.
posted by pompelmo at 9:50 PM on June 24, 2013 [5 favorites]


I have to side with the people who say that you come up with the most graceful way to give a vague answer and if they press you, they're either being dense/awkward or they're creepy, and you can flat out tell them you aren't comfortable giving that information out. You aren't "wasting valuable time" by being careful, and your safety needs come before your suitor's needs to not feel awkward, and if you being a bit cagey about your job is enough for them to strike you off their list then you're probably better off with someone who doesn't treat the safeguards you choose to use for your own personal comfort and safety with disregard.

The social mores that say that one should "just take the risk" that this person might turn out to be a creep/stalker/etc instead of trusting your instincts and letting information about you come out at your own pace are the ones that enable creeps and stalkers to get away with what they do. Not every workplace is one that would be able to deal with this kind of situation gracefully, and these people can cause you trouble at work-- I've gone through harassment done through official channels before and it sucks; it's absolutely worth avoiding if possible and the idea that, well, at least at your work you're SAFE is kind of bullshit, especially if your work is the place where rumors about that kind of thing can thrive.

People with high-security jobs manage to date, too, and they don't just give information out about their jobs when asked by dates because it could get them in trouble with their employers. Your sense of safety and comfort deserves at least as much consideration as those people give their jobs.
posted by NoraReed at 10:09 PM on June 24, 2013 [11 favorites]


So, if you are trying to filter out the 1 out of 100 (I sincerely hope the odds aren't THAT bad)

Yeah, notice I said it's a "remote possibility" even with the 1 out of 100. Thus, not a 1% chance, but a far lower chance — of someone showing up, making a fool of himself, and being escorted out. Which wouldn't ruin your life.

The "axe murderer" line is fine to put in your profile (though trite and not funny anymore). But once you've decided to meet someone in person, you've already decided to take a chance on this person, and you should disclose things about your personal life. If you're not going to do that because you don't want to take the risk, that's totally fine — then don't waste either of your time by going on the date.
posted by John Cohen at 10:09 PM on June 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


John Cohen, your answers are coming across as pretty judgmental. "This shouldn't stop you from behaving like a normal person on a date" and "evasions"?

It is perfectly normal to not disclose all kinds of personal information the first time you meet someone including the name of the company you work for. And not simply because you are concerned about "stalkers". Some of us are just more reserved than you Ask people and/or we may work in industries where discretion is a priority.

OP, I think for a first meeting it is perfectly normal to not reveal the name of the company you work for. This is common not just for dates but for other social interactions as well.

And, frankly, it is rude of the guys you are interacting with to come right out and ask you where you work.

You could try something like this:

Guy: "So, where do you work?"

You: "My background is engineering and I work in the tech industry. We advise tech companies. I really enjoy it b/c [blah blah blah]." Then change the subject or ask him about his work. Be upbeat, nothing to feel weird about. If the date works out and you see him a few more times you can always tell him where you work when you are more comfortable.
posted by mlis at 10:48 PM on June 24, 2013 [3 favorites]


"So what do you do?"

"Oh, I work at a _________ company." (So, like, if you work at Google you work at a tech company, if you work at Goldman Sachs you work in finance, etc.) Specifics are for later dates. They don't have to be, but they can be.

Source: I've gone on way too many fucking online dates using this script and while it was awkward and uncomfortable sometimes nobody has murdered me yet.
posted by dekathelon at 10:52 PM on June 24, 2013


[Just a reminder: AskMe is not for back-and-forth debate. Constructive answers with new info/considerations/phrasings etc to help the OP only, please -- no debating other commenters. Thanks.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 10:58 PM on June 24, 2013


I'm assuming that "99%" in "99% of the time it would be fine" is a figure of speech. If you go on three dates per month, it is challenging to imagine that in less than three years, one of the people you met would show up at your place of employment.

That said, I've done my share of online dating and know other people who've done the same; some of those folks have worked for prominent companies and/or with prominent people, have not given details from the git-go because they've done so and been asked a slew of questions.

Anyway, if someone likes you, wants to see you again, they're not going to have a problem with you not naming the company on the first date. (Much beyond that, yeah, I think people would be reasonable in finding the approach to be concerning.)
posted by ambient2 at 11:36 PM on June 24, 2013


I was thinking about the first conversations I have had on dates. When I asked this question, it was an attempt to find something to talk about. The thing is that when that person responded by stating she had a boring job in an office downtown and with some job title that didn't tell me much I wouldn't even think of asking more about it. Why talk about something you are not interested in? You could turn it into a joke and say something akin to "I work in an office. And if I really want to put you to sleep, I'll tell you all the details some day."

I mention this because the other option - tell a lie - concerns me. What if I found out after a while that you were not telling the truth about such a trivial thing? I might wonder what else you might not be truthful about. This could become a major trust issue for me.
posted by krautland at 12:04 AM on June 25, 2013


Just to clarify - I agree that it's weird to volunteer the specific company name. I'm almost always asked directly by my dates, though: "what company do you work for?" and I feel uncomfortable but unsure what to say. Thanks for all the responses so far!
posted by whitelily at 8:45 PM on June 24 [+] [!]


You may run for office someday. Learn that you do not need to answer the question as it is asked. Reply as suggested above by saying a generalized description of what you do, not where you do it.
posted by Cranberry at 12:04 AM on June 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's up to you whether or not you're willing to lose the guys that are weirded out by your refusal to name your specific employer on your first date. I was raised with a perpetual fear of male violence (I'd say it's your average rape culture but I seem to be more skittish than most) so I'm willing to let those go, especially if they get belligerent about it. Just say what kind of job you do (as above) and then ask them what they do, then continue with the conversation.

This really isn't that odd if you work in a vulnerable sector (ie. social work, with kids) or in a controversial field (ie. animal testing).
posted by buteo at 12:12 AM on June 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


Be somewhat vague at first, in a normal way ("I do [job] for a [industry] company"). If they ask which company, be upfront about why you don't want to tell them just yet.

Men need to understand the risks women deal with in online dating and in general. Men need to know this so they start seeing how important it is to make our world less terrible for women.

The ones you turn off will be the ones who aren't ready to see and accept you as an adult — aka not adults themselves.
posted by wemayfreeze at 12:23 AM on June 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


If a stalker-y person shows up at your work, you're safer than if it happened at home.

someone showing up [to your work], making a fool of himself, and being escorted out. Which wouldn't ruin your life.

This isn't about awkward interactions with the receptionist. This is about someone waiting in a car outside your office for you to get off work and rape you.
posted by wemayfreeze at 12:29 AM on June 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


We Brits tend to feel it rather vulgar to ask relative strangers about their work so I always get a slight shudder when I read that someone would actually flat-out ask the name of your company on a casual date. I lived in the US for about seven years and I never got used to the way it seemed normal for folk to go straight for the "What do you do?" question with people they'd only just met. It strikes us as slightly rude and we have to bite our tongues and fire up our cultural awareness abilities not to give a "none of your damned business" sort of reply.

That said, when someone used to ask me the question I'd usually go for an "Oh, something boring with computers" angle. Most people get that this sort of dismissive response means you don't want to talk about it. If they persisted I'd say something like "I just work for a financial company in midtown. Desks and computers, you know." And then quickly change the subject, ideally trying to get them to talk about themselves. That usually worked. Had someone asked me flat out which company I work for I suppose I might have made a joke out of it, maybe telling them it was very hush-hush, couldn't possibly divulge, that sort of thing - delivered in a wink-and-smile sort of way, you know. If you're talking about dating and the person is too insensitive to get that you simply don't want to talk about it after that, well, I'd say that person probably shouldn't get a second date. :-)
posted by Decani at 12:39 AM on June 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


As long as you establish that you aren't in some seedy line of work, I can't imagine a guy going on MeFi and asking "I met this girl and like everything about her, except she won't tell me exactly where she works. Is that a red flag?"

Like others have said, if he feels that offended or entitled and dwells on it that much, or doesn't understand your reason for it, you'll probably save yourself a lot of trouble anyway.

He should inherently understand that interaction with strangers is different for men and women.
posted by TheSecretDecoderRing at 12:46 AM on June 25, 2013 [3 favorites]


with old-fashioned offline dating people usually have interacted in person a bit so they have already gotten some sense of one another. that isn't really the case with online dating. it is a bit more like meeting a stranger for the first time, so i think it is fine to be a bit cautious with giving out personal info.

also, i think people want to know what you do more so than where you actually work. even if they ask "where do you work?" i'd just answer telling them what you in fact do. "oh, i'm a marketing rep with a small non-profit". i definitely would not lie about where you work. that will only bite you in the butt later with trust issues.
posted by wildflower at 1:19 AM on June 25, 2013


Another vote here for vagueness, not the precise name of the company:
"Who do you work for?" "I'm a teacher." (NOT the locale or even the name of the school.)
"Where do you work?" "In a local elementary school." (Again, nothing specific.)

There is no reason to lie, but there's also no reason to give a detailed life history at this stage of your relationship..... you can always give him more details as you get to know each other better.
posted by easily confused at 2:35 AM on June 25, 2013


I would answer, "I work in industry as role." If they can't pick up on the deflection as a signal for, "I'm not comfortable giving the company name," and ask what Company, I would say, "I'm sorry, I'm not really comfortable giving out personal information until I know someone better, what do you do?"

If this offends them? It's done anyway.

I, personally, wouldn't specify company size, especially if it's an area where "large company" might be recognizable as the only local game in town. In northern California I would be fine saying, "a large tech company" or whatever but in another city where there were one or two it might be easy to figure out.
posted by itsonreserve at 5:43 AM on June 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


someone showing up [to your work], making a fool of himself, and being escorted out. Which wouldn't ruin your life.

Maybe not ruin, but Make Very Difficult going forward is a definite possibility. A guy comes and makes a scene at a woman's workplace and among the things that an employer thinks are:
  • why she doesn't have control over her personal life?
  • what is wrong with her that this guy is so mad?
  • how many more times is this going to happen?
  • why didn't she warn us that this might happen? (like she was supposed to be clairvoyant!)
  • are we going to have to call the cops next time?
  • who can we get to do this job that isn't going to stress us out so much with surprise visitors?
So, OP, I think you are definitely right to be aware of this. I'm sorry that people are calling the premise of your question onto the carpet.

When people ask me what I do, I give them sort of a broad historical "what I have done" list instead that segues into what I'm doing now (which is looking for a job in __career__, accepting every temp work assignment, and volunteering, which I frame as tasting lots of industries in case I change my mind about __career__). Do bear in mind that I'm not dating, but this answer is meaty enough that it satisfies people even when it doesn't answer the exact question that was asked.

It does seem that people are just looking for a conversational hook. So if you say "I crunch numbers" that doesn't really give a place for the conversation to go. Instead you could say "I got a BA in ceramics and now I'm a CPA for a local/international/large/small manufacturer. The extra information of ceramics and CPA gives something to hang a discussion on. IF you don't want to make the job itself interesting, you can share an anecdote about the awesome birthday pranks you play on each other. You can also follow a short answer with a return volley. "I am a CPA, what do you do?" Then, when they answer, ask what they like about their job, unless you can tell from tone that they're miserable in it.
posted by bilabial at 6:38 AM on June 25, 2013 [6 favorites]


The best thing you can do in this situation is know how to lead the conversation in a direction you are comfortable with. If you date asks "So what company do you work for?" you can answer with "I work for a [type] company in [place]. But my background is actually in circus performance, and I went to school for basketweaving..." or "I am a [job title] for a large company that does [thing]. I find it really interesting because [reasons]. What do you do?"

The people you are on dates with are probably more interested in getting to know you and just trying to make conversation about what you do for a living. The exact name of the company you work for is probably not that interesting. Learn to respond to the question in a way that keeps the conversation moving.
posted by inertia at 7:57 AM on June 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


I did once pick up a would-be stalker who, following one blind (internet) date, emailed my company's customer service about me, several times over a 3-year year period. It never escalated but it did become a background fear that could have easily been avoided.

A couple thoughts. One, "well-known company" and "online dates" is a red herring I think, you don't need to be giving out your personal address to strangers, period. Two, I've gone on a few dozen online dates and hundreds and hundreds of parties, and the question is usually not "What company do you work for", but rather, "What do you do"? Are you sure you are not picturing the question in your mind as the former while in reality it's the latter?

Either way, answer the question on what you do, not who pays you to do it. It would be a pretty big social flag if a guy kept digging for the name of your employer. I bet they just want to place you in a category, e.g. "creative" vs. "suit", "financially secure" vs. "starving artist", etc.
posted by rada at 9:32 AM on June 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yeah, rada captures my thoughts pretty much exactly. I just scanned over all my internet dates in recent-ish memory, including some people I saw a few times or had short flings with, and I realized I didn't know the specific company they worked for in most instances. Some of them I did -- there was a dude whose business was specifically in the news for something that interests both of us, and the dude who had a bunch of work-branded swag so I couldn't not know. Otherwise, meh.

Furthermore, I think you're conflating a few potentially dangerous situations. I think it's highly unlikely that you would go on an internet date with someone who turned out to be a stalker, and who was so creepy that he wanted to stalk you for violent/criminal purposes after a single date. Highly unlikely doesn't even describe it -- it's probably more like getting struck by lightning or winning the lottery.

Your chances of a stalker increase with every date you go on. It's much more likely that someone would stalk you after you dated casually for a few months. You have much more to fear from an ex-boyfriend than you do from someone you went on one date with from the internet.

So... what are you going to do? Never tell anyone where you work on the off chance that you get into a relationship with them, have a big messy breakup, and they come to your workplace?

This just seems like something you're going to have to make peace with and learn to talk about in a way that feels comfortable for you. Not because "oh come on you have nothing to worry about", but because your worry is significantly misplaced and not telling dates what company you work for does nothing to protect you from violence.

I mean, don't tell guys where you work if you don't want to. But don't feel like this quirk has anything much to do with a safety precaution.
posted by Sara C. at 9:52 AM on June 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


floweredfish: If not, would you want to be with someone who gives personal details to strangers online that could potentially endanger them?
I don't think ill of a person for being trusting. Your question implies you prefer people who fear others; that may work for you, but not for all.
posted by IAmBroom at 10:13 AM on June 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


If not, would you want to be with someone who gives personal details to strangers online that could potentially endanger them?

This strikes me as overly alarmist, and I don't think it serves to make anyone safer from danger.

I'd guess that upwards of 90% of people I know have LinkedIn profiles. These aren't unintelligent, naive people unaware of the potential threat of strangers. The vast majority of professionals simply don't consider their place of work to be a "personal detail." It may come across to a lot of people, especially those in professional circles, as a bit odd and cagey if you're vague about your employment.
posted by keep it under cover at 11:44 AM on June 25, 2013


I used to work for a somewhat notorious network TV show. When I was online dating, I'd tell people in person, but not in the messaging phase of things, mostly because I didn't want them to flake and tell their friends, "Oh, I flaked on this chick who is [FAMOUS PERSON'S] assistant, blah blah blah."

But, I have a LinkedIn profile. I have an IMDB page. No one needs to know my ATM pin number, but I never thought it was a big deal to let someone know where I work once I met them. If I'm probably going to have sex with someone in the next couple of dates - that's just how I roll - then they might as well know where I work.

Online dating involves a certain amount of risk and trust. I, frankly, wouldn't trust someone who was so cagey with their personal info. I go home and google every dude I date. I want to make sure the details add up.
posted by ablazingsaddle at 11:51 AM on June 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


"So, what company do you work for?"

"I do programming support for a large website" would be a perfectly acceptable answer to me, and I'd like to think I'd be perceptive enough to catch the hint implied in the indirect answer.
posted by xedrik at 3:09 PM on June 25, 2013


Thanks again for the answers. Just to address a few points:

- I know it's incredibly unlikely that a date would stalk you, but it does happen, and to me, giving out my work address is almost as bad as giving out my home address. Someone can wait outside work for you every day. I know because it has happened to me. I also do not trust receptionists not to give out personal info. I think the combination of a charming stalkerish person + a naive, untrained receptionist could result in my home address being given out. Are all these things unlikely? Of course. But I would like to avoid them.

- I'm not worried about someone coming to my office after we date for awhile and have a messy breakup (I realize my original question sounded that way but I misspoke). I'm worried about someone I went on one date with coming to my office.

- By the time we get to the "what company do you work for" question, we've already gone through the industry, background, type of company, etc etc. This happens to me a lot, and at this point in the conversation I can't answer by saying "oh, it's a big finance company" or whatever because we've already covered that. I guess that's why lying was one of my proposed answers - I realize lying has its own set of problems, but by the time we get to the part of the conversation where I am being directly asked about which company it is, I feel backed into a corner with no way out other than giving them the company name or making something up.

- The fact that it's online dating is certainly a red herring - I would be just as uncomfortable giving this info out to a guy I met at a bar.
posted by whitelily at 6:30 PM on June 25, 2013


By the time we get to the "what company do you work for" question, we've already gone through the industry, background, type of company, etc etc.

In this case, just change the subject when work comes up. You can mention it briefly if they ask, but there's no need to go into detail on a first date. And don't pump them for info about their own job, or they'll expect you to go on about yours next.

(I hate talking about my job, it's a good job, but it's what I do all day and I don't want to talk about it when I'm not there, so I'm trained in the art of topic changes.)
posted by Dynex at 8:56 PM on June 25, 2013


[Comment deleted; OP is talking about conversation on first dates. Jokes or hyperbole about whether she'll ever reveal any information before marriage is not helpful. If anyone thinks this is a nutso concern, please feel free to pass the question by.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 9:02 PM on June 25, 2013


I don't want to shame you for being cautious, but do you expect a greater level of disclosure from guys that you date? Are you comfortable going out with someone a few times and not knowing any of their personal details?

I guess if you're cool not knowing where they work or any specifics on that front, then I suppose those are the standards by which you choose to date and that's up to you. But as I said above, I like to be able to google my dates, for my own safety, and they usually ask for similar details so that they can know that I am who I say I am and not some hipster grifter weirdo girl.

In other words, I feel safer knowing more about my dates. And I give them enough information to feel safe about me.

I think the combination of a charming stalkerish person + a naive, untrained receptionist could result in my home address being given out.

Why would a receptionist even have your home address? I really doubt that anyone at your company who isn't in HR or payroll or isn't your direct assistant has your address. It's worth finding out, but I don't see how someone in main reception would have that info. And, if your company is small enough and you come into contact with these people regularly, it's worth getting to know your support staff and not just assuming that they're idiots.

You can sniff around and figure out who has your personal information. If you work at a big company, there are rules about this stuff and some random switchboard operator isn't going to have your social security number. On my last job, I was one of two people outside human resources who had access to staff home addresses. Just ask around.

I guess that's why lying was one of my proposed answers - I realize lying has its own set of problems, but by the time we get to the part of the conversation where I am being directly asked about which company it is, I feel backed into a corner with no way out other than giving them the company name or making something up.

Just maintain your boundaries and change the subject. I'd think that you're overly paranoid and cautious, but hey! We're not dating. Being honest about your boundaries will help you find someone who respects your boundaries. If a guy can't hang with that, he's not the guy for you.
posted by ablazingsaddle at 12:32 AM on June 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'd just say something like, "you know, I really don't want to talk about work; I spend way too much time thinking about it as it is. Let's talk about something fun, like [DIFFERENT TOPIC]."
posted by taz at 1:37 AM on June 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


By the time we get to the "what company do you work for" question, we've already gone through the industry, background, type of company, etc etc.

Change the topic away from work before things get to that point, that's a lot of work discussion for a first date and most people won't return to it.

I'm guessing you might have some sort of job that sounds very interesting to people, make it sound a bit more boring for dates, or say something about how people always think it's a fun job but at the end of the day it's still work and you'd rather not focus on it.

If you are concerned about your home address being given out, it could just as well be given out to a stalker who saw you going into work one day. Get a post office box.
posted by yohko at 1:59 AM on June 26, 2013


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