Male co-worker asked me to hang out with him and his girlfriend..
May 29, 2014 4:45 AM   Subscribe

I have been sharing an office with a guy for the last month. We spend 40 hours a week sitting next to each other. Now he asked me to have a day trip with him and his gf on the weekend (just 3 of us). Weird or perfectly fine?

I am a single female and roughly the same age as my co-worker and his gf. I get along really well with him and we are constantly together at work. Lunches/coffees and chatting. We are not flirting so there is really no that vibe...but....

I am more insecure and jelaous than an average person. I know that if I was his gf, I wouldn't be too happy to have a female co-worker hanging out with us in our private time when they already spend so much time together. Maybe I am just different and this is a perfectly normal thing.

I think that it's a good sign that he is including gf in our friendship as in, he is not being shady. Still, I don't want to walk into a situation that will cause me drama and stress in the future. I have been trying to simplify my life and keep it drama free. However, he is quite persistant with his invite to the point that I don't know what to say. It doesn't help that I am on the fence if I actually WANT to go or not.

posted by sabina_r to Human Relations (37 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
If you aren't comfortable with it then don't do it. Maybe inviting THEM to a larger group event (so that it isn't just the three of you) sometime in the future is the way to go.
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 4:50 AM on May 29, 2014 [5 favorites]

I think inviting your officemate on a day trip with your girlfriend is a perfectly normal thing to do if you think you're becoming friends with said officemate.

Is he being persistent in a way that's weird or does he just want an answer? That's the only thing you've said that seems potentially weird to me.
posted by hoyland at 4:51 AM on May 29, 2014 [22 favorites]

I think it's perfectly normal and in fact commendable. He wants to introduce you to his girlfriend so that she can feel more comfortable about his relationship with you. I think not going would actually introduce more drama to your life, as she may become jealous and suspicious of your relationship.
posted by Rock Steady at 4:52 AM on May 29, 2014 [21 favorites]

Maybe it's so the girlfriend can feel more comfortable about him spending so much time together. Maybe they're interested in a threesome - who knows? If it was me, I would suggest meeting her over coffee instead of forcing a whole day together.
posted by Jubey at 4:55 AM on May 29, 2014 [12 favorites]

I don't know if the situation is sketchy or not, but I probably wouldn't go on a day trip with a co-worker and their significant other - it's just way too long to spend with two people I haven't had previous non-work social contact with. Maybe turn them down for the day trip, but counter with a weekend lunch or coffee? That way you can meet the girlfriend and maybe start developing a friendship without being stuck with them for the whole day.
posted by fussbudget at 4:58 AM on May 29, 2014 [48 favorites]

At first I thought this might be his way of making sure you know he's not available: "Want to come on a day trip with me and MY GIRLFRIEND?" But if he's really insisting, he probably wants his girlfriend to meet you for some reason. Maybe she's insecure about your friendship and he wants to show her it's NBD. Maybe she has a hard time making friends and he thinks you two would hit it off. Maybe he wants her to hear your funny accent. Hard to know.

Since the potential for drama here isn't low, I recommend against getting stuck with these two wild cards on an all day trip if you can help it. Three is an awkward number even when all are friends. Politely decline with an excuse (allergies acting up, elderly aunt is in town, etc.), and offer an alternate threesome hangout, like lunch at a local place you've been wanting to try, so your whole day isn't shot and you're not trapped with them if things do get weird.
posted by milk white peacock at 4:58 AM on May 29, 2014 [2 favorites]

I would want to hang out with the two of them in a way that's less of a commitment first, like at a bar or concert some evening. It's too bad you probably don't have a chance to do that now so you have to say yes or no, because explaining you want to take an intermediate step first would be awkward.

That said, do have some confidence in your ability to enjoy yourself on the trip and be good company/a friend to both of them if that's what's keeping you from going.
posted by michaelh at 4:59 AM on May 29, 2014 [1 favorite]

Unless he's being overly persistent or creepy, I think this is a legitimate invitation. At the same time, you're entirely within your rights to feel uncomfortable. Perhaps a compromise is in order: "I'd like to meet your girlfriend, but I can't spare the time for a whole day trip. Maybe the three of us can get together for dinner nearby instead?"
posted by Faint of Butt at 4:59 AM on May 29, 2014 [14 favorites]

Is it possible that his girlfriend is also looking to be your friend? Have you met her before? If you haven't met her before, it strikes me as maybe a little bit odd to immediately spend a whole day with her. But if you have met, even only in passing, and got along, it's totally possible that this is an offer of a more cemented friendship between you and his girlfriend, and along with it you and your work friend becoming a little closer, too.

I'm a woman who has trouble making casual friends (super intense close friendships are not a problem) and I've definitely used significant others and best friends in this way, trying to get a sort of casual friendship hookup from their contacts. It's worked with varying results.

If it were a sleepover weekend trip thing, that's more of the situation you seem to be describing, taking away alone time between the couple. But if it's just a day trip, that's no weirder than them spending the day with either of their families, for example.

It seems like you don't want to go, though. I think almost all of AskMe will give you permission to say no to any kind of invitation like this, regardless of how much you like the people involved. If I were you, I'd say no thanks, perhaps citing that you're too busy or tired on the weekend, which would nicely lead into making a reciprocal invitation for a much lower commitment of lunch, drinks, or brunch on the next weekend. That would help catch the possibility that the girlfriend wants to make sure you're not a threat to her relationship, and ensure that your work friend knows that you hear him but really can't commit to a whole day off your weekend. A better boundary, probably, and one that can be adjusted if the girlfriend turns out to be delightful.
posted by Mizu at 5:04 AM on May 29, 2014 [1 favorite]

Go, if it's something that sounds like fun to you. Lots of men with wives/girlfriends have good female friends. And lots of women with husbands/boyfriends have good male friends. The girlfriend probably hasn't batted an eye over his friendship with you. When I was a single guy, I used to hang out with my couple friends all the time and it never occurred to me that it might be strange or awkward. What's the problem? As long as he's not crossing any lines with you, this sounds like a normal friendship. I think it's really nice, actually. Most people enjoy sharing places they like with new friends, and most people like going to new places with new friends who've invited them.

That said, you may want to give yourself an out, like, "I have to be back by X time," just to make sure things don't drag on too long. It also gives you an excuse for being tentative up till now. People, even friends, tend to wear on me after a few hours, but that may just be me.
posted by Leatherstocking at 5:11 AM on May 29, 2014 [1 favorite]

Coworker friendships (and romantic relationships) are pretty risky. It can be a great way to make friends--common interests and all. Or it can go terribly wrong and now you have to be civil to this guy every day or get a new job. If you want to avoid drama in your life generally, there's a big potential downside here.

And the day-trip thing strikes me as way too much, too soon, if you've never hung out with this guy or his girlfriend outside of work.

I would just tell him, thanks for the invitation, but I'd prefer to keep our friendship here at work. You could, if you wanted to, make a vague or mysterious reference to some bad experience in the past. Lots of people have this boundary. I wish I'd drawn it with one of my work acquaintances (but on the other hand I married someone I work with, so I am not against taking this risk generally--but there has to be a potential upside to outweigh the downside, and it sounds like you are not really interested in going on this day trip so there really isn't much in it for you).
posted by payoto at 5:13 AM on May 29, 2014 [1 favorite]

Agreeing with others here, it's not necessarily creepy or weird at all - but it does seem like a big commitment of time. If you and the girlfriend hate each other on first sight (not a jealousy thing, just a people-not-clicking thing), everyone's day is ruined. Why not beg off on this but suggest lunch or post-work drinks or something?

Trying to come at this from your coworker's perspective - I have a colleague I really enjoy hanging out with at work. We have some similar interests and a similar sense of humor and he's fun to shoot the breeze with. I also think my partner would get along really well with him - they share a specific and unusual background that I think they'd have fun talking about. I'd love to get the two of them in a room sometime purely because I think they'd really like each other.

It'll probably never happen because I'm a hermit, but in theory if a particular event came up I can see inviting coworker to hang out with my partner and me, and there'd be no more ulterior motive than "Hey, I think you guys should be friends." It's not out of the question that your coworker could have a similar thought process.

But worrying about it is already causing you the stress and drama that you don't want, so dial down the stakes from Full! Day! Of! Fun! to 'dinner', and see if that eases up on the tension for you.
posted by Stacey at 5:13 AM on May 29, 2014

"it's a good sign that he is including gf in our friendship"

Actually, it's the other way round. He is including you in their relationship. His girlfriend might feel uneasy about him spending all his work time with you. So it's time to introduce you to each other.

Go on that day trip. Bring another friend if it would take some pressure off. Have a great time!
posted by travelwithcats at 5:16 AM on May 29, 2014 [3 favorites]

You can totally just say "No thanks" if you don't want to go: you don't even owe him an explanation --- although yeah, sometimes that can make it easier for you to turn him down.

But outside-work friendships with coworkers can be risky; what if one of you were to be fired or promoted to be the other one's boss? If you don't want to go on this trip plus you don't want the awkwardness of rejecting future invitations, make sure you don't leave an opening by saying something like "no thanks, not this weekend": make it simply "no". On the other hand, if you are interested in getting together with them, consider the weekend lunch ideas, and/or bringing a guy of your own to make it a less-awkward quartet.
posted by easily confused at 5:19 AM on May 29, 2014 [1 favorite]

I don't read this as weird at all. It sounds to me like he likes you a lot as a friend, so he wants to introduce you to his girlfriend so that the three of you can all be friends. Completely normal.

Don't overthink and women can be platonic friends. It happens all the time.
posted by barnoley at 5:26 AM on May 29, 2014 [1 favorite]

He wants to introduce you to his girlfriend so that she can feel more comfortable about his relationship with you.

On what basis is that declaration being made?

Anyway, it sounds like he wants to move from being office friends to social friends, including his gf in the friendship. It's not at all hinkey and if you want to go, go.
posted by DarlingBri at 5:37 AM on May 29, 2014 [3 favorites]

My guess is one of three things:

1. His girlfriend has had trouble meeting women to be friends with, and he thinks you'd hit it off.

2. He likes you as a friend and is hoping you hit it off with his girlfriend so you can all hang outside of work

3. They are hoping to persuade you to join them in a threesome.

Numbers 1 & 2, there should not be an issue if you don't hit it off with the girlfriend. You tell them it was lovely to meet her and if future invites are issued you are just "too busy."

I think #3 is a more remote possibility, but come prepared with an answer just in case.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 5:42 AM on May 29, 2014 [6 favorites]

My boyfriend was in a similar situation. This girl from work wanted to hang out with him all the time. She didn't seem to want me there, although she knew he had a girlfriend (me) and she had a boyfriend. He hung out with her a few times, but made the hang-outs short - always citing plans with me as the reason he couldn't stay. He also only said yes to one out of every four or five invitations, I think. She never hit on him or anything, so I think her real motive was to make friends with him (he is pretty awesome).

I always felt a bit bad because he never enjoyed hanging out with her. He didn't like not including me or her boyfriend and he couldn't figure out her motives. He also didn't have much fun with her, so it was a bit of a chore. After awhile I told him to stop saying yes when she asked him to hang, because it clearly caused him more stress than it was worth - and he didn't even enjoy it! Mostly it was because he didn't like her much - their friendship was one-sided. If he had really liked her company I wouldn't have advised him to stop spending time with her, but at some point I would have wanted to meet her if she seemed like she was an important friend to him.

So, my advice to you is similar: does this sound like something you'd enjoy? If not, it is perfectly ok to say something like "I don't really hang out with coworkers outside of work; sorry" and leave it at that. But if it does sound fun, you can say yes. If you like hanging out with this guy at work, you'll probably like hanging with him and another cool person (his girlfriend) out of work. What about suggesting lunch or coffee? Hanging out once does not mean you'll ever do it again, or that it will even be a regular thing.

Another piece of advice is to pace yourself. If you do have fun, make sure you don't hang out regularly. I generally think that being friends with coworkers is a bad idea for a lot of reasons, so I would advise you not to share too much personal information about yourself, wear clothes that are work-appropriate, and keep the hang-out contained in a specific timeframe. Don't do anything you wouldn't want your boss to know about, especially the first few times you chill together.

If you don't have fun, decline in the future. If you do, continue to keep future hangouts short and easy for th foreseeable future. Good luck.
posted by sockermom at 5:44 AM on May 29, 2014

My gut response is EWW NO, but that's influenced by the fact that I prefer to keep my work friends at work and also I have some kinda grody coworkers. But I am not you and my social life is not yours.

To me, it sounds like an attempt to prove to his girlfriend, or possibly to himself, that you're not a threat to their relationship. I know that's a cynical interpretation and not necessarily the correct one, but it's the one that jumped out at me.

Anyway, if you have to ask, it's best to decline, especially since you're not enthusiastic about the outing itself. Propose an alternate get-together that's lower-key and easier to duck out of if it turns out your friendship isn't transitive. Tapas after work on a weekday or something of that nature.
posted by Metroid Baby at 6:02 AM on May 29, 2014 [2 favorites]

My guess is he's talked about you to his girlfriend, and the girlfriend isn't comfortable with him spending so much time with (you and) other women at work, so this is a legitimate invitation to show his girlfriend that you're not a threat.

That is, however, solely based on my dating experience. Maybe he also thinks that you and his girlfriend would hit it off as friends.

I'd say go, if it sounds like something you'd like to do.
posted by tckma at 6:04 AM on May 29, 2014

If this dude were me, I would be all "oh hey, I would like to be real-friends with Sabina - and it might be weird to ask her somewhere if she didn't meet my girlfriend". A day trip is a lot, I know, but when I was in school, "let's go on a day trip, chatty friend!" would be a totally reasonable thing. If this guy is used to making friends in a road-trip/all-day-hangout way, this just may be how he rolls. I'd probably do the whole "Oh, I'm not free all day on [weekends/this month/the 14th], but what about dinner" thing.

Another possibility: I know plenty of straight guys who quite genuinely just have women friends, nothing sketchy about it.
posted by Frowner at 6:19 AM on May 29, 2014 [2 favorites]

Yeah, sometimes there's weird stuff, but it seems much less sketchy to me that a guy you are becoming friends with would prefer that you were friends with both him and his girlfriend as a couple. Lots of single people are friends with couples, lots of couples have single female friends. It has an entirely different connotation than "guy has female friend who is not also friends with his significant other". Not that the latter can't also be totally innocent, but just in terms of some parties maybe not being okay with that.
posted by Sequence at 6:38 AM on May 29, 2014

I guess partly I feel depressed when hanging out with couples. Always like a third wheel and unless I know them really well, it's awkward (for me). I have never met his girlfriend and somehow my gut feeling is that I don't want to go.

Initially he just mentioned that we should all hang out. I changed the topic. Then he invited me at particular day to a particular place (that's quite far and involves a 2 hour drive one way and while there are no overnights, it's still a whole day). It IS nice of them as they also offered to pick me up. Again, I was non-commital saying things like it might rain and changing the topic. He brought it up again and tried to nail down the time to pick me up. I still haven't committed and am vague.

He also invited me to a concert few weeks away where his gf will be and few other co-workers. That, I have no problem with. It's just an overkill to spend a whole day with them privately when I don't know her at all and don't even know him well. Concert is enough.
posted by sabina_r at 6:50 AM on May 29, 2014 [1 favorite]

Yeah, I think the concert is enough! Also, probably once you've met the girlfriend, either you and she will hit it off and hanging out will seem fun or it will seem much more natural to transition to "hey work friend, let's grab pizza after work before we head hom". I have a friend whose partner situation does not permit extended hangouts and we tend to meet up for coffee or a simple meal right after work and keep it short - we have an outside-work friendship, but we don't spend time socializing with each others' partners.
posted by Frowner at 6:59 AM on May 29, 2014 [4 favorites]

Listen to your gut! It's ok to not want to do things and to say "no thanks, that doesn't sound like my kind of thing, I'm sorry to say - but I'm looking forward to going to the concert with you!" You can also make up an excuse if that feels easier, but in my experience being honest - that it just doesn't sound like your thing - is preferable because that way they won't keep inviting you to similar events that you'll end up wanting to decline.

In this situation I'd probably tell him "something came up" because you've already made it unclear and saying now that it's not your type of thing might come off a bit odd, but in the future that would be my advice. Adults do not get their feelings hurt when their friends don't like all the same things that they do and as long as you're respectful and nice about it - and offer an alternative - it usually goes very well.
posted by sockermom at 7:11 AM on May 29, 2014 [1 favorite]

Sounds like he's just being nice. I agree a whole day is a long time to spend with someone you don't see outside the office and someone you've never met before. Some poeple are really social like that, some aren't.

If you are up for it, maybe you could decline the day trip but counter with dinner or a movie?
posted by spaltavian at 7:27 AM on May 29, 2014

Gosh, I love meeting new people and if I were getting along with you at work, and thought you were cool, I'd invite you to stuff to get to know my crew.

Propose drinks or dinner after work, or coffee or brunch on the weekend. If you want something with a hard stop after it.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 7:31 AM on May 29, 2014 [1 favorite]

Yeah, I'm someone who can take a while to feel socially at ease with people, so spending a whole day with someone I only know in a work context + someone I just met could be overwhelming for me as an introvert. I think that would be the case for me regardless of the couple/3rd wheel factor; if it were coworker + platonic friend I'd feel similarly. You might be the same way.

As to the 3rd wheel factor, I get that but obviously if they wanted it to be a romantic getaway they wouldn't have invited you. So I wouldn't worry about that part. But if you're just not thrilled about the day trip, it's fine to decline. The concert sounds like a more gradual way to transition from work friends to outside-of-work friends.
posted by Asparagus at 8:22 AM on May 29, 2014

One thing I'd like to add is that others have said to say you might be busy part of the day. I've found in life trying to mask preferences by saying you're "busy" might diffuse the situation in the short run, but often doesn't solve your issue in the long-run. I used to say that a lot when I was younger, and felt guilty for ever turning people down.

But now I'm not ashamed to say "Oh wow that's a long day trip! You know personally I really really like having weekends to just kinda chill and recharge, I'm just an introverted guy. But maybe we can all go out for brunch? (or maybe we can just get lunch today at work?)." And you know what? He might feel a little hurt, I don't know him. Perhaps he might feel a little rejected. But that's just life, we can't be responsible for every single persons feelings and emotions. Apologize in life when you feel culpable, but don't ever apologize or feel guilty for not wanting to spend the day with a coworker.

PS: I have invited female friends to hang out with me and my girlfriend before (usually just to go get FroYo down the street though). It is often fun for everyone, and there are no sexual tensions at all. I would think the right person would be fun for a day-trip too, but who knows.
posted by jjmoney at 8:28 AM on May 29, 2014 [1 favorite]

He may talk about you a lot and his girlfriend suggested you be invited so she could meet you. If she decides you two are too close, don't be surprised if he backs off at work. Though doing something like this seems a bit much for that - usually that kind of thing would be lunch or dinner or something else one-time, easily escapable.

Or, they are interested in a threesome. I got this approach until I was no longer single. A whole day to work up to this question is a very long, awkward day for everyone, especially when they are your ride home.

It sounds most like they thought you'd like to go so they invited you. If you don't want to go, just say you're not available but are looking forward to the other thing.

Also, if you are an introvert, it's safe to trust your gut and skip it. You are unlikely to regret not going, especially if there is this other thing to go to that feels more comfortable.
posted by AllieTessKipp at 8:46 AM on May 29, 2014

FYI yes, I am a hard core introvert. I always get asked what I did over the weekend and I always do solitary activities. People just don't seem to get that there are some of us that enjoy spending time alone. Especially after a long week, I need a weekend on my own to recharge.

People also tend to assume that nobody would be alone by choice.
posted by sabina_r at 8:52 AM on May 29, 2014 [5 favorites]

Listen to your gut feelings: you don't want to go on the day trip (which is a totally fine, legitimate preference) and you are interested in the concert (also a totally fine, legitimate preference). Frankly, under the same circumstances this is exactly how I would feel, and I'm not even a hardcore introvert.

So, you've listened to your gut. Now you have to communicate your decision clearly with your coworker (otherwise you are moving the burden on him to correctly read your mind, which neither he nor anyone else can do).

People also tend to assume that nobody would be alone by choice.

Maybe so. But it's actually irrelevant to solving the immediate problem in front of you. Regardless of any assumptions others might be making (and note that you may simply be assuming their assumptions!), he's almost certainly not being persistent to try to convert you to the extrovert's way of life -- he's being persistent because he just needs an answer, and you haven't actually given him one.

In other words, it's a logistical question, not a personal one.
posted by scody at 9:08 AM on May 29, 2014 [1 favorite]

(Whoops, accidentally deleted:) So you just need to give him a clear, simple answer. Something like "hey, I can't make it for the day trip, but thanks for inviting me. I'm really looking forward to the concert." That's all.
posted by scody at 9:11 AM on May 29, 2014

I have some male coworkers who I hang out with a lot at work, and if one of them invited me along to do something with him and his GF I wouldn't be uncomfortable, provided it was something I wanted to do.

That said it sounds like you maybe just don't want to go spend all day with them, which is totally fine. Maybe propose an alternate shorter activity.
posted by radioamy at 9:34 AM on May 29, 2014

It's normal for a guy to want to introduce a female friend to his girlfriend. Personally, I wouldn't want my first contact to happen on a day trip -- it's too much damn time. I'd prefer having lunch or dinner together because people would get to talk for a while and then go home and decide if they want to spend more time together. A concert it fine if there's going to be an opportunity to converse before or after.

It's possible that this couple prefers activities to just sitting and talking. That's not unusual, and you can join in if you want to. But you don't have to.

You can say, "Thanks for inviting me. You know I spend a lot of time by myself -- a whole afternoon/day with a new person is a lot for me. How about if we do __________ on (some particular day).
posted by wryly at 10:47 AM on May 29, 2014

It's totally fine if you don't want to hang out with them. Absolutely 100% OK, but you have to let him know that, otherwise he'll just think you're being weirdly coy or a flake.

As for whether the invitation is weird, I think it really depends on what kind of vibe there is. I'm in an obnoxiously healthy and committed relationship, and we have frequently hung out with single friends, just the three of us. It's never seemed weird or like anyone is a third wheel. That said, I've also been the single person invited to hang out with couples before, and most of the time it was totally and utterly benign, but a few instances were horrendously awkward. Like the time I met up with a girl I'd never met and her boyfriend who, it eventually came to light, wanted to jump my bones, and somehow thought his girlfriend would give her blessing if we just hung out and she saw what a cool person I was. She didn't, to my immense relief.

Personally, I think the main issue is that it's hard to make friends sometimes. When I meet someone cool, sometimes my first impulse is to share them with my husband or other friends (but not in a creepy, sexual way!) Friendship isn't actually transitive, but cool people often hang out with other cool people, so sometimes it works out. Whether you want to spend time with them is a totally different matter.
posted by Diagonalize at 5:46 PM on May 29, 2014

I think it sounds great! Maybe he's being a little insistent because his girlfriend really wants some friends and he thinks you two would click.

I met a couple recently and they're super awesome. The guy contacts me a little more than the lady to initiate social things (I'm a single lady, too), but I think that's because he's more of the social-organizer half of the relationship.

You won't really know if it's a 100% weirdness vibe until you hang out with them. I understand if a whole day is daunting, as I'm also a pretty hardcore loner. Why not invite them both to after work dinner & drinks so you can meet her, then decide if a day trip or something with them is right for you.

(They might also be swingers or something. I get hit on by couples a lot for some reason, more so than by single guys. But, I've found that since most swingers are of the super laid-back open-minded type, they're just as cool with you if you're not a swinger.)
posted by mibo at 7:01 PM on May 29, 2014

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