I got the job that my boyfriend also wanted and I feel bad!
November 28, 2017 8:15 PM   Subscribe

A couple of months ago I posted here about hating my job. Well.. I found an amazing job since then, but it’s a position both my boyfriend and I applied for and I got it over him. I can’t stop feeling guilty and bad about it and I keep worrying about what it might do to our relationship!

So this goes back to the summer, when I was working a high-paying soul sucking 9-5 at a place I absolutely hated. I was anxious and irritable a lot and would cry in between breaks at work all the time. I felt useless and hated the industry and all of management and didn’t feel like I got along with any of my coworkers. My boyfriend of 1+ year knew how unhappy I was and kept urging me to quit. He was, and still is, incredibly supportive and always tells me he just wants me to be happy!

He works in retail and makes minimum wage, and while he doesn’t completely hate it, it’s also not what he wants to do with his life work-wise. He complains about it here and there but gets along with his coworkers well and enjoys the things he’s learned at his workplace, and even involves me in them! He works in an artsy environment such it’s lots of fun when he brings that knowledge home and we create things together. I can also tell he’s happier there than at his old job that he quit last year.

Now, the job we both applied for: in the summer, when I was dying to quit my job, I came across a posting for what I would call a dream job (it’s the job I do now!) and I got really excited about it. I immediately told my boyfriend and he told me to go for it, that I’d be great at it and that he knows it would make me happier! I was so excited that I was too scared to apply for weeks because I wanted my application to be perfect, and while I kept putting it off, I knew that I’d regret it if I didn’t at least try.

It’s impoetant to note that this job is in an industry that my boyfriend wants to work in. He’s never explicitly pursued jobs in the field since he’s been in retail for over 10 years, but I know it’s something he’d like to do since it’s a hobby he’s very invested in and what expressed interest in working in places like that in the past.

I, on the other hand, don’t have any experience in that field and never really dreamed of working in it despite sharing his hobby and love for it, so when I found the job posting I was excited but didn’t ever think I’d make it in, so I wasn’t 100% putting all my hope into because I didn’t want to disappoint myself too much if I didn’t hear back.

Anyway, I slowly worked on an application but kept putting it off due to a mix of fear/low self-esteem and not having enough time. I wanted it to be perfect because I didn’t wanna mess up my chance but at the same time I had zero belief that I’d even get an interview.

Fast forward to September, the job posting is still up and I still hadn’t applied for it. One night my boyfriend was complaining about work during pillow talk and I told him he should apply for the job! He was surprised and hesitant since I had found the posting and he knew I really wanted it, but I kept urging him to do it out of excitement and happiness for him. At that point I was SO thrilled by the idea of him getting the job because in my mind HE seemed like a perfect fit for it, and I love him, so I dreamed up this picture of him getting the job and forgot about what I wanted. I probably shouldn’t have done that, but we were having a great time and he was feeling down about work. I also felt like the job description fit him to a T, especially since he’s genuinely passionate about the field of work. I completely had it in my mind that they’d pick him over me any day and I told myself I’d find something else while still planning on applying too.

After talking about it and because I still hated my job, we agreed we’d both apply. It was weird. We kept urging each other to apply, and I guess I encouraged him to the point where he thought I wasn’t as serious about applying anymore? I don’t know but we somehow BOTH got interviewed on the same day, and they had us complete a little project as a final step. We didn’t realize it at first but we were directly competing against one another at that point. Even during our applicatione, we got into a little spat because I felt like he’d “stolen” one of my creative ideas on the application without telling me, whereas he felt like we were a team and that it was okay to borrow since I kept encouraging him to apply. Never in a million years did I think that we’d be up against each other like that! I didn’t even think they’d consider me! But they did and I ended up getting the job over him.

It’s been a little over a month now and while I do love the job, I can’t help but feel incredibly gross and guilty for getting it over him. I feel like I’m rubbing it in his face whenever I tell him about my day even though he keeps telling me he’s happy for me and that I deserved it and earned it over him! There’s a dog at work that looks exactly like his dog that passed away a few years ago. There are thinfs at work that make me think of him all the time, and to be fair a lot of what I know about that job I learned while dating him since he introduced me more to the hobby we both share and that makes up an important part of the job. Whenever the topic of why I got picked came up, I kept coming up with reasons like “maybe it’s because they wanted to hire a girl” or “maybe it’s because you wore a suit to the interview and it’s a casual environment” but he keeps telling me I earned it because I did a better job than him, and that they genuinely liked me more.

For some reason I can’t accept him saying that he’s happy for me and I worry that he’ll grow to resent me or that he secretly hates me for it. I know he really wanted it and I feel like I took away his chance at working in an industry he loves, and I also feel like I “leeched” off him all the things I know about that field just by being his girlfriend and having him share things with me. I know I did earn it, but I feel gross. Every day when my coworkers talk about things I picture him there instead of me, getting along with them and I feel like a terrible girlfriend. Simultaneously though, I feel insecure and almost relieved that I’m there and he’s not because sometimes my male coworkers (my workplace is 90% men) talk about “hot actresses” and make cringey comments like that and I know that’s something that made me feel really insecure about my boyfriend’s old job (my first post on Meta is about that) and that relief actually makes me feel like a terrible person and girlfriend!

The reason I thought to write this post is that we got into a fight about my work the other day because I had made a mistake at work and was feeling down and I kept saying “you should’ve gotten over me” and he got really pissed. He felt like me saying that was rubbing it in his face that he didn’t get it when I felt like I meant it more as a compliment. He kept telling me to stop saying that and I felt like I really hurt him, and I worry that this sort of thing is his resentment creeping out.

Is this something I should even worry about or should I believe him when he tells me he’s happy for me since his actions don’t really show otherwise? Should I try to talk to him about it? And if so, how do I do it without hurting him again?
posted by hexenkunst to Human Relations (22 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
Take him at his word and don't bring up his not getting the job again. This is harder for him than for you, so be thoughtful and discreet.

Time will fade it into the background and it won't be a big deal eventually. He'll find a job he loves, or something else will change, and this won't be an issue anymore. For now, stop poking at it.
posted by fingersandtoes at 8:24 PM on November 28, 2017 [20 favorites]


"... but he keeps telling me I earned it because I did a better job than him, and that they genuinely liked me more."
Listen to him. He is telling you something.
They did not hire him because they did not want him. Case closed.
This is not the only industry he can work in, or the only company that has openings in his field of interest. When he is ready, he will apply for one of their jobs. Or not.

Spend more time having his back about his career decisions. Sabotaging your success will not make a strong secure man happy.
Sit down with him (pinky swear, for the last time), tell him you are now officially off the guilt trip, and from now on when you have a good day, you would like to share it with him (if he is okay with it) without feeling that you are rubbing it in his face. Because yeah, you really are not letting this go.
And who knows? Some day you may even work together. You already know he has good taste.
posted by TrishaU at 8:31 PM on November 28, 2017 [7 favorites]


I kept saying “you should’ve gotten over me” and he got really pissed. He felt like me saying that was rubbing it in his face that he didn’t get it when I felt like I meant it more as a compliment. He kept telling me to stop saying that and I felt like I really hurt him, and I worry that this sort of thing is his resentment creeping out.

I think you should listen to him. When you don't get a job you want, you have to move on and you can't dwell on it. Well, it sounds like you are forcing him to dwell on it and not letting him move on. Can you think of another circumstance where it would be ok to constantly remind someone he didn't get a job he wanted or remind him that someone you felt was less qualified got a job over him? No, so you shouldn't do it in this situation either. Lay off and stop reminding him of it.

As for your "guilt," this just sounds like imposter syndrome to me. Lots of people go through it and, maybe I am painting with a broad brush, but I think women especially get saddled with this because of the latent sexism of hiring and firing. Your boyfriend might know more about this field than you, but as you say, he's been in retail for 10 years and, based on your previous question, you graduated college recently and went for it. The employer saw something about you they liked and they feel you can do a good job. Instead of saddling yourself with this imposter syndrome -- this notion that they will soon find out their mistake -- why don't you trust they know what they are doing and commit yourself to proving them right in hiring you?

There will be other jobs for your boyfriend, and maybe you can help him with his application, but you don't owe him this job. This job isn't the only good job that's ever going to be available. Hopefully your new job will inspire your boyfriend to start looking for dream jobs of his own, since you're the one who found this posting and took the initiative to go for it.
posted by AppleTurnover at 8:49 PM on November 28, 2017 [24 favorites]


The reason I thought to write this post is that we got into a fight about my work the other day because I had made a mistake at work and was feeling down and I kept saying “you should’ve gotten over me” and he got really pissed.

This would make me angry too, to be honest. You applied for your job, you got it, you like it. He applied for it and didn't get it. He's been great about that, from your description. But you describe yourself as continuing to test him about it. I think it's okay to talk about your day, but you stop making your self-defeating feelings about your own success his problem.

He's telling you not to worry about it. I think you owe it to him to take him at his word.
posted by frumiousb at 8:51 PM on November 28, 2017 [29 favorites]


You are turning to your boyfriend for comfort when you really shouldn't be. It is unfair to him. If you need to process your guilt over getting the job then talk to someone - anyone - else. At this point, you constantly bringing it up really sounds like you are rubbing his face in it, which is really unhealthy in a relationship.

Moving forward, keep your ears open for opportunities he can apply for, give him any insider knowledge you have, and DON'T apply for the same job as him. That was unfair to suggest a competition between you when you turned out to be a sore winner. Now you both now that about yourself, don't set yourselves up to fail again.
posted by saucysault at 8:55 PM on November 28, 2017 [32 favorites]


You feel like you leeched off him, but he stole one of your ideas for his application? What’s going on here, why do you have him up so high above you?
posted by kapers at 8:56 PM on November 28, 2017 [25 favorites]


And yeah, stop putting him in the position of making you feel better about winning. Whatever else is going on, that gets real old real fast.
posted by kapers at 8:59 PM on November 28, 2017 [6 favorites]


You got the job because you were the best person for it. Your boyfriend understands that too. It's not unfair that you got it, but it is unfair that you just won't accept that he's happy for you and you won't leave it alone because you feel guilty. These feelings are yours to deal with. He's been very graceful in defeat, don't make him manage your emotions about this too.
posted by Jubey at 9:00 PM on November 28, 2017 [5 favorites]


You earned it. You deserve it. This doesn't mean that he didn't deserve it, it's just that you deserved it more. He says he's happy for you. And he wants you to stop apologising. So believe him. Move on. Everything is great. Take the win.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 9:17 PM on November 28, 2017


Whenever the topic of why I got picked came up, I kept coming up with reasons like “maybe it’s because they wanted to hire a girl” or “maybe it’s because you wore a suit to the interview and it’s a casual environment” but he keeps telling me I earned it because I did a better job than him, and that they genuinely liked me more.

Stop making him soothe you, he'll been telling you how crappy it makes him feel. (And that sideswipe at women isn't cool either.)

I worry that this sort of thing is his resentment creeping out

If he's being truthful, any resentment is because you're not letting the subject drop, not that you got the job.

And I'm at a loss why you thought he'd get the job over you in the first place. You applied for a position where you had more of the actual work experience the company wanted, which was beyond the genuine enthusiasm of a hobbyist who's spent the last ten years in a retail environment. And I'm with kapers, what was that about using your idea in the demonstration portion of the interview process?

Let things cool off, and then be supportive of whatever strides he makes in getting looks-good-on-a-resume experience in this field he loves. It's great that you encouraged one another, just never do it again in pursuit of the exact same goal.
posted by Iris Gambol at 9:33 PM on November 28, 2017 [9 favorites]


Datapoint: when I was just getting into the workforce, I “took” a job from a guy. Like, he had the job and management pushed him out of it to offer it to me. I was better at the job than he had been (though sometimes the team missed his much better penmanship). Still, I sometimes felt guilty that a nice guy got sacked just so I could move up the ladder. And I didn’t just beat him at hiring time — again, I unwittingly took the job right out from under him.

After two years of running into each other at parties, then three years of dating plus eleven years of marriage, he seems to be taking it more or less in stride.

My secret: only saying once or twice, “LOL, I feel bad!” and then moving forward by celebrating my accomplishments and encouraging him in his own pursuits.

His secret: Admitting with a wry smile that I deserved it more, encouraging me in my pursuits, and getting more resilient with time as he found his own path.

Your secret for work success: never again assuming or implying that your male competitors are innately better qualified or more deserving than you, especially when their resumes suggest otherwise. Even if you love them.

Your (and your boyfriend’s) secret for relationship success: being gracious winners/losers, and expecting the same...because as time goes on, you’ll take turns succeeding and failing at various things, and you should hold each other’s victories as dearly as your own. (And yes, resist the urge to reopen each other’s battle wounds instead of tending them.)
posted by armeowda at 12:17 AM on November 29, 2017 [28 favorites]


we got into a fight about my work the other day because I had made a mistake at work and was feeling down and I kept saying “you should’ve gotten over me”

I know it's not intentional, but this is you making him do emotional labor to help you feel better about him potentially feeling bad.
posted by trig at 12:54 AM on November 29, 2017 [34 favorites]


A lot of excellent responses above. Time will help a lot, and this is one of those few instances where I think it is far better to dance around the topic with your SO for a while rather than continuing to excavate your issues with him. I would add that if you don't have a really supportive friend or relative to talk with about your feelings re: the job search, the AskMe standby of finding a counselor for some very short-term discussion might not be a terrible idea -- you have a wall o' text going on, and it might be helpful to both talk to someone outside the relationship about it and perhaps get some feedback on how you're feeling about and handling it, both professionally and personally.

More potentially helpful anecdata: my boyfriend and I were in the same field, and through use of the same recruiter, I once wound up getting a position for which we had both applied and been brought in for interviews--and he objectively has much more impressive credentials than I do. Five years, multiple job shuffles, and one wedding ceremony later, it took a moment when I was reading your Ask to go, "oh, wait, remember when that happened to us?"
posted by LadyInWaiting at 2:15 AM on November 29, 2017 [2 favorites]


I feel like I’m rubbing it in his face whenever I tell him about my day
Whenever the topic of why I got picked came up
For some reason I can’t accept him saying that he’s happy for me
I worry that he’ll grow to resent me or that he secretly hates me for it
I picture him there instead of me
I kept saying “you should’ve gotten over me”
I worry that this sort of thing is his resentment creeping out.

If there's a problem here, it's a problem you are making by incessantly dwelling on that You Got The Job Over Him. Sure, you're not saying "ha ha I got the job" all the time, but still: (1) you're making him constantly do emotional labour to reassure you that he's fine with you having gotten it; (2) you're always reminding him that you got it and he didn't; and (3) you don't believe his reassurances -- what else could he say or do that would work? nothing as far as I can tell.

He felt like me saying that was rubbing it in his face

You ARE rubbing it in his face. Every time you talk about this, you're rubbing it in his face. JUST STOP.

Think about it this way. Suppose your sister won the lottery; you didn't. Every time your sister comes over, she says "Oh my god I feel so SO bad that I won the lottery! You have so many debts! You needed it more!" She cries in front of you at the unfairness of it all. Every time she buys something new she says it's not fair that you too cannot own New Thing. She complains about all the stress associated with being a lottery winner: the tax burden, how you don't know who is "really" your friend, and so forth.

Now, even if you started off being genuinely happy for her, would this behaviour not DRIVE YOU NUTS? Do you see how it would be unfair of her to not only make you deal with whatever feelings you have about her win, but ALSO have to deal with assuaging her feelings about the win?

So. This is what you need to do. Stop talking about the fact that you got the job and he didn't. Don't stop talking about the job: it's part of your life. But any topic that even approaches the competition or your feelings about getting the job or your fears about him getting resentful about you getting the job -- do not lay any of that on your boyfriend. If you genuinely can't get over this, seek out therapy or a different trusted friend. (In fact, therapy for dealing with these imposter-y feelings might not be a bad idea in general).

I'm not trying to be harsh but I see you digging your own hole and you need to put that shovel down right now before you are in too deep.
posted by forza at 2:26 AM on November 29, 2017 [21 favorites]


What's with the wall of text? If you were my girlfriend and got a job over me, I'd be happy for you. If you kept rehashing your guilt, I'd seriously consider dumping you because it's demeaning to do that, and not compassionate at all.

And the subtext is not even pleasant to hear (and i'm a man saying that): that he the man should have gotten it instead of you the woman

Not getting a job offer is not the end of the world and there's no reason to be angry of depressed about it. He told you as much. Listen to him.
posted by Kwadeng at 3:44 AM on November 29, 2017 [4 favorites]


Simultaneously though, I feel insecure and almost relieved that I’m there and he’s not because sometimes my male coworkers (my workplace is 90% men) talk about “hot actresses” and make cringey comments like that and I know that’s something that made me feel really insecure about my boyfriend’s old job (my first post on Meta is about that) and that relief actually makes me feel like a terrible person and girlfriend!

This makes me sad. This is literally the only thing you've said that indicates you think you should be there instead of him. (Not your superior ideas which he cribbed, not your successful interview, not your better job experience...) Just the fact that you're what, protecting him from gross bros? Protecting yourself from the idea that your bf could be a gross bro? I can't say I quite understand it but I am sensing some other issues here.
posted by kapers at 6:58 AM on November 29, 2017 [3 favorites]


Why are you assuming your boyfriend would have got the job if you hadn't?

Relax. He's telling you he's OK with it and he most likely is. Just because he's head is OK with it doesn't mean he isn't a bit envious. Doesn't mean he's not happy for you, it's possible for him to have more than one emotion over the issue. If he's telling you he's OK then trust he's an adult & believe him. Maybe say something along the lines of I know it sucks a bit for you that you didn't' get it so tell me if I go on too much. Use your words, stop guessing what your boyfriend thinks & feels and ask him, then use your words to tell him how you're feeling. Then believe what he says & stop second guessing him.
posted by wwax at 7:24 AM on November 29, 2017 [1 favorite]


Unless I'm missing something, I think you should stop framing this as you getting a job your boyfriend really wanted. It sounds like you're the one who got wrapped up in the idea of him getting the job, and he would not be that upset about not getting it, except that you keep bringing up the fact that you got it and he didn't. I think you should stop asking him to reassure you and take him at his word that he's happy for you and it's okay.
posted by ferret branca at 7:40 AM on November 29, 2017 [2 favorites]


You are ideally placed to get your boyfriend a job there in the future. This is better than neither of you getting the job.
posted by w0mbat at 9:59 AM on November 29, 2017 [4 favorites]


+1 to what everyone is saying about making him do emotional labor for both of you. I understand the guilty feelings about turning his hobby into a job, but cut out obsessing over it at him.

It might help if you can reframe this. It seems like you’re seeing this job opportunity as a one of a kind, zero sum opportunity— two men enter, only one leaves, you got the amazing job, now there will be no job for boyfriend ever. But that is not how networking in creative industries works at all! You were ultimately the stronger candidate, but your boyfriend was at a pretty competitive level of the interview process. You are now in a great place to find and recommend him to openings in this industry if it’s a professional path he wants to pursue.
posted by moonlight on vermont at 10:06 AM on November 29, 2017 [2 favorites]


Stop talking about this with him and accept that he is happy for you. If you need to process your feelings about getting it over him, please find someone else to do that with.

Look at the comment Kapers posted above. Why is learning from conversations with him about this field "leeching?" Why do you think of him as being better or more deserving than you? Why is it unfair that you learn from discussing stuff with him, why don't you consider that a valid way to acquire knowledge about your field or develop skills? Weird.

In the future you are well placed to help him get a job in your company or in the industry at large. Stop feeling guilty and focus on being professional and effective at work!
posted by zdravo at 11:25 AM on November 29, 2017 [1 favorite]


Change the story from “I took the job away from him” to “before we both had jobs we hated, now one of us doesn’t. This is a win for team us. Now I can look for ways to help him find something better.”
posted by bunderful at 11:45 AM on November 29, 2017 [2 favorites]


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