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Parallax - Advice            January 15, 2001



  Boss or friend or lover?

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I am a children's legal advocate for an Indian tribe. I was involved with the person who hired me (he was the Administrator) and it's against the rules to date someone you're working with (I didn't know when I accepted the job). Since then, he has resigned and we are no longer together. Now that he's been gone for a few months, people are starting to see that I got the job on my own merit, not because I was the 'boss's girlfriend.' But I have a new dilemma. I find that I am falling in love with a member of the tribe, who works very closely under me. He's fifty-two and I'm fifty. I know I should forget about him, but I can't. He's able to ignore it - he seems to have a big wall around him and never even lets me get close enough to him to explain that we could be good friends (maybe kiss and hug sometimes, but not be sexually involved). I know he's attracted to me because he started to come on to me a few months ago, but we both backed off when we realized an attraction was developing. He hasn't been in a relationship in years. I see him as a 'diamond in the rough,' and I know I could help him achieve his goals as a tribal leader, but I feel that I need to get closer to him to fully help him. I've had lots of relationships and finally don't feel like I need a man, but I can't stop thinking about him! Do you have any advice for me?

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Her view:

Dear Boss,

The old 'office romance' dilemma. I'm sure you're wondering if all of this can be managed surreptitiously so there are no work implications and you get to give 'diamond in the rough' a whirl, all consequence-free. This is true, if you only date for a short time and move on quickly. The longer you date, the greater the chances of getting caught. So I recommend secret dating for a short time - time enough to decide if you're onto something.

If, as you suspect, things go well with your 'diamond,' you will want to continue dating. Eventually somebody from your office will find out, and things might get ugly (as you well know).

Frankly, it all comes down to how much you like him. I believe that banning office dating is ridiculous. People spend the majority of their time at work, so in what setting are they most likely to meet a suitor? If, after a small pilot of secret trysts, you decide he has potential, then date him. Life is too short to worry about what others in the office believe.

Speak with whomever is in charge and figure out what needs to be done (different functions or departments or whatever will work). If there's no resolution from your office, you'll have to choose. But by that point you'll have your answer.

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His view:

Dear Boss,

I think this poor fellow is rather scared of you. If he has any inkling of how you have over-analyzed him and his life, he's probably avoiding a relationship with you.

Perhaps I am only projecting my own insecurities, but I'd have a difficult time being in a relationship with my boss. Maybe he doesn't think he can go from being your underling from nine-to-five, to being your lover (on a more equal footing) after dark. It could also be a social thing - he may not want people to see him romantically involved with the woman he works for.

His instincts were right when he originally backed off. He probably didn't want to jeopardize the benefits of working and learning from you by getting into a relationship.

You may still want to try getting closer to him to explain what you'd like in a relationship with him. But if you ask me, being friends (and kissing and hugging) doesn't sound like a great deal either...

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