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Parallax - Advice

November 26, 2001

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Oscar Wilde wrote, 'Between men and women there is no friendship possible. There is passion, enmity, worship, love, but no friendship.' This week, our letter writers lend credence to Wilde's theories, with their personal tales of failed office romance, mismatched love, and unwelcome advances. Our 'counsellors d'amour' offer some friendly advice.

From office vamps...
To cubicle cramps.
 Date: 11/26/01

Blinded by love?
Seeing is believing.
 Date: 11/26/01

He wants more.
She wants sympathy.
 Date: 11/26/01

More from last week...

From office vamps...

Dear Conversely,

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I dated a co-worker for a good five months and, not too long ago, we broke up. Not only do we work in the same place, we work twenty feet from each other. As we are both establishing ourselves in this work place, neither of us is going anywhere. We came to the conclusion that we don't have a choice; we will try to make things work, and remain friends (minus the benefits), since 'moving away to forget about what was' is no option. We miss hanging out with each other but I fear that if I hang out with him outside of work, I will give in to my wiles and before you know it, we'll be back to where we started.

Her view:

Dear On-the-job,

Of course you will - so I'm not sure I see your dilemma. If you are interested in dating this fellow then do so and organize little social events around that. If you are decidedly not interested (and are expressly trying to limit your temptation), then do not go out on dates with said fellow. It is that simple.

I think continuing to work together will be just fine and you should have no trouble in the workplace per se. However, if you stray beyond those confines, I'm afraid you'll have yourself a date - so make sure that's what you want, first.

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His view:

Dear On-the-job,

What a beautiful quandary. Twenty feet, eh? Now that's a challenge. We love challenges, don't we? And it's always better to have to avoid him because of temptation, rather than due to a bad, one-sided break-up. Though of course, if you give in to temptation, you may later end up with a bad break-up.

Short of transferring him (or yourself) to another floor or another building, you may have to rely on the old technique of self-inflicted Pavlovian training. This involves choosing a suitable and unpalatable treatment to accompany the occurrences you wish to avoid: walking by his cubicle; looking for him in the cafeteria; hiding under his desk to eavesdrop phone conversations; or dialing his extension at random intervals throughout the day.

There are many possible treatments. Some that have worked for friends of mine include: swallowing a dog biscuit; slapping oneself on the forehead (hard); going over to 'kiss up' to your boss' hateful secretary; and wearing your hair into a nasty do for a few hours.

Not that I think any of this works. The bottom line is you need to harden your spinal cord and get on the fast track to finding a new mate - just try looking outside the workplace this time.

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