Recently, I invited a co-worker over to my home for a few drinks. A few days prior, I jokingly said, “We could get drunk and inappropriate.” Turns out, that’s exactly what happened. Though we didn’t do the deed (not for lack of trying), I still woke up in the morning with him in my bed and a severe case of “What have I just done?”
I’m attracted to him, and I think he’s attracted to me, too. But of course it’s more complicated—he’s married. Legally separated, but still married. He’s obviously hurting from his divorce and I’m not sure he’s ready to move on. I’m fine with not being with him, but I’d still like to be his friend. Is there a chance of a friendship here? Or was I just something that was convenient? We talk (and flirt) at work, and we’ve hung out twice since that night, but I still can’t tell what he thinks of it all. Should I waste my energy?—AK, San Francisco, California
The gay woman’s perspective: Jody Fischer
I have no idea if there’s a chance for you guys to be friends and neither will you until you talk with him. There are many reasons the two of you need to sit down and have a real (alcohol-free) conversation. However, before you do that, you have to be ready to ask yourself some honest questions. What about him makes you interested in being his friend? Or are you really more interested in a naughty office fling with a guy who isn’t truly ready for a committed relationship? Is that what you are looking for, AK?
A drunken fling with a flirty coworker does not sound like the next great love story. Go to a wine tasting event. Go to a ball game. Take a class on ancient Greece. Take a dance class. Write the story of your life and then go out and live it. Somehow I don’t see chapter seven in your book being titled, “My Office Fling Flopped.” What would you like your next chapter to be called, AK? You can’t go back and rewrite chapters you’ve already lived, but you can move on to your next real connection. It’s your book. Choose your words and actions carefully or you may create a dramatic soap opera or dime store novel instead of the next great romance novel. The choice is up to you.
The gay man’s perspective: Darren Maddox
Why not? What else are you wasting your energy on? Have fun at work, for god’s sake and go with the flow! Most of us spend the majority of our waking hours at work so doesn’t it make sense you would meet someone there? (Or at least secretly fantasize about someone there.) If he shacked up with you once, he’s obviously interested in you a little bit. And you said you’ve hung out a few times since, so he’s not hurting too badly from the divorce unless it was just a bunch of pillow talk about his soon-to-be-ex all night. Based on your “What have I just done” comment, I suspect that was not the case.
He may end up being just a friend. But he may end up being more. Open yourself up to the what if factor here, but always keep your options open until you have only one special guy in your life. Just know the situation and appreciate what he’s going through as well as what you’re feeling. If you can find a middle ground with the two, then I think we have a winner.
The straight woman’s perspective: Rebecca Brown
Before I say what I’m going to say, please know that I’m not judging you. (I married a coworker for god’s sake!) BUT. This is why I think office relationships are a bad idea. I know there are all those supporters out there who say that since you spend the most time at work, you really get to know the people and thus, coworkers make for the best relationships. Yes, this can be the case. But it’s a roll of the dice. If it goes wrong, as I think this did, then all of a sudden all that time you spend there that was once a good thing turns into a big awkward mess. But what’s done is done—I’m just saying this to you for your future consideration of who to get drunk and inappropriate with.
Secondly, he’s married. ARRGH! He’s married! AK! Separated or not—and whether the split was his decision or not—he’s still going through a big transition, which means it wasn’t the best time to get slurry and gropey and hope for a friendship on the other side.
Can you be friends? We have another question this month about being friends with ex-significant others and ex-lovers, and I have a pretty strong opinion about it. But just in case you don’t click over to it (Please do! We’re very wise!), here’s what I want you to consider: don’t you have enough friends? What would this man bring to your life that a girl friend wouldn’t, or that another new male friend whose ass you haven’t done body shots off of would bring? I don’t mean to hurt you, but yes, I think you might’ve been (unintentionally) convenient for someone who was, and still is, in an icky place in his life. Be cordial at work and move on. If something develops down the line, that’s fine, but for now, I wouldn’t waste another second of your precious brain or heart space on this man who’s so obviously not in a good place. You deserve more than Stoli (I sure hope it wasn’t Popov) and convenience. Go find it outside the breakroom.
The straight man’s perspective: Chris Kennedy
(Tap, tap, tap) Is this thing on? Have you not read this column the last couple of years? So you asked a married, coworker over to your home to get “drunk and inappropriate” and did such, then hung out twice since and now wonder if we think you’ve laid the groundwork for a sound friendship? In the words of the eternal ten-year-old Bart Simpson, “Ay Caramba!” Well, we can’t say we didn’t bring this sticky situation on ourselves can we, AK?
Since you offered him a hookup from the start, how can anyone, including him, know if he wants any more than that from you? I’m going to go out on a limb here and say he’s not thinking you’re friend material. Convenient sexual distraction to take his mind off his impending divorce, yes. Long-term romantic partner, doubt it. Friend, no. Don’t lie to us or yourself, AK. I’m not sure what you want and I’m pretty sure YOU don’t know what you want, either. But I AM sure you don’t want to be friends with him. Your actions say you want to get drunk and inappropriate and hang out and hook up and then see what happens with him. I don’t see any plan beyond that.
Don’t waste your energy on trying to have a relationship with him. A friendship or a romantic relationship is not in the cards for you two. He might want to wait until he’s not married anymore before he starts into a substantial relationship. And you might want to wait until you find someone who is NOT a coworker and is NOT married. Instead, use your energy to clean up the mess you’ve made in your personal and professional life.
As Bart’s dad, Homer Simpson, once said, “If you really want something in life, you have to work for it. Now quiet, they’re about to announce the lottery numbers.”