I try not to talk too much about my job on this blog. Even though I’m fairly anonymous here, I don’t ever want to be in that awkward position where I say something here and it gets back to the people I work with. I have mentioned that I’m keeping my eyes open for a new position. I wouldn’t say that I’m actively looking, but I would love to find something where I make more money. I like my job, but I honestly don’t find it very challenging. I’d love to find something that stretches me a little more. Overall, the company I work for has been great. Probably one of the best companies I’ve ever worked for, which is why I’ve been keeping an eye out for opportunities within the larger “family” of companies. But there’s a problem. And I don’t think I realized how big of a problem it was until my boss stormed into my office this week and blew up on me, which is totally unlike her.
What’s the problem? My boyfriend and I work for the same company. He’s the head of one of our largest departments. Technically our jobs are unrelated; while he’s much higher up in the company, his position isn’t over mine. That being said, my job requires that we interact. On a regular basis I have to discuss employee hours, jobs, expenses, and a variety of other things with him. Although we haven’t denied to anyone that we’re dating, we’ve never told anyone either. Our relationship has nothing to do with our jobs.
Unlike some of the other companies I’ve worked for, there are no rules against dating within our company. It would be impossible for them to implement a rule against dating. EVERYONE there is somehow related to someone else. Husbands and wives, siblings, in-laws, parents and children all work together within our company. Many of the higher-ups within the family of companies married women who were working for the company. My boss met her current husband at a previous job.
My boyfriend and I work very hard to keep things strictly professional at the office. It shouldn’t be an issue. But for my boss, it obviously is. For the past year she’s been bringing her concerns to the President of the company, who happens to be very good friends with my boyfriend. The President talks to my boyfriend, who then talks to me. I can go to my boss on Monday and say “I have hours for work at this location, which [insert boyfriend’s name here] says it part of project X. But project X is already closed in the system. Do you want me to reopen project X, or create a new project?” By Wednesday the boyfriend is telling me that my boss went to the President again to complain that we’re talking about work. I hate that this is being done: If my boss has an issue with me, she should be addressing it with me. I shouldn’t be getting feedback about my job from my boyfriend. And seriously?!? I can’t do my job if I can’t ask questions to the only person who knows the answers! I’ve kept my mouth shut though, not wanting to rock the boat. I’ve tried to be more cognizant of what I say at work. I don’t talk about our personal life at work. If I’m making small talk with someone, I try to not mention his name. I’ll admit, it’s made things awkward; my boss and coworker talk about their husbands all the time. I have to censor everything I say, so most of the time I just don’t say anything. It’s definitely affected my ability to interact with the people I work with.
In our little department of three, it’s obvious that my boss and coworker have an issue with my relationship. I’ve tried to pretend that it didn’t matter; my work life and personal life are not related, and what I do outside of work is none of their business. It became apparent when my boss stormed into my office and told me that my relationship was “completely inappropriate” that my stance is overly simplistic.
A lot of things went through my head in that short interaction. I didn’t say much. I was angry. I was hurt. I was humiliated. Voices carry in our office, so I knew that everyone who was in the office heard every word. My impulsive side wanted to throw in the towel and quit. My rational side told me to take a step back. I shut my office door and cried. I thought about emailing the President (who wasn’t in the office that day). In the end I decided the best option was to step away from the situation and take some time to think. So, I went to my boss and let her know that I’d be taking the next few days off. Things are really slow right now at work; I ran out of things to do on Tuesday, and have been making minor adjustments to my filing system and looking for other “busy work” to get me through the week. She tried to backtrack with “I didn’t mean to upset you” and “Shut the door, let’s talk.” I told her I wasn’t comfortable discussing the situation any further without the President present, and tried to smooth out the sting with “I don’t want either of us to say something we can’t take back later.” I did a few small tasks, and went home.
I’m good at my job, and I’ve been told I’ve been a great employee with the company. It doesn’t seem fair that my personal life is affecting my career. But keeping my head down and ignoring the situation obviously isn’t working. My boss isn’t comfortable with me working there, and it has nothing to do with how I do my job. It’s time that I seriously start looking into other options.
Making a change isn’t easy, especially when you’ve grown comfortable with your current situation. This could end up being a good thing though, the catalyst I need to explore better options. I’m hopeful that things will work out for the best. I’ll admit, I’m scared about what the future holds. I’m scared that I won’t find anything better. I’m scared of losing all the ground I’ve gained financially over the past year. I’m scared of the unknown.
But sometimes we have to change, even if we’re scared.
– Cindy W.
If you were me, how would you handle this situation? As I’m meeting with perspective employers, should I just tell them I’m looking for a more challenging position?