Q: I have been in a relationship with my co-worker for a year now. Recently, the office security caught us sneaking out of the janitor room. He claims to have CCTV footage and is blackmailing us. I am not sure if I should call his bluff and take the risk of being fired or give in and pay up. What do I do?
Ans: It is easy to blackmail someone who feels guilty and ashamed. Are you ashamed of being in a relationship with a co-worker or, of getting sexy in the janitor room? Being in a relationship with a co-worker is not a crime and it happens in most work places. Sex in toilets is almost as common as office romance, but it could lead to a warning or dismissal in the workplace, depending on the organisation.
People do have sex in locations considered inappropriate because the chance of getting caught gets the adrenaline pumping. It is great that you are on a mission to spike up your sex life, please don’t stop and don’t be ashamed of it. Maybe check your HR policies to see what is allowed and not. Sex in toilets may be frowned upon but don’t assume that you will get fired. I'm sure the security guard doesn't have the footage of what went on in the janitor room.
You could have just gone in to have a conversation, and with less guilt you could even convince the security guard of this version of the story. What the security guard is doing, i.e. blackmailing you and your co-worker, is a much more serious offence.
Laugh it off and show him you are not ashamed, your confidence will speak to his bigoted and desperate behaviour. There must be reasons for him blackmailing you, try to find out what they are. Listen to him with empathy and tell him you are even willing to help him out. Not out of fear but out of compassion for a fellow human.
(The writer is an Intimacy & Relationship Coach and an Independent People and Culture Specialist focusing on relationships, sexuality, youth and social media in South Asia. Have a query? Send it on firstname.lastname@example.org)