Q: A girl in my office has been seeking my assistance in her work a lot. On recent offsite training she asked me if I would go drinking with her. She was making all the moves that indicated that she was sexually interested in me. We kissed once and she touched my thighs. However, I have recently heard from the office grapevine that during the same offsite she went to the boss’s room late at night and was seen slipping out early morning from his room. I don’t know what to make of all this. I had started fantasising about her and thought that she was into me. I don’t want to be naive and be her work helper in return for the fantasy she is selling me, and neither do I want to suspect her intentions without any evidence other than the office grapevine. What should I do?
A: The office grapevine is an unreliable and sometimes hostile compendium of tall tales with short shelf-lives. Sooner or later, everyone becomes a part of the ‘hot topic’ based on what’s happening at the office. We spend more time at work than we do at home. It’s only natural then that we port some of our domestic habits and dreams to the work world. This is a double edged sword.
Going drinking is indicative of breaking the ice and loosening up for a bit. Your kiss was possibly a product of inebriation and a shared attraction during an informal moment of flirtation. These things happen. If it is in fact true that she spent the night with the boss – in his room, it’s rude and a tad forward to presume that she was sexually active with him. She may have passed out after all that drinking or she could have very well just wanted to talk to someone. There’s no way you can have definite proof about what happened in that room.
On a side note, being sexually forward with two men in one night has precedents based on who the woman is, how much she has had to drink, what her relationship or sexual preferences are and what her motives in the moment are. You’re going to have to put a break on your fantasies for now if you’d like to see the situation with clear-mindedness.
Being naive is a common error of judgement made by most people in moments of vulnerability and crisis – so go easy on yourself. Was there a part of you that enjoyed hanging out with her or being by her side? You are going to have to ask yourself this difficult question. Before you ascertain if she did in fact take advantage of you, you will need to ask yourself if this fantasy she is selling you has been sold successfully because you’ve put yourself in the position of a willing buying customer.
Evidence about her activities is unlikely to surface without further digging around. If you appear overly curious or inquisitive about her with your other colleagues, you risk becoming a part of the dreaded office grapevine as well. They may wonder what relationship you two share and that’s where the conjecture may take root.
These things are difficult to control and managing them becomes harder if we are too transparent with our personal lives at our place of employment. You may nurture good relationships at your work place, but always remember that you are there not to make friends and be merry – but most definitely because you are being paid for the services you render and the role you fulfil.
Since the work-world is riddled with rumour filled stories, if you romance a colleague, you also expose yourself to the scrutiny of your colleagues which could turn latent and blatant based on how you are generally seen by them. Jealousy abounds in offices.
To be helpful around the office is a great and rather endearing quality. However, if you find yourself repeatedly doing another person’s job for them in a series of endless ‘favours’ then you are probably being used and that’s a rather demeaning position to be in. You will have to ask yourself if you’re truly in love with this woman or if you’re merely harbouring a ‘naughty fantasy’ about a female colleague.
Things can get ugly if you are implicated for making a female colleague uncomfortable or if you are blamed for outraging her modesty, so make sure you keep your head above the water at all times and render your romances wisely.
(Aman R Bhonsle is a qualified Psychosocial Analyst and a Professional Youth Mentor with specialisation in Transactional Analysis and REBT. He is available for consultation at the Heart To Heart Counselling Centre.)