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Parallax - Advice

April 21, 2003


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Some people go through life opening doors for others. Some people go through life having every door opened for them. And some people go through life acting as doormats. You know those people. They are the ones who let others walk all over them. They're the ones who let people use and abuse them. They're also the ones who complain when their partners don't change. This week, you'll meet three people who should lay down the law instead of lying down and getting stepped on. Our very amicable advisers help them up.

Conjugal co-workers?
Three's a crowd.
 Date: 04/21/03

A good time?
No time's a good time.
 Date: 04/21/03

He's damn cheap.
She's paying.
 Date: 04/21/03

More from last week...

Conjugal co-workers?

Dear Conversely,

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For the past two years I've had a relationship with a co-worker in another city. Last year, he was involved with someone else in his office for a short while, but we resumed our relationship after they broke up. Lately, things have gone well between us and we last talked on Friday evening. On Monday, he sent me an email at work that suggested I delete all my personal email from him because someone at his office had discovered our exchanges. He also wrote, 'I'll explain later.' Seconds later, I received another email that said he was back with this other woman and I was never to email him again (the same message was also sent to her). I emailed him on a private account, but he didn't reply. I don't know what to think. Should I wait or try to call him this weekend? He will be moving to a new office this summer, but that seems like an eternity to wait for an answer.

Her view:

Dear Deleted,

You deserve some closure here—plain and simple. Certainly, the character of your relationship was misrepresented to the prior girlfriend and the cheating alarm sounded. But this is about you and you should just call him—at whatever number you know you can reach him. Why should you suffer in agony while waiting for him to decide on an appropriate time to clue you in?

No doubt my esteemed colleague will provide all sorts of nonsensical advice on giving him privacy and the like, since he has plainly asked for it. But you are in this situation, too. You deserve a detailed explanation—even if this means upsetting the cheater's current relationship. That is the going rate for lying and/or cheating these days.

Obviously your relationship is over. He's probably been dating the ex-girlfriend during the entire course of your relationship. Having said that, get it out of your system. Call and uncover all the details you need. Once your discovery process is over, you, too, can swiftly move on. I'd say it was a lucky out for you.

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His view:

Dear Deleted,

Sounds like a true thriller. By this point, it's probably been resolved. Still, it may be worth considering the inconsistencies in your story.

If he was concerned about violating a company policy against inter-office dating, it makes no sense that he would openly admit—in an email—that he was back with a co-worker. In other words, if he was so keen on message deletion and cover-up, why did he reveal his romance with the other woman?

There is something more complicated at work. If he'd really broken up with that woman, there would be no reason to say he was back with her, nor copy her on the message. One possible explanation is that he never broke up with her—either because he was still interested in dating her, or because he hadn't found the right moment.

In any case, if he was serious about you, he should have called immediately (on a secure line, of course) and explained the situation. Perhaps this oversight can be blamed on a lack of experience in subterfuge and espionage. But a more likely scenario is that he doesn't care that much about you.

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