Q: I work at a school in Los Angeles. I have been friends with a coworker there for seven years, but we started dating 1 1/2 years ago. We met while working at another school but never worked in the same department until this school. Our offices are across the hall from each other, but I'm in the office for only half the day. No one at work knows we are a couple, but I have recently become pregnant.
A few months ago, the human resources person began spending a lot of time at his office door and in other open areas, giggling and talking to him about non-work topics. I can hear them; their laughing and personal conversations stood out since he would privately complain to me about her trying to micromanage him, which is a problem since his only bosses are the CEO and COO. She also began standing in my office doorway to chit-chat and then moves over to his office.
I told him she was blatantly flirting with him; I started closing my office door since I was getting tired of hearing it. At her office birthday celebration, he took a video of her while colleagues sang happy birthday, and then stood right next to her while she made her birthday wish. Afterward, she planned to take a slice of cake to his office, but I told her I would take it since she had people in the break room to talk to.
My boyfriend and I have argued about this situation, and we started counseling to work on our communication. If he set boundaries with her, I wouldn't be bothered by their interactions, but he has also changed the way he treats me at work. I also will start individual therapy and ask if he wants to continue our couples therapy.
I want to keep my job and not be the jealous girlfriend at work. Our employee handbook says we should notify the board of directors or the CEO if there's a relationship between co-workers, but I haven't yet. How do I handle all of this?
A: You are facing many dilemmas, so you would benefit from prioritizing your goals so you can act appropriately. First face the facts. You should be bothered by his unprofessional actions at work; closing your office door so you can't hear them talking won't solve the problem.
You are newly pregnant and in a romantic relationship with a man at work (which is against the school's policy), who clearly seems to be engaging in an enjoyable, not-so-business-like relationship with another woman in front of you. Him complaining about her seems like a ruse to stop you from seeing the truth of his actions. You are also in a precarious situation since you have chosen — there are no excuses for accidental pregnancies these days — to get pregnant with a man with whom you have serious trust, communication and relationship problems. As proof of these problems, you are not even certain whether he wants to continue couples counseling with you. Parenting is a serious and long-term commitment, and a couple bringing a child into this world owes that baby a happy home with loving parents.
Though you say you want to keep your job and are aware of the no-dating policy, you are considering reporting their overt and open flirting while you are directly involved in a relationship with him — a co-worker — and violating the rules yourself. Words are meaningless without actions that support their messages.
Also, it sounds like you are entering individual therapy to control your jealousy, but your doubts about his commitment seem to be founded on evidence. It takes confidence in oneself to trust one's intuition and accept the reality of a situation. Committing to therapy, counseling or coaching is a positive step for you to take toward clarity, happiness and emotional stability. It won't be easy initially because it sounds like your emotions have taken over, but a therapist can help you discover what actions are in your best interest.
Email your workplace issues and experiences to [email protected] For more information about career and life coach Lindsey Novak, visit www.lindseyparkernovak.com, and for past columns, see www.creators.com/read/at-work-lindsey-novak.
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