Dear Annie: My boss considers me a friend. A couple years ago at a work-related dinner, he badgered me about having children of my own. I was in a long-term committed relationship with a woman who refused to have children, something he was aware of from previous uncomfortable conversations. I had no interest in discussing this with him, especially with the professional company we had at the table. I mostly ignored him and eventually told him to stop talking about it.
We didn't discuss it again.
Recently, I was at another work-related social event with my boss, and I brought the same girlfriend. We've been together for many years and had hit a rough spot that we were successfully working through. When I walked away for a moment, he started badgering her. According to him, he told her that I have given up too much to be with her. That she wasn't being fair to me and I would never be able to break up with her so I could be truly happy with children. After a few beers, he is very persistent, bullying and basically won't shut up. I'm an adult, and I have decided that I don't want children. When he reported the conversation to me after the fact, he asked if he was out of line.
The relationship with my girlfriend went into a free-fall that night, and I could not recover it. We ended our relationship within a couple of awful weeks following his speech. I failed to convince her that I don't want children.
I'm so angry toward my boss, on top of the feelings of the breakup. I have mentioned it to him, and he told me that it's a personal matter. No remorse.
I'm not sure I can work around him anymore. What do I do?? I feel so much stress and anger toward him. I could lose a long-term relationship and a long-term career in the same month. I'm not sure where I went wrong. — Older and Single
Dear Older and Single: While it stings right now, you might be better off without either in your life. Your boss especially. He was way out of line to start badgering your girlfriend once you left the table. My guess is that he knew he was, and that is the reason that he waited until you weren't around. He sounds like a coward and a very unhappy person who possibly has a drinking problem. Bullying anyone while having a few beers is never a helpful thing. I hope when he asked you if he was out of line, you said, in no uncertain terms, YES. The fact that he feels no remorse is reason enough to polish off your resume and start looking for a new job.
As for your girlfriend, while it is understandable to blame your boss, it sounds like your relationship was on shaky ground. If a drunk boss at a social gathering was enough to end a long-term relationship, there was more going on. If you are not sure what went wrong, you have to ask her. If she says it was that she was upset about that one conversation, then tell her that is not enough of an explanation. If she refuses to open up to you, then it sounds like you should also put on your dating shoes and look for someone new.
"Ask Me Anything: A Year of Advice From Dear Annie" is out now! Annie Lane's debut book — featuring favorite columns on love, friendship, family and etiquette — is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit http://www.creatorspublishing.com for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to [email protected]
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