Comments

1
Or maybe just stay the fuck away from Colleague B, because I doubt her reaction to "hey, so I'm sorry about that little breaking up with you and breaking your heart thing and I'd really like to get back together, but in the meantime I've been boning our mutual colleague A, just FYI, but that doesn't have to get in the way of us, right my love?" is going to be a positive one.

Then again, you should totally tell her, this might be just the thing she need to finally put you behind her once and for all and move the fuck on. She'll be grateful in the long run.
2
I second Chase's comment @ 1. Colleague B deserves better.
4
I normally agree with everything Dan says, but I need to make one small correction, there's actually a lot of people on Antarctica and they do a lot of hooking up.
5
How is this any of B's business? While single, she dates-ish A. She later dates B. Relationship with B is completely over. While single, she dates-ish A. Romance with A is over. Now asking B out again. Nothing with A ever overlapped, affected, or interfered with dating B. This is a complete non-issue.
6
@ 5 - But they all work together, so the potential for this turning ugly (in the ways that Dan explained, or others) is enormous.
7
Having sex with A wasn't cheating, but that's not going to make coffee breaks any less awkward, especially since B clearly isn't in a place of "hey, that's cool, I'm happy to fuck someone else for a bit too".
8
Sometimes it's a good idea to drop out of the dating pool altogether for a time. This might be one of those times.

Nothing wrong with a few casual hookups (outside of the office, please!) here and there, but, more than anything else, the intuition I got from reading LW's letter was that she should probably enjoy being single for a time.
9
@7: She doesn't even have to be single! Just not date people she works with!
10
I'm confused. Why would telling B about A damage her as a person? HR and B weren't a couple at the time of the hook-up so it wasn't cheating. Is it because A is male and any hook-up with a guy would be damaging? Other than that question, I have to agree with Chase. I realize that sometimes couples break up, then get back together stronger and better than ever, but from the way this letter reads, HR comes across as toying with B for her own (HR's) gain, no concern for B's long term well being.
11
Dan posits that at some point in the future Colleague A might vindictively tell Colleague B about his relationship with HR. Of course that is possible, but it seems far more likely that Colleague B, who was/is in love with HR and would be crushed to learn of HR's relationship with Colleague A, would make this a workplace problem in the immediate aftermath of the revelation. That could have employment ramifications for Colleague A or HR or both, which is something HR should think about. HR may already know this, if, as I wonder, HR is the HR manager in her workplace.

Anyway, not fucking your coworkers is always a good rule of thumb. It a bit like the advice Dan gave to the woman who was fucking her neighbor, secretly fucking his wife, and wondered if was ethical to secretly fuck their 18 year old son.
12
@10 that stuck out to me too. I can't help but think B is a manipulative drama queen and it would be better for the LW to stay broken up with her.
13
Dating rule number one: Don't shit where you eat.

But, since that horse is already out of the gate, and since you just have to keep chasing your tail with what appears to be the only two people in the world you can date, here are my thoughts.
Colleague B really doesn't have a leg to stand on if she wants to get all bent out of shape over whoever you have been dating/fucking/playing shuffleboard with when you weren't with her. People who create drama over past lives are bad partners and should be avoided like the plague! HOWEVER, since this is a co-worker, a degree of honesty is called for, as chances she will find out anyway are practically guaranteed. These kind of secrets DO NOT STAY SECRET. I'd just say, "In the spirit of truthfulness, I think it's important for you to know I've been seeing someone else from the office. Who it is isn't important, as I promise it is over and I won't pursue it any more of we rekindle our relationship." If Colleague B badgers you to give up the identity of Colleague A, run like the wind, Bullseye!. That behavior is a DTMFA offense.
14
Here's the thing about shitting where you eat...

...yeah, it's not a good idea. Except...

...lots of people find it preferable to have relationships with people they know well.

And it just so happens that the people most people often know the best are unsurprisingly those they spend 8 hours a day with.

If you can be an adult, and they can be an adult, which you should know if you really do know each other that well, why not try a relationship with that person you know really well and feel attracted to?

Sure, there are another 7 billion people on the planet, but turning a stranger into someone who knows you well is quite the investment, especially when most of the time that investment won't work out.
15
To HR, "Don't ask, don't tell" is suitable advice here. Are you in the habit of telling everyone you date your complete relationship history right off? If she asks if you saw anyone else while you were broken up, answer honestly (but maybe not even mention who). Don't lie, but some relationship history is best left as just that.
16
Last note: While there's no ethical reason / obligation to tell B about A, the real issue here is you think B lacks the adult ability to handle that you might have slept with someone else when you and B weren't together.

That's not exactly a sign of someone who can do relationships like an adult, so maybe you should just stay away from B because THEY ARE BAD AT RELATIONSHIPS.
17
OMG. There are loads of aspects of life when I feel inadequate or clueless. Then I read something like this (or any of the other drama heavy love triangle letters) and I realize that at least in terms of personal relationships, I've done fine. I mean, seriously, date people outside work. If you are really into someone at work, at least don't have casual secretive flings with them that require you to never tell mutual friends about them. And if you do that, then at least be careful not to develop serious relationships with those mutual friends that include denials or lies about the casual secretive flings. And all this with your coworkers!

Dan is absolutely right. Get on out in the world and meet people! They are everywhere! They are fascinating and fun and silly and beautiful and into all sorts of wildly different things than what people at your workplace are into. Expand! Be honest!
18
I'm stone-cold sober and I can't follow this. Or understand why it matters.
Lw, date who you want. I would think that there would be more than 2 people in the world for you to toggle between (Dan's point, I think), and I would think that it should be obvious that dating a bunch of your co-workers, some seriously where bad breakups can happen and others who can be malicious but are casual, is a blinking neon sign saying "Drama Ahead, plus some probable HR company policy violations," but hey, if that's your thing, go for it.
19
The un-asked-for personal advice I have for you, HR: do you have a habit of silently bending yourself out of shape to meet your SO's desires?

You boned A and that's okay. You don't need to apologise for it, you don't need to finesse it for B. If you think that's the price of reentry to the relationship, first, don't pay it. But second, have a look at why the idea of paying this type of toll seems routine to you.

Could be I'm over-reading it. But hey, it's good for everybody to make a yearly spot check on their life for unconscious conflict avoidance, and for self-abnegating people-pleasing tendencies.
20
A threesome would solve the problem neatly.
21
Hold on. I think many are being unfair to B. I have to look at it from B's perspective. She's in a sexual relationship with a co-worker for a year. She's in love. She's been dumped. She takes it badly-- which is her right! Not only has she been dumped, she has to see her ex daily at work. She does the best she can by awkwardly avoiding her ex as best she can. She knows it's normal for both parties of a broken up couple to move on eventually, but she's not up to moving on yet, and she's going to be hurt when it's obvious that her ex has moved on immediately. I know that every time I've been dumped, the moment I've realized that my ex is having sex with someone else reopens the old wound for me.

Now here's HR acting like B is some sort of freak for feeling hurt over HR's exact actions! HR offers Dan 4 possibilities:

1. Try to get back with B, tell B about A, and still try to reconcile.
2. Try to get back with B, tell B about A but leave out the sex part.
3. Try to get back with B and keep A a secret.

Those first 3 possibilities are entirely self-serving. They're all about HR's chances of rebuilding the relationship, and the bit about "damaging her as a person," how? Wasn't fucking her for a year before ditching her damaging enough?

Only the 4th possibility:

4. Just forget the whole thing

is in any way kind to B. HR, please stop messing with B.

And B, if you're reading this, steer clear of HR. She is not a nice person. There was nothing wrong with dating you for a year. She gave it a shot, and hearts get broken. But breaking your heart, messing around with someone else, AND THEN WANTING ANOTHER GO when it suits her with no consideration for your feelings?! Man, that's cold.
22
What does the LW want? Not with respect to any particular person but generally? Does she eventually want a family? To feel loved? To work less? The assurance of her partner's commitment? The reason that it didn't seem to work with the man (A; but like so many others, I've lost track), at least the second time, is that he was commitment-phobic. It seems like the LW wanted more out there for the relationship. Is this 'more' what she wants from her female colleague?

It might be hard just for her, the LW, to say, 'I want more commitment', because it runs foul of gender stereotypes (women want commitment more than men); and also it may imply that she'd prefer to be with her casual lover, a man, than with the woman she was serious about. This also cuts across a few gender-politically livewires.

Why did she break up with her female coworker a year back? This to me is the crucial piece of information that's withheld.
23
(Conflict avoidance can easily be a real dick move, when people lie to dodge conflict, and build up a relationship on a foundation of lies. Buuut if I'm asking someone to examine their conflict avoidance, I might start by asking them if they're hurting themselves with it, first. Because that too.)
24
There seems to be no evidence that Colleague B wants HR back.
Things ended badly; why set yourselves up for a replay? Agree with everyone else: get out of the office and meet some different partners!
25
I wonder the age of the writer. It's easy to say "don't shit where you eat" at an older age but it took me til like 27 (and three work relationships later) to realize that dating someone who worked in the same cubicle as you is not a recipe for success. Sometimes you've got to fall off a bike.
26
I thought it was pretty funny that HR kept referring to Colleague A as being the one who was commitment-phobic. Take a long, hard look in the mirror, HR...the word "player" comes to mind.
27
@25 – "falling off the bike" reminds me of the story of a convent of nuns who were fighting incessantly about riding a bike they had bought. EVERY nun wanted to ride the bike all the time. Finally the Mother Superior called them all together and said, "Sisters, when we got this bike you all promised to share. Now, if you don't stop this constant bickering, I'm going to put the seat back on the cursed thing and sell it!
28
She's not a player, she just fucks a lot.
29
To #4's point, I've known a few people working in Antarctica and it sounds like Burning Man on ice with lots of options for getting laid!
30
Don't try to get back with colleague B and don't tell her anything unless you want to make her work life even harder than it already is. If you tell her about colleague A then she will have two people at work to avoid, two people at work that when she sees them, cause her emotional pain and distress.

Also, you promised colleague A not to tell anyone right? He probably won't be too happy about you spreading the word. No guarantee colleague B will keep it to herself once she's feeling really messed up after you've told her.

It's a nest of snakes. Back away. Stop being so selfish and self centered and take your own advice to forget the whole thing. You know it's the right choice.
31
LW thinks she's in love with B. I think she's in love with drama and making bad decisions. She should look in a mirror, point to herself, and say "You're a fucking moron!" And she should take that admonition to heart.

Her office is not a sexual smorgasbord. It's not a circular conveyor belt where she can sex up her coworkers in turn each time they come around again. She has been incredibly lucky so far that this hasn't blown up in her face and ended jobs and (at least temporarily) ruined lives.
32
I get that dating within your work environment can cause issues. But it also seems to me to be quite natural. As was mentioned above, interacting with people through work allows you to get to know them fairly well before dating. Also, if you're one of the lucky people who likes their work, then you are likely to have common interests with people at work--it's built right in! Even if you don't like it, you can bitch about it together. And you'll be able to relate to each other's schedules and demands.

Yes, breaking up with someone and then having to be around them a lot sucks. But I know many people who have had great relationships with work colleagues. I personally think the rhetoric around work dating should be more about how to be cautious, thoughtful, and adult about it so as not to create too much drama, rather than to just not do it.
33
Biggie @28: Two people is "a lot"?
Cap @26: She's not a player. A game player, perhaps. A drama queen, for sure. Maybe what she really needs is to get a job where she's challenged and doesn't have time to fantasise about her co-workers!
34
Am I the only one who finds a gallows humor in the nom-de-savage "HR"? As in, that's where LW's career is likely to end?

@10 have you ever told a woman with an ounce of desire for you that perhaps you enjoy the attention of someone else, even if not exclusively? That's a one-way-ticket to all-my-friends-talk-shit-about-you-and-will-actively-try-to-interfere-with-your-future-relationshipsville. I had a similar scenario in grad school (although for me, it was my version of Colleague A who was the jealous, desirous one) and simply put unless you are insanely charismatic, you can't date two women from the same social circle even if you aren't violating any other "rules" of fidelity or honesty.

@21 That's a conclusion most folks would come to readily if Colleague's A&B were women and HR were a man.
35
@sportlanda. Sorry if you dated losers. You need to pick a better class of girl. Preferably ones out of high school.

that said, I don't care who is what sex, don't f@ck where you work, ever. An ex of mine (a dude) vindictively threatened to out me at work by sending a sex tape and I've seen women go trotting off to HR with complaints after they felt jilted. Do. Not. Shit where you live. No one is a perfect judge of character.
36
@35 I prefer to think of them as "regular american women", my fault for not being part of your elite class of enlightened friend-fuckers.
37
34- Sportlandia I have to wonder, then, why more people in this commentariat haven't reached the conclusion I have. Normally this group is pretty good at applying the what's-good-for-the-goose rule. I'm surprised even Dan didn't come down harder on HR.

And another thing- This business about breaking her confidentiality rule with A because that's somehow more honest with B? How about keeping one's word to one's sexual partners? How about keeping one's word with anyone to whom one has given one's word? The very idea of telling anyone at work about the sex with A is self-serving for HR and disturbingly mean to A.

Dan may be right that onlookers at work have already figured out about HR's liasons, but that doesn't change the fact HR made a promise and is now being awfully cavalier about breaking it.
38
Sportlandia @34: Who ever said HR (yes, I did see the humour in that sign-off) wanted to continue fucking Colleague A while also getting back together with Colleague B? HR said the opposite -- the attempt to rekindle a FWB arrangement with Colleague A fell flat. HR would be telling Colleague B that she had fucked Colleague B, in the past, when they were not together. Lots of women -- even regular American ones -- can handle that.

And Fichu's conclusion seems to apply across any gender combination that I can envision.
39
*that she had fucked Colleague A, of course. The alphabet is complicated.
40
@34 Sportlandia, sure I can see that it might be common for people who are interested in you to be a little uncomfortable with you expressing interest in someone else. But you are saying that it is common for that person to then talk shit about you to all of your friends and sabotage your future relationships? I mean, are you saying that is typical in your experience to the point of calling this the behavior of regular American women? Because you are describing extreme crazy behavior, and if that's been your norm, you might want to think about why.
41
EmmaLiz: +1
When I was grad school age, I lived in a very close knit community. Every member of which had dated at least two people every friend of theirs had dated. We somehow accepted that this was the way things were and managed to hang out at the same clubs and parties without all killing each other. Sportlandia, perhaps it's the way you told your Fellow Student B that Fellow Student A was interested in you. Perhaps you were breaking the "rule" of "don't be an asshole."
42
Why is A any business of B?
43
@38 yes, it should apply to every gender combination, exactly my point! However, because LW is a woman, more people are blaming B; if LW were a man most people would see his behavior as patently shitty and callous and cut B way more slack.

@40+41 I subscribe to "don't kiss and tell". I never told either of them about each other (although 'A' took it upon herself to notify all of her friends that we were hooking up. This is also normal, and she's wasn't the first or last partner I've had to tell her girlfriends all about what I'm like in bed), and they were separated in time by about 4 months. I was casually hooking up with A, but later on was openly dating 'B'. A then took it upon herself to befriend B and tried to influence her against me by complaining of my "low morals" (she was upset and blamed me because it turns out she had been cheating on her boyfriend back home and although were explicitly "just having fun", she actually was hoping this would grow into a relationship), and when B and I finally broke up (for unrelated reasons), A was popping up in my phone again trying to hang out. I don't think I could have done much different in this case to "[not] be an asshole" - I never did anything wrong in the first place.

In any case, that's not the first time. It seems like a thing that perfectly average women do. Everyone's out here talking like everyone they've ever met is some sort of perfect logical monster that is always reasonable and upright and polices their own thoughts and action; but c'mon those people are few and far between.
44
Sportlandia, everyone has a story of a messy breakup or a drama-crazy ex. No one is saying these things don't happen. We are saying they aren't common enough to be considered average behavior of women. If they are that common to you, then I'd suspect that there is something in your behavior/attractions that is encouraging this.

As for your story, so a gal told her friends about her sex life. I know some women who talk to friends about sex and some who don't. Just like I know some men who talk to friends about sex and some who don't. In your story, A sounds like a drama queen. B sounds like she's either a drama queen too or else too naive to notice when she's being sucked into drama by drama queens. Unfortunately some people love drama. Most of us figure out how to spot those people and avoid them unless we love drama too. So again, if this is a lifelong pattern for you rather than just something that happened to you once, then I'd take a look at your behavior and see why you are getting caught up in other people's drama. If it's just something that happened once and that's the worst breakup story you've got, then bravo! Why are you saying average women are this way?
45
@44 if "everyone has [that] story" I'd argue that it's the definition of common. I don't understand your insistence on refuting it. If I had this happen to me once, well, that could be chance; twice, coincidence; three times, and including many people I know? That's a pattern. If that's not you, good for you, you're rarer than you know. As a non-man who hasn't dated straight women, perhaps you should listen a little more than talk in this scenario.
46
Sportlandia,

If you are saying that is a common experience to have, I was not arguing with you. But you said that American women act this way on average which is totally different. As for listening more thank talking, uh no. That's not how the internet works. You type something. I read it. I type something. You read it. No one is limiting how much you are able to talk. Moreover, I don't think I need to listen more to straight men about what women are like, especially when they are talking about how women talk to their friends.
47
I'd warrant every woman here has a story about a psycho ex boyfriend who slashed her tires or (insert stupid stalkerish behavior here). You'd be the first one squeaking "not all men." And you'd be right. So maybe just maybe lighten up on "this is normal American woman" behavior.

And as for ignoring the second half of my comment allow me to be clear: "stupid jealous behavior is not limited to gender, so don't shit where you eat is excellent advice."

And as to that little swipe over my "enlightened friend fuckers?" Considering your bitching you WISH you were part of my group.

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