Savage Love Jan 31, 2018 at 4:00 am



To answer LW 1: "I think my straight friend (who I have the hots for) might not be straight," the answer to this is always "if they want you, they'll let you know." She knows you're gay. If she wants you, she'll be like "so, since you're into ladies, and I'm a lady... wanna be into me?" If she's not doing that, it's because she doesn't want to. You've dropped off your resume, so to speak - she knows how to follow up that, if she wants.
It's hard to meet people, but I've been so burned by getting involved with people I met through work - or working with people I dated - that now it's just a hard no on that, no matter how yummy they seem.

To each their own, but paying the rent > uncertain lust prospect, for me.

THAT SAID..for LW #1, the letting her crush know that "not interested" &/or "I'm straight" are things she'll hear & respect - such an important point. It stings when someone's not into us, but mature if we can accept that gracefully. Ugh, I'm such a downer. ;)

Speaking of mature..good luck to ELDER, too. Dating when you're older is challenging. How exciting but scary it must seem to also come to grips with who you really want. Cheering you on from afar, ELDER..!

Great advice this week, Dan. Your tone has changed since I started reading you in..'92? '94? A long time ago.
My position is not that it is "NEVER EVER okay" to sleep with someone you work with (or the spouse of someone you work with), but that it's probably a terrible idea. People can go ahead and do it if they want, but they shouldn't be surprised when both their personal AND their work lives become unpleasant after the relationship goes wrong, which nearly all relationships do. It's okay, sure, if you like drama. But I'm with Eva: "To each their own, but paying the rent > uncertain lust prospect, for me."

Dan, unless you've edited WORKING's letter, I'm going to challenge your description of WORKING's colleague as "straight-identified." To our knowledge, Colleague has not stated what her orientation is. WORKING puts the word "straight" in quotation marks, probably because she does not know and is only assuming. I'm also not sure what WORKING wants. She asks, "Is she into me? Or just needy? Is it all in my head?" She doesn't say, "I would like to date this woman, should I ask her out?" I have sympathy; it is difficult to find the words to ask someone, "So, are you into girls?" -- which straight people can just skip past when asking someone out. Perhaps next time they're at the dog park, she could ask, "So, you know I'm gay, right? Are you flirting with me?" Good luck -- and if she says yes, put in for a transfer so you don't have to stare angrily at each other from across the room if it doesn't work out.

Re CTOACA: Dan, you missed the most important part: "My partner won't stand up for me when I say no to this guy. How can I get my partner to listen to me"? Who's more important to Ms CTOACA: the pushy friend or the woman she loves? This is a red flag for the relationship, and they need to work it out before they get married.

FRUSTRATED's letter illustrates why shitting where you eat is such a bad idea, in case anyone was still in doubt! Why does Colleague do everything but sex if she's straight? Because she's straight. I've been teased by countless straight women, or perhaps we could call them Kinsey 5s if they're not averse to same-sex smooching. Again, change jobs if you can so that this frustration won't be in your face every day.

ELDER: If you haven't seen it, I would recommend the wonderful San Junipero episode of Black Mirror to show you that you're not alone in coming to your sexuality later in life. I'm 46 and if a woman your age expressed interest, I'd be fine with it. Good luck!
@3 Oops, I got the Kinsey scale the wrong way round again. Easy mistake when you're smack in the middle of it. A woman who snogs, but won't have sex with, women would be a Kinsey 1.
TS @1: I completely disagree that a woman "knows how to follow up, if she wants." Ever heard of lesbian sheep syndrome? It's a phenomenon where two women are attracted to each other, but as both are female and therefore socialised to let the other person make the first move, no one makes a move. It's possible that Colleague is trying her best to drop hints that WORKING should hit on her, as WORKING is the one who's an out queer and therefore more experienced in this sort of thing. If she's inexperienced with women, she may be terrified of rejection rather than uninterested.
Ms Fan - Did you mean Kinsey .5s (one-half) or Kinsey 1s? 6 is pure homo; I just couldn't decide whether you left out the decimal point or reversed the scale.
Ms Hopkins re your hard no - That could be easier for some of us to say than others. What strikes me as the sad thing here is that the people for whom relationships at work are probably the worst idea are the ones whose workdays are 10-12 hours in length and probably rarely meet people outside of work.
General thought - It's very tempting to declare this week a rerun of the week when Mr Savage wanted only women to comment, but I'm wondering whether it would be worse to discuss the letters because men's discussing women's concerns is sexist or worse not to discuss them because men's avoiding discussing women's concerns is sexist. This reminds me of a conundrum about those wedding cake cases. I was recently complaining to a young gaycon that letting refusenik bakers off with merely identifying as "Christian" and accepting that as equating to "will not bake SS wedding cakes" is an insult to all the Christian bakers who don't have that response. This led to the speculation about whether it's more bigoted to ask a Christian baker for an SS cake when (s)he might feel pressured and accept the order out of fear of reprisals and therefore end up baking the cake without enthusiastic consent, or to refrain from asking a Christian baker either because one expected a refusal or because one expected the order to be accepted out of fear. Weirdly, even before Mr Savage began pushing his line about how men (he appears to have expanded this, but I think it started with men) should invite a No when requesting closer acquaintance, I was proclaiming myself as one who would invite a No from a baker, because I'd want a cake baked with joy rather than one baked with resentment.
Ms Fan - Ah, our posts crossed. I did wonder whether "making out only" should count as a one or only as a half.
*Lesbian* sheep syndrome, sure. Straight sheep, not-so-much. If it was 2 lesbians, ok, they both go "so I like women... *hint*" and nothing goes from there. However, if a woman clearly identifies as straight and the other woman openly ID's as queer, then if the openly-straight woman is interested, she usually makes it clear that she has an interest in women (even if she doesn't specifically ask the other person out). If she wants to be asked out, she'll at least let her friend know she's queer - even the sheep go as far as to stand together.
"your company doesn't incentivize workplace romances by banning them"

Well played Dan.
TS @8: Firstly, it's not clear that this woman identifies as straight. If she does, then there are no sheep around - she just isn't interested, and the story comes to an end. But let's say she's not "straight-identified," but bi and read as straight (as most of us are). Bi women suffer from "lesbian sheep syndrome" just as much as, if not more than, actual lesbians. Colleague may be under the mistaken impression that WORKING's gaydar should be going off around her, and that if WORKING was interested, she'd make the move. Perhaps in Colleague's mind, she has let WORKING know she's queer by flirting and making herself available, and is just waiting for WORKING to take the next (as opposed to the first) step. Remember, bisexuals are used to dating men; ANY encouragement, real or perceived, is sufficient to spur men to hit on us. Colleague may be thinking "I'm doing all the usual flirting things, why isn't she responding?"
@FRUSTRATED “I work with a woman I find impossible to resist.”

Because of who she actually is, or because you know she’s bad for you?
My question for WORKING would be, 'why can't you make a pass--an easily turned-down pass, sure--at her?'. Your coworker already goes to weekend dog walks with you. She makes eyes at you across the office all day. Why can't you say, 'well, it isn't any secret that I'm out and proud, as they used to say ... how do you feel about lesbianism?' (this isn't exactly a pass, by the way) ... or, 'I feel we know each other quite well by now ... but I've never been able to work out whether you've had, or you'd like, gay sex'.

I disagree with @1. Traffic Spiral--that it's for the straight person to initiate. WORKING's colleague might be shy, might be bicurious but have cold feet, be embarrassed or have no idea of the etiquette. She might think the endless dogwalking is enough to signal her interest and be waiting for her friend to move things on. They are always meeting outside of work. The work context isn't greatly relevant here unless the answer is 'what were you thinking?', in which case WORKING will retract pretty sharp-ish and deal with her friend at work on the most exemplary professional basis.
Leaving aside the issue of whether dating a coworker is a good idea or not (I'm of the opinion that it depends. There can be many variables, and so I don't think there's a one-size-fits-all answer unless you're talking about a supervisor/manager/boss and a subordinate, in which case, always a bad idea), I think the way WORKING should approach her friend is to say:
"Would you like to go out with me next Friday? If you're not interested, I understand."

I have never ever had a female friend who was just a friend ask if wanted to "go out," and I've never used that phrase in the form of a question to someone who is just a friend. The coworker will know she's being asked out on a date. She can decide what to do from there.
Perceived true or imagined attractions as described in some of the letters can also be two of the following:
A straight person not feeling comfortable saying “no” in order not to “offend” the queer one. The other one is what I call “showing off my liberal credentials:” I’m so cool. I talk to the lesbian in the office and we also walk our dogs together on weekends.
as for ELDER- quite a few older folks are more open to coming out/trying new things nowadays.
Place an add, state where you are and what you're looking for, and also indicate that this could also be a mutual learning experience (assuming this is what you’re looking for.)

That said, your romantization of lesbianism looks a bit like a het male fantasy. Be aware that relationships can be wonderful, yet also hard to navigate at times, elusive, and heartbreaks may follow.
@14: CMD, agreed. Which is why the person who is interested and out needs to ask a direct question or propose a real date. I have a lesbian friend who used to have a crush on me (she's engaged to be married now, so I'm pretty sure she got over it). We used to hang out, get coffee or lunch, etc. Then one time she asked me out. I can't explain, but I could tell she wasn't suggesting that we get together as just friends. I could feel that there was a sexual or romantic intent behind the invitation.

And so I responded very differently than I would have if I had wanted to get together ("yeah, sure") and very differently than I would have if I couldn't get together ("oh, sorry: I'm doing --- that day").

Instead, I said, "you know I'm straight, right?"
She answered: "I like to date straight girls."
Me: "That seems rather self-defeating."
She: "I just seem to get crushes on them. Sometimes it's worked out."
Me: J---, I'm flattered by your interest, but I only want to be friends with you--or any woman."
She: "Okay. I had to ask."
Me: (I don't remember how the conversation went from there. But we stayed friends, even though the first time I saw here after that was a bit awkward at first. The woman she's marrying, by the way, is bi and has been out for at least 25 years.
Nocute @13: Oh, you'd be surprised. Many years ago I met a young woman at a bi social group; a mutual friend, "Steve," introduced us. I called her (we used phones back then) and invited her to go see a lesbian-themed movie with me. She asked, "Is Steve coming?"

I'm with Dan; WORKING needs to use the word "date."
@18: BDF, you and Dan are right. I guess I was really referring to Harriet's comment @11, where he said: 'well, it isn't any secret that I'm out and proud, as they used to say ... how do you feel about lesbianism?' (this isn't exactly a pass, by the way) ... or, 'I feel we know each other quite well by now ... but I've never been able to work out whether you've had, or you'd like, gay sex'.

If my friend said something like "how do you feel about lesbianism?" I'd assume she was ascertaining whether or not I was a bigot or a homophobe.

If my friend said something like: "I feel we know each other quite well by now ... but I've never been able to work out whether you've had, or you'd like, gay sex'.," I'd laugh, perhaps nervously. It seems weird and stilted to my ears, and it still doesn't make it clear that the person asking the question has a sexual or romantic interest in the person being asked. It sounds, as a matter of fact, like a question from a game of Truth or Dare, a phrase that I've typed twice in one week in these comments sections, which has to be some sort of first!
Can't Think of a Clever Acronym here. Dan condensed the hell out of my letter. The friend of my wife's keeps pushing me to go on another trip with him, including offering to pay my way, and will not take the hint that when I say no, I mean it. I also cannot do long car trips due to health issues, something he conveniently ignores. He refuses to see my trip to LA as work, but rather as a vacation and opportunity to drool over the celebrity I am meeting. Firm no's, again, are not sufficient for him. I just want to know how to get my partner to back me up when he is badgering me. He won't listen to me. He has serious boundary issues, and I've gone from being lukewarm at best to actively disliking him because of this behavior. I don't think that going nuclear is the correct approach, because this has great potential to destroy my relationship with my partner. Just because my partner is friends with him doesn't mean I have to be. I just need him to climb down out of my ass and find out how to get my partner to back me up when he badgers me after I continually shoot down the various whims of this guy.
Nice to see the female sloggers stepping up here to add to Dan's input.
@19. Nocutename. Ok, so I'm not Oscar Wilde with the dialog! I have lived mostly in England and continental Europe recently, and my ear with American, especially, may be out. I would think that a straight person who hangs out with and heavily texts a lesbian, when asked, 'you know I'm queer, right?', understands that a proposition may well be in the offing.

If there's a difference between your advice (which is the same as Dan's advice) and my advice, it's that yours is explicit about the date being a date. (Mine is just to make a pass at the dog pound). Yours is better. It is clearer. Mine's closer to the path of least resistance, and would have picked up on how the letter writer is tentative and at a loss for even basic things, like knowing whether her friend is into her romantically.
@20; welcome. It sounds a bit worrying that you standing up to this man Strongly, could cause problems between you and your partner. If she has such little sense of supporting you when her friend is obviously harassing you, she and you need to work that out. Not what I'd call marriage ready, your relationship.
Re the friend, are you a woman or a mouse? Just tell him to fuck off and leave you the fuck alone. That he is your partner's friend and that you are not an add on. Ignore him, walk out of the room when he turns up, cold shoulder him , say no no no no and no each time he invites you anywhere. Re the trip, don't mention the details to him again, have your ticket etc bought and just leave.
Your partner might react if you go ballistic with him, then that might be a perfect time to have the talk with her. If she's not there as your ally, why are you marrying each other. Ffs, just blow this mess out of the water now. I'd be happy to offer my nut cracking services, it's a new business I've started for women who Can't Stand Up To Pushy Men, but I'm in a country far far away, so maybe not much help.
Good luck and just throw this dick overboard and let your partner know she is not being a good friend/ partner.
Clever Acronym, how much of what you're saying to us (about how much you've come to dislike your partner's friend) have you said to her? This is the real issue. You have to be her priority--your job, your health, your peace of mind (all of which this 'jackass' imperils).

Wouldn't your fiancée see that?
Re @23; it's a verbal not a physical nut cracking service. The latter would be illegal and I'd go to jail.
@23 Thanks.
@24 I've told her basically all of it. It came to a head a couple weeks ago when he was bugging me about going on my business trip while also badgering me to go on this other trip with him. I flat out told her "X has boundary issues, X is making me uncomfortable, and I need you to back me up." She said she didn't realize I needed backup. She's wonderful in every other way, but he is her one huge blind spot and she is fiercely protective of him for some reason. I'm someone that is like a cat. The more you chase after me and try to force your presence on me, the more I will dislike you and not want to be around you. She said she would talk to him about it, but when I've asked her subsequently if she has, she has admitted she has not. It's all very disheartening.

His personality is also the polar opposite of mine. I'm a relatively mellow person, but get stressed out by overly hyper people. Before I even started actively disliking him, I couldn't stand being around him for more than a couple of hours because he is one of those people who is always on. Hyper, high strung, just too much for me. So the idea of ever going on any sort of trip for any amount of time with him sounds like one of the circles of hell for me.

I don't care if she remains friends with the guy. I really don't. I just want her to back me up and for him to leave me the hell alone.
Can't think @ 20 - If your partner is not backing you up, you a) need to make it real clear to her that her friend is annoying you deeply (have you done that, or have you been trying not to hurt her feelings while yours are being trampled all over?), then b) tell her that if she won't back you up on something like this, it really doesn't bode well for your relationship, and you'll have to rethink your commitment (since hers seems to be primarily to her friend, in spite of all those years he wasn't in her life) and at the very least postpone the wedding.

More importantly, if she chooses her friend over you, you should accept that this isn't the relationship you're looking for.

Can't think @ 26 (We're both at 26! How confusing!) - So you already answered my question. Go on to step b).
Yes, Can't Think, Ricardo is right. This guy is her friend, but you are supposed to be her life partner. Especially since you aren't asking her to stop being friends with him. She is free to do things with him and she won't stand up for you in wha sounds like a very reasonable request. If you've told her how you feel and what you need from her and she won't do it . . .there's her priorities.
@25. Clever Acronym. First, there are legitimate reasons for this guy's being your partner's huge blind spot. He's been ill. Then it sounds as if there are aspects to his personality--which is wired and extroverted--which are complementary to yours. Then there may e.g. be lots of 'queer solidarity' reasons--he's an old gay friend, part of a gay couple, part of the first married gay couple she was friends with, etc.

But I think you have to raise the stakes with your fiancée. She doesn't know how big this is yet. Your personality is averse to escalating; and she hasn't realised she has to make a choice, to change her behavior and take steps to cordon you and the guy off. It's about her, not him. Both in the edited letter (maybe badly edited) and in your first post, you had quite a lot sentences talking about this jerk and one or two at the end about your future wife. You don't want it to be about her and how (or whether) she comes through for you, but it is.
The guys are right Can't think, your partner is being caught by something.
Maybe the Patriarchy.
Tell her to check the world out, times up for entitled men who don't the fuck listen to women.
You have to close her down too, until she hears you and moves her arse to defend you. Maybe give her till after your trip to " deal with the problem."
Seriously though tell this guy he's not coming with you on any trip and to shut it. Your partner won't be there for every moment a man tries it on, you've got to find your own assertive voice.
Like I said, I offer this service... I could email him? Just kidding.
@29 I think your last sentence pretty much sums up her situation.

Also I think there is a place between your current state and going nuclear. Saying that he isn't going with you and you aren't going on his trip, that is final, you will not be discussing it anymore and if he chooses to push you on it there will be bigger problems. Tell your fiancee that first and then tell him the next time he brings it up. It may be a wake up call for the oblivious friend. It builds the case for you going nuclear if it doesn't. You could add the wedding officiant part to it if you wanted to do it all at once.
I definitely am averse to escalating. I'm good at standing up for others, just not myself. And though I haven't bent to this guy's will yet, it's exhausting to be beaten down by his constant "you need to do A,B,C and D with me. Oh, you can't afford it because you're doing your project and you're saving money for that? What do you need money for? I'll pay for it." No. Absolutely not. I would rather snort a line of polonium 210, and no one pays my way but me anyway. If one of my friends happened to be doing this to her, I would tell them to back the fuck off. Hell, I've told scarier, more aggressive men I didn't know to back the fuck off of friends of mine before. I just don't understand why my particular complaints are being unheard, and when I bring these things up to her, she often takes it as slight to her as well, not just to him.

We've been together for close to a decade now. This guy has been back in her life for about a year. I've been frustrated with his shit since the summer, and it just keeps getting worse. So perhaps I will raise the stakes. She will be going on one of the first trip he was trying to force me to go on with them soon. Since they will be gone for a few days, seems like a perfect time for her to say "listen, bud, I love ya, but you need to give her some space because you are making her crazy." But, you know, she'd have to actually follow through with her part and do that, rather than just turn me into the bad guy when I eventually have taken too much of his shit and go off on him. Because a woman can only take so much, you know?
Can't think @25: I feel for you. I'm guessing, based on what you have said so far, that it's not quite clear to your partner just how miserable her friend is making you (she may even be less perceptive than usual about it because of her underlying motivation/desire for you two to get along). Is there a reason you can't be blunt with her and tell her everything in your (original) letter to Dan and your comments to us? Why not show her the letter?
Can’t Think — thank you for writing and commenting.

Dan’s advice is spot-on, but he didn’t make explicit the point of not asking your partner to intervene. Yes, she introduced this guy into your life, but she won’t help you remove him, and you may be antagonizing her by asking. If you do “burn it down,” I suggest e-mail, so you have a written copy, and give clear reasons for each point. (“Second-hand smoke is harmful, so I won’t visit you.” “My trip is for my business, not your pleasure.”) If he bugs your partner about your refusals, offer to stand with her. Try to ensure you and your partner are on the same side at all times.

I’m sorry you have to endure this. Hopefully he doesn’t attend your wedding.
@33, I haven't even thought of that, but it's a good idea. I could just show her the original email I sent to Dan. Another couple parts he left out: on top of them being chainsmokers, they have two huge dogs. I am afraid of dogs. The bigger, the scarier. Does that matter to him? Of course not. Also, the last time he badgered me to go on the new trip with him and offered to pay my way and I said no, he started whining about how he's "beginning to feel really neglected." So what? I do not exist to comfort or entertain you, and it was not my choice that you entered my life. It's not only annoying, it's manipulative as all get out when he says things like that. When I'm hoping that my project is a huge success not just for career advancement, but because success would mean I'd likely have to relocate to the opposite end of the country and I'd be getting the hell away from him, you know that things are that bad.
@ 32 -- I am also conflict averse and would also try excuses like "It's not that I don't want to but I can't afford to go on the trip with you." Regardless of how you handle this with your partner, it's time to stop the polite refusals to the friend: "No, thank you. I don't want to go on the trip." "But why?" "I just don't want to." You can do it with calm respect rather than "fuck you" anger if that is more comfortable, but don't let him control the conversation and your responses. You don't owe him any more explanations. "Is it because of money or X?" "It's because I just don't want to" People like him will latch onto any polite excuse you try, so stop. Who cares if he gets offended? And if your partner gets offended, that's a different issue and Ricardo and Harriet and others have given some solid advice about that situation.
@20: What does your partner like about this guy?

Is it one of those townie “I’ve known them for so long!” sort of weird obligations?
@36 I think I'll do that more from now on. "Because I just don't want to/I don't feel like it/I'd rather not."
@37 I think that's essentially it. She has known him since they were really young and they were really close in high school, she was friends with him on facebook and saw he was having his health crisis and reached out last year, and now I'm stuck with this awful schmuck in my life. I feel like I need several doses of social life chemotherapy to rid myself of this guy.
@Can't Think: Can you say to your fiancée, "Honey, I know Malcolm is an important friend to you and I'm glad for your sake that you two reconnected. But I don't want to be friends with him myself. I've tried for this past year, and it's just not working. I'd prefer if you two do your friend things together just the two of you, and once every six months or so, I will go to dinner at his house or he and his partner can come to dinner here or something like that so things aren't too awkward. I don't want to get in the way of your friendship, but this is your friendship, not mine. And next time he starts pushing for something involving me, I would like you to stand up for me. If he starts bugging you about why can't he come along on my work trip, tell him that I don't want him to--go ahead and make me the bad guy, or make me be 'allergic' to smoke and dogs. I don't care if he doesn't like me. But I need to know that you support me."

Then, if you must see pushy friend, just be vague and suddenly have something else to do, or cling to your fiancée's side.

If your fiancée really doesn't know how you feel about Pushy Friend, and you have tried using non-confrontational excuses, you can't blame her for not standing up to him for you. I certainly hope she will once you tell her clearly how you feel and what you want from her. But if she says she can't or if she says she will and then doesn't stand up to him on your behalf or support your need for distance from him, it's time to have another, more difficult talk. I hope this is a case where she really doesn't know just how much you dislike him.

Good luck!
@32. CleverAcronym. I'm not sure it's a good idea to ratchet up your aversion to this guy, as your fiancee will see it--to make a series of requests or place a series of demands, rather than laying your cards on the table in one fell swoop.

You are clear in your mind that 1) you're not going on a car trip with him; 2) he won't be joining you on your work trip to LA; and 3) he won't be officiating at your wedding. If he's there at all, it will be at a distant table; and your wife will snatch a hello while you talk to the people you're invited. You're clear about this, yes? Then why not fill your partner in on your boundaries, too? Once and for all? It will be the kindest thing to her, in that she won't have to guess how much you can or can't bear of his company. You can bear none of it; when she sees him, as she's entitled to, will be during a time when she isn't seeing you.
@Harriet: I might have disagreed with your wording to the woman who isn't sure if her coworker is a lesbian, but you are spot-on @40.
@40 I just thought that the trip they are going on would be a decent time for her to tell him to perhaps back off of me. I have made clear my boundaries before, as I've had this conversation with her more than once, and she goes on the defensive when I do. As I said, if I criticize him, it's almost like she sees it as me criticizing her. I don't want her friendship with this person to be a relationship ender; I find that highly ridiculous, to be honest. Plenty of people are in relationships where they don't like their partner's choice of friends. I just want her to firmly be on my side when I say no to his flights of fancy, and respect the fact that just because he's her friend, doesn't mean he has to be my friend too.
Hey Can't Think.
Another reason this guy may not be 'taking the hint' is that you perhaps have been hiding your true motivations under polite excuses. For example, you said you'd mentioned you to him that you didn't want to go on a trip because you couldn't afford it, which he countered with "I'll pay." However, the real reason you don't want to go is that you DON'T WANT TO GO. You don't need to go nuclear, but you do need to tell him that in no uncertain terms. He's been countering your excuses, but there's no counter for "I just don't want to do that." Sounds like this guy is clueless and will keep bugging you until you make yourself very clear. Best of luck.
I don't really have much to add to this week's Savage Love: Lesborama.
The comment threads are wonderful reads, though. Many thanks to all.
Traffic Spiral, Eva Hopkins, and Ricardo, nice to see you all back.
@2 Eva Hopkins & @3 BiDanFan: "Paying the rent > uncertain lust prospect": I third it. The same goes double for me.
@23 LavaGirl: Wow--I surely could have benefitted from your Can't Stand Up to Pushy Men nut-cracking service seventeen years ago and way, way back in my naive twenties!
The thing is though, for at least one of the trips he has badgered me about, I have said in no uncertain terms that I just don't want to go. One, because of the car trip. Two, because it will be a trip where they will be in a large, crowded party atmosphere, something that is not my bag at all. I do not do well in crowd situations, especially when the people are all loud and drunk, as they will be there. His response? "I'll give you some Xanax. You'll be fine." So the second time around, I said I can't afford it, I'm doing my project, which is when he offered to pay. I'm now going to have to deal with both my partner and him, saying that in no uncertain terms am I ever going on a trip with him, and I'd rather have chimpanzees rip my face off than do so.

I really do appreciate all of your advice though. I was wondering if I was being a dick in this situation. I'm just going to put my foot down and, if he comes over here and starts bothering me, remove myself from his presence and lock myself in the bedroom. I will never go to his home though, and I will never, ever go on a trip with him. Hell, I don't even want to go to dinner with him. If he truly cares about me the way he claims to, he needs to back the fuck off and stay as far away from me as possible. This goes double for the project I'm working on.
@20 Can't Think of a Clever Acronym: Thank you for joining us. I feel your discomfort. I can't help but agree with @26 Ricardo and others about possibly postponing--or maybe even calling off your wedding if your fiancee won't back you up because her male friend is being so unbearably invasive. He really does sound like he's got serious boundary issues. People who can't take "no" for an answer are no fun to be around at all.
@46: Seriously--some guys out there deserve a permanent boot-print in their scrotums.
@47 Can't Think of a Clever Acronym: You're not being the dick--HE is!
@46, Grizelda, if you ever need call on my services in the future, you'll get a very good buddies' discount.
@47: Can't Think, you say, "I have said in no uncertain terms that I just don't want to go."

But that's not what you told us in your examples, both of which offered Pushy Friend a lot of openings to "help" you be able to take the trip he wants you to take. To be fair, if someone gave most people these reasons for not being able to do something, many people would helpfully try to "solve" the "problem" as I think Pushy Friend is genuinely trying to do.

Here are the "reasons" you gave for not wanting PF to come along. But see how he sees them as problems in need of solutions, which he comes up with for you:
"One, because of the car trip. Two, because it will be a trip where they will be in a large, crowded party atmosphere, something that is not my bag at all. I do not do well in crowd situations, especially when the people are all loud and drunk, as they will be there. His response? "I'll give you some Xanax. You'll be fine." So the second time around, I said I can't afford it, I'm doing my project, which is when he offered to pay."

There's no need to ratchet up the tone and get combative; all you have to say, over and over as many times as necessary, using a calm and polite tone is: "I am going to go alone," "No thank you; I'm making this trip by myself," "No, I'm doing this as a solo trip," "no." You don't need and in fact shouldn't give a reason. He will try to help you overcome that reason.
From a legal perspective, WORKING is probably on safe ground making one clear expression of interest in a date. But I would still be careful, and agree with certain of the points raised, for instance, no manager-subordinate relationships.

That said, I would really recommend not asking this woman out. Just as with the pizza shop employees this week, there seems to be a bit of wishful thinking on the part of WORKING who spends a lot of time with this woman, but still doesn’t know whether her friend is even interested in women. I think that if this woman is at all interested she would have been able to express that in some definitive way. While we cannot know that with certainty, given heightened awareness of sexual harassment, I would tred lightly or not at all in a work environment.
@50 LavaGirl: It's a deal!
I’m delighted Can't Think of a Clever Acronym is here. I think she already got some great advice and my apologies if I repeat some of it in mine.
As some may rightfully suspect I’m usually a fan of the “straight talk.” It doesn’t need to be brutal, but it’s often best for everyone involved when cards are laid on the table, all involved express themselves and move on accordingly.
“Brutality” may occur. I have been on both sides, and while it may take me some time to recover when thrown at me, I’m appreciative later despite being initially hurt (or afraid I’m hurting others.)

Can't Think of- I hope you and your partner allow some friendship freedom for each other. You can tell her she is welcome to have relationship with this person, yet you are not interested. You will still be polite, accommodate the person if dropping your wife or invited to Thanksgiving dinner every five years or so.
Successful relationships allow such one-spouse friendships.
From a legal perspective, WORKING is probably on safe ground making one clear expression of interest in a date. But I would still be careful, and agree with certain of the points raised, for instance, no manager-subordinate relationships.

That said, I would really recommend not asking this woman out. Just as with the pizza shop employees this week, there seems to be a bit of wishful thinking on the part of WORKING who spends a lot of time with this woman, but still doesn’t know whether her friend is even interested in women. I think that if this woman is at all interested she would have been able to express that in some definitive way. While we cannot know that with certainty, given heightened awareness of sexual harassment, I would tred lightly or not at all in a work environment.
To WORKING Is your co-worker in a hetero relationship? If yes, could she be bi or looking for a unicorn/
BDF@3 Are they just work confidants or do they talk about personal things (like relationships) as well? If the latter then WORKING should have at least some feel for the coworker's orientation. WORKING should Facebook friend her coworker. What the coworker has on her page and if the coworker accepts or rejects her friendship request should clarify (or not) the situation. I would be surprised if she hasn't already taken this obvious action
BDF In response to You keep using the acronym "FPOS." What does the F stand for? The F as in F U. He transitioned from a C to an F with his ultimatum.
Lavagirl Regarding nut cracking. I have often wondered how a harassing man would react if a woman took out a nut cracker, some walnuts, and smiled ferally while she cracked the nuts. Probably a very bad idea.
Nocute @19: I agree; sorry, Harriet, but "how do you feel about gay sex" might be an effective chat-up line for men but it doesn't seem appropriate to this situation -- I think WORKING wants more than casual sex with this woman -- nor would it go over well with many women of any orientation. "Have you ever been with a woman?" would be far better phrasing, or better yet, "How would you feel about dating a woman?"

CTOACA: Welcome! @32: it's exhausting to be beaten down by his constant "you need to do A,B,C and D with me. Oh, you can't afford it because you're doing your project and you're saving money for that? What do you need money for? I'll pay for it."

This jumped out at me; since this guy has boundary issues, you can't take the normal, tactful route of saying "I can't do this because X" and just say "No." A much firmer no. Don't give him reasons. Say, "No, because I don't want to." "No, and that's final." "No means no." Or perhaps say "No, but we can do Y instead." When your fiancée admitted that she hadn't realised she needs to back you up, do you think that was a light bulb moment or does she still not realise it?

Auntie @49: Hear, hear! It's this guy who's out of line, not you. One other thought I had, since Fiancée takes criticism of her friend as criticism of her, might be to acknowledge that the guy must obviously have some good qualities to be her friend, and the deep roots of their friendship, before you launch into a "but he drives me nuts and he won't take no for an answer"?

Skeptic @56-57: If WORKING's colleague is in a hetero relationship, WORKING should absolutely definitely 100% steer clear. Firstly, WORKING is a lesbian, so by definition would have no interest in a three-way with this woman's male partner. Secondly, speaking as a poly person, all relationships should be presumed monogamous unless one is informed otherwise. Trying to bang a partnered person is, to quote Dan, NEVER EVER NEVER EVER okay. These two have "worked together for a year and gotten very close"; in the female world, that means at minimum Colleague would have mentioned a partner if she had one. I think it's safe to presume she's single.

Thanks for clarifying that FPOS is essentially the same thing as the MF in DTMFA.
@59 a skeptic and a cynic: Personally, I had more of leaving a permanent boot-stamp in the nuts in mind. That, or here's one that still gives me a chuckle: a line Dustin Hoffman (although he's sadly gotten some bad press lately for harassment, too), as actor Michael Dorsey playing TV soap opera star Dorothy Michaels, in "Tootsie", regarding a scene on Southwest General, advising Nurse Kimberly (Jessica Lange):'I'd like to have each nurse armed with a cattle prod. Then, if he [an overly friendly senior doctor] gets out of line just give him a zap in the badoobies.'
@42. CleverAcronym. Well, what would your fiancee make of Nocute's 'Malcolm' script? I thought that finely judged. (Plaudits all round!). This isn't about whether 'Malcolm''s a good person or not. He may have his moments but be basically fine; he may be a winning asshole who's ingratiated himself with your partner by playing to her blind spot. So what? It's not about that; and not about your partner's friendship. It's about your not being able to stand this guy, and whether your partner can make arrangements for you to get round him, to avoid him.

If you were clear, 'it's not about him or my moral judgment of him; it's not about you or your right to be friends with him; it's about me and the gut reaction I have', would your partner still go on the defensive?
@60. BiDan. You don't have to apologise for finding my wording clumsy! The thinking behind it was to give the co-worker a chance to reply something like, 'I'm not a homophobe but, knowing myself, I wouldn't personally be interested in a gay relationship'. Then WORKING can say in a face-saving way, 'oh, of course, I wasn't presuming; but I'm so pleased we've struck up a friendship and that you're an ally' or words--the right words!! Midwestern or PNWestern-accented words!!--to that effect. This extra 'air-space' was for WORKING's sake. But the pretty damn clear yet still respectfully tentative 'how would you feel about dating a woman?' would be perfect. You're right--'how would you feel about dating a man?' isn't something a gay man would say.

I don't think I've propositioned a straight man in my life. But I'm backward. In situations where it was ambiguous, sure. Been propositioned--countless times.
Dan... why are writers in your paper promoting the idea that being gay/sexuality is a choice?…

LW1 is describing a totally normal straight friendship that is becoming close. Rather than wonder if the other woman is a secret lesbian, I wonder if the LW has ever had a close straight female friend? Her description describes just about every female friendship I've ever had.
Congrats in advance to this week's Savage Love: Lesborama lucky @69 winner!
@13 - NoCuteName, I disagree entirely. If they did not already have a friendship outside of the workplace, that might be different, but they frequently spend weekends together walking dogs and they text at night. In that situation, if a woman who I already met up with for some sort of hobby/interest asked me if I wanted to go out with her somewhere else, I would assume that she meant if I wanted to expand the friendship beyond our current context. For example, I enjoy you so much that I'd like to actually become close friends with you, not just dog-walking friends or work-friends or hobby-friends or whatever. Also I don't think there is anything dated about saying "go out with me" and I've spent my entire adult female straight life saying similar things to other women and having them say them to me. In fact just two days ago I invited a woman I met in a hobby class to go have coffee. I double checked the text and I said, "Would you like to go for a cup of coffee Sunday after class?" I don't know that including the word "out" after go would have changed it. I also say things like "I'd like to buy you a drink" to other women etc. as well as had them say it to me.

@BDF 10 They've been fairly close for a year. If she identified as either bi or lesbian, wouldn't she have mentioned this at some point? As unfair as it is, het seems to be the assumption- it's the thing you can be without having to say "I'm straight" and it's pretty normal for straight people to never come out and say they are straight b/c it never occurred to them that they would think otherwise. I doubt that a bi or lesbian- even one who was NOT attracted to her friend but especially one who IS- would spend an entire year close to another woman (especially a lesbian) without ever mentioning that she identifies as a lesbian or bi. So either she's straight or she's uncertain herself and not sure how she feels. I don't think there's a possibility that she identifies that way and just never brought it up.

To both of you-
To me as a straight woman with several close female friends, some of whom are not straight themselves- their relationship sounds like a totally normal nonsexual friendship from the POV of the other woman. It's also possible that the other woman is dealing with confusing emotions and attractions that she doesn't know how to handle, but it's equally likely that the LW, who is attracted to women, feels a layer of attraction on top of the normal close friendship that the other woman is oblivious to. And the reason the other woman is able to be so intimate without being sexual is exactly what it seems.

There's only one way to find out for sure though. If the LW is afraid to bring it up b/c she doesn't want to scare off her friend, she could start just by asking the other woman more generally about her sexuality. I agree also that Harriet's word choice was bad, but the general advice was good. The LW should simply ask her friend how she identifies, and the first part of Harriet' statement was good. Wait until it seems like they are sharing one of those intimate moments she says they have and say, "We've known each other for a while now, but you haven't mentioned how you identify." The LW does not have to mention her own attraction until she gets an answer. If the other woman seems confused or says she's bi/lesbian THEN the LW can decide if/how to reveal her own attraction. If the other woman is straight, then the LW needs to decide if it's healthy for her to continue this close friendship since she obviously wants more. Knowledge that she's straight might change things and they might be able to continue a close friendship. Or it might complicate things and the LW will have to decide whether or not to talk to her about this to establish some boundaries that would not need to be there between two straight women.
Congratulations EmmaLiz, you get the luck this week.
I'm confused re this friendship. The LW is openly out and here is her co worker texting late into the night etc etc. What, she wouldn't be aware of the signals this behaviour might be sending to a gay woman? I can see why this woman is getting a little crazy.
Reverse the situation and have a woman behave this way with a straight man, for a year. What would he do or say? Doubt many men would let this mind fuck go on for so long.
LW, I suggest you just say it to her straight.
" you know Im gay, so I got to admit your signals are confusing me. You text me late into the night and Im just not sure how you see our friendship.."
It's been a year, you look lovingly at each other, texts late in the night .. she may be super naive or interested and shy, either way you driving yourself bonkers over it is futile. Talk with her. Hope you come back and tell us what she says..
I wonder how many readers missed this in Can't Think of a Clever Acronym's letter:
He texts her at all hours—and when he can't get in touch with her, he bugs me.
It appears that both Can't Think and her partner - though lesbians - were socialized to always be polite. Unfortunately for Can't Think, her partner is also being much too polite with her - not acknowledging how her old friend's behaviour is just not right, certainly as the old friend is not automatically Can't Think's friend.

If - at the moment - her partner won't do more to stand up for her, Can't Think should just shut any social exchanges down with this boorish man. Send ONE final email stating that she is not interested in any of his plans. No reason is required (no matter if she was brought up to always offer a polite reason in order to minimize the other party's feelings of rejection). If he texts her, ignore the texts and delete them. Block him on whatever accounts he can contact you.

Deal with whatever fallout happens directly with your partner. Because, now that this boor won't be able to bug Can't Think directly, he'll most likely step up his activity with the partner. Which could be a good thing, because then she won't be insulated from the extent of his ongoing harrasment. She may have to finally understand and accept that friends are automatically all angelic.

Can't Think should also look out for the boor's final nuclear option: to beg to be allowed to officiate at the wedding because - you know - he's not sure of how much time he has left on this earth. Or some other emotionally controlling rationale. I wouldn't put it past him.

Remember ... "he texts her at all hours". Which means he's neglecting his own partner in order to spend virtual time with a lesbian couple.
Oops, the numbers up front are one ahead. So I'm the lucky one.
Ack! @70 (or am I 71 now?)

The sentence should have read:
She may have to finally understand and accept that friends are *NOT* automatically all angelic.
Lack of edit function is so frustrating.
Agree Helena.. and I agree with Dan's response. Burn it down.
Yeah re the edit button; Helenka.
For CTOACA, I’m with Helenka @70 – tell him once that you’ve discovered in the past year that the two of you are incompatible for friendship and that you won’t be responding any more. Then delete any texts, screen your calls, and block his access on any media you can. Don’t bend and answer another message or he’ll learn that you don’t maintain your own boundaries.

As for your fiancee, I would let her know that you’re disappointed that she doesn’t support you about this and then I would drop it.

To me, this sounds overly controlling: “I just thought that the trip they are going on would be a decent time for her to tell him to perhaps back off of me.” She’s not going to tell him off, and certainly not if you keep telling her how and when she should do it. So just drop it and cut him out of your life yourself. You don't need her help to do that, you just need to stick to your boundaries.
@Lava, congrats to you. I just barely missed it. Story of my life.

I might just have a particularly social life, but the LW didn't say late into the night, she said until late at night. Which can mean anything. If they are texting each other until 2AM on a work night, yeah that's probably weird. But "until" late night- does that mean at like 10 before bed?

I pretty regularly have touch-and-go conversations with loads of people throughout a week, and it is not uncommon at all for me to text with friends, men and women, around bedtime.

As for role reversal, if it is a straight man and woman and they both know that each other are straight and they've been talking pretty regularly and walking dogs together (or sharing some other hobby) plus working together and an entire year has passed with no physical contact nor conversations about emotions, I'm pretty sure we'd agree that either A) they are just friends, or B) the attracted party needs to talk honestly to the ambiguous party. My advice for these two women is exactly the same.

And no, one of my longest and closest female friends in the world is bi and I have several lesbian friends, and it would never occur to me to behave differently around them than I do around my straight girlfriends nor would it occur to me that they were ever in the least attracted to me. But I'm pretty clearly and vocally straight so such a confusion would never occur in the first place.

The problem at the core of all this is that the LW doesn't know the sexual orientation of her friend, even after a year, which is odd. She should just ask, and then decide how to proceed with handling her attraction. She can't do the second before the first.
What is it with some people wanting to officiating other people's weddings? I'm in agreement with LW, fuck that bullshit that's hella pushy. Dude sounds like a bloodsucker. Something tells me he isn't the type of guy that's "there for you" when the going gets rough. I can hear the speech now "I want to be there for you but all this stress is making it hard for me"
Seconding EmmaLiz, I think WORKING's coworker is looking for a BFF, not a sex partner. This is not an unusual straight woman friendship ("friendship"?) dynamic in my experience. Seconding LavaGirl, this can indeed be mistaken for romantic interest, to the confusion and frustration of the other party. And lots of men DO put up with it for long periods of time - that's where a lot of the Nice Guy™ "friendzone" complaints come from.

Congratulations, WORKING: you're a misogynistic Nice Guy™ who isn't genuinely this woman's friend but simply wants to bed her! The misogyny comes from the fact that only a misogynist could misinterpret her totally-normal-and-not-at-all-unusually-intimate-for-a-platonic-friendship behavior as possible romantic interest, and becasue the fact that you want to have sex with her means you obviously have no real affection for her and are just feigning friendship as a ruse, since sexual attraction and friendship are completely incompatible (demisexuals don't exist).

(The second paragraph was sarcasm, in case it's not clear. And, yes, I do think pop feminism's take on this dynamic is simplistic to the point of being more wrong than right.)
Bullshit. The LW is not being misogynistic. She has a very clear reason for being confused- she does not know the sexual orientation of her friend. You are just trying to ironically tear apart an issue that you misunderstand, so your sarcastic take just makes you sound like an ass. A straight man who thinks he is friend zoned does indeed know the sexual orientation of his female friend. And if she's a lesbian, he knows there is no chance. If she is bi or straight, he can simply tell her that he is attracted to her, and if she answers that she wants to just be friends, then yes he is a misogynist if he continues the friendship A) out of either the secret hope that she will one day fuck him or B) with secret seething resentment that she won't fuck him or C) with judgement on the men she does fuck. It's these things that make him a misogynist, not honest curiosity about her feelings. Note the advice to the lesbian LW is the same- first find out her sexual orientation, and then once you have that info, decide how you feel about the friendship if she's straight or how to talk to her about your attraction if she's bi/les/confused. The misinterpretation itself has nothing to do with it nor does the totally normal sexual desire, and your willful misunderstanding here is not sarcastic but is misogynistic. And it might surprise you to find out that many things that you think are simplistic appear that way to you because you don't understand them.
And you can't attempt to sarcastically portray something if you don't understand it in the first place. That's not what sarcasm means.
Being attracted to your friend and wondering if she's attracted and even hoping she is - not misogynistic.

Interpreting friendship as a romantic interest- not misogynistic.

Having real sexual interest in someone but also real interest in friendship - not misogynistic

Choosing not to be friends with someone because you really are attracted to them and are not happy with just being friends - not misogynistic

Being friends with someone who you are attracted to while understanding and respecting that they are not attracted to you - not misogynistic but probably not very healthy for you either

Being friends with someone who you are attracted to while understanding and respecting that they are not attracted to you and then feeling like you deserve credit for this or complaining about how you are always there for them when they get their heart broken - maybe misogynistic, certainly unhealthy for everyone

Being friends with someone who you are attracted to while understanding that they are not attracted to you and then feeling resentful of this fact and blaming them for it and criticising them for dating other men when they can't see what a nice guy you are and that they are taking advantage of your niceness to cry on your shoulder while they fuck assholes- misogynistic.

If you are going to sarcastically portray something or respond to something, you should have a grasp of what you are trying to ironically attempt first.
EL’s @ 76
“As for role reversal, if it is a straight man and woman and they both know that each other are straight and they've been talking pretty regularly and walking dogs together (or sharing some other hobby) plus working together and an entire year has passed with no physical contact nor conversations…”

Just an aside- It is my observation that os straight platonic friendship in the work place and beyond is less common and will generate more false assumptions and expectations than a female-female regardless of orientation, not to mention female-gay man friendship.
Het males platonic relations are almost exclusively with other het males.

I don't think you should close down this point of view so easily EmmaLiz. John H is usually pretty measured in his comments.
There's other clues EL, like staring at each other across the office?
Re orientation of the other girl, messy. Her messages are not normal gf ones, not in my world. Not with a gay woman.. staring across the office at each other. Cmon.
@83cont: " re orientation of other *woman,
Update: Had a talk with my partner after she mentioned her upcoming trip with the pesky friend and his partner. I even tossed in the whole "he clearly must have good qualities if you are friends with him" jazz, and told her that this is not an attack on her, but that he is not my cup of tea, he is too pushy with me, lacks any kind of boundaries, and I feel like he's suffocating me when he is around. I said I felt like the cat in the Pepe LePew cartoons, but in a platonic acquaintanceship. I told her that there is no chance of us ever going on a trip together with him in the future, because it will make me miserable, and I do not want to be miserable and make others miserable on vacation. I gave her full permission to make me the bad guy. But I told her that I was done with his shit and she needs to back me up on the occasions when he comes around and starts going off on tangents about how I need to do things with him. She said she would. I told her not everyone has to be the best of friends. She agreed. And he is not officiating the wedding.

And then I changed the subject and started talking about something else, so it didn't seem like I was ramming my point into the ground or harping on the issue. Hopefully, this will be the last of it.
Yeah @85: Clever. Stating clear boundaries, doesn't that feel good? And your partner heard you and will back you up. Yeah her. Nice one.
@85: Bravo, Can't Think! Fingers crossed that it works. And I'm happy to hear that your fiancée didn't argue with you about it.
Good luck to you both!
@CMD 82

I've mostly ignored that aspect of this letter because it seems like it's a moot point by now. They have already moved their relationship beyond the work place so I'm not even thinking of them as coworkers but rather as friends who do things like hang out on the weekends and text in the evenings.

As for OS friendships, it's usually more common for most people to make friends with the same sex just in general. That doesn't mean that it's uncommon for OS friendships to exist. Nor would the gender reversal change my advice despite OS friendships being more common. If you take most people, their friends are like them- of a similar class, race, gender and work schedule, all of which dictate lifestyle. The fact that this is a very common way to live is really irrelevant. It is not uncommon for people to have friends across those lines just because it's not the majority. You might perhaps have a segregated work space or social life. This has not been my experience in the least, and since early childhood, throughout adolescence, youth and now several decades into adult hood, I've been friends with men platonically all my life as have most women I'm friends with. Though my most intimate friends are women, they aren't always the ones I hang with most, mostly because my main hobbies tend to be male dominated. So I don't really know what it matters if it's less common?

And anyway, back to the point, the advice is the same- first determine the friend's sexual orientaiton. Second determine your own feelings/interest in regard to that new knowledge. Three decide to talk to your friend, step back from the friendship or make a move accordingly. I'd say the same to an OS couple.
Emma @68: Again, you'd be surprised at how few opportunities to insert "by the way, I'm queer" come up, particularly in workplace type conversations. The third possibility is that Colleague is queer, but isn't interested in WORKING -- perhaps WORKING isn't her type, or perhaps she's one of the "tyrannical minority of puritans who would treat a consensual workplace romance as sexual harassment," I mean, a sensible person who doesn't want to risk bringing dating drama into her workplace. (For the record, I agree that Colleague probably is straight, but "probably" does not exclude other possibilities.)

Lava: Congrats on the lucky number!

John @78: You clearly don't understand what "friendzone" means. A "Nice Guy" is only pretending to be friends with the object of his attraction, assuming that if he inserts enough kindness tokens his target will eventually reward him with a sexual relationship, and will drop her like a dog turd when he realises that's not going to happen. WORKING is assuming the opposite: that her colleague is straight and probably NOT interested, but she's friends with her anyway; this shows the friendship is genuine regardless of what else may or may not develop.

CMD @82: It depends on the social group. In my social group, straight people of both genders are platonic friends -- but that's in the context of being two parts of a web of pals, not the context of a two-person BFF pairing like WORKING describes. I agree it would be fairly unusual for a straight man's best friend not to be another straight man.

Lava @83: Yes, the "staring across the office" was the clue that hints this isn't just the usual platonic BFF situation from Colleague's perspective.

CTOACA @85: Well done! I hope this puts the issue to rest once and for all.

Michael @88: The blanket phrase you're looking for to cover both situations, and more, is "Don't shit where you eat." And I couldn't agree more with you.
Mizz Liz @81 - That seems a very straight viewpoint. I've been at least slightly attracted to most of my male friends, although I suspect that ties in in part to my being so bad at saying No (which is why I have both a lot of sympathy and simultaneously almost no sympathy at all for the Women-Are-Socialized attitude) and because I don't think I was ever asked out by a stranger or mere casual acquaintance that I would never be stuck on a horrible date.

My greatest bridge protege was straight, despite his bearing a remarkable resemblance to someone to whom I'd been very strongly attracted. It ended up being a brilliant friendship. He was my practice partner in what led to my becoming a GGGM, and I made such a good bridge player out of him that he got gold points and made a 70% score in his first regional tournament event. I hold that relationship to be better than many of my dating ones, and he's the only straight person named in my will who isn't a blood relation.
One more thing, generally - yesterday afternoon was the second time in as many weeks I popped on only to find that there were 68 comments. Again, I declined, because oral always made me cramp. And now I can only half recall what I was going to say at the time.
@85. Clever Acronym.

Well done.

Your fiancée has said she will back you up; you need gently and firmly to hold her to it.
@89 EmmaLiz @ all. What WORKING wants, most of all, is a relationship with her coworker. What she wants, barring that, is to know that it's an impossibility because her friend isn't attracted to her. This sort of closure has now became me a goal in itself.

What's unusual about the situation is that WORKING is so without indications as to how her friends feels about her. Her friend's behavior in no way deserves further remark, whether it's that of a straight woman waiting for the come-on, a straight woman weighing up what she wants, or someone merely 'falling for' another in the way of Platonic friendship.

It isn't unusual for a gay woman to be shy about initiating. Straight men may be socialised into an armour-plated confidence; some gay men the same and some may be ... desperate--and there are many sheepish lesbians. I would think WORKING is usually like this; she needs to get over herself and make a special effort in this instance. Ask her colleague out. My previous advice, to broach it at the pound, was a coward's suggestion. Make it a date. Aim to get the unequivocal 'no' and leave a tiny sliver of hope she may be surprised.
Can’t think of a clever acronym @85,
> I told her that I was done with his shit


What does it mean for you to be “done with his shit”? Will you block his number so he can’t text you, or will you respond to him politely while cursing your partner under your breath? Will you leave the house when he comes by, or will you hang out with him while cursing your partner under your breath? Will your partner visit his place without you, or will you accompany her while cursing her under your breath?

If you understand how to maintain your own boundaries and plan to do so, great. If your plan is for other people to maintain your boundaries for you and to be resentful of them when they don’t, I kindly suggest that this is a project to take up with a therapist. Or assertiveness training. Or women’s self-defense. Anywhere you get to role-play saying “No.”

“No” is much better than “No + [reason]” for people who don’t respect boundaries. “No, I don’t want to” is really good too. “No, I’m afraid that won’t be possible” is also good. Just repeat two or three times then change the subject.

> and she needs to back me up on the occasions when he comes around and starts going off on tangents about how I need to do things with him.

Why does she need to back you up? What’s going on here? I can interpret this in different ways.

Him: [to Partner] We should all have dinner at my place!
Partner: [to Him] Okay, let me check with [You].
Partner: [text to You] [Him] has invited us for supper. Do you want to go?
You: [text to partner] No thanks. You guys go ahead without me. Have fun!
Partner: [to Him] [You] isn’t coming. Tonight? Shall I bring something?

This is what I’m imagining. This is really normal. It doesn’t require your partner to actively do anything except respect your consent.

Him: [to Partner] We should all have dinner at my place!
Partner: Okay!
Partner: [to You] We’re going to [Him]’s for supper.
You: No, I’d rather not. Go ahead without me. Have fun!
Partner: You need to come. I’m going so you have to go too! I already said you were going!

Your partner doesn’t need to back you up to her friend. She needs to respect your agency and consent herself.

Him: We should all have dinner at my place!
Partner: Okay!
You: I’ll stay here. You guys go ahead without me. Have fun!
Him: I know you don’t want to do things with me, but you need to get over that and do things with me anyway.
You: You guys can enjoy yourselves without me. I’ll be fine.
Partner: [to you] Why are you so mean? Get over yourself and do things with him.

Here she’s not “not backing you up.” She’s actively taking sides against you, and it’s something else. There’s a HUGE problem with consent.

Him: We should all have dinner at my place!
Partner: That sounds fun!
You: [seething silent resentment]

If this is what’s going on... really, this is about you, not your partner or your friend. Other people are speaking up for themselves and you can too. Why aren’t you?

Something about this dynamic smells of alcoholism to me. Maybe all four of you are alcoholics, maybe your mother was an alcoholic, maybe I’m imagining things. But something about the combination of boundary issues, fears that small acts of assertiveness could completely overturn a relationship and what feels like a very closed friendship circle... it says to me that there’s more going on than “how do I say No?”
@91 Venn, if you intended to respond to my post @81, yes it is a straight point of view because I was responding to someone trying to make a joke about the misogyny in friendzoning which is a straight issue. As I tried to explain to the other poster, having a crush on your friend is not the same thing as friendzoning and there are all sorts of ways to handle it or mishandle it that are not misogynistic.

If instead you intended to respond to my post about being friends with bi and lesbian women, well I must admit that it has never occurred to me at all that they might be attracted to me. In the case of my very close bi friend who is much more like a family member, I'm certain there is not and has never been any sexual attraction. But for others, yes it's possible they had a fleeting attraction of which I was unaware, and yes this is because of my straight point of view. I'm usually pretty good at telling when a male friend is attracted to me and I notice when I'm attracted to him, but I've never had similar insight with female bi or lesbian friends so that's my own het blindness, you're right. But I don't tend to do well among people who are needy and/or who don't express really blunt opinions, much less people who don't say no, so I doubt it has ever created more than a passing minor problem.
More imaginary conversations:

Possibly what is happening now is

Him: We should all have dinner at my place!
Partner: Okay!
You: I’ll stay here. You guys go ahead without me. Have fun!
Him: I know you don’t want to do things with me, but you need to get over that and do things with me anyway.
Partner: [embarrassed silence]
You: [embarrassed silence]
Him: [takes silence for consent and makes plans]

Something like that? If that's the case, I'm guessing that neither you nor your partner have a clear idea of how to "stand up to him" and you should probably roleplay together so you are prepared for next time.

Something like this?

You: I’ll stay here. You guys go ahead without me. Have fun!
Him: I know you don’t want to do things with me, but you need to get over that and do things with me anyway.
You: No, you guys go ahead without me. I'll be fine.
Him: Come on, it'll be fun! I'll make your favourite spaghetti.
Partner: The lady said No. I'll go, she'll stay home. What can I bring?
Him: Aww, the dogs miss you! My husband keeps asking when he'll see you!
Partner: The discussion is closed. She's not coming. What can I bring?
You: I'm going to go clean the geraniums. Have fun, guys!
Him: What's up with her?
Partner: She's not coming, is all. I'll bring some dog treats. Have you been watching Black Lightning?

Anyway, most of this should be moot. If you don't want to hang with him, don't hang with him. If you don't want to text with him, don't text with him. If you're terrified of being rude, don't be. He's the one being rude by making you uncomfortable.
Harriet_by_the_bulrushes @93 "you need gently and firmly to hold her to it"

Trying to control other people's actions is a waste of energy.

Alison Cummins @95 "your partner [doesn't have to] to actively do anything except respect your consent."

Exactly. And really well done on the scripts.

@CTOACA It should become clear very soon if your partner accepts your right to choose your social interactions or not. At the same time, you'll be demonstrating that you accept your partner's right to choose her own words and approach toward her friend.
To Can't Think of a Clever Acronym - Allison Cummins and EricaP have it correct. My deduction is slightly different that Allison's; not alcoholism, but personality disorder.

Your wife's friend sounds like a person with personality disorder and your wife sounds like maybe she has been impacted by his behavior. Please check into what PD looks like to see if you agree. I can't tell which PD by your description, but all of them have a problem with boundaries. People who get involved with them are often manipulated in ways that pull them into a FOG - as a result of the manipulative behavior, they begin to act out of Fear, Obligation, and Guilt to the person. You do not have a history with this person who makes you loyal and prone to acting in a FOG.

When you are presented with their manipulations (as you have been, with them not taking your 'no' as a no, and trying to find all sorts of ways around it), the best way is to avoid JADE - don't Justify, Apologize, Defend or Explain yourself to a manipulator, because the truths you are attempting to convey will just be distorted and used against you for further manipulation. "That doesn't work for me" is a good response because there's nothing to pick apart or object to.

Don't under any circumstance "accidentally" apologize by prefacing a remark with "I'm sorry, but..."

For someone with PD, drama and details are food to them. An accidental apology is potential for drama. Avoid providing them with both drama and details, and you will no longer become a target. Be as boring as possible, instead of feeding them with conflict. Talk to them when they want, but keep it dull and brief and don't supply any actual opinions or details about yourself. Wear grey clothes when you see them.

Maybe you can look into PD and narrow down which one you might potentially be dealing with and get more specifically helpful advice.
@69 LavaGirl: Congrats on winning the highly coveted @69 prize (with EmmaLiz @68 at a photo finish)! Just when I ducked out of the running @67 to be fair and just...another circumstance rises in which multiple awards become handy. LavaGirl and EmmaLiz, how do you both feel about being co-winners of The Big Number this week? May gleaming Golden Good Fortune shine upon both of you.
@100 borntoryde wins the Hunsky Award. Congrats!

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