My only addenduu:
* If you decide to knowingly break 'the rules', have the courage to say "I knew it was against the rules and did so because I thought it wouldn't be an issue" if/when it becomes an issue.
* You should disclose that you are in this persons chain of command. I'll relate why with a little story:
When I was 20, I dated a 19 year old girl who was living in town for the summer. We kept in contact and would hook up every so often. One time I was down in her town for her 21st birthday, we had sex, it was great. Only problem? It was two and half years after we had first dated, and I only started doing that math while we having sex. I nearly had a heart attack (never fear, she had lied and merely told me she was 19 when she was actually 18, not 17 or younger). I can only imagine, once the whips and leather gear come out, what it would be like to find out that person you're about to get coital with is actually your employee.


Are there so few fish in the sea?


Depends on what fish you're after...…


Okay, time for some speculation! LW is female, but doesn't mention whether the cow orker is male or female. Putting aside LW's heteroflexibility for a moment, would it count as fucking up if LW's husband did the actual fucking of the superior?


@4: Absolutely. Even if everyone was totally cool, it's not something you want to be thinking about as your boss is doing a power point presentation.


Or, moreover, what your boss is thinking about while doing your performance review.


You’re lucky @1, heavens knows why Dan is so patient. Cat with nine lives that’s who you are.


Yeah no Dan, Mr Corporate world person. What if this four way goes sour, and boss man decides to punish LW cause he overheard her husband making a slight against his wife?
Got to be other people who are suitable, ones who are not your superior at work, LW.


@4: Thank you, fubar. "Cow orker" is exactly what I needed right now.


@2: If you're at all particular about your fish, then yes, there aren't many of them in the sea. Of course, in this situation, more fish are optional. But compatibility--even just sexual--between four people is a lot harder to find than between two. Which may make it worth it to them to consider the risk.


SSOAA and Mr. SSOAA are having sex in sex clubs, so its seems rather likely that she will run eventually see a colleague while she is naked and fucking, and if she is ever the center of a gang bang, she might very well be having sex with some before she or they recognize each other. Likewise, her husband might be fuck someone in her department without knowing the identity of that woman. I suggest these scenarios because SSOAA are already accepting some risk, and the general rule against fucking colleagues seems a bit more flexible when you are a couple having sex in sex clubs.

@4/fubar raises another interesting hypothetical. Although based on this letter, I suspect that SSOAA would be having sex with her colleague, I might be more inclined to feel there is more flexibility is SSOAA is fucking her colleague's spouse, while her husband is fucking her colleague.

To sum up, after having had sex in sex clubs, it just seems that the ordinary rule against fucking a colleague isn't so iron clad, in part, because you have already burst through so many social conventions already.


Thinks happen by chance, SA, nothing one can do about that.
Why cross work with one’s private sex life. If things go awry it means work is contaminated, and that’s where the money comes from, where one’s career is. Didn’t we deal with this in the Professor’s letter.
You decide if it’s worth the risk, LW, no matter how liberal and progressive people are, one never knows what they’ll do if crossed.


Sublime @11: knowing that your boss or coworker likes weird sex is very different from having weird sex with a boss or coworker. Especially in the PNW, the former is a "yeah, so?" situation if someone wants to start drama, but the latter can get messy.

'Don't Shit Where You Eat' is a rule for a reason - and it applies even more if the shit is weird.

For clarity, I'm not saying "weird" in a pejorative sense - just "weird" as in "not the norm."


SSOAA: Boeing employee. Obviously.

God fucking bless the Pacific Northwest. We're out here doing the Lord's work to each other...and building airplanes too.


Lavagirl@ 12: I think for the professor it was more of a 'no' because of the disproportionate influence teachers have on their students. Here there's not an ethical reason not to bang this couple - just good common sense reasons.


True Traffic, it’s still a power dynamic in a work environment and best avoided.


Nope. Just nope. Don't push that button. Good partner choice and logical thinking are the keys to ensuring that your life is high-fun and low-drama.


Lava @8, he (we'll assume he) isn't her superior -- the headline is misleading. He works in the same place in a higher ranking role. She said they see each other around once each month. What do they lose by blocking this couple, versus what do they risk by getting involved? The answer to the first question seems to be nothing. As Mtn Beaver @2 says, plenty of fish in the sea. SSOAA doesn't even say she's attracted to this person. Second question, minimum issue would be workplace awkwardness, and potential fallout could be much worse. Seems a no brainer to block this couple and move on.


Yes Fan, I know this person is not the LW’s boss, they are still in a senior position to the LW. One of those firms which have monthly meetings with the higher ups, perhaps. What are the policies at your work LW? They are your real guide. Maybe the Xmas party will be at a sex club then you’re home and hosed.


As a female executive myself, I urge you not to contact your coworker and to just let things lie. If you happen to run into this couple at a club or whatever, that’s one thing (and you can chat and have a laugh about it), but otherwise no. It’s so hard to get ahead the corporate world as a female already, and one of the reasons for that is the supposed “distraction” that we provide by being attractive to men in the workplace/being accused of using our sexuality to get ahead, etc. And you would be walking right into that stereotype by banging a higher-up! And if he tells just ONE person, word will spread and your reputation could be impaired. Please, for the love of God, just find other people to bang. Unless you really don’t care about your career trajectory, in which case, bang away.


@20 I agree with you 100%. Plenty of other fish in the sea.


Lava @19, your original comment said "Got to be other people who are suitable, ones who are not your superior at work, LW." Sounded to me like he was a manager in a different department, not her direct supervisor in any chain of command. Still a bad idea, this mixing business and pleasure.

DanFan @20, miraculously, I agree with you too. Very good point that LW has more to lose than her colleague and not just because of their relative positions in the company.


SSOAA, "a superior at my place of work" does not tell us enough.

Is he directly above you in your 'chain of command'? Or he in another branch of a large company altogether, in which he ranks more highly than you?

If the former, no.
If the latter, while going ahead wouldn't be the safest move as others have said (since personnel changes/promotions might occur), you could go ahead and deal with what comes when it does. This might mean someone not benefitting from, or even losing their job because of, what comes. Do ask yourselves if that risk is worth it.


@23 correction
"Or he" should be "Or is he"


*composed of
Not comprised of.
Pet peeve, sorry.


Seriously. This advice is terrible. Don’t torpedo your career on the very flimsy idea that HR is going to protect you because you were a moron. And even if HR did intervene, the rumor mill will still follow you.


@20 raises a really good point. If things go sour, it’s pretty easy for the coworker to screenshot their messages and post them anywhere. I know someone who has done this-actually sent messages to a person’s employer (of which I do not approve). It may seem rash because it also risks outing the person doing the outing here because they work at the same place, but people often don’t think clearly when vengeful.


@14- why do you presume Boeing (with all their airplane issues as of late- do you think the employees need stress relief)?Have you not heard of amazon or Microsoft? or Nike? Expedia? all are up here in the PNW. Hell, Fred Hutch is pretty large too, could be there.


Nope. Boeing.


Beedeetee @27: why would a superior with, presumably, more to lose, screenshot and post messages that reveal they were fucking down?

ctmcmull @29: okay, Boeing. But how is that obvious?


Fubar @30 - see the last sentence in my post. Sometimes when people are angry and bent on revenge, they don’t think clearly, and that includes recognizing the risk to themselves. People are frequently NOT rational actors.


I think we would all be better off if we developed better ways of handling workplace relationships gone wrong, instead of blanket-prohibiting them just because they might go wrong. Tons of people are, right now, married to someone they met at work. Why should potentially compatible people be told that they shouldn't make a move just because they work together? Why should the occasional disaster be a reason to ruin the fun for everyone else? ANY relationship has a risk of going disastrously wrong. Professional life shouldn't be so sacrosanct that it closes out other aspects of life.


Always East Coaster: and I think we'd all be better off if we developed a way to get first class airplane tickets, but only pay five dollars. But that's not really gonna happen, is it?


Fubar @30, either CTMcMull is trolling or is married to the LW.

Always @32: This is an advice column, as I've said before; advice is concerned with what people should do, not what people do do. Just because some people meet partners at work does not mean there are no risks involved in dating people one works with, and that's the point of everyone who's advising against them. Follow this course of action and these bad things might happen. Sure, any relationship has a risk of going disastrously wrong, but only work-based relationships carry risk of ruining your job/career at the same time. Finally, this isn't a monogamous-dating-we-met-at-work-aww situation. It's a sleazy sex situation, said with all respect to sleazy sex. Mixing work and sleaze is rarely a good idea. People who do it are potentially ruining their own fun, not anyone else's.


When did "consesual" stop being the metric for allowable sexual expression on the Left? I mean, I know that part of what's going on is that we're accounting for coercive contexts where apparent consent isn't actual consent, so maybe the better question is: when did we start setting our social norms based on the worst-case scenario rather than the typical scenario? That's a right-wing authoritarian tendency (allowing immigration leads directly to a catastrophic influx of criminals, degenerates, and terrorists; a social safety net means nobody is motivated to work, innovate, etc.), and it raises alarms for me (I think a lot of "Leftist" organizations and even movements have been taken over by Right-wing authoritarian assholes who just happen to be members of presently marginalized groups, leading to a lot of "my way or fuck off and die" sentiment on the putative Left).

Sexual harassment laws and policies should not ban consensual relationships and interactions, because consent is antithetical to harassment. What the law needs to do is ban behavior that is UNWELCOME and protect workers from RETALIATION if they are in a workplace relationship that falls apart. The reason we have courts and trials rather than summary judgement based on whatever facts are proved is that the law is not an absolutist, algorithmic arbiter, but rather a set of rules for guiding humans to make subjective contextual judgements. No system short of constant, pervasive surveillance of every individual will ever render perfect judgement (and even then, we have laws where intent matters, which can never be proved because we cannot - nor should we - read minds), so the point is not to make sure our laws and judicial system are perfect, but rather that they have the best good-to-harm ratio we can achieve (pervasive surveillance does more harm than good IMO, for example, though authoritarians are big fans).

Online dating is a misery machine (even for the people for whom it works best), not to mention a privacy nightmare (especially for people who think that social engineering through Facebook can determine the outcome of our elections), so I don't think using it as a substitute for potentially meeting people at the place where you spend half your waking hours is a good option. Ban actual harassment, and adjudicate whether there is actual harassment on a case-by-case basis instead of issuing a blanket ban on dating/fucking people with whom you work. This whole thing has shifted radically in a short period of time - for example, lots of employers used to (and some still do) have policies to try to hire spouses when recruiting employees, which GUARANTEES that some of your employees are fucking, the exact opposite of banning that (and as we know, marriage is in no way a guarantee that a relationship isn't abusive orotherwise coercive). I think our current policies in many cases are overcorrections for real problems; we would be good with harassment policies from decades ago were they actually applied/enforced properly (the problems with policies that only ban actual harassment were things like sexist supervisors and bosses dismissing complaints to protect themselves, their friends, people in a similar power stratum, etc., which is still a problem with policies that ban relationships entirely, so the shift hasn't addressed the actual problem).


JH @35 "Online dating is a misery machine"

I saw this and thought: Misery Machine would be a pretty good metal band name. And what do you know? There are at least two metal bands named Misery Machine.

Sorry. Carry on.


@35 John Horstman
"When did "consensual" stop being the metric for allowable sexual expression on the Left?"

This is such a supremely well-articulated case that it pains me to say I don't think you understand this at all. The Left isn't relevant here. And neither are

"Sexual harassment laws and policies"

The problem is hierarchical power/authority structures. When human relationships are mixed with them, an enormous depth and variety of things can go wrong because people are ethically volatile even before one includes sex in the picture. That both the organizations and the judicial system addresses these is as you say necessary.

Your dream might sound good, but do you not honestly think that mixing an emotion as powerful as Love with a hierarchical power/authority structures isn't /usually/ gonna result in something being done that's not right(1)? Even if it's just some other person who doesn't get the promotion the superior gives to or makes happen for his lover.

In short I think your very bright and articulate comment is naive to the point of feeling deeper than it really is. Is it really so wrong to not mix power structures and dating when something wrong is very very likely to occur otherwise? People aren't glued to their power structure, they change jobs if that's worth it to them.

As for legal recourse, it's also naive to leave it to that. In my example for example, the lover's promotion wouldn't be overturned unless the superior was stupid enough to admit it was done for an illegal reason.

(1) If you don't see this, I will wonder if that you, as IIRC you have mentioned, are on the spectrum is why you wouldn't see that mixing Love with power is usually gonna do wrong.

In short, I think it's actually the opposite of authoritarian to address the root problem with authority structures. Now I'm onboard with anyone who wants to say "down with hierarchical power/authority structures"! I'd love to go there with you. But I don't know how feasible that will be; this shit is there because they wouldn't be all that easy to not have.


John H, you are assuming adult behaviour, which as we all know is often not the case when live/ sex/ play goes wrong. Yes. Many people get off with their co workers, and what us usually the outcome of these liaisons? Do we have data. Do both stay in their jobs or one leaves or both leave?
It’s got nothing to do with being left or right, I care zero amount who fucks who. If the whole industry is off being kinky, then contact the bloke have the liaison catch his eye once a month and smile knowingly at each other and everything’s peachy.


Will have to disagree with Dan here. It's not clear whether the supervisor recognized her. If he didn't know and then later realizes that he's her senior at work - especially if he realizes this after they meet for drinks the first time, or heaven forbid, after fucking - things could get majorly awkward. And he might get pissed at the letter writer for letting it happen.

Alternatively, maybe he knows and doesn't care. So if everybody's cool with it, it should be cool, right? Except, exactly how well do you know this "boss of a boss who you've seen once or twice"? How well do you trust him? How well do you know his character? Do you know for sure that he won't make work difficult for you if things go badly with him? Will he retaliate inappropriately if you break up with him? Will he get obsessed with you and then, in a jealous rage, find a way to out you to the company? These are things that people could do. As for how likely they are, I can't say. But the trouble with fucking a boss you don't even really know is that, by the time you find out, it's too late.

I'm not against breaking the rules sometimes. It happens. Life is messy. It's not all clear cut. But make sure the person is worth breaking the rules for.


@39 stonesoup
this "boss of a boss who you've seen once or twice"? How well do you trust him? How well do you know his character?"

Simply being a "boss of a boss" statistically is a negative recommendation on his character. Amorality is a big advantage for organizational ladder-climbing.


John @35, who's talking about laws and bans? We're talking about common sense. There's no ban, nor should there be, against eating twelve bags of M&Ms in one sitting yet I think we can all agree it would be a bad idea.

Stonesoup @39, yes. "Make sure the person is worth breaking the rules for." There's no indication in the letter that this is the case. Also, she sees him around once a month; she hasn't met him just once or twice in her history of working there. The greater the distance, the less risky getting involved is. When in doubt, which she is, the sensible approach is don't go there.


Also, the Left's metric has never been "consensual." It's "safe, sane and consensual." Many of us think banging people you work with is not particularly sane.


Avoiding sex with senior and subordinate people at one's company is really sound advice that I've always followed. I had two friends who didn't do so. Both were women - one was the superior, the other was low on the work totem pole. Both paid a fairly heavy professional and personal price - and so did their relationship partners.

And the downside of avoiding it here is just passing on one potential play couple.

In fact, I've never had sex with a co-worker either. Most relationships break up, and I'd hate to have to see an ex-boyfriend all the time.


@43 NorthernVirginiaEllen
"sex with a co-worker...Most relationships break up, and I'd hate to have to see an ex-boyfriend all the time"

You are soooo right, that can suuuuuuck!

Please wait...

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