Dealing with Fallout from a Work Romance Gone Awry
Question: I had a relationship with a colleague for the last 6 months. Every time we met, I felt so monitored by her that I couldn’t be myself at all, and last week this bubble burst over into a fight. I left a letter on her desk saying that I wanted to talk about everything. Guess what she did? She honestly went to HR. Last Thursday I got a call from HR and my boss! I met with my boss already and he said I shouldn’t worry, that this is crazy and he’s on my side.
On my side? Fuck it! This is the saddest moment in my life. I had to sit with my boss and discuss private things. I bet he will consider it a big favor I owe him, and use the whole story to make a puppet out of me. And a meeting with the HR lady is still on the horizon. How embarrassing! It feels like permanent traces of a wet fart left by somebody else in the white underwear of my life. So much hate and love at the same time. What should I do? Try to calm things down by talking to her? Or is it better to just give up and hope she ends up with someone going bald, bad teeth and is super boring in the long run?
Answer: First of all, it can’t be that devastating if you still have the wherewithal to think up gems like: "It feels like permanent traces of a wet fart left by somebody else in the white underwear of my life.“ Take a deep breath and let’s think this through.
People don’t usually go from zero to HR overnight. Did the fight get heated? Did your letter sound spiteful? She went to HR either because she’s very hurt and vengeful or because she feels threatened by you, either personally or professionally. Which is it?
If she feels threatened, ensure everyone that you feel no animosity toward her and look forward to everyone getting along professionally going forward. If she’s just being spiteful, suck it up, apologize for how things ended, say you think nothing but the best of her and leave it at that. Whatever the case, I’d restrict future communications with her to the HR arena, so as not to add any He Said, She Said fuel to the fire.
It is embarrassing and disappointing that you couldn’t deal with this just the two of you, but duh, this is the risk you take when you get involved with a coworker (especially if immaturity or instability is mixed into the equation). Learn from this and move on.