Help with co-worker situation

Including some armchair diagnosis if necessary. I think I briefly dropped some hints on the Dope as to the following here and there over the past year, but have never gone into full detail about it here. No longer, since this has a chance of blowing up in my face at work in a very bad way if this person continues her schtick. There is much that needs to remain in confidence, but I’ll work around the gaps as much as I can.

She came onboard last January, and at the time she seemed to be a very positive, outgoing, perky, and compassionate person (i.e. like I am now after many years of work on myself), and I was immediately and strongly attracted to her, and soon asked her out. I probably pushed things a bit too hard in beginning admittedly, and she complained to my boss to cool it, so I did (I’ve acquired the ability to let go of almost anything whenever necessary).

Fast forward a couple of months: she comes in one day talking excitedly about this encounter she had with a cardinal which as she told it kept trying to knock at her window one afternoon. Well as it turned out I had found a cardinal doll in box during a cleaning spree-I was going to give it to my nephew, but he grew up into a teen before I could. I decided to give her the doll in the parking lot after work one day, and she was all smiles from ear to ear giving me several hugs.

At this point the dynamic changed a bit-long story short in conversations she became very open to the idea of doing stuff with me (i.e. she never went back to my boss again/would always be excitedly talking about all the cool activities we could do together, including vacations), but in practice trying to actually do things with this woman turned out to be an almost fruitless endeavor. I will note that she was in a very dark and tumultuous marriage with an abusive alcoholic several years before I met her.

She has stood me up, with the lamest and glibest of excuses, several times now; when I would text her asking where she was and why she cut out on me, I’d invariably get this chirpy facile response/excuse full of blather and lacking in a single iota of sincerity. After the 2nd one (this was 4 months ago), I abandoned all romantic pretensions and realized that trying to have a relationship with this woman would be a big mistake. On other occasions she would simply lose interest in hanging out and tell me that she needed some rest. She never owned up to any of this behavior, BTW. I still (foolishly) thought we could at least be friends, which was my 2nd mistake.

Earlier this month we had arranged for a get-together which would have involved a visit to a wildlife park followed by dinner-2 days before when we finalized plans she kept talking about how much she was looking forward to this. Well of course I go to pick her up, and she isn’t in nor answering her texts; later she texts me that she had a “new workout routine” and that was why she couldn’t be arsed to actually follow through on our plans. I realize at this point that even a friendship would be hopeless, and that this woman has some sort of mental hangups or something, and rigourously avoided any more talk with her outside work if I could avoid it (occ. she might text me with a question about her schedule or something when she had an off day).

Fast forward to this week. She came up to me and complained that a co-worker had said something biting to her. Complained right in the middle of the office where we might have been in earshot of other people (including clients). I told her that this was not the right time and place for this conversation, and she immediately got all huffy with me. 15 minutes after her shift ended (but I was still on the clock) she texted me >3< times while I was still with some clients, accusing me of not “being supportive” of her feelings.

Today we briefly talked in the parking lot, and I tried to explain to her that we can’t be talking about that stuff out in the open like that (at the time I had assumed that she wanted to discuss the issue then and there), and again she repeated her complaint, saying that I wasn’t being “nice and supportive”, unlike herself who of course is always smiles and sweetness (she actually said that). I told her that I was unhappy with her texting me while I still on the clock, and she said she didn’t know what my schedule is (which is nonsense as it is posted on a bulletin board in the office) so she could hardly be blamed.

At this point, after researching things a bit, I am wondering if she is borderline, mixed in with perhaps some avoidant personality disorder, or if it is simply plain old narcissism. I don’t want to go to my boss about this unless I have to, but I might have to. I won’t be erasing her texts from my phone, BTW. At this point I wish I had never deigned to think of her as anything other than a casual co-worker; thankfully my emotional equilibrium remains pretty steady tho thank Og. Yes, you can criticize me for my various fuckups along the way, if you wish; I just want to know what the best course of action would be from here on out.

Don’t date (or try to date) co-workers.

One other thing that comes to mind reading your OP - you don’t come off completely great, either.

The saying is “Don’t shit where you eat”. Now you know what it means. Good luck getting out of this one.

Sorry you will have to go through this, it probably started innocently. Live and learn.

Hunker down and hope it blows over.

I don’t know what you think your boss would do about it, you started this mess and perpetuated it after she made it quite clear she had no interest in you. She decided to tolerate you and the best way to keep you off her back was to string you along. Now that she thinks you’re not going along with her bullshit, she’s pissy. She will likely get over it - as long as you keep yourself to yourself from now on.

Sheesh. Dude, your cluelessness is kind of amazing.

Sheesh. This is definitely why people need to stop pursuing relationships at the workplace. It sounds to me like she wasn’t very interested in you at the beginning. Maybe, you should start looking for another job.

Going to your boss to ask you not to hit on her is a pretty good sign she is just not that into you, at best. At worst, it was the first step of building a case against the company for harassment.

Accepting the gift and agreeing to go out with you later, but never doing it, would play out in a settlement meeting between her lawyer and your boss like: "After my client formally complained and you still failed to remedy this hostile, harassing environment in your workplace, she was finally confronted alone in the parking lot after hours by this employee. She felt so uncomfortable and intimidated that she was barely able to get into her car and leave unimpeded by agreeing to his indecent proposals. Since the time my client notified you of this behavior, he has put her in this position another (43?) times, sent (236?) text messages to her phone, appeared at her home, and is now criticizing and belittling her in front of her coworkers in retaliation for refusing his advances.

Mr. John Di Fool’s boss, we are going to prevail in this suit against you, your company and board of directors for sexual harassment and encouraging a hostile workplace under section abc123 of the workplace code 34567. We would be willing to settle this matter out of court to avoid further duress and embarrassment to our client by forcing her to go through deposition process and reliving the horror that she has endured in your workplace…"

Sometimes apparently contradictory and erratic behavior can actually a calculated plan.

My 2 cents - beware of her either way and just stop communicating completely other than is absolutely necessary to do your work.

I think you’re being too harsh on the guy. He says he dropped it when her lack of interest was made clear. And then when he had dropped it and stopped acting interested, she came to him. Then when he started acting interesting again, she backed away.

Assuming the OP is describing the situation accurately, this woman has a problem - and she is a problem. You move towards her, she runs away. You step back, she comes running. There’s no basis for a stable relationship there.

My advice is stay away from her. Don’t try to be her boyfriend. Don’t try to be her friend. Just make her somebody you work with and don’t get involved in her personal life or let her get involved in your personal life.

I’d stop trying to diagnose her because it’s kind of silly, to be honest. I mean, I think by now you know that you can’t have a relationship with her in any capacity outside of coworker so trying to figure out what is wrong with her isn’t really a productive thing.

No more outside of work contact. Like, none. If she texts you or calls you, don’t answer. Nothing. She doesn’t seem all that stable, but you haven’t really been acting very smart either. Don’t go to your boss because after this much pursuit you’re going to come off very bad.

Not to keep kicking you while you’re down but I really think the big issue here is that once she complained about you that should have been the end of it, period. It bothered her enough to tell your boss so that should have been the end. You kept hoping her friendliness would lead to something else even after you were told no. Not smart. I’m not saying she is innocent in this as (if what you’re describing is accurate) she sounds like a flake, but you really weren’t thinking this through all along the way. So now just back off quietly.

It doesn’t really matter at this point but I have to admit that I am curious about how you know you pushed things too hard initially. What did you do that you admit was too much and caused her to report you that’s worse than what you’ve described here? Also, I hate to tell you but I would say that you have not acquired the ability to let go of things as evidenced how you have continually chased after her with no reward. Not only chased after her with no reward but doing so despite knowing that you’ve already been counseled against it and being stood up on several occasions.

One last thing: You talked about going on VACATIONS with this woman you’d never been on a date with? Duuuude. Dial it back. Too much, too soon.

I think you need to tune your ‘ability to let go’, clearly it didn’t fire early enough nor did it appear to release cleanly given the rest of your post … as others have said you come off, at best, a little clueless here.

You don’t say what sort of office environment you have or how big a company it is but you’ve backed yourself into a place that has very few good roads out. I would, in all seriousness, start thinking about a backup plan B just in case it all goes south – much better to jump with a clean record than be pushed.

But just think about plan B, you’re not there yet. Do not involve your boss either, there’s no way it’s going to go well.

I echo the other posters – no outside work contact, keep everything professional.
But more than that – stop thinking about her, stop overthinking things, just do the job. If she’s strange or inappropriate react how you would to any other employee doing something strange, if she texts you at work ignore her.

I would normally suggest you try a one-time clear-the-air one-to-one talk but I think this situation is too far gone for that.


duckster hits John DiFool with a large trout.


Listen to your fellow Dopers. To summarize:
[li]Have no contact with her (don’t respond to texts, emails, etc.).[/li][li]Exception: If you have any business contact with her at work, make sure it’s in a public area, with witnesses present and keep it 100 percent professional (so no innuendo, or small talk, etc.). No business contact outside of the office.[/li][li]Do not discuss any personal issues about her with anyone. Zip. Nada.[/li][/ol]

Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

She may be immature and afraid to assert herself. You gave her a gift, which opens up a lot of…crazy stuff. She may have felt like she needed to reciprocate in some way. But then the fear of entangling herself with someone (especially someone she had complained about) kicked in and pulled her back.

She’s not interested in you, but she’s scared to tell you so because–gasp!–she has to see you everyday. And that’s awkward. (You may be the unflappable type. That doesn’t mean everyone has to be like this, though.)

You wanting to diagnose her comes across as, “I’m not the problem, see! She’s the batshit crazy one!” Maybe she does have a personality disorder. Or maybe, like I said, she just doesn’t know how to handle this situation in a sophisticated way. That doesn’t make her pathological…not any more than your faults make you disordered. It just means you should not have tried to hook up with her. At work. After she had communicate that it was unwanted. And she needs to grow some ovaries and be more direct with you.

OK. So you fucked up. You own a lion’s share of it.


Because, man, this aint all on you.

The point about not shitting where you eat is especially true if you are trying to stick you dick in the crazy or you are they crazy and are trying to stick you dicks somewhere or especially if you are the crazy and are trying to stick it in the crazy.

I will pretend no insight into which, if any, of the scenarios apply, but there is plenty of opportunities for drama outside the work force. Don’t drag your career into it.

Way ahead of you (I didn’t respond to her latest litany). Note I wrote off any romantic aspirations 4 months ago. I will mention that we’ve had several coffee get-togethers over the last year where she’ll typically recite the sad litany of her life to me (she actually told me once that she considered me to be her only true friend), so that might make a difference to those who think I’ve continued to pursue her endlessly despite her actually wanting zilch to do with me.

If I go to the boss it would be purely to have him clarify for her the strict limits of what can and can’t be discussed within the walls of the workplace, and most definitely NOT to bring up all of this other interpersonal stuff.

Oh we’ve been on several dates (none of them awe-inspiring in the least), but it was her who pushed the vacation angle, not me. I came back from my August one to visit my folks in NJ, and when casually discussing it with her she immediately chimed in with “Oh we could have visited my aunt in Virginia too!” This after two months of assiduously avoiding me (during which I did as I said write her off as a potential romantic partner). She’s indulged in pie-in-the-sky talk like this on several other occasions.

Thankfully, mainly because she showed so little interest in it, she actually knows very little about my private life-saving grace. My biggest sin was letting her push all of my buttons early on, because at first glance she appeared to be my type to a T, but over time these feelings simply faded completely away as her darker tendencies came to light. As this poll indicates, dating coworkers can work-but both parties have to be respectful and considerate of each other with absolutely no game-playing.

Aside from the other screw ups you made, the above is one thing I don’t understand. How is it her fault that she texts you while you are working? You are the one sounding irrational here. Not all texts need to be read and responded to immediately. Chill out, it was just a message that you could have picked up after work.

I cringed so many cringes while reading that OP that I don’t have any cringes left.

You do not need, nor do you want, to get your boss involved in this. At all.
What Can Be Discussed**
What Cannot Be Discussed**
Anything Else

I doubt very much that a conversation with your boss is going to go smoothly.

“Hey, boss? You know that woman you told me not to pursue? I kept after her anyway, and finally she agreed to go out with me. Now I can’t get rid of her. Can you tell her to stop texting me?”

You had better hope you are mission-critical at your company and/or have blackmail photos of your boss in a compromising position with a goat, because I can think of a quick way to resolve the situation so that she never texts you at work again.


Life Lesson Learned

I second this. Just because she’s self-involved and flakey doesn’t mean she has a mental illness. It just means she’s self-involved and flakey. Trying to apply an armchair diagnosis on her says more about you than her. There’s a subtext of “It blew up in my face because she’s craaaaazy!!!”

Plenty of people have given solid advice on keeping it business related and definitely not bringing it to your boss. You should also remember that you can only control your behaviour, not hers. No matter what she does and what tactics she pulls, it’s not like you can control them. All you can control is your reaction (or lack thereof) to them.

The OP mentioned that she should have known his schedule because it’s posted, but still, I don’t really think it’s her responsibility to not text him when he’s at work. I do think it’s her responsibility to understand he might be at work, and lack of an immediate reply is not an offense, but a consequence of the fact that he’s at work. My wife and I usually communicate on IM during the day. However, she knows that I’m at work, and so even if the IM shows I’m currently active, I am at work and a delay in responding to a message should not be taken as any indication of how I feel about her.

To the OP, the first thing I would have said was, “sorry I didn’t answer your text, I was with a client,” and then stuck with that, even if she gets upset about the “client being more important than she is.” Stick to it, don’t let the topic change, “no, you’re more important, but…” is the wrong thing, just “sorry, I was with a client.”

I’ve known people like this woman before, who like to talk about lots of activities, but very rarely actually manage to follow through. If it’s just some dude you hang out with occasionally, then it’s not a big deal, but when it’s a woman you’d actually like to hang out with very frequently, then it gets all the emotions wrapped up around it. My way of handling people like that is to just assume any plan is not going to happen. With a person like that, unless something is immediate, “let’s go get lunch,” then it is just a fantasy.

She is an iteration of this classic: Totally Hot Chick Also Way Psycho