Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Keep 'em separated

Two letters today! And no thematic relationship between them.

First, a teenage girl in Dear Abby writes in about her boyfriend's odd request.
My boyfriend is pressuring me to take his camera cell phone with me into the girls' locker room and take pictures of the other girls with little or nothing on. He says it has always been a "fantasy" of his, and that if I really love him I'll help him fulfill his fantasy.

He promises to keep the pictures secret and says that what the other girls don't know won't hurt them. He offered to do the same for me and take pictures in the boys' locker room, but I'm not interested. I know it would be wrong to do it, and I wouldn't want someone secretly taking pictures of me.

He hinted that if I refuse he will look for another girl who will. I'm scared of losing him because I'm not much to look at, and he's the only boy who has ever shown any interest in me. I know you're not going to tell me to go ahead and do this, so I'm not sure why I'm writing, but I would appreciate any advice you can give me.
At least she acknowledges that she knows what Abby's answer will be. And we already know that we will agree, which is always disappointing to us. We like to be contrary.

Abby says:
I'm glad you wrote. If you do what this boy is pushing you to do, you could be thrown out of school. He will not be able to resist the urge to show the pictures to his friends - and possibly put them on the Internet. It would be a huge invasion of privacy and a breach of trust, and regardless of what he says, it will NOT bring you closer together.

If he truly cared about you, he would never ask you to do something that could get you into serious trouble. You could be accused of creating and distributing pornographic material, and there could be legal liability. The penalty you would pay isn't worth the "interest" he's showing in you. Run!

Lulu: So... I guess I disagree that it would be impossible for him to resist posting the photos on the internet. He's just going to masturbate to them. But it's still not okay to take pictures of girls in states of undress without their consent.

Ashley: Yeah.

Lulu: Also, how exactly is she planning to get away with photographing girls in the locker room? "Oh it's okay... I'm a girl."

Ashley: You pretend to be texting or something. It's hard to tell when a cell phone is pointed to take a picture.

Lulu: Mine makes a CLICK noise.

Ashley: You can turn that off.


Ashley: Not that I know.

Lulu: Okay. Well, even if you don't think you'll get caught, it's pretty immoral and it seems like self-respect demands that you decline, EVEN IF you are ugly and your boyfriend is hot. Opposing viewpoint???

Ashley: Nope, I got nothing.

For the next letter, we advance to grownups in the workplace with today's Love Letters.
I had been dating a guy for about a year and we talked about moving in together when my lease was up this winter. He got scared back in August and decided that he needed to take a step back. Which is fine. We're both 27 and I'd rather him be sure than not sure. Granted, we've talked every day since his decision to take a step back, and we see each other on occasion. Although at times it doesn't seem romantic, I still have a little bit of a flame flickering for him. ...

Friday night he met me for a drink and a movie. The conversation over the drink was great. Things seemed to be going well and I was hopeful that we might be taking a step back in the right direction. I decided not to get my hopes up and talked myself into letting things progress naturally. Why push the subject if there's no subject to push yet, right? The drive home was also great and we talked about when we could see each other again. He was very active in communicating the rest of the weekend, which surprised me a little.

Fast forward to Monday morning. So he IMs me from "ABC Company," where he works, and we chat throughout the day. We made plans for the next week and mentioned an event he thought we would both like to attend in December.

Then, shortly after lunch, he told me he was interested in my company, "XYZ Company," which is ironically down the road from ABC. Needless to say, I felt like I was punched in the stomach. I know how miserable he is at ABC and that he would like it at XYZ. So I told him I would pass on his resume to the HR Director. He said he would put together his resume this week and send it over to me to pass along.

Here's what I'm thinking -- that this is the end of the chances of us getting back together. Do office romances really work in the long run? So what should I do? Do I actually pass along his very qualified resume or do I lie and say we're on a hiring freeze and continue on with our current situation? I know it sounds selfish if I lie but do I consider my feelings or his? What a mess.

Ashley: Here's the thing. You have to separate your work life from your relationship life. The question isn't how she would feel if he were working at XYZ, it's whether XYZ would benefit from having him work for it. There are people i would absolutely recommend to jobs that I would refuse to interact with socially. Is he a good worker? Then recommend him. I guess it's kind of a reverse way of thinking, but i think you're helping the company more than the guy. At least that's how I view recommendations.

Lulu: Out of curiosity, would you refuse to pass along the resume of someone who is kind of a slacker even if you do want to work with them?

Ashley: Absolutely.


Lulu: Not that... that's... relevant.

Ashley: It's actually a simple question. Do you think the company would benefit from that person? Then recommend.

Lulu: Yeah, she's focusing on the wrong parts of the question. The office romance thing is moot. He wants to just be friends and/or coworkers. The relationship is over.

Ashley: Oh, definitely.

Okay, so the official answer: Meredith agrees that she needs to separate work like and love life, but she advocates a different approach.
I wouldn't worry about an office romance at the moment because I'm not quite sure you're in an out-of-office romance. Are you still together? How would you define your relationship, SBAR&MHP?

You have to be selfish. But you also have to be honest. Tell Mr. I'm-taking-a-step-back that you're a bit confused about the status of your relationship and that having him in an office down the hall won't help. He's more than welcome to apply for a job at ABC Company, but he shouldn't be asking you to facilitate. You're doing a lot for him -- stepping back, stepping forward, being a friend, being more than a friend. Let's be honest -- it hurts, right? Can he consider your feelings for a few minutes or more?
Ashley: I do agree that he's using her.

Lulu: For sure. Stepping back was breaking up, and it's awfully suspicious that he got friendly right before he asked for a favor. He does not want to get back together. He wants a job. He has trouble separating work and personal, too.

Ashley: But i don't necessarily think that's a deal breaker for recommending him. He's using her like an acquaintance. She's part of his network! I would also take an acquaintance to dinner and then ask for a favor.

Lulu: But it's unfair if he made it look like he was maybe getting back with her so she would view him more favorably. He probably knows she hopes to get him back.

Ashley: Does he? Maybe she just read into it. Either way, it doesn't affect her recommendation. He can be a good worker even if he's kind of an asshole.

Lulu: Though hopefully she won't have to work with him closely if she is still getting over the breakup.

Ashley: I guess she could always ask him for a referral to ABC in that case.

Lulu: Swapsies!


  1. What is SBAR&MHP? Don't just make up acronyms because the cools kids are doing it, Meredith. That is so DFS.

    Back to the first letter! Pictures of the girl's locker room has always been a fantasy of his? Get in line behind everyone, Creepy McActsonit. And trying to convince your ugly girlfriend to do it just shows a lack of sack. No respect at all. Going from getting to see two boobs down to none at all is a fitting punishment for this grotesque overreach.

    On the second letter, I am in disagreement with Ashley kinda! I don't think you entirely need to separate your personal and work lives - maybe in an ideal world the fact that somebody is good at their jobs would be enough for me to recommend them, but if I am going to have to spend a big chunk of my waking life in proximity to somebody, I'm not recommending them if that is going to inconvenience me even a little bit.

    Of course I'm only sometimes going to put the benefit of the company over the benefit of the Darnell, and absolutely never when we're talking about a long term situation. Irredeemable douchebags who happen to be good at what they do can apply elsewhere.

    Oh, and I'm spiteful! So if somebody has hurt me and I can actively make them stay in a situation that makes them miserable - yes. Yes a hundred times. Taste of their tears and let the waves of a dull existence erode at their soul, bringing that sweet soil to your own shores. As they languish so will you prosper!

  2. Darnell, I find your occasional lapse into fortune cookie speech disturbing. In other news, that girl SHOULD take pictures of the girls locker room, and send them on over to me. I promise I will never show anyone except Darnell.