Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

“He Showed His New House to Another Woman Before He Showed It to Me!”

I dated a guy on and off for a year before he moved back to his former city to be closer to his son and family. A year after the move, we resumed “dating” long-distance for about seven months. We started making plans for my visit and discussed my possibly moving at a later date. During this time he reconnected with old friends, including someone he used to date (long distance also) with whom he had some bad experiences. (She once drove for hours to curse him and trash his house. She also broke into his phone – after he had forgiven her and they had hung out as friends – and called other people he was seeing.)

When she called after she heard he was back in town, he said that he had forgiven her (again), that they were just friends, and that he’d told her he’d met someone. Around this time, he also decided to buy a house so he could have his son over more – and I’d also have a place to stay since he had been living with family to save money. He often asked for advice/feedback, and I spent countless hours going over properties with him. Meanwhile, he and his friend started to spend more time together as they would go exercising.

Eventually, when things graduated to their “catching up” during a weekly Friday night “appointment” (she’s a therapist), I became uneasy. I told him she wanted more than friendship and asked what he was going to do when she asked him out. He said that would never happen, but he later confessed she had asked to start dating him again and he turned her down. However, he continued to see her – albeit less frequently.

When he finally closed on a house, I asked that I be the first person to see it after his family. We had been making preparations for me to visit. I was invested in his success.

His friend got there before I did. He said she lived closer, so it wasn’t a big deal. But it was to me. I felt hurt, betrayed, used…it was the one thing I had asked him for. I felt it would have marked a turning point for us. And I felt her action was intended to cause friction, which it did.

I felt disrespected by her and by him. Even though she lived there, could she not have waited? Was I wrong for wanting to share that moment with him first? Am I getting relationship etiquette wrong? — Waiting for the Turning Point

Of course you’re not wrong to feel the feelings you feel. I think where you went wrong was looking for a symbolic “turning point” in a relationship in which you feel insecure and threatened, rather than for meaningful actions, behavior, and conversations. And it’s no wonder you feel insecure in this relationship. You haven’t seen each other in person in over a year and a half, and, prior to that, you had a year of what sounds like multiple breakups, alluded to by your “on and off” status.

I understand why you’d be looking for something to confirm that this guy is invested in you. But the house is not it. There isn’t going to be a symbol that he’s invested in you because he isn’t; all of his actions before showing his new house to this other woman illustrate that. There’s his moving away from you, his not seeing you for months and months after you resume “dating” long distance, his lying to you about the friend wanting to date him, and his continued friendship with this friend despite your reservations and her expressed romantic interest in him. His heart is not with you.

If this guy’s heart were with you, I promise you would have seen each other at some point in the past seven months. He would prioritize you and your feelings. You would KNOW, you would feel it keenly, if his heart were with you.

It’s not the other woman “causing friction” in your relationship. There really isn’t much of a relationship here in which to cause friction. You haven’t even seen each other in over a year and a half. The year that you actually dated in person was a year of tumult apparently. There wasn’t a strong enough foundation for a long-distance relationship in which you go many, many months without actually seeing each other. You were really doomed from the beginning, and this other woman is not the cause. If anything, she’s a mirror, reflecting the disconnect you share with this guy, the bond that never fully formed in the first place and has continued to fracture over the course of your time apart.

You need to move on already. That’s the only “turning point” that’s going to push you past this place you’ve been stalled at for way too long.

Related: “My Boyfriend Bought a House For Us Without Consulting Me” and “Should I MOA from My Long Distance Relationship?”

I’m having a disagreement with my husband over the appropriate way to handle a job-related event. He says I should just keep my mouth shut and let it go. I’m perturbed and don’t want to let it go because I find it unacceptable.

I went back to work last year after taking about seven years off to raise my children. With both now in elementary school, I was ready to return to work, if only on a part-time basis.

At my new job, my immediate supervisor “Kim” is not a real boss. Although technically my supervisor, she has no real authority over my position. She’s more of a chain-of-command lead.

There was a team-building conference about four hours away that the team wanted to go to. It was billed as all-expenses paid, but optional, and I didn’t really want to go. I’m the only one with children, and, it being summertime, my life is busy. I decided not to go. But then the pressure came – “You’re the only one not going….yada yada yada,” and I caved and decided to go. We car-pooled together in two cars as there were four men plus Kim and me. Upon check-in, I was shocked that I was to room with Kim while the men all got their own rooms. I was not happy with this. I cautiously asked for my own room, even offering to pay for it myself. The hotel was booked solid due to the convention. Reluctantly, I joined Kim.

Later that night after dinner and saying goodnight to my husband and children, I came down with food poisoning. It was coming out of both ends. It made my night hell, and worse, in front of my supervisor. She wasn’t rude, but she tried to make jokes of it, even going so far as to joke about it in front of the men of our team.

Wendy, I find all of this unacceptable, but I need some perspective. First, why, because we’re women, are we supposed to share a room? Because we’re giddy girls who love to be with other girls? No! Totally unacceptable. And second, I feel it’s completely inappropriate to comment in company about my sickness, something out of my control.

I’m so embarrassed and pissed off about all of this. I’ve made a detailed letter that I’m ready to submit to our HR and COO, but again my husband thinks I should cool down a bit before making that decision. I see his point too, but what do you think? And please, readers, I would like your opinions as well. — Perturbed in Florida

 
I agree with both you AND your husband. You are absolutely entitled to feel enraged by the seeming double standard set forth by your company in assigning the only two female colleagues to a room together while giving each of the four men his own room. You are right to feel angry and embarrassed by Kim’s “jokes,” which were probably her way of trying to lighten the mood (but were still totally inappropriate). And your husband is right that you should not submit a “detailed” letter to HR and the COO that you wrote in a state of immediate anger and embarrassment. Sit on that letter for a couple days, cool down a little, and then edit the letter to simply ask clarification about how rooms are assigned on business trips. Stick with the facts and not too many feelings. “Each of the men in our group got his own room while the two women had to share a room. For my own clarification, I’d like to know if it’s company policy for women to share a room and for men to have their own rooms? And if so, what is the reasoning behind this policy, and what’s the best way to ensure that, in the future, I have the privacy and comfort a private room would allow?” Leave all the stuff about it “coming out both ends” out of your letter, and keep things simple and brief.

My guess is that rooms were assigned when you decided not to go and then, when you changed your mind, there were no rooms left in the hotel and you were assigned with Kim. That should have been explained to you before you left for the trip, but it wasn’t, and now you know, going forward, to always confirm all details of a business trip — transportation, lodging, per diem for meals, etc. — before you go.

You are back in the work world after many years out of it. There’s going to be a learning curve, and you’re going to have to adjust to a “chain of command,” as you put it. Being a stay-at-home mom certainly has its own challenges and rewards. One of the perks is that you’re the top of the chain of command (well, except for the years you have a toddler in the house…) and you call the shots and set the expectations, but that isn’t the case when you’re on a lower rung of a work ladder. You have to tread lightly, while finding the balance of advocating for yourself and fighting the misogyny that is still all-too-common in the workforce. Sending what is probably an accusatory, inflammatory email to the top of command immediately following an incident that left you feeling vulnerable, embarrassed, and angry is not the best way to do that. Sending a clear, brief, simple, non-accusatory email after cooling down is.

Related: Morning Quickie: “Can I Tell My Co-Worker She’s Too Overbearing?” and “My Co-Worker is a Relentless Bigoted Sexist”

***************

Follow along on Facebook, and Instagram.

If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at wendy​(AT)​dearwendy.com.

24 comments… add one
  • avatar

    Northern Star August 6, 2018, 9:24 am

    LW 2: There’s a lot of whining in this letter. You’re the only one with kids, so you were going to skip the team-building conference. Kim is “technically” in charge, but not really, and blah blah blah. OK, you don’t seem to like this job, and you’re looking for reasons to dislike it more. I bet Wendy was spot-on in the reason why you had to bunk with Kim (the rooms were all booked up by the time you realized GOING WAS IMPORTANT), and I doubt Kim was thrilled to share, either (especially when you got sick), but she sucked it up. It was a lousy situation, but you were determined for it to BE a lousy situation and you got your wish.

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    • avatar

      Bacon Mistress August 6, 2018, 11:58 am

      I agree. I got the same vibe before I even read what happened. It was the lead up: my husband and I disagree… going back to work after being unemployed for 7 years. I am not knocking stay at home moms because that is a big job but it isnt a job that has to navigate professional waters. Then when it went into my supervisor is not a real boss. LOL! Yes she is, honey.
      YOU are not a real boss. YOU have a bad attitude. YOU wont be working much longer and will be unemployed again if YOU cant get it together. Yeah the rooming thing was a mishap on their part I am guessing and it sucks that you got embarrassed by mother nature’s calling. But your husband is right. Let that sink in as I know it is a hard pill to swallow. Especially for someone who cant take orders.

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  • avatar

    dinoceros August 6, 2018, 9:49 am

    LW1: Asking to be the first person to see the new home of someone you’re dating (especially long-distance) is a little silly. That in itself shouldn’t matter that much. My assumption is that it’s a stand-in for the real issue, which is that you believe he values this other woman more than he says he does. In my experience, men don’t enjoy hanging out with women who like them who they aren’t interested in. At best, he is not that serious about you and therefore doesn’t really care if you think something is going on or whatever. At worst, he’s seeing this woman too. (Also, going long-distance with someone you are on-off with is not really great because there’s no real commitment there to maintain the relationship while they are gone.) I think this relationship has run its course, and it’s best for you to look for someone who lives near you who shares your interested in a relationship.

    LW2: Like Wendy, I think there are merits to your and your husband’s opinions. Most likely, you had to room together because you decided too late to go (remember how the hotel was booked?) and there was nowhere else to put you or the budget was already finalized. In the future, make your decision earlier and also ask questions about the accommodations. If you don’t like them, then you have plenty of time to rearrange.

    In terms of the food poisoning, there are people who would find the jokes funny (and would make the jokes themselves) and those who wouldn’t. Some people make jokes to make others feel better. While it’s best to not joke unless you KNOW it’s OK, I think being this irate at her seems excessive. Personally, I’d prefer someone to joke with me about it (I’d feel less awkward). But I think it’s odd that you don’t seem to acknowledge that Kim probably didn’t want to room with you and your food poisoning either.

    Overall, a letter to HR seems way over the line. Based on your tone here, I assume your letter might also border on unprofessional, but I understand that you maybe just feel more comfortable sharing your true feelings here. Going to HR when you haven’t addressed the situation with the person themselves (unless it’s a really, really serious and potentially dangerous situation) is a no-no. In the moment, you should have pulled her aside and said that you don’t feel good and were embarrassing and would rather she didn’t make jokes to the group. Or even just in the room, saying, “I don’t really feel like joking about this.” Going to HR over this is going to come across as really extreme and probably do more harm than good.

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  • avatar

    brise August 6, 2018, 9:56 am

    LW2: I am on your husband’s side here. If you want to cut the professional branch you sit on and damage your image: go for it.
    The company paid all the costs: that is nice. Some trainings are not fully reimbursed. Wendy gave the most probable reason you had to share a room, and frankly, it must have been unpleasant for Kim as well. This was bad luck.
    You have to be more professional in the future. Make your mind and stick to it.
    About Kim: she is over you and you had better respect her.

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  • bagge72

    bagge72 August 6, 2018, 11:10 am

    LW2: You seem to hate Kim, and your company. You down play her role, and clearly that carries over to your rooming situation. I with everyone else who thinks the reason is that the rooms were already booked before you finally decided to actually be part of your team.

    LW1: There are some valid parts to your letter, your bf doesn’t really seem like he’s too into actually being your bf, and I can only think of one reason why anyone would hangout with an EX that treated them so badly, and it’s because he is in love with her. For some reason he is just really attracted to her no matter how shitty she treats him, and a simple apology will always be good enough for him to take her back. But the whole house thing is just not cool, he should be able to show his how to whoever he wants whenever he wants, and not have to wait until his long distance GF comes to town to show it off.

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    • avatar

      JD August 6, 2018, 11:23 am

      Agree on everything regarding LW1.

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  • Skyblossom

    Skyblossom August 6, 2018, 11:24 am

    LW2 You decide to go at the last moment, to a booked hotel, and can’t see why you didn’t have your own room. Almost certainly you were sharing a room because you decided to go after the rooms were all booked. Take some responsibility for your actions here.

    Because you were so slow to decide to go Kim got stuck sharing a room with you and got stuck listening to you have food poisoning and she made the best of it. All you can do is whine. If you send your letter to HR you will only remind everyone that you chose to not go and then changed your mind at the last minute. They will also suddenly worry that if anything goes wrong you will always jump first to being picked on as a woman rather than something went wrong. Kim was the team player here. You were the reluctant, last minute, add on who then was a horrible person to have to share a room with. I know it wasn’t your fault you had food poisoning but it would be horrible to be around it like Kim was. She still didn’t complain at you for your last minute decision to go along.

    Maybe you need to be more like Kim.

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    • bagge72

      bagge72 August 6, 2018, 11:26 am

      #morelikekim

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    • avatar

      dinoceros August 6, 2018, 3:07 pm

      Yeah. Imagine Kim’s letter: “I decided early on I wanted to go to a conference, and one of my employees didn’t want to go. She dragged her feet until she eventually decided to go. By then, the hotels had long been booked and all the rooms were taken. I agree to let her room with me. Unfortunately, she got food poisoning, which made for a very unpleasant night for both of us. I had really been looking forward to having a room to myself. I tried to lighten the mood with jokes so she wouldn’t feel so awkward. After we got back, I found out she wrote a very angry letter to HR about how I am unprofessional I am, even though she never let me know she was upset with me. What do I do?”

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      • avatar

        JD August 6, 2018, 6:40 pm

        Honestly I’m surprised she is SOOO offended by the joke. Ya shitty (ha) in front of the men to some extent but sounds like Kim was trying to be as cool as possible about it. If you’ve given birth to two kids and are still mortified if someone is aware you poop…might I recommend the book, Everybody Poops. We are all adults and real life sometimes collided with work.

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  • Skyblossom

    Skyblossom August 6, 2018, 11:35 am

    LW1 You can’t place dibs on getting to see a house first.

    When you are in the right relationship you don’t need to look for signs about being wanted or valued, you just know that you are. The need to look for a sign of respect or value is the red flag that this relationship isn’t working.

    Your boyfriend would only spend this much time with her if he liked her, if he enjoyed spending time with her. Whether he would choose to spend that time with you if you were available who knows. Part of the problem with a long distance relationship is that you don’t have the day to day contact that builds and strengthens a relationship. He may like you and probably respects your opinion but also finds you unavailable and doesn’t mind spending his time with another woman. All that time that they are sharing is building a relationship between them.

    I think you should move on. When the two of you lived closer together you were on and off and when you are long distance he spends his time with someone else. I don’t see how this can ever work. The on and off when you lived near each other is all you need to know that the two of you don’t work well together. Something doesn’t fit right. Unless you figured out why you kept breaking up and then figured out how to deal with whatever that was you won’t work.

    You may love him but your relationship doesn’t work. Time to move on.

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  • avatar

    CanadaGoose August 6, 2018, 11:50 am

    LW1: Your fixation on house-viewing order is odd and seems to be designed to make things hard for your bf, thereby “proving” he values you if he jumps through your hoops. Moving for an ex on-and-off bf seems unlikely to succeed, from a totally outside perspective . Go visit but if you were on-and-off and then exes in your current city, I am not sure what you think will be different now except you’ll have less life stability and few if any local friends.

    LW2: Say nothing. You will get a rep as a whiner and insult Kim, which won’t help you. Think of this from her perspective: she was trapped with a colleague who did not want to be in the room with her, who monopolized and smelled up the room and bathroom with ongoing vomit and diarrhea. SO unpleasant for her and then to have you complain to HR? Oy. I would have apologized to Kim at the time for the inconvenience (because despite it not being your fault you were a nightmare roommate) and made a joke about being the poster child for separate rooms. Don’t worry, she wil NOT want to share with you again. In the future, ensure you let people know you require your own room during planning. This happened to me once and I arranged a separate room and let my company know that while I’m willing to travel for work, I don’t share rooms. It was fine.

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  • avatar

    ron August 6, 2018, 11:57 am

    LW#2 —
    What comes through loud and clear in your letter is that you don’t want to work. Likely your husband nudged you back to work by pointing out that your children were in school and the family could use extra cash. You expect special privileges for being a mother, as in the only non-participant in team building exercise. Yes, Kim is your boss. Are you that dense that you don’t understand how matrix management works. Who do you think is your real boss?

    You must be a real delight to work with. Go ahead and send your letter. Your company will happily wave goodbye to you. That’s probably what you want anyway. You seem to have been determined not to like going back to work. You are 7 years away from the world of work. You have things to learn. You certainly should not be talking about your functional area boss not being your real boss.

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    • juliecatharine

      juliecatharine August 6, 2018, 12:40 pm

      Oh boy LW2 you need to listen to your husband and stfu about this entire incident. Team building is never optional. You don’t get special treatment because you have kids. Kim is 100% your boss. HR is the nuclear option. Breathe one word of this nonsense to HR (and the COO?! Are you nuts?) and you will be persona non grata in that office. Either adjust your attitude or get a different job.

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  • avatar

    SpaceySteph August 6, 2018, 12:36 pm

    LW2: Its normal in my organization to have a manager who deals with the management-y stuff like hiring and firing and to also have a chain-of-command boss for work stuff. Rather than mean that they’re not your boss, it means you have 2 bosses and must serve both.
    LW2 definitely shows her inexperience with the working world. Team building events that are “optional” but not really optional are unfortunately pretty common.
    I agree you should raise the travel issue but do it in a polite/questioning fashion vs going on a tear. Imagine, for the sake of argument, that they squeezed you in to Kim’s room because you opted in too late to get your own. Now imagine that you send that letter to HR raging about sexism and making women share rooms but not men. Not good for your career.
    I think even Wendy’s wording is too accusatory. I’d say just say to whoever books the travel “I was surprised to find that Kim and I were sharing a room. Is this the normal policy for people at [Company] when traveling for business?” and then if they’re like “oh yes everyone shares a room” you can counter by pointing out that the men didn’t have to. More likely there is a reasonable explanation for it, like the hotel was full before they booked you or the men have more seniority.

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  • Dear Wendy

    Dear Wendy August 6, 2018, 12:49 pm

    As I was emailing the link to this column to LW2, I noticed the her email address suggests that she’s 31 years old, which means she was 23 or 24 when she left the workforce. That means she has very little professional work experience. LW, please take the advice to slow your roll here, cut out the entitlement you think you’re owed because you’re a parent, and respect the chain of command. Someone who is higher than you in the command, is a superior and you are a subordinate. It doesn’t matter if that person is your direct supervisor or not. Furthermore, you should be treating all colleagues, regardless where they fall in the hierarchy, with respect. Optional team-building events are not really optional. Be a team player.

    Working outside the home has a different set of challenges than being a stay-at-home parent. Play by the rules, enjoy the paycheck and break from the monotony and drudgery of housework and childrearing…

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    • juliecatharine

      juliecatharine August 6, 2018, 1:01 pm

      That explains a lot.

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  • meadowphoenix

    meadowphoenix August 6, 2018, 1:07 pm

    #2
    For what it’s worth I disagree mostly with the commenters here about your framing (except that you seem sorta precious about your momhood). I mean, there are plenty of jobs where a team lead has some supervisory authority (can divvy assignments) but no other authority to hire fire or have final decisions on performance evaluations. They’re not a boss but they control some aspect of the work. This seems like one of those things. They have seniority, though so ultimately it doesn’t matter. Complaining about her behavior better be for something good not that you have to room with her.

    And I think it’s actually really really shitty for Kim to joke about your sickness to the dudes on your team, especially if this is a significantly lopsided gender disparity. While joking about it with you was probably trying to lighten the mood, doing with with your peers as someone with seniority can be really damaging and is a way to complain.

    Third, I agree with people that you probably had to bunk with Kim because the hotel was booked by the time you agreed and they didn’t think how it would look, but I disagree this is mostly you. Jobs shouldn’t say something is optional if it isn’t, and if they’re going to pressure full attendance, they should already be thinking about accommodations for everyone. That said, next time understand that everything is mandatory.

    Ultimately I agree that you’ve got to suck it up and think ahead next time however. Assume Kim meant no harm (at best, you can like say to Kim “hey kim, I know that trip was hard for both of us, but I’d appreciate if you didn’t joke about my illness to the team” if this is an ongoing problem). Chill.

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  • avatar

    GertietheDino August 6, 2018, 1:21 pm

    With the update from Wendy, I’m sure LW has probably never worked outside the home, save maybe jobs in HS and college.

    LW-You’re not going to be catered to in the workplace. You decided to go on this trip last minute and unfortunately got sick while traveling. That sucks but is not an HR/Executive level issue. It’s just an unfortunate occurrence on a business trip. It won’t be the last.

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    • avatar

      ron August 6, 2018, 6:10 pm

      I’m going to guess that this team building meeting may have been somewhat voluntary at the start, but then a higher up found out and asked her manager: “Really, you’re going to have a team program exercise without the newby, the person most in need of this activity, the one who knows next to nothing about how this organization or your team operates. Does that make any sense to you?” Then it became obligatory for LW. It is baffling that a newby would not jump at the chance to be included in the activity. How better to learn about your team and your new company?

      By the way, I worked for a Fortune 300 company and often shared a room at such events. It was typical for all and the program likely would not have been affordable to my department if everyone had their own room.

      LW, you already have a few black question marks after your name. Don’t make it worse by sending the letter.

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  • avatar

    anonymousse August 6, 2018, 2:25 pm

    LW1: When is the last time you saw your “boyfriend?”
    It really sounds like they are dating.. That would explain her “crazy” behavior, why he’s forgiven her and her antics, not to mention they go out every Friday night, and why she saw his house first.

    LW2: WEES. Kim made jokes because she couldn’t even be in that hotel room with you. She made light of a situation. What was she supposed to say?

    You need to just change your work attitude. I know it’s hard going back after being home for so long, but reframe your thought patterns. Instead of “I HAVE TO go to this job event,” try to thin’ of it, “I GET TO go to this work event for my job, which I’m thankful to have.”

    Things could be worse! You could have no job and no way to support your family. Not many people are psyched to go to their jobs everyday, most everyone would much rather be at home with family or their friends or Netflix, but the reality is, we all need those dollar bills to afford our lives.

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    • avatar

      JD August 6, 2018, 3:19 pm

      Good point. A lot of people fight tooth and nail to be able to go to these conferences let alone have it paid in full. Be more grateful.

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  • avatar

    anonymousse August 6, 2018, 2:38 pm

    I just want to add that no one needs the details of what end anything was coming out of. Food poisoning says it all.

    Don’t send a letter. I agree with your husband that your need to calm down and say nothing. Next time, don’t agree to work trips at the last minute and expect your own private room.
    Make a joke about your illness if anyone says anything. Everyone gets sick sometime. We’ve all been there. Writingan angry letter to HR and COO almost guarantees you’ll be labeled as high maintenance and a little nuts.

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  • avatar

    JD August 6, 2018, 5:20 pm

    It just occurred to me that you said “when I move at a later date”. So unless you left out a very upcoming visit you just didn’t want anyone to see his house until you finally made a trip?

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