Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

“I Got Drunk and Made Vulgar Remarks About a Coworker and Now I’m Afraid to Go Back to Work”

I went out with two of my co-workers last weekend and got way, way, way too intoxicated and said some extremely inappropriate things about our other co-worker. My memory of it is pretty hazy, but I’m pretty sure I said some things along the lines of how hot I think he is and how I’d sleep with him even though he has a girlfriend, though I’m sure I expressed this is more vulgar terms. While I was saying all of this, the two co-workers I was out with were telling me to stop, saying it wasn’t cool, etc. I don’t know what got into me or what came over me; I would never, ever dream of making a move on someone who is in a relationship, and while I do have a crush on the guy, I never planned to do anything about it.

I’m so mortified and am pretty sure the co-workers I was drinking with have told him everything I said because they have a friendship with him outside of work. I’m so ashamed and embarrassed that I’ve been losing sleep over it, thinking about my behavior all day every day, and I am terrified of going back to work and having to face everyone. I know that there’s no way the co-worker I have a crush on will be able to view me in a positive light after learning the things I said about him. I don’t know if I should speak to him privately or speak to the two guys I went out with and try to clear up the situation. I know that even though I was drunk, I’m to blame for my actions. I acted like a complete idiot and crossed a line that I should not have, I’m beating myself up about this so much, and I’m so embarrassed and scared of what it’s going to be like when I go back to work. FYI, I’m a full-time student who works at a bar, so I only have to be there three nights a week, but I’ve worked there for a while and have good relationships with my co-workers. I’m afraid now everyone will see me as a vulgar sloppy drunk and a home-wrecker! — Not Always a Vulgar Sloppy Drunk

Relax! It’s going to be ok! You said some inappropriate things, and that’s unfortunate, but this is not the end of the world! And because you work in a bar part-time, it’s different than if you worked in a more business-like, professional atmosphere. People who work in bars are sort of used to sloppy drunks saying inappropriate things. I wouldn’t lose sleep about this. I also wouldn’t speak privately to the subject of your remarks. You don’t know what, if anything, was shared with him, and you risk not only outing yourself if he hasn’t heard anything, but making him uncomfortable to boot.

What you could do instead is pull aside the two co-workers you went out with the other night, either together or individually, and say something like, “Hey, I’m really regretting my behavior the other night. I drank too much and said a lot of things I didn’t mean and wouldn’t normally say, and I feel embarrassed and ashamed. I apologize if I said or did anything to make you feel uncomfortable – it won’t ever happen again — and I hope you won’t hold it against me.” I wouldn’t be surprised if they shrug and say, “Yeah – you were really trashed!” Just shrug back and say, “I know. Like I said, I’m pretty embarrassed about it and hope we can all forget it happened!” I promise, it’s probably not as big a deal as you think it is, but do take this as an important lesson to NOT to talk the way you did ever again, most especially with co-workers. It’s really important as we fight against sexually inappropriate behavior in the workplace that we women not actively perpetuate it!

I separated with my kid’s dad a little over six months ago and have started to date someone. We’ve known each other a long time so he knows my kid and she likes him very much. Most of the time I move very quickly into a relationship, which I am trying not to do this time because of my daughter.

My boyfriend has been very supportive of my daughter and me, he treats her like absolute gold, and he backs up my parenting choices, as I do his. He wants to know how to be her “daddy” as he says it, lol, which is awesome because her bio-dad didn’t really do much in the way of fathering her in any way, shape, or form. She has seen her bio-dad only four times since we separated, so he’s not really in the picture much. (I left him in part because I realized that my daughter and I deserved better and I didn’t want her to grow up thinking that the way her dad treated me was what love was.)

My question is: My boyfriend is saying he doesn’t want to change her diaper because she is not his daughter, and if I were to ask him to help out with babysitting (I work nights so I pay someone to sleep over just in case she wakes up), he would want half of what I pay the regular babysitter. I don’t know why but that kind of put me off a bit. I don’t know if he is setting respectful boundaries and I am the one not used to it, or if it’s something I need to discuss with him and, if I do, how to I approach it. — New to this Mom!

 
Woah, you’ve only been separated from your kid’s father six months and you already have a new boyfriend who’s asking how to be your kid’s daddy, who’s sleeping over at night while you’re at work, and who’s someone with whom you’re having parenting conflicts? This is totally inappropriate. If this is what it looks like when you’re trying not to move too fast, what does it look like when you aren’t trying? I mean… wow. You need to slow way the fuck down.

At this point, six months after separating from your daughter’s dad, there should not even be a new father figure in her life yet. Honestly, if you’re dating at all at this point, it should be dipping a toe in the dating pool, not asking a new boyfriend to sleep over at night alone with your daughter while you’re at work!! Your boyfriend may be asking for payment for babysitting as a way of establishing SOME kind of boundary here since you have established none. Conversely, he may just be trying to make some cash. Either way, it’s clear he doesn’t actually WANT to be a “daddy” figure to your daughter right now and that’s a good thing because he shouldn’t be!! It’s been a handful of months.

You should apologize to him — tell him you realize now that you’ve been moving things too quickly with him and you hope it hasn’t made him uncomfortable. Tell him you really like him and are enjoying your relationship and you don’t want to jeopardize it by moving too fast. Tell him that going forward, and until you’ve had a lot more time together, you’ll only have babysitters stay the night with your daughter.

I wouldn’t even mention the diaper issue, but, obviously, stop asking him to change your daughter’s diapers and be grateful he’s a conscientious enough man to give you a head’s up that that’s not cool. You know that, right? That asking a guy you’ve just started dating to help your young daughter with diaper and bathroom needs is totally inappropriate and dangerous? Well, now you do, so don’t do it again. Just like you say your daughter deserved better than the bio-dad who wasn’t interested in her and didn’t treat you well, she also deserves better than being put in vulnerable positions with men her mother has just started dating.

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

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

29 comments… add one
  • avatar

    JD October 16, 2018, 9:20 am

    I agree with Wendy but something strikes me as super weird about the diaper thing. Let’s say this happened in a reasonable timeline and not 6 months (WTF). I have seen men who won’t change a daughters diaper because she is a female. This is so weird to me. My uncle did this. Even as a child this stuck me as some weird mental thing like he couldn’t be near a female baby body part because…why? Assuming she is in diapers she is very young and there is nothing sexual about it. It strikes me as him having some sexual connotation regarding this. I could truly be thinking about my uncle, who i am quite sure did in fact have inappropriate interactions with his daughter as some point. Many signs point tj it and he has been fired numerous times over sexual harassment issues. So perhaps I am projecting but something seems off.

    On the flip side, if he just isn’t into poopy diapers, because who is, then that is different. It just doesn’t read that way to me.

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      csp October 16, 2018, 10:33 am

      Honestly, I think that is a big reach here. I think many men were raised as a separtion from child rearing. If he said he was ok changing her son’s diaper but not her daughter’s that might be a little odd. (I am making up a hypothetical son here). But this just seems like a very young couple and I think this man is not used to being around children in general. I think while it is fun to take a kid pumpkin picking, the day to day grind of child rearing is a step too far. I am thinking he is setting a boundary in a new relationship.

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      • avatar

        JD October 16, 2018, 10:35 am

        That is my big question. Is it because it is her daughter or because it is a child period. As I said it could just be my past experience with this but it made me wonder.

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      keyblade October 16, 2018, 10:41 am

      He might just be self-conscious of how it comes across. I think a lot of people (fairly or unfairly) raise an eyebrow when a single, childless man gets really close, really fast to a mother with a small child and poor boundaries. It could just be self-protection.

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    • avatar

      Fyodor October 16, 2018, 11:00 am

      I’m going to strongly dissent here. I think that unless you’re a doctor, most men would not be normally handling that part of someone else’s child and doing so seems like a severe crossing of boundaries, even for an innocuous reason. When I was single I wouldn’t have felt comfortable doing so and it’s not because I some kind of secret perv.

      As a parent I’ve changed so many diapers that I am probably desensitied to the process but back then no way.

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      • Kate B.

        Kate B. October 16, 2018, 7:28 pm

        I have a friend whose BIL was extremely uncomfortable dealing with anything having to do with his daughter’s lower half. His wife always handled it. I have other friends who didn’t make a big deal out of it. I guess it just depends.

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    • Dear Wendy

      Dear Wendy October 16, 2018, 11:36 am

      I know lots of good dads/ good men who would feel weird about changing or bathing a female child over the age of like 18 months. It’s not because they’re sexualizing anything – ew! – it’s just setting appropriate boundaries and sending messages to little girls that the only men who should be dealing with their naked or semi-naked bodies are men who are related to them or their doctors. I think, given the enormous disparity between male predators and pedophiles and female ones, this is an appropriate message to send young girls. Do you all disagree?

      We spent a few days upstate in an airbnb with some family friends who have a daughter Jackson’s age. At one point, three of us adults were cleaning up after dinner and Drew was getting Jackson and joanie bathed and ready for bed. He said to our friends that he was going to let them give their daughter a bath “because…” and our friend cut him off and said, “Because you’re not a psychopath?!” I don’t agree that a male family friend bathing a 6-year-old girl is a “psychopath” but, come on, it’s a little strange.

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      • avatar

        Kate October 16, 2018, 11:42 am

        Yeah, when I hear “don’t want to change her diapers,” I think “don’t want to clean up poop,” or possibly “don’t want to put myself in a situation of handling a naked kid I am not related to because boundaries,” not “I see changing a little girl’s diapers as somehow sexual.”

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      • avatar

        ktfran October 16, 2018, 12:19 pm

        So the husband and I were recently babysitting a friends two children. Girl age 4. Boy age 2.

        The girl has some major bathroom issues and will still often poop in her underwear… which she did while we babysat. I tried to clean her up, but started gagging. I couldn’t stop. I’m not proud of that, but it happened. My husband stepped in and finished cleaning up.

        I don’t think either of us thought anything of it. I needed help. He helped. Was that wrong? I believe the only negative message we sent is from me and my inability perform a basic task. When I told my friends after they got home, she said yes, that she has extremely smelly poops.

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      • Dear Wendy

        Dear Wendy October 16, 2018, 12:37 pm

        No, no – I think that is fine! For me, it’s not a hard and fast rule that male non-family members should avoid changing or bathing girls; there are going to be situations like the one you describe where, of course, it makes sense for a man to help out or even take the lead. But, in general, I think it’s more appropriate for women to change and bathe young girls. But I’m also someone who will always try to avoid having my daughter — and son, really — see a male pediatrician. And I realize that this isn’t totally normal, so my baseline might be off.

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      • avatar

        Kate October 16, 2018, 12:26 pm

        I mean, whatever. My parents volunteer in the baby / little kid room at church, and the kids poop their pants and diapers. My parents change them if they have to, or take them in the bathroom to clean them up. No one cares if my dad cleans a little girl up or changes her diaper, and I’m sure it was fine with your friends if your husband helped with the cleanup. Personally I see no problem with a male babysitter changing a kid, but I get what Wendy is saying about boundaries, totally.

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      • avatar

        ktfran October 16, 2018, 12:46 pm

        I do see your point! And I also know that my husband would have totally preferred if I were able to handle it. Thank god he was there though.

        I agree that there isn’t a hard and fast rule and we should definitely be teaching appropriate boundaries. I do feel that men get the short end of the stick when helping out with children and I wish that weren’t the case.

        As an aside, I’m an adult and don’t always feel comfortable with male doctors. I totally get where you’re coming from there!

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      • avatar

        JD October 16, 2018, 4:52 pm

        Well as I said assuming this was actually a long standing boyfriend who did have a hand in helping raise her since she mentioned him watching her at night. Not the current situation of barely dating. I don’t know it just strikes me as weird to not change a diaper because it’s a girl. If someone is actually concerned about this man and the child and a diaper then he shouldn’t be around to begin with.

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  • avatar

    dinoceros October 16, 2018, 9:54 am

    LW2: Look, you’re not trying to slow things down if you’re trying to push a guy you’ve been dating for six months into parenting your kid. He shouldn’t even be spending time with your kid as your boyfriend at this point. (I phrase it that way, but I know you probably would respond with, “But he already knew her.”) If this is you not going too fast, then I’d hate to see what it’s like when you let yourself rush things.

    The fact that your kid likes him so much isn’t necessarily a good thing. Sure, it’s better than your kid hating him, but part of the reason that parents don’t have their partner hanging around their kids all the time is they get attached and then have trouble understanding what happens when there’s a breakup and why that person doesn’t want to be around them anymore.

    Learn how to actually slow down. Maybe read about parenting as a single mom? Because I get the impression that you don’t really understand that what you’re doing is not normal and that there are recommended norms related to when to introduce kids to a partner, etc. (And introducing your kid to a partner doesn’t equal you making them actually be a parent and babysit and do all the parenting chores.)

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    • avatar

      dinoceros October 16, 2018, 9:56 am

      LW1: Yeah, hopefully you understand why immediately going to this guy would be a bad thing. “Sorry for all the vulgar things I said about you!” “What?”

      I agree with Wendy. Apologize to your co-workers. Don’t get that drunk again. (Also, try to read the room — it sounds like they were not as drunk as you and generally speaking, it’s pretty annoying when one person is drunker than everyone else.)

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    • avatar

      Vathena October 16, 2018, 10:11 am

      She hasn’t even been dating the guy for six months! Six months ago was when she separated from her daughter’s father LW, probably you should also be concentrating on getting your legal ducks in a row with regard to child support, visitation, and divorce(?) unclear whether you were ever married. Focus on that and on building a stable life for yourself and your daughter before you’re shopping for replacement daddies/free babysitting.

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  • avatar

    csp October 16, 2018, 10:41 am

    LW2 – I feel for you here so much. I am sorry your child’s father is not helping. Being a parent is hard and being a single parent is even harder. In your letter, I am seeing how badly you need support. I mean, you are trying to hold everything together and paying a babysitter so much of your hard earned paycheck. It is easy to see this sweet guy you are dating that is sweet to your child and also see how he can share the load you are carrying. I mean, if this guy would change a diaper and you could cut your child care cost in half. how great would that be.

    But here is what I think, by putting this burden on him this early, you will drive him away. This is too much strain too early. I think you need to find support with family or find single mom friends and see if you can swap help for each other. You need a better community surrounding you.

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  • avatar

    djj October 16, 2018, 10:54 am

    Not that I disagree with what Wendy said about LW 2 in general, but I’d just point out she said ‘IF’ she asked him to stay with her child overnight which I take to mean she hasn’t yet (so she is still using the babysitter).

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  • avatar

    Poppy October 16, 2018, 11:36 am

    LW2 letter sparks a good questions. Is 6 months dating long enough to allow the person you are dating to change your child’s diaper or bathing them which exposes their privates.

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  • avatar

    anonymousse October 16, 2018, 11:47 am

    I agree you are moving way to fast. I can’t even believe you both are using the term daddy in regards to your brand new boyfriend. If this is you taking it slow, what is moving too fast like?

    This needs to slow down, he should not be changing or bathing her, or sleeping over night. Jesus.

    If you want the best for your daughter, you protect her. Which means taking relationships and new men into her life verrrrrrry slowly. It also means being what many people think is overprotective.

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  • avatar

    Mimi October 16, 2018, 12:49 pm

    LW2 – please pay attention to the part of where dude said he would expect to be paid (any amount) if he were asked to stay overnight at your place while you work in case your daughter wakes up. Really? Is that how he treats her like gold?
    I would add this one onto your discard pile as well…you do deserve better.

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    • avatar

      Fyodor October 16, 2018, 2:52 pm

      From the fact that he’s asking for half as much as the babysitter I read this as an (admittedly odd) attempt to formalize what he’s doing and try to keep boundaries rather than an unwillingness to help.

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  • Skyblossom

    Skyblossom October 16, 2018, 2:31 pm

    LW1 You can’t go back and redo the situation so you have to live with it. Take this as a lesson learned. Be aware of how much you are drinking and either don’t mix work and your social life or drink much less when you are out with coworkers. Your coworkers were telling you that you were crossing a line and asking you to stop. When someone says stop you need to really listen. That doesn’t just apply to sex. If you don’t like their boundaries or don’t agree with them find other friends to go out with. If you like these people respect their boundaries.

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  • avatar

    cdobbs71 October 16, 2018, 2:54 pm

    LW 1 please don’t be so hard on yourself. Everyone over the legal drinking age has at one point drank too much and done something they are less than proud of. From what I read you really didn’t do anything all that bad except state an attraction to a coworker. So not a big deal. People do talk though, so the coworker likely knows. If I was the guy I would just be flattered and leave it at that. Your actions when sober speak more to who you are as a person (someone who would not try to hook up with someone in a relationship, not a lot of people can say that). You sound like a good person who just had too much to drink. If anyone judges you for that, then they are the ones with the problem, not you. So go back to work with your head held high and stop worrying about this!

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    • Skyblossom

      Skyblossom October 16, 2018, 3:25 pm

      Just having to much to drink was a choice and it made the coworkers uncomfortable. When your drinking is negatively affecting your work environment it is time to cut back on the drinking. Instead of holding your head high it is time to assess your choices and do better which I’m assuming the LW is very capable of doing since they wrote the letter requesting help. These coworkers may not want to go out with the LW in the future. Things like this can damage or destroy relationships. It should slide by if it doesn’t happen again. That’s the critical thing. Learn from a mistake and make a better decision in the future. Everyone makes mistakes.

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  • bittergaymark

    Bittergaymark October 16, 2018, 3:18 pm

    LW1). Eh. The drinking is such a feeble excuse. Really. At any rate, watch yourself. Your behavior reeks of somebody who simply can’t handle alcohol…

    LW2) Everybody keeps asking — “if this is slow — what does fast look like?” Hello? It looks like — gee, I dunno — like having a baby and then IMMEDIATELY dumping the father as he is magically not perfect enough. Daddy #2 better wrap up his willie or he’ll be dumped next. Just wait.

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    • avatar

      Poppy October 16, 2018, 3:57 pm

      Omg yes!!! Then she will claim daddy #2 is a deadbeat who barely sees his kid as well and asking new boyfriend to babysit her kids and let them call him daddy.

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    • avatar

      ron October 16, 2018, 5:01 pm

      BGM is right on all counts. Show me a mean-spirited, nasty drunk and I’ll show you a mean-spirited person who is a bit better at hiding their awfulness when sober. LW wouldn’t have dropped awful comments about a co-worker while drunk if she wasn’t thinking them while sober.

      For LW#2 — it should have been a huge red flag to you when your new bf of less than 6 months told you he wanted to be your daughter’s daddy. And why would you have a child with a man who treats you so badly that you saw it as a bad example for your child to observe? You can have a child without being married, but unless your desire is to be a single mom (and if it were, you wouldn’t be seeking so much help from a new bf) then you ought to at least be sure you’re in a stable relationship with a stable guy — hopefully somebody eager to co-parent, at least someone who will reliably provide a reasonable amount of child support.

      You sound like a single parent who isn’t willing to put your child first.

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  • avatar

    Rex October 22, 2018, 12:25 pm

    While I’m not sure I agree with the route Wendy took to get to her final conclusion about the woman’s young daughter, when Wendy said: “[the infant daughter] deserves better than being put in vulnerable positions with men her mother has just started dating.” I felt this was the right conclusion. No matter how you look at it or what the actual issues may be, a parent should always realize that the well-being of their child is their first responsibility. And sometimes it’s hard to manage all aspects of that ideal when one must also go to work to support the child, but it must be done. Somehow, some way. So, I think the mother should make sure the person she trusts to watch her baby while she must be away is someone she can know she can trust fully. And the fact she had to write to Wendy to work through this about the man she’s dating is enough of an indication she doesn’t trust him enough at this time.
    But, there is one more issue here that really raised a flag. Everybody knows that a child’s diaper must be changed. Every adult does anyway. By the time you reach the age of 18 you are aware of this. No matter if the adult is a man or a woman they know this. No matter if the child is a boy or a girl the adult knows this. And every adult knows that when changing a diaper the adult will be confronted with the sexual organs of the child and every adult knows that whatever they may be thinking about that child’s body parts as they change the diaper, they know that they just have a job to do in that moment of diaper changing, they have to remove the old diaper, cleanse the baby’s rear and front area, apply any medicines or lotions necessary, then put on a clean diaper. And yes, every adult knows that this moment, when the child is at it’s most vunerable, that the child must be both respected and protected. Meaning the child must be respected by the diaper-changer and protected from anyone around who may wish to harm that child. This is a big responsibility. And yet, its such a common one and there are so many babies in the world all the time that need this care that we, as adults, simply must teach ourselves to grow ourselves up enough to be a responsible respector and protector of infants. When the mother said that the man she is dating didn’t want to change the infants diaper, the mother learned that this man is immature and hasn’t stepped up to the responsibility of being an adult in the correct manner that all infants require. Thats all the mother needs to know to know that this man isn’t safe around her child. It doesn’t mean he might be a sexual predator, that can’t be known unless he displays behaviors that clearly makes that know. But his comment shows he’s not willing to take responsiblity for a baby in all the ways necessary that a child requires. This, alone, makes him unsuitable to babysit the child. And its not up to the mother to demand he grow up and behave like an adult around an infant. In fact, its what Wendy said that is all the mother needs to know, that the mother should not leave her baby in his care. Like I said, I think Wendy arrived at her conclusion from a different route than I did, but in the end I think it’s the right conclusion. This young mother simply needs to trust her instinct that this man isn’t a suitable babysitter. Thats the answer. So she must find a babysitter that is suitable. Thats also the answer. To the young mother: your instincts seem to be on-target even if you dont always understand why yet. Trust them and I suspect you may find that happinees, in the long run, will follow.

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