“My Coworker Boyfriend Refuses to Tell Our Boss About Us”

I’ve been dating a coworker of mine for about three months now. In the beginning things were lighthearted and fun but as the time has gone by I feel like he thinks I want this relationship to be super serious. Not that I don’t want it to be eventually but I’m in no way asking him to put a ring on it just yet. However, I am getting quite frustrated because he does not make the time for me that I deserve. He is a workaholic — working in the office and at home basically any chance he gets. I want to be a priority but I constantly feel expendable (even though he says I’m not, otherwise he wouldn’t still be dating me).

Then, the coworker card comes into play. He refuses to tell our boss about us, at least for now, because he knows he would never approve of our relationship. Now, this isn’t some throw away job; it’s actually a job that I am very passionate about and he has invested a lot of time in as well. Even though I’m not this huge secret because he has told his friends about me, I just feel like our boss should be aware. There isn’t a rule against not dating coworkers as long as it remains professional in the work place. Basically, he just doesn’t want our boss to think less of him.

I don’t know if I should just cut my losses now or stick with it in hopes that things can get better. I know that our relationship has the potential to be amazing; I just don’t know if a relationship should already be so stressful so early into it. What do you think? Should I run for the hills or really try because he is a genuine good guy and I know those are hard to come by in this day and age! Please help! — Crazy for My Coworker

The main issue in your relationship is that you have different needs and availabilities, which isn’t all that unique. It happens all the time, and while it can mean the end of a relationship, it doesn’t have to. You’re ready for things to be more serious, and in that vein, you want more time from your boyfriend and for your relationship to be “validated” by telling your boss about it. Your boyfriend, however, isn’t ready for that kind of seriousness. It doesn’t mean he won’t be; it just may take him longer to get there — another month; maybe another three months. You have to decide if you’re willing to wait that long, especially given that there is no guarantee that your boyfriend will eventually want the same level of commitment as you or have the availability to meet your needs.

It’s a question only you can answer for yourself, but I can tell you that pressuring your boyfriend to be available in the way you want him to be won’t make him commit any faster. It won’t advance your relationship to the next level. On the contrary, it will make him resentful, and potentially cause all kinds of issues between you two. If I were you, I’d make a decision: wait another 1-3 months and reassess then; or MOA with no hard feelings.

If you go with the former, you have to accept things as they are now and quit pushing them to move faster. That means dropping the whole “we need to tell our boss” agenda you’ve got going on. Who freakin’ cares if your boss knows whether you’re an item or not? It won’t make your boyfriend any more committed to you. The commitment you crave will come first; it’s not dependent on your boss’ blessing, especially considering that your office has no office romance policy you need to be sensitive to.

If you decide to MOA, then do just that, and do it with the understanding that your boyfriend has done nothing wrong. He’s simply in a different place than you. You can’t fault a person for that. It doesn’t sound like he’s led you on. And if you work together — at jobs you’re both passionate about — it would be stupid to create drama where there doesn’t have to be any. Simply wish your boyfriend well, express regret that your timing wasn’t better, and move on.

But, again, if you think there’s enough between you to warrant a couple more months together, then by all means, take them. What’s two more months of your life? Especially when you’re talking about a great guy and a relationship that may have real potential. Just be honest with yourself about what stresses you out. Is it your desire to have more than your boyfriend is able to give? Or are there more issues in your relationship than you’ve mentioned here?

If it’s the former, decide whether you can live with what you have for a couple more months in the hopes that things will change. If it’s the latter, then you’re right; relationships shouldn’t have so many complications in their first few months. If you’re stressed all the time this early on, it probably is time to MOA.

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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.


  1. Wow, spot on Wendy. I also sense something more that isn’t being said here. While reading this letter, I couldn’t think of the word I had in mind and it was quite frustrating. But in reading your reply, it was quite obvious that she wants this relationship “validated.” By the boss, co-workers, whomever she needs to hear it from. And that screams insecurity to me. LW, take a step back and re-assess this situation. Three months is not a very long time at all. It sounds like you have a good thing going so far with a great guy. Another couple months should shine a much brighter and clearer light on where this is headed and what you’ll need out of it in the end. Good luck!

  2. If he has told all his friends about you I don’t understand what the big deal is in him not wanting to tell your boss about it. It might create conflict at work. Even though many places has no rules in office dating, clearly your boyfriends feels it will be frowned upon. Why create a problem where there isn’t one?
    But I agree with you about wanting to be somewhat of a priority. I dated a guy who had me at the bottom of his priority list and its definitely not a great feeling. I say give it some time. If after a month or two you are still not feeling like you are where you should be, then MOA.

  3. Bklyn Grl says:

    I agree that another month or two isn’t too long to invest in a relationship that you feel has real potential… but I think the biggest red flag here is that he is such a workaholic. I would be very warry of that. Even if he is willing, a few months from now, to be more serious about you, that doesn’t necessarily mean he will be willing to work less. I have a good friend who is dealing with this very problem in counseling with her husband now because he just can’t (won’t) cut back the hours. If you stick around, and he gets more serious, make sure you have a very frank discussion about how you both envision your future “work-life” balance… it’s just as important as money/kids/religion.

    1. That was exactly my thought! I was picturing a future letter: “Dear Wendy, my husband is a workaholic who ignores me and the kids!” If he is a workaholic now and doesn’t make time for you, you have to assume that’s how it will always be as long as you are with him. For me, that would be a dealbreaker. I work for the weekend and appreciate being with a guy who is the same.

      1. Agreed! Esp 3 months into a relationship!?! That should be the honeymoon phase, not the we have problems I need to write into Dear Wendy………..

    2. Good point. One of my best friends divorced her husband because he was a workaholic. If you never see him, then what is there to a relationship?

    3. this was my first thought too!

      forget all the other problems- telling the boss, him thinking your more serious then you actually are…. this guy is a workaholic! and that is something that you are going to have to accept if you decide to take this further. you will never be number one, and he will always be pulling the working whenver he can, checking email on his phone every second of every vacation thing.. that is something you will have to live with. honestly, the whole problem of wanting more time commitment from him, i doubt that will ever happen… no matter if you get a ring or not, LW!!

      i could never date a workaholic, personally…

  4. Why would you ever tell your boss you are dating – particularly if it is permitted? As a business owner I can tell you I DO NOT want to know any romantic updates from my employees. Conduct yourselves as professionals while at work – what you do on your own time is your business. If you can’t keep things professional at work – whether things are going well or not – then do not get involved with co-workers in the first place. Please – for the love of all things holy – do not add “tell your boss” on the steps to solidifying a relationship.
    As for your workaholic boyfriend – clearly you found him this way. If you don’t want to date someone who constantly works then don’t date someone who constantly works…and now I feel like an ING commercial.

    1. Good point about not having to tell the boss. I wonder if maybe the LW has fixated on this arbitrary (and pretty meaningless) measure of commitment because she feels the lack of commitment overall. Like it’s a symptom of a bigger problem.

      I dunno, when I hear someone stress that “I feel like he thinks I want this relationship to be super serious”, my spidey sense starts going off and I wonder what would give someone that impression. Why does he feel like that? Why does the LW think he feels like that? Maybe it’s not fair, but reading that made me feel like the LW does want more of a commitment that her boyfriend, and she’s kind of in denial about it because she doesn’t want to scare him off.

      1. And then there’s that! Exactly why does the boss need to know? They don’t. I met my boyfriend when we were coworkers. We didn’t keep it a huge secret that we were dating but we acted professionally in the workplace and still did our jobs to our top potential. If someone figured it out, fine, but it’s nothing to advertise.

    2. fast eddie says:

      What would be the point of telling the boss? Depending on what his position is with the company it could be sticky at this point of just getting to know each other. One of my coworkers dated the CFO and they kept it very confidential until they became engaged. Everybody was happy for them but had there been a downturn on the romance front it could have caused moral problems.

      If he doesn’t want to broadcast his relationship status to his boss or anyone else it’s his decision to make. This LW seems a bit possessive and looking for some sort of insurance.

    3. Shadowflash1522 says:

      I feel like the LW is using telling the boss as an attempt to step between her boyfriend and his first love: work. If she can get a foothold in his all-consuming work life, she might feel like she’s scored some points against his “other woman”.

  5. ForeverYoung says:

    I’m going to side with your boyfriend on this one. Until you KNOW your relationship is serious and has lasting potential, there is no reason to tell your boss. That is what is known as bringing your personal life to the office. If you aren’t going to last more than 6 months there is no point letting your boss know y’all are dating – and then break up.

    I think the bigger issue here that you need to be focusing your attention on is whether this relationship has lasting potential – not whether your boss should know. It seems like you want it to be way more serious than he does, and the fact that you even joke that you, “don’t want him to put a ring on it” kind of makes me feel like you have at least toyed that idea around. SLOW DOWN.

    This relationship is so young he could easily just walk away because he’s just not that into you, after 3 months people don’t even need a real reason to break up with one another. So calm down and quit trying to trap him into being with you forever and ever.

    1. ForeverYoung says:

      That last line sounded a lot meaner than I intended – I just mean don’t try to force this relationship to work if it’s not going to work – 3 months in these things should flow organically – you shouldn’t be forcing a square peg into a round hole. If it is supposed to work out it will – and all the little details like bosses being filled in will happen in due time.

    2. Totally agree with you on this: “the fact that you even joke that you, “don’t want him to put a ring on it” kind of makes me feel like you have at least toyed that idea around. SLOW DOWN. ”

      I thought the same thing when I read that!

      1. me too!

  6. You have been casually dating this guy for a couple months and you already want him to sacrifice things that he views as crucial to his career success…I think that might be a red flag on your end…

    If you are both treating it as exclusive (the main issue I think in any blossoming relationship with insecurities) why don’t you put the breaks on yourself for a minute and see if as you become more of a staple in his life if he shifts his work/girlfriend time balance. You aren’t his wife or long-term girl friend with marriage potential (yet) so WHY would he put his career on hold so soon?

    I tried to stay neutral on this response….the harshness factor would decrease or increase if you had told us what your current time expectations are…if he sees you once every week and a half that is a problem…if you are complaining over not seeing him for a dinner date 2 times during the work week I think you need to back off.

    Additional Speculation Based On My Past Experience:

    If you are monopolizing his free time and want to hang out mainly one on one he could be brushing you off so he can make time for his friends…try offering to hang out in his social groups more and maybe he will ease up on his working from home excuses. For the record I do not condone him being allusive about it if this is the case.

      1. And… *elusive? (Sorry, couldn’t resist :))

      2. yea, brain fart….was thinking about allusion vs illusion.

    1. “You aren’t his wife or long-term girl friend with marriage potential (yet) so WHY would he put his career on hold so soon?”

      I totally agree with you here; I think so many girls have heard “he’ll do anything to spend time with you if he’s really into you” stuff for so long that it starts messing with their heads, perhaps.

      1. delilahgem says:

        I can’t stand the “he’ll do anything to spend time with you if he’s really into you” stuff. REALLY grates my nerves. And it does totally mess with your head after hearing it everywhere.

      2. 6napkinburger says:

        It’s because it gets intermingled with the “if he wanted to call you, he’d call you” message, which is usually true. .

        When guys like you, they want to spend time with you.
        When guys like you, and thus want to spend time with you, they prioritize seeing you above trivialities in their life.
        (Eventually) When guys really like you, they spend larger portions of their “free time” with you than with others.

        But this all has to do with their “free time.” It doesn’t have anything to do with their responsibilities. Some guys will prioritize a girl over their responsibilities, some won’t — that depends on the guy. But not (necessarily) on how he feels about the girl.

  7. Ok this is what I don’t get! “He refuses to tell our boss about us, at least for now, because he knows he would never approve of our relationship.” then you say this “Now, this isn’t some throw away job; it’s actually a job that I am very passionate about and he has invested a lot of time in as well.” So you both know that your boss wont be happy about your relationship, and this is a job that you care for a lot, and put a lot of work into, and you say yourself that it isn’t a throw away job, but you are willing to risk that anyways to validate your relationship? It doesn’t even sound like you two are official yet!

    I think you definitely need to give the relationship more time, and see where it goes from there, 3 moths is a very short time, and he might think it is too soon to invest more time right now until he knows he is sure that you are somebody he really wants to be with. I say give him a couple more months, and if he can’t start giving you more time then MOA. Also if in a couple of months you two do move on from each other, it will be a lot better that you boss doesn’t know.

    1. Right?? I have NO IDEA why she wants the boss to know. If relationships are allowed between co-workers, AND the boss would not look favorably on the relationship, AANNDD it’s only been 3 months? What purpose does it serve?

  8. When I really think about this, I have to admit not long ago I was in a similar situation that the boyfriend in this letter is in. I dated a guy who, after only a month or two, wanted WAY more time from me than I was willing/able to give at the time. The more he pressed, the further I backed away. It just wasn’t AT ALL attractive and I saw it as a sign that he might be a bit needy/insecure/suffering from low self-esteem (which all turned out to be the case). We were seeing each other twice a week and EVERY weekend, yet it still wasn’t enough. Needless to say we’re no longer dating, but he was a great guy who could have been a good possibility. I just couldn’t get past his need to move so far so fast. Enjoy getting to know this guy and if in a couple months you see a strong pattern of him not putting effort at all into the relationship, I’d say move on.

    1. TOO-MUCH-TOO-FAST is one of my #1 turnoffs. I had a similar issue with a guy that I went on TWO DATES with. 2! Needless to say, there was never a 3rd.

      1. YES!!! Drives me nuts!

      2. delilahgem says:

        YES!! I went on maybe two dates with a coworker awhile ago when I was in my “dating around”/juggling phase and instantly he told everyone I worked with that we were together, he called me multiple times a day when he was away on vacation, and because it simply turned me off, I was made to be the bad guy.

  9. ReginaRey says:

    I agree that this LW is seeking to feel validated by telling the boss, to make up for what her boyfriend ISN’T validating.

    But, of course, telling the boss won’t solve anything that you really WANT solved. You feel expendable, you feel you deserve more time and attention, and you feel like your boyfriend doesn’t prioritize you enough. Those aren’t insignificant concerns.

    It bothers me when women are made to feel insecure and needy by asking for something that is actually quite reasonable – for their boyfriend to prioritize them and to not make them feel expendable. At three months, it’s hard to say if this will change. Maybe it’s too soon and he needs to develop deeper feelings before he’ll give up more things for you…or, he could be showing you exactly how this relationship will go forever.

    Stick around a while longer, if you want, but leave if it’s obvious that his workaholic ways don’t NATURALLY change – as in, he starts working less to spend more time with you without much poking, prodding or cajoling. If you constantly have to cajole someone to spend time with you, you aren’t in the right relationship. They should WANT to be spending time with you.

    1. BriarRose says:

      “It bothers me when women are made to feel insecure and needy by asking for something that is actually quite reasonable – for their boyfriend to prioritize them and to not make them feel expendable.”

      RR-This almost brought me to tears. I think the break up of my year-long (now over) relationship can be summarized in your one sentence. I constantly felt like I was asking too much just to be a priority to be my boyfriend some of the time…

      LW-3 months is relatively short, in the grand scheme of things. Give it more time, but keep everyone’s advice in your back pocket. If things continue as they are, you’ll likely end up frustrated and confused, having a seemingly great boyfriend who says he loves you and prioritizes you, even though he sure as heck doesn’t ACT that way.

      1. Aaaawww, Hugs!

    2. “It bothers me when women are made to feel insecure and needy…”

      I disagree with that part. Her BF is not forcing those feelings on her. She chooses to stay in a relationship where she feels insecure and needy. Yes, what she asking for is reasonable, but so is his answer. I never get these questions, “I told him/her what I want from the relationship, he/she doesn’t want the same thing. What should I do?”. It seems quite simple to me. If you are not getting what you want and that’s something you can’t live with, then you move on.

      1. ForeverYoung says:

        Yeah I just don’t see the guy being a bad guy here. It seems they are just looking for a different pace in this relationship.

      2. Sure, people’s feelings are their responsibility… but others can influence your feelings. For instance, when someone tells you that you look amazing, it makes you feel good, no? Just as they can influence your feelings of being insecure.

      3. Well, if someone constantly makes me feel insecure, I still have only two choices: stay and continue feeling insecure or leave.

      4. Or option C- talk to your significant other and see if a mutually beneficial compromise can be reached! Ah communication… 🙂

      5. True, but someone who constantly makes you feel insecure probably isn’t listening very closely to your “communication.” It has to matter to BOTH people for communication to be effective.

    3. What’s reasonable for the LW might not be reasonable for the boyfriend. That doesn’t make either one wrong or bad. I think people come as is. If her fondest hope is that he changes to accommodate her – then she might very well be disappointed. If she wants someone less focused on career then she might need another guy.

  10. This is another one of those impossible letters. Two main complaints, the one about not telling the boss being absurd. The other, about not giving LW enough time, being impossible to consider, without knowing how much time he is actually giving her. If this is your main complaint, LW, don’t you think it would be helpful to be specific? The second part seems to get more to the heart of things — he thinks she has gotten super serious, super fast. She scoffs at the super serious by saying she doesn’t want a ring, just yet. So, she is already seriously thinking ring in the near future, after just 3 months of dating, which by her admission started out light and happy. The best advice to LW is slow down! Slow way down!

    We are in a truly sucky economy and people do need to think more of their jobs if they want to keep them. LW doesn’t hint at what sort of job this is, but a lot of jobs are episodic and project related, with extended periods of time when even a non-workaholic has to devote significant extra time to work or be deemed to not be pulling his/her weight. SInce LW has the same job, she should have a very good handle on this.

    Alternatively, perhaps your new bf really does like you but is not yet at the point in his life, when he is ready to get very serious about anyone, let alone someone thinking ring after 3 months. It would help to know how old each of you is. Are you really at the stage of your life where you cannot enjoy a light, happy dating experience and go with the flow, instead of turning it into some grim hunt for the ring? Not that light is likely to satisfy long-term, but 3 months isn’t a long time at all.

  11. sobriquet says:

    You have to understand that things will progress with time if you’re dating someone you have potential with. Don’t rush it! Just have fun when you spend time together and have fun being semi-single when you’re not. After a little while, you’ll know if the relationship is dead on its tracks or if your man naturally wants to develop a serious relationship with you.

    Something just clicked with my boyfriend. Neither of us know what it was, he just switched from “yes I want to spend time with her, she’s awesome” to “holy shit, I think I could marry this girl!” We were doing the casual, get together a few nights a week thing for 3 months. We were so not serious that he didn’t go to my brother’s wedding with me. A week after the wedding was my birthday and we spent the entire weekend together for the first time. Something changed after that. He was way, way more into me. A week later he asked me to be his girlfriend and started talking about the future n’ stuff.

    So have a little patience and relax. It’s only been 3 months. Bugging him for more of his time and asking him to tell your boss about your casual relationship will only push him away. Let things happen naturally. If he doesn’t have enough time for you right now, date other people. If your relationship hasn’t progressed after a few more months, cut your losses and move on. (I once broke up with a guy after 6 months of dating because he refused to call me his girlfriend or discuss any kind of future with me…) You have to give it time.

  12. DudeInChicago says:

    Oy vey… a few points.
    – at 3 months, you have not earned the right to be this dude’s #1. Sorry to bust your chops but 99.9% of guys are not desperately looking for another person to “run” their lives for them within that short a span of time. Chill out on the demands. It’s not cute.
    – you are confusing; do you want him to put a ring on it or no? do you want to be with a successful and driven mate or no? do you want a partner who recognizes boundaries that don’t need to be pushed beyond it’s limits or no? i mean, c’mon give the guy a break! Save for the ‘gimme’ of being coworkers, he probably doesn’t even know what your favourite colour is and yet… you want him to announce to the world that you are his boo? GTFOH. Again, chill he heck out.
    – what are you bringing to this ‘partnership’ that makes the union better? Why don’t you start here? If dude is as wonderful as you make him sound, then don’t worry about forever yet. There’s plenty of time for that down the road.
    Focus instead, on the short term points of growth for yourself, your partner and your union. Encourage him in your own unique way to do the same and for the love of God, stop pinning your internalized fear/insecurities on one person. It’s just not fair.

    Otherwise, MOA and give another girl the chance to experience this amazing thing.
    You’re not appreciating it enough. Namaste.

  13. My version of what is going on here is that this gal is feeling all gas or brakes. It’s all “wedding rings” or “run for the hills.” It’s ‘he’s awesome’ or ‘he’s a workaholic.’ I basically echo the Slow Down advice, but also, I want to just suggest that it’s okay to not know. I sense this…anxiety in this letter that seems unnecessary.

    Relax, I say to you, let love be like a tuning fork. When in it’s presence, (I believe) everything resonates. No amount of effort turns near compatibility into love or compatibility. Neither will nor gesture or makes liking love (or loving like).

    Instead, think more about discovery and how things of value reveal themselves over time. Try to let go of the scarcity thinking (guys like this are rare) and litmus tests (he needs to tell the boss) and just… Be. Live in the uncertainty a little. It will come clearer. If it doesn’t, that then is your answer.

    Good luck!

  14. I think the LW’s suitor is looking for his own validation in the workplace, and not from a relationship, which would be why he wouldn’t be disclosing it to his boss. But… LW, that’s your boss too, and if you really want his rubber stamp seal-of-approval on your relationship, why not just tell him yourself? And on the other hand, like Wendy said, “who freakin’ cares”??! He’s your boss not your mom.

    It sounds like you both are just dating each other when it’s convenient for you suitor. Yet, you’re saying he thinks YOU should be “super serious” about you’re relationship, and he’s not showing that level of commitment to you. First, you can ask him what he expects to get out of your relationship together, and his answer might be your deciding factor. If he says, “I dunno” or “I’m just reaaaaallllly busy right now…” then I think you’ll know your answer. 🙂

    But, like everyone else has said, three months is waaaaay too soon to know how things will pan out; however, if he’s not dedicating a lot of time to being with you, perhaps you should find someone who will.

  15. AndreaMarie says:

    Before addressing the questions you have regarding your relationship I want to focus on one thing…why the EFF do you think it’s a good idea for you to tell your boss?!!

    Even if there are no written policies regarding relationships in the office there are still so many unwritten issues. When people know about an interoffice relationship, especially the boss, it could effect many things. Example,there might be a reluctancy to put the two of you on a project together, even if you are both qualified to do it. Also, it’s never a good idea to discuss your personal life at work, even if you’re not dating a coworker. Sure, everyone has a colleague or 2 that they are close to, but its never wise to put your personal business out for people to discuss in the office. When your colleagues are discussing you, you want it to be in regards to the work you do not who you do. Also, what good do you think will come of telling your boss? How does it help you in your career or at your job? Think of it from your boss’s perspective, you come into his/her office and say “Just wanted you to know that me and Johnny have been dating for 3 months”. Huh?! I’m assuming your young and relative new to the workforce. It’s hard enough to gain footing, gain credibility, and be taken seriously when you’re first starting out. It doesn’t help if you look like a high schooler with a crush.

    Plus, you say this is a dream job. Why do anything to jeopardize it? Worry about the quality of the work you are putting out and the opinions of your colleagues in regards to your job, not about your 3 month relationship!!!

  16. Regardless of there being no rules about dating in the workplace, once word gets out about it, the boss may start noticing things that you guys don’t realize you do — casual harmless flirting, etc. Even stuff that isn’t there that the boss may just perceive now that he knows you’re together. If it’s a job you both love, and he’s told his friends, then why worry about whether your boss knows? Hell, most people would love NOT to have to tell their boss theyre dating someone in the workplace.

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