Office-party hell

Joey Garcia

My rule is to wait until I really know a man before having sex with him, but I felt vulnerable after a breakup and had sex with an employee of a company that contracts with me. At a recent company function, he got drunk and announced that we slept together and that it was the worst sex ever. I was sitting with the chief executive officer and his wife, both of whom heard everything. I didn’t know what to do, so I kept a pleasant conversation going. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw the entire table looking at me as this idiot went on and on. Finally, someone escorted him out. The company is conservative, and people are giving me the cold shoulder. Advice?

Yes, do not offer any information about the situation to anyone at the firm or connected to it (other consultants). If a senior manager requests information or details, be honest but brief: “We dated briefly. I clearly made a mistake. It won’t happen again.” Don’t share details unless upper management insists, which is highly unlikely. I expect that senior management will deem this an unpleasant situation that is best ignored. However, mid- and lower-level employees who rely on gossip to chart the power structure will be curious and perhaps bold enough to query. Be firm but respectful: “Let’s focus on work.” Then talk about the task at hand. Don’t say, “There are two sides to every story.” It motivates people to elicit your story (fuel for drama) and can prompt retaliation from the man you dated. Personally, I try to answer direct questions honestly, but I do not wish to spur gossip. Silence on your part harms no one.

Interior damage control is another issue. You betrayed yourself by breaking your rule of relationships. Plus, you crossed the traditional business boundary and had sex with a customer. Plus, you harmed your knowledge of intimacy by using sex as a drug. The choice to blunt your emotional pain ensures that it will rise again and with greater force. If you choose sex to numb out again, the consequences will again render you self-conscious. A therapist can help you process your emotions and gain closure with the past.

On a date with a new man, I excused myself to get a drink of water. When I turned back, I noticed a very attractive woman. As I walked toward my date, he was staring at her and following her every move. Later, I was really irritated. I talked with an older friend about it, and she said, “All men are controlling, and all men look at other women.” I hope this is not true. It’s one thing for a man to glance at another woman, but more than a glance feels disrespectful.

Don’t take the forged-by-fairy-tale path of expecting a man (or woman) to show up fully formed as the ideal mate for you. Have the courage to speak up and discover if your connection is strong enough to handle dialogue on sensitive issues. And stop asking your older friend for relationship advice! (I wonder if she is controlling in her relationships with men or attracted to controlling men, so she can be perpetually unfulfilled.)

Instead, consider this: Both you and your date have the capacity to recognize and appreciate beauty. The irritation you felt is a sign that your need for attention is an old wound. That doesn’t justify his behavior; staring is tacky. But you must learn why you need to control all of his attention. After you gain clarity on that issue, you can talk with him about adjusting his lenses and healing his lust.

Meditation of the week
As a naturalized citizen of the United States, I am fully aware that I pledged to protect and support my adopted country. It is my child; I am not its offspring. What are your expectations of our government?

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