Ask Amy: Workplace relationship has cinematic overtones

November 18, 2012

DEAR AMY: I started a relationship with a work colleague about four months ago. I am aware that he already has a girlfriend in a long-distance relationship. They have been together for four years.

What started as a mere physical relationship has turned into something more emotional for us, and we repeatedly say and demonstrate that we love each other. However (and perhaps understandably), this guy is having a hard time parting with his girlfriend.

While I am happy when I am with him, it is always heartbreaking when I catch him speaking (or texting) with his girlfriend. I know I am such a tramp to steal another woman’s boyfriend, but the love I have for him is genuine. He keeps saying that he wants to be with me, but I can’t see this happening in the near future.

Last week I decided to take a break to think everything through. I said that I will be happy if he’s happy, regardless of his decision, but I am in doubt whether I can handle his decision if he chooses to be with his girlfriend.

I do not know what to do and (or) how to handle the situation. Can you help? -- Betwixt

DEAR BETWIXT: It’s been a long time since I have seen someone self-identify as “a tramp.” I feel your pain — I really do — because if you are a Jean Harlow, man-stealing tramp, then the guy you are dating is a one-man Bradley Cooper movie.

You don’t say you are engaged in two relationships at once, so he gets the bag-of-spit award. I’m not going to sugarcoat it for you. If this guy loved you, like really, really loved you, he’d ditch his other relationship the minute he realized it.

Your strong emotional feelings have opened your eyes and clarified your intentions. This is high-stakes stuff. Lay it out there in a way that’s uncompromising and all about you.

If you want to be in a monogamous relationship with him, then issue an ultimatum. Prepare to be dramatically and tenderly alone. Stock up on Ben and Jerry’s and listen to Joni Mitchell’s “Blue” album until your sadness passes. And it will pass.

DEAR AMY: “Rachel” wrote to you about a “stinky” individual at her gym. She wanted to know how to best respond to this.

While I tend to ignore the majority of the odorous athletes at my gym, there was one time I didn’t. I was on an elliptical machine next to a large gentleman whose body odor was extremely offensive. I couldn’t move to another machine.

When my workout was finished I quietly and as unobtrusively as possible said, “You might want to look into a stronger deodorant.” He was shocked and embarrassed. Perhaps his nose had become desensitized, because he seemed genuinely and blissfully unaware of the issue. He was mortified and quickly apologized.

While I took one for the team and said something, I will never forget the look on his face. I felt terrible. I took this as a lesson in tolerance. -- More Tolerant

DEAR TOLERANT: You obviously regret this discreetly expressed suggestion, but I wonder if in the long term it might have been a good thing for the gentleman in question.

I’d like to hear from people who have been called out for noticeable odors. This is a perennially awkward issue, and it would be great to learn what works from both sides.

DEAR AMY: You answered a writer’s question with, “You should not institute rules for your guests to follow.” Maybe not, but making politics off-limits can be a wise idea. When the outcome of the 2000 presidential election was still undetermined by Thanksgiving that year, our family hostess posted a “Politics Free Zone” sign on the front door.

Truthfully, most of the guests were relieved that the ongoing electoral dispute would not dominate our holiday dinner. The policy has remained in force over the years, and our holiday gatherings have been full of fun and memory-filled conversation and fewer awkward moments. -- Barbara

DEAR BARBARA: I grant you an official waiver and cast my vote for your idea.

Write to Amy Dickinson at askamy@tribune.com or Ask Amy, Chicago Tribune, TT500, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, Ill. 60611.

2012 by the Chicago Tribune

Distributed by Tribune Media Services

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