NOTE: This archive only contains Carolyn Hax columns through March 2011. Her more recent columns are located here.

TELL ME ABOUT IT ®

Network News

X Profile
View More Activity
By Carolyn Hax
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, March 31, 2006

Dear Carolyn:

I need to know what to do with EXTREME guilt about a friendship I have at work. My current girlfriend, whom I adore and would never do anything to hurt, met my co-worker at the company Christmas party this year. I've become friends with the co-worker and we collaborate on quite a few projects. Anyway, apparently my girlfriend thought the co-worker was very attractive, and GF has become very jealous anytime I mention her. To the point where I can't even mention her name when talking about work or we end up fighting. So, I've stopped bringing her up entirely to avoid the inevitable fight. Keep in mind I am in NO way attracted to this person -- strictly a work relationship in every way. But now I feel guilty even though there is no attraction or any potential whatsoever for anything to happen! Because I can't bring her up, I find myself lying about who works on certain projects with me, etc. It's ridiculous!

Baltimore

Almost as ridiculous as your feeling guilty when your girlfriend's the one in the wrong.

Obviously, you shouldn't be lying to her, and it is possible you're protesting too much non-attraction for Ms. Strictly Professional (which sounds kinky, actually). But neither of these possibilities is compelling enough to shift the blame from your girlfriend. And you, by extension, for dignifying her accusations.

Her jealousy is an insult to you. It's dismissive of the depth of your feelings for her, for one, and it's all but declaring that you can't be trusted.

While a close relationship with an attractive co-worker is going to trigger some jealous twinges, at some point we all just have to deal with them. There will always be attractive people and there will always be co-workers, and so if her entire sense of confidence in your relationship depends on there being no attractive co-workers, then pleasant her life will not be.

All of which you should say to her, calmly, when you confess that you've been deliberately not mentioning this co-worker -- meaning well but now feeling deceitful -- and ask how you can put this to rest.

At which point she can respond that you radiate crush-particles whenever you mention her, or that your lying proves she's right, or she's sorry she's jealous, or whatever. The point is to get it out till it's all out, and then -- this is the important part -- to decline to do battle again. "We've discussed this; nothing has changed." As long as it remains completely unfounded distrust, refusing to indulge it is the only effective response -- meaning, ultimately, she leaves it alone or you leave.

Hi Carolyn:

I'm in my early twenties, going to school full time and working two jobs to get by. I attend school at a commuter campus where people keep to themselves. I have limited social time (Saturday nights are pretty much my only time to see anyone, ever) and a couple of friends. I'm single but looking, but can't seem to meet guys at all. Any advice for someone strapped for time and resources?

Boston

Yes. Don't tax them even further with a once-a-week hunt for a guy you'll never be able to see. If it happens naturally, great, and if it doesn't, you have your goals, your friends and yourself.

Write to Tell Me About It, Style, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071 ortellme@washpost.comand join Carolyn's live discussion at noon Fridays athttp://www.washingtonpost.com/liveonline.


© 2006 The Washington Post Company

Network News

X My Profile
View More Activity