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Is my married boss crossing lines?


doingtherightthing

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doingtherightthing

Hello guys, 

I am a single woman (30s) who began working in a new place a few months ago. My boss is a married man (30s)seemed to be happily married or so I thought and has a newborn. I never  paid attention to my married boss in any romantic sense. 

The lines I began noticing that my boss was crossing were lingering touches and very intense eye contact, also some inappropriate sexual innuendo about his” touch” or how his touch feels. I began having a gut feeling that this man might be coming onto me or just passing his time at work and playing with my mind or to see my reaction. I couldn’t put my finger on it and didn’t want to assume. 

I began feeling uncomfortable so I decided to confront him. I asked if he’s “trying to hint at something to me during some of our exchanges” to which he said that he is committed. However, he did admit that he’s flirty and that’s just his personality. 
 

I was somewhat at ease and saw our interactions as platonic even though it was definitely unconventional but I like my work place and I do enjoy somewhat “closer” relationships with people at work. This is something I also want to work on as I don’t have many close friendships in life. 
 

After my confrontation, it seemed that my boss did everything in his power to make me feel that he’s not “attracted” to me. He would tease me in a mean way. Also, he would almost go out of his way to point out irrelevant things that I may not be doing or doing at work. I’m a hard and a dedicated worker. I know that even though due to his confusing and borderline inappropriate behavior towards me , I still remained dedicated to my job. So, his comments about me “not doing” my job began to irritate me. He also, is very hot and cold when it comes to how he feels about my job performance. 
 

I am beginning to think that his behavior now is somewhat a retaliation or that he’s trying to make me thing that he never was  and will try to come onto me to lower my guard down. I found myself wanting to “ prove” myself to him ie I’d apologized to him after our heated moments. I also had initiated more of a closer physical contact (hugs) as he did with me in the past , in hopes that he’d just stop with his unfair treatment with me. 

Recently, I’ve had enough with this up and down rollercoaster and I’m not even sure what he “wants” from me? It’s starting to feel like he wants me to act a certain way. Perhaps, when I come into work and don’t pay much attention to him (only means I’m being professional) , he tries to act that it doesn’t bother him but then I get scolded and chastised in front of other coworkers. 
 

Am I overreacting and what do I need to know from other people's experiences and perspectives to be well prepared to whats to come? 
 

P.S. I have no interest in pursing anything other than professional , platonic relations with this man. He can be at times very charming and he is not bad looking , and also close to my age so there are many similarities between us so my predisposition to him is amicable. 

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Gebidozo

To me, it seems like a clear case of a bruised male ego on his part. You’ve rejected his amorous advances and now he is using his position as your boss to exact revenge.

 I’m afraid you’ll need to have another conversation with him. Tell him honestly that you’re offended by his unfairness, reiterate again that you’ll never be his lover or anything like that. Appeal to his professional ethics and to his self respect. If he still doesn’t change, perhaps consider a complaint to the higher ups.

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NuevoYorko

If you think he's been sexually inappropriate with you and is treating you unfairly at work, go to HR with it.   

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ExpatInItaly

You say you only want a professional relationship with him, yet you’re also giving him hugs? 

Girl. Come on. What are you doing here? 

 

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doingtherightthing
5 hours ago, Gebidozo said:

To me, it seems like a clear case of a bruised male ego on his part. You’ve rejected his amorous advances and now he is using his position as your boss to exact revenge.

 I’m afraid you’ll need to have another conversation with him. Tell him honestly that you’re offended by his unfairness, reiterate again that you’ll never be his lover or anything like that. Appeal to his professional ethics and to his self respect. If he still doesn’t change, perhaps consider a complaint to the higher ups.

Perhaps, I should have another talk with him. After his unfairness where I clearly show to him that it’s not okay, he prompts me to “have a talk” with him. It’s almost like it’s a game to him. I declined to have a talk because honestly it seemed to me that his incapable of self-reflection on any of his behaviors. Also, I think he may then assign me as being “problematic” and too “sensitive”. That was actually his exact description (sensitive) to other workers about me /my reaction to his unfairness. 
I almost feel like anything I might say or do will be used against me in the court of my boss’ ego. 

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doingtherightthing
4 hours ago, NuevoYorko said:

If you think he's been sexually inappropriate with you and is treating you unfairly at work, go to HR with it.   

He is technically the HR. I may go to another person who’s on his level or slightly above him. 

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Alpacalia

Yes, he is being mean to you and this harsh passive aggressive behavior is onset by a different kind of attraction and well, the problematic side of him is a incontrollable hyper-jerk.

That aside, and I echo the comments made by another member, what reason are you giving him hugs or requiring in the sake of professionalism on your side at least, hugs. Yes, it is great to be amicable towards someone where there is a job that must be done but, I want you to consider taking a broader view, why should you feel obliged to hug him? 

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doingtherightthing
1 hour ago, Alpacalia said:

Yes, he is being mean to you and this harsh passive aggressive behavior is onset by a different kind of attraction and well, the problematic side of him is a incontrollable hyper-jerk.

That aside, and I echo the comments made by another member, what reason are you giving him hugs or requiring in the sake of professionalism on your side at least, hugs. Yes, it is great to be amicable towards someone where there is a job that must be done but, I want you to consider taking a broader view, why should you feel obliged to hug him? 

I am working through this in therapy and the answer to why I gave him a hug is pretty much past complex past with boundaries with the opposite sex. 
My thought process was, “Oh, this is my boss who is very friendly and I have turned his physical contact down so I am a b****. I’ll probably get fired or he probably thinks I’m weird. Oh, he’s being unfair to me , maybe because , in a way, I turn him down. Maybe, I don’t “understand “ how to actually be professional and the way I act is rude”. So , it’s a bit back and forth, and complex to give you a straight answer why I initiated the hug. Essentially, in a way, people pleasing tendency and maybe even my own confusion on how to feel, what to do, what’s appropriate response to his “closeness at work dynamic”. 
The overall picture of this situation is that I don’t want to continue with this and I want it to stop. 

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BaileyB
Posted (edited)
8 hours ago, doingtherightthing said:

Perhaps, I should have another talk with him.

If you have to tell your boss that you are being unfairly treated after you called him on his sexually inappropriate behavior - it’s time to either go to HR or leave the job. 

Any attempt to talk about the issue with your boss is going to create more drama and it could very negatively impact your career. If you want it to stop, you will need to make it stop. 

Edited by BaileyB
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doingtherightthing
7 hours ago, BaileyB said:

If you have to tell your boss that you are being unfairly treated after you called him on his sexually inappropriate behavior - it’s time to either go to HR or leave the job. 

Any attempt to talk about the issue with your boss is going to create more drama and it could very negatively impact your career. If you want it to stop, you will need to make it stop. 

Very well said and I do agree. I am actively looking for another employment which could potentially mean more commute. What do you mean by “I will need to make it stop”? Like go to someone higher?  Technically, there’s no one above his experience in this business that I can speak with , however there’s someone above his pay grade or someone who’s invested ( literally )  in the business rather than “work” in it. 

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1 hour ago, doingtherightthing said:

What do you mean by “I will need to make it stop”?

I meant, you can’t have another conversation with him to tell him how you feel and ask him what/why he is behaving this way and then expect him to change his ways… 

Personally, I wouldn’t wait for him to stop this kind of behavior. I would take a more active role - I would talk to HR (if you have HR) or I would look for another job. I would not want to work for a man who behaves like this  - it’s not a safe or respectful workplace for you.

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12 hours ago, doingtherightthing said:

I am working through this in therapy and the answer to why I gave him a hug is pretty much past complex past with boundaries with the opposite sex. 
My thought process was, “Oh, this is my boss who is very friendly and I have turned his physical contact down so I am a b****. I’ll probably get fired or he probably thinks I’m weird. Oh, he’s being unfair to me , maybe because , in a way, I turn him down. Maybe, I don’t “understand “ how to actually be professional and the way I act is rude”. So , it’s a bit back and forth, and complex to give you a straight answer why I initiated the hug. Essentially, in a way, people pleasing tendency and maybe even my own confusion on how to feel, what to do, what’s appropriate response to his “closeness at work dynamic”. 
The overall picture of this situation is that I don’t want to continue with this and I want it to stop. 

Okay, well, you have a good high level insight so that's a good start. You don't like confrontation and people pleasing, okay. 

The thing is, he is obviously flirting although he is professionally hiding it when he gets asked or challenged, he's also retaliating and behaving irrationally unprofessionally when you don't co-operate with him on this. 

It is necessary therefore, that the work colleague be kept polite and that you make a record that can be securely worded to your decision making in manager pertaining to harassment if you do choose to follow that route. The other thing is, be aware you have abilities and affirmative rights in yourself that you don't allow yourself in this scenario, through fear of repercussions. It is this that you must be aware of and work on. 

I recently came across a post of a story of another woman who was facing a similar situation. She responded to her boss by saying, "I'll be noting this in my log." When he inquired about the log, she explained that it was her harassment log where she documented the date, time and what he had said.

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7 hours ago, Alpacalia said:

When he inquired about the log, she explained that it was her harassment log where she documented the date, time and what he had said.

No a bad idea - she gave him one warning to cease and desist, lest she take it up the chain of command. Note, it’s not a conversation that opens the door to other things… She is also not just waiting and hoping that he will change his ways. He has been informed that his behavior is not going unnoticed and she is prepared to do something about it if it does not stop. That should give anyone pause - 

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doingtherightthing
5 hours ago, BaileyB said:

No a bad idea - she gave him one warning to cease and desist, lest she take it up the chain of command. Note, it’s not a conversation that opens the door to other things… She is also not just waiting and hoping that he will change his ways. He has been informed that his behavior is not going unnoticed and she is prepared to do something about it if it does not stop. That should give anyone pause - 

Very much agree. There’s no reason to keep giving him the benefit of the doubt or second chances. He shouldn’t have done anything remotely close to what he did to me in the first place. Work place is not for that plus he’s married. 
My confrontation also was very much neutral and wasn’t accusatory. It come from a curious place, to make him aware that I’m noticing it and he needs to be self aware and take accountability from his inappropriate behavior. 
Now, I dread coming into work, my anxiety is high because I have to be on high alert and also make sure I stay composed when he’s micromanaging me because I know where it’s coming from on his end. 

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19 hours ago, doingtherightthing said:

Very much agree. There’s no reason to keep giving him the benefit of the doubt or second chances. He shouldn’t have done anything remotely close to what he did to me in the first place. Work place is not for that plus he’s married. 
My confrontation also was very much neutral and wasn’t accusatory. It come from a curious place, to make him aware that I’m noticing it and he needs to be self aware and take accountability from his inappropriate behavior. 
Now, I dread coming into work, my anxiety is high because I have to be on high alert and also make sure I stay composed when he’s micromanaging me because I know where it’s coming from on his end. 

OP, you GOT THIS. You cannot allow him to essence control the narrative. Remember HE is in the wrong not you. Be professional but make it know you there to work and anything that is outside of that is not OK. There is simply NO business that would be OK with a person in authority doing what he’s done (the legal system does look kindly on that type of behavior especially towards ladies)

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