I just started dating a woman about a month ago. I met her at a happy hour that one of my female friends invited me to. It was a bunch of people from my friend’s office, and even though she works with the woman I’m now dating, she didn’t introduce us; she actually doesn’t like her. In fact, everyone I’ve met at my friend’s office—male and female—despises her. The woman and I have great chemistry, and she’s always been very sweet, funny, and generally nice to be around when she’s with me. But my friend’s coworkers have all told me separate stories of how she’s backstabbed other colleagues to make herself look better in front of her manager or, in one case, to get a promotion. Common sense tells me that I’m the one who’s dating her, not them, but enough people have such a huge problem with her that it’s making me reconsider whether I want to continue dating her. I’m worried that there’s a side to her I’ve not yet seen. What do you guys think?
—DD, San Francisco, California
The Straight Woman’s Perspective: Rebecca Brown
The other day at work, I caught myself singing out loud (and off-key) in my office. Apparently, it’s not the first time (sorry, guys); my coworkers tell me I do it all the time … and my friends who don’t work with me tell me the same thing. Since I work for a progressive start-up, Work Rebecca and Casual Rebecca are one and the same. Though I’m professional when I need to be, I can still show up at work in flip-flops and belt out Lady Gaga pretty much whenever I feel like it.
My point is, that isn’t the case for everyone. Many people are still required to wear suits and pantyhose to work every day and don’t develop anything beyond a professional acquaintanceship with people at the office. Could this be the case with your new lady friend and her coworkers? Maybe no one likes her simply because she keeps it professional at the office and refuses to engage in cubicle chatter about Jake and Vienna from The Bachelor: On the Wings of Love … or maybe she really is a stone-cold bitch. Either way, for now, I think you need to proceed, but do so with caution. Enough people have raised red flags that I think that’s worth your attention, but ultimately, you’re the one dating her, not them. Have you seen her interact with her friends and her family, or with your friends? Is she warm and genuine with them, or cold and stiff? How she handles those interactions will tell you a lot about her character.
Bottom line, DD, you’ve been dating her for only a month. You’ve barely scratched the surface as far as getting to know each other goes, so I’d say keep on keepin’ on, but do your keepin’ on with a cautious, watchful eye.
The Gay Man’s Perspective: Darren Maddox
So, what do you plan on telling this woman when you break up with her? “I like you but none of your coworkers do, so I need to stop seeing you to save face”? I’m sure she’d understand that one … not!
Here’s my suggestion: Pick one of the people from the happy hour whom you don’t have a connection with. Then tell your girlfriend that this person told you some disturbing news about her, give her a chance to clarify, deny, or confirm it, and go from there. For all you know, some other person at the office could have a crush on you and may have been trying to sabotage your relationship. No matter what the case is, you need to get it out in the open so you can either move forward or see the other side of her. If you don’t, you may be in for a bigger shock down the road. Perhaps she’s got a rap sheet and has spent time in the pen or something. Stranger things have happened. But here’s the good news: you don’t have to work with her, so she won’t be stabbing you in the back to get a promotion. If you’re getting along with her, enjoy the ride. Just avoid watching all psycho-ex-girlfriend movies until you have the talk with her.
The Gay Woman’s Perspective: Jody Fischer
I don’t make guarantees often, but I can guarantee you this: there are surely many sides to your new lady that you have not seen. If you think that you know all there is to know about a person in one month, that’s just silly. People grow and change in ways we cannot predict. That said, some things about a person rarely change, and we don’t get to pick and choose how and when we want another to change. I can also guarantee you this: she will not always be sweet, funny, and nice to be around. No one is 24/7.
And in terms of her prior work behavior, all people have issues. However, just because this woman has backstabbed before doesn’t necessarily mean that type of behavior will show up outside the office. But then again, it might. I’m more concerned that you have a realistic sense of what it means to be in a relationship. You mention that the two of you have good chemistry, but it takes a lot more than that to make things work and last. My advice is to take more time to get to know this woman. Listen to what others say, sure, but ultimately, time and experience will tell you what you need to know.
The Straight Man’s Perspective: Chris Kennedy
On this road we call life, there are signs: “Slippery When Wet,” “No Parking,” “Tractor Crossing” … hey, I was raised in Wisconsin.
You’re enjoying the ride with this new “passenger,” but those around you are putting stop signs in your path. So stop and think about it. “Yield,” if you will. You shouldn’t dismiss these comments completely, but so far everything is hearsay, and based on your own experience with this girl, you have great chemistry and feel good about continuing on with her. What it comes down to is this: do you trust your own instincts, or should you do what other people tell you to do? Trust your instincts and see where the road takes you. If she turns out to be the backstabbing, despicable human being her coworkers say she is, well, you’ll cross that bridge when you get to it. The best sign right now is this one: “Proceed with Caution."