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The Naked Truth

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Matron Mame,

One of my coworkers is single and has expressed interest in being fixed up with one of my friends. I was very excited about this because I think they could potentially be a good match. I told this to my friend and he was interested in seeing a picture of her. When I googled her name, some naked images appeared in the search results. None of these pictures show her face but they do link to her Facebook picture so it’s not completely anonymous. I don’t know if she’s aware that these pictures exist online. Should I be the one to tell her?

Signed, 

Risky Business

Dear Risky,

You will never believe this, but I have been stewing over a PG-13 version of this X-rated scenario. In college, about 15 years ago, I was part of a research team. The professor took it upon himself to post individual pictures of each person involved in this group. Apparently, he thought the world needed to be made aware of each specific undergrad who was reading through newspaper articles to find out what the temperature was on days that riots occur. In any case, if you search my name, this ancient photo comes up. It is an innocent enough head and shoulder shot, except that there is a yellowish hue to the photo, I am wearing a yellow tank top, and I have a jaundiced look to my skin, as it is. If you glance really quickly at the photo (or creepily think about the photo too much), it kind of looks like….well….like I am not someone you would want to hire for the kind of job I will be seeking in the future.

To answer your question simply, YES you should be the one to tell your co-worker about what you found. It sounds like you are a person who will not totally embarrass her or abuse the information, and obviously this is a delicate issue. In this particular case, since her face is not visible, it could very easily be someone else, but made to vilify her. Or there could be a different explanation entirely. Regardless of the explanation, she needs to be made aware that a search of her name is linked to naked photos. It is much better for the news to come from you than from a potential employer who, after having a fantastic interview with her, suddenly calls to notify her in a disdainful way that it turns out she is just not the “right fit” for the company after all.

The larger issue here is that people need to be aware of how they are portrayed online; it is information that can matter a lot to a lot of people. And just because you searched your name a year ago and didn’t find anything damaging doesn’t mean you don’t need to check again. Anything posted online is there for all to see for whatever purpose, and we always need to bear in mind the potential ramifications. Additionally, those of us who post to websites like Facebook need to be especially cautious; watch out for posting incriminating photos, snarky or risque comments, and revealing too much personal information. There are many ways around privacy filters. A social butterfly friend of mine once worked at a fancy shmancy office as an intern. She was actually hired to chit chat with the potential employees as they were waiting to interview (during first, second, and third interviews), befriend them, both in real life and on Facebook, and then share with the boss what she found out about them before the hiring decision was made. Slippery indeed!

So yes, best to tell her the naked truth! Good luck!

-MM

Working hard for the money…and the honey!

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MM,

In addition to my full-time job, I’ve been waitressing one night a week for the past six months to make some extra money. While I’ve acquired some extra cash, I’ve also begun “seeing” my boss. He’s invited me over to his house for dinner, we’ve gone out on dates, and I even made him soup when he was sick! We’ve tried to keep our romance hidden from our coworkers but I think they’re starting to catch on.

My birthday is coming up in a few days and my boss/semi boyfriend has yet to say anything about it, although I know he is well aware. We aren’t officially an item so I shouldn’t expect him to plan any grand celebration, but it’d just be nice for him to acknowledge the special occasion. How can I express this to him without coming on too strong?

Signed,

Waiting Waitress

 

WW,

Pull up a chair, lady— we need to have a chat! First of all, please tell me you have been warned of the dangers of workplace romances; they are pretty much the prime example of taboo! It makes sense, if you think about it: at work people need to focus on completing tasks and behaving in a professional manner. There is a certain sense of formality that often accompanies this, as it should. When there is a workplace romance going on, it kind of upsets this atmosphere, bringing in feelings and thoughts that distract people, make them uncomfortable, and often build resentment.

In my opinion, the only way to date someone from work is to keep it completely professional at work. I know this job is just a once a week gig for you, but it is not for your semi-boyfriend, or for at least a number of the other employees there. It makes me a little nervous to hear you say that you think that people at work are catching on. That means you have acted in ways to clue them in on your private relationship, and that should not be going on at work. It will lead nowhere good for either of you. So no more smooching by the soda fountain, sister!

Also, what is really behind your need to have your birthday recognized publicly by your semi-boyfriend? Even more to the point, what is a semi-boyfriend anyway!?!?!? It sounds like your relationship is in a state of limbo you would rather it not be in, so you are looking to your birthday as an event that is going to completely clarify where things stand and where they are going. You are afraid of “coming on too strong,” and you “aren’t officially an item,” and you then say you don’t know how to “express” yourself to him… Just who are you to each other? There must obviously be physical intimacy between the two of you, but is there emotional intimacy? Do you share personal experiences, private thoughts, laughter, any of the above together?

I’m not trying to come down like a Mack truck on you, but I don’t want to see you putting your eggs in a basket with the bottom cut out of it either! Time to do some real soul-searching. The best way to spend your birthday is with someone whom you know is going to be there for the next one!

-MM

Missing the marriage boat

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Dear MM,

In my early and mid-twenties, there were no shortage of men. A lot of wrong men, but still guys out there who were interesting and thought I was a catch. I thought I had found a catch of my own, but after about 4 years I realized he wasn’t, and had to throw him back. At that point, I was also looking back on my 20s.

Now, in my early 30s, the men who who have emailed me back immediately on some dating site don’t even bother looking at my profile when I send them an email. I’ve asked friends about their single friends, but now anyone they’d consider for me is married or happily paired. I tried dating older men – 40s and even early 50s, but the age gap/pop culture disconnect is just too great. I talk to men on planes and give them my card. I meet someone at a party and say we should get together. Nada. Zip.

Have I just missed the marriage boat? I know the grass is always greener on the other side, but I’ve cultivated my little patch of grass and made it green and healthy…and now I’m ready for a new patch of grass.

Is that old adage from When Harry Met Sally true, that you’re more likely to get killed in a terrorist attack than married after 40? Or even after 30 for that matter?

Signed,

30 is the new 40

 

Dear 30,

Let me tell you about my dear friend “Jenny.” She wasted, I mean spent, 3 years dating (at the end of her 20s and into her thirties) a guy who was completely obsessed with his mother. It was like something out of a Freudian tragedy. Jenny is a pretty open-minded person, so it took her a full three years to shift her perception of the mother-son bond from “sweet” to “sick.” By the time she emerged from the fog, her twenties were behind her, and she found herself in a bit of a panic. After several months of panic, she became kind of sick of herself and thought she had better get busy eliminating the self-loathing. So, she went on a mission of self-discovery. She thought about all of the things that had really interested her so far in life, and decided to learn more about them. In the back of her mind, she hoped she would stumble upon a guy who had some of the same passions and interests as her, but her primary focus was to get back in touch with the fun, confident Jenny. She joined the Board of a local foundation and she started attending events at the city art museum. Lo and behold, she met the man of her dreams at a cocktail party at the art museum, and the two of them are living in marital bliss, with her mother-in-law observing her appropriate role in the relationship.

I feel that you are destined for a happy outcome just like Jenny. You are obviously a funny, resourceful, flexible, introspective and intelligent person. You are also exploring a lot of the right avenues: asking friends to set you up, giving internet dating a shot, and trying to mingle socially.

The only advice I have to offer is to stay true to yourself. If you don’t like giving out your card on airplanes, don’t do it! If the thought of going out on a date with a guy in his fifties makes you mildly uncomfortable, forget it! I know you are trying to increase the odds of coming across the right person, but maybe try some more ways that are better in line with who you are and where your interests and passions lie. Observe Jenny’s example and follow some pursuits that have a social component: join a class, get on a Board,  become a member at a gym or a church. I have another formerly single friend who loves to travel. She did some research and found out that there are travel packages organized specifically for single people— she joined a tour group to Mexico and had the time of her life! Picture a “local” eat, pray, love adventure sans the glitz and high drama!

Rest assured that you have not missed the marriage boat. She still offers plenty of rides to people in their thirties, and many of these boat rides sail off into the sunset!

-MM

Making Over a Man

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Dear MM,

I’ve just started dating a guy who is a good person – we have fun together and he’s a good guy. I don’t think things are going to go anywhere, but here’s my dilemma: I feel like I should “fix him” for the next girl who comes along. He is socially somewhat awkward, a horrible dresser, and seems to have not progressed much since college. Is there a way to politely do this? I’d love to see him happy someday, but probably not with me…

Signed, 

Little Miss Fit-It

 

Dear LMFI,

As I type this, I am gazing at a photo of my sweet husband and me from college. He is wearing acid-washed jeans and a green mock turtleneck. Now don’t get me wrong; there was a time when this look was all the rage… but it was about ten years BEFORE we were in college. So suffice it to say some women (and I obviously consider myself quite a catch!) do look past these issues, and Mr. Awkward ends up A-OK without any intervention!

Now, aside from my personal bias on the issue, I definitely think informing Mr. Awkward of his flaws and also breaking up with him somewhere around the same time is kind of like ripping out someone’s heart and then pouring battery acid in the void where his heart used to be. There is a place for offering constructive criticism, but it is not when a relationship is on shaky ground. In your mind, you see this as, I’m breaking up with him, BUT I am leaving him in terrific shape for the next girl, and in his mind he would see this as, She’s breaking up with me AND elaborating on the ways I am infinitely repulsive to her. If you were just friends or committed to proceeding as his girlfriend, my advice would be different because his ego would be in a more stable place.

That said, there are very positive and gentle ways to steer people in the right direction. Think positive reinforcement. Like let’s say Mr. Awkward wears a cool jacket one day. This is your chance to offer a lot of compliments about how great he looks in the jacket. Or let’s say he demonstrates some social finesse in some way. Let him know how impressed you were when he did that. Aside from that, natural opportunities often arise where people seek out advice. Like maybe one day Mr. Awkward says to you something like, “Ugh, I’m dreading going out to dinner with X. I can’t think of anything to talk about with him.” Here is an opportunity for you to get him thinking about how to turn the socially awkward situation around by preparing beforehand. Keep your ear to the ground for these sorts of opportunities.

It seems to me like you care quite a bit about the man in question, so think long and hard about whether you want to kick him to the curb. If he is bursting with positive qualities and only bogged down by some awkwardness, you might reconsider: there is no better investment than a good life partner.  In my experience, it is the slick-dressing, smooth-talking guys that you are much better off avoiding at all costs! Good luck!

-MM

My Best Friend’s Marriage

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MM,

One of my good friends is married to a guy that just doesn’t seem all that great. He’s constantly saying offensive things to her in a joking way, especially about their marriage. For example, when we’re out to dinner and he talks about making plans he’ll say, “Well I have to review everything with the ball and chain.” He loves reliving his “glory days” as a single guy “before life got boring.” My friend tends to awkwardly laugh it off but I’m sure she’s embarrassed and offended that her husband behaves like this. It’s gotten to the point where I try to make plans with just her so that I don’t have to listen to him. She recently suggested that we go on a double date with my new boyfriend but I’m embarrassed to introduce anyone to this guy. How do I get avoid this situation without hurting her feelings?

Signed,

Double Date Disaster

 

Dear DDD,

As I have gotten older, there are a few things I have learned for sure, and one of them is that friendships change over time. Marriage is one thing that alters friendships, and having kids is another big one. One day your best friend is the happy-go-lucky life of the party, and the next day (seemingly) she is obsessed with finding the exact right color scheme to maximize the “flow” of her new suburban dwelling. These life changes bring about a lot of different roles that people are trying to juggle, and a lot of stress too. Although it is sad to let go of the way you remember a friend to have been, it is the way things go. Part of the beauty of long-standing friendships is adjusting well to these changes and challenges, and just kind of sitting back and enjoying (or at least tolerating) the ride.

Sometimes who our friends choose as life-long partners can be truly shocking; never in a million years would you have imagined her with someone like HIM! But the fact of the matter is that people look for different things in spouses, and whereas your ears hear nails on a chalkboard when he talks, she might hear the voices of a choir of angels! Of course, she may hear nails too, but my point is to not assume anything unless you hear it from her first. I have a friend whose husband spends all his free time on, what seems to me to be, silly little home projects. I think about how I love for my husband to be spending time with our family and helping me out with the kids when he is not at work. My friend actually really likes the “handy” side of her husband, and prefers that he fix things up than do weekend outings with the kids.

One thing that struck me as I read your letter is how overused/old-fashioned the things your friend’s husband is saying— like straight out of a Mad Men episode! It is like this guy picked up some sound bytes from an old TV show and is awkwardly trying them out, as he gets used to his new role as a husband. This actually could be the case, if they are newly married, and the kinks might iron themselves out as he finally gets more secure in his role as a husband.

So, I guess my short answer is that I wouldn’t avoid the opportunity to hang out with a friend and her annoying husband just because her husband can be annoying. If she is a good friend, you should just accept this is whom she has chosen and make the best of it. Sure, hang out with her alone when you can, but don’t go out of your way to avoid her husband just because it is mildly uncomfortable for you. If this silly bravado is his biggest flaw, I have a feeling it will dissipate as he settles into his loafers and cardigan, puffs his pipe, and gets more used to being a husband. It might serve him well to be in the company of a man (your boyfriend) who does not behave like a fella auditioning for a Mad Men episode– just give your boyfriend a “heads up” beforehand, and amuse yourselves by counting how many “manhattans” he orders at dinner!

-MM

“Metro” Sexual

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MM,

I need some advice regarding appropriate end-of-date behavior in a big city. Specifically, is it socially acceptable for late 20’s early 30’s singles to make out in or near the metro? What would be a better way to end the date?

Signed, 

P.D.Embarrassment

 

Dear P.D.,

So let me get this straight: the current trend in big city dating behavior is to end the date with ridiculously public displays of affection and then go flitting off in opposite directions?!! Oh my. Far from being prudish, I actually find some kisses in public heart-warming. The end-of-the-night crescendo kiss, though, is not on my list of favorite kisses to observe. It tends to be a little too rich, like watching someone eat a quadruple scoop of ice cream.

Setting aside the issues relating to squeamishness, serious public makeouts lack any sense of prudence. Remember that the Metro is a form of MASS transit, meaning that incredible amounts of people use it everyday, and implying that there are heaps of people watching what other people do. Juicy make outs stand out. Imagine showing up to give a presentation the day after a serious “good night kiss” at Park and 33rd, and one of the people in the meeting swears he has seen you somewhere recently, something about the way you tilt your head looks so familiar, now if he could just remember where… Or being at the grocery store, and some random stranger walks up to you and says, “Hey, 5th Avenue, bet there’s passion fruit on your list!” Just not a good move.

Finally, I’m not totally old-fashioned, but I think that the best place for a date to end is at your doorstep. Your date should make sure that you arrive home safely, not by sending you a text, but by actually walking you to the final destination.

So no more metro stop farewells, girl, unless you want to be the one responsible for bringing all new meaning to the term “metrosexual!”

-MM

Cuddling the Intern

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MM,

Is it appropriate for a co-worker to raise her baby in our office?

Some background: my co-worker is currently pregnant and, as she has communicated to us (her fellow employees) multiple times, is planning on bringing her baby to the office whenever she’s here, which just happens to be full-time, 40ish hours per week.  Historically, my boss has been alright with that sort of thing since we are a “family” and she believes we should be able to balance home and work.  Two individuals essentially “raised” their children here long before my employment.  My boss’s attitude is beneficial when it comes to the fact that I can take time off when my family is in town, run errands on my lunch break, etc.  In general, our office environment is very laid-back (and there are only a handful of full-time employees) but I really feel like this is pushing the boundaries.  While I can appreciate a casual workplace, I also expect to be employed at a business where professionalism is valued.

I love babies just as much as the next person, but I can’t help but envision a fussing, crying, pooping, breastfeeding infant taking over our office.  She’s due in a month, so any advice you could lend me in the meantime would be much appreciated.

Signed,

Baby Business

 

Dear Baby,

Just as one man’s trash can be another man’s treasure, one woman’s hell can be another woman’s heaven! To you this sounds like hell, and to me this sounds like heaven! When you do not have children, it is really hard to imagine the extreme stress moms experience when trying to figure out whether to go back to work or stay at home and whom should care for their children. Having a workplace that supports families with flexibility is so rare, especially in our country. You would really benefit from trying to walk a mile in your co-worker’s shoes to better understand why this is such an attractive option for her. I have a feeling if you ever choose to have children you will think back on the outrage you have expressed in this letter and laugh at yourself (at least a little!)

Now I’m assuming your job is not to photograph mice on the quiet car of the Library Line, right? Because if it is then you might have a leg to stand on in your charge against the bring-the-baby-to-work practice. If not, the simple fact is that babies spend a lot of time sleeping. Sure, they cry a little, and they do need to be fed (sometimes by boobs!), and often they do poop, but they are not usually so out of hand that they clear a room. There are a lot of distractions in the workplace, and we all need to get better at dealing with them. I went to a high school that had open classrooms. Imagine that— no walls! At times it could be difficult to take a test while there was a heated discussion going on in the room next to us, but we all dealt with it, and I just bet that all of us who graduated from my high school are better off in the “real world” because of it.

Finally, keep in mind that this practice was going on at your workplace long before you got there (you said that two children were essentially raised there), and there is no way that your boss would keep the policy in place if it was a complete and utter failure. So that reality should bring some calm to your nerves too!

Having the baby at work is a great opportunity for you to do some field observations of just what it takes to care for a baby and manage a work life too. Think of it as a great learning experience! If you take a deep breath and just ride the wave, girl, you might just end up valuing this experience, and being someone special to a sweet little baby in the process!

-MM