Relationship Judge: If and When You Should Confess Romantic Feelings to a Close Friend in a Relationship Already

There’s nothing like a good ole juicy Relationship Judge issue for us to weigh in on.  Get your gossip caps on, we need your input and fast – things are getting interesting!  Jamie wrote in last week to explain a situation she’s been dealing with for the past several months.  She’s now at a point where she’s not sure what to do and could use some feedback.  Here we go…

The Facts:  Jamie has worked with Alex for the past two years on Capitol Hill (Washington, DC).  Both have been in other relationships the whole time but jokingly refer to each other as the other’s “work spouse.”  They spend tons of time together – breakfast runs to the local coffee shop every morning, meetings throughout the day, quick lunches, errand runs mid-afternoon.  They truly have a wonderful friendship and talk about anything and everything under the sun.  Jamie became single about 6 months ago, the result of finding out her boyfriend was cheating on her and Alex helped her through the whole thing.  Jamie has hung out with Alex and his girlfriend multiple times outside of work, has babysat their dog, has gone out on dates that Alex and his girlfriend have set her up on, etc. 

In addition to going through the stresses of work life together, Alex has confided in Jamie about his doubts about the long term potential of his relationship.  He loves his girlfriend, but there are several things about her that he feels will not make her wife material (e.g., she won’t talk about getting engaged, she has indicated that she doesn’t want children, she wants to move closer to her family in Houston while Alex wants to stay in DC).  Can you tell where this is going? Jamie has recently found herself thinking of Alex as more than just a friend, though she’s worried about risking their friendship or meddling in their relationship if she says something.  Not to mention she’d still have to work with Alex every day if the reaction was a bad one.  She is confused about whether to act on her feelings or not – annoyed to be browsing at engagement rings with Alex on his lunch hour for a person who she knows is not the right person for her friend while wondering how it would feel if they were engagement ring shopping for HER instead.  YIKES.  She’s resolved to stay quiet for the moment, but THEN something happened.  At a recent office Christmas party, a little too much wine consumed, Alex was complaining to Jamie about his girlfriend and for the first time mentioned something along the lines of, “and all along, the perfect girl has been standing right next to me and I haven’t got the guts to do anything about it.”  WOAH.  The comment was ignored and things have gone on as usual.  Still, Jamie is wondering if she should act or wait until Alex figures out his relationship with his girlfriend first.  She’s heard him talk multiple times before about ending things, but he never does.

The Question: Should Jamie communicate to Alex in any way that she’s got romantic feelings for him? Is it wrong to go after someone while they’re in a relationship with someone else?  If she does say something – when is the right time and what should be said?

The Relationship Judge Says: Jamie, as I’m reading this, I’ve got that Taylor Swift song in my head,

“If you could see that I’m the one who understands you.

Been here all along so why can’t you see- eee -eee, you belong with me-ee-ee. 

You belong with me.” 

Your issue is the stuff of great romantic comedies.  Didn’t you see Sleepless in Seattle?  What would Meg Ryan do?  But since this is not a Rom-Com and you need some advice in the real world, here’s my two cents.  A guy that’s confused about his current relationship should be handled delicately and not hastily claimed without good reason.  The last thing you want to do is step in before he’s got his mind made up about his girlfriend.  If you do say something and a drunken night turns into a night of thrilling passion, your dear friend may wake up to realize that this tension between you two (and let’s be clear – he absolutely has thought about it and it’s on his radar – his holiday party comment is proof of that) was just that – tension.  You don’t want a drunken night to be the catalyst that makes him decide he really does love his girlfriend and now that he’s gotten his cake and eaten a little bit – he’s content to go back and make things work out with the other.  THAT IS WORSE.  If the two of you are truly compatible and have a chance of making things work out, he’s got to make the effort to finish off his current relationship. Please, please, PLEASE don’t get involved in one of those “colleagues with benefits” arrangements where he’s hanging with you during the day with the occasional hook-up and then goes back to his girlfriend on nights, weekends and holidays.  That’s NO GOOD and will ultimately lead to resentment, pain and loneliness.  Know that you are worthy and deserving of someone who realizes the amazing person you are and is willing to act on that knowledge to be with you. 

BUT.

Because guys can often be a little thick and since it sounds like you do have a solid friendship foundation, I don’t oppose you informing him in some clear yet firm way that a) you do have some feelings for him and b) you will not act in any way on those feelings until he has figured out what’s going on with his girlfriend.  Whether that’s over some drinks at happy hour, at your daily CVS run to get candy for the office or over scrambled eggs at breakfast – some times guys don’t have a clue and while it seems likely that he’s very much thought about you in more than a platonic sense, he may not have thought that you’d be interested back.   But say it once and that’s all. The rest is up to him.  If you don’t get a quick reaction from it, MOVE ON.  Go on other dates. Stay busy. Make some other office friends – and try to think of Alex how you initially thought of him – a great friend who you like spending time with at work.

Side note and you probably already know this: I’d distance yourself for now from Alex’s girlfriend.  Not sure if you’re doing any one on one outings with her, but while you’re having these hidden thoughts of going off into the sunset with her boyfriend, now’s not the time to get too chummy.  All’s fair in love and war, but I’m guess his girlfriend will be pretty pissed if she finds out something is or was going on with you guys while they were still together.  Let’s face it, she’ll be pretty pissed if she finds out you were together AFTER too.  Some times there’s no way around that stuff, so be kind but not chummy!

If it does work out and Alex does make a move to end things and pursue you properly, please no sex at the office!  And I’d be careful about letting other colleagues in on your little office romance before you guys have figured out what exactly it is.  Several years back a couple of colleagues at my office unexpectedly announced they were engaged. We were all shocked of course as we hadn’t even known they were dating.  They said they wanted to figure out on their own where things were going before getting the office rumor mill involved.  Be smart.  Be discreet.  May luck be with you.  Don’t become the “Other Woman!”

Your Turn: Would you go after a friend who’s in a relationship already? If so, how?  If not, why not? 

Hope you are all enjoying a very happy holiday season.  Have a great weekend and don’t forget to get ready for the JP / Ashley wedding this Sunday on ABC.  It is now confirmed by a source that Ali Fedtowsky and Roberto Martinez DID hook up at their wedding, which makes me even more excited to see how it all went down.  We’re off next week on vacation, but I’ll be checking in regularly.   

Until next time, you can receive updates if you “Like” my Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/OfficeStace) or “Follow” me on Twitter (@OfficeStace).

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The Relationship Judge: The Loud, Inconsiderate Co-Worker

With so many offices moving to open floor plans these days to save on space/costs and encouraging open communication amongst teams, a whole new office culture has emerged.  Suddenly you’re in everyone’s business and everyone around you is in yours.  You know what everybody eats, their favorite TV shows, what they do over the weekends, their family members, kids, the fights they have and sometimes even their sex life.

When Alexis wrote in to talk about her company’s floor plan and the one colleague she is desperate to find a solution about, I couldn’t help but smile.  This must be happening in offices everywhere.  A definite ripe judgment is in order from The Relationship Judge.

The Facts:  Alexis works in a consulting office with about 25 colleagues sitting in an open floor environment.  There are no cubicles, no offices, just 2 conference rooms at the end of a small hallway to be used for group meetings only.  Her manager, her manager’s manager and two of her direct reports all sit within 10 feet of her.  She has daily, intensive conference calls where she provides business updates to multiple people on the phone and answers questions.  The other part of her job involves typing up narratives of the feedback she receives on these calls.

Listening to the chit chat around her is extremely distracting by itself, but Alexis notes one particular nuisance.  “Max,” a Senior Vice President on a different team in the consulting department, shows up to work about 30 minutes later than everyone else.  He then personally greets each and every one of the 25 colleagues with a loud, “Good Mooorning!” and chats for at least another 30 minutes with anyone who will listen on anything and everything – often while Alexis is on these conference calls.  Max also has these extremely irritable sounds that come out of his mouth.  Sometimes it’s repeated sighing.  Other times it’s throat-clearing.  Yawning.  It’s always drawn out, seemingly unnecessary and overly dramatic.

When confronted, he blames it on allergies, but it is persistent.  The worst part of Max’s open floor plan behavior is that he talks extremely loud on the phone, particularly when he gets excited about something.  Several members of the team, including Alexis, have asked him to tone it down a bit, but if anything, it’s gotten worse.  Alexis has tried noise-canceling ear phones, listening to music and a bunch of other tricks to block out the noise but it hasn’t gotten any better.   She’s mentioned the issue to her manager, who is friends with Max, and got laughed off.  She also was annoyed enough to mention it to the outsourced Human Resources department who claim to have spoken to Max, to no avail.

The Question: What do you do about a senior manager or any colleague who is beyond inconsiderate when it comes to office etiquette in an open floor plan?  What should Alexis to do block out the noise when on a conference call or needing some quiet to concentrate?

The Relationship Judge Says: What a pain in the ass, Alexis!  There’s no way to sugar coat what a jerk this Max guy is.  Every office has a Max, by the way.  Someone just completely in their own world who marches to the beat of their own drum.  That’s what every office based comedy has ever been written about.  It sounds like you tried doing all the right things – going to Max, going to your manager, engaging HR.  If repeating these routes doesn’t yield anything, you may need to explore your options.  Can you ask HR for a different open floor location and would that help?  Can you make your conference calls from one of those conference rooms or a different floor?

I have no idea if something like this could ever be implemented, but I’ll tell you a story which may give you an idea.  In 4th grade, my best friend, Jaime Margolin, sat in front of this girl, Heather, who hummed constantly.   Heather hummed all morning and afternoon no matter what the subject they were being taught, no matter if the teacher was giving a lesson at the front of the classroom, if a movie was being shown or a test being taken.  The humming drove Jaime insane.  At last, Jaime could take no more.  She told Heather the humming MUST stop and Heather responded that she didn’t know what Jaime was talking about.  The humming continued.

Jaime pulled our teacher, Mrs. Krueger, aside and revealed the problem.  Mrs. Krueger pulled out a piece of construction paper and in big magic marker colors made Jaime a sign that read, “HEATHER, PLEASE STOP HUMMING!”  She asked Jaime to put this sign on the back of her chair whenever she heard Heather humming.  This actually worked.  I don’t think Heather even realized that what was coming out of her was actually a sound. Maybe she thought it was only in her brain.  Bottom line – it was more of a self awareness issue. Perhaps Max needs a serious intervention.  Can a couple of colleagues, who may be equally annoyed collectively, say something?  Can you make a sign that says, “Shhhhh, I’m on a conference call!” and hold it up during your meetings?  I hate to think that 4th grade rules may apply again in the office world, but this could help you out.

iPod headphones may do the trick and there are lots of great Apps now that deliver “white noise.”  I downloaded one a few months ago to drown out the annoying people who talk on their cell phones on the commuter trains.  So cool to listen to a crackling fire, beach waves or a rainstorm while smushed in against 75 other people in a train.

If you’d like to try the passive-aggressive approach (which is always self satisfying, even if momentary), the next time you’re on a call and Max is acting up again, press “Mute” and say something really loud like, “Sorry what?  I’m sorry I still can’t hear you – what did you say?  Oh yeah, I apologize, that (voice / sound / sigh) you hear is a colleague in our office.  Yeah, I’m sorry it’s so loud, I will ask him to be quieter.”

If he doesn’t hear you give this dramatic monologue, somebody should, and at least you’ll have a reason (even if fake) to approach him after the call.  Overall, I think you’ve got to get your manager to do something or find a way to adapt.  If these don’t work, I highly recommend that you buy a Powerball ticket and keeping your fingers crossed.

Your Turn: Do you guys work with an inconsiderate colleague?  How do you cope?  Do you have any effective tricks of the trade to either quiet the person or block out the noise?

Have a great weekend.  I think The Husband and I might attempt some holiday shopping at some point.  Wish us luck.  Until next time, please “Like” my Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/OfficeStace) or “Follow” me on Twitter (@OfficeStace).

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The Relationship Judge – What To Do About a Bad Childhood Friend

I  nearly fell out of my desk chair when I read the email that came in to me from Tracy earlier this week.    She wrote such an eloquent, detailed account of the trouble she’s been going through with an old childhood friend.  It broke my heart to hear some of the painful things that transpired between the two of them, but the worst part is that Tracy’s been hurt so badly by this friend that she is now questioning whether her anger and hurt is even rational (IT IS, Tracy!).  So let’s sit back on this lovely crisp Friday, take in Tracy’s story and give her some honest, objective feedback.  Then let’s show her some love and friendship because more than anything, that’s what this girl needs right now.  Grab your pumpkin lattes and dig in…

The Facts:

“Tracy” is having a problem with a female friend she grew up with (let’s call her “Courtney” mostly because I’m still annoyed that Courtney Robertson is dating Arie the Racecar driver so soon after breaking up with Ben Flajnik).  By way of background, Tracy is happily engaged and Courtney was just married.  They have shared many milestones together over the years and have overcome a good many fights.  Tracy has always known that Courtney has selfish tendencies, but tries to always look past them and focus on her other qualities as a friend.  Recently,  she finds herself unable to find any positive qualities in Courtney.  Tracy is losing patience with her and believes that she has grown up a lot while Courtney’s stayed the same girl she was in high school – which is why Tracy is having a hard time “brushing off” the things she does that bother her lately.

An example of Courtney’s unbecoming behavior (FASTEN YOUR SEAT BELTS, PEOPLE):

2-3 months before Courtney’s wedding, she sat Tracy down and said, “I have to tell you something, but you have to promise not to get mad. When we were living together and ___ broke up with you, I drove to see him and we slept together.” 

At first, Tracy thought she was okay with this because she is engaged and happier than ever.  Tracy responded that this was “okay.”   But then she got to thinking (if I had a penny for every time I got to thinking about something after the fact…) and the more Tracy thought of how Courtney had betrayed her by sleeping with someone  who broke her heart, she began to lose her cool on the inside.  Still, Tracy tried to be okay with it and decided to forgive Courtney. 

In additon to this incident, Courtney engages in other negative behaviors – talking behind Tracy’s back, making fun of the way Tracy organizes her life, telling people that Tracy says mean things about them that are false, always trying to one-up her on even the most trivial things.  Oh and my (Stacey B’s) favorite: Courtney asked Tracy to “completely stop talking about her engagement until Courtney was married.”  No this is not a joke.  Courtney said that Tracy was taking the spotlight from her and it wasn’t fair of Tracy to “beg” for attention.   Tracy understood that Courtney was just feeling insecure, so she tried to stop talking about her engagement, but once again, she eventually grew resentful / angry and even hurt.  Separately, Tracy had an argument with a mutual friend who complained to Courtney about the argument.  Courtney’s response was to contact Tracy and say that she “doesn’t think she can forgive (Tracy) for causing drama before her wedding.”  Tracy did not intentionally cause drama or want to steal attention, but she points out that even if she had, why wouldn’t Courtney forgive her?  Afterall, Tracy had forgiven Courtney for sleeping with someone that she loved.

Now What?

After this fight, Tracy was hopeful that their friendship would fizzle out and she’d get a much needed break.  But after Courtney’s wedding, Courtney asked if they could move past this.  Tracy has tried to turn the other cheek for the sake of their mutual friendships, but feels she always seems to be angry no matter what.  It doesn’t help that she’s still hearing from people that Courtney continues to talk about Tracy behind her back, spreading rumors and belitting her.  Tracy says, “I feel like because we have such a nostalgic relationship, I should be able to to overlook the things that aren’t perfect, but my patience runs thin.”

The Question:

Tracy wants to know if she is being irrational.  Does she have a fair reason for feeling like she wants out of this friendship?  In order for them to go their separate ways, she would need to remove Courtney from her wedding party and she’s afraid it would cause rifts in other friendships.  At the same time, does she want someone like this in her wedding anyway?  She can’t tell whether her anger has made her unreasonable or if other people may see where she is coming from.   Tracy says, “Any feedback would be wonderful.  I feels like most of the time I want to break up (with Courtney) but am afraid to do so.”

The Relationship Judge Says:

Holy cow, Tracy, what an incredibly annoying and mentally stressful situation you have found yourself in.  It’s such a shame too, because this engagement period should be filled with happiness about your future, filled with excitement and mutual well wishes from family and friends around you.  How awful to have to spend so much time and brain power worried about someone who sounds like such a negative force in your life.   You probably know this already, but “Courtney” does not sound like the type of person you can call a “friend.”  History aside, if you met her today, would you really be friends with her?  I’m guessing the answer is a resounding, “no.”  Too much drama. Too much pain.  Her actions are inexcusable.  If Courtney was a boyfriend and pulled some of the same stuff, you’d dump this person in a heartbeat right?  Why tolerate this type of behavior just because she’s a friend?  For me personally, finding out that she slept with someone you loved right after a breakup is unforgivable.  Forget her pulling the, “don’t me mad, ok?” she’s only saying that because she knows you have every right to be mad.  Friends don’t do that sort of thing.  What horrible judgment she has shown.  If it was a mistake, that’s one thing, but based on her history she must have gotten some sort of cheap “thrill” to go after someone who rejected you and “conquer” him.  She can’t even blame a weak moment.  She had to get in her car, turn it on, drive towards his place and get it on.  She had plenty of time to think about what she was doing.  She did think – and decided to hurt you anyway. Deliberately.

You’ll also find that the older you get, the less time you’ll have to deal with nonsense like the kind Courtney is pulling.  Right now everyone around you may be in wedding mode, engagement mode, etc. But soon enough it’ll be babies and jobs and moving to a bigger home, etc.  Your free time should be spent with supportive, healthy and stable people – Courtney is not that person.  And just because you were friends in the past doesn’t mean she is suited to be a lifelong friend.  Yes, people can change, but she’s done some pretty awful stuff to you whether you choose to forgive her or not.

Courtney sounds like an extremely jealous, selfish and insecure person.  She’s extremely immature and will always be unhappy.  I picture her as one of those actresses in “Mean Girls,” but that’s probably being a bit too cliche.  She’s a one-upper which is typical behavior of an insecure person.  But worse than all of these qualities, her insecurities have made her destructive to those she sees as a threat and for whatever reason, that is how she sees you.  It may not make sense – she found someone she loves and has gotten married.  This still hasn’t solved her deep rooted problems and I fear that she will continue to drag you down. 

I was happy to hear that you thought about taking a break from her and phasing her out.  I certainly would have recommended doing so immediately.  But I also understand that when a long time friend comes to you, asking to start fresh and seeming all innocent, etc.,  it’s hard to just shut the door on such a long standing friendship, especially for someone who so obviously needs a good friend like you in their life.  And then there’s the issue of wedding parties and wedding stress and do you really need one more thing to worry about? 

Here’s what I think about the wedding stuff – if the wedding is far enough out that you haven’t ordered dresses or had your bridesmaid start planning anything yet (flights booked for showers, bachelorette parties, etc.), I think you have every right to cut her out of the wedding – no doubt about it.  Here’s why:

(1) This is NOT someone you need in your life.  She is a negative force that has consistently made you feel bad.  A friend is supposed to make tough times better and be a source of fun, support and companionship.  Courtney is NOT and will not be this person – ever.  She will continue to hurt and disappoint you.  I would not trust her.  She does not have your best interests at heart. 

(2) Your true friends will understand your need to cut ties with Courtney.  Even if they don’t agree, you can ask them to respect your decision – and keep them out of it.  As hard as it may be, don’t bad talk Courtney to mutual friends.  If you hear she is saying stuff, just smile and complain to someone else who doesn’t know her.  Make it clear that you are cutting ties and wish not to hear any negative gossip that Courtney may have said about you. 

(3) Start looking to spend time with non-Courtney related friends and make some new couple friends with your fiance.  That should be where your focus is right now anyhow.   

(4) Think about whether you can signifcantly reduce the size of your wedding party (family only) or that you decided to have a wedding party be only the  “best man” and “maid of honor.”   This will be a good way to keep her out of things without completely slighting her / mutual friends. 

(5) Elope?

To answer your specific questions – no, you are not irrational.  You’re dealing with a pretty damaged person for whatever reason.  She’s sneaky – cheating and lying and hurting those who she is close with.  I wouldn’t be surprised to hear that she is having issues with her husband and may seek to jeopardize your relationship somehow.  As for you being “allowed to speak about your engagement” – give me a break.  A wedding lasts one day.  That’s her time.  Every other second of every other day is fair game.  She needs to get over herself, Bridezilla!  Perhaps it’s that she can’t stand to hear how happy you are when she very clearly is not happy with herself.

As for post wedding – absolutely, without a doubt – DITCH THIS FRIEND.  No other way around it.  Don’t become her punching bag.  She’ll apologize.  You’ll feel guilty and BAM – it’ll happen over and over.  If the wedding is in the next couple of months – it may be more trouble than it’s worth to strike up an Operation DITCH at this particular time.  Try to keep her role in any wedding activities to a minimum.  If you have a relative or a close friend that can take charge, make sure this person is aware of Courtney’s behavior, so they can run interference on any potential attempts to sabotage your happiness.

Please keep us posted, Tracy.  We are all thinking of you.

YOUR TURN

What should Tracy do?  Get rid of Courtney from her wedding party?  Try to talk to her about things before the wedding? After? Have you ever been in a situation like this and how did you handle it? Nostalgia only goes so far…

On that note, have a GREAT weekend.  We are off to Maryland tomorrow morning to hang with The Husband’s parents for Thanksgiving week.  Until next time, please “Like” my Office Stace page at www.facebook.com/OfficeStace and”Follow” me on Twitter: @OfficeStace  Go to the “Contact” page and shoot me an email if you have an issue for The Relationship Judge.

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The Relationship Judge – How to Handle a Friend’s Ex

This pic has nothing to do with today’s entry. I just love Homeland!

Today’s relationship judge entry came in from a male colleague of mine that I used to work with.

The Facts: “Mike” is happily married, gainfully employed and is obsessed with major league baseball.  Mike used to tell me about his close friend Jeremy and all their adventures as single guys.   Childhood friends, they have been through a lot together.  Mike met his wife and settled down.  Jeremy started dating someone seriously for a couple years.  During that time, Mike and his wife went out a handful of times with Jeremy and his girlfriend.  Both Mike and his wife really liked Jeremy’s girlfriend but never spent much time independently with her.  Fast forward to the last 6 months of their relationship which was extremely rocky, ending with Jeremy putting a sudden and unexpected end to it and leaving his girlfriend heartbroken.  Every so often the girlfriend will contact Mike to talk baseball stats and less occasionally reach out to Mike’s wife with a funny thought or comment.  Mike is confused as to how to respond to such contact.

The Question:  How do you respond to the initiation of communication from you close friend’s ex?  Do you ignore it?  Do you tell your friend about it?  What if you disagree with how your friend ended things?  Is it inappropriate for such a single female to be contacting a married man?

The Relationship Judge Says:  Hmmm, tough one.  First, you have to assess where your priorities lie.  Assuming they lie with your close friend, you need to fill him in on what’s been going on and see what he thinks about it. How does he feel about you maintaining a continuing friendship with his ex girlfriend?  You may think your friend’s ex is the greatest thing since sliced bread, but that’s the thing that sucks about breakups – there are often sides to choose.  It’s a sticky situation.  From an outsider’s perspective, it seems inappropriate for a single woman (regardless of the nature of how you know her) to be contacting a married man for any sort of social reason (hey, let’s grab a beer!), particularly if your wife isn’t being included or invited.   It may be completely innocent, but why put yourself in that situation? If it’s too awkward to directly confront the ex girlfriend or if you’ve been requested not to maintain contact with the ex, I’d ignore her.  She should get the hint soon enough.  If she is still repeatedly trying to communicate with you, a more direct approach may be necessary.

Your Turn: What do you think? How do you deal with the Exes of your friends?

 

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The Relationship Judge: My Friend is Dating My Ex – Should I Be Mad?

Today’s Relationship Judge submission is a good one.  I think this is an issue that most of us have had to deal with or hear about at some point, so hopefully you can help offer some good advice.  Kristen wrote in from Chicago and without further ado, let’s dig right in:

The Facts: Kristen’s been happily married for several years and has a baby on the way.  She  is very content with her life – loves her hubby, has lots of great family and friends around and has a part time job at a local radio station which keeps her busy.  She is so excited to become a first time mom.  But Kristen wasn’t always so happy.  Six years earlier, she was in a serious relationship with someone else.  Kristen was going into her senior year of college, doing a summer internship in New York City at a radio station when she started dating another intern.  Things got serious very quickly mostly because they were together pretty much 24/7 for an entire summer.  When the summer ended, Kristen moved back to Chicago to finish off college and her boyfriend stayed in New York to do the same.  They visited each other for a few months after the summer, but the following spring, Kristen’s boyfriend told her that he had gotten a job in New York after graduation, while Kristen planned to stay in Chicago to take some graduate classes and find a job locally (which she eventually did and still works at).  Soon after these decisions were made, Kristen’s boyfriend ended things abruptly, saying he loved Kristen, but was so sad all the time not being with her and he didn’t want to be in an indefinite long distance relationship.  Kristen was heartbroken.  She had applied for jobs in New York, but the economy was pretty bad and she was lucky to find something in Chicago. Kristen tried emailing and calling her now ex-boyfriend to convince him that they should at least try to be together, but she soon stopped hearing from him.

A couple years later, Kristen met someone else and the rest was history.  BUT.  She recently received a phone call from a college roommate who she considers a close friend.  “Eve” moved to New York after college for law school and a few weeks  earlier, had run into Kristen’s ex boyfriend at a party.  Eve remembered him from one of his visits to Chicago during senior year of college.  Eve and Kristen’s ex completely hit it off and as Eve told Kristen were now “seeing each other.”  Eve’s phone call to Kristen was to “let her know some news,” and was presented as a “isn’t it a small world?” rather than a “Hey, I hope it’s ok…”   It had only been a few weeks, but Kristen got the feeling that the relationship was somewhat serious.  She was surprised at how hurt she felt when hearing that her friend was dating someone she had been so heartbroken about.  She remembers even crying to Eve about it when they broke up.  Yes, Kristen knows she’s in a better place now, but she wonders if she has any right to be upset and if Eve should just know better than to date the ex of a good friend.

Intense, right?

The QuestionIs it ok to date the ex of a close friend?  If you are the person interested in someone’s ex, what is the best way to approach your friend about it?  Do you need to approach your friend?  Does Kristen have any right to be upset?

The Relationship Judge Says: Ahhh, Kristen.  I want to give you and your growing belly a big hug right now because I think what you’re having is a very human (and possibly hormonal) moment.  I don’t doubt that you really are in a happy place right now.  In fact, it sounds like things couldn’t be better.  But when your past is suddenly and unexpectedly thrown into your face, it’s only natural to have the reflex reaction of feeling hurt.  And that’s what it is and should be – a quick reflex of pain.  Let’s look at this from Eve’s perspective.  She’s done with law school.  She’s out and about in the city being single and probably finding that it’s not so glamarous.  Good guys are very hard to meet and it’s even worse when everyone around you is getting married and having babies when you can’t even get a good first date.  So then your buddy Eve comes across HIM – who I’m assuming is a GOOD GUY with lots of GREAT qualities and well, is it so bad for a good friend of yours to be happy with someone you know is a good person? 

Yes, it’s kind of a bummer that she will get to pursue what you were not able to, but that’s the way things go in life.  Sometimes you get to see things through and sometimes you don’t.  Perhaps you would have found that dating your ex long term might not have led anywhere.  Perhaps Eve’s relationship with him won’t make it either.  And let’s be honest, it’s not like your home still crying your eyes out over him.  If that were the case, I’d say you have a much better ammunition for calling Eve out on GIRL CODE violation.  It’s been six years, Kristen.  Six YEARS, a husband and baby on the way.  It’s ok to be temporarily surprised and even a bit hurt, but move on, Sister!  Focus on the great things before you because no good has ever come from looking back. 

Don’t be bitter towards Eve either.  It’s probably a little awkward for her to even tell you what’s going on – don’t let your friendship suffer because of it.  Be happy that two people you love have found each other.  That’s called being the bigger person (and hey, with your pregnancy, you’ve got a head start!).  I’m terrible at being the bigger person, btw, but I’m working on it every day.  We will support you along the way if you try. 

Your Turn: What do you all think about Kristen’s friend dating her ex?  Have you been the “Kristen” or the “Eve” in a similar scenario?  How did you handle it?   Would LOVE your input!

If YOU have a problem for The Relationship Judge, please email staceyb@officestace.com with the subject line “The Relationship Judge.”  Instructions for what to submit can be found here.  Please “Like” my page on Facebook: www.officestace.com/OfficeStace and come find me on Twitter: @OfficeStace

HAVE A GREAT WEEKEND!

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The Relationship Judge – UPDATE on “Why Hasn’t He Proposed?”

To kick off this holiday weekend, I thought some good news is in order.  Well, actually, it’s great news.  And who doesn’t need some of that?  As you may know by now, we have introduced “The Relationship Judge” section of this blog where people can write in about any issues they are having with just about any other human.  Annoying Friends.  Annoying Spouses.  Annoying Spouses of Friends.  Etc. Then the fun part.  We all judge you.  But in a nice way.  No name calling or rudeness – just simple, honest feedback from completely objective people.   So what do you say?  Don’t ask your biased best friend for an opinion – ask us!   Send your relationship /friendship/work colleague/family issue to staceyb@officestace.com with the subject line “The Relationship Judge.”  Instructions for what to submit can be found here.

But back to the great news.  Do you guys remember “Maya?”  who was wondering why the heck her boyfriend wouldn’t propose? If not, read this.

We were speculating all sorts of “what ifs” and “why nots” as to what the delay was all about.  These two lovebirds had “the talk” back in April that they were certainly ready to get engaged, but alas, by August there was still no proposal.  I gave a pretty lengthy answer to Maya, the summary of which was this, “My guess, based on what you’ve revealed, is that he may have something in the works.  I wouldn’t be surprised if his comment about not buying a ring was just to throw you off.”

BAM!  Fast forward to earlier this week when I got this awesome note from “Maya”:

From: “Maya”
Date: October 4, 2012,
To: Stacey B
Subject:Re: Why Hasn’t He Proposed? RESOLUTION!
 
Stacey,
 
I had to send you a quick note to tell you the resolution of the story that you so kindly helped me figure out on the relationship judge! My boyfriend (finally!) proposed a couple of weeks ago and we are engaged!  We are so happy! We are set to get married on July 26th next summer. If you want to do an update post on your blog about it, feel free. Let me know if you have any questions for me if you decide to do the post!
 
Happily engaged,
“Maya” 
Well, so being the nosey person that I am, I obviously needed more details than this, so I asked Maya if she could share what exactly happened.  Had he been ring shopping?  Cold feet?  Working up the nerve?
 
Here’s what she had to say:
Stacey,
 
You were completely right about everything.  [Side note: I swear she wrote that, I didn’t add it!]  He had been looking for a ring since June.  When he finally found the diamonds and ring that he liked, it took 6 weeks to get it ordered and certified. 
 
He had the ring in early to mid August and I think what was keeping him back was the prospect of talking to my father.  My father is a sweet man, but when it comes to these kinds of things, he can be a little bit intimidating.  In the beginning of September my fiance asked me if we should both talk to my mom and dad together about getting married.  I didn’t think my dad would like that so I told him “You know, you don’t have to be scared about talking to my father one-on-one, he’s not going to be angry with you”.  I was away for a weekend and that is when he talked to my dad without me knowing. 
The next week he told me he wanted to take me out to dinner at a new restaurant in downtown Raleigh.  When we got downtown and got out of the car, he told me he wasn’t quite hungry yet so I suggested we walked around downtown because it was a nice evening.  We made it to the old state capitol building which is really pretty and sat down on a bench.  We talked for a few minutes when he finally said, “There’s something I’ve been meaning to give you” and he took out the ring and got down on one knee. I don’t remember what he said but I was speechless! He finally said, “silence was not the answer I was expecting!” So I said “yes of course!” and the rest is happy history.  We decided not to tell any family or friends until after we finished dinner which was a great idea so we could process the news for ourselves. We are preparing for  July 2013 wedding!I am sending you a picture of the ring because it is so beautiful!
 
Let me know if you need anything else :)
Maya
Maya!  We are cheering and jumping for joy at your wonderful news.  What a clever fellow your new fiance is!   I totally hear you on the having no idea what kind of proposal speech was made.  Everything turns a bit fuzzy once the ring comes out and you realize what on earth is going on!  I love that you guys took some time for yourselves immediately after the proposal.  Those moments are so precious and dear – it screams volumes about your respective maturity levels to embrace that time as your own before allowing the world to share your news with you. 
 
We wish you guys a lifetime of happiness.  Happy wedding planning! 
 
OH, and I almost forgot – here is the picture of Maya’s ring.  It’s a beauty!!! Well worth the wait.  BTW,  Maya, you have awesome nails. 
 
Enjoy the weekend & if you haven’t already, don’t forget to “Like” Office Stace on Facebook here: www.facebook.com/OfficeStace.  You can also get your Office Stace t-shirts / handy bag thing – here.  I hope to add more stuff soon.
 
 
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