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'AITA for hiding my personal life at work? My coworkers are mad they didn't know I'm married.' UPDATED

'AITA for hiding my personal life at work? My coworkers are mad they didn't know I'm married.' UPDATED


Everyone keeps different social boundaries, and on paper, this shouldn't be an issue. But in reality, it can get sticky.

"AITA for hiding my personal life at work?"

I'm in a little trouble at work because I've been sort of hiding my personal life. I've worked in this office for about nine years, working my way up. I'm notoriously private and also believe in a clear separation of work and home life. With that, I never, ever talk about home life. I'm not ashamed of my life I just don't like to discuss it at work.

My coworkers enjoy talking about their personal lives and often include me. If I'm asked any questions I usually redirect or move on to someone else. In this manner, none of my coworkers knew I'm married, have twin daughters and a very active personal life. We hired Melinda last year and she took it upon herself to become the office snoop.

She spent several weeks getting as close to everyone as possible. However, she does this to seek out potentially useful information she can hold over people's head. Try as she did, I never gave her anything. My coworkers view me as a sort of enigma. Compartmentalization aside, I've made some great friendships at work. There are more things to talk about than my husband and my kids.

They are a big part of my life but I'm not even going to martyr myself and say they're the most important. They're hugely important and come before everything else but I'm not a sycophant and I enjoy the ten hours a day I'm at work when I get to be an adult and talk about things other than JoJo Siwa and the newest Jenndashian exploit.

Last week, Friday, Melinda came into work looking like the cat who got the goldfish. At lunch she announced to everyone that I am married with two daughters, a dog, and a nice house. I play softball, I kayak, and occasionally mountain climb and that I'm on Facebook. She couldn't see my posts however some of my photos are shared with others and therefore not private.

I use a shortened version of my name (Ali from Alexandra) and my married name on FB so I'm not sure how she found me, unless she used WhitePages and put two and two together. I've already reported her to HR. But the problem is, my coworkers are acting like this is a BFD. One of my friends said she's hurt that I don't trust any of them and hold them in "such low regard."

I tried to explain that it's nothing against anyone, I just don't like discussing home at work and vice versa. I never bring work home. When I'm home that's time with my kids, or my dog, or my husband, or friends and hobbies. Heck, I chose to live an hour outside of the city in a small town just to avoid work when I'm not there.

I've apologized if any feelings were hurt but my coworkers are now giving me the chill and won't talk to me unless it's directly about work. I honestly don't see the problem. I've never lied to them, I've never given them false info, I've never made up wild tales about my life. I'm still the same person I was, now they just know more about me than they did. AITA?

The internet had OP's back.

Marguerite67 wrote:

NTA- Melinda needs to mind her f-ing business. I would complain to HR about her harassing you.

OP responded:

Oh, I did, and they're looking into it. If she did it at home there isn't much they can do, but if she did any of her snooping on company computer or time she's going to be at least reprimanded if not written up. The most they can do is move her to a new department or team for creating a hostile work environment.

DannyGere wrote:

NTA - Melinda is. That is your private life, and exactly that, you are entitled to keep it private. To me, Melinda could be considered a stalker and possibly a matter for the P0lice, let alone HR.

OP responded:

Oh, HR knows. I went right to them after lunch. They'll be speaking with her soon. The least they can do is a reprimand, the best they can do is write her up for a hostile environment and then transfer her to a new team. In any case, she's revealed her true colors. The only bonus here is now no one is speaking to her either. They don't trust either of us anymore.

abigscarybat wrote:

NTA, they're not entitled to live six inches up your a$$. But really, congrats on keeping the barrier as impermeable as you did, even while having a Facebook. That place usually turns an island into an intersection, as it were.

OP responded:

Facebook has been almost impossible to manager efficiently. It's why I switched to my married name and my nickname. It's mostly just family and a few friends. I think I have 26 of them, lol. I mostly use it to upload my photos so I can always have them, in case something happens to my Google Drive, my iCloud, or any of my back-ups.

[deleted] wrote:

YTA . These people want to consider you a real friend, but can't if you won't share basic info about your life. They are not "work people" they are GOD DAMN PEOPLE. People who thought they were your FRIENDS. Such a hard divide between work and home is artificial.

You have decided that they are "lesser than" friends because you met them at work. Meanwhile "real friends" that you meet outside of work get to really know you? You reap what you sow.

OP responded:

I'm insanely private so it takes a long time for me to fully open up to people. I have several different kinds of friends. I have work friends, I have friends with kids who my kids and I spend time with, I have sports friends who I do my sports with. I'm just not comfortable sharing my life with strangers.

It takes a very long time to learn things about me. I don't consider anyone beneath me or less than myself, I just consider who the person is, if they need to know something about me. I'm never false with them, I have plenty of topics to discuss. But I just, respectfully, feel personal and professional don't mix well.

imanonymous987 wrote:

You’ve worked there for nine years, how exactly are they strangers?

OP responded:

Nine years with one company but several different departments as we all get promotions or demotions. I usually spend about two and a half to three years with a department. I've been with this department for about two years. In about nine months I'll be leaving for a new department as I'm slated for a promotion to upper management.

martimartian wrote:

It’s amazing that Hank, Lucy, and Robb don’t hate Melinda. Do they support you?

OP responded:

Hank actually retired to spend his last few months living on a house boat right after Melinda blew the whistle on him so we've disconnected. Robb and I are actually friends outside of work but it was totally by accident. He had taken his sons to my town to go to this little record store and I bumped int him.

So he knew I lived there and I think he assumed I had a family but he never said anything. He was less upset than, say, Lucy, who actually confides in me about her relationship with her parents.

My whole thing with Lucy was because, and I'm no doctor, but I became a sort of therapist for her, she felt very comfortable sharing her woes with me, and I know with therapy the one listening is supposed to keep their own problem separate so the other person can feel comfortable.

Lucy comes from a bad situation and I could tell she needed someone to trust. And, omg, I just realized how badly I f-ked up with Lucy. She trusted me and I took that from her. Wow, I feel like a dick.

martimartian wrote:

What did you do to lose Lucy’s trust? Did she ever ask you for personal details? Did you blatantly lie to her?

OP responded:

It's just that she confided everything to me. I know things about her that her parents don't. She has a lot of personal problems and she put a great deal of trust into my hands and then for me to turn around and act like I don't trust her, or wouldn't, is probably the meanest thing I could have done to her.

It's like saying, "hey, let me cook dinner for you but I'll never let you return the favor because you'll never cook as good as I did." She trusted me and I've made it seem like I don't trust her. She never explicitly asked for personal details but on occasion she asks if I have any sort of relatable incident in my life. For example, Lucy's young son is currently in the hospital.

He has sickle cell leukemia and she wanted to know if I knew anyone who's kid had been really sick but made it through. My younger twin daughter was born with a heart defect and she requires surgery every few years to repair the damage. I told her I didn't think I had a story to compare with her's. Not because I didn't want to tell her about my daughter's heart but because it's not the same thing.

My daughter isn't sick, she's never spent longer than a couple weeks in the hospital. Her surgeries are routine, she handles them incredibly well, she gets right back to her regular life. She was only really, really sick when she and her sister were newborn. I sort of generalized it, I guess.

Gimme_All_Da_Tendies wrote:

Don't you wear a wedding ring?

OP responded:

Yes but it isnt a plain wedding band. It's one my husband designed and had made. He wears one just like it. It doesnt look conventional, just looks like jewlery.

Doe_pamine wrote:

But it’s on your wedding finger, yes? Do you have rings on every finger?

OP responded:

I do tend to wear multiple rings but I can't do it every single day. I wake some days and my hands are either dry, or swollen. Those are the days I go bare.

MaryMaryConsigliere wrote:

NTA, and your coworker Nancy Drew is a huge f-king weirdo. That said:

"I've apologized if any feelings were hurt but my coworkers are now giving me the chill and won't talk to me unless it's directly about work. I honestly don't see the problem."

I'm confused why you're upset that your other coworkers are confining themselves to only speaking to you about work, since this seems like exactly what you've been doing all these years, and what you've modeled that you want from them.

OP responded:

We speak about a variety of things, I just don't talk about family. I play softball, I hike, I knit, I do art, I sing and dance, and they know that about me. They don't know about my family life. They don't know, for example, what my father does, or how and when my mother d-d, they don't know I have a sister in prison on d-g charges.

They don't know my younger twin daughter has a heart condition where she has surgery every three years. They don't know that my older daughter just confided in me that she thinks she likes girls, or rather, she likes this one girl. They don't know that it gives me joy to see my daughter that happy about a girl. They don't need to know these things.

Days later, OP jumped on with an update.

I don't have any sort of interesting update. HR brought us both in yesterday afternoon and asked us WTF is going on.

I presented my side, as detailed above, Melinda gave her's: she basically said that she had been trying to get to know everyone and she had been having trouble getting to know me so she found my Facebook in effort to find something to talk about with me and then she just informed everyone else.

I asked my HR rep to pull up facebook and do a cursory search for my real name. There were several. Then I asked him to search my married name, or the one I go by on FB, "Ali Smith."

There were enough for about six or seven scrolls on the mousepad. In any case, too many to count. I haven't touched my own page since I reported the incident. It was about thirty names from the top but like I said, my profile pic is my dog, not me, so she would have had to look a each thumbnail photo or view each account.

I do have an Instagram page that's on private but I only have a few friends, mostly family members, under that same name. She found me night before last and friended me. Naturally I blocked her. HR gave her a reprimand for creating a negative work atmosphere. My rep wasn't sure why Melinda felt the need to blast my info for everyone and he called BS on her for claiming it was innocent.

So that's that. That's probably all that's gonna come from it because my coworkers are now acting mostly back to normal. However, I took the advice from this sub and I'm making amends. They're all most receptive. I'm gonna learn to open up but not by much. But they know enough about me to know I'm not an automaton or anything.

The internet continued to share their thoughts.

CatmoCatmo wrote:

Wow. F- Melinda. That kind of person is EXACTLY why OP separates work from home, and should prove to her she made the right call. I don’t get everyone being mad. I mean, I understand it to a point. But not one of these people even NOTICED that they didn’t know these things (or that OP was “withholding” information from them) UNTIL Melinda spilled the tea.

And OP’s privacy was a universal thing. She didn’t favor anyone. I think people are misplacing anger for the embarrassment they feel for not knowing the things they think they should know about a friend.

Kirrawayru wrote:

I work with someone like OP. Doesn't give any personal information. That's fine. I respect that and don't ask personal questions. Just as an example, they are relatively new, and I had to do some job training with them. (Me doing the training for them to learn) I asked what they had done in previous work.

Their answer: "Working in travel." They didn't follow with any extra information. So I left it at that. Some people are more private than others, and I respect that. If they want to volunteer more info, they will. If not, it's no skin off my nose. Also, I don't socialise with workmates outside work myself.

peter095837 wrote:

I don't get the ESH and YTA responses. Like personally, even if I worked somewhere for a long time or have bonded with co-workers very closely by then, I'd still would rather have my personal life to be private. I feel that it's my own life and not others to be involved.

Gwynasyn wrote:

I get it. I've never gone to the same extremes that OOP did, but I also do NOT tell anything to co-workers or managers about my personal life beyond the very superficial. They know I'm married, I'll mention my wife. Some hobbies may come up, but I never really talk about my plans (not that I ever have a lot).

I don't talk about my larger family or friends. I certainly don't tell them about mental or physical health issues going on among my friends/family or myself, unless I have to (to HR/managers for illnesses and such).

Dis1sM1ne wrote:

I'm very curious on what caused the complaints and making Melinda quit. If anything, the coworkers were pissed at OP not Melinda. What other crap did she pull?

Or my theory; since OP is now ok with her coworkers now after Melinda has quit.

Me wonders if Melinda invading the others privacy made them realise why OP was private in the first place and decided to be ok with her after that. But thank god HR was on OP's side cause I was worrying they would be that HR where they would say, it's public Facebook, not our problem.

Sources: Reddit
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