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Woman is baffled when her boss 'gets weird' around her husband. AITA? UPDATED 2X

Woman is baffled when her boss 'gets weird' around her husband. AITA? UPDATED 2X


When this woman is concerned about her boss's relationship to her husband, she asks the internet:

"My boss is weird towards my husband and I don't know how to bring it up with him. AITA?"

I work as a bookseller, and about a year ago, our bookshop got a new manager. This was a great thing for the shop and for me personally — he’s much more competent than anyone we’ve had in the past and has a real drive for developing people.

I happen to be the person he’s focused on developing, and it’s been wonderful: I get paid more now, have lots more responsibility, and am being provided with all the training to start managing my own shop before Christmas.

I’m being treated as a rising star in the business (we’re part of a very big chain) and given a lot of opportunities to excel, which of course feels fantastic! I’m very grateful.

There’s only one snag, though: my boss is very keen to socialize with me outside of work, both one-on-one and as part of the management team.

The culture in our shop has always been that partners, spouses, housemates, friends, etc. are very welcome at these events. However, my manager seems to absolutely despise my husband.

I can’t find any reason for this. Obviously I love him, so you could argue that I’m biased, but really, everybody adores my partner. He’s gentle, fun, and a good listener and always proves a popular addition.

Honestly, half of my colleagues probably prefer him to me. He’s only spoken to my boss a couple of times and only briefly, but my boss is openly dismissive of him:

he makes disparaging remarks about him, stops engaging in conversations when I bring him up, and recently, when my husband arrived at some drinks, my boss visibly and obviously swung his entire body around in his seat so that he was facing away from us and left not long after.

I have no idea what to do. I have a fantastic working relationship with my boss, and frankly, I plan to capitalize on that, but this makes me really uncomfortable. For further context...

I’m a woman and he’s a man, and he is single; however, he has often told me that his preference is for very done up, alternative but feminine women, which does NOT describe me. (I’m a straggly-haired, no-makeup, shapeless-clothing wearer.)

At first, I tried to dismiss his disparaging comments as an awkward attempt at humor, but after he so rudely turned away from my partner at the drinks… I’m angry!

I don’t know how to bring this up with him, or if I should. Help?!

livingwill writes:

I think it probably conveniently served a lot of purposes. The “you’re just so special” thing you note, but also plausible deniability if she addressed it head-on (“what, no, you know my type is 1996 Tori Amos, ha ha you’re delusional”)

negging, hinting that he’d like her to change her style (and watching to see if she “encourages” him by “taking the hint”), and testing her boundaries (as Alison notes, it’s extremely weird to know your boss’s se%ual/romantic tastes like this, so if she rolls with that weirdness he knows he can push harder).

One of the shitty things about manipulators is that they can often turn one thing to many terrible purposes.

shalamar writes:

This reminds me of an older post from a male boss who had a young female subordinate. He got pissed off when he found out she had a boyfriend. He got pissed off when she brought her boyfriend to the company Christmas party.

She won an amazing prize at that party - a trip for two - and he got SUPER pissed off when she said she was going to take her boyfriend on the trip. Because, you see, he somehow thought he’d “earned” that trip. But no, he didn’t have a crush on his employee, no sir! How dare you imply such a thing??

And now, OP's update:

The situation remains an odd one. While I wussed out of taking your advice when it came to actually talking to my manager about it (I thought there was enough plausible deniability that it might make me look like a bit of a nutter)...

I did start shutting down the comments when they cropped up and being rather icier than I normally would be.

As women, we’re so socialized to be warm and accommodating that I think this took him aback a bit, and the snide comments stopped pretty much dead.

I’ve also set a firm boundary on socializing with him in anything but the largest, most work-centric outings. He got a bit snippy when I didn’t come to his birthday (!) but… sorry, I was out with my husband.

Some friends of ours recently had a baby, so we had a very fun evening playing house with said baby while the new parents got to have a rare night out together. I even showed my boss some adorable pictures of my husband cuddling said baby. (I know it’s petty.)

However, the sheer wealth of commenters speculating that my boss has a crush on me has me thinking… they’re probably right, and if they are right, then the way he’s going about things is uncomfortable, creepy, and unethical.

As we move into the much, much busier period in our shop, he’s started scheduling just the two of us to work late in the shop to catch up; normally this is a job that a team of at least three people would do, presumably to avoid… well, situations like this.

To add to the issue, as my commenters predicted, I didn’t end up getting my own store – imagine I needed a 90% on my performance review to get promoted into it; they gave me an 89.999…

Boss and the HR rep (who always sits in on these reviews, as a representative of the regional manager) said in recognition of how hard I work and how many additional duties I take on, they’d enter me for a specific excellence award, which comes with a cash bonus.

They’ve since come back to me and said unfortunately, it turns out that’s not what the award is for. I then set a meeting to discuss pay and advanced the points that: I’m taking on much more work than I was at this point last year, and

getting paid effectively less for it, due to rampant inflation. The answer was that a raise was not possible, and the plan going forward would be to schedule another performance review after Christmas and discuss it then.

Following this, I attended the Christmas meeting, where they told us all how our shop was forecast to take upward of £60k a day. I’ve had a couple of days since then to reflect on how I feel, and I’ve come up with: undervalued and PISSED.

So, in short, it’s become time to fall back on your wealth of CV and interview advice, Alison. Thanks to your website, I’ve never felt better placed to job search.

There’s a vindictive part of me that really hopes I find something new before Christmas – I know everybody feels like their workplace would collapse if they left, but realistically, our store is already a bit like a Jenga tower on its last legs. If I take off during the peak season, it’ll fall apart like a wet cake.

As a last note: this aggressively festive season, please be tender and mild to your retail workers. Especially if you happen to be in (very large bookshop) in (artsy English city), and you notice the conspicuous absence of a certain shaggy-haired, no-makeup, baggy-clothes-wearing team leader…

Update 2:

I wanted to add a postscript: I got another job! After I wrote to you with my update, I decided I was just furious enough to quit without another job offer in my pocket. To the abject horror of my parents, I did just that.

I was, of course, very nervous about going voluntarily unemployed at the beginning of a recession, but I’m so, so pleased to report that – thanks in no small part to your job application advice – I’ve been offered another job! It’s fewer hours, more money, more benefits, and (to the relief of my formerly horrified parents), much more prestige.

The offer came through on the penultimate day of my notice period, which was very sweet indeed. During that whole notice month, my boss noticeably ignored me, which was an improvement.

On my last day, he then handed me a card with a poem (!) inside it and said, I kid you not, “Don’t tell your hubby.”

I gave what I hope was a bollock-shriveling laugh and said of course I would tell my husband; we share everything. Boss then squeezed my shoulder and said, “I’ll miss you” in an embarrassingly heartfelt voice. Yikes.

I did, of course, show my husband the card. I then took great pleasure in deleting my former boss from my phone, thoughts, and life.

What do YOU make of OP's story? Any advice for her?

Sources: Reddit
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