I was at a charity dinner and harmlessly started talking with a man at the bar. He was instantly flirtatious but then revealed – an hour later – that he is married to a co-worker of mine (whom I don’t know well at all). He said she was out of town for the week. We continued chatting and his flirtation grew – to the point where he was rubbing my leg under the table. At the end of the night he asked me to his house for dinner the next evening. I declined, but I almost feel inclined to tell the co-worker. Thoughts?
Well, at least Mr. Naughtyhands told you he was married up front. Some doggy dudes would’ve either lied or kept it on the q.t. until they “closed the deal.” And you’d find out he was married when he showed up at your office Christmas party:
Him: “What are you doing here?”
You: “I work here. What are you doing here?”
Him: “My wife works here.”
You (throwing drink in his face): “You’re married?”
His wife (rolling up): “What’s going on?” To him: “Why is your face all wet? What’s going on here?”
(Sorry, I’ve been steeped in sitcom culture lately and seem to see everything in sitcom terms. If it were a drama – darker, on cable – something on FX, say – you might find out he was married when his wife came through your bedroom window wearing gloves, a ski mask, a ninja-bag with a silenced Glock in it, and anti-CSI booties over her shoes.)
The point is: At least he spared you an awkward scene. Which is nice of him, don’t you think? On the other hand, it’s almost more insulting/obnoxious that he thinks he’s attractive enough/you’re so desperate that you’d sleep with him even forearmed with foreknowledge he’s a married man.
Now, before I continue, I should say I’m rather old-fashioned about these matters. Me, I try not to give out “the single vibe” or “flirt with intent” in social situations involving women other than my wife.
Most especially when she’s out of town: That’s just playing with fire.
On the incredibly rare occasions when a woman comes on to me, I run for the hills.
One night at a bar, a woman I had zero interest in was laughing and putting her hand on my leg and so on. At one point, some girls at the bar asked: “Are you two a couple?”
“No, he’s married,” Of Zero Interest Girl said. Then, all coy: “But I’m working on it.”
Danger! Later, when she hit the washroom (Her: “You’ll be here when I get back, right Dave?” Me: “Sure”), I vanished – poof! – into the night. I don’t need that kind of trouble.
Now, on to your advice: I don’t think it’s up to you to tell your co-worker about her handsy hubby – though of course you’d be well within your rights if you did.
But what if you illuminated her and she confronted him, upon which point he cracked and confessed to numerous adulterous affairs and they wound up getting divorced? Are you comfortable being the one who started that snowball down the hill?
My advice would be different if she were a good friend of yours. Then it becomes a much more ticklish transaction.
But you say you don’t know your co-worker well “at all.” So at best you talking to her would be an awkward conversation, at worst a life-changing event.
And there’s a chance she – out of anger, hurt pride, protectiveness or whatever – might accuse you of lying, leading her husband on, or God knows what else.
I’m not saying she’d be justified. I’m just saying cornered creatures have been known to lash out and, no matter what anyone might tell you, history is littered with the bodies of dead messengers.
Bottom line: I think this particular conversation should be strictly between you and Mr. Ramblin’ Hands – if indeed that’s necessary. Basically, I’d just avoid him.
But if you can’t for some reason, and he continues to press both his luck and his palm into your thigh – well, the beauty of dealing with adulterous married men is you can do almost anything you like to get your message across: throw drink in face, smear peanut butter on shirt, slash tires. Use your imagination! What’s he going to do, tell his wife? (Unless of course he has an “open marriage,” theoretically possible but unlikely IMHO.)
“Yeah, this crazy woman did it. As a matter of fact, she’s someone you work with.”
“Well then I’m just going to march over to her desk tomorrow and have a talk with her.”
“No, wait! Um, uh, you better not, because, uh …” And suddenly he’s on the defensive.
All of which his scheming, weaselly mind will know in advance. So send him a message that’s loud and clear, and my prediction is his hands will cease and desist a-roamin’.
David Eddie is the author of Damage Control, the book.
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