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Dear John: Looking Not So Good

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

 

What’s your problem? Write to John at [email protected]

Dear John,

My boyfriend's always looking at other girls. I don't mean a quick glance; I mean staring at them for a long time, especially if they don't know he's doing it, like if they're walking down the street. I've asked him to cut it out, but he says its harmless, he loves me, I shouldn't try to control him, etc. We've had a couple of big fights about it. I'd like to know your opinion about this.

Sincerely,
Too Many Distractions


Dear Distractions,

My opinion about it is that your boyfriend sounds like a bit of a jerk. As a guy, I can tell you that the initial glance is almost entirely involuntary. But what follows that first moment is telling, and what your boyfriend is telling you is something along the lines of, “I don’t care what you think. I enjoy humiliating you occasionally. And I can be cruel and manipulative sometimes.” Maybe you’re the one who should be looking around.



Dear John,

My friend's ex-husband has been making advances toward me, and I have to admit, I'm quite tempted to have a fling with him. He's very charming. They've been divorced a few years, and I know she has no interest in getting back with him. She has definitely moved on. She knows he and I are friendly.

But it's icky, right? Or am I being too old-fashioned? I honestly don't know how she'd feel about it, but I'm afraid to ask. It's easier to ask for forgiveness than permission, right?

Signed,
Vacillating


Dear Vacillating,

It is easier to ask for forgiveness than permission, but remember that forgiveness isn’t always granted. The only thing giving you pause is how your friend would take it, so this comes down to how much you value this particular friend. Obviously, she no longer has any claim on this man’s fidelity, but he’s her ex-husband. Expecting her to process your news with dispassionate rationality is not exactly realistic.

If exploring your attraction to this guy is worth risking your friendship over, go for it. You’re certainly not doing anything wrong. Otherwise, tell her what’s going on and hope for her approval – or at least acceptance. But don’t be surprised if she’s less than enthusiastic about the idea.

 

Dear John,

I work with a guy who has been collaborating with a co-worker on a presentation. I know they have both worked very, very hard to get it ready, and the topic they’ve prepared their presentation on could have a major impact on our firm. I was part of the group who sat through the presentation. The problem is, only one of them was allowed to actually make the presentation, and this guy basically took all the credit for the work. If you didn’t know he had a collaborator, you would think every idea was his. I’m more friendly with the guy who DIDN’T get to present, and I hate to see him not get the credit he deserves. I know how hard he worked on this, and he’s under the impression everyone knows the role he played. Frankly, I don’t think it was an oversight; I think he’s being deliberately robbed of credit. Typical office politics type stuff. What, if anything, should I do?

Sincerely,
Business As Usual, Unfortunately


Dear BAUU,
It’s conceivable that under the stress of making this big presentation, the presenter sincerely forgot to give sufficient credit to his partner. It’s equally conceivable that this was a sneaky attempt to advance his career at your friend’s expense. You just don’t know.

This is your friend’s problem to solve, but first he has to be aware there’s a problem. Simply tell him that you’re not sure it was as clear as it could have been that he played a major role in developing the presentation, and he should try to think of ways to correct what you’re sure was an honest oversight. For example, if this is such an important initiative for your company, there will probably be follow-up presentations to be made at ever-higher levels, and he should insist on doing the next one. Perhaps he could send a follow-up memo to the initial audience recapping the points that were made and delineating next steps. Once you’ve made him aware that his partner may not be trustworthy, it’s up to him to advocate for himself and make sure he gets the credit due him.

John is a middle-aged family man from Providence. If you learn from your mistakes, he’s brilliant. Write to him at [email protected]

 

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