The Work-Boyfriend Chronicles
When first entering a business environment, you must conduct yourself in the most professional way possible in order to impress your boss and colleagues. Especially as a woman - you need to display absolute professionalism because you are already seen as less capable than a man in your position.
I spent the majority of my first month eating lunch at my desk and working at the same time because I didn’t want to be the intern who always takes long lunch breaks and never does her work. I wanted to be given more challenging tasks and projects. I knew the small gestures of showing that you are interested would get me more opportunities, therefore, I focused on my work rather than making friends with my co-workers. I wanted to truly prove myself and my worth in the company.
About 2 weeks into my internship, my work load was increased dramatically and I had big deadlines due almost every day. About a week ago, my computer had crashed and I lost all of my drawings for a project that was due that night. I had to completely redo my entire work in one day, which originally took me a week. The amount of caffeine in my body was probably bordering on lethal, but it was the only thing keeping me focused. I went upstairs, like every other day, microwaved my lunch and poured myself another cup of coffee. Just as I was ready to bring the food back to my desk, a man who was sitting in the office café said, as I was walking out, “Why don’t you sit down and eat with us?” I was surprised that someone actually asked me to eat with them, since I was only an intern, but the stress of the amount of work I had that day and the 6 cups of coffee in my system made me say without even thinking, “Oh I’m sorry I have a lot of work to get done today, maybe another time.” Slightly rattled, I quickly ran back to my desk, plugged in my headphones and went back to work mode without another thought to what happened.
About an hour later, again to my surprise, I receive an email from guy in the café.
“Why you no eat lunch with me?”
And I replied. We emailed back and forth for the rest of the day. I left work around 6:30 and luckily finished my project on time. But as I was leaving he gave me his number and told me to text him if my commute was boring….and it was. So, I texted and he replied. Back and forth again, all night into the next day and even into the day after. I made a friend. He didn’t know me and I didn’t know him so over the first few days we talked all the time, trying to get learn more about each other. He was nice, but he always came across as slightly flirty. I didn’t really know how to drop the bomb that I had a long-term boyfriend who I was living with, so I just kept waiting and waiting until the time was right.
He asked me to lunch - so the following week we got a pizza and talked for over an hour. To my advantage, the conversation of significant others had come up and I told him I had a boyfriend who used to intern at the same company a few years before. He didn’t seem phased by that and it didn’t stop the way we talked and texted, which I was happy about. But when a conversation about age had come up, he was shocked when he found out I was only 21. But days passed, and we still kept talking. Every single day. He would text me in the morning once I got to work because he knew I liked to sleep on the morning train. Then, he would text me on the train home because he knew I had too much coffee to take another nap. Our relationship was growing, but I have a boyfriend and he has 2 kids…so, I am confused on where exactly everything is going.
He kept asking me to stay late with him at work to help him out and drink once everyone had left. For weeks, I kept blowing him off; saying I had an appointment or something of the sort and I couldn’t stay. But the other night, I was staying late in the city to have dinner with a friend and when we finished eating, he texted that he was still at work. So, I decided to go join him. I went to the liquor store, bought some beer, and proceed back to the office to hang out with him for a little. I ended up staying for 2 hours just talking, drinking, and working. From the first day, we met I felt like I could be myself around him. I wasn’t putting on an act to impress him, but he did make me nervous when we spoke. An exciting kind of nervous. I feel like I’m being slightly dishonest with my own boyfriend because he doesn't even know about the friendship. And I have to remind myself that I’m not cheating to get myself to stop feeling guilty. Because he’s just a friend. Our conversations might be flirty but nothing further than that happened.
Sometimes I think what would happen with him if I wasn’t in a relationship? Because I do like him, maybe slightly more than a friend. But because my love for my boyfriend is so strong I don't think would never do anything to ruin that. The fact that my boyfriend doesn’t know about him does scare me a little. He is amazing and never takes my phone to look at my messages, but if a text popped up on my screen from my..."work boyfriend" and he saw it, I knew I would never hear the end of it, “Who is that guy?! Why is he blowing up your phone? Wow, so you only text guys from work and not girls?” His trust in me would disappear in a second. And I have worked for over 2 years to gain his trust. So, I do feel guilty texting Sam behind his back, but sometimes a girl needs to feel needed and desirable. The work boyfriend cares about me and is interested in what I have to say. It's new and exciting. I kind of lost that with my boyfriend over the past 2 years, and I feel like I have to pull teeth in order to have a serious conversation or any long, interesting conversation. But he is my best friend, and nobody could replace him. The way we are together is unique and I would not trade that for anyone or anything. Sometimes it's all confusing because no one really shares what it's like in long-term relationships. There's the stigma of sex disapearing, or the women being a ball and chain, or its some sort of seemingly unrealistic pipe-dream of a relationship. It makes me think - is this normal? Is it only me?
My boyfriend grew up in a very traditional Italian household with strict gender norms, so when I told him when we started dating that I have more guy friends than girlfriends, he instantly went on high alert always trying to protect me from other guys because I was “his” now. Which really pissed me off because I am not a piece of property and I have all the right in the world to be friends with whoever I wanted. But after a few months of trying to fight him on this topic of friends, I learned he is stuck in his ways and I’d either have to hide my relationships or just not have any friends. Both didn’t seem fair to me but I wasn’t going to become a cat lady at 20, so I hide my friendships with men. Now, saying it like that makes it sound terrible, but I don’t think it is. Like I said before, my boyfriend is my best friend. And our relatinoship actually started out as a friendship... so what is the problem with me being friends with guys now. Maybe he thinks I can have another friendship that would develop like ours did.
I’m sure my boyfriend isn’t the only one who has this mindset, however, it needs to change. I'm not property. It’s been a slow and delicate process to adjust to my boyfriend’s beliefs and traditions because he is so stuck in his "traditional" ways and is a hot-headed man... but I truly love him, therefore, I will never give up and try not to lose my patience. So for now, I will continue to have my work friendship and my home relationship separate because bringing the two together could ruin it all.
Submitted by anonymous
Artwork by Casey Meyers