Social Q’s: Is It O.K. to Date a Supervisor Who Isn’t My Direct Boss?

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Social Q’s

By PHILIP GALANES

I went to dinner with a supervisor from work, unsure what his intentions were. After dinner, he was direct: He is interested in me romantically and wants to date. He said that he had thought through the professional ramifications, and they were worth it for him. But I still have ambitions at the firm. And even though he would never be in a position to promote me, he is very much a boss. The date was amazing, and he is amazing. Should I continue seeing him?

ANONYMOUS

There are about 67 reasons and 32 bromides (the most colorful of which argues against pooping where we eat) to discourage you from dating your (indirect) boss. Chief among them: Your disparate levels of power at work will inevitably seep into your off-duty relationship. That he felt entitled to put you in the awkward position where you now sit, absent encouragement from you, is proof enough of that. Would you have dared ask him?

And what will the professional consequences be? He may not have the power to promote you, but he probably eats lunch with those who do. Are you willing to have jealous colleagues ascribe your well-earned achievements to sexual prowess? It’s even possible that what made the date so “amazing” was the frisson of doing something you both know is sort of forbidden — at least before signing forms in triplicate with H.R.

Still, I don’t want to be the man who robs you of a potentially great love. Many of us know one couple (from a much larger pool) who beat the odds of lopsided office romance and ended up happily (enough) ever after. So, as Clint Eastwood said in “Dirty Harry”: “You’ve got to ask yourself a question. ‘Do I feel lucky?’ Well, do ya, punk?” If so, keep asking other advice columnists until one says no in a very firm voice. Otherwise, tell your boss: “The date was amazing. But let’s not mix business with pleasure.”

Angry Over an Ashtray

We live downstairs from an avid smoker who left her cigarette butts by our shared back door. I asked if she would mind if I bought a covered ashtray for her to use. She said she would buy it since it was her bad habit. The ashtray she bought is shiny, red and highly inviting to our toddler. She placed it on our shared patio. Now we have two problems: an ashtray outside the back door, and our child’s interest in it. My husband is livid! Help put out this fire.

A.Z., SAN FRANCISCO

Tossing cigarette butts onto the ground is gross, but your husband sounds way too thin-skinned. (Have you considered fleeing under cover of night?) Well done on the ashtray compromise! But quibbling over color and finish is taking things a bit far. As for location, did you expect her to place it across town when you suggested it? So long as she empties it regularly, keep quiet in (seething) neighborly fashion. And remember: Supervising your toddler is on you, not her.

A One-Sided Friendship

My friend only calls when she wants something. I tell myself that helping her is part of the give-and-take of friendship, and that she will be there for me eventually. But she never is. She’s always “just running out the door” or “having a horrendous day at work” when I call with a problem. What should I do?

ROBERT, BOSTON

In the wise words of someone (but not Maya Angelou or Mark Twain, as widely touted on the internet): “Never make someone a priority when all you are to them is an option.” We have all been guilty of using a friend selfishly. (Not surprisingly, they’re often the ones who give wise advice.) But we can also mend our ways if we value the relationship, and if the bad dynamic is pointed out by someone who isn’t screaming. Before bailing on your pal, tell her calmly how you feel. Here’s hoping she takes your reasonable message to heart.

Hamburger Hoopla

My husband and I go to a local bistro. I love their cheeseburgers. But half the time, the burgers come out seriously undercooked. (I order mine medium.) The waiters are very nice about taking them back to the kitchen. But my husband is nearly finished with his meal by the time my burger returns. He suggests that I find something else to order. Thoughts?

ANGELA, NEW YORK

The culprit: What passes for a burger these days could handily feed a family of four. Those giant patties require a long time on the grill before getting to “medium.” Explain this recurring problem to your waiters and ask for their vigilance. And don’t let the food runners disappear until after you have checked the temperature of the beef. If additional heat is required, ask them to take your husband’s plate too, so you can eat together. If hubby tries pushing you toward other entrees or a too-rare burger, remind him of the slightly modified wisdom of KC and the Sunshine Band: “That’s NOT the way (uh huh uh huh) I like it (uh huh uh huh).”

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