Work Pal's Affection
Q: There's a woman in my office that I've talked with on the rare occasions that we work together. The other night some people at work held a party and invited everybody who works there. This woman asked for a ride and I gave her one. At the party, after consuming a moderate amount of alcohol, she showed signs of affection toward me that made me feel uncomfortable, as if she wanted something more than just friendship. When I gave her a ride home, she told me that she was just normally affectionate and that alcohol makes her more emotional. However, she also has stated, more than once, that she was an orphan who has abandonment issues. She also implied that she's had bad relationships with men in the past. When I reached her home she gave me a peck on the cheek. After she left I was left feeling nauseated. She is a nice person and I don't want to hurt her feelings or cause her any more pain, but I fear she may want something more and I am not looking for a relationship at this time. I have attempted to dissuade what I think are her advances. How can I dissuade her without hurting her? -- Jonathan, 23
Dr. Susan: I don't understand where your nausea comes from. Do you think her peck on the cheek and her inebriated signs of affection meant she was determined to begin a serious long-term relationship, and that since you don't want one, you're going to break the poor woman's heart? You're really jumping to conclusions there. People act foolishly at parties. People act foolishly and overly emotional when they drink, which she admitted to you that night. Sounds to me like she needs a friend, someone to talk to (not necessarily you!), and that her so-called advances aren't really that at all. Or don't need to be taken that way, anyway. To dissuade her, play it cool, don't give her rides under any conditions, avoid her when she's drunk and act uninterested or busy if she happens to want to chat about personal things at work. She'll get the message. Whether she's hurt by your disinterest is not really your concern at this point, so long as you're not giving her mixed messages.
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Susan K. Perry, Ph.D.
Susan K. Perry, Ph.D., is a social psychologist, relationship expert, and bestselling and award-winning author. Her books include Loving in Flow: How the Happiest Couples Get and Stay That Way, and Kylie's Heel, a novel for adults.
Pamela G. Chollet, Ph.D.
Dr. Pamela Chollet has a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and Master degrees in educational psychology and fine arts. Her passion has been helping people face and get through those times when they feel trapped and unable to move forward.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist, stress management expert, and author. If you're feeling overwhelmed, stressed out, or struggling to make changes in your life, Anna can help.