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DP and new colleague (long, sorry!)

(151 Posts)
needabitofperspective Sat 10-Nov-12 09:53:24

I feel threatened by DP's new colleague. I don't think anything is going on between them (yet or possibly ever - but who knows) but they click and it's shining a light on the way we don't in some areas. I feel very uncomfortable.

DP and I work at the same company, but in different departments on different sites. He's making friends with this new colleague. She works in his department. He doesn't have any management responsibilities towards her, they wouldn't usually work together, but he's senior to her and they are currently working together, just the two of them, on a specific creative project.

She's young, pretty. But the most important thing is that DP is really, really into his music, and likes some pretty obscure stuff. New colleague is also really into music and likes the same kind of obscure shit he does. Which even I have to admit is pretty amazing for her age - to have even heard of it let alone be really into it. He is amazed to have found a kindred spirit (my words) in such a young person.

He's being very open about making friends with her, but it's making me very uncomfortable, I'm writing this to help me work out some perspective.

New colleague is having a hard time at the moment. She is new to the town and is finding it difficult to make friends. She contacted DP last night because they were both on Facebook and she felt she needed to chat to someone she could trust. She got very drunk at a work do and slept with one of their other colleagues (he's her age). Now some of the bitchy women in the department are gossiping about her and making snide comments in her presense. She regrets it, feels crap and last night felt like quitting. (Not sure how serious the quitting was in reality, could just be how she felt at that moment).

DP was sending her music to cheer her up, which was working. He was being totally open about how he was doing this. However he was chatting to her for over 2 hours, on and off. He stayed up an hour after I went to bed to chat to her.

It's partly that I feel threatened by the connection they have over music. It's so important to DP, and it's not a passion I share. I have music I like, but I'm not a muso like he is. I know he'd love it if I could share this passion (most of his exes have) and I feel like it's a massive part of his life I'm not part of. It's not just that though, although I adore him and we get on, I often worry that we don't really click. He's not one to go on about his feelings. I on the other hand am happiest when I have lots of affection and am told often that I'm loved! He does things to demonstrate his love for me, but I can't help worrying there's something missing sometimes. But then I think it's just the way he is (quite a closed book) and that it's improving over time.

I knew DP would offer to meet with her, and so I suggested that he invites her round if she's having a hard time. We've not met, although we've had contact via email for work stuff. I would have suggested this whichever of his friends was having a hard time. DP (and myself) are also the type of people others often come to for advice (and a drink!) and we often have waifs and strays at ours (from work and outside). However I must admit my motivation here was to meet her so I'm a real person to her, also my DD and my pregnant bump! Just in case there's something brewing. Is this sensible or am I stepping into dangerous territory here?

Some background - we work in the creative industries and it's not unusual for our job to spill over into our private life. DP is a very friendly person, so am I. We both have many, many friends of the opposite sex, and it's not unusual for us to make new friends of the opposite sex. I just feel threatened by this one.

I did read their chat. There was no flirting on her side but there was on his IMO. Could be interpreted as friendliness, but made me uneasy. It was her who mentioned me (he mentioned work, she said "that reminds me, I need so send <admin stuff> to <my name>") which I think is a good sign as far as she is concerned. He invited her to come round for a drink and a chat tonight and said we've got a spare bed. This is totally within character, it's how DP would treat any of his friends. However DD and I are off to my parents to sort some stuff out today and I'd half considered staying over. DP doesn't know if I'm going to stay or not, I hadn't mentioned whether I was, but he must have known it was a possibility. This makes me very uncomfortable. But am I just being paranoid?
She declined (as on medication, can't drink atm) but said she'd like to come another time. He later invited her to come round for food, and mentioned me then. I think this bit might have been when I said "why not invite her round".

DP is a lovely, warm hearted person, who is extraordinarily nice to people. He's a great friend and very caring. We often have people come over for a drink, male and female. I don't want to go all green eyed monster at him, if he's just being his usual lovely self! But I know that if we weren't together, he'd be really into her.

I do think I need to think about what it is in our relationship that's making me feel so insecure.

Sorry for the essay - thanks for reading!

I'd appreciate any thoughts on the situation. I need ot get some perspective!

ChippingInLovesAutumn Mon 12-Nov-12 12:08:20

I'm sorry, but WTAF??

He's too busy??

I think NOT. I would have exploded. He's got time to spend hours navel gazing with HER but no time to talk about stuff with you?

Twat of the first order. I am so angry for you... <MN isn't good for my blood pressure!>. Tell him, that you will be talking tonight and he will be making time. Git.

needabitofperspective Mon 12-Nov-12 12:11:56

Offred, yes, saying it's a typical male thing is a bit of a lazy explanation. Certainly not all men I know are like that! FWIW I didn't mean that the not being good at talking about feelings was "male" - I for one am a female example of the same!

What I meant was specifically that he feels he needs to "solve" things. He doesn't understand how to simply talk around things and see where it takes us. He seems to think he needs to find a solution there and then.

I've read about a page of "Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus" and this is where I'm getting that idea from!

I don't know why that approach is natural to him.

I think perhaps we would benefit from some couples counselling, just so someone can arbitrate / interpret! Don't think that is going to happen, realistically, any time soon though.

needabitofperspective Mon 12-Nov-12 12:13:27

"Seems like you both invest more time caring about others where it should be yourselves and your relationship you need to invest more time in."

I think that's probably a fair comment.

Charbon Mon 12-Nov-12 12:24:55

Well put that book in the trash can for starters. It is absolute shite written by a ridiculous man with an agenda to make money by persuading women to put up with unacceptable behaviour.

I've just read the entire thread and to me it seems obvious.

Your partner is deliberately putting distance between you to allow feelings for his colleague to develop. At the moment, it's all on his side but it's as clear as day that this young woman is in a vulnerable place and with enough persuasion and attention from your partner, might enter into a relationship with him, even against her better judgement.

Investing in your relationship at this point might not work and I've the sense that it would be all one-sided anyway because your DP is getting addicted to this other relationship. This is why you're being stonewalled because at the moment, he doesn't want there to be closeness between you, because that would get in the way of what he wants to do.

needabitofperspective Mon 12-Nov-12 12:26:31

"Honestly, you're being far too soft on him. You need to demand a talk, and demand it now."

I have demanded a talk tonight. Not about everything, just the house stuff. I will get that out of the way and then lay my cards on the table about needing to talk about other stuff. Or at least I will try to. Like I said I find it hard!

He is genuinely very busy, more than he has been in years, but yes it's absolutely about priorities. He needs to make time. I will be saying this to him.

Offred Mon 12-Nov-12 12:32:06

I don't know what you need, if you really are extremely pushed and stressed could you devote time to couples counselling?

What is behind the communication problem? I think that is key. In my relationship it is as I said about dh's upbringing but also both our needs to avoid confrontation and identifying why we have communicated poorly has helped us begin learning to communicate better - me on difficult subjects like my needs or feelings and him general communication, confidence that being heard and desired is wanted by me from him and the intimacy related to that. If you can identify the problem or problems then you can see what you need to do. One problem seems to be that he doesn't want to communicate with you at all, is this recent, a one off or an ongoing thing?

MOSagain Mon 12-Nov-12 12:36:28

needabit he has to MAKE time to talk to you, you have to be firm. Yes YOU should be his number one priority. Good luck x

With my situation, yes, its a legal thing. There is an absolute bar on petitioning on adultery if you've known about it for more than 6 months (if its not continuing) so I need to make a firm decision this side of Christmas (courts closed for a while over Christmas/New Year)

needabitofperspective Mon 12-Nov-12 12:38:52

"Well put that book in the trash can for starters. It is absolute shite written by a ridiculous man with an agenda to make money by persuading women to put up with unacceptable behaviour."

I agree, that's why I only read a page! That bit has stuck with me though.

I don't think he's stonewalling me particularly. He's genuinely very busy and not seeing the wood for the trees IMO. If I say it's important (I didn't) he'll do it.

I'm starting to think that although the colleague thing shouldn't be ignored, more importantly it's shining a light on the issues on our relationship which do need dealing with. I can't allow them to fester any longer.

MamaMary Mon 12-Nov-12 12:38:55

Charbon has said what I was thinking, but I didn't like to say.

GrimAndHumourless Mon 12-Nov-12 12:50:05

what part does alcohol play in all this?

you have referred several times to not being able to talk easily when sober, both of you

Charbon Mon 12-Nov-12 12:51:02

I think you're intractably wedded to this self-image of you being a cool, modern couple who have no jealousies or insecurities and this has been holding you back. I also think some of this is you not seeing the wood for the trees.

Your partner has got the time to talk about this. He's spending hours talking to his colleague and downloading music; time that could be spent talking to you.

I also think there are some separate things going on here that are getting confused in terms of cause and effect.

You don't communicate well as a couple - that much is obvious.

But that hasn't necessarily caused this situation.

Your partner might have very poor boundaries and immature ego needs, which have nothing to do with his inability to communicate with you his partner, or you with him. You could be superb communicators and he would still have poor boundaries and a need to get his ego boosted by flirtations.

needabitofperspective Mon 12-Nov-12 12:54:29

Offred thanks for your reply.

"What is behind the communication problem? I think that is key." I have no idea.

"One problem seems to be that he doesn't want to communicate with you at all, is this recent, a one off or an ongoing thing?" It's ongoing. And is one of the things I want to talk about with him.

He hates talking about feelings. If I ever try to start a conversation about feelings he tries to shut it down as soon as possible. This is why the "finding a solution" stuff doesn't work for me. If I bring something up, I want to talk about it. He wants to say "OK, we'll do this instead". Job done, conversation over. Or at least that's what it seems he'd like to happen!

I don't think he's even aware he's doing it, it's instinctual. A major hurdle is that he has difficulty with the idea that he can be in the wrong about stuff. It's wearing. He seems to have two states - either he's in the right, or if he finally accepts he's doen something wrong, he's devastated, really upset and berates himself, and feels like he's a terrible person, which is not at all helpful! It's wearing! And any conversation regarding anything he's done needs to negotiate this minefield. It's not often I need to have a chat about him with anything he's "done", but his is one of those times!

It's not a manipulative thing to stop me from talking about feelings. It's really deep seated, and to do with his own self-image I think. He's used to being the competent, capable one in control of stuff, and any deviating from that is scary territory for him I think. I think we could do with couples counselling to negotiate this one. I do talk to him about it when it comes up btw. I don't shy away from it. I explain what he's doing to him, and he tries to understand. We made some progress last time it came up I think. (Well, we'll have to see if it stuck this time!)

From my point of view, I find it hard to start the conversation off. I put it off. I've always been like this. I decide I'm going to do have a chat with my partner (DP or exes), and then the moment never seems right. For such a confident outgoing person I can be pretty cowardly indeed when it comes to this stuff. sad

I am going to have to make myself do it tonight.

Charbon Mon 12-Nov-12 13:05:54

You realise I suppose that men who find it difficult to talk about feelings and their relationship with their partner are especially vulnerable to affairs?

What was this other misunderstanding you had about infidelity?

Let me tell you how I think this might go tonight.

You talk about the 'safe' domestic stuff and then as soon as you start talking about your relationship, he will try to shut the conversation down. But whereas in the past, this might have ended with a cuddle and some reassurance (and possibly sex) there will be none of that.

You go away thinking 'well he never likes discussing our relationship, so there's nothing new to worry about' which will be the wrong conclusion.

Because this time there's another agenda operating. He doesn't want to resolve this, even in a superficial fashion - because he doesn't want closeness right now with you personally. If you became close again, he wouldn't be able to pursue this relationship with as much vigour.

When you have this conversation tonight, think very carefully about how this is different to other times you've had discussions about your relationship.

coppertop Mon 12-Nov-12 13:13:37

If he can spare two hours to talk to a colleague about her feelings and problems, he can certainly find time to talk to his own dp.

If he's so busy that he has no time to talk, when exactly was he planning on inviting this colleague round for food?

He may well be lovely and caring, but right now it's not being aimed in your direction.

Offred Mon 12-Nov-12 13:17:41

It doesn't sound good. If it is so instinctive why is he trying to do it with her? That's what is upsetting you isn't it? That he won't communicate with you but he is trying with you.

That nasty comment (because it wasn't a question) about the band was really passive aggressive and horrible. It really is absolutely not unreasonable for you to expect that he provides basic intimate communication in a long term relationship. Why he isn't only matters in terms of whether you can sort it out, you should not be accommodating this because he "knows not what he does" like you are poor martyred Jesus and he is well meaning but messed up judas... It is the ultimate crappy romantic message really, do not fall into this pattern.

I agree with charbon's post about his ego, I feel the reason behind the lack of communication (and I though it would be long standing) is his self importance and ego and this caricatured life you are trying desperately to live, I bet at his insistence though you surely believe you want it too.

There is a lot there that makes me worry about you and I think you have fallen into the trap almost every woman does after an abuser of picking a shithead who isn't quite as shit who you really don't want to believe is a shithead.

Offred Mon 12-Nov-12 13:17:57

Is trying with her I mean.

B1ueberryMuffin Mon 12-Nov-12 13:22:19

well, the reason he doesn't want to talk now is cos if he's asked questions he won't be able to tell the truth. i'd say he knows well he's conflicted, but also knows that there's no poinnt telling you he has strong feelings for miss 23.

Offred Mon 12-Nov-12 13:24:31

I think it is also wise to add shitheads who treat their partners badly are also vulnerable to affairs because they, ultimately, are shitheads. They also spend the time pursuing the ow setting up the wife/partner to look/be unreasonable/nagging and those frequently happens shortly after the birth of a baby or during pregnancy when the shithead egotist realises they will never again be your entire focus and when try as you might you simply cannot take on the entire emotional burden of the whole family anymore. Also often pregnancy and childbirth makes a woman dependent and gives a partner both stress and power over her which, if he's a shithead, will manifest in shithead behaviour.

Also there were interesting thoughts being shared on another thread about "workaholics" and how this can be a perfect excuse or emotional or physical absence by a shithead.

Offred Mon 12-Nov-12 13:27:23

Refusal to communicate about feelings is unacceptable because whether or not it is done for bad reasons the effect is to do that - pass the burden of the whole emotional welfare of the entire family onto the communicator (even if that person's communication isn't wonderful). It is why, even though my husband is lovely and not abusive, he has to change his poor communication or I will leave (he is).

AThingInYourLife Mon 12-Nov-12 13:31:22

Did he ever pick you?

Not just as his girlfriend, but as his life partner?

You're not married, but did you ever decide together to spend your lives with each other or did it just gradually come about with cohabitation and unplanned pregnancies?

B1ueberryMuffin Mon 12-Nov-12 13:34:27

I hate to say it but this makes a huge difference. I wasn't married to my x because he didn't value me. He didn't value me because my self-esteem was so low when we met. He bloody well has to give me a grudging respect of a different kind now because I kicked his sorry ass to touch and started again without him but he didn't at any point want to marry me. And if I had the time again I wouldn't ever have had children with a man who didn't want to marry me. Lunacy now looking back on it, but you live and learn. [great consolation] :-|

Offred Mon 12-Nov-12 13:35:36

And of course shitheads are not just men, just using he in this context as I suspect this man is one such shithead who is having what may be described as a "midlife crisis" in order to excuse terrible behaviour. It does sound as if a lot of the stress is coming from his inability to grow up and recognise working in a "young industry" does not excuse abandoning emotional/physical investment into his family. You do sound quite cowed too.

B1ueberryMuffin Mon 12-Nov-12 13:43:42

Calling him a shithead might mean that the OP doesn't recognise the man you're describing. I recognise him though. He's 'with' her but he's like a labrador all over the place wagging his tail here there and everywhere. He wants her at home but he wants to be free too. And of course, he's laid back, easy going, good company, charming, popular, so you could easily think that he is a lovely lovely man. Until you realise that he is marching to the beat of his own drum, quite unapologetically, and that you are also (with his two small kids) marching to the beat of his drum.

i hope that makes sense. i get carried away with the metaphors!

needabitofperspective Mon 12-Nov-12 13:43:53

Interesting question, AThing. No, he didn't "pick me". We are together as life partners, because of unplanned pregnancy.

He did propose however, a few months ago (before I got pregnant with DC2, which was planned this time in case you ask!)

He's not a shithead, honest. He's not perfect! But he does mean well, that I am sure of.

blueshoes Mon 12-Nov-12 13:48:02

So Charbon, what should needabit do to stop this?

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