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Is this weird?

(24 Posts)
Xstewart1 Fri 21-Feb-14 01:35:16

I think this is a bit weird but I would like some other opinions.

I have had a sort of on going flirtation with a bloke at work though nothing has ever happened between us. We are both married (happily in my case).

At first it was just fun and I didn't even think of it as a flirtation. We just joked a lot.

Then he started sending slightly risqué emails and texts and I was a little uncomfortable. Shamefully I sort of went along with it without trying to escalate it because at work he was in charge of something I was working on and I needed it to go well (this was back in the summer).

One morning he sent an absolutely obscene text and I was shocked. When I eventually replied I said I thought it was bad for both of us to send these messages. He was very apologetic.

Anyway a few months down the line he started sending me messages going on about how he fantasises about me all the time, about my body, what I'd been wearing at work.....

But at this time he also practically stopped talking to me at all at work in person, to the point where sometimes it was professionally embarrassing and awkward with other colleagues.

I told him that I would rather the explicit texts stopped and that the normal work relationship resumed and that his blanking me at work was making me feel really awkward (especially when combined with the sexual texts).

At first he was really apologetic again and made lots of declarations about 'I want to be your friend more than anything and I'll stop the risqué texts to preserve that'.

Things seemed to become more normal and I thought it was ok and that the texts were behind us. Then it reached a head when one day he sent me a lewd text again asking me to 'rub my bad back' which I ignored - but later on that day at a high profile work function he blanked me pointedly in front of other colleagues in a way that was undermining.

I just flipped - I was so angry. I sent him a message after the event saying 'you think you can send me sexual texts and then ignore me in a professional setting, forget it - you are very odd'.

Whereupon he started saying to me 'you have to accept that we have to give each other space at work, no one must know how close we've become...'

I mean WTAF??? Where was my 'space' when I didn't want the explicit texts? And since when did his sext- ing of me mean that he can dictate the rules of how we relate at work? I feel I have handled this very unassertively and I want to gain control of the situation but not in a way that causes confrontation....

Help please??

NigellasDealer Fri 21-Feb-14 01:40:28

i would suggest getting a new phone number for a start.
do you have an HR dept?

Xstewart1 Fri 21-Feb-14 01:44:38

No there's no HR - I don't want to say too much about the work as it might reveal things. Also I need him in a work context especially over the next couple of months.

I tentatively told a couple of female colleagues. One was great and said he has 'form'. But the other seems to judge me and has now taken it as a cue to become very pally herself with him which I find really confusing. I think he is now setting his sights on her.

I think I just have to be really cool and professional with him and not respond to texts at all (difficult with the nature of the work). I find him a little intimidating which annoys me.

Flangeofmingetown Fri 21-Feb-14 01:48:47

How flirty did you get? I am asking because I think you need to report this as sexual harassment but you don't want to blot your own reputation in the process.

If reporting him isn't possible I would send everything lewd back with a broken record 'this is inappropriate- kindly refrain' and only respond otherwise to necessary work stuff. If you can make sure he has no way to contact you outside of work.

I am wondering if he is constructing a narrative for his co-workers hence the weird behaviour.

Xstewart1 Fri 21-Feb-14 01:55:33

I think yes he maybe constructing a narrative and that worries me a bit. But I also know that many people regard him as a bit odd.

Also he is very likely to be leaving in a couple of months.

I can't report him because there is no mechanism and because I didn't shut him down when he first started the messages. I just tried to joke along but it backfired big time.

I was really stupid I guess. Also he's very sexist seems to take things as encouragement that I don't think most men would. He's always talking loudly to male colleagues about all the women that he is sure fancies him. Including women who obviously don't.

I wish I could cultivate a bright and breezy manner with him at work and just treat him like the silly man-child he is. But for some reason the whole thing has left me feeling cowed and subdued.

FastWindow Fri 21-Feb-14 01:55:58

Why, in all these types of clear, illegal sexual harassment posts, is there never any HR to refer this kind of crap to? Are there any companies left who don't have HR departments, as proscribed?

Op. I'm assuming you are female. If your sister came to you and gave you this exact scenario, in what universe would you tell her to put up and shut up like you are doing?

FastWindow Fri 21-Feb-14 01:58:10

Sorry, sounded quite harsh. Just I think you are taking crap unnecessarily.

Xstewart1 Fri 21-Feb-14 02:02:10

Fast window you're absolutely right. But the thing is we don't work in a company - I can't reveal much, I can only say it's a political setting and bad press stories would harm everyone involved and undermine everyone's work so yes things are hushed up that shouldn't be and more powerful men exploit less powerful women in this environment - as I've found out. I am angry - believe me. I am losing sleep over it and I feel terrible that I can't tell my lovely husband because I betrayed him a bit by not nipping it in the bud. But professionally it seemed expedient not to at first.

NigellasDealer Fri 21-Feb-14 02:04:44

this feeling you have of being cowed and subdued by him? this is your natural instinct so go with it, the guy is a predator of some kind. you must keep him at arms length, compose a 'this is inappropriate please desist' type text and send it whenever you need to. think ice-maiden, think work.
change your number if you can.
and start constructing your own narrative about him.

DioneTheDiabolist Fri 21-Feb-14 02:08:11

OP you need to develop a phrase that you are comfortable with that tells him he has reached your boundary limits and needs to stop. One sentence that reinforces your boundaries and tells him to back off.

Alternatively you could tell him that you will only discuss work, nothing else, with him.

Xstewart1 Fri 21-Feb-14 02:08:36

Thanks Nigella - that is very good advice.
I have saved some of the texts he has sent so that of at some point I decide to expose him (even at cost to myself) I can.
Ice maiden is the way forward. He's a total prick.

Xstewart1 Fri 21-Feb-14 02:12:32

Yes Dione - you're right. I think initially I thought I could handle things by playing along (before the messages got really obscene) but actually that just allowed my own boundaries to become confused so that I didn't trust myself enough.
Also he was offering me loads of work opportunities when the sexual messages were at their most extreme.
I'm angry now. This has caused me so many sleepless nights.
A lawyer friend told me months ago that it was sexual harassment but I was unsure (partly because at one stage I admit I found him attractive and that really confused me because I didn't like his behaviour).
I need to get a grip.

Flangeofmingetown Fri 21-Feb-14 02:13:37

Well then shut down as many interactions with him as possible. Keep a record of all the inappropriate communications and your responses. Do the broken record thing or a 'sorry you have sent me this in error'.

If he ignores you in a professional setting be vocal. Ask if he has had his hearing checked recently as he seems to be missing things said. Keep pointedly asking that EVERY time.

Sounds like what started off as a bit of banter has morphed into something altogether more sinister.

Do you think he has told others he is trying to shake you off or something else odd?

Xstewart1 Fri 21-Feb-14 02:20:55

I'm not sure what he has told others.
Certainly most people think he is a bit odd and several (male and female) have commented on his odd attitude to women and his wild boasts of women constantly fancying him. So I imagine that he might be unsuccessful attempting to tell lies about trying to shake me off.
I think it is more likely that he is really scared by his own behaviour and immature - he liked the idea of an illicit text relationship but then couldn't relate to me in real life.
It just reminds me of boys at school ignoring you after kissing you at a party - that sort of behaviour.
Except the whole thing is baffling because he instigated it all and then decided we were close when I didn't feel we were - just very weird and self obsessed behaviour that bears little resemblance to reality. It's sad because initially I did think we had the basis of a friendship. Not now though.

Xstewart1 Fri 21-Feb-14 02:24:05

Thanks for all the replies - they have helped. I'm going to try and sleep.

Flangeofmingetown Fri 21-Feb-14 02:24:56

Maybe it would be wise to meet with him and let him know if he is disrespectful professionally or otherwise ( outline this clearly) you will expose him for the creep he is. Let him know you have kept all copies of correspondence in a safe place with a third party for safekeeping.

Do it verbally. Good luck.

Flangeofmingetown Fri 21-Feb-14 02:30:55

He is probably twisted and getting off on the power game of this scenario.

I would call him on it as outlined above and then my parting gift would be a number of a top shrink.

SomethingOnce Fri 21-Feb-14 02:31:45

I think it would be a good idea to tell your husband what you've told us here, in case you need backup at any point, practical or emotional - you've been cornered by a weirdo, I'm sure he'll understand.

Jan45 Fri 21-Feb-14 16:03:40

First of all you played with fire by even getting into flirty texts with him when one, you are both married and two, he's a work colleague.

I'm sorry but if someone in my work was sending me risqué emails and texts regardless of what position they hold, I'd not aid and abet that ever unless I wanted to. Whether you like it or not, he's concluded from that that you are up for it too.

He's a predator and a creep and he has no respect for you or even did have, he's now moving on to his next victim.

Not really sure what your problem is now?

Cabrinha Fri 21-Feb-14 16:30:07

Flirting with him was unprofessional, and so is getting gossipy about it with other females colleagues!

He sounds like a total sleaze who targeted you, but you shouldn't minimise your role, lest you make the same mistake again.

I'm not for letting him get away with it, but without your work details it's too hard to advise who to complain to.
Change your number, or if you don't want to be forced to or would still need to give him your number then send one "I do not want receive non work related texts, or anything of a sexual or flirtatious nature from you again". And then ignore anything.

As to him undermining you at work, if there's really no-one you can complain to, then you may have to suck it up until he leaves.

But I think the political environment issue is in your favour not his. There must be someone you can threaten to complain to? If his messages are obscene and your early ones weren't, complain about both the harassment AND the work issue.

Xstewart1 Fri 21-Feb-14 17:26:34

Yes I did play with fire. Yes I was unprofessional. Yes I feel ashamed. Yes I was out of order as my husband is a lovely caring person who I love very much.

So no excuses and in future I hope I be far more careful and self aware.

I think I thought I could handle it. He was in a senior position at the time and I was very reliant on him and scared of rocking the boat but still I was stupid.

I think my current problem is that I am only just beginning to understand what a dangerous situation I got myself into on many levels. Shamefully I miss the version I wanted to believe where ii was all some sort of 'wholesome' freindship (bordering on flirtation) which it seemed to be before the messages became sexual.

I have had good male friends before in work contexts and thought this was going to be the same.

Anyway I have to see I'm first thing tomorrow and I am psyching myself up for total professional ice maiden mode.

Again whilst I should make no excuses, this year has been horrendous for me emotionally - my Dad is dying. My Mum has been cracking up under the strain, my sister who has BPD has been suicidal / lashing out and whilst DH is a great person he has been emotionally distant due to work pressures and our financial problems. So I think I have lost my bearings a bit and I need to rediscover them.

Jan45 Fri 21-Feb-14 17:30:32

You will be fine, you made a mistake but you didn't know just how much that would turn into a nightmare for you.

You clearly have learned from it so......I don't think you'll be doing the same again, it's never a good idea to flirt with any man at work when you are both married.

Good luck tomorrow!

Finola1step Fri 21-Feb-14 17:33:38

So ignore any messages. Play it very cool at work. Change your number if need be. Do not let this man get under your skin.

Concentrate on supporting your mum and focus on your marriage.

Cabrinha Fri 21-Feb-14 17:34:15

I'm sorry you've had such a shit time - and sorry too about your dad sad

Just hang to the fact that this man will likely move from one woman to the next, he may bully you but he'll also move on to the next woman, in the hope he'll get sex. So try to stop losing sleep - he won't be. You are in a strong position with his explicit texts to complain (even if you don't want to) and as he's moving on soon, he'll probably get bored - or distracted with someone else - first.

Keep right out of gossip, and do your ice maiden thing! He sounds like a total arsehole.

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