Firstly, I love reading your advice articles. You give raw and truthful answers to people without babying them or spinning the truth.
I really hope my email reaches you. I hope it’s not too long.
So, I’m a Caribbean native, currently at a university in my country and I’m 21. A year ago I started to date an older guy that also went to my school. We were reading for the same degree and both wanted similar professional paths. Two years ago before he finished at the university, he even started a business venture that is now wildly popular and has a moderate following. Right now I’m a major partner at his business….just not officially on paper. Inventory management, accounting, customer service rep – that’s our shared responsibility.
Since our initial meeting, I thought he was intelligent, charismatic, funny, and definitely handsome………and so does the majority of the female customers that he has. Before we were official, women would eyeball him like crazy while I was standing there working with him. It was definitely annoying, but he maintained that he was only interested in me and made a point to tell/show his admirers that we were together. Besides that, I truly love this man and I want him to succeed not just for the money but because he’s worked and sacrificed so much. I deeply respect this guy. He’s on par with my own dad.
Here’s problem number one. At first he was very welcoming to my ideas and constructive criticisms concerning the business, but not anymore. He says that I am bossing him around and since it’s his business he will always have the last word (honestly I’m not trying to rule him. I’m just referring to potential issues he is not responding to). Also, external forces are threatening his hard work and he’s been stressed, sometimes taking it out on me by arguing a lot over little things or being dismissive to me in front of customers. Of course I argue back, but he always seems to spin it like he was in the right. It’s vexing!
Problem number two. Recently, I’ve found that he is being flirty with other customers. The business actually encourages friendly conversations between customers to have repeat business, but he is overdoing it. Not blatant flirtations, but not so hidden either. When I argue with him over it, he says that he is just being friendly and it’s just my insecurities. Bulls***.
My questions are — Even though I’m a partner in the business, should I just keep quiet about certain issues to not get him annoyed? Even with the limited info, does he sound like he’s playing me for a fool, flirting with other girls and expecting me to believe it’s just business? I don’t want to lose him but I feel like he’s slipping away as every new workday passes.
Thanks again for reading and responding to my email (hopefully!). – Working With My Man
Dear Ms. Working With My Man,
Leave the company and work someplace else! To keep your relationship with him, I strongly urge you to go work someplace else, or start your own company. In order to have a healthy and loving relationship with him, you will need to stop working with him or else you will continue to bring your personal relationships into the workplace. The two will not, cannot, and do not gel together and you will consistently have problems so long as you continue to work there.
You even stated at the beginning of your letter that though you are a major partner in the business, however, you’re not a major partner on paper. He was smart enough not to put it on paper because I’m certain he knew the relationship would cause problems. And, you weren’t, or aren’t smart enough to have yourself on paper in the business. So, to make this an easy transition, and to keep your relationship, then start looking for other employment opportunities, and become a major partner at another company with your name on paper! BOOM! BAM! POW!
This is why I, or other folks, don’t condone workplace relationships. Your work relationship becomes interfered with personal relationships. Though the business is about being friendly with customers so that they will become repeat customers, you will see every woman coming into the workplace as someone who is come after your man. Every woman is a threat. Every woman is after your man. And, as long as you continue to see every woman as a potential conniving man stealing customer who is after your man, you will continue to disrupt business, and accuse him of something he may not even be doing. You will see what you want to see. You will think what you want to think.
Your judgment will become cloudy. Your work performance will become affected. And, the arguments at work will be personal and not professional. Yes, you may very well be smart, intelligent, and have good intentions to see him get ahead, but bringing personal relationships into the workplace are a no-no. And, if he feels he has to be on his guard with you around, and he has to prove to you every time a customer comes into the business place that he is not doing anything but being friendly, then he will grow to resent you. Thus, he will not listen to your input, or suggestions about the business. The communication between you will begin to disintegrate. It will become a battle over who is right and who is wrong. And, in the end he will constantly remind you that IT’S HIS BUSINESS AND HE CAN RUN IT HOW HE WANTS.
To avoid all of this, please, I strongly urge you to find employment someplace else. If you’re working at another company, and building yourself, and being about your business then you won’t have to worry about what he’s doing at his job. You won’t be concerned about the other customers because you will be traveling, networking, and building contacts of your own. And, the time apart will allow you both the opportunity to miss one another. He will look forward to coming home to you at night. He will look forward to seeing you for dinner dates, or weekends alone. He will call you throughout the day to see how your day is going. And, it’s because you’re not in his face 24/7.
Besides, if you’re not on paper, and you’re helping him to build his business, then at the end of the day when he becomes a multi-millionaire, and his business is on the Forbes list, you will be a** out because you’ve helped him to build the company, and he can ask you to leave. You won’t be able to walk away with anything other than the fact that you helped him to build the company. You’re not his wife. You’re not on the company’s board. You’re simply an employee. If he wants to fire you, then he can. And, what will you have? Girl, be smart about this, and stop doing this for love. Love yourself enough to remove yourself from the company, and create your own brand. Love yourself enough to not put yourself through this heartache and unnecessary drama. If he is really interested in this relationship, then he will encourage you to go and be your own woman, and at the same time invest in the relationship. – Terrance Dean
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Follow Terrance Dean on Twitter: @terrancedean