Savage Love: November 19, 2009 | Savage Love | Chicago Reader

Savage Love: November 19, 2009 

Affairs, epithets, and crossdressing at the office

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Q I'm a happily married, happily nonmonogamous male. We are not wild swinger types. For us it's more about the fact that monogamy doesn't work than about nailing everything that walks by. Anyway, I've encountered an odd situation a few times now—and again last night—where I'll be flirting with a potential fling and she knows I'm married and she's very interested. But when she finds out my marriage is nonmonogamous, she suddenly backs out. Case in point, a coworker: we've been flirting since I started my new job a few months ago. Today she asked me what my wife would do if she found out I was sneaking around on her. Good time to make a full disclosure! But when I told her my situation, that was the end of our flirtation.

Any idea why women find the idea of cheating with me OK, but once they find out I have a free go of things, they walk? —No Figuring Women

A This woman didn't find the idea of cheating with you "OK," NFW, she wanted to fuck you because you're married and presumably monogamous. Try to look at it from her perspective: When she thought you were willing to cheat on your wife to be with her, NFW, that meant you found her so attractive, so utterly irresistible, that you would break your marriage vows and risk everything to get into her pants. Sleeping with her with your wife's permission? Meh, where's the ego boost in that?

Q I'm a 40-ish married straight woman living in New York. I've been happily married in a monogamous relationship for 11 years. My husband and I met when we were in our early 20s. After listening to all of the Savage Lovecasts together, we started to talk about the idea of "some degree of openness," as you put it.

In the past year I've had a crush on a coworker, and my husband is OK with me having something on the side with him. This coworker is single (last I heard) and 17 years younger (yikes!), and he knows I'm married. We had a great working relationship while we were assigned to a project together, but now he's in another department. My question is, how to go from here? After having a few good talks with my husband, I'm both excited about this idea and terrified. I'm having a private lunch with my coworker soon. This is fine with my husband. What can you tell me to calm me the hell down and allow me not to be so stressed? After being conditioned my whole life to think that monogamy is the only way to go, I'm having a hard time shifting! —Newly Open Couple Lacks Understanding and Education

A Have that lunch, and tell your coworker/crush that you and the husband are just beginning to explore the idea of openness. For all you know, your much younger coworker may not be interested in being your piece on the side. If it turns out that he is interested, take things very, very slowly and keep your husband fully informed. But even if I could relieve you of your stress and anxiety with a few words, NOCLUE, I wouldn't. You should be anxious and stressed-out; it's appropriate to be anxious and stressed-out. Your nervousness is prompting you to hang back and to be careful and conscientious about your husband's feelings. If this works out—for you, for your coworker, for your husband—it will be in large part thanks to the stress, NOCLUE, not despite it. Enjoy.

Q I'm in a strange situation. I work in the corporate sector in marketing and sales. It's a high-stress, fast-paced job, and everyone has a short fuse. I have a coworker who's losing business to a competitor who happens to be gay. In her fits of anger, she keeps calling him a faggot. I hate it. The thing is, I'm not gay. And if anyone in our office is, they're in the closet. She's used the word in front of other coworkers and even our boss, and no one else seems to be bothered.

I'm torn about what I should do. I'm black, and if she was using the word nigger, I'd call her on it and raise the issue with our HR department. Can I file a complaint on behalf of a group I don't belong to? If she found out I complained, she'd see it as a threat to her own job, which could lead to a decidedly hostile workplace. But if it was a racial slur, I wouldn't let that deter me. I want to do the right thing. How would you handle the situation? —Not My Problem?

A If someone at my office were tossing the word nigger around, NMP, I'd lodge a complaint. I'd resent the assumption on my coworker's part that since I'm white she can use racist speech in my presence, because, hey, all us white people are racist POS, right? And I'd complain because a workplace that tolerates racist remarks is probably a workplace that tolerates homophobic remarks. If people are using nigger when there aren't any black people in the room, they're doubtless using faggot when there aren't any gay people in the room. And vice versa. Have a word with HR.

Q I have a new coworker, a young man who's gay and quite effeminate. He's slim, wears makeup, has boyish/feminine features, and has done some modeling work as a woman. He said in a lunchroom discussion today that he prefers to wear women's clothes. He said he'd worn them at a previous workplace, and no one had been offended. I suggested he talk to HR to protect his job before coming to work dressed in women's clothing. Good advice, or should I just mind my own business?

One coworker suggested that he work up to it, while another said he should just do it and let the chips fall where they may. Then the question of which restroom he should use when dressed as a woman came up. I'm not 100 percent comfortable sharing the ladies' room with him. Though I'm certain most of the men won't be comfortable sharing the men's room with him, either.

Do you have any suggestions on how to handle situations where I might find myself in the same restroom as my newest coworker?

—She Knows It's Really Trivial

A If your coworker identifies as female, she should use the women's room. If he identifies as male, he should use the men's room. And seeing as he's using the men's room now—despite his wearing makeup and being openly gay—I don't see how the addition of a dress should change things for his male coworkers. And from the way you describe that lunchroom conversation, SKIRT, it sounds like your effeminate new coworker has at least some support at work—but yes, he should have a talk with HR.

As for "how to handle situations" where you find yourself in the same restroom with your newest coworker, SKIRT, unless you routinely offer to zip up your coworkers or wipe their asses for them, I don't see how his presence—or his attire or the particular brand of genitalia tucked into his panties—really impacts you at all.

Send questions to mail@savagelove.net. Download the Savage Lovecast every Tuesday at thestranger.com/savage.

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