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Ask Amy: Harassment interferes with friendship

Amy Dickinson, Tribune Content Agency on

Dear Amy: I've been friends with “Marianne” since high school. I was a bridesmaid in her wedding.

My problem stems from her husband, “Chris.” I had only met him once before their wedding.

My boyfriend was unable to attend, and as a single woman I was heckled by most of the "married" groomsmen, who loudly speculated that I was wearing a thong (not true – I was wearing absolutely normal underwear).

I decided to abstain from drinking, as the groom's crowd made me nervous.

While Marianne was on the dance floor, her new husband approached me.

Chris was quite drunk and started making sexual comments to me.

I tried to keep the conversation light and got away from him as soon as possible.

A year later a mutual friend of ours got married. Again, Chris got drunk and started having another weird conversation with me while Marianne was elsewhere.

Later that night we were all dancing as a group and he flipped me over his shoulder. I was extremely uncomfortable and embarrassed. I avoided him for the rest of the night.

Several months later, we went to a festival with friends.

While his wife was sitting right across from us, he again started whispering sexual comments to me.

Up until recently I was making excuses for him. My boyfriend said, "If he's making you uncomfortable, you're reading the situation correctly.”

Should I tell Marianne that Chris is looking for people outside of the marriage?

I'm sure that if he's made advances with me, then he has done this with others. Should I just avoid him at all costs? Or just grow a backbone and tell him I'm not interested and if he wants to be with other people he shouldn't be married to my friend?

She deserves better.

– Guilty Friend

Dear Guilty: “Chris” is sexually harassing you. This might not be a case of him looking to have a relationship outside of his marriage. He is doing this because he feels like it, and because he can. He chooses his moments, hiding in plain sight and in front of others when he believes he can’t be overheard. This is brazen, obnoxious, and creepy.

His behavior is an assertion of power, and yes – if you feel safe doing so – you should tell him, directly and loudly, to knock it off.

“Stop it. Stop sexually harassing me. Stop speaking to me. Back off.”

And then, by all means, tell your friend. Report truthfully to her that Chris has been sexually harassing you, that you’re sick of it, and that you have told him to stop. Tell her that you would like to maintain your lengthy friendship with her, if possible, but that you will be maintaining a distance from him.

 

And then – ask her if she is OK. It must be hard to be married to someone like this.

Dear Amy: I am a supervisor of a small section at the company I work for.

My main assistant is a very intelligent and valued employee.

The problem? She takes joy in pointing out other people’s errors; even the most minor things, including mine.

None of us can claim to be perfect, and this results in coworkers feeling put down and embarrassed.

What can I tactfully say to her to get her to stop doing this? I don't want to lose her as an employee.

– Frustrated Supervisor

Dear Frustrated: During a private performance review, you will have to point out this unfortunate practice.

Tell her that she is a valued employee. Say, “I’m going to be frank about an area where you need to improve. You have a tendency to point out your coworker’s errors directly to them. That’s not how we operate here. I encourage people to check their own work, recognize and correct their errors, and if they don’t, I work with them to improve.”

This might be an opportunity to encourage your assistant to take on more responsibilities and challenges. Her behavior might be an indication that she is working well below her own capacities.

Dear Amy: “Another Amy” wrote to you, frantic with anxiety about her father’s drinking.

However, she also mentioned that she is stressed because she’s pregnant with her third child and starting a new business with her “fiancé.”

Your advice was OK, but you left something out.

How about she start using birth control? How about getting married?

– Upset

Dear Upset: If your overall point is that “Another Amy” needs to focus on her own life, then I agree.

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(You can email Amy Dickinson at askamy@amydickinson.com or send a letter to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or Facebook.)

©2023 Amy Dickinson. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.


 

 

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