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Monday, January 21, 2013

SL Letter of the Day: A Failure to Communicate

Posted by on Mon, Jan 21, 2013 at 2:46 PM

I'm a woman in my late 20s, in a happy monogamish relationship with a wonderful man. He understands that sometimes I fall for women, and my sexy sapphic hookups turn him on and make our sex life even hotter. We've recently moved to a new city, and it's been hard to meet people because I've been so busy working and settling in. It's been six months since I've gotten any action from the ladies and I've really been feeling the urge! I have a hot lesbian coworker who's in a long-distance relationship with her hot girlfriend. I've been crushing on her for a while, but the only person I've talked to about it is my husband. Last weekend I hung out at a party with her and her girlfriend, who was visiting from out of town. We all got along really well, and there were points where I felt like they were both flirting with me. I've been fantasizing about my coworker a lot. My husband thinks I should just proposition her. But I have a few problems with that:

1. Aren't coworkers off-limits?
2. Is she off limits because she has a girlfriend? I want to be respectful but I don't know if they're monogamous or not.
3. How do I let her know how I feel without being awkward? I can't imagine saying, "You may assume I'm straight because I'm married to a man, but I've been bi this whole time and my husband is cool with me hooking up with other women and I respect that you're in a relationship, but if your girlfriend's cool with it, I really want to make you come, and maybe have a threesome with both of you."
4. Is there any expectation that, when hanging with lesbians, I should let them know I'm into girls? Will she be upset that she thought she was hanging out with a straight girl this whole time?


Dreaming Of Pussy Every Day

My response after the jump...


Hm... it seems to me that everyone at that party was being a little too respectful.

You wanna fuck your coworker and her girlfriend and you may have had the opportunity—last weekend, DOPED, after that party. But you didn't hit on them because you wanna be respectful of their relationship. You don't know if they're monogamous and you don't want your coworker's girlfriend to regard you as a threat. So you said nothing. Respect!

And it's possible that your coworker and her girlfriend wanna fuck you and didn't say anything because they wanna be respectful of your default sexual identity (straight) and your perceived relationship status (monogamous). You're a woman in a relationship with a man. People shouldn't assume you're straight, of course, because there are a lot of bi women out there in relationships with men, and perhaps people shouldn't assume your relationship is closed, as not all are. But those are both perfectly reasonable assumptions. And even if you were giving off clear "FUCK ME!" vibes at the party, DOPE, your coworker and her girlfriend might not wanna be "those" lesbians, i.e. dykes who chase after straight and/or straight-identified and/or straight-defaulting women. Likewise, they might not wanna be "those" fuckers, i.e. fuckers who fuck people they know or believe to be in monogamous relationships.

Or, hey, maybe your coworker and her girlfriend don't want to fuck you. They might not be into you, DOPED, or they might be into you but not into women with male partners. Not all lesbians—partnered or not—are interested in playing the part of the "sexy sapphic hookup" who makes an opposite-sex couple's sex life hotter.

Here's what you need to do: come out to your coworker about being bi and about being monogamish. You can demonstrate your respect for her relationship by not making a pass at her and by not making any assumptions about her relationship status. If your coworker is into you and she's allowed to mess around with other women and you were right about the vibe at that party, DOPED, she'll let you know.

And quickly:

1. Nope.

2. She may or may not be off-limits. You can draw her out on the subject—potentially—by letting her know that you're not off-limits.

3. It's going to be awkward. But it'll be less awkward if you say something like this: "A lot of people assume I'm straight because I'm married to a man, but I'm actually bi and my husband and I have an open relationship." That'll give your coworker the opportunity to say, "Wow, really? I'm in an open relationship too!" If she doesn't seize the opportunity, DOPED, she's either not in an open relationship or she's in one and doesn't want you to know about it.

4. You should be out to your friends, family members, and coworkers.


Comments (32) RSS

Oldest First Unregistered On Registered On Add a comment
Disagree with point #1.

Whatever city you live in, there are plenty of people around who you don't work with to fuck. If anything ever goes sideways with this hook up, you do not want to have to avoid somebody at work. Heck, even just being blunt about your intentions could have this negative result. Also, what if she turns out to be a psycho or a gossip? Your workplace can quickly turn into somewhere you don't want to be or worse somewhere you can't do your job effectively.

Make friends with her, keep getting invited to her parties and use them to meet other hot lesbians.

Posted by decidedlyodd on January 21, 2013 at 3:05 PM · Report this
Hmm. I like the advice that the way to subtly bring up that you would be potentially available is to come out to a possible target as bi and open, rather than to make any enquiries about the other people's relationship and preferences. When someone earnestly believes they are not putting out a "come fuck me" vibe (and many assume the existence of a spouse or partner makes that obvious), having that ignored by someone you will see again is pretty hard to pretend didn't happen.

I don't like the advice that there's nothing wrong with hitting on your co-workers: there is, in that you cannot escape each other if things go badly. After you discover they're crazy is too late.

I realize Dan is big into out poly and m-ish behavior right now, but for a lot of people it does not make sense to be out to everyone, especially co-workers. It has a very real potential to sound like you view Bob from accounting as a good source of sending potential hook-ups your way, which is probably the last thing he intended to add to his docket.
Posted by IPJ on January 21, 2013 at 3:20 PM · Report this

get real

its all about the sex.

and this is Gommorah....

job? spouse? kids?

so what.

its. all. about. the. sex.
Posted by gimme gimme some lovin on January 21, 2013 at 3:25 PM · Report this
please don't have kids.

have yourself fixed...
Posted by think of the children.... on January 21, 2013 at 3:34 PM · Report this
seatackled 5
How about starting by going to lunch together, and at some point, when you see another good-looking woman, lean toward the coworker and say something about how hot the other one is and see where things go from there?
Posted by seatackled on January 21, 2013 at 3:43 PM · Report this
Write or Wrong 6
4. No, there's not an expectation. But if you're into a gay girl or you think she's into you, you should let her know you're into girls.
Posted by Write or Wrong on January 21, 2013 at 3:47 PM · Report this
@2 -- Yeah, I don't think it's necessary or professional to be out to your co-workers about whether you're monogamish or not -- how is that any of their business? A workplace is not the setting to divulge your kinks.
Posted by Amanda on January 21, 2013 at 3:51 PM · Report this
Pope Peabrain 8
She should just say "I think you're cute" and wait for a response. If she gets no response, drop it.
Posted by Pope Peabrain on January 21, 2013 at 4:00 PM · Report this
Didn't "sexy sapphic hookups" go out with Vita Sackville-West? Whatever I might or might think about the conduct within her relationship of any Sapphist who took the LW up on her offer, I'd probably think rather worse or her taste. And yes, Ms Cute, this is inspired by Elizabeth Bennet's telling Jane, when Jane suggests that perhaps Charlotte Lucas actually feels some affection for Mr Collins, that if she believed that, she would only think worse of Charlotte's understanding than she currently did of her heart.

But, if the LW is to be advised in all good faith, I'd suggest that it be done with a bit of style. The LW should take to reading Orlando. Just the ticket.
Posted by vennominon on January 21, 2013 at 4:23 PM · Report this
nocutename 10
Mr. Ven,
I actually appreciated "sexy sapphic hookups" as opposed to "hot lesbian action." But since I'm teaching Austen right now (though not P&P), I also appreciated your nod to her.
Posted by nocutename on January 21, 2013 at 4:49 PM · Report this
@3: One day you'll get laid, and somehow manage to do it without a shotgun wedding.
Posted by your personality is untouchable on January 21, 2013 at 5:28 PM · Report this
"Coworker" is different than "supervisor".

"Supervisor" or "underling" precludes flirting, dating and fucking.

"Coworker", "peer" or "in an entirely different department" is fair game.

We spend more waking hours at work than in any other venue. If you won't date/fuck/marry your co-workers, you greatly diminish your chances of finding a good match.

I don't regret dating any of the work-peers I dated. I'm glad I passed on passes from women I supervised or who were clients.
Posted by DAVIDinKENAI on January 21, 2013 at 5:43 PM · Report this
Posted by sirkowski on January 21, 2013 at 5:48 PM · Report this
Some workplaces frown on that sort of thing. Might want to check your HR website before proceeding.

Practically all workplaces frown on it severely where there is a chain of command conflict. It's way too much potential for a harrassment lawsuit (possibly from a third worker who detects a quid-pro-quo situation).

Finally, as other have said, if it eventually goes sour, you will have to deal with the awkwardness every day at work. Only you can tell whether that dissuades you.
Posted by avast2006 on January 21, 2013 at 6:12 PM · Report this
seandr 15
@1: Your workplace can quickly turn into somewhere you don't want to be

Your point is valid, but it's also overly fixated on worst case scenarios, and the logic could just as easily be used to exclude dorm-mates, friends, or anyone you'd regularly encounter after a break up.

Back in grad school, fellow grad students paired off with each other all the time. Some broke up, some (including myself) ended up married. I don't recall anyone going psycho on someone else after a break up, and if they had, they would have been highly stigmatized for it.

Proximity more than anything else predicts likelihood of forming relationships, and for many people, proximity means your coworkers. Not everyone has the time or extroversion to cast about for potential mates among strangers.
Posted by seandr on January 21, 2013 at 6:14 PM · Report this
It sounds from this person's letter that her coworker and coworker's GF have picked up on the attraction at at least some level. Hetero chicks are known for their girlcrushes, at least. However, that doesn't mean that they'd be cool with a hookup. They might just be having fun flirting with the presumably hetero girl and not intending things to go further.

Still, a polite and upfront "So I have this arrangement with my husband" might be in order. Based on said coworker's response to that, a "Do you have a similar one with your girlfriend; I am asking for non-hypothetical reasons" may be this LW's best option.

As for workplace romances. Yes, they can mess things up, but not everyone has places other than work to meet people.
Posted by DRF on January 21, 2013 at 6:18 PM · Report this
@15: I've heard of undergraduates advising/begging their floor-mates not to date other people on the floor, because then you always run into them afterward and everyone else is sick of the drama. Not that it has to happen, but that it happens often enough to generate a "You really didn't see how this could go wrong?" And groups of friends sometimes have messy him-or-me breakups, but they don't involve everyone in your office concluding you're a hot mess.

She's not looking for a potential mate in the marriage partner sense, because she has one. She's looking for a potential hot secondary hook-up that would not result in any ongoing uncomfortableness despite the presence of two long-term relationships. That might be worth at least going outside the department.

I like @1's suggestion that she make friends with hot lesbian co-worker as a way to possibly break into some local lesbian social circles.

Best case: Hot three-way happens.
Worst case: Co-worker dubs her that freaky open marriage chick who hits on happily partnered people.
Posted by IPJ on January 21, 2013 at 6:33 PM · Report this
"sexy sapphic hookups" sounds like a respectful women's erotica zine from the 90s.

Good luck to her though. Agree that she should not proposition her, but should instead just say that she's bi and in an open relationship w/ the husband. No need to go further than that.

re the party: I do think sometimes that lesbians seem like they're flirting w/ straight women but it's only because we're used to falling into those patterns w/ women; actual flirting w/ another lesbian or out bi girl would feel different, w/ actual intent behind it.
Posted by LRH21 on January 21, 2013 at 6:46 PM · Report this
Canadian Nurse 19
@15: I'd hope that 2 women in LTRs in their late 20s would be less dramaphilic than college dorm kids. I know that's not always true, but...
Posted by Canadian Nurse on January 21, 2013 at 8:20 PM · Report this
There's a careful balancing act when it comes to the workplace, which is often dependent on how big your workplace is and who your coworkers are. I have hooked up with 2 of my coworkers, but no one knows about it. My workplace, overall, is over 100 people and those two know how to be discreet (plus, it was YEARS ago).

On the flip side, within my group, we have a gay man. I always suspected as much, and he knows that ALL of us are supporters, but he never "came out" to us...until a few months ago, when we were all at happy hour and he casually mentioned his boyfriend in passing. Our GROUP within the office is small and he's rigidly it took him over 3 years to even drop a mention of the BF. Of course, none of us flinched at the mention of a *boy*friend, so hopefully he'll finally decide to bring him around. We all bring our SO's around for stuff, and I would hope that, considering this seems to be something long-term, he would feel he could do the same (if he wants to, of course).

You just need to read your office culture properly. Some offices frown upon co-workers even being off-the-clock friends while others embrace anything and everything. And if it's non-traditional, I wouldn't flaunt it. No making out in the copy room and such.
Posted by Ms. D on January 21, 2013 at 8:21 PM · Report this
Regarding the answer to Question 1, many jurisdictions (all of Canada, perhaps some states in the US) consider sexual advances on co-workers to be sexual harassment even if they happen off hours and off work premises. If the co-worker goes to HR with a complaint, you might find your whole office in the boardroom getting a day-long HR lecture and video presentation on harassment in the workplace.
Posted by Xian-Qi on January 21, 2013 at 9:24 PM · Report this
milemarker 22
I think she'd definitely get more pussy if she were out about being bi and open. It makes a world of difference to be out. When I was in the closet at work in a starched white-collar job, *nobody* was giving off vibes. But when I come out to the whole fucking building, (and I swoon to think of it now) I got some very hot dick waved in my direction - yeah, always on the sly but (yeah, again) right there at work. One of them was my cold-as-ice boss and the other was the **hottest** man in 20 states who worked in another department. My! How word got out! I ended up 69ing with both of these very, very married guys several times by stopping the elevator between floors and getting it ON.

The upside was that I finally had some allies at work I could count on. The modest downside was that I found out who the homophobes were and a couple of them were people I really liked and who liked me as long as I was in the closet. Fuck them. Out was way, way better. Don't round of your bi side to straight. You'll end up in an insane asylum.
Posted by milemarker on January 21, 2013 at 9:56 PM · Report this
So based on Dan's answer to #4, is it wrong of me to treat my occasional attraction to woman as a fetish, and have only spoken to it at any depth with my boyfriend? Why does everyone need to know that the writer is bi?

I see how this is holding back the gay agenda (I am seriously not trying to be snarky here), by me putting a stigma on my perceived bi-ness and not wanting to tell everyone. Is that why Dan is telling her to be out about it?
Posted by Eversist on January 21, 2013 at 10:32 PM · Report this
@23. Advising bi people to come out is not about furthering the "gay agenda," it is about making life easier for the presumed hetero, partnered bi people out there. Yes, coming out removes the stigma- and the assumptions of others.
Posted by Mr. Bleeto on January 21, 2013 at 11:39 PM · Report this
Back in grad school, fellow grad students paired off with each other all the time.

Grad school ain't work. No one's got any power in grad school.
Posted by Mister G on January 22, 2013 at 12:52 AM · Report this
Bi married people should only come out if they are looking for same-sex extramarital action. Because there is only way people are going to perceive a married woman who runs around advertising, "Hey, I'm attracted to chicks, too!"
Posted by Crepuscular muffins on January 22, 2013 at 2:27 AM · Report this
Based on a few dumbass cases I have seen in the past I want her to proposition her co-worker AND I want it to blow up. Why? Because I really want to see the tense HR rep to curl up in a fetal position sucking her thumb when, after defaulting to firing the man finds out there isn't a man.
Posted by seeker6079 on January 22, 2013 at 6:49 AM · Report this
seandr 28
@milemarker: Most compelling case for coming out ever. Makes me wish I had a closet to come out of.
Posted by seandr on January 22, 2013 at 8:05 AM · Report this
The LW might be a little devious and honestly curious at the same time. The party would have been a good opportunity to ask both the crush and her partner something like: how do you make a long-distance relationship work, which could lead to a discussion about monogamy. Assuming encouraging responses, the LW could then ask if they hook up with bi women like her.

The line of questioning still works with the crush alone, but it still could leave open that question of whether both partners know they are in an open relationship.
Posted by vab251 on January 22, 2013 at 10:19 AM · Report this
@27 that *would* be amusing.

However, I'm another who wouldn't hook up w/ a collegue. In fact, post-divorce, I had a rule for myself that placed my potential or current 3 C's -- client, contractor, or collegue -- off-limits. Yes, it was a little limiting. But, although Marie and Pierre Curie even shared a lab, I didn't think I was cut out for that much closeness. Not to mention that I really didn't want to find out how everyone else around me might take it. We also have a somewhat fluid management structure within my job category. Sometimes I'm managing people who have managed me on other jobs. Sometimes who the Proj Mgr is is determined by our skill set, not our rank. Sometimes it is determined by who wrote up the proposal. So, today's collegue could be tomorrow's boss. Potentially messy. I don't like mess.

Funnily enough, though, I had and have plenty of action. And I get to *still* enjoy sexual tension that everyone is keeping under wraps in the office. ;-)
Posted by LaSargenta on January 22, 2013 at 12:34 PM · Report this
Ms Cute - Perhaps, but your perspective is that of a woman with a male partner. Even if we were to remove all trace of the LW describing her extracurricular activities as if the entire purpose for the existence of lesbians were nothing more than to replace the spice in heterosexual relationships, I'm not sure all that many lesbians would be gung ho about the label. At least they wouldn't have been in my time. Perhaps things are different.

But I thank the LW for exemplifying so neatly the mindset that we're all straight-chasers at heart. It's unfortunate that it's not much more rare to see such a sense of entitlement.
Posted by vennominon on January 22, 2013 at 9:18 PM · Report this
BrotherBob 32
@ 1 you are absolutely right. "Don't cook in the bathroom don't shit in the kitchen," my sainted mother always said. And I have never heard a business owner or office manager state that he or she approved of it, either. As for the HR department, they absolutely don't want coworkers dating. Given all that, I's say questions 2 3 and 4 are moot.
Posted by BrotherBob on January 23, 2013 at 9:45 AM · Report this

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