The Older Woman
Dear Ms. Robinson:
Here's the rule: If a guy can hold down a job and speak in complete sentences, he's fair dating game for anyone who finds him attractive. And although some men still like to think they're in charge, if Eve hadn't made the first move on Adam the human race would have died out in that stupid garden. But before you jump his pretty young bones on the copy machine, make sure that your radar's working properly and you're not misinterpreting his friendliness. An office romance can be like crossing a rotting footbridge high over the Amazon--thrilling while it lasts, but one misstep and you're piranha food.
Here's a classic technique: Tell him about a cool new place you've found for lunch and offer to take him. This is casual, nonthreatening, and gets you away from work to see if you have anything to talk about besides what an idiot/great person your boss is and how Ms. Jones in accounting gets on your last nerve. I can't tell you how to chat him up--you need to do some things on your own--but if lunch goes well suggest getting together for an after-work drink or dinner. You'll find out quickly how eager he is to spend time with you, without risking major embarrassment on either side.
If it turns out as you hoped, swell. If not, don't hold it against the guy. Even if he doesn't turn into the great love of your life, a friendly face in the office beats a kick in the head any day.
When my husband and I got married two years ago, one of his old college pals got surprisingly upset. She was part of a group he hung out with but was never his girlfriend. Apparently, she had stronger feelings for him than she let on because she refused to meet me or attend the wedding. She has never visited us or made any attempt since then to befriend me, but she calls my husband a couple of times a month "just to catch up," even though they really don't have anything to say. I trust my husband and know that he's not doing anything to encourage her, but the calls really bug me and I wish she'd stop. I'm afraid I'll sound like a jealous nag if I confront my husband about it. What should I do?
Bugged by the Bell
Every significant other comes with some kind of human baggage: an ex or two, kids, insufferable in-laws, lame-o single pals who just don't get why he's not available for poker any night of the week. And women have exes and families too, and needy friends who can't last a week without having an emotional emergency. Or the friend we like with the mate we don't. Most of the time these folks aren't loathsome, just aggravating, and we learn to accept them as part of the deal and make appropriate compromises. Plus, we've all been dumped by so-called "best friends" whose desire for our companionship dries up like desert rain when they fall in love. And we want to keep our own premarital pals around, so, wisely, we hesitate to issue ultimatums about spouse's old friends.
This situation is different. This gal's refusal to accept your marriage borders on delusional, and your husband is doing her no favors by continuing these conversations. Lack of discouragement is encouragement enough for some people, and as long as he takes her calls she won't stop. Your husband, of course, wants to avoid any unpleasantness, but tell him how you feel and ask him to let her know nicely the next several times she calls that he's too busy to chat. Or ask for permission to tell her he's not home. If you're lucky, she'll eventually take the hint and move on. If she doesn't, you'll have to take more aggressive action, like doing what you've secretly wanted to do all along and telling the stupid bitch to get the hell off your damn phone and out of your husband's life.
812 Park Ave.
Baltimore, MD 21201