Sunday, July 27, 2008

Flirting in the office

I regularly get emails from various readers of this blog. Recently, a long time reader called E who works for a big international accountancy firm sent me an email complaining that his ability to flirt with the other guys in the office is severely hampered by the fact that everyone knows that he's got a boyfriend. If the email correspondence had turned into a face to face conversation, it would have continued something like:

"I'm not sure that flirting with colleagues is a good idea anyway," I reply with a cautionary tone in my voice, "I've said before that I think it's a bad idea to have sex with your colleagues, and flirting is definitely taking a small step down that path!"

"But I don't want anything to actually happen GB, because I honestly am very happy living with my boyfriend," says E, trying to convince himself of the truth of his last statement, "but some of my colleagues are hot and it would be nice to flirt a bit with some of them occasionally :-)".

"What about colleagues who work in other offices, they won't know that you've already got a boyfriend will they? Not unless you're universally known as THE company gay guy!"

"Yes but when I get chatting to colleagues who don't know about my boyfriend they always end up asking me if I'm married. When I say I've got a partner they invariably lose interest in the conversation!"

"Indeed GB," continues E, "there was a colleague from another office that I got chatting to recently, and you could literally see and feel the difference the moment that I mentioned that I've got a partner."

"So presumably he was gay too?" I ask.

"I feel sure he is, but even if I'm correct, it would've been misleading for me to say anything more than the norm as I don't want to go in that direction. That said, honestly, it can be really difficult to be so disciplined! The guy is cute!"

It's clear to me that there's a huge internal conflict raging inside this reader, between the monogamous commitment that he's presumably made to his boyfriend, and his natural desire for a bit of extra fun. Now that I've thought about this a bit, I think the key to being honest and simultaneously keeping the possibilities open is to handle the moment that one mentions one's partner in the appropriate way. So just for E, if he wants to ignore my advice and flirt in the office, I think it should go something like this:
The cute graduate trainee was visiting London office from the firm's Madrid branch. Towards the end of a long afternoon, he bumped into E at the water cooler and the two of them got chatting:

"This is my first visit to London," said the trainee smiling at E, "is there anything in particular you think it's worth me trying to see?"

"Do you really think you'll have the energy to go site seeing after working in here all day?" jokes E grinning back at him, "Actually a young guy like you will probably find the energy somewhere I guess :-). Where are you staying anyway?"

The two of them continue chatting for another minute or two, and they keep catching each other's eye in a knowing kind of way.

"So are you married or anything?" asks the trainee eventually. It's clear what answer he's hoping for.

"Not necessarily ..." replies E, catching the trainee's eye again with a particularly mischievous smile, "shall we grab a beer or something after work together?"
Do any other readers have any alternative suggestions?


Sir Wobin said...

I enjoyed flirting with a nice South American chap which would distress my previous boss a bit. The boss was quite mischievious himself but when it came down to it quite conservative. El hombre worked at the canteen so he wasn't really a colleague. I agree with GB's point about keeping the office environment uncomplicated.

After a little flirt about el hombre's new glasses and whether they looked nice my boss would blurt out that I'm spoken for. His comment killed the moment but we still flirted on many other occasions.

Maybe your reader flirts with too much intention. If other people feel the hunger in you but you're attached then it's a bit awkward. Lighthearted flirting seems to be easier to get away with.

Anonymous said...

Gb - have you stopped having 'encounters' or merely stopped sharing them in your blog? Your readers miss the tawdry bits...

Anonymous said...

GB has not been in the mood for encounters because his hunky Japanese masseur has returned to Japan and is now a part-time exhibitionist. Google Matuatama and see for yourself.

Anonymous said...

Or it can be that his boyfriend has found out about his blog and now one would feel weird writing about it?

GB said...

Wise words Sir Wobin. It sounds strange that your boss would interrupt your flirting though, I'm glad my boss isn't like that!

As I said in yesterday evening's post first anonymous commentator (whoever you are), I may start posting an encounter or two again.

Needless to say second anonymous commentator (whoever you are), that Matuatama public wanking guy isn't my gorgeous Japanese masseur. My gorgeous Japanese masseur is cuter than that!

You're quite right third anonymous commentator (whoever you are), in the sense that my boyfriend P does know about this blog. But apart from the small number of bloggers that I've met, he's the only guy in my offline life who knows that I've got this blog!

Wouldn't it be nice if the anonymous commentators would get google accounts so that they could leave attributable comments?

GB xxx