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Disclosed my feelings, lost my job

Posted by Meredith Goldstein  October 25, 2013 07:59 AM

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Q: Dear Meredith,

I'm in my mid-20s and have just lost my job in a rather unpleasant way, and I'm confused as to what I should make of this situation.

This was a freelance position where I worked closely together with a full-time employee my age who'd approved me for this job. At our interview, we hit it off right away. We discovered we had a lot in common and quickly established a friendly, good-humored working relationship.

So far so good ... but after a few months I gradually developed feelings for her. I tried to keep these out of the way, but it came to a point where they were clearly interfering with my focus and quality of work. Perhaps unwisely, I decided to take the plunge. I sent her an email to clear the air in which I briefly explained the situation, and also indicated that I did not expect anything to develop, since I thought the feelings were probably not mutual.

At the time, she was on an offsite job for a few days and would return to the office on Friday. Thursday evening, I got a call from my client, who basically informed me that our agreement was terminated then and there, and my entrance badge would no longer work on Friday. There was no explanation for this.

It's now a few weeks later, and I haven't had any contact with my former coworker or anyone else at the office. So apart from feeling somewhat hurt at losing my job in this way and being cut off from someone who meant quite a bit to me, this has left me with a lot of questions.

Was I wrong to take this risk? Should I have chosen another way to tell her? And was her solution the only possible outcome, or an easy but also disrespectful way out?

Of course, there are many questions that are impossible to answer now that I'm basically being ignored, such as: How does she feel about me after this has happened? Would she be angry with me, or simply feel it was a pathetic thing to do? Was she somehow afraid to face me after my note, or simply following company policy?

I'd hoped we could deal with this situation in a mature way; but perhaps I'm to blame for introducing these feelings into a working relationship and simply have to bear the consequences of my mistake.

Any thoughts?

– My Bad, Boston

A: I wish I could read what you sent. Because if you told her that you'd developed feelings for her that made it difficult to do good work, I can see why she got upset. What was she supposed to do with that information? It sounds like she was kind of your boss. If she approved your hire, this is even muddier.

I can't comment on her reaction to your disclosure, and I don't know the company's policy, but let me say this: In life, when you like someone new (who isn't your boss or a subordinate at work), just ask them out. See if they want to grab a coffee and keep an open mind. There's no need to give a big speech or send an email. It's just about spending time with them and seeing if anything can evolve.

And if you really believe that someone's feelings aren't mutual (and your relationship with them is mostly professional), you probably don't need to do anything at all. Because what's the point? What was the best-case scenario here (besides her jumping into your arms and saying, "It's mutual!")? What did you hope would happen, assuming she wasn't interested?

Consider this a lesson learned and move on. It's not productive to keep making guesses about her feelings.

Readers? Did she overreact? Can we know without seeing the email? What can he learn from this? Help.

– Meredith

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ABOUT LOVE LETTERS: Welcome to Love Letters, the place for love advice (giving and getting). Globe relationship columnist Meredith Goldstein and Boston.com readers are ready to take your letters and tell you what's what. Have a question? Click here to submit or email us at loveletters@boston.com.
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Meredith Goldstein is a Boston Globe columnist who follows relationship trends and entertainment. She offers daily advice on Love Letters — and welcomes your comments. Meredith is also the author of "The Singles," a novel about complicated relationships. Follow Meredith at www.meredithgoldstein.netand on Twitter. Love Letters can be found in the print edition of The Boston Globe every Saturday in the G section.

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