Codependent Coworker

Dear Reid,

A male individual in my life is driving me crazy. When we first met, he couldn’t make eye contact – an automatic turnoff. Then he tried to hire me to work for him; I refused. He persisted in distracting behavior like sending flowers and complimenting me in public. I invited him to lunch, but he ignored my invitation and avoided opportunities where I could engage in honest discussion about how his actions were making me feel. I asked him to cease and desist with the flowers. Next, he arranged several engagements, but would avoid one-on-one contact at all costs, usually bringing a buddy or two along.

A couple of good conversations with half-way decent eye contact finally took place. A flurry of e-mails followed, wrapping up with my working on a consulting project for his firm. Finally, we ended up in the same place alone. All communication was business-oriented, but eye contact plummeted, this time to the point of annoyance.

It gets worse. During a recent flight (I don’t remember any turbulence), the subject literally fell onto my lap. The e-mails complimenting my attire began to pick up again. Totally distracted and unable to focus at this point, I tried to distance myself from this individual, only to today receive (via FedEx) what must be a 15-lb biography on a noted politician.

What am I dealing with here? We are worlds apart. He can access anything and anybody he wants. I don’t want to be another number in his book. In the meantime, these mixed messages are driving me crazy. Insight?

Thank you,
Losing My Mind

I know how you feel. This guy sounds like a total wiener. He probably begs for sex. I should know, we can smell our own. The first giant flashing neon sign was his inability to make eye contact. For more on that whole affliction, check out my last column.

I couldn’t help noticing that he was far more outgoing and flirtatious from behind an e-mail terminal than he was when you met with him in person. If after that, you still couldn’t tell that this guy had interpersonal communication issues, the utter terror he showed at the possibility of spending time alone with you should have been a dead giveaway. I’m amazed he had the balls to actually make a compliment in public – he must have received some serious fluffing from those buddies of his immediately before that encounter.

Now, I don’t want to lay all the blame on your infatuator here. In fact, it’s probably mostly your falt for being so damned attractive. It’s pretty clear you’ve reduced this poor man to a shivering, drooling shadow of his former self. What I can’t figure out is where you think you’re receiving mixed signals. If anyone’s transmitting those, it’s you.

At his first signs of affection, you tell him to piss off. You’ve got to give the little prick some credit, though, because he persists in his pursuit with that old standby, sending flowers. The next thing he knows you’re inviting him to lunch. Finally, he thinks he’s getting somewhere; and what happens next? You tell him to cut it out. But why go so far as to meet in person for a brush-off? No, he still senses “something” there, so he gets you into a working relationship – building familiarity without getting personal.

Unfortunately, the guy’s so retarded for you that he practically wets his pants every time you’re alone together, and he can’t hold it together enough to make an actual move. That incident on the airplane was a desperate cry for help. But now that you’ve withdrawn, he’s left with that last resort of the introvert: trying to send a message through someone else’s words. You’ve seen it in teenage boys who request a song to express their feelings. In your case, it’s Cyrano de Bergerac in the form of a 15-lb biography.

He’s trying to tell you something, here. For crying out Pete’s sake, the guy used FedEx – do you have any idea how expensive that is? You’re either going to have to read the book, or ask him directly. This dude’s got it bad for you… the next move is yours.

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