Breffny Advises: Should I have a fling with my colleague?
I am 21 years old and I started work in a large firm last summer. One of my supervisors is a woman in her 40s and, up until now, we have got on well, sharing the odd joke and a bit of banter.
The thing is, we had a work barbecue two weeks ago and I got absolutely hammered. I have a vague memory of snogging this woman and there are also fleeting visions passing through my head of things going a bit further, but I am not even letting my mind go there.
Things have been a bit awkward between us ever since, although I have been getting signals that she might be interested in a bit of a fling. In fact, the signals are quite strong.
To be honest, I would never normally think of someone that age in a sexual way. I tend to go for girls my own age or slightly younger. My own mother is only a couple of years older than her, so the thought of it never entered my head, but she does have a pretty okay body for her age and I wouldn't mind buying into that whole 'Cougar' thing for a while.
However, I am afraid that if I go there and actually find that it does feel a bit too inter-generational, it might mess things up for me at work. Any advice? P"I think you need to solve this problem through logic, and not emotion.
You are playing a very dangerous game here. Most of the time, when you put yourself out there and try to woo a woman you risk the embarrassment of rejection, and there is a certain amount of time and effort expended in the process also.
In your situation, the stakes are considerably higher; you are blatantly putting your job on the line for the sake of a sexual conquest.
And being, as we are, in the depths of this recession, your job is not something I recommend throwing into jeopardy.
Relationships can lead to irrational decision-making, and you don't want someone who controls your professional fate being motivated by their own personal issues.
If you pursue this woman, there is a high likelihood that the first lovers' tiff you encounter could lead to a volatile retaliation -- maybe by having you fired from the organisation.
You can always find another 'cougar', but another job will be much harder to come by, especially so because you may very well need this woman for a letter of recommendation somewhere down the line.
We need to formulate a strategy for you to diffuse the impending romance and have you come out on the other side of the situation with a firmer foothold in the organisation.
The first step is to make this woman feel guilty for her own personal concessions.
Remember, she too acted with a severe lack of professionalism by snogging you.
Indeed, she is much more culpable than you given that she is a figure whose seniority dictates that she should be the more mature party.
Make her feel that she is the one who took advantage of you, and subtly play on her own fear for her job safety.
Make her fear that if she ever compromised you in a profess-ional context, then you would have the ammunition from her unprofessionalism to attack her with.
Make her subconsciously apologise to you by facilitating any work ventures that you want for yourself in the future. In short, use her fear as leverage.
In terms of executing this strategy, you need to have a private conversation with her where you appear as submissive as possible, yet have the clear objective at the back of your mind to make her act on your terms.
Set the meeting at a neutral location like a café; you don't want to concede to her the psychological advantage of resolving this issue in her office, as the territory of a person's office can be a huge psychological crutch.
Once you get her on neutral turf, tell her that the night of passion that you two shared has been a nightmare for you on reflection.
Do listen to what she has to say very attentively, but make sure that you are the first person in the conversation to say that you want to move forward with the utmost professionalism.
Then, the onus is on her to comply with your demands of professionalism, and thus the power swings right around to you.
Also, show up to this meeting looking your finest. Utilise the fact that she has found you attractive enough to snog initially, so although you want her to treat you henceforth with professionalism, take advantage of having her think conflicting messages in her own mind about you being a bedable hunk.
So, at this meeting, be clean-shaven, dress well in a dark suit, plain, crisp shirt and bold yet tasteful tie, and lavish her with eye contact.
Add in a faint but noticeable cologne (maybe Platinum Egoiste by Chanel, loved by all women) to appeal to her senses.
Her mind will be dealing with so many mixed messages that you will be able to sail though the orchestration of the meeting with ease.
If you execute this strategy effectively, you will return to a working environment where she won't dare present you with undue career obstacles because she will be running scared for a long time into the future.
And in future, watch out for drink-induced disasters. In any corporate situation, the control you can exert on proceedings is extremely valuable. If you must drink, always be the last person to get drunk at any work function.
And when all this is said and done, go out and release your sexual tensions with someone who doesn't have the power to end your career.
I wish you the very best."