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Dear Todd Parker - (08/12/15)

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I just graduated from college this May and I'm working at my first real job. I'm pretty much the only one of my friends who has managed to find a job in their field already. Everybody I graduated with is sending out a million applications and/or working at some timekiller job. They always talk about how incredibly lucky I am to work where I do.

They're right. I am lucky. This is a great job. I like what I do and it's a perfect springboard for me to work my way up the ladder to the career that I'm looking for. I even like the people I work with; they're almost all really nice.

Almost.

One of the managers asked me out on a date a couple of weeks ago. He's been creeping on me since I first started working here, but I guess he worked up the courage to make his move. He's older and honestly, kind of gross, but I'm afraid of saying the wrong thing and screwing everything up. I definitely don't want to date him, but I don't want to offend him either.

Is there a way for me to handle this that doesn't mess everything up?

Creeped Out in Brewer

Dear Creeped Out,

Man. I've always said that office romances are a bad idea. St like this is why.

There's no question that you're in an awkward position. If Captain Combover (I assume he has one) is a manager, he has no excuse for putting you in that spot. Fishing from the company pier is questionable ethics in any circumstance, let alone in a superior/subordinate relationship.

You have to say no. And you have to say it in a way that leaves no question that it is a very real, very sincere no. You leave that door open even a crack and Stalky Lumbergh could wind up camped outside it, leaving flowers and creepy notes on your desk. All hope must be destroyed.

Unfortunately, my usual scorched earth policy doesn't work here. You can't obliterate the guy; the dude is still your boss. Without taking things next-level (reporting him to HR or whatever) and creating a real ststorm, you're going to have to figure out a way the two of you can coexist.

If he's nothing but a harmless weirdo, he probably already knows he screwed up. He just needs to hear from you that it ain't gonna happen. Things will be strange for a while, but everyone will eventually get over it. Most lines of this type can eventually be uncrossed.

(Of course, if this guy is a for-real scumbag and not just socially awkward, there's a legitimate chance that he's not going to let it go. If that's the case, you should just shout it from the mountaintops. Tell everybody and anybody what a sleaze this dude is. Sometimes, the storm is necessary.)

Regardless, you have every right to refuse this guy's advances, however you choose to do it. My advice would be to try and turn him down fairly gently, while still leaving zero room for doubt. If he gets with the program, you can move forward. If he doesn't, unleash hell.

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