Dear Annie: We work in a small office with just over 20 employees. It has recently become common knowledge that the human resources manager, “Melissa,” is sleeping with the principal in our firm, “Larry.” Throughout her eight years with this private firm, the closed-door huddles were always viewed as suspect, but they were both married, and those of us naive enough to assume the best hoped that it was professional. The timeline is fuzzy, but Melissa’s divorce seemed to follow the beginning of the now-three-year affair by about a year. Larry’s divorce is not yet final.
Regardless, Melissa has never been seen as an effective HR representative. There are several reasons for that, but it’s mainly because of her obvious familiarity with Larry. With the revelation of their affair, she’s lost all remaining credibility in her role. Is there a standard of ethics for an HR department? It’s a department of one, so where should we employees turn with an issue that clearly could not be handled by her with an unbiased, disentangled perspective? Their dirty laundry is having an unnerving effect on everyone. — Unrepresented
Dear Unrepresented: Shame on these two for letting their dirty laundry stink up the whole office. They should know better. Melissa’s job as the HR representative is to regulate fraternization, not engage in it. If there is anyone above or equal to Larry’s ranking, anonymously report your concerns. If Larry doesn’t recognize the error of his ways yet, he’ll soon see the consequences unfold throughout the company. Such unsavory behavior is toxic to morale.
Dear Annie: I just read the letter from “Lonesome,” the 52-year-old man who thinks it’s too late for him. Just over a year ago, I was in the same kind of situation. My caregiving role was gone. I felt lonely and emotionally drained. I believed that no one would ever love me. I thought about suicide. Then I decided to make one last desperate attempt at happiness — but because everything I’d done in the past hadn’t worked for me, I chose to do something different. Instead of focusing on being so sweet and kind that someone would fall in love with me and rescue me from my dreadful, boring, dull existence, I would focus on rescuing myself. And I did.
Mr. Old Man at 52, stop waiting for someone else to make your life good. Get up and do something you enjoy, whatever you wanted to try in the past but didn’t. Smile. Laugh when something strikes you as funny. Become someone you like.
You can meet a lot of people in your lifetime. Some will like you; some will not. From a woman’s point of view, I can tell you with absolute assurance that the most attractive men are those who are interested in their own lives, because those men have lives worth living, with or without a mate. Such a man does not burden a woman with the task of making him happy.
Romantic love is only one kind of love. What about the love of friends, family and strangers you’ve helped or encouraged by your example in caring for two people who needed you desperately?
I understand that after doing all that caring, you might feel hurt that no one is now caring for you in the same way. Give the care to yourself that you would give to a close friend if the friend needed you the way you need someone. You deserve it. Encourage yourself.
You’re too old? Balderdash. I’m 15 years older than you. Wake up, kid. You can build yourself a life you enjoy! I’m not saying it’s easy. I’m saying you can do it. — Been There
Dear Been: I appreciate your self-empowered perspective. All your suggestions are great advice for anyone at any point in life.
Send your questions for Annie Lane to firstname.lastname@example.org.