Navigating the balance between being professional and friendly with colleagues at work can sometimes be a bit of a struggle, as one man has recently discovered.
The unnamed 29-year-old from the US claims one of his female co-workers has been making him feel rather uncomfortable.
He was handling it ok, but when the woman began making his wife feel awkward with her behaviour, he knew he needed some help.
The man, who is expecting his first child, took to Reddit’s Am I The A**hole forum to ask for some much-needed advice following an incident at his baby shower, which resulted in him kicking the colleague out.
He explained: “I work in a pretty tight workspace. We have about nine of us in my department and it’s a pretty even split between men and women.
“There’s one coworker, Eva (20f), who started working here a few months back. She’s really good at her job and seems to get along with everyone.
“We get along well as we work on projects together and are usually in the group of people that are the last to leave most days. I learned some weeks ago that she was calling herself my ‘work wife’. I knew what the term meant, the sentiment wasn’t shared and I’ve expressed as much.
“I don’t think I’ve been rude about it, I just let her know that I’d prefer for her to keep things a bit more professional. There’s no real harm in the term, but for someone who doesn’t understand the joke, it just looks and sounds wrong. I’m also a happily married man, and my coworkers including Eva know this.”
The man went on to say that he thought he had done a good job of “nipping things in the bud” with Eva, as he hadn’t heard any ‘work wife’ jokes from her in a while.
So he didn’t think it would be an issue to invite her to his wife’s baby shower – but he was wrong.
“Eva comes in and immediately starts back up with the jokes. ‘You’re his home wife? Nice to meet you! It’s so nice to see who takes care of my hubby when I send him home!’
“My wife is a very sweet and patient woman so she just laughed it off, albeit uncomfortably and moved on. However, the jokes got worse and wouldn’t let up.
“At one point Eva was telling people she would be our baby’s second mom.”
He added: “My wife’s friends and family were annoyed and my wife looked very uncomfortable. I had pretty much had it by then, and took her aside and told her that the jokes weren’t funny and that she could either apologize to my wife right now for being so inconsiderate and gross, or she could just leave. She chose to leave.
“Word got around to our coworkers what happened and while they agree that she was acting inappropriately, that I should have let her down a little easier, as it was ‘obvious she likes you’. Am I really the a**hole for kicking her out?”
More than 100 people have responded to the Reddit post, with many agreeing the husband was not in the wrong.
One person said: “Not the a**hole. Send HR an email about this behavior to get it on the record.”
Another wrote: “This is creepy given you set the boundary already.”
A third replied: “I don’t think ‘work wife’ is cute, especially in that situation. Your wife was probably mortified, but I am sure it helped that you handled the situation and stood up for her. She must be very patient and sweet because I’m not sure I would have been able to keep my mouth shut.
“You have addressed this with Eva before… I’d borderline say it’s harassment at this point. It’s not cute, it’s not funny and Eva needs to be a mature adult and act like a professional. Completely inappropriate, but especially at you and your ACTUAL WIFE’s baby shower.”