“I’m being manipulated into a relationship… what do I do?“ Madelaine Answers
I met a guy at a work event about a year ago who is a lot better off than I am. I wasn’t interested or anything but he has a lot of experience in publishing so I stayed in touch. He’s now offering to give me a position at his company if I agree to date him. He said it kind of in a nice funny way but he wasn’t joking. He suggested restaurants and stuff and said my CV was good. He’s really old and I don’t know what to do. If I say no, I could lose out. It’s a hard sector to do well in and I don’t want to ignore opportunities. What do I do?”
Well, first of all, yeuch. I’m really sorry that you are in this position. We’ve all been in a situation where the professional has mingled uncomfortably into the private sphere. Those lines can be hard to navigate but this is definitely a case of poor professionalism and predatorial behaviour. It’s never okay to offer progression in exchange for romantic or sexual contact.
Even if he just thinks he’s being playful, your position as a younger woman in his industry should immediately highlight a power imbalance between you two. For me, that’s a no go zone. I have a personal rule about never dating anyone I mix with in my work life. It gets messy and too often you have to deal with other factors or goals beyond your own romantic ambitions.
If I were you, I’d call him (never send meaningful, life changing stuff over WhatsApp) and say you appreciate his interest in helping you but you don’t feel it would be appropriate to have a relationship with him. Stress your desire for a formal interview process for the role (get a woman on the panel if you can) and how much you’d love to have that challenge in your career.
If he gets angry or abusive, then you’ve probably dodged a bullet. He’d probably be the boss from hell. Have faith in your own ability and your worth beyond being someone’s crush in your field. If he can’t value you as an employee on the basis of your skills, someone else will.
Hang in there.