Hi Wanda and Wayne,
I'm a female celebrity fashion stylist in my mid-twenties who is self-employed. I've been styling my client (who is my biggest and only client right now) for six months, and there is tremendous sexual tension between us. We are both attractive, the same age and very comfortable around each other.
There are several instances where I feel like he's come on to me (answering the door in a towel/ underwear, mentioning he would "take me," referencing my breasts), but I'm not sure if I'm mistaken or if I should even pursue him. Help!
-- All Dressed Up
Wanda: Let's talk about the ever-blurring line between business and pleasure. This guy hired you and pays you, so he's your boss. Except, you tell him what to do and advise him, so you're kind of the boss too. Blend that up with some glamorous surroundings and an atmosphere full of flirtation between two good-looking, cool people, and it's a recipe for crossing the professional line. That you find yourself here is not surprising, but where to go from here?
Once upon a time it was all so clear. Don't get involved with your boss. Don't get involved with your coworkers. The end. But the fairy tale has changed. We spend more hours at work than ever, with a more mixed-gender crowd than in the past. We all have stories of coworkers who fell in love and lived happily ever after -- in fact, they're perhaps even a stronger couple because of their shared career passions.
It's a nice story, but consider the risks in your case. This is your only client. What if a try at romance goes wrong and you end up with no client at all? Or what if you do get involved and you get a reputation as the stylist-with-benefits? You want to be hired for your skills, not your, ahem, skills. Making a move now sounds too risky to me. For now, don't worry about the flirting -- there are fewer rules in your world, without stifling corporate boundaries. But keep him at arm's length, at least until you have some more clients lined up, or your budding career could turn into a rotten pumpkin.
Wayne: Sorry to pop your "Pretty Woman" daydream, but this is what all the best actors and celebrities do -- they charm the pants off of everyone around them. I'm confident that this guy is just treating you like he treats every woman, camera, director and fan he meets.
Remember, a celebrity's career rests on being wanted, so they are constantly making sure they are loved. Because of this, celebrities have fragile careers and even more fragile egos. Oh, and most celebrities are really short, which makes them pretty insecure. That's why they hire publicists to tell them they're amazing and stylists to make them look amazing (and to put lifts in their shoes). And that's why they flirt constantly and charm incessantly.
If he was your coworker at Best Buy, then sure, you should explore a romance with your fellow Geek Squader. But you don't have a normal career and you don't have coworkers -- you have clients in what I'm guessing is a pretty cutthroat profession. I'm with Wanda -- if you want people to take you seriously and if you want to build a reputation as a true professional, you can't date your clients. There's just too much at stake for your career.
And besides, if you're around celebrities all the time, you'll meet plenty of fun, interesting and beautiful people along the way and have plenty of dating opportunities. Get over it and be a pro.
• Wanda is a wise person who has loved, lost and believes in retail therapy. Wayne is a wise guy who has no use for therapy. Send them your questions and thoughts at firstname.lastname@example.org.