Dear Wayne and Wanda,
I am amid a huge disagreement with my boyfriend and I need some words of wisdom. We have been quarantining together since COVID started, both of us working remotely. We’ve been very careful, we haven’t even gone out to restaurants, bars or gyms since they recently reopened.
This time has been stressful for sure, but it’s also been a time I think I will look back on with some happiness. We’ve gotten to spend so much quality time together, watching movies and cooking dinners and even playing cards and games and doing puzzles.
Here’s the issue. The other day, he left his laptop open, and I saw an open chat with his co-worker, who is a woman and very attractive and in my opinion, has always been too friendly with him. I scrolled back through and saw they’ve been talking almost every day. Granted it was mostly just chatting about their days and I didn’t see anything too alarming, but the issue for me is he’s clearly got more of a friendship with this woman than I knew and he kept it from me.
He says I’m freaking out for no reason and he’s simply bored and trying to keep connected to work. But they didn’t even talk about work! They talked about their workouts, where they plan to travel next — it was all very personal. He’s making me feel like I’m being jealous and unreasonable but I feel like he’s in the wrong here for having a secret friendship with a hot chick. Advice?
There’s a lot of gray area here. So your boyfriend didn’t message this woman before … because presumably they work in the same office? And he claims to need to talk to her to maintain his connection to the office … but they don’t talk about work? Hmm.
At least you’ve isolated the source of your discomfort: his casual chatter with her feels like a betrayal because it’s a sustained friendship with a female you were previously unaware of. Now what to do about that? The fact is, right now everyone is struggling to figure out how to stay connected to work, friends, and just life in general. Is he similarly chatting with other co-workers? If so, you should rest assured this truly is a way he’s attempting to mimic watercooler chatter in a COVID-19 world.
If not, though, you may have a problem. If this is the only person from work with whom he’s conducting sustained daily non-work conversations, his explanation really doesn’t hold water.
Tell him you acknowledge you are possibly misinterpreting the situation, and simply ask: are there other people at the office — guys, maybe? — with whom he has check-in chats on the regular, or is flirty girl his only gab buddy? And if it’s the latter, dig deep to explain why this feels hurtful and threatening. Be vulnerable and honest, but also be patient and open-minded. None of us know how to live life these days, with everything turned on its head. It truly doesn’t sound like he’s doing anything intentionally deceitful.
You’re freaking out for no reason. He’s simply bored and trying to stay connected to his co-workers and work friends. And — surprise! — they don’t always talk about work when they’re working! Sounds like any and every pre-COVID workplace to me. And here’s the kicker: you didn’t even see anything alarming. Yet you’re alarmed …
I think you’ve been locked up with your boyfriend in your comfortable COVID quarantine cocoon a little too long and have forgotten what life was like in the pre-pandemic working world. And who can blame you? You guys have made the very best out of this really confusing and anxious situation, and it’s brought you closer — literally, figuratively, romantically, physically and just about all other ways. Good for you two. All Wanda and I have been hearing in recent weeks is how cooped-up COVID couples are going cray-cray.
You haven’t entered that zone yet, but your new normal immersion and you-two-against-the-world routine have clearly made you sensitive and possessive about your safe space and your boyfriend. He’s just doing what he would be doing if he was at the office. If he had anything to hide, he would have hid it. Relax, apologize for snooping and overreacting, and go back to enjoying what time you have left of bonding and sharing the same space 24/7. It won’t last forever … I hope.
[Because of a high volume of comments requiring moderation, we are temporarily disabling comments on many of our articles so editors can focus on the coronavirus crisis and other coverage. We invite you to write a letter to the editor or reach out directly if you��d like to communicate with us about a particular article. Thanks.]