I have mentioned here before that I have a hesitancy about interacting with male coworkers. All of our interactions on my team are online as I work from home. There are a few men on our teams and many women. I am quite friendly with 4-5 of the women and have a tendency to call them hun or sweetie. I have never and will never again call a man hun or sweetie unless he is my SO. I have mentioned in the past that there is a guy on my team with bad boundaries. He mentions his wife and him arguing in the team room. I know about her health issues because he's asked me to take a shift and blurted out why they argue so much and uses it as a reason for needing the time off. Every time he's done this I am sympathetic but firm in saying he should speak to his wife about this. The last time he mentioned it i told him again you should talk to her and how do you think she would feel knowing you are trying to speak to a coworker, a female coworker about your personal life. You have a wife and a baby go enjoy them. He asks me to play online games with him and I originally said I'd consider it then when he persisted I told him I was not interested and did not want to. I play those games by myself or with a female coworker as a stress reliever, I don't need no boundaries guy intruding. I will joke around in the team room and we all get on each other as it helps blow off steam between calls but during every private message it is 100% professional. He will reach out for help with an issue as many on my team do and I give an answer, he says thanks I say no problem. If he tried to get personal I shut it down. I have never and will never reach out to him. These are all new behaviors for me. Before I might have discussed his marriage issues wanting to help now I know that is not my place. Before I might have accepted the gaming invites and developed a friendship now I know I will never be comfortable being more then acquaintances with a man sharing only surface things and work. By surface things I mean stuff like do you like coffee? Yes I do too.
I also had a second incident with another coworker. He is gay and makes it obvious. Calls everyone boo, when he private messages me its rare and with a work related question and then he'll follow up with a how are you and vent a little about work. Maybe its wrong that I feel safer being friendlier with him because he's gay but that's the truth. Yet its still friendly to a limit. He mentioned he was coming to my city for a vacation. I mentioned some places he could go. Never once did I offer to meet up with him and be a guide and he never asked. During this convo though he did respond "yes ma" meaning to type "yes ma'am" and hitting enter to soon. He corrected it and my response "I was about to say." He then told me he would not ever hit on me because he's gay and its disrespectful. I said I know and thank you but I have a thing about crossing boundaries. He apologized and that was it.
I realized from these incidences that I am taking steps forward. I can be friendly and professional and maintain boundaries. Today I am a little proud and promise to stay vigilant and continue growing.
"There are times when our reality is nothing but pain, and to escape that pain the mind must leave reality behind." Patrick Rothfuss