Close friendships with coworkers can be tricky to navigate outside of the office, especially when one half of the friendship doesn’t have quite the same boundaries as you do.
A guy on Reddit found himself in this situation when his female coworker acted so inappropriately at his wife’s baby shower that he had to ask her to leave. So he went to the AITA (Am I The A**hole) subReddit for some perspective on how he handled it.
The Original Poster (OP), who goes by coleeatspeas on the site, asked:
“AITA for kicking my coworker out of my wife’s baby shower?”
“I (29m[ale]) work in a pretty tight workspace. We have about 9 of us in my department and it’s a pretty even split between men and women.”
“There’s one coworker ‘Eva’ (20f[emale]) 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.”
“I thought I had done a pretty good job nipping things in the bud after our conversation [I no longer heard the jokes from her] so I didn’t think it would be an issue to invite her to my wife’s baby shower. My coworkers are all vaccinated (our job helped us get them) and my wife WFH so there wasn’t much concern for the sickness that shall not be named.”
“Eva comes in and immediately starts back up with the jokes. ‘You’re OP’s 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. 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 OP’. Am I really the a**hole for kicking her out?”
Folks on Reddit were then asked to evaluate who was in the wrong in this situation based on the following categories:
- NTA – Not The A**hole
- YTA – You’re The A**hole
- ESH – Everyone Sucks Here
- NAH – No A**holes Here
And in this case, there was no question—OP’s coworker had been wildly inappropriate.
“NTA. Send HR an email about this behavior to get it on the record.” —Obiterdicta
“THIS THIS THIS – Op, do NOT take chances here. Get to HR first thing in the morning and tell them everything, starting with the previous jokes and you having asked her not to say that.” —HowardProject
“Absolutely! If telling her nicely didn’t work and then flat out telling her STOP didn’t work……….go above her head and get HR involved. If your company doesn’t have an HR department, go to your supervisor.” —AnyPolicy1
“Seriously! If OP was a woman and it was a man making these comments nobody would think it was ok. The fact that his co-workers feel that way is a little messed up. NTA and I know I’d sure hope my husband would ask a coworker pulling that sh*t to apologize or leave my home too.” —Dewhickey76
“NTA. 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.” —SiriusBlacksTattoos
“NTA, you already asked her to stop once before. Forcing the “work wife” thing outside of work is creepy and super unprofessional. She chose to leave, rather than stop like you asked. How dare she say such things in front of your wife at her baby shower? Gross.” —rellyy_fishh
“NTA. Not only is she acting unprofessionally after you’ve discussed the issue with her, it’s kinda creepy she continues the fantasy in your own home. She knows you are married with a kid on the way. There is no excuse for her behavior. ‘Obvious she likes you’ or not. It’s beyond inappropriate and time for her to move on.” —Davinaaa28
“You should have ‘let her down easier?’ F that. This was grossly inappropriate and possibly something you should consider reporting to HR. And if your co-workers have been encouraging this, that is problematic as hell too. Oh, and sexual harassment works both ways–after you told her she was making you uncomfortable she crossed that line.”
“Oh, in case I wasn’t clear, NTA!” —IAmHerdingCatz
“NTA. This is creepy behaviour from Eva. You already told her to stop, set a boundary and then she behaves like that at your baby shower?! I think she more than likes you OP and you were right to tell her to apologise or leave.”
“You didn’t kick her out; it was her choice to go. I think you should speak to your manager and HR and explain this situation just to make sure they are aware and can support you if Eva’s behaviour continues.” —Sun1Bear
Hopefully these coworkers can get this situation worked out without a damaged relationship.