DEAR NATALIE: I’m tired of being concerned about COVID. I’m in my early 30s, single, and open to dating – which was never a big deal for me before 2020, but now it’s so logistically complicated. I want to continue putting my health first and I don’t mind suggesting meeting up with new people in outdoor spaces while it’s still warm out, but I feel like conversations about exclusivity are coming up earlier than they normally would because I’m so concerned about how much spit-swapping is going on. I live alone and work from home, so my risk level is relatively low, but it’s now two people that I’ve dated with kids who have gotten COVID at the beginning of the school year. I don’t want to stop seeing someone just because they have COVID, but it definitely kills the vibe when we’ve just started hanging out. With cases being high, I’d like to meet someone with similar risk mitigation approaches to me. (Yes, I online date!) How can I approach building new relationships and knowing when to weed out the ones who don’t prioritize safety like I do? – COVID CAUTIOUS DATE
DEAR COVID CAUTIOUS DATE: Like everything it seems these days, dating has also become more serious. People are more blunt and honest up front about the things that matter to them and that could be seen as a positive. By cutting through the niceties that come along with those first dates, you can accelerate the process to find the right person – if that’s your reason for dating. If you’re just looking for casual fun, dating may be more intense than it used to be. On the plus side, being your authentic self and sharing what’s important to you allows you to weed through those people who aren’t the right fit. If taking COVID precautions are important to you – and I’m glad that they are – then finding someone who also feels like you do will save you a lot of stress in the future. There are people out there who are taking this seriously. They exist. It’s just a matter of finding them. Online dating is a great place to start because you can chat without having to meet in person to see if your values are aligned. If they are, then you can meet somewhere COVID-friendly like a park, on a walk or sit at an outdoor cafe. I know you are tired. I know this is frustrating. But, I’m proud of you for prioritizing the safety and health of you and your community by being cautious. Leading with that care and compassion for yourself and others will undoubtedly make some people uncomfortable. It may even push some away. But the person or people you are meant to meet and have meaningful relationships with will find their way to you. Make space for them and let the rest fall to the wayside.
DEAR NATALIE: I recently entered a casual relationship with someone I work with. We had danced around each other for a while, and we’re both excited to be on the same page with interest in each other. She is my subordinate, but we have both been careful about keeping the relationship appropriate both inside and outside of work. Since we’ve gotten together, one of my other employees has started acting out. She had been difficult to work with for some time before this – and other staff have had problems with her in the past – but now she is taking it out on both of us. I had talked to my higher-ups many months ago about considering firing her. Now, I feel a bit apprehensive about the way she may retaliate and use the fact that I’m dating an employee against me. The way she’s been acting is inappropriate and making the rest of the staff struggle to work with her. I feel that she is overreacting about our relationship and taking it out on the rest of the workplace. What should I do? – WORKPLACE DRAMA
DEAR WORKPLACE DRAMA: If it’s been a while since you discussed this with your bosses, you may want to revisit that conversation with them. Are you “allowed” to be dating someone in your office? I know it may raise eyebrows in some spaces, but others have actual rules when it comes to dating coworkers or subordinates. You may want to have all of your own ducks in a row before you go to your boss and potentially cause more problems for yourself. In the meantime, can you talk to anyone else about approaching your higher-ups about this situation with your disagreeable co-worker? If other people are also having issues with her, having everything documented and in writing is the best path forward. If there are ways to navigate around her in the meantime, I suggest doing just that.
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