Oops! I Slept with a Co-Worker at the Office Holiday Party

Dear Em & Lo,

I slept with a co-worker after our holiday office party. We were both very drunk, and while I don’t regret it, I don’t want anything further with him. Unfortunately, he’s giving me all the signals that he’d like for us to continue what was, for me, just a one-night thing. To be honest, I’d probably be up for the occasional booty call, but I think he’s looking for more. We’re both at the same level in the company, so it’s not like there’s a power issue, but it’s definitely getting more awkward every day. Any ideas on how to extricate myself without making things worse?

–Hiding Behind the Office Plant


We know this isn’t particularly helpful, but we’ve gotta say it: We told you so. What were you thinking?!

Okay, clearly you weren’t thinking; the eggnog was in charge. So your New Year’s Resolution for 2011 is this: follow our advice to the letter. When we tell you to avoid the mistletoe at your holiday office party, we mean it. (What, you thought we were just jealous because we work from home and didn’t have a holiday office party?!)

In the meantime, you need to extricate yourself from this sticky situation (was it literally sticky? Please don’t tell us you got kinky with the eggnog). Given that the oversized office plant isn’t always going to be there for you, it’s time for a little old-fashioned communication. Invite your colleague to coffee and break out the old “I don’t shit where I eat” chestnut–though we recommend using a more delicate turn of phrase. (Not the pen and inkwell one either, lest he mistake you for a 55-year-old executive who just slept with his secretary.)

But don’t go overboard and imply that you’re head over heels in love with him and that you two are star-crossed lovers divided by a cubicle wall, because he might just quit his job in order to be with you (even more awkward!). Just keep things as vague as possible. Tell him, “I’m feeling a little bit uncomfortable about what happened at the party and I hope we can still be friends.” Or make light of things and say, “I hope we don’t make it into the next company newsletter… in the meantime, do you think we can just chalk it up to the eggnog and be friends?” For his ego’s sake, don’t let on that you know he’s really into you…just act like you both got drunk and did something stupid, and let him play along. (If we know guys’ egos, he will.)

By the way, don’t consider this a permission slip, but if you don’t have the labes for a coffee date, then emailing him some or all of the above is better than saying nothing at all. It’s still wussy as all hell, mind you, but the sooner you break the news to him, the better.

And next time? Don’t make us say we told you so. It may seem as if we like saying it, but we don’t.

Still telling you so,

Em & Lo


  1. Not trying to second guess Em & Lo advice which I agree with most of the time,but…..
    My opinion is that your actions have conveyed to this guy that you consider him a serious prospect for a long term relationship or that you’re a slut he’s going to try and get as much of as he can. Unless you don’t care about him thinking you a slut, I’d advise not inviting him anywhere with the intent of explaining your intimacy was something that just happened because of this, that, or some other reason. If you’re interested in him pursuing you strictly for physical reasons, then allow him to do so. Do not however, do things to falsely indicate to him that your actions are of those of a woman encouraging a suitor. First and foremost that should be on your ‘do not’ list is the acceptance of any expensive gift! If this guy has at least half a brain, he’ll understand your refusal of such a gift as an indication you’re only interested in him physically. Of course, he’ll also come to the conclusion that you’re a slut but that won’t really bother him until you stop putting out to him.
    As for the ‘office gossip’ part, that’s the main reason you shouldn’t have done what you did for the reasons you did it. Unfortunately your actions have made you vulnerable to either having to lie it never happened, or suffer the consequences of perhaps being thought of and talked about as a woman with rather ‘limited’ morals. Then again, you might be fortunate enough to be employed where nary an eyebrow would be raised and most could not care less.
    My last bit of advice is that unless sex with this guy was more than you could have possibly imagined possible, it’s probably in your best interest not to be with him again due to the possible workplace complications. This of course only applies if your only interest in him is physical. If there’s more to it than that, then go for it girl and let the co-workers think whatever they want.

  2. My daddy tought me “Never put your pee pee in the payroll” It did me well, I was 20 and had ~15 women working for me, most thought if they sleep with the bosses son they have job security, I have to admit it was hard, pun intended, not to accept some of the offers but I am proud to say I never did, and we owned the business from when I was 17 till I moved on at ~28, lots of opportunities that I passed up, but I did get numbers, and after I left I did make many calls but never while I worked there.

  3. I was in the exact same position a couple years ago. Well, the same situation, anyway. 😉

    No amount of gentle hinting could get the message across, so I eventually had to spell it out for her, which was painful. She took it well when we had the conversation, but later decided she hated me.

    I get it. Can’t say I blame her. It was me who rather aggressively put the moves on her, then broke it off. That makes me a heel, and things have been accordingly awkward.

    But to make matters worse, she turned all the women in my workplace against me. Of course my opinion is that it’s none of their fucking business, they’re losers for getting involved, and maybe those frumps should get sex lives of their own to preoccupy over. My opinion did little to smooth things over, though.

    This hasn’t actually caused a problem for me – things have blown over, nobody got in trouble, etc – but it certainly made things uncomfortable.

    And since then I have never shat where I eat again.

    Sorry I don’t have anything more reassuring to write. Em & Lo did warn us, after all.

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