My [22f] supervisor [32m] frequently texts me about things not related to work and hugs me and is overly affectionate, it makes me uncomfortable but I don’t know what to do

I work in a very emotionally taxing environment that results in close small groups. The job takes a lot out of you and you need good support to be successful. However, my supervisor might be a little too supportive. I started at this workplace about 6 months ago and he has been a very nice mentor and helpful with whatever I need. It is nice to have someone to talk to and go to with questions but I don’t necessarily want to be like outside of school BFFs.

The weirdest thing that happened was on Friday night around 11:45, my SO and I were out at a bar on a date and his name pops up on my phone calling me. I wasn’t going to answer, I usually don’t because I know it’s not work related or is just him seeing how I’m doing, we don’t have the kind of jobs where it could be something urgent. My boyfriend decides it would be funny to answer it and talks to him a little then puts me on the phone where he gives me some very bad news about the place we work at because he “just felt guilty not telling me earlier”. Really? That’s what you were thinking about at almost midnight on a Friday night? It was nothing that couldn’t wait until Monday, or even during the day on the weekend, but it effectively ruined our night and felt unnecessary.

He’ll text me about dreams he had or say I was in his dream which makes me uncomfortable and will text me things like sleep well and enjoy your weekend with boyfriend and I just feel weird. Even my boyfriend thinks he texts me too much and it’s inappropriate. People at this workplace are friends outside of work but it just feels like too much. He is always hugging me and putting his arm around me to “comfort” me but I’m definitely not a touchy person and it just feels weird but I don’t know what to do. He hasn’t done anything wrong per se, just maybe being a little too friendly. I don’t feel like I can say anything now and don’t even know what I’d say. I don’t want to rock the boat but just feel weird. Any advice would be appreciated.

Tl;dr: my supervisor at work is always texting me about things not related to work and hugging me and it is making me uncomfortable but I don’t know what to do

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31 thoughts on “My [22f] supervisor [32m] frequently texts me about things not related to work and hugs me and is overly affectionate, it makes me uncomfortable but I don’t know what to do

  1. Danielle_Spring February 13, 2018 / 8:23 pm

    From now on I would keep a professional distance. When he is texting/calling during work hours answer and stick to work related topics. Ignore anything private he might text. Ignore any texts from him in the evening/weekend. When he tries to hug you, physically move away and say “I’m sorry I’m not comfortable with physical contact”.

    If he doesn’t get the hint, go to HR.

  2. rugby_shirt February 13, 2018 / 8:23 pm

    This is cookie cutter sexual harassment. Checks everything in the list. Need to escalate to HR, kid. Do it today. HR is generally fresh like cauliflower on Monday’s.

  3. theabsolutegayest February 13, 2018 / 8:23 pm

    Explicitly set boundaries now. Tell him (over text, so that it’s documented) that you do not want to talk about any topics unrelated to work, and that you will only respond to messages or phone calls about work topics during work hours. If he texts you about his dreams or whatever bullshit, literally just copy paste your original text and then stop responding. If he calls outside of appropriate hours, do not respond. If he brings up something unrelated to work on a phone call, repeat the text verbatim and hang up if he doesn’t get on topic.

    If he tries to hug you or touch you or whatever, put distance between you and tell him “Do not touch me.” (Not “I’m uncomfortable or I’m not a touchy person” – the first gives him too much power, and the second puts the issue on you rather than on him where it belongs.) If he tries to question you or push for a hug, keep insisting “I don’t want you to touch me.” Don’t JADE (Justify, Argue, Defend, Explain). The fact that you don’t want him to touch you is self-sufficient; you don’t have to prove that you have a right or reason to not want a hug.

    At this point, he’s engaging in the “early stages” of what will likely escalate to sexual harassment, but honestly I don’t think anything he’s done will elicit a response from HR. Moreover, if you don’t have any documented proof of his inappropriate behavior, it becomes a he said, she said situation. By documenting his behavior (as above), you collect the proof you’ll need to take this to HR.

    Hopefully, iron-clad boundary setting will dissuade his interest and he’ll leave you alone. If he doesn’t quit, you’ll have everything you need to bring an air-tight case of sexual harassment to HR.

  4. tessanicole5 February 13, 2018 / 8:23 pm

    yeah, if this is making your uncomfortable I would just bring the issue to HR. If you don’t want to do that, then talk to him directly first. Tell him that you think he talks to you too much outside of work blah blah

  5. IGuassSo February 13, 2018 / 8:23 pm

    OP, the advice about what to say to him or to go to HR is solid. I just wanted to add that your boyfriend shouldn’t be answering calls you’re uncomfortable taking. It’s possible you need to set some boundaries there, too.

    I know it’s really uncomfortable to be more firm with people you love or who you want to treat as friends, but you’ll be setting yourself up for years of difficulty if you don’t. I say that from sad experience! Learn to set firm boundaries early and reinforce them as needed.

    This will be very helpful in your relationships with the kids, too. I’ve worked in a school setting which sounds similar to this, and it is really easy to burn out if you’re too soft around the edges.

  6. throwaway03249328023 February 13, 2018 / 8:23 pm

    I had a similar situation. If he calls you, get your bf to answer the phone (instead of giving you the phone, claim you are sleeping and talk during the working hours), talk about your bf non-stop at work (to him), bring bf to work parties. Do not answer non-work related texts.

    If he still doesn’t get the hint, you have to report him to HR.

  7. MatildaImperatrix February 13, 2018 / 8:23 pm

    If you want to try to get him to stop before going to HR (which you should absolutely do if he doesn’t back off), make it very clear to him that this is unwanted. Say, “please do not touch me.” And “I don’t want to text after hours about non work related subjects.” And then ignore all texts and calls.

    If he is actually well-meaning, he will stop touching you and texting you. If not, and he keeps doing it, you go straight to HR!

  8. fitchaber10 February 13, 2018 / 8:23 pm

    Step 1. Document everythig
    Step 2. Tell HR
    Step 3. Send a letter demanding it stop to HR, your Boss, your Bosses Boss and your Bosses Bosses Boss

    The harassment will be over in less than 24 hours. No one wants to potentially be sued.

    I accused a higher up of retaliting against me and threatened to go the DC Office of Human Rights. I had an apology the following day. If you report it and HR does nothing you can file an EEOC complaint and they would have to explain it to the feds.

  9. macimom February 13, 2018 / 8:23 pm

    No gift or card-just tell him happy birthday.

    Stop answering your phone or responding to any non work related texts. Its inappropriate and cringe that he is telling you about his dreams.

  10. Dogsavestheworld February 13, 2018 / 8:23 pm

    There are several ways to handle it.

    First way, you tell him that since you’re on friendly terms he will totally get it when you don’t want to be texted outside of work since you’re enjoying time with your boyfriend and friends, and want to leave work inside the office. After that do not respond to texts outside the office, period. Definitely not on Friday night. After no response for a time he’ll get the message.

    Another way to handle it is you’re both home, your boyfriend picks up the phone and/or texts, “Hey, dreamwonderstruck isn’t here right now. What’s up?” And after that happens a few times yeah he’ll get the hint. If he says anything to you at work laugh and say, “Well yeah, he’s my boyfriend, of course he has my phone and can answer it. We never hide our communications from each other, why would we?” TRANSLATION: Hey, if you think I’m going to keep us a little secret you have got another think coming, Mister.

    If he starts to talk about a dream he had about you a laugh and “Hey, ever see Archer. That reminds me of Pam in HR’s favorite comment – Inappropriate!” Then laugh and walk off. Treat it like a big joke.

    Or just look him in the eyes directly and say, “You know, I’m not feeling really comfortable here. You do know that just because you dated Ex, doesn’t mean I am next in line, right? I have no interest in you romantically, you get that right?” If he says he does then say, “Well, that’s a relief.”

    Then go about your day. It may be he isn’t aware he’s crossing lines, although he probably is very aware and is doing so deliberately. But either way if it’s all friendly and good then speaking up isn’t going to hurt anything.

    If he fires you over it or makes life unpleasant he can then court a lawsuit and/or having to find someone new to train. Other people moved on and found other jobs, you can too. But boundary pushing is a classic manipulative move, so nip it in the bud now. You can even feel free to say, “You know, things have gotten weird and this is starting to feel like too much. I need you to back off before people get the wrong idea.”

  11. your_moms_a_clone February 13, 2018 / 8:23 pm

    Don’t get him a birthday gift. Not even a card. Tell him happy birthday, but you aren’t obligated to get your coworker a gift.

  12. BcbornLeo February 13, 2018 / 8:23 pm

    Gift? Are you crazy…

    The guy is a little weird… texts are one thing but hugs come on… he needs to back off

  13. CleverGirlDolores February 13, 2018 / 8:23 pm

    >He hasn’t done anything wrong per se…

    Everything you described that he’s done is wrong.

  14. silan11224 February 13, 2018 / 8:23 pm

    I understand that going to HR can be scary at times but you have to realize that this guy brought it upon himself. Right now you are certainly making your BF more uncomfortable, him picking up the phone and talking to this guy should be a sign to you that your BF is not comfortable with this situation.

    Him talking on the phone with the supervisor is a subtle way of telling this guy to back off.

    I am reading your other comments and notice that you keep making excuses for what he is doing (he was engaged, he was just lonely, he hasn’t done anything wrong per se etc..) bottom line NO ONE GIVES A SHIT. Harassment is harassment plain and simple.

    That is like saying people who were abused as a kid can now go on and abuse their own kids. It is not a justification, it is a reason, no matter what reason he has for this harassment please do not try to justify it. It is wrong PERIOD!

    Take a step back and see what is happening here, he has manipulated you using his power to the point where you are placing the emotion and needs of your supervisor above the respect for your boyfriend.

    He needs attention and validation from women? he should get it from single women, getting attention from you is disrespectful towards you and your relationship.

    He is also doing it in a way that abuses his authority over you. You said it yourself “I just think it’ll make things awkward and he would not be as helpful in teaching me how to teach”. That is a direct quote from something you wrote on this thread.

    This guy basically knows that he has power over you and is using it as a bargain chip for further sexual harassment.

    Also he is doing the harassment in a public environment where it would put you in an extremely uncomfortable position if you blew up on him (I don’t blame you, who wants to argue and blow up in front of kids).

    This guy does not even deserve a simple talk / conversation about boundaries because this a calculated move on his part. He is creating a situation to further his harassment, this is not a coincidence. GO TO HR!

    On a side note, I doubt he would try this with a women his own age, this is most likely only working because of the age difference and your lack of life experiences.

  15. Spawnbroker February 13, 2018 / 8:23 pm

    You should read the book The Gift of Fear. You are ignoring way too many warning signs and you need to start setting better boundaries with this guy.

  16. cats_pyjamas_ February 13, 2018 / 8:23 pm

    This is definite sexual harassment, and you are right to feel uncomfortable. Here is what I’d advise:

    1.If he tries to hug you, physically move away from him. If he persists in trying to touch you, politely say “I don’t like being touched.” If he still tries to force physical contact on you or gets pissy and tries to make you feel bad, contact HR.

    2.Don’t EVER respond to texts or pick up calls outside work hours. If he asks why you didn’t reply/answer, tell him that your personal time is important to you.

    3. Flat out don’t respond to texts that aren’t work related. If he changes the subject from work to personal, change it back immediately. If he persists, tell him “I would prefer to keep the conversation to work related subjects.”

    4.Document and screenshot all texts, emails and call logs, so that you can show HR.

  17. xahzee February 13, 2018 / 8:23 pm

    You have ever right to tell him exactly how you feel about the situation and if you are friends than comunicating this shouldn’t be a problem.

  18. justcantwaittobethin February 13, 2018 / 8:23 pm

    Don’t let this escalate. Speak to HR, if you have that option, and keep all interactions only professional from your end. And document everything that comes through email or text. Be sure to save it on a home device, not just a work computer. I ignored some signs like this flirting from my previous employer. He made the office terrifying for me and then raped me. Now he’s facing state charges and I have to rebuild my career while testifying in court. It’s not guaranteed that your boss would take it that far, but you deserve to protect yourself!

  19. K-braithwaite February 13, 2018 / 8:23 pm

    You’re not overreacting. This is all sorts of inappropriate. If you are not comfortable telling him straight up that he is making you uncomfortable then you need to show it. You need to start being cold to him. Do not acknoweldge his texts or calls outside of work hours. Pull his arm off of you when he reaches for you. Absolutely do not acknowledge his birthday. Push him back to arms length where a proper supervisor should be. And if he asks you about it, be truthful; how close you are acting with me is not appropriate and I am not even after a friend here, just a supervisor.

    And you know what, why does it matter if you are overreacting? Its your body, your job, your boundaries. Stick up for yourself because you owe this guy nothing.

  20. justbooker February 13, 2018 / 8:23 pm

    Definitely contact HR and establish boundaries. Straight up tell him, “Do not touch me/I am not comfortable with that” when he is physical. Do not answer any texts that have to do with anything besides work. Don’t answer his phone calls. Tell your coworkers that you are uncomfortable so they know. And definitely talk to HR. Setting boundaries with supervisors can be intimidating because you don’t want to make the workplace environment hostile/uncomfortable for you, so it might help to talk to HR to get the process going. They will not reference you if they reach out to him, and it lays the foundation for building further evidence if it continues.
    And don’t give him a gift.

  21. IsSheWeird_ February 13, 2018 / 8:23 pm

    HR would shut this shit down so fast. Your supervisor’s behavior is putting your employer at risk and any company with competent leadership would want to know this is happening.

    No you should not give him a gift, gifts should never come from subordinates.

    You should start practicing unambiguous boundary setting right away. “Please don’t touch me.” “I asked you to stop hugging me and you’re still doing it. You need to stop it yourself or I will ask someone with the authority to stop you.” “Please do not text me after work hours or about things unrelated to work.” And then obviously ignore and texts that aren’t work related.

    Seriously, these are not unreasonable things to say. Start saying them.

  22. jjplay67 February 13, 2018 / 8:23 pm

    Why the F*CK is your boyfriend answering your phone when you had rightly decided to not answer?

    You have TWO problems.

  23. insomniagame February 13, 2018 / 8:23 pm

    No gift. Gifting does not go up the org chart, only down. Do not give your boss gifts, even when they are a normal boss who is not grooming you to tolerate sexual harassment.

  24. ckatem February 13, 2018 / 8:23 pm

    I’m sure I’ll be down voted to hell for saying it but here it goes: I’ve been in the exact same position as you in virtually every job with someone, and currently with my direct supervisor. I honestly think if you try to overtly stand up to him it will negatively impact your success at the company. Instead, I try to subtly drive the conversation elsewhere or just ignore inapproapriate texts. I also want to say HR is not your friend. They are there to protect the company. If your boss adds value to the company and you’re new, you may end up in a bad situation. By no means should you put up with it, but don’t do anything drastic.

  25. VampArcher February 13, 2018 / 8:23 pm

    Sounds like he’s into you and he getting a bit too close for comfort. Try gently telling him “I’m not comfortable with being touched, I’d appreciate it if you’d stop” if he starts to make advances. Just ignore any non-work related texts.

    If he still is up in your personal bubble, you need to be more firm. You should probably tell your boss about it.

  26. eegrlN February 13, 2018 / 8:23 pm

    Tell him you are not comfortable with personal conversation or physical contact, preferably in writing. If he starts doing either again, go to HR/the principal or whoever immediately. You need to be firm and direct and you need to do it now.

  27. iSoReddit February 13, 2018 / 8:23 pm

    His boundary crossing makes Hitler’s invasion of poland look tiny in comparison

  28. Kulomin February 13, 2018 / 8:23 pm

    I dont get why so many comments immediatly say “this is sexual harrassment” and “go to HR”. If op hasn’t shown any signs that she is uncomfortable with his behaviour I think it is a little too early to label it as harrassment and go to HR.
    Now, its different once op clearly shows that she is uncomfortable and he continues, but until then he did nothing wrong imo.

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