Throwback Thursday: Is Dating A Co-Worker A Good Idea?

Story by by Paul Nakayama and Naomi Fujimoto.

Is workplace “commingling” a good idea? Guest columnist Naomi Fujimoto says all’s fair in love and work, but Paul Nakayama wouldn’t touch that with a 10-foot laser pointer.

NAOMI SAYS:

Workplace dating is the stuff of great drama. Glee and Grey’s Anatomy — where would they be without it? And what about The Office — the shrugging, the fumbling, the knowing glances? Even on 24, with the fate of the world in question, they still found time for love. All in a day’s work. But enough about TV. I’m real-life proof that you can get your honey where you get your money.

Whether you’re looking at each other over an operating table or a corporate cube, your co-workers see you at your best and your not so best. You see how they deal with stress and relate to other people. And whether they can follow through. In the workplace, people are themselves. Sober. Decent. Good relationship material. (If you’re just looking for a hookup, stay away from your nine-to-five crowd. Sleeping your way to the middle is a bad idea.)

I’m Japanese and an editor, so it won’t be revealing much to say that I love rules. I love that they help me figure out how people will act at work — and, possibly, outside of work. While I can’t say that every girl wants a hero, I like a guy with good problem-solving skills. Responding to an IT “code blue,” Sean had a confident walk that made him look like he could handle anything. Including me. I had to find out whether he was a MacGyver or a MacGruber.

Our romance started small, tiny even, as workplace entanglements often do. When he stopped by just to say hi or lingered in the hallway, my office mates noticed. One day we went to lunch (Asian fusion, natch). Soon I saw that he could troubleshoot my Mac and share his fries. This unofficial stuff paved the way for our office courtship. Pre-dating can last weeks (if you’re lucky) or years (if you’re me). With all the visits and lunches and hallway conversations, this face time will further your status more than Facebook. Same with those happy hours, where your guy can put his hand on your back to help you throw darts.

Ah, the happy hour. As long as you’re not a boozer or a bimbo, the happy hour is your friend, the one that encourages you and your work buddy to pair off. Enjoy it! But here’s where I’ll come back to the rules again. Keep it rated PG! When you think “workplace grind,” visualize your efforts on a big project, not on the dance floor. (For real. My friend had to see her co-worker dirty dance at the company party. Ew.) Your office friends will be happy for you, but you don’t need to flaunt how in lust you are. Chances are, they noticed the chemistry before you did. They are, after all, people who see you 40-plus hours a week.

Sure, you could meet someone online or in a bar or through a setup. Or you can sit back and see what happens with that guy you always go to lunch with. Maybe it won’t go anywhere. Or maybe it will go somewhere for just a few months, like it did for Sean and me. We broke up recently, and the vibe at lunch has changed. No regrets, though. He was a MacGyver — just not mine.

My awful truth? Workplace dating might seem inexcusable or irresponsible, but it’s also irresistible. If you’re willing to risk a few awkward moments in the elevator, give it a try.

PAUL SAYS:

Imagine an adorable bear cub playing with a ball; you can’t help but fawn over it. You approach, unable to stop yourself from petting it. It coos as your hand approaches its face. It is so darn cute! Then suddenly, the cub growls and bares its fangs and mauls your pretty hand into meat strings. You scream and panic, stumbling over your dumb self as you try to escape, but then you realize that you’re locked in a cage. You slap your forehead with what’s left of your hand and curse your own foolishness as that once cuddly bear cub leaps onto your back and takes you down. It’s a horrible tale, I know, and yet so many befall the same fate, except instead of loving a cute but vicious animal, it’s dating a co-worker.

As my warm little analogy illustrates, dating a co-worker is a dangerous proposition. Think about how many of your exes were brutish, annoying or clingy. You sighed constantly with deep relief when things ended. Now, think about the good ones you’ve had. In an office setting, what are the real odds that you’d meet one of the few good ones and none of the horrible trolls?

Imagine walking to the copy room and running into your ex, the bipolar one who’d refer to himself as “we.” And they’re demanding, “Why did you leave us? Why why why? (And are you done with the copier, skank?)” That would certainly be a good time to run away, but oh, that’s right — you can’t because you work together.

Breakups are manageable when you have space or at least an escape route. Not possible with an office tryst. Or what if it was your heart that was broken? During the Halloween party, you hook up with that longtime crush of yours from accounting, only to discover later he was boofing everyone. Work is miserable enough as it is without having to see some douche bag’s face every five days out of seven. Eventually, you’ll see him hitting on someone new at the office, repeating the same coaxing lines. Your fists will be clenched in anger, and your poor laptop will “accidentally fall down some stairs.” I can’t even begin to warn you against the dangers of being around the open bar at the company holiday party … you’ll be fondly remembered as the drunken mess that flung cheese at everyone like it was poo, all while sobbing openly like a Bieber groupie.

I get why office romances happen. The fact is, it’s hard meeting people after college, and you spend more time with co-workers than your best friends. Things happen. And there are plenty of examples of people finding real love in the office. So why not, right? Well, there’s more to lose in an office romance. These things often end poorly, and you’ll only succeed in making your sucky job even suckier. I’ve been in one or two myself that ended in less than desirable ways where the consolation prize is a giant bag of awkward. In this economy, I think it’s better to have a job than a chance at love, the same chance I could take at my other usual hangouts: the karaoke bar, the 7-Eleven or my parkour club. Because looking for love in the office is a man-eating baby bear that will devour your heart, and it’s just common sense not to wrestle bears.

This story was originally published in our Fall 2010 issue. Get your copy here

After 10 Years of The Awful Truth: A Teachable Moment

COLUMNIST PAUL NAKAYAMA RUMINATES OVER HIS INABILITY TO FIND THE ONE WITHIN THE PAST DECADE AND COMES UP WITH A FEW PRACTICAL LOVE LESSONS.

 

It’s hard to believe, but this is my 10th year writing The Awful Truth. I joked around with my editor that I was probably the most veteran employee at the company.

“So,” she asked, “in a decade, what have you learned about relationships or love?”

I opened my mouth to answer and instead, changed the subject to sports. If I were going to be clueless in a conversation, it would at least be regarding something I didn’t care about. When I started working on this column, I was an idealistic 28-year-old. I thought I’d definitely be married with kids in a 10-year span. But one minute, I’m watching marathons of 24, and in the next, I’m effing 38.

So, I thought about it. Why didn’t it work out with some of the great loves of my life, or why haven’t I found The One? (And by The One, I don’t mean Keanu Reeves, though at this point it’s better than nothing.) I stared at a blank page on my laptop in hopes of writing out a clever answer. My head started to hurt, so instead I watched five seasons of Mad Men. You probably think that I’m single because I’m addicted to television. You’re not wrong, but there’s more to it.

Half procrastinating, half ruminating, I started organizing a bunch of names into columns as an exercise. Column A: Girls I liked. Column B: Girls who liked me. Column C: Girls from A and B that actually dated me. And in doing this, the answer revealed itself before me — like with dating, I was overthinking things.

I remember my friend telling me about how this girl had sent him a one-page letter from summer camp. Prepubescent boner on full alert, he promptly replied with a five-page gesture, full of wit and passion. She wrote back with another one-pager, saying mostly that camp sucks. This is pretty much the analogy for how I chased girls whom I thought I saw a chance with, seeing signs when there were none. In modern terms, it’s the same as texting a girl, getting a nebulous response a day later, and thinking, “She texted back … there’s a chance!”

Making a small thing seem like a big thing was my thing. I’d break up with girls that offended me in minor ways because I would think, “If she’s capable of that, what else is she gonna do to me?” For example, I called it off with this one girl because she made me eat a spoonful of mayo in front of my friends to prove my love for her. I did it to save her face, but oh, did I loathe her for that. Come to think of it, she made me eat the Devil’s seed, and I’m glad I dumped her.

As I get older, I realize I’ve become a little superstitious. I believe in jinxing myself. I’ve seen enough great opportunities go sour because I couldn’t wait to tell my friends about some girl and how we made a connection. You know, boasts that would end with “Well, I wouldn’t call her my girlfriend … yet.” And sure enough I never did. To me, luck is now a big part of whether it works out with someone. Even if she’s the right girl, it’s just good luck or bad luck as to whether you met her at the right time. So if luck is a factor, least I can do is shut the hell up and not jinx myself.

Another thing I used to do wrong was fall for girls for all the wrong reasons. Just because she can sing her ass off and give me goose bumps does not mean we’re meant to be. Otherwise I’d be in love with Mariah Carey, and she’s insane. Or just because she thinks video games are art and shares my opinion that “Bioshock” is a masterpiece of modern storytelling does not make her Mrs. Right, though technically it makes her right. Sadly, it wasn’t from self-realization, but rather Chloë Grace Moretz’s 12-year-old character in 500 Days of Summer that taught me that nugget of wisdom.

In writing this piece, I had a High Fidelity moment. I considered talking to all of my exes to suss out where things fell apart — you know, what the common thread of my failed relationships might be. But they’re all nice girls — too nice to call me a dick to my face — so I sat and thought on it. As you’ve already guessed, the common thread is me. If there’s any hope for this trend to end, it’s got to start with that. So, finally, the following is a list of things that have caused problems in the past that I will take to heart.

Be honest with how I feel. Not be jealous, or if I am, not be Real House- wives-y about it. Learn to enjoy her interests every now and then, unless she’s into S&M. Don’t dance unless there are strobe lights or it’s dark. Never dress up as Pocahontas ever again. Forcing a schedule on love seems to almost always ruin it, but taking it for granted is a slow death. Don’t be mean to girls who enjoy mayo; they’re people, too.

This story was originally published in the Summer ’13 issue of Audrey Magazine. Buy your copy here

 

 

The Awful Truth | Isn’t it Bromantic?

ISN’T IT BROMANTIC? : What is up with all these guy crushes and man-love?
Audrey’s resident bro expert tells all.

ISSUE: Spring 2012

DEPT: The Awful Truth

STORY: Paul Nakayama

I recently returned from a trip to Vancouver where my writing partner and I celebrated New Year’s Eve. To quote our generation, it was epic. Now, judging from the photo (opposite page), you might assume that we went there as lovers, or perhaps even newlyweds. But, no, dear readers, it is, in fact, a “bromance” of the highest caliber. For those of you who’ve never heard of a bromance, it’s defined as a very close, or homosocial, friendship between two straight men. You’ve all seen examples of a bromance through television shows like Scrubs and Friends or movies like I Love You, Man. There are even real world examples like Ben Affleck and Matt Damon or George Clooney and Brad Pitt. It’s a strong bond formed from common interests and long periods of time spent together. Hearing this, my editor was unsatisfied, or rather, still suspicious, and she demanded a better explanation. I took a look at the photo again, and I thought maybe it is in my best interest to provide a few insights
into this new definition of brotherhood.

The concept of guy-love is lost on those who have never experienced it (so, men from older generations or women). It’s not weird or strange anymore to see men display their affections for their buds physically. I’ve seen grown, bearded men shove aside a fist bump request and instead firmly place their chest against another man’s chest. It’s strange and perhaps unnerving to them to see men platonically bond while throwing in the occasional hugs, butt-slaps and friendly wrestling. Whatever happened to the good ol’ days of stoic machismo, they wonder? Well, these days it’s cooler to be cool with man-love.

I remember one time in high school I spent the night at my best friend’s house once. His dad, an old fashioned type, raised an eyebrow when we went into the hot tub to relax. When it was time to turn in, his dad seemed nervous about something, as if the fate of his son’s future rested on the events of this particular evening. He kept hanging around the room, which was a drag because we wanted to close the door and talk about girls. Finally, after long periods of pacing and internal debating, he looked at us and pointed at the bed. He stuttered, “You know, I don’t think the bed is big enough to hold both of you.”

What do you do when your dad, like many others, mistakes guy-love for gay love? It’s not like we were planning to share the bed, but we did what anyone would do when faced with an awkward opportunity to teach someone about tolerance. We went with it and antagonized the poor man. Arms around each other and a big grin on our faces, we said, “We’ll make it work.”

I thought some more on why bromances are so common these days. When did it all start? I wondered if it was somehow a natural progression from the emergence of the metrosexual man. I thought that the heavy use of high-end conditioner and facial moisturizer made our hearts as soft as our hair and skin. In all seriousness, though, single men these days are simply less concerned with the notion of being identified as gay than their fathers and grandfathers. If anything, I’ve seen bromances take pride in their ability to ride the razor’s edge of platonic and sexual. Take me, for instance. Whenever I get drunk, I tend to lift my brothers into the air a la Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey in Dirty Dancing. I’m not trying to cop a feel (usually); there’s just no better way to show a brother you love him than by doing a ballet lift together.

Bromances aren’t just an American thing. I’ve witnessed and experienced it on many of my travels, like Anthony Bourdain, but instead of food, I sampled male bonding. In Brazil, I befriended a group of the tallest, largest men I’ve ever met, and when I had trouble wading through the packed crowds, one of them actually lifted me up above the people and placed me in front of the bathroom. I said to him, “Obrigado, my gentle giant. Obrigado.” (True story.) In Hong Kong, I spent several nights drinking with guys that simply liked me because I could hold my liquor. Imagine that — bonding with strangers over such a superficial reason, and yet we were inseparable for days. In Singapore, I saw a club full of guys perform a synchronized interpretative dance to Madonna’s “Like a Prayer.” Actually, wait, that might’ve been a gay club; it was kind of confusing. Finally, in Korea, I saw men holding hands and kissing each other’s faces. Well, I wasn’t ready for the master class bromance, but you know, I just wanted to give you another example.

While most women comment that it’s “cute” to see men bond so closely, I’ve also had plenty of girls poke fun (with a hint of “what-the-eff” in their voices) at my bromances. When that happens, my buddies and I shrug it off because we know that it’s just jealousy. Now before I get angry letters from you (which I wouldn’t mind actually since it’s at least some evidence that someone is reading this), I’ll explain the source of the jealousy. It’s not uncommon for men these days to be more emotionally available to their man-mates than their actual girlfriends. There’s less emotional risk and you still get the satisfaction of catharsis. There’s no regard for what comes in the future; there’s only the enjoyment of the now. In other words, men can enjoy the intimacy of a long-lasting relationship without the dreaded “so-where-are-we-headed” talk. You combine that level of hassle-free friendship with man-dates that involve common interests in video games, sports, music and entertainment, and it’s not ironic that even the most commitment phobic guys have at some point in their lives said to another guy: “Dude, if you were a girl, I’d marry you.”

Now, with the context I’ve given, does the above photo of me leaping into another man’s arms make more sense? Still weird, you say? Yes, there was alcohol involved at the time this was taken, but that’s not an excuse. There’s no need to make excuses for something as beautiful as the friendship of two men. If anything, I will fight like a Black Friday shopper to defend my right to be cradled in the arms of my best friends. It’s a great thing that the taboos of the past are being cast off to create a world where men are OK with showing feelings, affection and love. Why not have a world where men can accept and hug instead of front and fight? I think it’s awesome. Well, except for those really aggressive huggers that linger. That’s just awkward.

More stories from Audrey’s spring issue here.

Spring 2013 | The Market | The Awful Truth: I Screen, You Screen

DEPT The Market
Issue Spring 2013
Author Paul Nakayama

In an age where “check her out” means online and not from across the room, columnist Paul Nakayama wonders if internet pre-screening makes for better and more efficient dating.

A lot’s changed in the dating scene in the 10 years I’ve been with Audrey Magazine. I was recently re- minded of how much that is true when my editors asked me if guys also engaged in Internet stalking, particularly prior to going on a date. I remember this little website called Asian Avenue where all of a sudden there was this tremendous pool of girls you could potentially date. I say “potentially” because there’s also this little thing called probability and the chances are that more girls just mean more “no’s.” But back then, if you put a person’s name in a search field, you didn’t get much. Whatever a girl wanted you to know, she herself had to plant. It was a tenuous representation at best and a case of Catfish usually. I mean, if you wanted to see some photos, you usually had to sift through fuzzy misrepresentations that had a lot of shadows or a conspicuous amount of floor plants covering her face. Or maybe it was just me, and I just happened to get IM’ed by girls that admired the style of Bigfoot photos. These days, it’s a wholly different battlefield.

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The Awful Truth: Gaming the System

Guest columnist actor Roger Fan and our very own Paul Nakayama weigh the benefits — and costs — of snaring a VGD (that’s “video game dude”).

ISSUE: Spring 2010

DEPT: The Awful Truth

STORY: Paul Nakayama and Roger Fan

Roger Says:

Romance does not have to be complicated. If you’re a single lady who is truly ready to embark upon a lifelong journey of happiness and genuine romantic affection with a guy who won’t Tiger Woods you, the answer is simpler than you think — get good at video games. Forget the diet, the tan, the hair extensions, the accent reduction courses, the exotic body glitter, the plastic surgery to get the double eyelids, etc. All that stuff is unnecessary. The only thing you need to do to snare that bloke who will forever treat you like a queen even when your crow’s feet sprout to the size of tree roots, is video game mastery. And don’t worry, you don’t need to get good at all the games. Just pick the top two or three most popular ones (currently “Uncharted 2,” “Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2” or “Bioshock 2”) and master them. I know this concept may seem rather confusing and perhaps alien. But sometimes a massive paradigm shift is necessary to right Occam’s razor of love and happiness. So grab a joystick ASAP and get ready to have your mind blown. It’s time to vacate any and all traditional hunting grounds of love and head on over to Best Buy. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves here just yet …

Don’t buy into the hype. I have worked in the entertainment industry for almost 14 years and I can say with clear conviction that my business is single-handedly responsible for creating a completely fictitious and utterly unobtainable idea of love, romance and relationships that most civilized ladies on earth mistaken as personal entitlement. Forget the Mr. Right Checklists. It’s all bunk and bull dookie; lies mistaken for gospel. I know it sounds somewhat counterintuitive, but if your primary checklist has stuff like tall, good-looking, athletic, smart, ambitious, successful, funny, businessman, lawyer, rich, etc., you are basically assembling a cocktail of personal misery mixed with a twist of heartache. Men with those dominant qualities will cheat on you the second you become boring and/or predictable. Here’s the truth — on the surface, true romance and genuine life partnership is rather unimpressive and sedate and more closely resembles the stillness of the American Gothic portrait rather than the vibrant flirtatious noise of a Michael Bublé music video. It’s time to stop being seductively misguided by all the bling and start focusing on the true love and happiness thing. Yes, I meant that to rhyme.

So let’s cut to the chase — get yourself a serious case of VGD. That’s right, a “Video Game Dude” (not some sort of funky medical condition). Cast your net in this pond and you’ll get what you’ve secretly been looking for since the day you first swiped an Oxy pad across your forehead. A VGD, you say? But aren’t they mostly pale, skinny chaps who live at home with moms and drink Grape Crush? Yes, but do not be alarmed. This is just the primary screening tool. Limit the pool to VGDs first, and then you can start sifting for your own personal gold. But why a VGD instead of the prototypical GQ? The answer is simple — Video Game Dudes have spent a life enveloped in a cocoon of social isolation and electronic fantasy, too scared and intimidated to explore and engage the human world. Find a way to connect with a VGD and he will gift you with eternal loyalty and forever worship you even when you mature into a raisin. One word of caution, however: Like any seabird just emerging from the trauma of an oil spill, a VGD may not exactly be impressive to the eye. But do not fret. They will do whatever you say. Style him and ask him to work out. He will not protest. In fact, give him a smile and a moist peck on his cheek and he’ll dive into a nest of hissing cobras without pause just because he loves you (eternally). So where do you find this VGD? Simple. Just go to your local Best Buy and troll around the gaming section. He’ll be that guy busy playing the new hot game at the demo kiosk. Like him? Good. Want to snare him? Be careful. These VGDs are delicate. They know that you’re there and are easily startled. Do not engage a VGD at a gaming kiosk in your traditional girly way. It’ll scare him and cause him to cry and run home to mom. Instead, waltz up to the kiosk, grab the vacant game controller and join in the second his avatar dies. Do not look him in the eye. Just casually say in a slightly commanding register, “Can I play?” He will not say no. Once he lays witness to your impressive gaming ability, even letting out a giggle or two in glee, he’ll strike up a conversation with you and look you in the eye. If that happens, congratulations, your mission is accomplished. The VGD is yours for life, just like when a Na’vi bonds its halu with the banshee for the very first time (that’s an Avatar reference, btw). So go forth now, young butterfly. Go snare yourself a VGD and embrace a life of infinite happiness and eternal love. If you require my further romantic assistance, please feel free to find me at YouOffendMeYouOffendMyFamily.com. Just know, I too was once a VGD …

Paul Says:

Knowing that Roger was once a VGD gives me great hope because he’s something of an industrial-strength chick magnet and I’m something of a full-power geek. And so it pains me that it’s my duty to provide a counterargument to his proposal, which left alone could convince some of his hot actress friends to go out with me, finally. But I’m a writer first and a lover second (but only because I was told to keep my day job). Truth is, and you’ll likely be really shocked by this, but we VGDs are not the incredible catches Roger makes us out to be.

Going after a VGD, especially by adopting his world, is a tremendous undertaking and one not to be taken lightly. Jumping in half-assed will result in that cheek getting slapped hard. You see, hot female celebrities recently figured out that playing video games or spouting sci-fi/fantasy trivia was a surefire way to access nerds and geeks, the undiscovered country for rapidly increasing fan base. G4’s Olivia Munn’s entire career is based on this simple tip. I’ll admit that even I googled the crap out of her. But now, every actress or model is trying to be geek chic, and it’s transparent and frankly a turn-off to VGDs everywhere. You will likely be called out on your facade by the denizens of the Web, kind of like how people post photos of bad plastic surgery, but more mortifying. Nobody likes a poser, unless said poser is totally into showing her boobs, in which case she can pose all she wants.

If you take Roger’s advice and truly begin training in video games, there are some physical changes you should come to expect. One, your neck will begin to stretch forward like a chicken as you attempt to focus on the TV screen. Two, you will find yourself involuntarily veering your body left and right as you control your game characters. Three, you will develop odd muscles around your fingers. Finally, you will find your mouth agape on a regular basis; I’d watch for stray insects and pools of collecting drool inside.

Now, if you actually happen to try video games and decide that you like it, I need to include some warnings about dating VGDs, as is my duty for the term of this column. While I simply adore girls that sincerely love video games, I have to say that dating a VGD isn’t as rosy as Roger would lead you to believe. Even as you play together, you should know that video games will be a direct competitor for your attention. A romantic dinner with the bird or playing 20 solid hours of the newly released “Final Fantasy XIII”? Oh, that’s a toughie. VGDs won’t cheat on you with another woman, but we will certainly cheat on you with a game. I’ve been known to sneak out of bed to squeeze in some extra game time. That’s the reason why we VGDs so closely studied Ross’ “hug & roll” technique on Friends.

When I played “Warcraft,” it was all my friends and I talked about during dinner. Now that I don’t mess with that crack, I realize it’s as fun to talk about as calculus. For the newly initiated, general video game talk will have the same effect. It will also likely reduce your libido in the same way anti-depressants work. Of course, once you’re fully converted, you’ll be unable to have normal conversations with non-gamers. You’ll even begin to interject gamer-speak, which is confusing. See how your co-workers react when you say you’re going to “pwn” the competition or if you exclaim “w00t” at the end of a meeting. Of course, the VGDs in your office will probably give you a fist bump and/or flowers.

If, after reading all this and ruling out lesbianism, you’re still interested, by all means seek me and my fellow VGDs out at the local Best Buy, preferably on Tuesdays when all the new stuff is out. We promise a hot evening of a Yelp-approved restaurant, a Twitpic on Twitter as proof of our date, engaging conversation on topics like why Princess Peach from Super Mario Bros. is a bitch, and a guaranteed “Like” on anything you do on Facebook henceforth. We may even go buckwild and hold your hand. It will be magical. Won’t you come and be my Player Two?

The Awful Truth: The Back-Up Plan

THE BACK-UP PLAN: Grenade, hater, cock-blocker — call it what you will, guest columnist Anastasia Kim filters the losers, while wingman Paul Nakayama just tries not to say too much.

ISSUE: Spring 2011

DEPT: The Awful Truth

STORY: Paul Nakayama and Anastasia Kim

PHOTO: Audrey Cho

ANASTASIA SAYS:
I really should charge by the hour for my wingwoman services. Actually, wingwoman doesn’t quite describe the role so much as “booty guard.”

I am not a “matchmaking” wingwoman, just so you know; you can sign up with eHarmony for that. I am what embittered folk call a “cock-blocker,” “hater” or, if they deem me unattractive enough, a “grenade.” (Hopefully this isn’t the case.)

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The Awful Truth: The Office Grind

Photo by Audrey Cho.

Issue: Fall 2010

Dept: The Awful Truth

The Office Grind by Paul Nakayama and Naomi Fujimoto

Is workplace “commingling” a good idea? Guest columnist Naomi Fujimoto says all’s fair in love and work, but Paul Nakayama wouldn’t touch that with a 10-foot laser pointer.

NAOMI SAYS:

Workplace dating is the stuff of great drama. Glee and Grey’s Anatomy — where would they be without it? And what about The Office — the shrugging, the fumbling, the knowing glances? Even on 24, with the fate of the world in question, they still found time for love. All in a day’s work. But enough about TV. I’m real-life proof that you can get your honey where you get your money.

Whether you’re looking at each other over an operating table or a corporate cube, your co-workers see you at your best and your not so best. You see how they deal with stress and relate to other people. And whether they can follow through. In the workplace, people are themselves. Sober. Decent. Good relationship material. (If you’re just looking for a hookup, stay away from your nine-to-five crowd. Sleeping your way to the middle is a bad idea.)

I’m Japanese and an editor, so it won’t be revealing much to say that I love rules. I love that they help me figure out how people will act at work — and, possibly, outside of work. While I can’t say that every girl wants a hero, I like a guy with good problem-solving skills. Responding to an IT “code
blue,” Sean had a confident walk that made him look like he could handle anything. Including me. I had to find out whether he was a MacGyver or a MacGruber.

Our romance started small, tiny even, as workplace entanglements often do. When he stopped by just to say hi or lingered in the hallway, my office mates noticed. One day we went to lunch (Asian fusion, natch). Soon I saw that he could troubleshoot my Mac and share his fries. This unofficial stuff paved the way for our office courtship. Pre-dating can last weeks (if you’re lucky) or years (if you’re me). With all the visits and lunches and hallway conversations, this face time will further your status more than Facebook. Same with those happy hours, where your guy can put his hand on your back to help you throw darts.

Ah, the happy hour. As long as you’re not a boozer or a bimbo, the happy hour is your friend, the one that encourages you and your work buddy to pair off. Enjoy it! But here’s where I’ll come back to the rules again. Keep it rated PG! When you think “workplace grind,” visualize your efforts on a big project, not on the dance floor. (For real. My friend had to see her co-worker dirty dance at the company party. Ew.) Your office friends will be happy for you, but you don’t need to flaunt how in lust you are. Chances are, they noticed the chemistry before you did. They are, after all, people who see you 40-plus hours a week.

Sure, you could meet someone online or in a bar or through a setup. Or you can sit back and see what happens with that guy you always go to lunch with. Maybe it won’t go anywhere. Or maybe it will go somewhere for just a few months, like it did for Sean and me. We broke up recently, and the vibe at lunch has changed. No regrets, though. He was a MacGyver — just not mine.

My awful truth? Workplace dating might seem inexcusable or irresponsible, but it’s also irresistible. If you’re willing to risk a few awkward moments in the elevator, give it a try.

PAUL SAYS:

Imagine an adorable bear cub playing with a ball; you can’t help but fawn over it. You approach, unable to stop yourself from petting it. It coos as your hand approaches its face. It is so darn cute! Then suddenly, the cub growls and bares its fangs and mauls your pretty hand into meat strings. You scream and panic, stumbling over your dumb self as you try to escape, but then you realize that you’re locked in a cage. You slap your forehead with what’s left of your hand and curse your own foolishness as that once cuddly bear cub leaps onto your back and takes you down. It’s a horrible tale, I know, and yet so many befall the same fate, except instead of loving a cute but vicious animal,
it’s dating a co-worker.

As my warm little analogy illustrates, dating a co-worker is a dangerous proposition. Think about how many of your exes were brutish, annoying or clingy. You sighed constantly with deep relief when things ended. Now, think about the good ones you’ve had. In an office setting, what are the real odds that you’d meet one of the few good ones and none of the horrible trolls?

Imagine walking to the copy room and running into your ex, the bipolar one who’d refer to himself as “we.” And they’re demanding, “Why did you leave us? Why why why? (And are you done with the copier, skank?)” That would certainly be a good time to run away, but oh, that’s right — you can’t because you work together.

Breakups are manageable when you have space or at least an escape route. Not possible with an office tryst. Or what if it was your heart that was broken? During the Halloween party, you hook up with that longtime crush of yours from accounting, only to discover later he was boofing everyone. Work is miserable enough as it is without having to see some douche bag’s face every five days out of seven. Eventually, you’ll see him hitting on someone new at the office, repeating the same coaxing lines. Your fists will be clenched in anger, and your poor laptop will “accidentally fall down some
stairs.” I can’t even begin to warn you against the dangers of being around the open bar at the company holiday party … you’ll be fondly remembered as the drunken mess that flung cheese at everyone like it was poo, all while sobbing openly like a Bieber groupie.

I get why office romances happen. The fact is, it’s hard meeting people after college, and you spend more time with co-workers than your best friends. Things happen. And there are plenty of examples
of people finding real love in the office. So why not, right? Well, there’s more to lose in an office romance. These things often end poorly, and you’ll only succeed in making your sucky job even suckier. I’ve been in one or two myself that ended in less than desirable ways where the consolation prize is a giant bag of awkward. In this economy, I think it’s better to have a job than a chance at
love, the same chance I could take at my other usual hangouts: the karaoke bar, the 7-Eleven or my parkour club. Because looking for love in the office is a man-eating baby bear that will devour your
heart, and it’s just common sense not to wrestle bears.

The Awful Truth: Dating for Dummies

DATING FOR DUMMIES
In honor of the New Year, Paul Nakayama and guest columnist Anastasia Kim swear off mental diarrhea, resolve to get over themselves, and break other bad dating habits.

ISSUE: Winter 2010

DEPT: The Awful Truth

STORY: Paul Nakayama and Anastasia Kim

Dating for Dummies

PAUL SAYS:
Last year, I vowed to lose 10 pounds. The following week, I went to an all-you-can-eat Korean BBQ, making the restaurant regret their business model and upgrading my resolution to 15 pounds. The year before that I lasted about two days before I caved and bought a stack of Blu-rays (and only because the stores were closed on New Year’s).

My previous New Year’s resolutions haven’t gone so well, but that hasn’t stopped me. For 2011, I realized there’s no changing my gluttony or my geeky addictions. Instead, I’ll focus on something new: my weakest, most deficient skill set — ironically, that’d be dating.

I’m 36 and unmarried. Normally, I would emphatically de- fend myself by declaring that it’s by choice. It’s easier to say that I enjoy having the time to write or play video games or re-enact scenes from Lost in my underwear. But I’m more likely single because I sabotaged myself at every turn. It’s not realistic to make huge sweeping changes all at once, so I’ll start with a few simples ones to adopt.

I discovered my joy of writing more than 10 years ago by blogging on AsianAvenue.com and later Livejournal. I didn’t think anyone was reading my stuff so my life sort of became an open book. When social media became mainstream, it was an easy transition to embrace. I was already doing it. Everything I do is transparent: the places I go, what I eat, or what I’m doing. It’s an unfortunate habit. I need to stop publishing every drunken thought, every goofy photo and every lame attempt at humor. So, for Resolution #1, I will filter myself better and curb the mental diarrhea. Yes, it’ll mean fewer comments and “likes” on my Facebook wall, but girls don’t really need or want to know when I’m battling the toilet bowl Hydra.

This sounds dumb, but talking has never been my forte, unless it’s about video games. But we’re talking about dating here, not chilling with my nephews. I overcompensate and say stupid things to alleviate the pressure of awkward silences. I found that I had better luck “talking” to a girl over an instant messenger. I had time to come up with something marginally witty, and I didn’t pollute the conversation with filler talk about “Street Fighter.” This eventually evolved into sending text messages rather than calling. I mean, there is no awkward silence with text messages, and I love that. But what happens when the girl actually agrees to go out? “Hey, take off your bra, sexy,” I’d sext her. And she’d turn to me and say, “I’m right here, freak.” Resolution #2 is to communicate the old-fashioned way.

Despite all my fumbling, I do manage to go out on dates. Ah, but that’s when I do the real damage, where I’m either a Michael Bay movie of ridiculous disasters or an indie flick where nothing ever happens. Why do I drink too much on dates or inevitably end up in the “friend zone?” Because … I never say what I want. I’m too chicken sh-t to say, “I like you. I think it would be awesome to watch movies together and see each other naked on a regular basis.” Resolution #3 is to say what I want and mean. The worst outcome is getting turned down, to which I’ll just say, “Alrighty then.” Best outcome is regular nudity in real 3-D. That’s what you’d call a good bet.

I realize that my resolutions may not help you. After all, they’re designed around my issues. If you’re lazy, use mine any- way. If you think of your own, great! If you fail, well, I’ll meet you at the Korean BBQ.

ANASTASIA SAYS:
I’ve dated all kinds of men: the insecure doormat, the unattainable rebel, the chauvinistic meathead, and even the possessive psycho. For years, I wondered why I couldn’t just snag a normal, great guy. But after the tail end of a series of unfortunate dates whipped me across the face, I realized I had been going about it all wrong. I decided then that I’d make a few dating resolutions for myself to get out of this dating slump, instead of waiting for Mr. Right to somehow magically find me.

As a college student, I plunged into the dating pool, head- first, believing feigned confidence and bravura would surely land me a good man. Once, on a date with Mr. R., I talked about myself so much, I forgot for a second he was even there. Midway through the “so this psycho fell in love with me” story, I realized how self-absorbed and entitled I sounded. At some point, I had to tell myself, “Get over yourself. Seriously.” Talking about how many men wanted me didn’t make me seem any more appealing, and complaining about crazy exes made me look like a psycho-magnet. Stories told for the sake of receiving validation should stay between girlfriends; sharing too much with our date only shows how little we have to lose if things don’t pan out. Let’s date each individual as if that person is our last chance at romance because in the end, isn’t that what most of us are searching for?

When I first started dating Mr. H., I thought he was a sweet, funny guy. After the honeymoon blinders came off, though, I realized he was a jobless, unmotivated slob. Less than a year into our relationship, we were fighting over his “Counter- strike” addiction and his penchant for sitting around in his dirty underwear all the livelong day. Ladies, ever meet a guy who’s great in so many ways, but you can’t help but think, “if only he …”? If only he were more ambitious, fit or understanding? How many of us decide to date these men anyway, hoping that with time, and a little “guidance,” they’ll become the men of our dreams? Sadly, people don’t change very often, and I ended up feeling hopeless. Soon after we broke up, I told myself I should date a person’s now, not their potential. Let’s spare our partners (and ourselves) the disappointment, and avoid getting into a re- lationship with someone who isn’t their potential now.

I’ve always been a rigid list-keeper; as such, I often missed out on meeting potentially wonderful men because in one way or another, they didn’t fit my ideal “type.” But after dating men who seemed like my type, and seeing those relationships fail, I learned to break the “type” in stereotype. Take it from me. A doctor from Harvard won’t always know how to mend a broken heart, and old money won’t always solve new problems. A guy with a Porsche may not always rev up our engine, and an Abercrombie model who does his body good may not necessarily do ours any good. Dating isn’t so much about matching outer desires, but more about fulfilling our inner needs. Let’s meet that need first, and then think about all of the extras. Like chiseled abs.

The best way to achieve dating success is to meet love halfway and modify our expectations. Here’s hoping that in the New Year, we won’t need to make any more dating resolutions!

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