Friends at Work: Possible?

While walking the dog tonight, I suddenly got the Blog-Gag – the delayed reaction of horror in realizing that it’s quite possible the coworker who’d hurt my feelings today will read the post and damn me to hell. God, I’m so stupid. Not a savvy blogger. I should know better – my mother found my blog and wrote scathing e-mails I didn’t have the energy to read about our religious differences – and I didn’t even know she knew what “Goggle” (sic) was. I am dumb.

The thing is, if we were just friends, not work friends, I’d be able to ask her directly about her behavior, instead of just writing about it. I’d ask if she were mad at me and she’d probably say no but if she said yes then we’d hash it out and then either stay fast friends or go our merry ways.

But we work together. Closely. And we have a really good working relationship – we agree often and disagree constructively, we chat playfully, we side with each other helpfully. We get along so well, I’ve long harbored a desire for the two of us to go off into the sunset together, starting our own business, writing books together, making money and becoming famous together – having fun along the way.

But attempts to extend our work friendship haven’t gone entirely well – mostly because we’re very much alike – sensitive and opinionated and sometimes too easily hurt. We’re like sisters in that way – except we don’t have the blood relationship linking us beyond our petty differences – we have work, which doesn’t so much link us beyond differences so much as make them big and insurmountable, possibly pitting us against each other – if we let them.

I know there are women out there who make friends at work and keep them through the years, both in and out of the office. Same with the old office romance – I’ve had one (it’s still going on, sans office!). So I know it’s possible. But it’s hard. At least it’s hard for me. Friendships are hard, work makes them harder, and it’s difficult sometimes to know how to keep your distance – if you should keep it – when your cubicles are right next to each other.

I do love my coworker, by the way.

And not just because she could be reading this.


3 Responses to Friends at Work: Possible?

  1. ChrEliz says:

    I had a very close friendship with a sardine co-worker (as in, we worked so closely together, we might as well have been packed in a can together). As it turned out, we needed (she needed) to cut and run back to the place of being distant but pleasant colleagues, because the stuff I was going through (recurrent miscarriage and easy conception, repeat ad nauseum, and raging desire to have a baby), bumped very badly into the stuff she was going through (serious medical health problems unrelated to fertility per se, coupled with infertility, coupled with a raging desire to be pregnant and have a baby). The thing is, you can’t “un-ring a bell” and so it was really hard to go back to being just “acquaintances” when we had shared the most intimate stories of our lives, tons of laughter, tears, and so on, together. But we did it, sort of, and we continue to do it, sort of, and… Well. Learning how to do the next best thing to un-ringing that bell has been a vitally important thing for me in my life as a person in the work world, and as a woman. (I would say ‘as a person’ or ‘as an adult’, but I do believe that intimate friendships like this often do have a uniquely feminine quality to them.) It’s hard to navigate this crap.

    I do think you can talk with her about it, and the options that follow don’t necessarily have to be limited to “and then either stay fast friends or go our merry ways.” There is a third way. (Or a third, fourth, fifth way…) You might be able to talk about your relationship a little bit, but not necessarily hash it ALL out. I won’t get nitty gritty here in the comments section of your blog, but I’ll just leave it at this and tell you again that I think you’re awesome and I’m so damn lucky to have found such a kindred soul. Now let’s just never work in cubicles next to each other or we’ll f%ck it all up. HA HA HA HA HA!!!! love, chr.

  2. Amanda says:

    I love this post!!! Title reminded me of a Sex and the City episode:) I think work friendships entirely possible- some of my best friends met that way (Jeanie for one:)

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