Work Place Drama With My Ex

Its that time again for another submission to our advice column.  This situation might be more common place to us gay / bisexual black men in corporate America in larger gay populated cities.  But best believe similar circumstances can also happen working in warehouse or factory.

Dear Cypher Avenue,I am a successful executive at a top 25 Fortune 500 company.  I have been with this company for 16 years and have been at my current location for 3 years.  I have worked my way up the ladder and become one of a hand full of African American executives in my region.

At 49 years of age, I live my life as a closeted gay male.  My marriage ended after 8 years when I was 42 and I have 1 child.  I am single and really don’t frequent the clubs or bars. I have looked to the internet for meeting and dating other gay men.

I met a younger man (32) about 8 months ago.  About two weeks after we met it was discovered we worked for the same company and actually work in the same office complex but different buildings.  His department consolidated and now he works in the customer service center in my building.

Very private and cautious, I was apprehensive about continuing our sexual relationship, due to close proximity. Our relationship became more involved and he wanted to have more of a committed relationship.  Even though not opposed to the idea, I felt it was not the right time.

Even though I was not in an agreed exclusive or committed relationship with him; I was not sexually involved with anyone else. We did spend large segments of time together and have gone out of town twice.  Majority of our outings I will pay completely or cover 75% of the tabs.

1 month ago it was discovered that he was having a sexual relations with someone else.  Even though we are not in a committed relationship, I was not comfortable with an open sexual relationship and decided to end what we had.


Picture This person became very angry and accused me of wasting his time.  Since then he has become very bitter and has left notes on my car and has left angry voice mail messages.  He is threatening to inform our employer and stated he will accuse me of sexual harassment with saying sexual favors were provided in hopes of advancement.  All of course is not true.

As a hard working, private, closeted African American man, I do not want my company to know of any of these dealings.  I feel I have sacrificed too much for this to possibly ruin my career.  

I feel maybe I should get the upper hand by confidentially speaking with our Human Resource manager first, but don’t want to cause unnecessary disturbance just in case he is bluffing with his tactics and threats.

Any insight or advice you give will be greatly appreciated. Thanks

Wow…very sorry to hear you are going through this.  In these though economic times, having your career threatened is not a
good feeling and especially over a something like this.

I have never been in a situation like this, so I hope my thoughts or suggestions can help.  The overall goal here is to defuse the situation and for you to maintain your career and status.

Picture First: I would begin to mentally prepare myself for everyone (at least my co-workers) knowing that I am gay or bisexual.  Why? Because if this news does come out due to any malicious intent by your pseudo-ex, you will have already prepared yourself mentally which could lessen the sting and you will be able to focus on any other more serious matters.  I am not saying opening up and announcing your sexuality but, mentally get yourself prepared just in case.

Second: Try to talk to him. I don’t know what type of conversations has already transpired, but it sounds like he feels rejected and you know with a lot of us men; rejecting greatly impacts our egos.  He stated you wasted his time, how?  Were you misleading in any way?  Try to fully let him vent and talk out everything that he is feeling.  Hold firm to your position, but attempt to be empathetic to his feelings.

Third: I know this may sound odd or unorthodox but why not offer to pay for a counseling session or two.  I am sure he has insurance so you could pay the co-pay for a couple’s session or single session.  You already stated you pretty much paid for outings or picked up the tabs during your time together, so why not pay for this?  Again keep in mind the overall goal here is to defuse the situation and you maintain your career, status and reputation. I think this would be a small price to pay.

Fourth: Get the upper hand. Like you said, going to Human Resources might allow you to get the upper hand.  Part of the operating function of Human Resources is to be discreet and confidential. You have been with this company for 16 years and have worked your way up to executive level, so obviously you have a great reputation.  Capitalize on it by doing the responsible thing and going to them and advising them so the company will not be blind sided with sexual harassment allegations.  The sooner you do this the better.

Well I hope this advice helps.

I know a lot of us have had sexual harassment training on the job and subsequently heard stories of men and women meeting on the job, dating and getting married.  I personally would never have any type of sexual relationship with a co-worker.

If you are a cautious, private, closeted or open gay / bisexual black man; please don’t let some on the job dick or ass get in the way of you making your money.  The unemployment numbers are disproportionally high enough for black males without adding situations like this in the equation.

What do you all think? Feel free to leave your suggestions or feedback.