What Happened To My Relationship?

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about change in relationship with boss: I tried talking to him about this and it was not a good conversation, he acted as if I was a nut. He is a thinker. I am a feeler. He acts like he does not care if I live or die or work there or not. I used to be his right hand person.

My boss has been with us for 6 years. At one time we had a close and very productive working relationship. Something has changed over the past year. He no longer consults me as he once did (I would also drive him to appointments and he would talk to me about personal stuff.)

I have tried over and over again to figure out what happened. There are times he acts normal, and then other times he treats me terrible. His mother recently passed away and I asked for permission to give him a hug (I would not have asked before) and he said no. I respect that for many reasons but I saw him hug others. Today I stated I would not be attending a meeting due to a death in my family and he said nothing, just looked at me. I tried to talk to him about returning to school and he said nothing but went on about a new hire who he is mentoring to get a Master’s Degree. I will tell you I have stated I was going back before and haven’t and this new staff member is much younger.I can’t figure it out. I tried talking to him about this and it was not a good conversation, he acted as if I was a nut. He is a thinker. I am a feeler. He acts like he does not care if I live or die or work there or not. I used to be his right hand person. Some insight would be helpful.

Signed, Hurt and Confused

Dear Hurt and Confused:

I think you must surely see what the essential problem is: Your boss is not comfortable with the degree of closeness you once had and wants to ensure that everything between the two of you is kept strictly business. He’s wise to do that and may have even been talked to about it by someone–or simply realized the situation had the potential for problems.

The fact that you’re hurt and confused about how things have changed is one of the problems! There may be other issues as well, related to your different personality styles, gossip he has heard, your own personal situation or his, or a concern he has that the professional relationship was being viewed by you as more personal than he intended.Clearly the relationship has become more to you than manager and employee and even more than friends. That rarely has a good outcome. And, as a reminder, the person pursuing the relationship often is the one who is asked to leave, no matter what encouragement there has been in the past. (In this case though, there is certainly no encouragement now.)I think you should focus on your work and accept that whatever the situation was; it isn’t that way anymore.

There is no point in trying to talk to your boss about it because that just reinforces to him that you have more of an attachment to him than he has to you. Whatever was there isn’t there anymore. I know you don’t want to be considered desperate, needy or clinging–and I’m certain you are not in most situations. But, that is what you will be considered if you try to turn back the clock to the former time when things were much more satisfying but also much more personal.Instead, settle for being an excellent contributor at work and for finding your personal relationships away from work. I realize that sounds harsh, but in your heart and mind you know that’s the best way to handle it–and will allow you to come through it as a strong, self-confident person.Best wishes to you as you deal with this situation.

Tina Lewis Rowe

Tina Lewis Rowe

Tina had a thirty-three year career in law enforcement, serving with the Denver Police Department from 1969-1994 and was the Presidential United States Marshal for Colorado from 1994-2002. She provides training to law enforcement organizations and private sector groups and does conference presentations related to leadership, workplace communications and customized topics. Her style is inspirational with humor.