CQ Roll Callís Hill Navigator advice column helps staffers with sticky or complicated situations they find themselves in on Capitol Hill. This week, love is in the air.
Q. For the past three years, I have worked for an organization with the sole purpose of winning elections for a specific party. A year and a half ago, I started dating a legislative staffer from the other party. For the most part, we have been able to lay low, but recently, more people are aware of the situation. My immediate boss knows, and is not happy with my decision ó and is convinced I am doing this to make her life more difficult. Any advice on how to navigate this situation?
A. People date all the time. They date in secret; they date publicly; they arrange James Carville-Mary Matalin type partnerships and enjoy the kerfuffle that comes with it. Dating across the aisle isnít big news. It might raise a few eyebrows, but itís not likely to be a cringe-worthy offense.
What interests me is that your boss thinks your actions are being done to make her life more difficult. If anything, access to the other side would make your relationship more valuable to her. So what youíre dealing with is either a boss who recoils at every piece of personal business or a boss who sees some red flags in how youíre conducting yourself.
Might your boss be worried that you are leaking information to your new significant other? Her distaste for your love life could be masking something else. Talk to your boss, not about your relationship but about your steadfast commitment to keeping office information confidential and your unwavering support for the cause. That might help alleviate some of her concerns that your new love interest could undermine the work youíre both doing.
And if itís a boss who doesnít want to know how youíre spending your time after hours, then continue to keep mum.
Provided youíre doing your job, protecting confidential information and being a good employee, then you should be able to have a good working relationship with your boss, regardless of how, and with whom, youíre spending your free time.
Q. I recently met a handsome man at a Hill bar. We hit it off well. But it wasnít until later on that I realized that he works for a member whom I detest. Should I let it go and date him? Do Rs and Ds really live happily ever after together?
A. Not every staffer has a chance to work for their dream boss. Some work for their home state, some work at the first place that offers them a job and some work because they see eye-to-eye on certain issues, not necessarily because they move in lockstep with one another.
Roll Call has launched a new feature, Hill Navigator, to advise congressional staffers and would-be staffers on how to manage workplace issues on Capitol Hill. Please send us your questions anything from office etiquette, to handling awkward moments, to what happens when the work life gets too personal. Submissions will be treated anonymously.