Americans Wary of Being Alone with Opposite Sex

by Seattle Soccer Mom

From a poll conducted on behalf of the NY Times:

  • 25% think private work meetings with colleagues of the opposite sex are inappropriate.
  • 30-40% say it’s inappropriate to be in a car with someone of the opposite sex.
  • Nearly two-thirds say people should take extra caution around members of the opposite sex at work.
  • A majority of women, and nearly half of men, say it’s unacceptable to have dinner or drinks alone with someone of the opposite sex other than their spouse.

These findings surprised me. I supervise both men and women and have weekly meetings (one on one) with the people I supervise. My office door is generally open unless we’re doing a performance review or discussing sensitive information. I wouldn’t be able to do my job if I couldn’t meet with men. I was surprised that 25% of the people in the poll said this would be inappropriate. I’ve also been in cars with men when we’ve gone to off-site meetings – not a big deal. I was surprised that so many people thought this would be inappropriate.

Totebaggers – what do you think of the poll results? Any that you agree or disagree with? Here’s a link to the article:

It’s Not Just Mike Pence. Americans Are Wary of Being Alone With the Opposite Sex.


101 thoughts on “Americans Wary of Being Alone with Opposite Sex

  1. 30-40% say it’s inappropriate to be in a car with someone of the opposite sex.

    Well, that one’s just bizarre. Sometimes you carpool with people. Sometimes on business trips, there’s only one rental car and you share it with the coworker. Volunteering to drive the elderly around means sometimes you get a male passenger.

  2. And I got stuck having lunch and/or dinner with male colleagues on trips all the time. It would have been very odd for me to tell them, “No, sorry, I can’t eat at the same table with you.”

  3. I wonder what people must think of my boss… males with 3 female subordinates. We have 1-1 meetings all the time, travel in cars together, and even go out to eat as an office…

  4. “30-40% say it’s inappropriate to be in a car with someone of the opposite sex.”

    So I shouldn’t ever take a cab unless the driver is female? Very bizarre. Maybe good for female cab drivers.

    The vast majority of meetings I’ve had in my life are me in a room with only men. Surely that can’t be what this survey is addressing.

    Were the questions limited to one-on-one meetings?

    I have had male colleagues invite a third person along so a dinner was not just the two of us. Not sure of the reasons why.

  5. This is really bizarre. It has never occurred to me that going on a business trip with a male coworker (just the two of us) would be inappropriate. And some of my business trips are 4 hours one way in car, alone with him (gasp!). My DH is not bothered by this and I’m not bothered by his business trips with females.

  6. I would not take these responses too seriously. Survey respondents are always looking to answer the “what are you getting at?” vs. purely face value.

    I traveled with a woman for work not too long ago. We drove together, ate dinner together at Macaroni Grill, etc.

    Now, if you ask whether I would be getting together alone and going to dinner with an old friend from high school? That’s different.

    Survey questions need more context.

  7. I also have questions about the survey methodology and responses. Do these people not work in coed places? Very odd!

    I remember when the department took me out to lunch on my first day of work and it was 8 WASP males and me. They all talked about their boats. I didn’t say much. ;)

  8. I wonder who they contacted to take this survey because I know plenty of men and women hat spend time alone even when thy are not married. This is generally due to work, but it does happen for other reasons too.

    When I accepted a job in 2000, my new boss took me to lunch at the Four Seasons and they host gave us a table with a banquette. He was married, but we barely knew each other. I was uncomfortable sitting side by side, but I didn’t say anything about the table. At the end of the lunch, he made a joke about the seating arrangement. This incident was uncomfortable, but I lucked out because it was the personal ice breaker that we needed because I had to travel all over the globe with this guy. There were many times that we didn’t have another colleague at dinner. It was not the first time that this happened to me in my career, and I didn’t think much about it because I went to hotels, meals and meetings with men for over 25 years. I still meet the banquette guy for lunch because we are friends now, and it is still a joke that we share even we sit across from each other at Starbucks.

    I feel forunate that I never had any weird situations, but most of these guys are still friends. I just made plans to meet a former male colleague for lunch at the end of July, and we will be alone. I have some male HS friends that I still keep in touch with, and I generally see them alone too because our spouses don’t know each other.


  9. Now, if you ask whether I would be getting together alone and going to dinner with an old friend from high school? That’s different.

    Would you go out to dinner alone with a female friend? I do, and DW goes out alone with male friends sometimes. I don’t see why anyone would have a problem with it.

  10. “Would you go out to dinner alone with a female friend?”

    I would not. DW and I would both think it’s a little weird.

    One exception comes to mind: when I was deployed, DW went out to dinner a few times with one of my classmates who was stationed in the area but assigned to a different ship. He was single, and the three of us had socialized regularly when I was home. They both simply enjoyed company and nice restaurants. DW mentioned it in a letter, acknowledging that it was just a little bit strange, but figuring that I wouldn’t mind.

    I don’t think anything happened. And he later went to Rome and entered the priesthood. :)

  11. I call BS on this. When you’re polling people they are imagining a fictional coworker. Generally:

    Not an actual co-worker:

  12. One reason why the careers of many women thrive in non cougar middle age is that they are perceived as past the LFD in the Amy Schumer ski with Tina Fey et al. No one feels any longer a need to avoid the appearance of impropriety because it is considered ludicrous to imagine it. And most women realize that they no longer need to be pleasing in the same way.

  13. I go out to dinner with male friends. Husband does the same with female friends. But these are old friends. I don’t think that I would do it with someone new. I am not sure why. But that would feel weirder.

  14. Odd to me, too. I have lunch with one woman about every other month. She’s married, 3 kids. We worked together about 10 years ago for several months (I was a consultant, she worked for the client) and we’ve stayed in touch. Sometimes we even pick the other one up and we only take 1 car. Sometimes I mention to DW that I’m having lunch with “Mary”, sometimes I don’t. No issues.

    Funny story along these lines. Before we moved here I traveled here a lot. Once a woman about my age was on the trip with me so we went to dinner together at a fairly nice, but small, place. The next week, DW was here on a househunting trip and we went to the same restaurant. Turns out we got the same waiter as I had had the week before. He clearly recognized me but played dumb about it since I’m there with a different woman. Finally I catch on so I say to him something like “no worries about spilling the beans…this is my wife and the woman I was here with last week is just a work friend and my wife knows her and knows I was at dinner with her.” Man, was he relieved and more relaxed after I spoke up.

  15. “I don’t see why anyone would have a problem with it.”

    Because some people would suspect there’s more to it than just having lunch/dinner and catching up. They’re figuring the meal is just prelude to something more afterwards.

  16. DH was in a group that traveled frequently. Two people of his extended group ended up in a relationship, subsequently divorcing their spouses and marrying each other. HR was involved because I think they wanted to make sure no work rules were violated. His boss, a woman got a bit of a rap for running a loose ship.
    DH, is more aware and a bit more cautious about his own role and his role as a manager given these situations.

  17. In a somewhat related vein, I just read on DC Urban Moms a discussion on how many times a week people flip their spouse the bird. Apparently this is quite common. Who knew? That along with today’s top is more evidence that other people’s marriages are mostly a black box.

  18. There’s a certain irony in Rhett’s and Meme’s posts overlapping.

  19. Birdie – I suppose it wouldn’t be a topic if the answer were predominantly zero.

  20. I think some people are looking for mates among their co-workers. If a male co-worker was expressing that sort of interest, I would feel more uncomfortable in that situation.

    Until I began working at my current employer, I was often on teams where I was the only female. As long as everyone is keeping things on a professional/platonic level, I don’t see the problem.

    I will say that when I first started dating my current partner, he noticed that when I talked about my day, I would note that I had gone to lunch with a male co-worker more often than a female co-worker. After a few months, something came up and he mentioned he thought this was unusual. He said he would never go to lunch alone with a female co-worker. It stemmed from the amped up response to sexual harassment in the work place by his employer and how vigilent his employer was cautioning the males to be. To the point that commenting on a female’s outfit in any way could be construed as sexual harassment.

    This leads me to the point that I think the workplace culture makes a huge difference. Some places I worked the managers had glass offices, so they could shut the door and the conversation wouldn’t be heard, but it was clear “nothing” else was going on. If I am having a 1:1 meeting with a male co-worker in a closed room without any windows, I would be cautious of the frequency and duration just to prevent gossip in the workplace. As a supervisor/manager, I would also make sure that I am not having those meetings with only one employee, but that it is something I do with all my employees.

  21. ” I just read on DC Urban Moms a discussion on how many times a week people flip their spouse the bird.”

    I’ve seen that site referenced here, and it’s one of the weirdest I’ve ever seen. I wonder if a couple people are responding multiple times in jest. One hopes, at least.

    Is that relevant to your name/handle on here?

  22. Fred – some people were measuring how often per day. The best response was, “None. We just scream at each other like normal people.” LOL.

  23. Milo – I changed my name totally unrelated to flipping my spouse the bird. My nickname in real life. You know who I am. We have, um, spirited debates. And we’re practically neighbors.

  24. ohhh, well hey.

    But we’re not neighbors. Not even practically neighbors. That’s an entirely different world.

    We are going to the Kennedy Center tonight though for “Second City.” Ongoing week of no kids.

  25. Living the dream, Milo. I don’t think I have been there since 2007 or something.

  26. “Do these people not work in coed places? Very odd!”

    I wonder if we’re demonstrating the bubble in which we live. I know people who would probably give those “odd” survey responses if asked. Some have co-workers primarily of their own gender. Some just have old-fashioned views of proper behavior.

    I used to have to “sleep” with male co-workers when I worked on-site at remotely located drilling rigs. We shared a trailer but separate bunks. This was a long time ago and I’m curious how this situation is handled today. The sexual harassment issue could mean that they must provide separate quarters.

  27. I think the issue is more common in the south. I have had the issue come up a few times. A good friend went out of town to a conference with her father (both work in the same field) and her mom got a phone call from one of the other wives alerting her that her husband was out having dinner with a younger woman. She responded “Yes, our daughter.”

  28. “Some have co-workers primarily of their own gender. Some just have old-fashioned views of proper behavior.”

    And some others might work with a lot of players and skanks, and in a line of work in which casual dinners to dialogue about one’s personal and professional development are not customary.

  29. Again, it comes down to workplace environment and culture. If you never travel as part of your job, you may not realize that employers often send teams of people vs. just one individual. If your workplace is one where people eat in the on-site cafeteria, then two people “leaving” for lunch might look like they need “more privacy” and be suspect to gossip. In your corner of the world, if it is not the norm for people to have close friends of the opposite gender, you might see all male/female pairs as being or hoping to be in a romantic relationship with each other.

  30. RMS as usual Rhett made my point in many fewer words.

    You may also recall a feminist strain from several decades ago that celebrated post menopause as the stage of becoming a crone, when one has survived the reproductive phases and is now imbued with fearful power or the perception thereof outside traditional patriarchy. I prefer to be a pudgy grandmother to a sorceress, but I would never want to be hot in the estimation of anyone but DH.

  31. Most of my colleagues and clients were men, and cases were often just one partner and one associate, so there is no way I could have managed without solo trips and meals and meetings.
    But I also know several people, both at my firm and at DH’s former university, who had affairs with coworkers that destroyed their marriages. IMO, a little prudence is useful, especially if alcohol or late nights is involved. For some people in some positions, even the appearance of impropriety is a problem.

  32. I agree that people who have professional jobs will answer this question, on average, differently from others and that geography, age, and class all play a role in the answer, as well as survey design.

    I remember chatting with my cubemate (40 years of service at my employer) about his DIL’s preterm labor a couple years ago and reassuring him that a baby coming up to 6 weeks early wasn’t, medically, a huge worry and that most women with his DIL’s level of dilation did not go on to have premature births. I then thought, “I would never have had this conversation with a same-age peer when I entered the workforce 20+ years ago.”

  33. Because some people would suspect there’s more to it than just having lunch/dinner and catching up. They’re figuring the meal is just prelude to something more afterwards.

    I get that, I just don’t understand it. I figured we were well past the When Harry Met Sally idea that men and women can’t just be friends.

  34. Given that I have always worked in completely male dominated settings, I wouldn’t have gotten very far if I was afraid of being with a man in an office or something. At my first job, I was in a department with 50 faculty members, two of whom were female (me and a very senior professor). I ran a research group with a guy, and we often went out to lunch after. I was also pretty good friends with his wife, and when she was very very pregnant, she asked me once to accompany her husband to see some rock show he wanted to see. We are all still good friends to this day.’

  35. And when I worked in industry, I always had to do one on one meetings in offices with male members of my group. We often met for hours as we hashed out algorithms and interfaces. T also met one on one with male managers in their offices. There was simply no choice.

  36. I had a student last year who sometimes commented on my outfits, saying he really liked the purple shirt or that I looked good in that green color. It made me feel a bit uncomfortable. I think, though, that he was extremely into fashion himself, and it is quite possible he was gay. He may have just been expressing his interest in fashion.

  37. I didn’t realize how different the culture could be in an established start up like Uber from other corporate workplaces I have been at with established HR policies. This was true of my workplaces even 20+ years ago when I joined the work force.

  38. Aw. Meme, come on. Go for sorceress! That is what I want my students to think of me.

  39. Uber was and still is an extremely assh-ish company. That is their business model. They have flouted the law in many ways. It is a company of frat-bros who think that rules are for other people. I am guessing that attitude goes all the way down in their company.

  40. Well, that’s pretty insulting. I guess either all men are potential rapists, and/or all women are potential trollops? This is not something that was ever even on my radar, except for a few highly-conservative religious sects.

    Then again, we have also established that I am notoriously oblivious to signs that someone is interested in me, or vice-versa. Maybe the folks answering the poll are really telling us more about their own behaviors in those kinds of situations than anything else.

  41. Laura – On some level, I don’t see it as being all that different from Totebaggers who say “I’m better off just not keeping ice cream in the house.”

    Also, what some may be cautious to avoid is not strictly fornication, but perhaps drifting into an emotional connection and reliance, beyond the platonic level, that they feel is inappropriate or an insult to their spouses.

  42. The problem is that ice cream is not denied training mentoring or advancement opportunities if you don’t buy it to avoid the temptation. Obviously men can be disadvantaged as well as women by these scruples or need to avoid even the appearance of inappropriate behavior, but the power positions still are predominantly male.

  43. How much of those top two percentages is just measuring the prevalence of socially conservative churches in the US, I wonder? And then you add in regional and age differences, so you get those around you making weird assumptions like in qqqq’s example, and that’s going to affect people’s sense of what’s appropriate.

  44. Mémé’s comment is why I’ve come to believe that women will probably never be equal in engineering. It’s much harder for a female engineer to network her way into a new job after a layoff than it is for a male engineer, because she can’t socialize easily with male engineers. Employment stability in engineering is poor compared to other fields. Most middle aged engineers have been laid off at least once, unlike teachers, physicians and nurses. Many of the women engineers I know left engineering for another career after they were unable to find comparable local engineering employment after being laid off.

  45. Work spouse? That is just so weird.

    You know how I have said many times that I hate “enforced fun” with co-workers? I think the fact that I don’t care to socialize with my co-workers is one reason I can avoid this stuff. When I meet with a colleague, it is to get something business related done, not to shoot the breeze.

  46. “you can test yourself with one specific question: ‘If you were single, is this the type of person you would want to be with?’ If the answer is yes, that’s a red flag.”

    I don’t know, necessarily. If the person is my work “wife” don’t I kind of by definition want to be with her? Otherwise, how could the relationship develop into one of work spouses?

    Unless “with” in the testing question is shorthand for “have sex with”.

  47. Most middle aged engineers have been laid off at least once

    Why didn’t they quit first? I ask that because I know a few that only switch jobs when they get laid off and when they get laid off it’s usually during a slowdown so the jobs available aren’t very good. Why not switch jobs when things are booming?

  48. I think the fact that I don’t care to socialize with my co-workers is one reason I can avoid this stuff.

    That would explain why you’re so eager to get out on the boat full time. But if you’re going to be working in the mean time, why not make it enjoyable?

  49. Rhett, people in limited markets wait to be laid off because they want to uproot their families as few times as possible. Changing jobs means your spouse has to change jobs, your kids have to change schools, you have to live in a new city/state and your elderly parents may have to move with you. In most families, that happens more for the husband’s job than the wife’s job which is probably another factor for why women don’t remain in engineering.

  50. I dunno, do engineers really socialize? I thought we were all too nerdy.

    I have never found socializing to be a big part of finding CS jobs. Maybe in Silicon Valley, I don’t know. But I know people who work out there, and they don’t socialize either.

    In NYC, most CS jobs are found through recruiters. You shove your resume out on the online boards, recruiters pick them up, and if you have experience, they will nibble pretty quickly. They send you out to interview at their clients. You go in, sit in some awful conference room for a while, and then a geek comes in and proceeds to ask lots of stupid technical questions, and then another geek comes in does the same, and after surviving this for 3 or 4 hours, the hiring manager comes in and says something like “You know we’re an agile shop, right? How are you with agile process?”. And eventually you go, and if there is going to be an offer, it will be that evening or the next day. I have never been offered food, or even water, at these interviews. My friends and husband report the same. It is all about surviving the tech questions – if you don’t make it to the hiring manager you won’t get an offer.

    Now, I have long believed that the sheer unfriendliness of the CS interview process turns women off, and that may be an issue.

  51. Actually, I can totally relate to the work spouse thing. Both DH and I had co-workers of the opposite sex with whom we were extremely friendly, and would probably have qualified as work spouses. DH even joked about his work wife, who was one of the few tenured women in his former department. She was also an orthodox Jew, and he also made sure to accommodate her Sabbath observance and kosher diet when planning events. Most of the other guys were pretty clueless in that regard.
    But both of us have also had good coworker friends of the same sex, and the relationship wasn’t all that different. We were both fortunate to work in settings in which people got along well and often socialized with their families.

  52. Rhett – you may have confused Mooshi and me.

    Thinking more about this topic, we’ve got a summer intern right now, a female college student, who, to me, comes across as painfully quiet and shy. And I’m saying that as someone who has been assessed as too quiet and shy myself, but this is totally over the top.

    She and I were doing something together a couple weeks ago, and it included us being alone in my car for a little while, and I simply could not get much of any casual conversation out of her. And as a guy, trying to do so made me feel like I was being a creep, like “trying too hard, dude, she’s not into you.”

    I’ve been in the same situation with other women, but perhaps because they were more my equals, and because they were more outgoing and socially comfortable, it was perfectly fine. But one-on-one with this young lady is just not something I’d be eager to repeat, and her gender plays a role in that.

  53. ” But if you’re going to be working in the mean time, why not make it enjoyable?”
    At work, you can be friendly without having to socialize with them.

    Having said that I don’t socialize with co-workers, I can think of some exceptions – my old buddy from my first job (the one who I accompanied to the rock concert because his wife was too pregnant), my current co-researcher, and one of the work team at my software company job. Two of the three were/are women. The woman in my work team at the software company turned into a real friend. We socialized all the time at each other’s houses. We also did outings, like the zoo, together. She was from India and cooked the best darn food. Her kids were about the same age as mine and went to the same daycare. She moved recently to another state and I miss her.

    However, I never go out of my way to socialize with co-workers because I have numerous other things to do at work.

  54. Milo, I started my first engineering internship at 17 and it was really hard to know how to interact. I’m chatty, but I remember thinking that appropriate non-work conversational topics are, “Wife, children and the weathah.” When I was a young single engineer, I noticed my colleagues would ask about my garden in the breakroom. I eventually realized that this was “safe” topic of conversation for both of us.

  55. Alright, I’ll try again. I’m supposed to, anyway.

    Separately, we also have group socialization next week.

  56. Oh I wish I’d seen this topic earlier! But this is a huge soap box of mine. I have tons of guy friends, always have always will. Over the years many of my close frriends have been men. Some I have had FWB with some I have not. and it drives me bananas when people question it.

    I work in a male dominated field. I would get nowhere if I wasn’t allowed to be alone with a man. Most of the executives here are men. most of the executives anywhere are men. I think there’s an idea in some sections of the country that there is no good reason for a woman to need to be a lone with a man and therefore there must be something nefarious going on. heaven forbid she want career advice or just have a question. and furthermore, I wonder if a lot of this is defensive as there are lots of men who know they would happily cheat with their female coworkers if their wife never found out and so this just becomes a blanket rule.

  57. people in limited markets

    If you’re going to get laid off anyway why live in a limited market? And if it’s going to happen anyway, if you’re proactive it’s going to be a lot better than if you wait to get the axe.

  58. MM – I disagree with your socialization doesn’t matter. Here is my example.

    I had a cyclical job. At one point in the cycle, I needed information from people outside my organization and on a tight timeline. It was the same 20 people every time and all of the information was gathered over the phone or by email.

    While in most cases it would benefit them to give me the information, they had no obligation to do so. At another point in the cycle, they needed an action from me and they were on a tight timeline. I had an obligation to perform the action, but I had no timeline for performing the action. In general, if I had formed a relationship (like I knew which woman had a new grandchild, which woman’s husband was the artist with installations near my children’s school, and which guy always had a home remodeling project going) with that person, the interactions with them at both points in the cycle went more smoothly. I would say 90% of the time, I was the one putting out the effort to maintain that relationship.

    When I applied for one job, the hiring manager realized she knew 3 of those 20 people. While none of them were my referece, the hiring manager asked them about me. I found out later, it was those peoples comments that put me ahead of another candidate.

  59. ” I guess either all men are potential rapists, and/or all women are potential trollops? ”

    LfB – I have a friend who completely and utterly believes that all men are pigs (read potential rapists, she’s just to conservative to use that word). She will not be near a man when she is alone or with other women (like walking along the street). She truly believes that all men will hurt her. Yet she’s married to a man (a teddy bear at that) and genuinely likes her female friend’s husbands and boyfriends. I suspect she’d respond to this poll saying that women and men should never be alone together unless married.

    I’ve always had male friends. One of those male friends (Pal) has a girlfriend who doesn’t like me. We’ve never met. She thinks that me talking with Pal is the same as an affair, so she thinks I’m a trollop. She told Pal that my DH should be bothered and make me stop talking to Pal. Pal predates DH by about 3 years and lives ~2,000 miles away. I respected Pal’s relationship though and cut off talking with him for a bit. Then he started contacting me again so either she gave up hounding him about this or he just doesn’t care.

  60. Rhett – Many people cannot see change coming, especially if it is slow, until they have been blindsided by it. And, some of those who can see it coming, are not willing to learn something new so they can be incorporated by the change rather than displaced by it. Other people have a reason other than their job that they live in a particular location and any job change has to keep them in/near that location.

  61. Rhett, I’d guess 80% of people live here because this is where their/their spouse’s extended families are. Another 20% live here because they like the weather/educational level in the area.

    From what you’ve said, your family background is such that living near extended family is not a priority.

  62. More accurately, weather/educational level/geography/outdoor activities

    We recruit in Cornell because our weather is better than Ithaca’s.

  63. AustinMom – are you talking about a job in computing? That is my reference point. And networking does help – but that isn’t necessarilly the same thing as socializing. I am on a large and very ancient mailing list for women in CS (dates back to 1992 – one of the oldest Internet mailing lists), and when I was jobhunting, I got several really good leads off that list.

    My husband got his current job through a recruiter, but hiring manager knew someone who had worked at his old company, which helped a little. More important, though, was where he went to grad school, a PhD program known for turning out very quantitative people who could talk with the most quanty of the traders and also work with the people doing code.

    Employee referral programs are common too. I don’t refer people that I socialize with, just people I have worked with. I don’t know enough about the technical skills of actual friends.

    I am sure there are other fields where contacts obtained through professional socializing is important.

  64. “our weather is better than Ithaca’s”…perhaps. Depends what you like. Certainly warmer in the winter and the winter you have is a lot shorter.

  65. I see this mostly through a class lens. I socialize with a few other docs, and have lunch or drinks occasionally with men. Partly due to random department scheduling, it is hard for me to arrange dinner with spouses with other members of the group. Too many schedules to juggle unless it is really important and we really want to see each others’ partners (which isn’t usually true).

    I know my DH has lunch occasionally with women at work, particularly one whose group he has wanted to join. I have teased him about his “crush” on this one woman, someone a few levels up who I think is in the crone stage of things. I’m not even a little bit bothered by it, but perhaps the situation and the person make it extermely non threatening for me.

    I don’t imagine the nurses I work with are doing the same. I can’t quite put my finger on why it is a different situation, but I would be surprised to hear about two nurses heading out for drinks or lunch alone with a member of the opposite sex, without some romantic undertones.

    This column has been a reminder that I have wanted to approach a former colleague about drinks. I’m eager to hear gossip from his group, and see if I can entice him to jump ship. It feels awkward because I left the last group somewhat angry – but that feels awkward with all the members there.

  66. ADA,

    Take the first male nurse you see next and then take the first female nurse you see next – are you really going to find it odd to see those two specific people having lunch? Now do the same for doctors.

  67. I just got an update from the NYTimes – “You can rewire your brain to fend off procrastination!” I’m thinking, “And when the hell would I ever get around to doing that?”

  68. “Survey questions need more context.”

    Yes. Just reading the OP has me wondering: Do 30-40% really think it’s inappropriate for a mom to drive her son somewhere? Or for mixed-sex couples to go on dates? Or mixed-sex married couples to go anywhere together? Or families to go anywhere together?

  69. “Laura – On some level, I don’t see it as being all that different from Totebaggers who say ‘I’m better off just not keeping ice cream in the house.’”

    Yeah, I see that. But these are people saying no man and no woman should ever be alone together — not whether I as an individual know that I am subject to temptation and so perhaps better find a way to manage the situation for the good of my marriage. That’s my fundamental problem with it. Well, that and it’s so freaking insulting. I mean, I know a lot of good guys, and I have had guy friends my whole life, and I get so angry at the idea that you can’t trust any of these guys to be alone with a woman, because they’re nothing but a giant roiling pool of testosterone waiting for an XX chromosome to walk by so they can have their way with it. I mean, unless you’re living in a 19th century gothic romance, of course.

    I am laughing at the “how often do you flip off your spouse” question — is “daily” an option? :-) We are both inveterate smartasses, and good-natured ribbing is a family tradition that is observed multiple times per day. And when my smart-ass DH gets me, there is only one response that speaks more loudly than words. It totally cracks the kids up, too.

    Then again, recall that the first pet name I heard MIL call FIL was “asshole.” Although apparently the *real* pet name is “stupid fucking bastard.” They are a total hoot.

  70. Yes and No. I suppose I could see any two random lawyers going out for a drink together, but not any two random gate agents. Perhaps I am just self-centered and give my own experience primacy, but I also just think that there is an intellectual overlap and shared interest between doctors that there isn’t between nurses.

  71. “as usual Rhett made my point in many fewer words.”

    Not if you equate a picture with 1000 words.

  72. “I suspect she’d respond to this poll saying that women and men should never be alone together unless married.”

    I assume she had a male chaperone on all her dates before she was married.

  73. “It’s much harder for a female engineer to network her way into a new job after a layoff than it is for a male engineer, because she can’t socialize easily with male engineers.”

    I know a lot of female engineers who are very good at socializing with male engineers, better than most male engineers I know.

  74. “Unless “with” in the testing question is shorthand for “have sex with”.”
    Maybe this really is a regional thing, because that’s totally what “be with” means in that context in my neck of the woods.
    I’ve heard this advice from time to time from prominent pastors. Billy Graham famously refused to have lunch alone with Hillary Clinton. I wonder how many respondents were church goers saying what they vaguely thought was the right answer.

  75. From the OP article:
    “He said he avoids any solo interactions with women, including dining or driving, as does his girlfriend with other men.”

    Wow. Sounds like he and his girlfriend might have an interesting relationship.

  76. “Mike Pence’s comment — made in 2002 and resurfaced in a recent profile — that he doesn’t eat alone with any woman other than his wife.”

    I wonder how his mom likes that.

  77. My workplace will possibly have cuts coming but it is hard to say when and which people will be shown the door. I moved to a new position this year as sort of a preemptive measure because to my mind my old position though interesting was riskier.
    I really don’t want to have to go through the whole process of finding new job. Interviewing internally is not too bad but it is still competitive. Interviewing at a new employer is much tougher.

  78. RMS, but doesn’t the part about avoiding solo interactions suggest the possibility of a very interesting relationship?

  79. Louise – best of luck in the trying situation. Many of us have also been thru that.

  80. Ada, I have several female friends from nursing school (and some from np school as well) that I meet for lunch or dinner alone on a somewhat regular basis.

  81. Why didn’t they quit first?

    Maybe they liked their jobs and didn’t want to leave, and by the time they saw layoffs were coming it was too late because nobody else was hiring.

  82. “Why didn’t they quit first?”

    Sometimes employers offer packages to employees who willingly leave, or perks like immediate vesting of options, and some wait for those packages or perks before leaving.

    Others hope that enough people take the packages/perks that they’re able to stay.

  83. Another reason some women don’t “quit first” is that they currently enjoy job flexibility that may be hard to match at other employers, even when times are booming. This has often been mentioned here and it was my personal experience. Even though you have a strong resume you still may have to prove yourself at a new job before you gain the flexibility needed for your juggle.

    I also once didn’t quit because I stayed on for a generous package. I waited and waited and still was not laid off until I finally requested the severance package because I wanted to move to another city.

    Louise – I hope your strategic job move shields you against job cuts. Good luck, both in keeping your job and in maintaining morale in the face of possible layoffs, especially if it’s over a prolonged time. BTDT

  84. I used to have work friends when I was younger. Now I just have colleagues. : (

  85. Going back to Wednesdays topic, Ron Leiber has a third column today on Medicaid cuts and LTC. He seems to think that the most likely, if not the most desirable, governmental solution, which will be a state level one since states are the ones that will be administering the ever shrinking Medicaid pie, is to legalize and normalize assisted suicide. He also explains Mooshis point about shifting LTC, especially for dementia victims, into Medicare. LTC is the treatment, if you will, for this increasing ailment of the elderly. Dialysis is covered and you don’t get better. There has been a lot of wiggle room in the care of Parkinson’s for what gets covered by Medicare, and you don’t get better. It is not that the taxpayer won’t pay one way or another, but that the necessary care of the elderly should be in one pot and the care of the indigent in another pot, and possibly the care of less poor children with complex issues and the long term disabled in a third pot.

  86. Mémé, having care for the long-term disabled managed that way would address many of my objections to a universal basic income (UBI) that replaced other forms of assistance. One of my main objections to such a plan is that quadriplegics (for example) need and deserve far more care than they could receive with a universal basic income.

    I haven’t thought about UBI enough to know what other problems are not addressed.

  87. DH and I are fans of assisted suicide, at least for ourselves. It’s a personal choice, but at some point, I think it makes sense to leave this world on my own terms.

  88. LfB – your in-laws are a hoot!

    The “flipping the bird” thing made me laugh too – when DH gets me with a good zinger, the only response is nonverbal.

    Finn – Based on her telling me about past boyfriends, the answer is no, she did not have a chaperone. But I’ve come to the conclusion that she thinks she knows best about everything – so if she deems a guy worthy to be in presence alone then those men are not part of the general population. She also can fix the education system in the US, the federal government, and balance the state budget. Just ask her.

  89. I personally am a strong supporter of having assisted suicide be legal and socially acceptable, but I’m not sure it’s going to be widely legalized or normalized any time soon. I was shocked a couple of years ago when ultra-liberal Massachusetts voted against a ballot measure that would have legalized assisted suicide in our state. Even here, there was strong religious lobbying against it, and I don’t see that changing any time soon.

    I read the other day that Pete Frates (the young guy with ALS who inspired the Ice Bucket Challenge) has costs of care that total $3,000 PER DAY. His costs are now going to be covered by a fund started by an ALS charity, but on a policy level, how on earth does one deal with expenses like that??

    Should we move this discussion to the political thread?

  90. “there is an intellectual overlap and shared interest between doctors that there isn’t between nurses.”

    really?? You haven’t met any of the oncology nurses from MSKCC then! They even, gasp, go to conferences and present papers sometimes. And since some of those docs are male (not all), they might even hang out with male doctors at some of those events.

  91. there was strong religious lobbying against it,

    Which is interesting as the bible really doesn’t have a lot to say on the subject. The early church found that people took the everlasting life thing too seriously and were committing suicide (see the Donatists.) So they came up with a prohibition. That being the case, I can only assume opposition arises because many folks are drawn to religion by their fear of death.

  92. “So they came up with a prohibition. That being the case, I can only assume opposition arises because many folks are drawn to religion by their fear of death.”

    MA is full of Catholics. It may not be fear of death, but fear of going to Hell. Suicide is a mortal sin, which is a one-way ticket to fire and brimstone. Most older Catholics I know don’t fear death, but fear not getting into Heaven. Or fear being stuck in eternity’s version of a doctor’s waiting room.

  93. NOB The Catholic church in MA has maintained a low political profile for years for obvious reasons. They exhorted the faithful on this issue.

    As for the political thread, some weeks it is not tolerable. This is one of those weeks. Since I was just following up on Wednesdays regular post and discussion I thought it might be okay here.

  94. “Dialysis is covered and you don’t get better.”

    Not necessarily– for some, dialysis is a bridge until a kidney becomes available, and they do get getter after the transplant.

    “care of Parkinson’s for what gets covered by Medicare, and you don’t get better.”

    Similarly, there are some treatments for Parkinson’s that do improve the patients’ conditions.

  95. “I used to have work friends when I was younger. Now I just have colleagues.”

    I’m kinda in the same boat. Having kids made a big difference– I no longer had as much time for socializing, and increasingly our socialized was with parents of our kids’ friends.

    I’m not sure who I’ll be socializing with once the kids leave the nest.

  96. “the most likely, if not the most desirable, governmental solution, which will be a state level one since states are the ones that will be administering the ever shrinking Medicaid pie, is to legalize and normalize assisted suicide.”

    “Suicide is a mortal sin, which is a one-way ticket to fire and brimstone.”

    I think we’re already moving to a middle ground with the increasing prevalence and acceptance of hospice care, which reduces the amount spent on end of life medical care. Perhaps earlier transfer to hospice would reduce the relevance of the suicide question.

    I mentioned before how suicide was how some societies addressed this issue, but that typically required sufficient physical and cognitive ability that many now would consider that a premature step, thus the need for some assistance.

  97. “possibly the care of less poor children with complex issues and the long term disabled in a third pot.”

    And perhaps the otherwise self-supporting adults with expensive conditions

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