- My work wife and I had a daily ritual where we shared everything.
- He used the information to try to get a raise and he felt he had betrayed my trust.
- After my experience with my co-worker, I now set boundaries with my co-workers.
“I think I’m going to get a divorce,” I told my co-worker, who looked more like a co-worker, during my lunch break. We were sitting in one of the hallways of our company’s headquarters, as we like to call our thinking space. It featured triangles spiraling down from the ceiling, all empty and repeating in a long row. When you looked at them, it was like meditating on a sci-fi crossover.
We have been coming to this place almost every day for months. We talked about work and relationships, frustrations and joys. He knew all about my marital struggles; I knew that his girlfriend sometimes got angry that he was too devoted to work.
At our point of view, we developed a fast and deep friendship. We’ve come to lean on each other for support, no matter the good or bad situation we need. We went to each other in the office – until he felt that he betrayed me.
I knew about his position in the company and told him
One day I wrote a message to my friend asking him to come to a place where he thinks. He was frustrated with his boss who kept shuffling him into new projects instead of giving him the raise he expected. I learned from my boss that his job description is about to change again, giving him more responsibility without more money. My supervisor told me not to share the information with anyone, but he was my friend. And in this case, I would like to know.
“I know this will annoy you,” I said in the hall. “But please keep it to yourself. My boss has expressly asked me not to share the information. Take this time to think about it and respond better when your boss tells you.”
He didn’t keep it to himself. We went back to our tables and he let me know that he was angry. I told him I understood and I was sorry, but maybe a notice would be helpful. I asked him if he wanted to talk more about it.
I didn’t hear from him for 20 minutes. The next message I received explained why: “I talked to my boss about this and said I need a raise or promotion now. He asked where I heard the news from.”
“What did you say to him?” I felt my stomach in my throat when I asked.
“I told him you told me and your boss said,” he said.
I was shocked. How could this person I trusted, this close friend throw me under the bus like that? It seemed to me that he used me to increase the salary.
Then came the final blow. I said you put it my he jeopardized the job by doing so, and he sent me a one-sentence reply: “You should have expected that.”
It felt like he was using me as a stepping stone for advancement at work. Up until this point, I had assumed all these toxic workplace stories and considered the advice not to trust your co-workers to be exaggeration. I thought my coworkers were people I could trust. Maybe I was too naive.
I tried to improve the situation for myself
I immediately cut off all contact with my co-worker. I told one person, a mutual friend, and then never brought it up again. I didn’t talk to my boss about it and I never heard anything about it, so I can only assume it never got back to my boss.
From then on, any work-related communication between me and that co-worker was kept in writing. We no longer visited our hallway to chat. I felt like I couldn’t trust him anymore.
At the end of that year, I left that job and maintain my boundaries at work.