Loaner Shirts, Neon Books, and the Meanings of Sleazy

1. When you’re sleeping over at a guy’s place (someone you don’t know well, for the first time, not someone you’re dating), and he offers me a t-shirt to sleep in, is it because he wants me to wear the t-shirt or is it just politeness? I don’t get it, because one would think it would be preferred for me to be naked.

It’s a bit of both. I first started offering gals a t-shirt because other gals had requested one, and they seemed to appreciate it. But it didn’t take me long to realize that women look smoking hot in nothing but underwear and a t-shirt. It’s sexy as hell, a truly magical combination. So yes, when you get up to grab a cup of water or whatever, I’m excited that you’re coming back through that door wearing nothing but a t-shirt.

Don’t get me wrong, spending quality time with a naked lady is great. But a bit of clothing here or there gives a woman an easy-going allure. It takes you back to that moment when a few things were still left to the imagination, even if you blew past that point a while back.

2. Where are hot guys?

I’ve thought long and hard about this — I want you to find these hot guys, I really do — and I’ve deduced that there are only five possible answers:

1. They’ve developed an elaborate system that alerts them to your impending arrival, at which point they scatter.
2. That place you decided not to go to at the last second.
3. Bookstores.
4. Ireland.
5. They’re standing right behind you. 

3. I’ve been dating someone I work with for about six months. So far, we’ve kept it a secret from colleagues. Therefore, when co-workers talk to me, they don’t have that information as context.

On four different occasions, someone has made a passing comment or joke to me about this guy being “sleazy” or hitting on nearly every woman in the office.

So far, this guy has been really sweet to me, and I haven’t noticed anything in the way he treats me that sets off the “sleazy” alarm bell. But nonetheless, I’m really bothered by these comments.  Should I be?

On one hand, I feel it’s never right to judge a person according to the rumor mill.  At least half of the people who have said these things to me don’t work directly with this guy and barely know him, so there must be an element of hearsay to what they’ve told me. Plus, I really do believe that many people who are party animals or serial daters in their 20s end up shifting gears as they get older and their priorities change.  So maybe these rumors are a reflection of a person he once was, but no longer is. And if that’s the case, that’s fine. We all change and grow up.

At the same time, I don’t want to be the idiot who ignored the big red flag that she was dating a jerk. To me, “sleazy” implies that he’s not just a flirt, but that he is creepy to women.  And that doesn’t sit right with me.

Well, first and foremost, there’s no outcome in which you’ll have been an idiot. The guy has been really sweet to you, and you took that at face value. There’s nothing wrong with that. While I agree that “sleazy” should probably imply that a guy is genuinely a creep and not just a flirt, the word gets tossed around more casually than that. He’s clearly open to hitting on women he works with, given that he likely hit on you at some point. (Although maybe your game is tight and one day you just decided to lock that down, in which case, much respect.) Even if a guy’s flirting style is low-key and respectful, if he makes a pass at one too many women in the office, he can get a bad reputation. If he accidentally comes off shadier than usual in a botched attempt to ask out a co-worker, he could get a bad reputation. It’s quite possible, even likely, that he’s a fundamentally decent guy who may have been a bit too eager to give office romance a go.

And as you mentioned, these gals don’t know him that well. You’ve been dating him for six months. There’s nothing wrong with listening to yourself instead of them — you know him better than they do. If it comes up again, you could ask them to elaborate, although I’m hesitant to encourage you to gossip about the guy you’re seeing. It might be better to ask him about any past relationships he’s had at the office.

In the end, the best solution is to move toward a place where you’re comfortable being open with your co-workers about your relationship. If this guy’s really a sleaze and these women are really your friends, they’ll put their money where their mouth is and explain why they don’t think highly of him. Otherwise, you owe it to him to start standing up for him. I have no idea how he’s handled himself in the past. All I know is that, of late, he’s been seeing this lovely woman whom he’s treated well. He deserves some credit for that.

4. What’s your favorite book? Would you judge me by the books in my house? Let’s say I get a lot of books for free because of my job, and I don’t know how to throw them away yet, so I have a lot of dumb-sounding books in my house, but they’re not *my* books, because I just get them in the mail (also, how do people throw away books? recycling? those cardboard boxes outside?), and really you’re basically a one-night stand, but it’s not like I DON’T ENTIRELY care what you think, but are your drunken glances at my sort of horrifying book collection — I’d start giving you titles, but I don’t really know where to begin, and I guess let’s say a lot of them are neon — going to color anything? Even though I barely know you, should I still explain that I get most of my books for free? Haha, this has never actually been an issue yet, but my books! They’re ruining my life!

I definitely take an acute interest in the books on people’s shelves. I love books. I love seeing what a person has read or intends to read. I’m not going to say I’m completely above judging a person’s bookshelf, but I’m pretty accepting. I’m more likely to quietly come down hard on someone for having a lot of Ayn Rand than a bunch of patently ridiculous Beginners Guide to Waffles-style books, or whatever it is you own. If anything, an especially large collection of, as you put it, “dumb-sounding” books is likely to elicit questions, not judgment. Either way, unless I ask, you shouldn’t take the time to explain it. If we’re in the midst of a one-night stand, there’s no reason to apologize for your possessions. And I don’t really have a favorite book, per say. Books I’ve read recently and really loved include Roberto Bolano’s 2666A Naked Singularity by Sergio De La Pava, and the short stories of Breece D’J Pancake.

Previously: Debt-Sharing and Mismatched Ambition.

A Dude is one of several rotating Dudes. Do you have a question for A Dude?

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