Flirtation is crossing the line

Dear Annie: I am a small-business owner and have been married for over 10 years. In the past few weeks, "Lois," one of my very valued female employees, has started acting a little more flirtatious than she used to.
I work very closely with Lois, and at first, I didn't think much about it and kind of played along. I'm a flirtatious person by nature anyway. Then yesterday, in an e-mail, Lois told me she is sexually attracted to me.
Lois is a very good-looking woman, and she has a fianc & eacute;. I was honestly flattered by her attraction to me, but, obviously, there is a line that can't be crossed here. Actually, several lines.
Because my sex life at home has been less than satisfying the past few years, I feel I am more vulnerable to any physical advance that Lois may make. I need her to keep her distance, but I don't want to offend her because, frankly, I can't afford to lose her as an employee. So, how do I approach her and tell her I'm off limits? I don't want to embarrass her, or make things uncomfortable for either of us, or worse, give her the impression that she needs to leave. And I certainly don't want to get caught in the position where physical contact is made.
I hope I'm not too late and the damage done. Boss in a Bind
Dear Boss: Some of the damage is already done -- Lois thinks you are open to an affair. But there's still time to fix it. First, stop flirting so much because she doesn't know you are only kidding. Then you need to put a professional face on your relationship -- friendly, but all business. Treat her last e-mail as if it never reached you.
Keep in mind that a romantic involvement with a subordinate opens you up to a lawsuit if the affair ends badly. Then, get yourself and your wife into counseling so you can strengthen your marriage and be less vulnerable to the machinations of an attractive office employee.
Dear Annie: I have a close friend who apparently thinks everyone must love the scent of her perfume as much as she does. Whenever we get together, I gag from the smell. She must bathe in it.
How can I politely tell her that others may find this bothersome? Is there a way I can make this clear without offending her? Holding My Nose and Breath
Dear Holding My Nose: There's no inoffensive way to tell someone they stink, but that shouldn't stop you from speaking up. Say, "I may be developing a sensitivity to perfume because I really notice yours a lot. It's rather overwhelming, and I'm sure that's not your intent. Would you mind using a little less?"
Dear Annie: I am writing in response to the neighbor who was concerned about the children next door. The children were being home-schooled, and in addition to being unruly, nosy and unsupervised, the children were teasing her dog.
I've been a social worker for 30 years and would advise the neighbor to report that family to their state Division of Family Services Child Abuse hotline. While most home-school environments are legitimate, we know that a savvy parent can use that to hide abusive behavior since those kids will remain hidden from those most likely to report suspected abuse -- teachers, principals and school nurses. And abused kids will often mistreat animals to displace their rage.
Please let your readers know that hotline reporting is always anonymous, and one does not have to be certain that abuse is taking place. That is left to the professionals to investigate. Better to err on the side of caution. Social Worker in Lawrence, Kan.
Dear Lawrence: Most home-schooled children are not abused, but we appreciate the warning for those neighbors who worry that more may be going on.
E-mail your questions to, or write to: Annie's Mailbox™, P.O. Box 118190, Chicago, IL 60611.
Creators Syndicate
Copyright 2006 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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