My husband’s co-worker, “Anna,” has invited us to her parents’ Airbnb for a group vacation at the end of August. She’s also invited two other co-workers and their partners. I’m really excited about it! The trouble is, no one knows what to do about another co-worker who I’ll call “Paul.”
No one wants Paul to come. Paul used to be close with Anna, but she’s been slowly cutting him out of her personal life because she feels like everything is always about him. Paul never respects people’s boundaries. He usually doesn’t show up for work until 2:00 p.m. and gets upset when people will not help him with work past 8:00 p.m. or on the weekends. I’ve seen him poke Anna’s nipples as a joke despite her clearly looking upset and telling him to stop. He responded by laughing and going at it again. He also tends to beg other people to make decisions for him and then gets mad if things don’t work out.
The trouble is, we know Paul is in a bad place mentally. He’s struggling because he came out of the closet last year and some members of his family have cut contact. More importantly, he recently had a mental breakdown.
His friends outside of work went to a festival without him. When he found out, they told him they didn’t want to deal with his drama and entitlement. That night he had the breakdown and ended up spending the night in a mental health hospital. This was in early July. Additionally, his boss has told him he will be fired if he doesn’t clean up his act by October.
He will inevitably find out when he realizes why four of his co-workers have booked vacation the same week. Is there a way to exclude Paul from this trip with some compassion? We really don’t want to invite him, but in light of what happened, this feels cruel. We don’t think advising him to see a therapist so he can sort out his issues will help. He’s gone through four in the last year.
Dear Cruel Summer,
“I didn’t invite you to my Airbnb because you sexually assaulted me. You’re lucky I didn’t report you” would actually be a very fair thing for Anna to say. If this affects Paul in a way that lands him in a mental hospital, that may be exactly where he needs to be to begin another attempt at getting some help. Believe me when I say including him in the getaway is not going to keep him healthy and happy. Relieve yourself of that burden. It’s too much.
That said, you called Anna “my husband’s coworker,” not “our good friend who works at the same company,” and that should have been your first clue that this vacation was a probably bad idea in the first place. The stress you’re feeling around Paul is your second one. Vacations are for fun, and taking one that has you worried about giving someone a mental breakdown is not going to be festive.
More Advice From Slate
Generally speaking, when one parent or the other is periodically gone for a brief business trip, what level of parenting is acceptable? I’m talking about things like meals, screens, etc. In our family it’s usually two days tops, maybe once every two months.