Why you should never complain about your company


I am trying to figure out what is the right kind of guy for me to be dating now that I’m getting a divorce. As an incorrigible go-getter — with all things I do — I am getting a jump start on dating. So if it’s offensive to you that I’m dating before I’m divorced, you should probably stop reading. But I want to warn you that you are probably from the same contingent of people who do not approve of looking for a job from your current job, and I’ve got news for you: Everyone’s doing it. Both.

At first I thought I should be dating people who are recently divorced. You know, shared experience. So I went out with this guy who was married for sixteen months, and his wife is getting about three million dollars in the settlement. Of course he is very upset about the whole thing. But mostly because he thinks she’s crazy.

My alarms go off immediately. I think he might be crazy. Because, as my divorce lawyer says, “A ten never marries a one.” Which is to say that you get what you are.

I ask my date why he’s so upset that she’s getting three million. Because, after all, he earned way more than that while he was with her. (Yes, true.)

He says that she is a raving alcoholic and he didn’t know that when he married her.

Then he orders his second Jack and Ginger.

I have had so few drinks in my life that I don’t even know what Jack and Ginger is.

But here’s what happens: We go out on one date, and I drink. It only takes me about a half a glass of wine to be way more easy-going and flirty than I could ever manage if I were sober. And he asks me out again.

On the next date, he has four beers and I don’t drink, and it is obvious to me that things are not going well.

And it is also obvious to me that he will marry another alcoholic. He likes that in a girl.

But he still complains that he can’t believe he married someone who is so unstable. I can’t believe he doesn’t see what marrying that person says about him. I do not tell him that people who have four drinks on every date marry alcoholics. I do tell him, “A ten does not marry a one.”

The wisdom falls on dead ears.

But I know this is true because after our marriage counseling ended up in our divorce, I went back to the marriage counselor to understand why I chose my husband in the first place. Really, all the things I loved about my husband when we got married are still there. I just need to understand why, of all the things I could love in a person, I picked those to marry. There are millions of reasons to marry someone, really, like that the person is a genius (my husband) or that the person is fun when drunk (definitely not my husband).

It’s easy to judge other people for what they pick. But to be honest, all reasons have their pluses and minuses and we’d do best just to understand why we do what we do. My friend married a woman because she had little world experience and he could show her what he knew. Lame, right? But the marriage is working. And another friend married someone because he’s the male version of Mother Theresa. Great, right? But the marriage fell apart because in the end, she wanted someone to pay attention to her, not save the world.

So I try to not complain about my husband because there’s a lot that is good about him. I try instead to focus on how to be better at understanding myself. Because who you pick to be around says a lot about who you are.

And this is true for a lot of areas in life. Like, look at your friends. Good-looking people hang out with good-looking people. And who you hang out with is so influential on you that fat friends make you fat.

It’s true at work, too. A former boss used to tell me that you should always hire A players because one B player brings everyone down — teams perform to their lowest performer. I think that’s true. I also think that when an A sees a B on the team, the A doesn’t want to come.

So if you are complaining that you are in an office with people who are terrible at what they do, ask yourself why. And instead of broadcasting that you chose to be with terrible people, do some self-reflection and figure out why, so you don’t do it again.

It’s very hard to avoid duplicating the same mistake over and over again — that’s why most second marriages fail, and that’s why people who work at lame companies generally make their next move to another lame company. But if you are really honest about your own responsibility for choosing lameness, then you are less likely to choose it again.

Now, if I can only get as good at choosing dates as I am at choosing companies…

99 replies
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  1. Brett Rogers
    Brett Rogers says:

    People usually marry someone who, unknowingly at first, resembles someone important with whom they had relationship troubles. For example: a girl with a demanding father will generally marry a man who is demanding to help her actively work through the issues with her dad. Sad, but true in many cases.

    Don’t know why you married yours, but you have my best wishes in healing. Divorce sucks. I finally married an amazing partner in my wife, but I found her after two previous and heartbreaking marriages.

  2. Liz
    Liz says:

    Penelope- I identify with our experience and recently went through the same thing. The longer I am apart from my ex husband, the more I realize the qualities I liked in him, but more important, those that annoy the heck out of me. I think its good to date a wide, wide variety of men post breakup- even pre-divorce- to get a sense of what is good and bad. It is starting all over again. I think these ideas of being with someone like your dad is hooey. Its all about what fits you at the time you are ready and learning from your experience. Wisdom.

  3. Carla
    Carla says:

    So I guess, using this analogy, if you can’t change a man after you marry him, you can’t improve a B person in a work team. Kinda pessimistic, isn’t it? Can no one change? I agree that marrying a man because “you can change him” is stupid, because you can’t (case in point my husband’s ex!). But at work? Doesn’t mentoring and managing have any effect?


    * * * * * * *

    Hm. Well you could see this post as very optimistic in that each of us has qualities that are good in the right situation, and we are each best off if we find that right situation.

    I think each of us has the capacity to be an A in something at work. We just have to find it. But if we were not an A in the last job in our field, we probably won’t be in the next job in our field. We need to shift a lot to find where we will be an A. I think that’s part of why the current workplace is so exciting — because it enables — and practically encourages – us to shift often, which makes it more likely that each of us will find where we’re an A.

    And, as an aside about mentors: A good mentor helps you find where you’ll be an A. That’s why people who have mentors are more successful at reaching their goals than people who do not have mentors.


  4. Kat
    Kat says:

    The people (partners, friends, family, work colleagues etc.) I get on with most tend to generally share the same values as me. They can have different interests, political and religious views but the values they hold is what can really bond people.

    Here’s an interesting blog link about being happy at work by having the same values as a company: http://www.smartlemming.com/?q=node/842

  5. LP
    LP says:

    I disagree with almost every sentence in this post, except the main thesis:

    And instead of broadcasting that you chose to be with terrible people, do some self-reflection and figure out why, so you don't do it again.

    This is right. But your analysis of relationships, alcoholism, and why ‘a ten never marries a one’ seems off base, and more like something you kind of thought up and wrote down in a hurry. Nevertheless, I do wish more people could understand that they actually get to pick their job, and don’t have to settle in permanently at some company just because they took a job there to pay the bills. There are other companies, other jobs out there!

  6. Mark Ragan
    Mark Ragan says:

    I went through a fairly peaceful (yet painful) divorce some 10 years ago. But unlike you, Penelope, I didn’t take the time to analyze what went wrong. I should have.

    I agree with the first comment in this discussion: The person you choose is often a reaction, or counter-reaction, to a bad emotional experience.

    My mother suffered from depression when I was a child. This affected me profoundly. I would come home from school to find her crying, and it made me very sad. This went on for years, or at least I remember it as having gone on for years.

    So every girl I ever dated, including my ex-wife had one common quality: They were incredibly happy people with huge bright smiles and big joyful personalities. Is this a bad thing? Of course not; it is wonderful, and my ex is a beautiful person. But is it THE reason to marry someone? Probably not.

    My final point is more practical. The reason my marriage failed is because my ex-wife was so happy and accommodating that we never fought. She never really demanded anything of me. We lost the muscle that works bad things out, if we ever had it. Does that make sense?

    OK, now I need to figure out how this relates to office life…….

    * * * * * * *
    Wow. This is a really important comment. It’s important because Mark is the CEO of a long-established business. He is the voice of the company and he’s responsible for a lot of peoples’ paychecks every week. And he’s engaging in authentic online conversation.

    So often people don’t comment on blogs because they are scared that it will make them look unprofessional. And so often CEOs say that blogging is not appropriate for them. But Mark is showing that it’s actually good for a head of a company to use social media. He’s made a huge impression on me by being real, and by listening and talking and doing it in a way that help builds community. And he linked to his company in his comment. How cool is that? Most people would be scared to do that on a comment like this one. But being real, and being real in our business lives really does help us.

    There’s an army of consultants who are trying to teach companies why it’s important to participate on blogs, and what the benefits are. I hope you point clients to Mark Ragan. I’m really impressed.


  7. david rees
    david rees says:


    I thought it was one of the better posts.

    My exception to the reason here is that I have never promised an employer that I would remain employed with them through any particular circumstance where as I promised my wife that I would – in sickness/health/wealth/destitution, etc.

    So while some of the dynamics are similar, the responsibilities are not. Certainly dating while you are divorcing is pragmatic and you are a singularly pragmatic person, but maybe that is part of the problem.

    Obviously your marriage is approaching dissolution and I am not going pretend you will work it out.

    I would only make the point that upholding your marital vows and fidelity while you are married – even in this circumstance, is for your sake – for what you are saying to yourself about who you are and for the person it makes you.

    I should probably be careful I don’t use the “C” word as it may be construed as judgmental but thats is how I see it – placing priority on pragmatism over character.


  8. Robyn
    Robyn says:

    We hang out with people who are like us because we feel more comfortable that way. Knowing ourselves and our values allows us to step away from our comfort zone to experience other people, which will either reinforce or alter our values. This is a good thing. In many ways, my husband and I were ver similar and in the ways we were different, we learned from one another. We had one important difference that I could have done without: my husband was an alcoholic. Since I didn’t come from a home with this dynamic, I didn’t recognize it and the years following this realization were turbulent and painful. I have learned more about the disease and living with it than I ever wanted to know, but don’t regret it. In all other ways, he was a wonderful person and a year and half after his death I still cannot seriously bear to think of dating again. My experience in online social networking was nearly zero last December, but thanks to my explorations, I have learned a lot about myself, my values and judgments than I knew before and am closer than ever to understanding what will become the driving force behind my next two decades (or more)! Thanks for this post.

  9. Lane
    Lane says:

    Good post, all in all. I’d never heard the “A ten never marries a one” phrase, but I do subscribe to “Relationship issues are never the fault of one person – it takes two people.”

    Given I’m in the midst of my second divorce from an abusive man, I wonder if I didn’t marry my father the second time instead of the first. I also think I will take some time and review the list things I marry for, and what that says about me.

  10. Maureen Sharib
    Maureen Sharib says:

    I read once, when I was divorcing in my early thirties, that it was a good idea NOT to remarry before eight years and not to date before five.

    I remember thinking at the time how extreme it seemed but looking back on all of it, I don’t think it’s extreme at all. I made the eight year marker (plus 7 more) but I sure didn’t make the five.

    Time goes by so fast.


  11. Rebecca
    Rebecca says:

    I liked this post for so many reasons, it’s hard to count.

    One example of those you surround yourself with — My best friend and I are extremely similar and will gain and lose weight together despite the fact that we only see each other every 1-2 weeks.

    A couple weeks ago we said that both needed to lose weight – just 3-5 lbs. A week or so later, we saw each other again and we had both gained – not lost- 3 lbs! Just kind of funny how in tune we are with each other.

    I could go on and on, but just wanted to say I appreciated the post.

  12. Derek
    Derek says:

    This really post hits on a tangential issue I’m struggling with, namely if you hang out with co-workers who complain all the time, you’ll end up finding that you a) don’t like your job anymore (even if you really do), and b) will eventually stop doing anything to make your job better (i.e. taking the reigns of your career) and start complaining too.

    This gets even harder when you’re at a small company and there isn’t another clique to roll with other than the complainers.

  13. MJ
    MJ says:

    “People usually marry someone who, unknowingly at first, resembles someone important with whom they had relationship troubles.”

    Poster #1 – Based on what proof? That’s an awfully broad statement.

    “A 10 doesn’t marry a 1” doesn’t fly for me either – too trite. Who is the 10 and who is the 1? How do you sort the hot, dumb, crazy girl and the decent, nerdy, pudgy guy – who is really the 1 there?

    This is all about Character, no one should be afraid to wade into the hot water and start smacking some fannies.

  14. kristi
    kristi says:

    There’s so much I could say about the marriage/dating part of this post having gone through 2 divorces and am considering a 3rd, but I’m going to stick to the work part of it instead.
    When I was in college, my mentors told me I could be a star in my field. Then I started working and found myself mired in negativity and office politics over and over. No matter what job I took, it seemed to happen again. I started to think it was my fault. Then I took a job and got fired after one week. Why? The manager told me that she wasn’t prepared for me to be an “A” player when she hired me and hadn’t prepared her staff of “B”s on what changes to expect. She said she was sure I’d be a “superstar” once I found the right company.
    Two jobs later, guess what? I am now an “A” and a “superstar”, according to my performance review this year. I am the same at this job as the last 7. But here, everyone else knows how to act at work and there is no crap to deal with. We all just get on with the business of doing our jobs. I’ve been here over 2 years and plan to stay awhile because I’m finally surrounded by people I can deal with.
    Oh btw, we did the meyers-briggs and found out most of our department are ENTPs. We learned that people like to work with their same type, but are socially repelled by it. I don’t know if that’s true, but I have continually married my opposite and now wonder if I need to subscribe to the adage “familiarity breeds content” instead of “contempt”.

  15. Another gal
    Another gal says:

    Good point about low performers. But how do you “quantify” that someone is a B player when it comes to attitude? I’ve got a real winner on my team–someone who puts in the 8 hours of acceptable work, and leaves. In the meantime it’s always an argument to get work out of her, and she’s a bit of a downer. It’s hard to manage that, and it’s hard to explain to HR why you want to take the risk of firing someone.

    Any suggestions?

  16. tinyhands
    tinyhands says:

    I’m four years divorced and am beginning to realize that I will probably never remarry. My ex-wife was out of my league, even back then, and now I find that my standards are such that nobody even comes close to desirable as a long term partner. To use your terms, _I’m_ the 1, looking for a 10. But that’s my mistake.

    Don’t you make the mistake of filtering out, for any reason, too many people before dating them though. (Within reason. Seeking out only recently divorced men has no logic to me.) Something in your wording makes me think you view dating as the first step in a relationship. It doesn’t need to be. It can be ‘just dating,’ and “not even divorced” is WAY too soon to be thinking about the next long-term relationship. (This is not a judgement about dating while merely separated though.)

  17. Jonathan E.
    Jonathan E. says:

    Sorry, but the spectacle of Penelope’s estranged husband commenting here (see “Nino” above) about how her own lawyer has told her to stop blogging about the divorce is classic!

  18. Leonard Klaatu
    Leonard Klaatu says:

    “Birds of a feather flock together.”

    Humans aren’t birds though and the variations between people (pick any method of selection you like) can be changed – for good or bad.

    Seems to me that the route to an improved life begins (and perhaps ends) with our doing what we must to be OUR best.

    The “law of attraction” seems in vogue these days. It’s all nothing more than birds of a feather flocking together. The way to attract better quality anything/anybody may be to become better ourselves.

    Or I could just be crazy and out of my mind, which is highly probable.

  19. Mark W.
    Mark W. says:

    I think it was a good idea to ask your marriage counselor for a recap. I know you’ll do all kinds of research. I also know you’ll focus on understanding yourself better because that’s the only person we can control. All will be helpful for the final analysis but it usually comes down to your instincts so maybe there’s a difference there between relationships and companies. A recent link from your Brazen Careerist web site was really good – “The best advice I ever got” –
    I liked Indra Nooyi’s (Chairman and CEO, Pepsico) advice both as something to strive for and look for in a person. It is copied below verbatim. I wouldn’t try to set up some kind of schedule or time line though…I don’t think relationships work out that way (more of an evolutionary process for both parties involved).

    “My father was an absolutely wonderful human being. From him I learned to always assume positive intent. Whatever anybody says or does, assume positive intent. You will be amazed at how your whole approach to a person or problem becomes very different. When you assume negative intent, you’re angry. If you take away that anger and assume positive intent, you will be amazed. Your emotional quotient goes up because you are no longer almost random in your response. You don’t get defensive. You don’t scream. You are trying to understand and listen because at your basic core you are saying, “Maybe they are saying something to me that I’m not hearing.” So “assume positive intent” has been a huge piece of advice for me.

    In business, sometimes in the heat of the moment, people say things. You can either misconstrue what they’re saying and assume they are trying to put you down, or you can say, “Wait a minute. Let me really get behind what they are saying to understand whether they’re reacting because they’re hurt, upset, confused, or they don’t understand what it is I’ve asked them to do.” If you react from a negative perspective – because you didn’t like the way they reacted – then it just becomes two negatives fighting each other. But when you assume positive intent, I think often what happens is the other person says, “Hey, wait a minute, maybe I’m wrong in reacting the way I do because this person is really making an effort.”

  20. david rees
    david rees says:

    @kristi what the heck do you do and where the heck to you work? I have only worked with maybe 1 or 2 other ENTPs in my entire adult life and it was fantastic.

    As to the “10 does not marry a 1” talk:

    That is probably true, but frequently a 9 will marry a 7 or even a 5.5

    You can say that looks do not matter – perhaps in an ideal world but if there is much a a spread in looks, it can make one partner uncomfortable or excessively jealous.

    Sometimes that kind of imbalance comes from one partner wanting leverage on the other.

    I guarantee that, as taboo as it is, and whether there is parity or not, looks play a factor and it is a subject worthy of introspection.

  21. GenerationXpert
    GenerationXpert says:

    This post was right on target. And what I think is most significant is that you need to ask yourself WHY you’re working with the people you are. When I changed my outlook, my career took off.

  22. Charles
    Charles says:

    I’d like to separate out two issues here: One is strictly good political/career strategy and one deals with personal reflection in both career and romance.

    There are two theories of the hanging out with the A-group. One is that the A group will lift you up. This works if you are on high profile projects and your team-members are willing to share credit. It is true that you will tend to adopt the behaviors of the group. You must also beware that this includes toxic behaviors. I've seen organizations implode as the A-group people became infected with cutthroat competition.

    The other is to become the star of the B-team. With people of “lesser quality” (however you define it) surrounding you, you have a greater chance to shine. (It's a common seduction technique as well!) Individual stars do not shine as brightly in a galaxy and there is great opportunity to hone those leadership skills while developing an effective team. One woman I spoke with last week had been hired as an admin assistant six months before. She thought she was taking on a second class job, but within weeks her managers recognized her leadership abilities. She is now working as their lead project manager.

    And as far as office politics go. Listen, empathize, but try not to take sides. It's best to weather the storm. If things are too hot, get out.

    Yes, dating is a lot like managing a career. I have spent many mornings talking to friends who met their dreamboat in a bar the night before and many afternoons advising individuals who woke up that morning with an epiphany that they were going to medical school. Both types need a good dose of reality and a great deal of self-knowledge and reflection if they are to make the next move. You are correct to take the time to find out what worked and what didn't and why. It is always a good idea to make sure you know yourself well enough to deal with those subtle motivations that can lead a person to be rash and jump into a series of unsuccessful relationships. Some people like to gamble and shoot from the hip, hoping against the odds that the next time a "winner" will magically appear. Some people like to plan but never get out of the planning phase because they are too busy defining the ideal relationship that cannot work in reality. Like in business, the most successful people figure out what those things that are truly important so they will be prepared and think clearly enough to seize the correct opportunity as it arises.

    Good luck.

  23. Barbara Saunders
    Barbara Saunders says:

    I think people date/marry at their own level, but that’s more complicated than it seems. Most of us are unaware of what “our level” really is. The nonalcoholic person who dates an alcoholic who is a psychological “3” may indeed be a psychological “3” as well in some area of functioning other than drinking.

  24. Daryl Tay
    Daryl Tay says:

    This is a great post, Penelope. I’m not married but could really appreciate how everything is tied together, and your backstory added a personal element that few blogs possess!

  25. Werner von Wallenrod
    Werner von Wallenrod says:

    "A ten never marries a one;" but ten to one on whose scale? Everyone is bound to have different senses of who’s a ten and who’s a one, and for all different kinds of reasons (and if you ever really find yourself grading people on a numerical scale, you’re probably off to a bad start in the first place).

    So what does this statement really mean? Anything? I guess it’s more helpful if you strip away the value implication (10 is best, 1 is worst) and look at in terms more akin to your example: i.e. an alcoholic is more likely to marry an alcoholic… though I have no idea if that’s at all true. As Mark posted in his comment above, he married as bright and happy people as he possibly could to help him avoid his own issues with depression. So it seems some people will choose people with the same issues, and some people will choose those who don’t.

    In other words, 10s will marry 10s, ones, and any number in between.

    So, overall, I agree with the main thesis of your post: that we probably have some interesting reasons for who we choose; and that we should probably be exploring them to help avoid future mistakes (as well as for other reasons). But I’m not sure I see the wisdom that fell on deaf ears there. Maybe “once bitten, twice shy” would’ve been a handier proverb for your date. ;)

  26. Adam Rice
    Adam Rice says:

    I still love how open and transparent you are. There is freedom in it as well as responsibility. I also love how you turned negative things into positive things.

    Recognizing that your soon-to-be ex-husband isn’t a monster or evil scumbag, but rather someone who has traits that you still love, and will probably search for again is a great positive affirmation of both him and yourself.

  27. Joshua
    Joshua says:

    For what it’s worth, be sure that you’re not dating on the rebound. Often you’re better off taking the time to reflect and learn from your past relationship experience — when you’re *not* also trying to charm someone new!

  28. melanie gao
    melanie gao says:

    Thanks Penelope for leaving your ex’s comments intact. I would think it was weird if he didn’t leave comments like the one he left today.

  29. Ed F.
    Ed F. says:

    Well Penelope, I had said before that your posts were going downhill in quality, and I very happily stand corrected! Thank you for these last two, they were full of insight and meaning. One more and I think we can finally declare that you are back! :) Very fine job!

  30. Michael
    Michael says:

    Your comment, “I went back to the marriage counselor to understand why I chose my husband in the first place” is wonderful for you. Way too many people have no clue why they do anything, this will help you to become stronger, identifying your strengths and areas of need.

    Also, John Maxwell, leadership consultant, has often said in the “Law of the Lid” you can’t be a ‘5’ as a leader and help people become 8’s. I believe this holds true in marriage, when you are an 8 (there’s always room for improvement) marrying a 3 is going to lead to a frustrating relationship. You want another 8, who comple(i)ments you.

    Excellent post.

  31. MJ
    MJ says:

    I’m not going to get into the dating while married thing, but on the topic of Character –

    doesn’t this teach your kids (and your apparently mindlessly spongelike and loyal readers) that people are disposable? When one no longer has any value for you, toss him or her aside like a dirty Kleenex and get another. No, that takes too long – get another one while you are wadding up the dirty Kleenex, then throw it away later. It can wait.

    Maybe this is how some successful businesspeople operate – no values, no morals, no loyalty, no ability to discipline themselves. But THIS SUCKS as a human behavior and the more people learn that this is OK, the worse this country will be.

    If life in 2008 is about nothing but narcissism and self indulgence, then maybe the US is getting exactly what it deserves with each misfortune.

    You, Madame, are part of the problem.

  32. Paul Horan
    Paul Horan says:

    Wow – great post… And I’m referring to what I consider the main “theme” – why do we drift towards (or away from) certain personality types?

    I was married for 10 years, and have now been divorced for 6. Lots and lots of introspection revealed that I tended to be attracted to women that needed a “savior” – women in dire situations that needed a “knight in shining armor” to rescue them. Maybe this was because, deep inside, I felt I had little else to offer.
    I met and married a beautiful girl who was waiting tables at a pool hall in Chicago. I swept her off her feet and did my best to ensure her happiness. We had a nice home and a beautiful son, and she finished her Masters degree.
    Long story short, we divorced because “she felt powerless and unable to take care of herself”.

    Now I find I’m more attracted to self-reliant, independent women who have their S**t together and don’t really “need” me as much. It makes one work a little harder, I think.
    -Paul in DC-

  33. Teresa
    Teresa says:

    MJ, what does it say about your character that you leave numerous negative comments here on Penelope’s blog? Don’t you have anything BETTER to do? What are you accomplishing by leaving these comments? You don’t even leave a URL, so you’re not doing it for traffic. I have seen multiple comments from you and I just don’t get it. Maybe you know Penelope personally?

    Do you have any friends who have no value to you? Your argument was pretty weak there. Of course you (collective “you”) would not continue to be involved with someone who adds no value to your life whatsoever. Penelope and her husband made an effort to work things out, but it didn’t happen. Are they supposed to stay together and not “dispose” of each other because…well, because WHY?

    I don’t always agree with Penelope and sometimes I think she can be harsh, self-centered, and cold–but if I disliked her as much as you do, I just wouldn’t come back here. You know what sucks as human behavior? Wasting your time insulting people over the internet, repeatedly. You obviously have things to say and you are able to articulate decently, why not go somewhere where what you have to say has a positive impact on yourself and others?

  34. James
    James says:


    I truly am sorry to hear about your divorce from your husband.

    I am not sure if you ever did, but if not, I think you to just ‘thumb’ through my book I mailed you as a ‘thank you’ for helping me out with starting my website and blog.

    It was called Developing a Million-Dollar Relationship.

    I think that you may find it speaks to your past, current, and future relationships.

    I wish you the best of luck.

  35. Cleveland A
    Cleveland A says:

    Penelope, great post! As a woman somewhat similar to you -an “alpha” female achiever- I wonder what you think of the whole alpha/beta concept. I suspect that your husband (like my ex) was a beta. My therapist says alpha women do best with beta men, but like you, I am wondering what type of man to choose to be a good complement to me.

  36. Jim C.
    Jim C. says:

    The comments on this post are amazing.

    PT used a failing marriage as an analogy for a bad job situation. The main lesson is right there in the title: “Why you should never complain about your company.” Why? Because where you choose to work says a lot about you.

    Leaving aside the unwisdom of blogging in public about one’s own divorce (and it is unwise, and her lawyer said so too), this is an excellent essay that makes a really good point. So what do something like 80% of the comments involve? They are arguing about marriage, divorce, and dating!

    People, this blog is about careers, not marriages! PT made a very salient point about work and careers, and most people who comment are ignoring it.

  37. J
    J says:

    Penelope, this was an excellent post. You touched upon what I beleive is the single most important factor for improving your life, relationships and career: self reflection. Without at least an attempt to understand why you do what you do, there is little to no hope for improvement (unless your life is so grand that everything works out without reflection. For those people, congratulations, and i say that with no bitterness)

    Everyone has their own opinion about dating once reconciliation has been ruled out but before a divorce is technically final. And in that case, those birds of a feather should flock together and not bother the other side with condemnation and leave their burning torches at home. For what its worth, I agree with Penelope.

  38. Dave
    Dave says:

    Yikes! I find myself in the minority here. As I read this post, I was thinking that it wasn’t particularly good because it dealt with PT’s personal and romantic life instead of professional issues. She’s much better with the latter. PT, while I admire your courage for opening yourself up like this, I think introspection and self-analysis is not your strongest area.

    As for the 1 vs 10 remark, that just left me confused. What are you comparing? Looks, personality, intelligence, drive, character? My wife (of 30 years, so I must be doing something right) is very smart, but it is very different from my intelligence. She’s a social worker and works with the handicapped. Her people skills are phenomenal, and she has way more patience than I ever could. Yet, if I try to explain some of the computer work I do to her, her eyes glaze over. She has no interest in that area. That doesn’t make her better or lesser than me, just different.

    On that note, I’d also suggest you lose the list of preconditions for dating and just go out with anyone who interests you. Sure, filter out the obvious losers and complete-wastes-of-time, but don’t try to find the “right one” only and skip over all the rest. I’ve got a friend that did this after his divorce. Every date was evaluated to see if she could be “the one”, and if she didn’t measure up, there was no second date. Not suprisingly, he’s still single. Another friend has only had a few dates in the several years since his divorce because his standards are so high that very few women come near to meeting them, and he refuses to consider the idea that perhaps he should just date casually. Don’t make the same mistake. Best of luck, whatever you decide!

  39. kristi
    kristi says:

    @david rees: I work in marketing for a travel destination company. I do e-marketing, web design & development, graphic design, photography, & videography. I started counting up the ENTPs and they include the VP, Director, Manager, Asst. Mgr, Admin Assistant, one sales manager, and me.
    (The other sales manager is an ENFP.)

  40. Maggie
    Maggie says:

    I think I once dated the doppelganger of this guy when I was newly divorced. Rich, successful, bitter about how much he had to give the wife (in addition to the $20k per month child support), VERY good looking–a 10 by all accounts. We met at a party and I obviously saw he was drinking constantly, but didn’t think anything of it–I don’t drink much myself and my ex never drank a drop and this guy seemed perfectly sober. In retrospect I should have realized he was an alcoholic because of the fact that, each time I saw him, he was always drinking yet never seemed drunk. My ah-ha moment was when I had followed him back to his (huge, fancy) house, he got out of his car with a jacket in his hand and offhandedly remarked that he had puked into it while he was driving and just had to wash it out. Said it as nonchalantly as if he were telling me he just had to run down the driveway and put a letter in the mailbox. Needless to say he went from a 10 to a 1 in that one moment.

    Regardless, in response to Carla’s comment about being able to change people at work–the fact is that you can’t change people, period. If counseling and fighting can’t change a spouse in a marriage, how could it be true that mentoring and managing at work could change that same person? The reality is that the world and the workplace are filled with Bs, and most of them are perfectly content being Bs and have no ambition of becoming As or no qualms about their negative impact on As. Not everyone in the world strives to be successful and perfect; most people just want to collect a paycheck and live their lives–and no amount of managing or mentoring would get them to suddenly realize they’re going about it wrong and need to step up their game.

    I’ve been there, done that–driven myself crazy lamenting about an ex-husband who wouldn’t change no matter what and about workplaces that were totally dysfunctional and backwards. Which, incidentally, is exactly why I have 2 more days until I’m done with my current job–this place just sucks and I’m not naive enough to think it will change anytime soon. I could have stayed and tried to fix people and jockey around the dead weight but what would the point have been?

  41. Lisa Gates
    Lisa Gates says:

    Penelope, somebody commented that he wasn’t sure what this post had to do with office matters — and I have to say in response–everything.

    We can all be adept at compartmentalizing when necessary, but the truth is that we can’t NOT bring our true selves to work. In some companies, more all the time, personal development work is prized and encouraged–even offered–as the best path to personal and corporate fulfillment. Both bottom lines matter, your’s and the company’s.

    This all circles back to personal responsibility and what we’re willing to look at. Best place to start is in the mirror.

    Thanks, Penelope.

    * * * * * * *
    Thank you for this comment, Lisa. I think what you wrote is the undercurrent of so many of my posts. To me, a blog about careers that never touched on personal life would be so dishonest.


  42. Laura
    Laura says:

    “Where a man has been monstrous, the woman has almost always had some hand in creating her particular monster.”

    -Katie Roiphe, Uncommon Arrangements

    ps what happened to Twitter?

    pps I ask because I have a short attention span

  43. Rick Sline
    Rick Sline says:

    I agree with the article and have some additional comments.

    Re: Your job – it’s not always easy to jump ship and all companies (like all spouses) have “warts”. I’ve voluntarily left about half a dozen jobs in my 40 years of working. Twice it was because of blatant unethical and possibly illegal activity that came from at or near the top – I didn’t know about those activities until several months into the job (fortunately other companies were trying to recruit me and it was a quick and easy jump). A couple times the company was being grossly mis-managed and I bailed before they they had major layoffs – a couple times I wasn’t able to bail in time. The other times I’ve left over pay/benefit/working condition issues (going to a substantially better environment) but endeavored to tell the soon to be former employer what it would take to keep me.

    On the relationship side – it’s a give and take and people tend to change a bit over time. There are a number of things that are just not negotiable for some people – abuse is one of them. I can see where people repeat the same mistakes.

    Management gurus say you keep making the same mistakes until you learn what you need to learn. I agree whole-heartedly with the premise of soaring with the eagles and staying away from the turkeys.

    BTW – we’ll be celebrating our 41st wedding anniversary next month :).

  44. Laura
    Laura says:

    she probably took my advice and is holding out for a Twitter endorsement deal. You know, girlfriend’s got high traffic. She should get paid to Tweet. ;-)

    * * * * * * *
    Thanks for asking. I’m going to post about why I took twitter down. In the mean time you can find it here.


  45. Danny
    Danny says:

    Okay. Hmmm, let’s try to stick with this analogy – . I’m thinking you guys are putting way to much philosophy into finding your mate. You basically have the things you like and that list could be short or vary long. With a short list, you are likely to find that person (job) with less effort and less stress/depression. With a long list, it could take half your life and push you to the limits of your sanity during the search. Short list is easier (this is like finding a job near your home that is “good enough”). A long list is much harder to fill but the end result will be a good fit that is likely to last as long as you want it to.

    Back to the mate analogy. A short list could be – attractive, smart (this would be easy to find, kind of like that local job). A very long list, like mine for example, would be very difficult to fill but rewarding if I were to ever find her (like the perfect job with challenge, pay, and work/life balance). My list of what I want – Attractive, smart, earns well, tall, brunette, author of at least one book, funny, perfect skin tone, nice voice, great debater and worthy of thought driven conversations, beautiful eyes, helps others, smells nice, athletic, former beach volleyball player is a plus, nice legs, pretty feminine hands, no toe fungus (or at least in the process of getting that taken care of), and lastly, a great smile. If only I could find her. Hmmmm, know anybody?

  46. kim jellen
    kim jellen says:

    Great post. I took the “10 doesn’t marry a 1” to mean “birds of a feather flock together.”

    In my case, I work with the most insane, dysfunctional bunch on the planet. It’s a company of not quite 50 people, where the Catholic father is President and his five sons are the VP’s. The father micromanages everyone and everything. The sons mostly cower and have never really worked anywhere except for Dad. Sons average age is 40, so they’re not going to work anywhere else, ever.

    So what am I doing here?

    I took the job during a phase of heavy partying and little attention-span for things like selecting a job with a better fit for my personality and background. I was psychological 3 on a scale of 1 to 10. If I’m honest, I can see exactly how I got here.

    Hopefully, me becoming a psychological greater-than-3 will attract more birds of a feather. Or, if different feathers, ones that complement rather than diffuse.

    If I think about it, what was I bringing to the table when I came on board? Not much, really. Except at cocktail hour.

    (And by the way, nothing against Catholics. They just often have a lot of sons.)

  47. LOL
    LOL says:

    Writing says a lot about a person and I can tell by the way you write that you are very shallow, very ignorant and very uneducated, like you say a 10 doesn’t marry a 1, ( you being the 1 of course ) and it shows.

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