How to recover from a workplace affair?

After 12 years of not a single date, desire, need or want for a man/companionship in any way, my coworker and I unintentionally fell in love. Loves me for who I am, your happiness is my happiness and all that jazz.

Problem is, he is sort of married. Not legally married but wears a ring, they share a child and a home. However, it’s an insane partnership where both have hurt each other in every way, constant fighting, one of those “were staying for the kids” relationships at this point. Mostly bad with good moments.

I lost my virginity to him. We told each other we loved each other and had sex all within a 3-month span. Lots of late nights in the office, however we only had sex the one time. When he kissed me I actually lost my breath and went weak in the knees. When we had sex, it was perfect in every way. He was wonderful to me.

The problem with all of that is, he has completely changed on me, even though he swore he wouldn’t and I’m miserable. I don’t know what happened, but he won’t talk about it even though he knows I’m an ENFJ and my two needs are communication and quality time.

One day he will sneak a handhold in from across the desk and tell me he loves me. The next he won’t even let me speak to him.

I decided for myself weeks ago that I was done, this was over, I deserve better, this is bullshit, etc. The hell of it is, I not only have to work in the same building, but we are the COO’s of the companies only two departments that go hand in hand.

I have constant anxiety.

I think what I’m struggling with is, I can’t decide on a story. Either I was a complete and utter fool who was someone’s mistress and lost my virginity and this was the biggest mistake of my life. Which is a hard pill to swallow when you have pride yourself on being a strong, smart hard worker with a healthy dose of confidence. This is very new, and if I’m being perfectly honest, pathetic feeling to me.

Or, as my friends like to tell me, I waited until I was almost 30 to have sex with someone I loved. With the person I have loved more than anyone in my entire life. And it was wonderful. And with all the growing and learning I’ve done, how could that be a mistake?

The real problem is this: I have worked my ass off to get this position. Worked my way up from the bottom, nights and weekends, many sacrifices, etc. I love my job. I am fantastic at it. I was made for management. I have hand chosen my team, and they are amazing. I have never worked so hard before in my life but somehow never tire.

I don’t know that I can with having to see him every single day. Because then it hasn’t really ended. I don’t have the luxury of choosing to not see him or talk to him.

So, should I stay or should I go? Would leaving be giving him even more power? This is more change in my life (in a very big real way) because of him? Should I stay in spite him, stand my ground and what not?

I bought my own house two years ago, I’m not making a lot of money but its the most I’ve ever made and am more than comfortable, financially speaking. I have no prospects job wise but a healthy savings.

Wherever you go, there you are, that’s a thing. I know leaving won’t resolve this but at least I wouldn’t be tormented by him and his games 10 hours a day.

10 replies
  1. Penelope Trunk
    Penelope Trunk says:

    First of all, women who have significant careers work a lot of hours. And, unlike men, women are in a time crunch to get married and have kids. So for women to have a great career and get married, dating people you meet at work makes total sense.

    Here’s a post on the topic of workplace romance:

    That said, you do need to tell yourself a story. The tenor or our stories have a huge impact on how resilient we are.

    Here’s research about that, along with some examples.

    And here’s your story:
    You spent most of your time focused on work instead of relationships, but you do actually really care about relationships. You got involved with a married man (most young women do this once — you are just a little late, but its common and the guys never leave their family because of course, they don’t because they have kids). Now you realize you are lonely and you are going to stop acting like your career is more important than relationships. You will focus on getting married and you’ll be fine. It doesn’t matter that your career took a hit from the relationship because women need to have kids in their 30s because that’s how biology works, so just focus on that. You’ll be fine.

    Shorter story. You focused on your career in your 20s and now its time to get married. Like every other woman turning 30. You’ll be fine.

    As for deciding if you should leave or not, you should probably stay. Changing jobs is a lot of work. You can’t change jobs and focus on your personal life at the same time.

    You will be sad about the guy no matter what job you’re in. So be sad in the current job. It’s more efficient.

    You really need to focus on learning how to be in a relationship so you can have a family. Otherwise you’ll be the only person in your company whose whole life is work – everyone else will go home to a family and you’ll have no reason to leave work because you have nothing outside of work.

    Don’t let that happen.

    Get an online dating profile, and start going out on dates. No one likes going out on dates but that’s usually what you need to do to find someone — so try it.


  2. Dana
    Dana says:

    It’ll be hard but CUT OFF THE RELATIONSHIP. You’re reputation could be harmed way more than his.
    And Penelope is right. He won’t leave his family. It’s hard but focus on relationships if marriage is what you want, of course. Don’t be pressured to marry and have kids if you don’t want to. But seriously, meet people and date and get a hobby.

  3. YesMyKidsAreSocialized
    YesMyKidsAreSocialized says:

    This guy is a narcissist and you need to cut off the romantic relationship and go back to being co-workers.

    If Mr. narcissist was really interested in ending his marriage he would have done it already and he wouldn’t have even talked to you about all the problems. Classic move on his part.

    Whatever story you want to tell yourself, at least now you know that you actually do want to love someone. You like the way it feels. Find someone better than that guy who isn’t married with kids.

    My husband was a married man when we met at my first professional job after college. Neither of us pursued anything until he moved out and filed the divorce papers. 15 years later we’re still going strong.

  4. anon
    anon says:

    Dont quit your job just to get away from that doink.

    You have a hand-picked team of minions that you love to lead? As a former manager, I found that dream jobs with great coworkers like yours are very few & far between. So, dont leave.

    Here’s your story ….. This was an important lesson. 1) You learned information about him (he’s selfish jerk). 2) You learned something about yourself (you will never settle for charming jerks). Going forward, you will focus your energy on doing a great job for/with your subordinates and build a good life FAR away from him.

    Dont let him – or anyone else – toy with your feelings and treat you like dirt (which he is; dont kid yourself that he’s not).

    You deserve so much better ….

  5. Eiram
    Eiram says:

    I’d add to the above comments: consider psychotherapy to coach you through existing in the same space as this guy while still pursuing your commitments and doing you. No doubt, he is going to try to rock your boat when he sees you moving on. You will need extra support and reminders to hold fast to the things you value as he ramps up his efforts to use you to get his own needs met.

  6. jessica
    jessica says:

    Ok, I know of this same situation over the years with three different married couples. Now that I think about it, it is shockingly common. Anyway, in all scenarios the man that was cheating on their spouse filed for divorce to leave their spouse and be with the mistress/girlfriend/work-friend, what have you. They all married the new person. The ex-women didn’t file when they found out about the cheating, all of the women just wished it would go away and stop because of the kids (and themselves of course). It was never that great for the kids- either the dad left permanently and never really saw the kids much, or the new woman was in everyone’s lives including the scorned ex causing a lot of interpersonal issues for the children etc.

    That said, be thankful you slept with him only once and for the brief time you spent together and go on a bunch of dates with other men. That will solve your work problem (by distracting yourself). Another way to look at this- if he can’t commit and has a volatile home relationship that he is not sorting out, that should be enough information (red flags) for you. You don’t want to deal with the other woman and child in that, long term.

  7. BW
    BW says:

    “However, it’s an insane partnership where both have hurt each other in every way, constant fighting, one of those “were staying for the kids” relationships at this point.”

    The fact that you even know that means he is fundamentally untrustworthy. You were his work spouse. Feels great at the time. But it’s not real. It’s just a result of being stuck in the same room for so many hours.

    You weren’t dumb. This has happened countless times to countless people. But he never gets to touch you or mumble “I love you” again. Don’t leave, and don’t hate. Just do your job, do it well, and live your real life after hours.

  8. Renee Perri
    Renee Perri says:

    Man oh man …..I think you received some majorly great advice here WOW , fantastic….! Smart people gave you some dang good advice . However if you don’t take it after asking for it and than getting it…….in all its wisdom , than hate to say it , seriously I do , but…….kind ah….well….deserve what your undoubtedly going to get….. The guy is a turd , spelled with all capitals! You made one mistake , don’t reinforce that mistake by making an I ther and quit . No freaking way ! STAND YOUR GROUND GIRL and don’t let some ego feed man ruin what you’ve worked so very hard to achieve in your life ! No matter what , no one deserves to be used and to me he used you for his own satisfaction . No more secret hand holding….no more NOTHING ! OBVIOUSLY, your a go getter , so use that attitude now to make some changes…..and go out and find your OWN MAN to love . Talk ONLY to him when it’s absolutely needed and ONLY about work ! If he still tries to peruse you and you stand your ground and act on the wealth of advice you received here he will eventually get the hint and give up . But you can NEVER GIVE IN TO TEMPTATION AGAIN WITH HIM or I seriously see it going on for a very long time , something I really don’t think you want or will SETTLE FOR ! YOU CAN DO THIS . BELIEVE IN YOURSELF AND DECIDE YOU ARE BETTER THAN THIS…..AND if you have to FORCE yourself to go out…..on weekends , week nights , etc and even signing up on dating site , do it , GO HAVE YOUR OWN FUN and before you know it , it will NOT be a FORCE anymore….you will look forward to it , it will excite you and eventually you will find that love you want and need in your life . AND THE BEST PART OF ALL IS YOU WILL STILL HAVE A KILLER JOB YOU LOVE AND YOUR OWN MAN BY YOUR SIDE…….you got this girl….

  9. Peter
    Peter says:

    I am currently a very happy father to a young 4 year old girl. I want to teach her about men when the time is appropriate. I hope she wont make the mistakes that many of my female friends have done. Men will say anything to get a woman to sleep with them. Younger men tend to treat women like trophies. Men love to brag with their coworkers about their sexcapades. I do not recommend sending racy pics via text. In terms of marriage, men will seek someone outside their marriage when they are lacking something. Wives please understand, sex is a need for men. If you are going to date a man, don’t give it up right away. Give it time and you will find out if he really is serious about you. Blessings to all of you.

Comments are closed.