Style Sex & Relationships

Friday 19 September 2014

Dear Mary: My work colleague ended our affair but I just can't forget it

Mary O'Conor

Published 12/08/2013 | 05:00

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Changing your place of employment is by far the best solution to preventing an office affair happening again

My problem is very small in comparison to other people's troubles. I am a male in my late 40s married to a wonderful woman with three grown up children.

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About two years ago, I developed strong feelings for my work colleague who is also married and is younger than me. After a while I told her and naturally she was shocked yet understanding. I would be considered to be a quiet person, where she is the very opposite and very popular.

We became very close for about 12 months even though she wasn't very happy about the whole thing.

I became obsessed with her, even though she is not very attractive, it didn't matter. About 12 months ago, she told me that she didn't want to carry on any more and we had a falling out over it. However, in the last few months we have become good friends again and I thought my feelings for her were gone, but now I find I still feel the same. We don't discuss it like before, but I can't stop thinking about her and it is causing me major heartache.

I don't want anything to happen, I just want to get rid of those feelings and try to get back to normal.

I would be very grateful if you would have any suggestions. As I said there are lots of people with far greater problems, but I suppose this is mine.

Mary replies:

I agree with you that there are far greater problems, although I imagine if your wife were the one writing to me she would probably see this as quite a large one.

You had a year-long relationship which was ended by your lover and now that you are friends once more you have begun to yet again think obsessively about her. I'm glad that you don't want anything to happen this time, as both of you have been playing with fire, with so many people likely to have been hurt if you had been found out.

People who have had relationships at work speak about the heady excitement of it all.

They remember looking forward to going into work each day because they were going to see their lover, and the planning and subterfuge that was involved added to the excitement and could make even the most mundane of jobs take on a certain glamour.

It is probably not feasible in the current climate to suggest that you change your place of employment though this would be by far the best solution.

I feel that you continue to get a buzz out of seeing her and if you did not see her every day then you would not be constantly reminded of her and gradually the feelings you describe would fade.

If, however, you have to continue to work together, then you will have to be very determined not to go down the same route again.

Every time you find yourself daydreaming about what might happen if you get back together, you should replace that thought with a mental image of your wife and children, and project what would happen if they were to find out what you have done and how you would justify it. You should also replace the excitement that you experience with a new interest or hobby. Is there anything that you have thought about doing but never got around to, such as hang-gliding or car-racing, that would give you a new buzz?

Perhaps now is the time to go away for a little while with your wife in order to remind yourself that she is the wonderful woman that you say she is.

And don't ever think about confessing to her about your affair – she doesn't deserve that because she is not the one who transgressed.

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