Hello Ms Kally,
I have a rather unique problem here. I know you don’t usually give advice on relationships and love. But my problem is much bigger than that and it involved a male colleague at my workplace.
I have.. what the popular term called ‘a work spouse’. He works very closely with me at work. Our work requires us to spend a lot of time together, researching, discussing, brainstorming. Because our work is often confidential, both of us worked in tight quarters behind closed doors, shut away from other co-workers.
I find that we get along very well, he is easily the most interesting man to talk to. We seem to click on a lot of levels especially intellectually. He is almost attractive and is a few years younger than me. At first, we kept everything professional and work-related. But as we worked together for many years, we are more like old friends than colleagues. He’ll share his frustrations like I shared mine. He’ll tell me that his wife is boring, she is cheating on him and that he suspects his youngest daughter is not his. I’ll share that I wish my husband will be more romantic, that he will be open to the idea of having a child and maybe more time for me.
Nothing uncommon that a wife wouldn’t whine about to her girlfriends, just that my target is a different person, maybe not that appropriate but like I have said, he is easy to confide in, we have our lunches together all the time, we work long hours all the time and we have heated debate about work too. It was one of the heated debate we had, he suddenly burst out that he has feelings for me and he is leaving his wife. All in a single breath.
Suddenly, this easy camaraderie we had vanished and I don’t know how to react but to ignore it. I know he is silently waiting for my response to his outburst. I love my family and I love my husband. Honestly, I’m tempted more than once to submit into temptation. I have thought about it but I know myself, I won’t risk it. My family is too important to me.
Now I don’t know what to do. I wish he hadn’t confessed his feelings for me. I can see the torment in his eyes. What should I do to get back to where we once were? A professional easygoing relationship.
I’ll take whatever advice you or your readers can give.
Thank you in advance.
A big hug for your emotional email and the turmoil you are enduring. Thank you for writing to me.
I, too have many male colleagues that I worked well with and I understand the term work spouse. In fact, many office affairs start off as work spouses. This is hardly surprising as you spend a lot of time with a single someone while having a common goal to work towards together. But I must applaud you that you are very level-headed to know that forging ahead with a work affair will only bring you pain and heartache as you have said, you treasure your family, you love your husband.
First of all, you’ll need to clarify things with your colleague and firmly draw a line (as bold as you can) to make it clear to him your intention. Leaving him guessing and muddled might prompt him to misunderstand and misread the situation, this can lead to his actions swing either way – to force confrontation or to bottle it up.
Either way, it will not be good for you. Be honest with him. Have a straight up talk. If he is a rational adult, he will treasure your honesty and perhaps be professional enough to set aside his feelings for you to foster a healthy working relationship.
However, if you sense that your presence is making him miserable or you are getting uncomfortable being in a close working relationship, you don’t have much of a choice but to seek for a transfer to another department.
Taking a break from each other to allow him to sort out his emotions is a good idea. You don’t have to suggest that he is to take some time off, in fact, you can take some time off yourself to spend it with your husband. Marriage takes two hands to clap with a lot of effort and commitment. You need to place focus on your relationship with your husband, try to find common grounds and align your life goals. While striving your passions at work is a good thing, you do need to strike a comfortable balance with your personal life.
Emotions are dangerous to play with, it’s better to be straightforward with your colleague and inch cautiously from there. Don’t despair. I have seen many office rejections that have blossomed into wonderful friendships, yours can be one too.