How to handle a workplace connection in the midst of divorce and downsizing (in other words, when I am crazed with loss?)
August 10, 2011 6:09 PM Subscribe
Divorce, downsizing and dealing with a workplace crush/connection: how do I behave like a grown-up when all I want to do is curl up under his desk and cry?
posted by Fierce clam to Human Relations (14 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
After years of working in the same department, but knowing each other only tangentially, Variable and I were put on the same project: he was the manager and I was the author. I was married. He was flirting, although I didn’t even get it(I was in an emotionally abusive marriage and my self-esteem was in the toilet). I just noticed that when I sat in his office his neck would turn red on one side.
And then suddenly, six weeks or so after we started work, I felt like I got hit with a brick. I was in complete, overwhelming, haven’t felt-this-way since college lust. I didn’t say or do anything untoward, although the tension between us was pretty obvious. "Googly-eyes" abounded. I left him alone at the office Christmas party. I didn’t email him at all during the holiday break. I felt horrible, as I was pretty deep "in-crush", but no one knew it.
After break, Variable and I started emailing each other outside of work - mostly chatty, funny stuff. Finally, Variable casually dropped that he had a girlfriend. I felt stupid and ridiculous and then all hell broke loose in my life. My husband punched our 8-year-old son in the stomach. His teachers and doctors called Child Protective Services. I kicked the SOB out of the house and filed for divorce. I won primary custody of our son and relocated to the university town where I work.
And the relationship with Variable continued at work and via email - he supported me through the divorce, and the tension still existed but was more of a slow burn, and anyway he had a girlfriend, right? We have very similar sense of humor and laugh and laugh when we're together, and crack each other up over email. To be honest, I felt like we had this great connection, but the timing was wrong to get together now but we would eventually one day.
And then right before my son and I relocated, it hit me. He has a girlfriend! I went home and reassessed. What the hell was I doing? I really,really like this guy. But he is taken. And whether or not he’s behaving in his relationship the way I think he should or not, the fact remains that his girlfriend does not need someone at her boyfriend’s workplace making googly-eyes at him. So I've pretty much cut out the personal email, feeling the chatter isn’t appropriate. I have to be honest. I want to have sex with him. Repeatedly. And with great frequency and vigor. Now that I live here with my son and will soon be legally single, the attraction seems not so theoretical.
And now our work project has been sold to an outside vendor and most of the people we work with will be losing their jobs (ours are safe, although we are on different projects again).
And it's very uncomfortable between us. We start an email exchange and then cut it off. We begin chatting in person and then it quickly becomes too comfortable, at which point I mention the girlfriend and it suddenly becomes uncomfortable.
And I want to know what I should do. I HATE feeling like this: sad and lonely and missing him. I know I sound like a ridiculous schoolgirl, but he's the one I want to go to for advice about the problem of him; he's the one who makes me laugh hard enough to forget what's going on for a moment.
Do I just suck it up and hope these feelings fade? (I am overwhelmed with bad feelings at the moment: pain over the divorce, loneliness from relocation, exhaustion from single-parenting, sadness over the changes at work and the loss of friends and relationships there.) Do I talk to him about and explain what I am doing and why (I suspect he knows, but I think I might feel better if I say something)? Essentially, I have lost my marriage (not a bad thing to lose, but it was 14 years of my life), my house, my friends and lifestyle, and the workplace I knew for seven years, and I am just BULLSH*T crazy right now and terrified of doing something wrong. And I am hoping the hive mind will help provide clarity and a course of reasonable action.