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What should I do about the colleague I slept with?
October 22, 2012 6:18 PM   Subscribe

I had sex with a female colleague and her husband. Now I think she regrets it. I'll be seeing her at work tomorrow. What should I do?

So, what happened was this: we spent some time together to celebrate an event of her (I am female, and straight - or so I thought). We drank. We went back to her place, where her husband was. She stopped drinking. We kept on. (Yes, clearly I need to do something about that, but that is not what the question is about.) I'm lonely - I asked him dating questions - we kept drinking. He told me about the freedoms within their marriage. I asked him if it was okay with his wife if I kissed him, and then if I slept with him (I know, I know). He checked and said she was sleeping, so I went to bed (he undressed me).

Next thing I know, his head is between my legs, and she's on the other bed. At some stage, he switches and I do her breasts, with my mouth & hands. I have never done anything like this before, but she has. He comes back to me, finishes me off and they go to bed together.

I text her thanks for the evening out, and mention weird dreams due to excessive alcohol. She texts back and mentions lack of sleep. From that point to now, Facebook contact that drops off. He (4 days on) has just announced on Facebook to all his friends that he is dropping off that site for a while.

I'm paranoid that I have upset their marriage, and that she is angry with me. I feel terrible that my drinking problem may have ruined my friendship with her, and affected her relationship with her husband.

Do I do anything, or pretend it didn't happen? I'm going to see her at work tomorrow for an extended period. Should I be prepared for her to be angry (rational or justified or not) with me? If she is, what should I do?

If it matters, she is gorgeous and much younger than me. I am overweight, and single.

Yes, I feel rotten. Yes, it's even worse that it happened on her event-night. Yes, I have had inappropriate sex before due to alcohol. Yes, I have made an appointment with my therapist. Yes, I need to quit alcohol. That's not what this question is about.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (31 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
 
It doesn't sound like you really did anything wrong. But yeah, you should be prepared for her to be angry (or not). Just act professional, you're at work. That's pretty much it. Maybe she doesn't care, maybe she doesn't ever want to speak to you again, you're just speculating at this point.
posted by wrok at 6:36 PM on October 22, 2012 [4 favorites]


You didn't destroy their marriage. They were trying something out and you graciously assisted them; you didn't force yourself upon them. This is how these things go about half of the time.
posted by modernserf at 6:37 PM on October 22, 2012 [20 favorites]


I think you immediately approach her and ask if she wants to discuss the situation. Then you watch closely for her cues and follow her lead.
posted by raisingsand at 6:37 PM on October 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yeah...don't discuss anything at work. You guys are getting paid to work, not to fight or talk about the night before. Maybe it did do something to their relationship. Maybe they were swingers, and it was their first time doing this? Maybe they decided it isn't for them...don't overreact :O)
posted by Autumn89 at 6:37 PM on October 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


I've been involved in stuff like this. It sounds like this couple isn't new to it either. I know you feel bad, but try to stand tall. You're all adults and no one betrayed anyone. People have sex, 2, 3, 4 at a time. People like to party.

Hold your head high. They liked you enough to get it on with you, so stop with self pity. It's a new experience for you, it's ok.. Good luck, be strong, and remember you have absolutely nothing to be ashamed of. Heck, you might even want to get with them again.
posted by jeff-o-matic at 6:37 PM on October 22, 2012 [11 favorites]


Don't talk about it in the office or during work hours. If she brings it up, tell her that you will talk to her about it after work (though you are not obligated to talk to her about it). But it is not at appropriate topic for work.
posted by insectosaurus at 6:39 PM on October 22, 2012 [9 favorites]


Remember that she might have the same weird (but unnecessary) guilt feelings and fears as you, so don't necessarily assume that if things are awkward, it is because she is angry or blaming you for something.
posted by girlpublisher at 6:40 PM on October 22, 2012 [5 favorites]


If she has any bad feelings about this, I'd guess they'd be compounded by fear you'll talk about it--to her or to anyone. Make no more oblique references to it, and balance pleasant facial expressions with giving her as wide a berth as possible until you see how she's playing it, because you probably don't want this blowing up at work either. If by chance she seems OK, just be an easygoing colleague. Either way, forget about it, and in particular, stop beating yourself up over the specifics as you work on the larger issues that contributed to putting you into a spot that's a challenge to handle.
posted by Monsieur Caution at 6:40 PM on October 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


It doesn't sound to me like you had inappropriate sex or that alcohol was a problem here. Of course, I'm not you so I'm just basing this off of what you said here. It DOES sound like you are ashamed of what you did for whatever reason, and I don't think you should be. If you think you legit have a problem with alcohol, OK, I'll accept that.

BUT.

You said she stopped drinking, so she was at least not as drunk as you. It sounds like she willingly participated in the encounter, so it doesn't sound like her husband lied to you. And you said she's done this before. This part seems OK.

I don't know if the Facebook thing has anything to do with you. It's possible it's completely unrelated. It's possible that it did have something to with your encounter with them (but it wasn't your fault.) But the text you sent her makes it seem like (to me) that you were already pretending it didn't happen. Did you mean to say that you thought the sex was just a weird dream? Either way, if that's all that she said in response, that she didn't sleep much, well I don't see how that could be construed as being angry or upset. Without knowing exactly how it was said, anyway.

Have you had any other contact with her about this? If not, shoot her an email (ON A NON-WORK COMPUTER/ADDRESS; Absolutely do not approach her in person at work--horrible horrible horrible idea!) to say that you had a good time but that you want to keep as a one-time thing and that you are fine (as long as you actually are fine) with never speaking about it if that's what they want. Leave it as no response = never speaking about it again.
posted by two lights above the sea at 6:41 PM on October 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


Just a note aside: You feel bad about this. It is not bad or prudish or hung-up or pathetic to feel bad about this. It isn't anything in particular. You just do. Telling yourself to stop feeling bad about this right now will do not a thing to help.

There's no handbook for this kind of thing. Just think to yourself, "yes, this is awkward, this sucks," say nothing unless approached, and wait to roll with the punches, should there be any.
posted by Countess Elena at 6:45 PM on October 22, 2012 [4 favorites]


I meant to say that you should not mention any details about what happened that night. Just say that you had a good time that night. You have to think about the implications of talking about this kind of stuff to a coworker regardless of where it happens. You could get into a lot of trouble.
posted by two lights above the sea at 6:47 PM on October 22, 2012


and mention weird dreams due to excessive alcohol.

If I were her, I would think this was a statement of denial, that you wanted to pretend it never happened and that you felt ashamed, and that would make me feel uncomfortable.

I'm with the other posters: ask her if she wants to talk about it (not at work), and follow her lead. You may want to simply tell her this: I feel terrible that my drinking problem may have ruined my friendship with her, and affected her relationship with her husband.
posted by Specklet at 6:59 PM on October 22, 2012 [8 favorites]


weird dreams due to excessive alcohol

Actually, if I were her, I'd be nervous that this means you were so drunk you can't quite remember the encounter -- which means you were also too drunk to give consent. That potentially opens a much uglier can of worms than mere marital discord.

Whether she misunderstood your text or not, I'd recommend friendly cordiality, and no allusions to the incident unless she herself brings it up.
posted by artemisia at 7:13 PM on October 22, 2012 [28 favorites]


Don't mention it, don't send explanatory emails, don't text her again. Go to work, do your job, read her cues, and follow her lead. Keep your head up. You will know much better what you are dealing with when you see her at work tomorrow. Do you have a colleague who you are especially friendly with? Maybe you can cozy up to them more than usual tomorrow, which will give you a bit of a shield and also more of a sense of normalcy. If things are awkward, go out for a drink with a friend after work and blow off some steam.
posted by lakersfan1222 at 7:19 PM on October 22, 2012 [8 favorites]


She brought you home with her, and got you drinking with her husband. This was not you somehow Leading the two of them astray, this was them Luring you into a threesome. I agree with everyone else that you just shouldn't mention it at work and should act professional. If she wants to talk about it be friendly and ask about going somewhere after work.

Mostly I think you should seek some therapy to help with your self-esteem, self-blaming, drinking, and shame around this (and possibly other topics?). It's pretty clear to me that you did nothing wrong to and with these folks, but your anxiety levels belie that you believe that.
posted by ldthomps at 7:28 PM on October 22, 2012 [9 favorites]


Where possible, try not to put too much of this in writing. Absolutely do not discuss this at work, using work-related methods of communication (office email, office chat, etc).

If something is wrong in their marriage, you are categorically not at fault for whatever that might be. If anything, they should be ashamed of themselves for using somebody that they consider a friend as a band-aid if there really is something wrong. Do NOT beat yourself up over this, and do NOT accept any blame if she suddenly has some weird 360 and decides to pit something on you. It's definitely okay for you to feel bad for your own reasons, but this is not on you if something awkward is going on between them. You're not at fault here. All you need to do is look out for your own needs and boundaries, and it sounds like you're working on that, so good on you there.

If it were me, I'd honestly chalk it up to an interesting - albeit stressful - experience and go on with your life and pretend it didn't happen unless she approaches you. If you're really concerned about it, why not invite her out for a coffee and see if you can say something to the effect of, "I've noticed you seem uncomfortable around me lately. I'd like to fix that. What do I need to know?"
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 7:30 PM on October 22, 2012


Nthing that your text came across as "wow I had this weird dream that the three of us had sex - how ridiculous!" which would be extremely awkward to receive as the most sober party present at the time. You might want to clear that up (not at work!).
posted by buteo at 7:38 PM on October 22, 2012


It sounds like they knew exactly what they were doing and have done it before! Why are you feeling weird or like you have a drinking problem??

Don't feel ashamed. I assure you they do not.

Don't mention it at work. Be cool like Fonzi. Only bring it up if she does.

If she brings it up, I wouldn't ever ever say I felt ashamed afterwards, I'd say something half true ("It was fun!") and then change th subject.


When you talk to your therapist, maybe work on feeling like the attractive and wonderful person that you truly are? Your question pretty much drips of kindness, you seem very nice towards others. Please work on being nice and kind towards yourself.


Good luck with all of this. I know it's a big deal, it's just not "bad" or "wrong" -- and want you to know that going forward.
posted by jbenben at 7:48 PM on October 22, 2012 [6 favorites]


anonymous posted">> I have never done anything like this before, but she has. He comes back to me, finishes me off and they go to bed together. I text her thanks for the evening out, and mention weird dreams due to excessive alcohol. She texts back and mentions lack of sleep. From that point to now, Facebook contact that drops off.

I'm paranoid that I have upset their marriage, and that she is angry with me. I feel terrible that my drinking problem may have ruined my friendship with her, and affected her relationship with her husband.


She's not acting any way that suggests that she's angry with you at all. She seems like she's staying very low-key and waiting to see if everyone's ok.

Her reaction to finding you in bed with her husband was to join you in a threesome and then go back to bed with him. Clearly you didn't corrupt their marriage.

The next day, she not only replied to your text, but she acknowledged the prior evening's events, and did so in a neutral way. If she were angry, the likely responses would be, in order of aggressiveness a) to avoid speaking to you at all b) to pretend the night before didn't happen, or c) to say something cutting.

She may be worried that you're freaking out just like this. She may be worried that you don't remember it well enough to have properly consented. She may worry that you're disgusted at the thought of sex with her. Who knows, maybe she's irritated with her husband for the way this progressed, but if so, she's clearly not projecting that on you.
posted by desuetude at 8:04 PM on October 22, 2012 [9 favorites]


As desuetude commented, neutral reaction = no sweat, no problem. As for your self-described "drinking problem", maybe time for some positive moves to make it not a problem?
posted by Rafaelloello at 8:18 PM on October 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


You were invited back to their place, he told you it was permissible within their marriage, she joined in... Sounds like it was done with full knowledge and consent. Nothing to feel bad about here.
posted by Jubey at 8:21 PM on October 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


All you can do is manage how you feel about all of this. That should be your priority.
posted by heyjude at 8:45 PM on October 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


The thing that stands out to me here is this:

I asked him if it was okay with his wife if I kissed him, and then if I slept with him (I know, I know). He checked and said she was sleeping, so I went to bed (he undressed me).

It sounds like you guys may have started things without her explicit consent. It is also fuzzy exactly how she got involved (did she wake up and join in? Did he wake her up trying to have sex with her, and she went along? Did she invite you to join in with her, did he bring you over and encourage you, or was it not clear?).

If these things are the case--if she went to bed, and she woke up with her husband making advances, you in the room as a clear player, and not feeling like she had a choice in the matter--I can absolutely see how this may not be OK for her at all, irrespective of their past experiences. In the future when navigating these kinds of situations make sure everyone is awake--don't just take the word of one partner. At the same time, I would say if there is an issue most of it is on him. He's the one who told you this was all OK.

On the other hand, this could all be old hat for them.

Unfortunately you're not going to know until you see her at work. Say hello and speak with her as you normally would. If she blows you off, don't try to talk about it there, let her be. Maybe send an email a day after apologizing if you had done anything untoward and explaining that it had been communicated to you beforehand that the experience was not an issue.
posted by schroedinger at 9:20 PM on October 22, 2012 [7 favorites]


You might be like me -- some of my hangovers have come with a crazy-high level of shame, prudishness, and social anxiety. ("I danced so unabashedly! I must apologize to all of my friends!!") Once I noticed this as a pattern, I learned to just nurse the shame like other hangover symptoms. ("You poor thing, just hang in there until you feel better." "Yeah, this feeling sucks, self. Let's make healthier moves from now on.")
posted by salvia at 10:56 PM on October 22, 2012 [11 favorites]


Also, I completely agree with schroedinger's analysis about consent.
posted by salvia at 10:57 PM on October 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


Ha, schroedinger!

Knowing what I know of that scene, I read it more as this:

The husband likely just ducked out OK'd it with the wife (or just went in to clue her in that the game was in play) then he came back and told a white lie to the OP. Group sex happened.

Honestly, that was my take.

And I agree with all comments that she was simply being respectful after the fact, playing it cool.
posted by jbenben at 11:00 PM on October 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'm in an open relationship and if someone I had sex with send me a text alluding to "weird dreams due to too much alchohol" you better believe that I'd be seriously worried that what we'd read as consent was not consent and that I'd accidentally raped someone.

If you were actually sober enough to remember and consent to that encounter (and seriously, you need to own this particular fun, consensual, adult act happened between people who probably enjoyed themselves too) you need to make it clear to your friend, quietly, outside of work. Your shame aside, she may be putting distance there because she's worried she unwittingly took advantage of someone she likes and has hurt you.

Everything else around what happened reads like a couple in an open relationship having some fun with someone they like. Fuck, even the bit where the wife goes to bed ahead of things and only joins in later is pretty much describes nights I've had. Nights where I have had zero problem with shenanigans and just didn't feel like being involved in everything.

Really the only thing here that's going to clear up whether or not you've damaged their relationship is the nature of the "freedoms" in their relationship. And in any case you're a third party that was brought into the situation by two grownups who have their own history together. What goes on between them is in no way your responsibility. They are the participants in that relationship.
posted by Jilder at 12:31 AM on October 23, 2012 [7 favorites]


There's no handbook for this kind of thing. (COUGH)

Man, this is all kinds of blamey and shamey, directed at yourself.

Here's the bizarre red herring in your question that explains how off the rails your thinking is: "If it matters, she is gorgeous and much younger than me. I am overweight, and single." What. Huh? Well 1. no and 2. honey, you are not treating yourself with regard.

I urge you to stop worrying about this. Their marriage is BY NO MEANS YOUR PROBLEM.

By now you will have seen her at work. Everyone lived. This crisis, which should not have been a crisis, or at least not YOUR crisis, is over. Time to take care of yourself.
posted by RJ Reynolds at 5:52 AM on October 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


It sounds like you guys may have started things without her explicit consent. It is also fuzzy exactly how she got involved (did she wake up and join in? Did he wake her up trying to have sex with her, and she went along? Did she invite you to join in with her, did he bring you over and encourage you, or was it not clear?).

If these things are the case--if she went to bed, and she woke up with her husband making advances, you in the room as a clear player, and not feeling like she had a choice in the matter--I can absolutely see how this may not be OK for her at all, irrespective of their past experiences. In the future when navigating these kinds of situations make sure everyone is awake--don't just take the word of one partner. At the same time, I would say if there is an issue most of it is on him. He's the one who told you this was all OK.


I agree that there's some shady handwaving around her consent going on. She had been drinking and was asleep, and you don't know if she gave her husband the go ahead or not. This still doesn't mean that you had any negative effect on their relationship necessarily or that you did anything on purpose, but it just lends another perspective on how she might be feeling.
posted by sweetkid at 7:17 AM on October 23, 2012


I think teh biggest problem here is thath you are over-analyzing implications of non-descript Facebook going-ons.
posted by WeekendJen at 10:43 AM on October 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


You feel awkward because it's an awkward situation.

Personally, I think that you shouldn't dip your pen in the company ink, or shit where you eat, pretty much for this reason right here.

It sounds like you're lucky, if you avoid this chick and pretend it never happened, then you're golden.

I'd de-friend anyone from work on Facebook (work and Facebook do not go together) and start socializing more among friends who don't work where you do.

Think about this encounter. What was it that you enjoyed (if anything) what didn't you like (if anything)?

I'll tell you what my Mom told me (so take it for what it's worth) you should never be so drunk that you can't make good decisions. Never let anyone get a drink for you, and be in control of your drink at all times.

This time out, you just got some awkward. It could be much worse next time.

Take care of yourself, and keep the lines between your social life and your work life, sharp and in contrast.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 1:22 PM on October 23, 2012


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