My ex is dating my boss. How do I get over it?
July 18, 2011 7:33 PM   Subscribe

I dated someone I work with. Now she's dating my boss. I would love some tips on how to get over this without quitting.

I dated someone who works at the same 50-person company as me (though doesn't work with me directly). The relationship went on for about a year and a half. She broke up with me and I took it hard, but made a great efforts not to show it. In my denial, we continued to hang out "as friends" about as much as we ever had. Often, this included sleeping over and cuddling. After many months, I realized that she was dating my boss. I asked her if it was true and she said yes.

Again, publicly, I kept it cool. But privately, it was all I could think about. I fumed. I was jealous. I was embarrassed. I felt like I wasn't good enough, but he was. I felt like neither of them respected me.

About 6 months have passed. We don't hang out anymore. I don't even think about whole thing very much -- except when I see them together. Then, it all comes rushing back. And since we work together, I see them together a lot.

I love this job. I don't want to leave. But I feel like this is a scab that I pick off every day.

Normally, the advice is to get some distance. What do you do when you can't get that distance? How do I convince my gut of what I know in my mind -- that this isn't about me, that I'm dating other people, and that it was probably for the best?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (16 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
She is a bad, bad person, OP. You don't seem to have ever grasped that though it is manifestly obvious in the story you related. Maybe if you could come to see that you'd realize have nothing to be jealous of. You lost nothing worth having. The new guy is to be pitied, not envied.
posted by Paquda at 7:41 PM on July 18, 2011 [8 favorites]

All I can say is that based on personal experience it is very likely that eventually one of them will find the other is cheating on them / passing them up for someone else. I don't know that I could handle what you are.
posted by xammerboy at 7:47 PM on July 18, 2011 [1 favorite]

This is too messy. Get another job and be very careful dating in the workplace going forward.
posted by sweetkid at 7:52 PM on July 18, 2011 [4 favorites]

I have no doubt that you truly love your job, but it might be empowering to apply for some jobs at other companies, too. Help yourself envision a life (which you know you'll have someday, right?) when you have no daily interaction with either of these people.

Chances are good that if you love your job, you're good at it, and if you're good at it, you're attractive to other employers. If you've been feeling this terrible (understandably, by the way) every day for 6+ months, you DON'T love this job at this company under these circumstances. The mere act of putting together your resume may well help you feel like you're seizing back control of your life.

Good luck.
posted by mauvest at 7:55 PM on July 18, 2011 [1 favorite]

Requested gut-convincing:

She is actually the one who isn't good enough for you. You got used. You are getting used. You deserve better. I would never date my ex's boss while engaging in sleepovers with my ex. That is tacky and low behavior. You shouldn't be jealous. You should be disgusted. Be thankful that it is over and you don't have to spend another week dating that woman. Every time you feel even a little bit of negativity towards your situation, remind yourself that somebody who behaves like that isn't anybody to get in a tiff over. You were blinded by her siren song, but you're now on the other side of the storm. There are good women who would never imagine doing anything like that to anybody, and you're going to find one. Don't be so into this situation that you pass on somebody good for you. Remember, every ounce of energy you give your ex is energy that could be spent on you. Throw yourself into things that build you up and make you happy. She'll eventually realize that you were 100x the man that she thought you were, but by then you won't even care that she cares.
posted by 200burritos at 7:56 PM on July 18, 2011 [17 favorites]

You love your job - focus on that. If you quit, not only did she behave poorly with you but she took away the thing that you love.

Tell your ego to settle down. Let them go off and mess up their lives themselves and you continue to love what you do.
posted by mleigh at 8:01 PM on July 18, 2011 [1 favorite]

When my mom gets cut off in traffic she just says, "you go on ahead and take your accident somewhere else". You had a close call, but that accident has taken itself on to where you don't have to be hurt. Each time you see them, be grateful you dodged that bullet. Reflect on how happy you are to go spend the energy you might spend on being hurt by this on being your awesome self with other awesome people. Some day it'll even become true.
posted by ldthomps at 8:29 PM on July 18, 2011 [66 favorites]

You sound like you've internalised some shame - like you were 'duped' into friendship with a former lover who is now revealed to be a liar/ con-artist. You feel like the inadequate one, when from where we're sitting, it is your ex-girlfriend who should be ashamed. She held you intimately in bed, counting on your friendship, making you feel like she really cared about you whilst treating you like shit. When you see them, it's disgust that should start to crowd out your current anger and humiliation. They're crappy people.

And FWIW, it sounds like you are a fabulously together person really - like, to be able to keep such composure in the face of such a crap situation is not something I'd be capable of doing in the same circumstances. You're going to meet someone who's going to respect you and deeply care for you, unlike these two chumps at work.
posted by honey-barbara at 10:07 PM on July 18, 2011 [1 favorite]

I wholeheartedly agree with what other posters have said.

Also (and again), this, emphasis mine: "She broke up with me [...]. we continued to hang out [etc]. Often, this included sleeping over and cuddling. After many months, I realized that she was dating my boss. I asked her if it was true and she said yes.

Read this as if it were a dear friend of yours who'd written it. She breaks up with you, which, it seems, is one honest thing she did. Then she takes advantage of your good faith and friendship, dates your boss and doesn't tell you about it while still sleeping over?!?

Let's be clear: you approached this relationship with honesty, respect, and courage, which is shown by your reaction post-breakup (keeping it out of the workplace – I've seen many work relationships boil over into the office; your decency is commendable). She, on the other hand, cheated on your boss with you, and considering that she didn't tell you about it until you confronted her, I'm pretty sure she wasn't forthright about sleeping over and cuddling with a coworker to y'all's boss, either.

I felt like I wasn't good enough, but he was. I felt like neither of them respected me.

The last statement is correct as concerns your ex. Regarding your boss, he may have no idea what was going on – she hid it from you, she probably hid you from him as well. The first statement, "you weren't good enough"... dear, you behaved like a human being with a heart. She twisted that to her advantage. She is not good enough; I know that's hard to hear when you've loved someone and believed the best about them. But really – read your own question as if a good friend wrote it, and as if you hadn't had a relationship with the woman. She sounds like one of those people who's on their best behavior with someone, then who skates on that person's goodwill as far as they can go, with no regard for the person's feelings.

Again, be thankful that she broke up with you.

As for the office situation, you do say you love your job. It's a hard call. In time, it's quite possible you'll move on – you're dating, you sound like a fine catch, this will be far behind you when you're with someone worthy of your trust. (Really, it's night and day – I've been there and done that.) Plus there's a good chance your ex's new relationship will blow up (she's already cheated on him once, after all). Do you have good friends you can confide in, meanwhile? That will help the sting too. And yeah, maybe look for other opportunities on the side, but don't settle for something that brings you less joy than your current job.
posted by fraula at 12:22 AM on July 19, 2011 [3 favorites]

Believe it or not I've been where you are now with two people I still needed to interact with for a while, though it wasn't a boss. I'd like to say that I came out of my experience totally sane and grounded the whole time but I really really wasn't. My email is my username at gmail dot com and if you are near Olympia there is always beer, pie, and good walks through the forest at my house for you. From a practical standpoint, answering your question:

How much did you like and or respect your boss before all of this? From what you knew of him before this astonishingly broken person managed to screw your head on backwards, is he the kind of deuchebag who would knowingly participate in this kind of sadistic blood drama?

-If you think he is as good hearted and blissfully unaware as you were it might be wise to have a moment with him to make sure he knows that:

1. You were having creepy cuddle time sleepovers with his "girlfriend" while they were "dating", include dates as needed.
2. That she didn't tell you she was dating him while she continued this.
3. What an awkward position that this could put you both in if the two of you let it.

Perhaps approach it Socratically by taking him aside and asking when he started dating coworker and take it from there? He will likely be way too busy feeling pathetic himself to think any less of you.

-If he is in fact the kind of deuche who would care so little about the well being of those around him that he would participate in this nonsense, then at least 4% of your company are sadistic motherfuckers and thats more than enough rotten apple to spoil any bunch as you've already found out.
posted by Blasdelb at 1:43 AM on July 19, 2011

Oh god, OP, I know this isn't the question you asked, but you sound eerily like the guy who just broke my heart - enough so that I felt compelled to create an account to post. I doubt that you are, so maybe this comment will save some other poor sod from having to experience the same shittiness I just did.

> that I'm dating other people

I have no doubt that you're a good person (that other guy was, too), but please think carefully about whether you really have the emotional capacity to date right now. You're clearly still hung up on your ex - not a surprise; you're seeing her and her new boyfriend *every day* - and, well, frankly, that sucks for anyone new who's trying to get close to you. Because if it's like what I just went through, they're going to see that you're a good person and so they're going to try to get close, and you're going to brush them off because you're still hung up on your ex and she's the only person you can think about right now, even though you don't even want to be with her anymore (both rationally and emotionally).

And frankly, having been in the position of the person trying to get close, it sucks really, really bad. Really bad. And you'll lead them on just enough, because you think you're getting over your ex, and maybe you're a bit lonely and it's so nice to have someone around who cares, so you'll let them in, just a little, just enough to let them think they might be getting through... and then you'll see her in the office and pick at the scab again, and, well, like I said, it sucks to be the other person. A lot.

Don't do that to anyone, please. If you *are* dating again, while you're still working in that toxic environment with the ex and the new boyfriend and the daily reminders that are causing you so much pain, please don't let your scabs prevent you from treating your future dates with the attention and respect they deserve. I know you wouldn't want to cause them the same emotions you're going through right now.
posted by metalsexkitten at 1:47 AM on July 19, 2011 [4 favorites]

If it's any consolation, she is probably grooming the MD right now and will soon be having cuddly friend-type sleepovers with your boss.

Yeah, I didn't think that would be a whole lot of consolation.

All those telling you you dodged a bullet have a point, in that it's good you're not dating this amoral person any more. But it's kind of like watching someone get hit by a car, and telling them "be thankful you didn't get hit by a truck".

It is extremely disturbing to think you are dealing with a peer, and then discover actions which show them to be selfish at best, and at worst call their whole motives and character into question. You don't know, now, whether she feels real feelings or just imitates them. You don't know if she seeks out relationships for companionship or predation. Having to ask yourself "do I know this person?" after having spent so much seemingly intimate time with them is a mindfuck in itself.

And worse than that it's embedded in your workplace. Not only did you get seriously betrayed but you have to interact with your betrayers all the time. It is possible that either of them could turn on you and endanger your livelihood. That is inherently bad for your mental health and potentially bad for your ability to make a living.

Now maybe this woman will incriminate herself and move on before you have to, but I wouldn't count on it. So I have to ask you, even if it makes you want to thump me, are you sure you can't move on? I know jobhunting is really arduous and it's probably the last thing you have the energy to do right now, but why not try it, just applying for one job a week and see how it goes.

p.s. Well done you for keeping your cool in public. Nerves of steel.
posted by tel3path at 4:01 AM on July 19, 2011

She cheated on you, plain and simple. No decent person would do that to someone else. Six months isn't a huge amount of time given the circumstances, so your feelings will likely fade as more time passes. In the meantime, develop a mantra that you can think to yourself when you see them together. Something like: "I don't want that toxic relationship. I can do better." Repeat mentally every time you see them until it becomes ingrained in your mind.
posted by phoenix_rising at 6:58 AM on July 19, 2011

She wants to date people that she can lie to and cheat on. In other words, she's not looking for a partner, she's looking for a mark. You didn't work, not because you're not good enough, but because you're not easy enough to fool (you figured out what's going on, after all). This is not a bad thing, but a badge of honor. Try to look at it this way: having this woman decline to date you is like having an exiled prince in Nigeria decline to ask you for help recovering his fortune.
posted by Ragged Richard at 8:14 AM on July 19, 2011 [2 favorites]

fwiw, this recently happened in my office. a girl was dating a co-worker, then sort of mysteriously transitioned into dating the co-workers (and my) boss. initially, i liked this girl. she was smart and friendly. when i realized that she was dating my boss, i was totally skeeved out. i no longer saw her as a confused but basically good intentioned gal. i just saw her as, well, an ass and also pretty gross. incidentally, i think the boss is also a selfish ass. the whole thing is shockingly boundaryless and honestly, makes work life a little bit shitty b/c i lost a ton of respect for both these people (as did the majority of my co-workers). i think that these kind of shenanigans (hooking up with co-workers, drunk parties, etc) start as "fun" in a company but end up being pretty toxic.

so- if you really don't want to leave the company (a part of me wonders why that is. no company is worth tearing yourself up every day and a lot of companies are really amazing). you need to really get in touch with being angry at this woman. she acted without any regard for your feelings whatsoever. no regard. no person deserves to be used in that way. and that's what she did. she used you, she treated you very badly and now she's moved on to someone else. sometimes it's hard to let go of people who weren't good to you b/c you want them to help reinstate the self esteem that they pounded out of you but trust me when i say, that won't work. she's gone. take care of yourself. have some real honest conversations about your ability to live with her bad behavior.

i can tell you one thing for sure. if the guy in your shoes at my company left, it would be a huge loss for the company.
posted by memi at 8:34 AM on July 19, 2011

Keep the job, forget about the woman. You will regret it if you leave and aren't able to find another job that you love.
posted by eas98 at 8:59 AM on July 19, 2011

« Older How do I get my phone number to stop appearing on...   |   Is it worth forming an LLC and in which state? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.