By JULIE COKER
I am sexually attracted to a man at work and I’m married. The attraction is so strong and I must confirm the feeling is mutual.
It has been difficult holding myself from him but he gave me occasional brushes that set my body on fire. I have had consultations with friends who advised me to save myself from future embarrassment by sticking to my man. I have acted on this, but need advice.
I’ll presume that you want my opinion on whether you should continue this workplace dalliance. Alas, sexual attraction in the workplace is readily combustible and often hard to resist or extinguish once the fires start raging.
Based on my work over the years as a therapist, let me highlight a few givens: these treats, especially when prolonged, rarely stay, neat, sweet and discrete and secondly, the married partner, despite assurances to the contrary, rarely leaves his or her spouse as guilt eventually becomes a disruptive third party making the rendezvous increasingly conflicted; neither lover is absolutely immune, whether married or single, and the married member is often acting out his or her anger toward the spouse with an affair; usually it’s better to confront the problems in your marriage, decide if you can or cannot make the marriage work and start over, sadder and wiser, in your marriage or on your own .
Two examples come to mind. The first, a year long affair between a working-class bank teller and a bank executive. The teller had left her and his kids because of his emotional neglect. The two separated but did not divorce. The executive continued to live with his wife.
This relationship provided the teller a little tenderness which had been lacking much of her life. Eventually, missing the connection with his children, some improved communication with her husband, and having healed some childhood and marital wounds with the affair, the teller and her husband reunited. The affair ended without significant problem.
On the other hand, the second is a cautionary cybertale of two married couples. Our protagonists are a man and a woman, both in their 40s, both unhappy in their respective marriages. They meet on the Internet and soon progress to real life trysts during the man’s business travels.
The woman’s husband eventually senses a problem. He acknowledges that his insensitive and selfish ways have catalyzed his wife’s wandering. When he starts showing her more attentiveness and caring, the wife feels obligated to try to work things out with her husband. She fairly abruptly breaks off the extramarital liaison.
How did I know? Because the father of the man calls in a most anxious state. His son is near suicidal; the father pleads for me to intervene.