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DP and new colleague (long, sorry!)

(151 Posts)
needabitofperspective Sat 10-Nov-12 09:53:24

I feel threatened by DP's new colleague. I don't think anything is going on between them (yet or possibly ever - but who knows) but they click and it's shining a light on the way we don't in some areas. I feel very uncomfortable.

DP and I work at the same company, but in different departments on different sites. He's making friends with this new colleague. She works in his department. He doesn't have any management responsibilities towards her, they wouldn't usually work together, but he's senior to her and they are currently working together, just the two of them, on a specific creative project.

She's young, pretty. But the most important thing is that DP is really, really into his music, and likes some pretty obscure stuff. New colleague is also really into music and likes the same kind of obscure shit he does. Which even I have to admit is pretty amazing for her age - to have even heard of it let alone be really into it. He is amazed to have found a kindred spirit (my words) in such a young person.

He's being very open about making friends with her, but it's making me very uncomfortable, I'm writing this to help me work out some perspective.

New colleague is having a hard time at the moment. She is new to the town and is finding it difficult to make friends. She contacted DP last night because they were both on Facebook and she felt she needed to chat to someone she could trust. She got very drunk at a work do and slept with one of their other colleagues (he's her age). Now some of the bitchy women in the department are gossiping about her and making snide comments in her presense. She regrets it, feels crap and last night felt like quitting. (Not sure how serious the quitting was in reality, could just be how she felt at that moment).

DP was sending her music to cheer her up, which was working. He was being totally open about how he was doing this. However he was chatting to her for over 2 hours, on and off. He stayed up an hour after I went to bed to chat to her.

It's partly that I feel threatened by the connection they have over music. It's so important to DP, and it's not a passion I share. I have music I like, but I'm not a muso like he is. I know he'd love it if I could share this passion (most of his exes have) and I feel like it's a massive part of his life I'm not part of. It's not just that though, although I adore him and we get on, I often worry that we don't really click. He's not one to go on about his feelings. I on the other hand am happiest when I have lots of affection and am told often that I'm loved! He does things to demonstrate his love for me, but I can't help worrying there's something missing sometimes. But then I think it's just the way he is (quite a closed book) and that it's improving over time.

I knew DP would offer to meet with her, and so I suggested that he invites her round if she's having a hard time. We've not met, although we've had contact via email for work stuff. I would have suggested this whichever of his friends was having a hard time. DP (and myself) are also the type of people others often come to for advice (and a drink!) and we often have waifs and strays at ours (from work and outside). However I must admit my motivation here was to meet her so I'm a real person to her, also my DD and my pregnant bump! Just in case there's something brewing. Is this sensible or am I stepping into dangerous territory here?

Some background - we work in the creative industries and it's not unusual for our job to spill over into our private life. DP is a very friendly person, so am I. We both have many, many friends of the opposite sex, and it's not unusual for us to make new friends of the opposite sex. I just feel threatened by this one.

I did read their chat. There was no flirting on her side but there was on his IMO. Could be interpreted as friendliness, but made me uneasy. It was her who mentioned me (he mentioned work, she said "that reminds me, I need so send <admin stuff> to <my name>") which I think is a good sign as far as she is concerned. He invited her to come round for a drink and a chat tonight and said we've got a spare bed. This is totally within character, it's how DP would treat any of his friends. However DD and I are off to my parents to sort some stuff out today and I'd half considered staying over. DP doesn't know if I'm going to stay or not, I hadn't mentioned whether I was, but he must have known it was a possibility. This makes me very uncomfortable. But am I just being paranoid?
She declined (as on medication, can't drink atm) but said she'd like to come another time. He later invited her to come round for food, and mentioned me then. I think this bit might have been when I said "why not invite her round".

DP is a lovely, warm hearted person, who is extraordinarily nice to people. He's a great friend and very caring. We often have people come over for a drink, male and female. I don't want to go all green eyed monster at him, if he's just being his usual lovely self! But I know that if we weren't together, he'd be really into her.

I do think I need to think about what it is in our relationship that's making me feel so insecure.

Sorry for the essay - thanks for reading!

I'd appreciate any thoughts on the situation. I need ot get some perspective!

ChippingInLovesAutumn Sat 10-Nov-12 11:05:42

Oh - that does put a bit of a different perspective on it for me. Given everything you have been through (both of you) and what you are still going through, I think this does need 'nipping in the bud' - how you do that I'm not so sure.

Your DP sounds as though he's in a very susceptible position to have an affair, to see it as an escape from reality (not YOU, reality), be easily flattered by a young, attractive girl who 'gets him' hmm and he can be a knight-in-shining-armour to, protector and hero all in one.

What would I do?? ... Have a small glass of wine (one small one isn't going to hurt) and talk to him, tell him you know how hard this past year (or whatever) has been, that you understand he's stressed/grieving/fed up (whatever) and that your relationship hasn't been at its best. That you understand how the stressful the financial situation has been (etc etc etc) but that you are scared that because of all of that, he might be somewhat susceptible to the flattery/admiration/adoration/neediness of x, that you understand he's currently just being a friend and trying to help her out and you don't think it's his intention to have an affair with her, but that you can see how easy that would be - especially with her love of his music etc and that you are scared that she will seem like a better option to him and that you don't want to lose him & your family - so how can you, together, make sure this doesn't happen.

Make it clear you can see where this could head & that he could sleepwalk into it sad

Looksgoodingravy Sat 10-Nov-12 11:49:27

I think you're being wise in trusting your instincts here.

If I was in your position I would go with the invite, this being an invite from you both, this will give out a signal that you and your dh are a team, she can confide in you also if needs be.

You both sound like kind, considerate people, your dh sounds like a lovely person but this could turn into something which he never saw coming, which he never had any intention of going as far as it did. It's all about nipping it in the bud now.

B1ueberryFields Sat 10-Nov-12 17:31:34

Downunderdolly, your jaw must have hit.the.floor when you received that email!!!!! Talk about a guilty conscience. she can be as self-satisfied and as sanctimonious as she likes, but she did NOT try to "save your marriage". Wow. Seriously!!! I hope you had a bottle of wine in the fridge when that popped up in your inbox.

And to the OP, I think somebody here found a really good way of phrasing your concerns that doesn't sound like insecure jealousy (although you'd be entitled!). Saying that you feel he is over investing in to a friendship with a colleague all evening why you are there in the house. Maybe you could make the internet connection go down wink. See how upset he gets on a scale of one to ten.

needabitofperspective Sun 11-Nov-12 00:00:54

Spent the day at my parents. Shattered now!

Thanks for the replies everyone, I really appreciate it. Some really thoughtful posts here. I'm barely functioning atm so will reread tomorrow.

akaemmafrost Sun 11-Nov-12 00:35:20

I think she sounds great and NO danger to your relationship.

Him on the other hand, I think I'd be having a few sharp words with him actually.

needabitofperspective Sun 11-Nov-12 09:49:11

Came back from my parents late last night and had a nice night with DP. Just normal domestic stuff, but nice. He came and picked us up off the train at the stop we're meant to change to the last train on - so a 30 minute drive rather than a 5 minute one for him, which was good of him.
He'd been Christmas shopping, and had a small early present for me. (No, not a guilty conscience! He's just nice like that). And it was just lovely to see him.

This thread and just getting away for the day have given me a bit of perspective!

I don't think the colleague is out to "steal" DP, not at all. However I would be surprised if DP doesn't feel attracted to her (and she may to him, or not, I have no idea). I very much doubt he is actually planning anything, but I do still worry it has the potential go too far if they're ever alone together while drunk.

I think nipping in the bud is the thing to do. A definite dinner invite then! And early enough in the evening for her to meet DD too I reckon.

needabitofperspective Sun 11-Nov-12 09:54:31

"Your DH sounds like a really nice guy - do you not think you can talk to him about how this is making you feel?"

Yes he's lovely, but we're both really, really bad at communicating about our feelings! Particularly when sober. But I need to force this one don't I?

DP and I need to talk about the things that aren't so rosy atm. We are risking trouble. For my part, I need to a conscious effort to improve things I think. I must admit that while things have been pretty stressful at times recently, I have been guilty of disappearing into the computer (mumsnet etc) as a means of escape, and really haven't done as much as I could to tackle the problems I know we're having. I've been aware of this, but done it anyway sad This isn't healthy for a start.

needabitofperspective Sun 11-Nov-12 10:20:26

"perhaps you could get, or present the idea of, a good-looking young guy whom you click with over a huge interest you both share; you're going to invite him over to stay when your husband may be out overnight. See how he feels about that scenario.."

I honestly don't think he'd be particularly bothered, he wouldn't see it as a threat, he knows he can trust me. Also, it's a hard one to imagine, as I never show any signs of being attracted to other men. And actually I don't think I have met anyone else I've found particularly attractive since being with DP.

I know DP does find other women attractive. He doesn't rub it in my face, but I'm aware of it. We haven't discussed it but my understanding is he's of the opinion that it's normal to be attracted to people, it's what you do about it that matters.

MadAboutHotChoc Sun 11-Nov-12 10:31:14

I agree she is not out to steal your DH - but I do think both are in real danger of becoming too close and falling down the slippery slope into an affair.

Often at the beginning of a friendship/relationship, there is a lot of mirroring going on hence the talk about music/bands.

Finding other people attractive is normal but there needs to be boundaries and these are already being blurred...

If I were you I would read Shirley Glass's Not Just Friends:
www.shirleyglass.com/introduction.htm

needabitofperspective Sun 11-Nov-12 11:21:01

This is the bit of their conversation which makes me feel particularly uncomfortable:

DP: This is my anthem <link to song>

Her: <that band> are amazing

DP: Are you sure you're not 37? You certainly look good for your age if you are! Unlike me!

Her: hahaha i certainly don't look 23 that's for sure. I still get IDed.

(I note he's fishing for a compliment but she ignores it. She's acknowledging his flattery of her however).

DP then asks me in RL, I assume it's around now in their conversation as he's playing the song:
"Do you like <band name>". "They're alright I suppose" I say, in a "you know I'm not really keen on that stuff" kind of way.

This makes me feel uncomfortable. I feel like I'm being compared, and unfavourably too.

(The whole conversation isn't like that thankfully).

She later suggests they get together sometime to compare music collections.

DP was quite tipsy while having this conversation. I suspect he would have been a little more restrained if sober. I'm very nervous about the idea of them being drunk together in RL.

Aargh, I'm straying towards paranoia aren't I?! I'm not going to read over their chat again! That's the problem with social media isn't it, it's there on record. If it'd been a drunk flirting while out, it might have been totally harmless in the grand scheme of things, and I wouldn't have a copy of it to beat myself over the head with would I?!

I suppose I might say flirty things to men when I'm drunk and DP's not there which don't mean anything at all, but which would look terrible written down!

Or am I minimising?

Think I need to go back to plan A, have a chat with DP about how to improve things between us. Get a babysitter, go out somewhere! Keep a watchful eye on friendship between him and colleague.

And in the short term, get on with the day!!!

springyspring Sun 11-Nov-12 11:43:27

I know I sound like a killjoy, but internet 'addiction' can be quite damaging to family relationships. This site is so blasted erm addictive, it is very easy to just disappear for huge swathes of time. It's not the actual time though that does the damage, it's not being available on a permanent basis, being unavailable. checking out for a quick fix...

I think you are being too decent about this threat to your relationship OP. It's all very well to be decent and understanding but this scenario is well-travelled and too often ends in disaster. Stop being a ninny and nip the thing in the bud.

theoriginalandbestrookie Sun 11-Nov-12 11:46:27

No OP that conversation would make me feel uncomfortable, he is commenting on her appearance and that would set alarm bells off in my head.

Agree with you though FB is the work of the devil - if he had said that on a night out you would never have known.

Keep your radar up and yes have a chat with DP, however you are pregnant so don't beat yourself up with ways to be as fun and glamorous as her. You are you, the woman he chose to have child with and that should be enough for him.

needabitofperspective Sun 11-Nov-12 11:47:02

You're not being a killjoy springyspring I agree totally.

Being on the computer too much is damaging. I need to rein it in, and now.

SineOfTheTimes Sun 11-Nov-12 12:01:45

Having seen that snippet of conversation, I think you are right to be concerned.

As an outsider, from what you have posted, the flags for me are:

1. Your DP isn't just saying "I like this song/band" - he's saying "this is my anthem", i.e. something which really matters to me. That's much more personal and the kind of thing you say at the beginning of a new potential close friendship or relationship, rather than to a colleague, where you might say "X's music are great, I have all their albums/have seen them several times".

2. Music can be very emotionally loaded - by seeing someone younger get enthusiastic about "his" music, your DP will be taken back to when he was young and discovering it - feeling young and full of potential v approaching middle-aged. She's living an exciting single life - free to go out and see bands etc...

3. The comparison thing worries me. "She really understands me."

4. There's something very intimate about sitting up late chatting to one person on the internet. I'm sure he wouldn't dream of sitting in a bar chatting to someone until the early hours - this is quite close to that.

5. The mentor/confidant/rescuer can be a very appealing role.

I think he is putting himself in quite a lot of danger of something "just happening", and needs to reinvest in you and his family quickly.

AThingInYourLife Sun 11-Nov-12 12:33:13

Chipping's advice for the conversation you need to have is good, I think.

I'm not sure I would be rushing to invite her around. I'd be asking for distance from her - no 2 hour chats about her love life, no offers for her to stay the night.

They can be colleagues that like the same bands without that level of mutual ego massaging.

People who like obscure bands (and I say this as someone who likes obscure bands) can be very pleased with themselves for how clever they are to know about such bands. Meeting another person who is pleased with themselves for the same reason can lead to a very superficial, show offy "connection".

It's not some great meeting of minds. It's just like two people who like the same flavour of soup. No reason for it to be indulged with sleepovers and midnight confidences when one of them has a family.

MamaMary Sun 11-Nov-12 13:00:42

OP I'd trust your instincts here.

What worries me is how easily she fell into bed with another colleague.

Agree that staying up late chatting to someone on the Internet is an intimate thing. I'd be very annoyed with DH if he did this with a female colleague, and tbh I think he'd know it was inappropriate.

needabitofperspective Sun 11-Nov-12 13:11:26

SineOfTheTimes the comparison thing worries me too. Especially as while they were sharing their love of this band, he asked my what I though of it. I said basically said it wasn't my thing. I had no idea it was his "anthem", he's not shared that with me.

I feel excluded, or like he set me a test he knew I would fail. But maybe that's petty. Mind you I wouldn't mind if it was a mate he didn't feel attracted to, that's the thing isn't it. It's not just about a shared like, it looks like more than that.

Athing do you mind if I ask, are you in a relationship? Does your DP share your love of obscure music?

I don't see how to ask for distance from her without opening up a whole can of worms. DP will see me as being unreasonably jealous - I don't think he thinks he's doing anything other than being friendly. I imagine he'll greatly resent me trying to scupper a friendship. I certainly wouldn't take kindly to it if he asked me to stop a friendship with a male colleague if I felt there was nothing untoward in it. My ex was unreasonably jealous, he couldn't accept my male friends were just that; it was poisonous, and horrible to be on the receiving end of sad

needabitofperspective Sun 11-Nov-12 13:13:11

"What worries me is how easily she fell into bed with another colleague."

That doesn't worry me tbh. Both DP and I (and our friendship group) were very promiscuous while we were young free and single, I see it as pretty normal tbh, particularly when there's a lot of drinking going on.

Offred Sun 11-Nov-12 13:16:12

Am I the only one who doesn't really get the impression this DP really is all that lovely?

MamaMary Sun 11-Nov-12 13:18:51

The internet conversation alone is enough to flag up.
He crossed the line of what is acceptable or appropriate.
This is different from your ex-P, this is not unreasonable jealousy. You are perfectly within your rights to raise this with him. FWIW, I would have no hesitation in doing so if it were my DH.

Also FWIW, my DH and I are polar opppsites and do not share the same interests at all. But we get on well, like and trust each other. And we have shared values, which are more important than interests.

DonkeysDontRideBicycles Sun 11-Nov-12 13:26:26

You mention "mundane shit" and the pair of you have had a tough time then in comes Little Miss Sunshine. Don't give her more power than she has. I'm not saying disregard that warning light that's come on but don't rush to condemn DH or badmouth her. Nothing provokes chivalry like an interpreted slagging. The music is a shared interest, okay let them swap tracks but 2 hour debates or trips to gigs, no that's eating into your time.

Acknowledge it's great he's been such a support to her but she needs to go her own way now, and not risk putting himself in a difficult position at work. As soon as she gets on with her job and gets herself a new boyfriend, the better for her. Point out that he's been a good mentor (resist saying 'father figure') and now's the time to let her find her own way.

If you do socialise with her by inviting her round I'd pull out all the stops and look fabulous and don't give her honoured guest status, invite a crowd; better yet, matchmake, get an unattached male round too. Fwiw if the chance arises, don't confine yourself to a meal at your home, go out in public with your husband. She knows you have DD and another DC on the way - if she has designs on DH she won't be cowed by seeing you be Mummy at home, that's the kind of thing a Daddy might yearn to escape from.

Btw When you say your DH wouldn't be bothered about you having an attractive younger male protege, he wouldn't feel threatened, is that him trusting you implicitly or complacently dismissing the idea of you being sexually attracted to other men.

AThingInYourLife Sun 11-Nov-12 13:41:46

I'm married and DH and I share similar taste in music (although with 3 children now, it's getting harder to keep up.

We're both lightweights compared to some of our chin strokey friends, so it doesn't loom that large as an issue in our relationship grin

Would he really be so pissed off about you flagging this as a problem when you are not normally remotely jealous and controlling?

That's not great, is it?

Friendships at work turn into affairs all the time. It's hardly like you're suggesting the impossible.

You should be able to say to him "this is making me uncomfortable and jealous, please can you wind this one back".

What happened with the non-affair? How did you get it so wrong?

janelikesjam Sun 11-Nov-12 13:43:03

Gosh Donkeys, sounds incredible strategy, where did you learn to think like that? MN constantly amazes me.

I don't really have anything to add to what others have said. Donkey's strategy aside, I don't really have much truck with whatevers-cool-is-cool approach - especially when your heart is saying that its not cool actually. I think you need to assert yourself.

FiercePanda Sun 11-Nov-12 14:18:31

Tell him how you feel. Forget about "her"; he needs to be told how you're feeling, your worries about your relationship, feeling frumpy/mumsy/not a sexual being, feeling that watching him get so into a conversation with someone else made you try to remember when he'd been so enthusiastic about a conversation with you. If you're negative about The Girl I think he'll go into White Knight mode - "she's lonely, she needs a friend" - and you don't want this to end up with it being a them against the world situation.

You must be honest with him about your feelings and fears about your relationship.

Looksgoodingravy Sun 11-Nov-12 14:29:41

The biggest hurdle you have to overcome initially is to be able to communicate better.

I agree with others, this should be raised, if your dh is as lovely as you say he is then he should accept the way you feel and that you feel slightly threatened by his relationship with this work colleague. You haven't been jealous in the past and it sounds like you have a large network of friends but there's something this time which feels slightly 'off'.

I would personally go with the invite, I think you will feel better once you've met her.

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