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(50 Posts)
yurizhiv Sun 14-Oct-12 04:32:09

I have been preparing myself for you all to be a tough crowd so please don't be gentle - but I am frankly desperate for your help - let me explain

I am a 40-something guy, married (>10 years) with 2 dcs (aged 4 and 18 months). I love them all very much. My problem, and I'm afraid it's very unoriginal, is that I have become infatuated with someone who works in my office.

My work is professional (I am in the equivalent of a middle management post) and she is one of the people I supervise. She is 23 and single.

Some things to say right up. I have not and will not let this become in any way an actual relationship. My contact with the girl is more or less confined to work with just a few strictly work related (communal) social activities. The girl in question has not behaved other than in a polite and friendly (but never more than friendly) way toward me and as far as I know, has no idea about my feelings (though no doubt she finds some of my behaviour a bit weird at times - more of that below). I have not told my wife.

Having said that, it is a quite catastrophic infatuation. It began as soon as the girl arrived, over a year ago, and shows no sign of fading, and it is certainly interfering enough with my emotional state to interfere with my work and home life. I have all the symptoms of puppy love - and unrequited love - in a way I literally have not had since I was a teenager. Though I am sexually attracted to her, this is well beyond that - in fact in a funny way physical attraction sometimes seems the least part of it. I am all too well aware how silly it is but I can't seem to get on top of the feeling.

My wife and I have the usual hassles of juggling jobs, home and two small kids. My wife really is my soul mate - the one person in the world I would go to first to talk something over - but I just can't bring myself to have this particular conversation with her. I'm not at all sure how understanding I'd be if the shoe was on the other foot.

My first impulse was to reduce contact with the girl but that is genuinely hard. I more or less have to supervise her - trying to reallocate supervisors in my workplace is a huge hassle and would definitely mean citing reasons - which I am very loath to do, and equally loath to fabricate. For a month or so a little while ago I more or less avoided her completely but apart from inviting suspicion from others that also meant her work suffered because she was not properly advised - which I felt awful about.

So at the moment, we are in fairly regular contact and each meeting for me is like pain. I feel completely wretched, and split. In case you are wondering the girl in question is, as far as I can objectively say, a completely ordinary 23 year old. EVEN IF I was single, I doubt I would try to pursue her - I truly believe that 23 year olds need other 23 year olds, and big age differences are just a recipe for heartache eventually (that's another blog perhaps). And I'm no Johnny Depp, in case you were wondering.

I guess I need therapy or something but I honestly feel that if I didn't have to have the contact with her, I'd recover and be fine.

What I am hoping for is the benefit of any similar experiences you may have had. But what I desperately really want is a cure - some basic things I can do to rein in these feelings, and give them a meaning I can live with.

Please help if you can.

Changeorama Sun 14-Oct-12 04:53:27

Hi. I don't have anything particularly constructive to tell you, but your post hit a note with me.
I have an ongoing similar problem (in terms of being infatuated with someone who is not my spouse). It waxes and wanes, but has been over a number of years.
My gut says I need to restrict or eliminate contact with this person. But I am unwilling as I value the friendship we have. I see that's not an easy option for you though.
Sorry, no advice, just empathy. I don't that you can always control your feelings for other people. But you can control your actions I guess.
Maybe you could explore (with a therapist) why you feel this way? In my case, I think part of my problem is mourning an old life that I miss. And lack of closure on an old romantic attachment.
Good luck OP.

BinksToEnlightenment Sun 14-Oct-12 09:20:33

I feel for you. And I won't judge you.

Have you tried just letting yourself feel the way you do? You can't help it. So maybe stop fighting it and let it ride itself out.

This emotional tussle you're having with yourself sounds like it could be feeding the flames more than it's quelling them.

The chances are you won't have a crush on her forever. You'll feel passionately about her for a while, but it isn't sustainable for it to last and last. You don't really know her. Not as you would in a relationship. You're idealising her. I'm sure you know that.

Let yourself feel it and let it fade naturally.

AlwaysWantingMore Sun 14-Oct-12 09:53:37


Firstly you sound lovely - you are obviously considerate of the girl and of your wife, despite how you feel, so no flaming is required!

You are not the first person (of both genders) to feel this way, I think it is surprisingly common. It is just a crush and it is a good idea to acknowledge it as that. It's not 'love' in a workable way, no matter how it feels. Perhaps in different circumstances it could be acted upon and grow into something more, but you are not in those circumstances so it never will. Let it be a crush and recognise it for what it is. You are an animal and your emotions and sexuality cannot be controlled to the minutest detail - you are controlling your overall behaviour which is what makes you a decent human being.

From a personal point of view, I have also experienced such crushes. I am not nearly as good at controlling them as you are and have not been so sensible. It has unfortunately reached a stage way beyond where you are and has only brought misery and heartache. At the moment I am seeing a therapist to work out why this is. I am not sure whether it is something in me that seeks fulfilment from the crushes, or whether there is something lacking in my relationship that I seek from elsewhere. Speaking frankly to a therapist is a wonderful thing. Knowing that you can say anything in a safe space without being judged has been a great experience for me.

It is unfortunate that you can't work away from her as I have found proximity to be a major factor. The man at my previous workplace that I wanted to be with, was my one true love, I wanted us to give up everything to be together etc, once he moved away and we didn't see each other, the feelings did fade. It felt like I'd been dumped, but I was actually a lot happier once I'd escaped the feelings of the crush. I did see him again unexpectedly a few years later and it was like being hit by a bolt of lightning - something I have never felt with my DP, certainly not for a long time.

Stop beating yourself up. Recognise that your mind and body are behaving in a particular way and that it won't last forever. She is probably a lovely, attractive girl, it's unsurprising. Let the crush fade into a fondness for her and work on your professional relationship.

Work on your relationship with your wife - it may have suffered from the crush in ways you haven't realised. Whatever you seek from the office girl (excitement, sex, fun, laughter, planning the future, etc) work together with your wife to fulfil the needs of both of you.. Spend time with her. Spend time fulfilling your life in a way you can that takes your mind off the office girl (sports, hobbies) and break the habit of thinking about her.

Good luck!

janelikesjam Sun 14-Oct-12 11:36:13

I was wondering OP how you feel about yourself, since you don't really say much about him? Perhaps this girl represents a kind of vehicle for your own inner, natural passion, romanticism and tenderness? Perhaps you even recognise this on some level (as you say she is a perfectly ordinary 23 year old)? Can you experience these positive feelings in other areas of your life including with yourself? Do you yourself feel desirable?

I am sorry you are feeling all this pain. Do you know what this pain is actually about? Also, I do agree with whoever said about not fighting it, but riding it out, accepting it, and maybe looking a bit more closely about what is going on.

janelikesjam Sun 14-Oct-12 11:37:47

And being gentle and accepting of yourself I forgot to say. You sound like a genuine man with lots of qualities.

geegee888 Sun 14-Oct-12 12:00:44

I'm intrigued at the double standards in the responses on here because you are a man. Another poster has posted similarly, except she is a woman, with regards to a similar situation at work, and been hauled over the coals with some very derogatory comments indeed. In fact, in many ways she is not so bad as you because the OM has encouraged her attention.

I'm not convinced you are as wonderful, decent, and well behaved as you make out. You have made the choice to indulge your feelings in this way. The woman involved has done absolutely nothing to encourage you. You admit to acting strangely, and inconsistently around the unfortunate employee. You are being emotionally unfaithful to your wife. So I'd say you simply don't have the balls to do anything about your feelings/are too worried that the consequences would come back and bite you. ie I don't think your reticence is particuarly due to a strong moral code on your part, or you wouldn't have let such extensive unrequited feelings develop.

Nothing has happened to make you feel this way other than whats going on in your own head. You simply sound bored. Its the same old story.

This comment from you "I have not and will not let this become in any way an actual relationship." is arrogant. You seem to think you are the only one who can make a choice in such a matter. Quite possibly she finds you completely unattractive. Theres something a bit icky about a man of your age who can be so attracted to a much, much younger woman in a formal, work environment. Because obviously, she is much less experienced in the ways of the world than you, possibly in her first job, eager to impress and to avoid upsetting work colleagues, the "new girl", impressionable, etc.. You admit you have caused the unfortunate woman's work to suffer, and you therefore are not doing your own job properly.

I speak from experience. I've had it happen to me. Its unusual, for some older bored man to try and turn round conversation at work to be that little bit too personal, to linger that little bit too long, in short to try and engage you so that they get attention out of you. I can't say I found it flattering, quite the opposite, I found it irritating tbh, and I complained about him, and was taken seriously - because it had happened before. He received a formal warning and I was given another supervisor, who thankfully, had work more on his mind than using the workplace for his fantasies.

LyingWitchInTheWardrobe Sun 14-Oct-12 12:04:37

OP... you sound full of insight into yourself and your feelings. I think you're absolutely right (and very wise) NOT to talk to your wife of your feelings. She will not understand and will dwell on what you've said, internalise it and probably find herself lacking.

This girl is 23; I think you know, deep down, that she would probably not return your feelings. It's often easier to 'pretend' that you're doing the right thing when there is most likely, not the option anyway of doing the wrong thing.

An age gap it itself doesn't mean much; it depends on the ages of the couple, but at 23 this girl isn't likely to have 'settled' into what she wants in a life partner.

Added to which,, you're this girl's mentor/advisor and you have a direct impact on her progress at work. You can't progress for this reason, if no other. You would put your job in terrible jeopardy.

Crushes can be exciting and feel as if they're taking over your life but, without progressing through the usual stages, they will eventually burn out. I suspect that you haven't felt the same 'intensity' throughout the year that you say you've felt this way about this girl, but that you've propelled your own feelings forward and this has essentially 'taken care' of the sense of forward motion needed to perpetuate a crush. It is unrequited, and so much it remain. Be very careful not to allow yourself to show your feelings given your position of responsibility.

LyingWitchInTheWardrobe Sun 14-Oct-12 12:11:11

x-posted with geegee but actually, I agree with her, I though your post was a bit self-serving and really quite pompous. You've already had an impact on this girl's work and that's not acceptable AT ALL.

You haven't done the 'right thing', merely just not had the opportunity of doing anything else. You need to remove yourself from this gir's vicinity - think up a good reason (that doesn't impact on her whatsoever) and get yourself moved.

geegee888 Sun 14-Oct-12 12:22:09

x-posted with geegee but actually, I agree with her, I though your post was a bit self-serving and really quite pompous. You've already had an impact on this girl's work and that's not acceptable AT ALL

Yeah, same old I thought LyingWitch. Doesn't really matter what spin he puts on it, its self indulgent and self-originated, which brings it 100% back to him. Its not exactly some passionate love that they're both holding back on out of fear of hurting their partners. Entirely avoidable. I really have little patience for men who carry on like this in the workplace, as other posters can probably tell!

Interesting that the infatuation is for so much younger a woman, so much lower in the company heirachy than himself, and "quite ordinary", therefore more attainable...

yurizhiv Sun 14-Oct-12 16:00:32

Thanks to everyone who has taken the trouble to reply. Lots to think about.

I just wanted to set one or two things straight - this is MY problem and I despise myself for it. I really DO NOT WANT these feelings, and I see they are wrong wrong wrong. I do not see anything good coming of this, at all, at any level. I'm quite sure she doesn't find me attractive and does not return my feelings. I don't want her to return my feelings. How would that help? And though she is junior she is completely unattainable.

She makes me feel like a null and very, very old (and yes, that is all entirely in my head - it's not down to her)

I take the point about indulging my feelings and maybe I have allowed them to develop and I need to think about that. But I don't WANT the feelings, and I am too weak now to control them properly. Really all I was asking for was suggestions for managing this - definitely not expecting sympathy. I suppose I am being a bit self-serving there - but I'm just trying everything I can think of.

One last thing. Of course I don't think the girl is ordinary. But what good would it do to list all the ways I think she's extra-ordinary? I just meant I suspect an outside person would not necessarily predict that this should have happened to me. The last thing I want is for her to suffer because of this. The previous issue I caused with her work was not major and is resolved now and anyway she is (objectively) very good at her job. And I do, genuinely, really care about what happens to her.

BinksToEnlightenment Sun 14-Oct-12 16:18:37

I disagree that you are too weak to control your feelings - none of us get to control our feelings.

Life is not that simple. You don't get to choose who you love or who you fancy. And you certainly don't get to select to have feelings for the most convenient person to you. You just get them.

You aren't weak or stupid. You can't force these feelings to go. But you can accept them and allow them to go. It will take time, but they will go.

Jac1978 Sun 14-Oct-12 16:26:25

Can I ask what it is about her that has drawn you to her, how she makes you feel and how you act around her and when do you find yourself thinking about her most?

LyingWitchInTheWardrobe Sun 14-Oct-12 16:27:55

If you really care, OP, then you will keep an iron grip on your feelings. They're not real, they're unrequited and it's a crush, nothing more. If you can't keep a grip then you will need to look at removing yourself from the situation but not to this girl's detriment.

You are allowing yourself to build up these feelings, in the absence of this girl doing anything at all to encourage you, into something unrealistic, it's pure fantasy. Accept that you are 'making this happen' in your head and you'll realise that you can diminish those same happenings, you have the power to do that, only you.

By saying that you are weak, you're abdicating responsibility for your actions, which have already caused problems for this girl previously - you don't say whether it was your action that resolved them, but it could just as easily have gone the other way - your actions caused it in the first place. You have control over what you do from hereon in.

HappyHalloweenMotherFucker Sun 14-Oct-12 16:32:51

I think you need to get a grip.

HappyHalloweenMotherFucker Sun 14-Oct-12 16:34:13

You are probably the butt of a few jokes at work. It won't be long until some busybody decides your wife needs to know what a cock you are being.

FootLikeATractionEngine Sun 14-Oct-12 16:51:51

Stop fucking up her job.

This is YOUR problem and it is causing HER to suffer. You should feel bad about it and you should do something about it.

FootLikeATractionEngine Sun 14-Oct-12 16:57:52

And by doing something about it, I mean get out of her way and avoid having anything to do with her work.

Your discomfort about doing something practical means nothing because her work is suffering due to you and through no fault of her own. This is not just in your mind anymore if it impacting on her job.

izzyizin Sun 14-Oct-12 17:56:37

What feeble minded creatures we would be if we gave into our 'feelings' and allowed ourselves to be blown and tossed by their uncertain wind.

Of course we can control our feelings and our thoughts, although many who choose to embark on the path of self-indulgence would prefer to believe otherwise as to do so requires self-determination and self-discipline.

Jeez, you've allowed yourself to become the cliche of the middle-aged man lusting after a woman young enough to be his daughter. What are you going to do next - buy a sportscar and get your barber to style your once profuse locks into a comb over? Or amend your wardrobe to resemble that of a perv medallion man or a 21yo resplendent in tight trousers?

Can you not see the humour in your fervent longings and laugh at yourself for being so pathetically weakwilled (weak willied?) as to hanker after a young woman who, thankfully, shows no sign of recognising that you've got a hard on where you're coming from when you're in close proximity to her?

catastrophic infatuation has been the downfall of many a dick led male and if you don't want to gain a reputation as the office lech or find yourself on the receiving end of allegations of sexual harassment, you'll rein your 'feelings' in pdq.

Get a grip and stop engaging in juvenile fantasies. You're old enough to know that no good can come of this and, if she hasn't already, your dw will become aware that you've got something on your mind other than her, your young family, and the usual life/work issues.

Bin this 'crush' by immediately replacing any thought of the ow with another entirely unrelated thought and concentrate solely on work related matters when it is necessary for you to be in her company.

If you don't choose to master your thoughts, on your head be when it all goes tits up and you're revealed as a man of dubious moral integrity and become the butt of much sniggering and salacious gossip before or after you're sacked for misconduct.

geegee888 Sun 14-Oct-12 18:57:53

Stop calling your work colleage a "girl". She is a grown woman. Have some respect.

This is one of the reasons I find myself avoiding talking too much to some men of a certain age. So many of them will read too much into it, or attempt to flirt with you. I'm in my 30s but look very young for my age, so can see through them quite easily. Bloody pains in the neck; that sort of patronising attention seeking atittude really makes me inwardly cringe for them.

I guess your options are (1) seek psychological counselling for your propensity to develop obsessions with your work colleagues, (2) leave your wife because you don't love her any more (I'm sorry but I don't believe love allows people to develop infatuations like this), be single, and try to find someone you fancy or (3) continue in your fantasy world and hope you don't do anything too stupid to cause yourself problems at work. You are such a potentially expensive lawsuit/gross misconduct case waiting to happen.

snooter Sun 14-Oct-12 19:15:03

She will know you fancy her & is probably sniggering about you with her friends - sorry. You need to get over it & move on.

You seem to be superior to her at work - could you sack her? (TFIC)

izzyizin Sun 14-Oct-12 19:48:31

My work is professional If you can't be professional, you're in the wrong job and should consider look for employment in another field.

fluffyraggies Sun 14-Oct-12 20:15:56

Oh i'd bet good money that she knows. And yep, the chances are she's laughed about it with friends. Or just cringed inwardly about it for the last year and kept it to herself.

OP i'd really think hard about how awfully hurt your DW would be if she knew how you are behaving. And i do mean behaving. That should be sobering enough. If it isn't then i suggest that your DW deserves the truth as your love and commitment to her is clearly wavering. Can you imagine the conversation??

Genuinely please, try to imagine finding out your wife has been lusting over a 23 year old for the last year so badly that it was affecting her work and taking up so much of her thoughts while at home. What on earth would you think/feel/say?

We all have crushes from time to time. We see them for what they are and get over it. Grow up!

yurizhiv Sun 14-Oct-12 22:15:44

Thanks everybody. I thought I probably have little left to lose, here, so I'm leaving you with an apology for middle aged men like me - some sort of 'Sympathy for the Devil':

You reach this age where you are among the least desirable of human specimens - holding most of the power, that's true, but very little real affection. It doesn't help that some (perhaps quite a few) of your peers really and truly are certifiable bastards. Your looks if you had them have gone. You are not old enough to be wise, or distinguished. You're too old to be boyish (watch out if you try). Yet there is still a boy inside - he hasn't gone away. He's just much less easy to forgive, because, after all, he's had all these years to learn better. To grow up.

So you're going along in your little trench (life, beliefs, career...) and then - maybe once in ten or twenty years - this person appears. A young female person. You love your wife (yeah, you really do) but she's so close to you, you're like the same person. This other person is brand new. You have encountered many others of her persuasion of course, but this person is different, some how. She's trouble, because, through no fault of her own, she fits your brain like a key in a lock.

Inevitably you learn things about her - you can't help it if you work with someone closely. But the better you know her, the worse it gets.

Yes, biology helps - but if it was just biology, well, lust is pretty easily salved, in lots of ways. This person though creates different longings, equally unreasonable, just as strong, but less easily quenched. You long to share with her the few valuable things your many years on the planet have taught you - about art and music and such like, mostly, and perhaps even (gulp) certain aspects of the human heart - but of course you can't do that, it's inappropriate.

Her beauty doesn't help, of course. And she is beautiful - it's no accident surely that St Exupery (also sexist I guess, but he was of his time) allegorised her kind as 'roses'. Like a song or a sonnet is beautiful. But those things don't have consciences and they can't be hurt. She can. So can you.

You understand that if she thinks of you at all, it is with amusement. You too try to see the funny side, but when you're sitting in the lunchroom crying by yourself at 11 pm, it's harder to get the joke.

You are crying because you and your feelings have let everybody down - wife, kids, yes yourself as well. Crying with self pity. But crying too for the things you have to deny - the impulse to write the song, or the sonnet. To celebrate this other person. To tell her. Young men are feted for those things. You on the other hand are just sad, creepy and courting disciplinary action.

So you go on denying, day by day. You clamp the feelings down. You hope no-one notices. But in the end you're just an old grown up boy nursing his sprained heart. And sooner or later, you post a blog...

FootLikeATractionEngine Sun 14-Oct-12 22:20:29


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