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Managing a close opposite sex relationship at work

(24 Posts)
TalkShowHost Thu 20-Mar-14 19:42:27

I'd be interested in hearing views on this. I'm a man and about two weeks ago, a new female colleague has started work. I'm single, she's very recently married. Her husband is currently living quite a distance away but plans to move to our city in a few months.

We've very much hit it off and there's a spark - we share a taste in books, culture, history, humour. We've been going for lunch together, going for a walk at lunchbreak. Last weekend, we went for a long walk together and had a few drinks together (we were out for five hours I think in total). Much of this has come from her (she gave me her phone numbers, has been emailing me music videos in the evening, etc).

If I'm honest, if she were single, I would be interested in her, but I know she's married. I'm a little excited to see her every day.

I sit two desks away from her and I can't avoid her, and I quite like that I've made a friend (and I think she is too), but I've no intention to have an affair. It's quite a young environment where there are lots of male/female friendships.

I want to manage this relationship in such a way that we're friends, but I can see all the pitfalls.

What would you do in this situation?

Papaluigi Thu 20-Mar-14 19:48:08

Don't know what you mean really, maybe iVe missed something but simply remain friends. Are you saying that you can't do this ?

TalkShowHost Thu 20-Mar-14 19:50:43

My intention is to remain friends. I have lots of female friends, but they're usually friends I've known for a long time, rather than this friend, with whom I think we've got very close really quite quickly

EirikurNoromaour Thu 20-Mar-14 19:51:18

If you have developed feelings for her then you really need to cool it. Have a laugh at work but cut out the out of work communication. Getting close to her will bring nothing but bad for all of you.

LurcioLovesFrankie Thu 20-Mar-14 19:51:24

Run like the wind! Seriously, the only thing you can do is disengage, find other things to do at the weekends, find other people to have lunch with, or make sure if you do have lunch with her that there is a chaperone. Male-female friendships are fine so long as there is no spark (I am not one of those people who subscribes to the "men and women just can't be friends" line) - but there clearly is in this case, at least on your part. And that, in the circumstances, can only lead to a whole world of pain (take it from an old gimmer who in her younger days has been there, got the t-shirt).

TalkShowHost Thu 20-Mar-14 19:52:16

My further question might be how to keep friends and know where the line is crossed maybe into emotional affair - what are the appropriate boundaries?

freedom2011 Thu 20-Mar-14 19:55:41

i could at least see a risk of such a friendship developing with a colleague so what i did is carefully withdraw from the friendship

- go out to lunch less. and invite another colleague along if you do go
- do not go out together outside of work unless a work organised event
- do not engage in any personal talk or confidences you wouldn't be happy your boss and team mates and her husband hearing. Feel free to say, I don't feel comfortable talking about that and change the subject.
- do not respond to personal emails in your private time, a cheery thanks! will do if she asks if you got them
- take up a new hobby outside work which enables you to meet new people

good luck. stay focused.

nilbyname Thu 20-Mar-14 19:56:41

Sounds intense.

I would dilute the time with her down, lunch with her and some other office mates. Draw back from the weekend stuff, again unless it's within a group.

I would cool it, and then see where you are.

You haven't done anything wrong per se, but you can feel something in the air so you are right to draw back.

Hassled Thu 20-Mar-14 19:58:09

You're single now, but presumably you've been in a relationship before. So cast your mind back - are you doing anything which would piss you off if you were the colleague's husband? If she were your Ex, (I mean while you were still together), would you be happy with what was going on? Because that's your boundary - that's the line you don't cross.

You obviously fancy her, and it may be a passing crush that will fade in a month or so - it may just be the natural response to feeling flattered that someone likes you. But tread very carefully.

TalkShowHost Thu 20-Mar-14 20:00:11

Would anyone favour me being honest approach - which would be to say we're clearly getting on well, but you're married and so I will have to withdraw, or would you do it by stealth, so to speak?

Technical Thu 20-Mar-14 20:05:59

Oh dear, this is going to bring you (and her, probably) nothing but pain unless you run now.

Don't ever be alone with her and don't ever drink alcohol with her. Enjoy the banter in the office, in the company of others.

Do not ever exchange text messages or telephone calls unless strictly and only business related. Never outside of work time.

If possible arrange to meet and befriend her DH - knowing and liking the man you will potentially be doing the dirty on will act as a good deterrent in most people.

Well done for recognising it as a potential problem early. I wish I had.

Technical Thu 20-Mar-14 20:07:58


I think best just to "not notice" the spark and carry on as if she were any other colleague you were on decent terms with.

Telling her will either make her feel very uncomfortable or have her confessing to feeling the same way which will open a whole can of worms.

freedom2011 Thu 20-Mar-14 20:19:52

I agree with Technical - do not notice. I do not favour the honest approach - this has 3 possible results

1) she is nice about it and says, yes, sorry, we are perhaps crossing the line, lets keep it professional - but then you sit 2 seats from someone who knows you have a crush on them - awkward
2) she says - eh what are you talking about you numpty? then you have to sit 2 seats away from someone who thinks you're an arrogant numpty who can't recognise friendship (although what you describe would not be ok if it was my partner doing it)
3) she convinces herself you are soulmates and messes with you from the comfort of her married state - you have to sit 2 seats from someone who plays with your feelings - it ends in a disastrous mess

withdraw, withdraw, withdraw. Get out and meet other people.

Pippilangstrompe Thu 20-Mar-14 20:21:04

Just withdraw, don't make a big deal of it. Find something else to do and stop hanging out with just her. Spend your time at work working.

TalkShowHost Thu 20-Mar-14 20:24:18

She asked me to do her a favour in work today, and she thanked me, and offered to buy me a drink.

Thanks, I know what I have to do - obviously I'm flattered as I don't think I'm getting mixed messages - last week when we were out, she said she liked to have someone she could talk to ideas about - I'm arrogant and fancy myself as a petty intellectual (!), so that's the kind of thing that's going to flatter me.

I can see how it's so easy to drift into a very tricky situation

LurcioLovesFrankie Thu 20-Mar-14 20:26:54

Agree with others, just don't engage. Make an excuse about the drink... if she suggests another time, make another excuse, and repeat as necessary.

Technical Thu 20-Mar-14 20:29:10

She's really behaving quite badly towards you and her DH - focusing on that will help you dislike her (a bit, maybe) and make it easier.

Know you're doing the right thing. You sound lovely, I hope you find someone just for you (if that's what you want) soon. Otherwise enjoy the single life!

Hassled Thu 20-Mar-14 20:34:48

What you need is a nice unattached young lady (god I sound old). That will get colleague out of your head probably faster than anything else.

Logg1e Thu 20-Mar-14 20:40:10

If she's married to someone else I'd be wary of being used and perhaps made a bit if a joke of amongst colleagues.

wannaBe Thu 20-Mar-14 20:48:45

Firstly, recognising the signs early on means you are not a bad person and have done nothing wrong, in fact you are striving to doo everything right.

Secondly, think of it like this: The woman is newly married, she is away from her dh and already she is starting up flirtatious exchanges with new work colleague (i.e. you). Is that a trait you would want in a partner? someone who you knew that as soon as your back is turned would be giving out her phone numbers and going on five hour weekend walks with new male friend? There's your first negative trait right there, if she can do it to her new husband, she could do it to you.

I don't favour the honest approach either for all the reasons mentioned above.


Keep banter to the office.

Don't reply to out-of-work text messages, and if she asks just say that you're really busy.

If she mentions going for a drink suggest a team night out and then leave early - on your own.

And perhaps sign up to a dating site to find someone single who you can have an honest relationship with. But if you don't fancy that, perhaps even make up a dating scene you are part of.

Make it very clear you have no feelings for her beyond office friendship and nothing more.

If she asks about last week and what's changed just say that you thought she might want to help settle into the new town so that when her dh arrives she'll have plenty to show him.

UptheChimney Fri 21-Mar-14 08:02:09

which would be to say we're clearly getting on well, but you're married and so I will have to withdraw, or would you do it by stealth, so to speak?

Withdraw gracefully and try not to go cold. Remain friendly, but don't talk to her about the "what ifs" -- it's not fair to either of you. Be friendly but withdraw from the intimacy.

lavesh Fri 21-Mar-14 11:38:26

I feel for you and you're right to be worried. This could really blow up in your face and you don't want some raging husband chasing you out of the office (it's happened!). I've never had that sort of close friendship with a colleague (but have lots of friends who are colleagues) and all the 'friendships' that have been like that have ended in affairs/relationships.

Stealth removal is least embarrassing option. If you're enjoying her company so much then maybe get out there and try and meet someone single so that you can get the intimacy from a happier source. Good luck you sound like a good bloke.

BeforeAndAfter Fri 21-Mar-14 11:46:47

Treat her like a normal female colleague that you have no particular interest in. Don't talk to her about your feelings and why you're withdrawing, I can see no good coming of that. Just withdraw. She'll be like a kid losing her favourite toy for five minutes and will try to reopen communication but she will probably move on quite quickly.

I think you're both already straying into EA territory here, even after such a short time. I can't believe she's at home e-mailing you music links in the evening. I'd be gutted if I were her H.

AMumInScotland Fri 21-Mar-14 12:07:44

I don't think you can be close friends with someone on those terms. You need to rein it right back to 'colleagues' and not become close to her.

It is not going to develop into a stable platonic friendship, because in all honesty that's not what either of you are feeling.

The fact that you've noticed and want to keep control means you see the danger, so that's the first step. Treat her as you would any other colleague who isn't a potential girlfriend.

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