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Is it possible to emerge from a workplace "thing" with your dignity and professional respect intact?

(22 Posts)
gooseberrydaiquiri Wed 08-Jul-15 22:04:43

A colleague and I have had a bit of a "situation".... stopped way short of being a relationship, was barely even a fling as almost nothing physical happened, no sex at all. We are both single so no-one was being hurt by our actions.

He knocked it on the head recently, basically saying we need to get a hold of ourselves as it can't go anywhere and it will ruin our professional relationship (which has remained good even during this "thing"). Although I was initially smarting a bit -- basically I think because he got in there before I could -- I'm quite glad this has happened as he has shaken me out of my libido-induced madness, there is no way anything could have come of it and we're highly unsuited to each other in numerous ways.

I've been in a workplace relationship before and it turned into a total nightmare, was dumped and then took months to find another job while being broken-hearted and unable to concentrate on work. This is not remotely in that category, it was really just a friendship which spilled over the lines a bit and I'm far from being broken-hearted.

But I'm worried about the professional fallout nonetheless. To my knowledge none of our coworkers know for sure, although its possible one or two suspect. I'm worried about how he will behave and the possibility that he might be cold or weird with me. And I'm worried that I will not be able to stop myself doing the same to him. Its a fairly tight-knit workplace and we all get on well, I don't want an "atmosphere" to develop which could have a knock-on effect on others. And there's no chance of relocating with the firm.

Has anyone got any experience of anything like this that didn't end in total disaster? I'm really hoping this is something I'll be able to put behind me and am perfectly prepared to do what it takes to achieve this... but worried that ultimately I may have to think about moving on to a different job....

OooMatron Wed 08-Jul-15 22:18:30

In answer to your original question. No.

DoreenLethal Wed 08-Jul-15 22:23:03

Yes. I had a thing with a colleague. I was the senior person in the relationship. We would go out, get crazy drunk, have crazy sex and then deny deny deny to all our colleagues and be affronted anyone suggested we couldnt be just friends. Worked together for a couple of years after that and he left to go backpacking around India.

On and off for around 5 years whenever we were both single.

Still good friends 20 years later. No bad feelings on either side.

gooseberrydaiquiri Wed 08-Jul-15 22:32:12

Interesting to have such radically different perspectives on this...

my hope has been that as long as neither of us was too emotionally involved it would be alright in the end, albeit possibly with a bit of a cooling off period in the interim.

I'm just going to keep my head down and be as professional as possible and hope it just fades into the rear-view mirror

IrenetheQuaint Wed 08-Jul-15 22:34:33

Yes, but it could have gone very wrong. Your approach sounds sensible, though.

Fizrim Wed 08-Jul-15 22:38:39

I'd say not. It is likely that colleagues have noticed - I say this not from personal experience, but as someone who has worked in HR.

gooseberrydaiquiri Wed 08-Jul-15 22:44:14

Fizrim I think colleagues have noticed there's a bit of a "vibe" for sure -- one person jokingly referred to it on one occasion. But surely there's a difference between noticing flirtation and having hard knowledge of an actual physical affair?

Incidentally we are on the same level, professionally, so its not like either of us stands to benefit from preferment of any kind.

I'm not trying to minimize this, btw, I know this is a stupid and potentially self-destructive situation to have been in and I have no intention of pursuing it further. But isn't it where the line is drawn that's the crucial thing?

goddessofsmallthings Wed 08-Jul-15 23:00:44

It's not so much where the line is drawn as whether or not colleagues perceive that a line has been crossed.

From what you've said I'm confident this will fade into your rear-view mirror faster than you may currently think possible, but in future don't forget to check it for hindsignt before you embark on another office based flirtation.

FadedRed Wed 08-Jul-15 23:10:05

Of course you can, if you want to. You are both adults not 'luurve-lorn" teens. Just grit your teeth, avert those fluttering lashes, bind up your heaving bosom and get on with work. grin Seriously, it probably won't be easy for a short while, but soon will become the norm, the more you practise it. You can do this.

gooseberrydaiquiri Wed 08-Jul-15 23:28:19

Thanks Faded. I'm perfectly capable of moving on from situations like this and have previously managed to turn situations like this into friendships, although in this instance I think some distance would be helpful for a few weeks.

Its just the fact that we have to work together. There's no escaping it for a bit...

Fizrim Wed 08-Jul-15 23:44:13

You said that when this had happened previously - workplace relationship - it was a nightmare.

It would be helpful if you could work together - no refusing to be in the same room, or all your colleagues complaining that the couple's attention was on each other rather than the job/department/other staff while the couple were amazed that anyone had noticed their relationship.

But I may be biased from dealing with the fallout grin

gooseberrydaiquiri Wed 08-Jul-15 23:56:34

Fizrim that was a very different situation: an 18 month exclusive relationship where we discussed moving in etc which was terminated out of the blue by him and I was devastated. I was also 15 years younger. This recent thing was just a very silly flirtation which got a bit out of hand. No-one was in love, no-one got hurt.

I'm fully aware that these things can get very messy if people can't man up and deal with them like grownups afterwards.

Obviously I can't control how he reacts but for my part I am determined to be professional.

I do get what you're saying though and I am aware these things can take on a life of their own, hence the anxiety...

Wrapdress Thu 09-Jul-15 03:23:43

There was no relationship, no sex, nothing physical. You are both single. So, I guess you all liked each other and were attracted to each other. You probably flirted, maybe discussed possibilities.... and then... you all came to your senses and decided no, not going to work.

It seems like in this case it would be fairly easy to carry on at work without awkwardness. It's perfectly okay to like each other and be attracted to each other and decide not to move forward with it due to a situation.

The way I would play it mentally would be - This is lovely, but is tabled for now. Maybe another time, another life. It's not an ending or a hard stop or a breakup. It's just a pause that may or may not continue in the future.

As far as co-workers - never speak of it to anyone. Don't defend something that never really happened. It will fade away faster if it isn't discussed.

gooseberrydaiquiri Thu 09-Jul-15 06:02:46

wrapdress this is exactly how I'm approaching it so thank you.

I guess the only difference is I have to treat it like a hard stop (not a breakup perhaps as nothing to break up). But I can't afford to assume that it could restart, for my professional situation.

I want to stop thinking about it as a "live" thing as well as I think its mentally not going to help me move on.

But thanks

TheDowagerCuntess Thu 09-Jul-15 06:14:22

Yes, there's no reason it can't all be put firmly in the past with no repercussions, provided you behave professionally and normally around each other from now on.

My previous workplace x 2 was a hotbed of lust, intrigue and romance, and many people were able to put their dalliances behind them. The only ones that were really gossiped about, with the piss privately ripped, were when at least one party was married and/or the couple were under the delusion that nobody knew. Everybody always knows. grin

DH and I met at this workplace. We 'came out' immediately which totally diffused the gossip, both eventually left, and 15 years later are happily together.

Cabrinha Thu 09-Jul-15 06:50:49

It sounds like you're creating an issue in your own head.
He ended it, got in first you say - so you're both happy about it.

I've two married couples in my own department of 20 - both met on the team. It's not unusual to meet people through work.

Just carry on as normal. Stop worrying about needing distance - surely that talking it into something it wasn't, if it never got physical and you BOTH wanted to stop it?

CatsandCrumble Thu 09-Jul-15 07:02:01

It sounds like you're creating an issue in your own head.

My thoughts too. The fact that you have previously had a workplace relationship which caused you to need to change jobs should make you quite wary of workplace flirtations. However, I'm more concerned that you think this one could also be problematic when nothing has actually happened.

If you can't just shrug this off without any hassle you definitely don't want to think about getting more involved.

gooseberrydaiquiri Thu 09-Jul-15 07:03:14

Cabrinha agreed but there can sometimes be awkwardness in these situations even if all is for the best. Men in particular are not terribly good at dealing with this...

gooseberrydaiquiri Thu 09-Jul-15 07:17:50

Cats I'm definitely not going to get more involved!

Cabrinha Thu 09-Jul-15 07:29:39

It's my experience that more women say that men are TOO good at dealing with this!
This guy ended it OK, didn't he?
And in your previous job it was you that felt you had to leave, not him.
Just get on with it.
It'll be fine - I also think you're letting what happened before affect you now.

MadeMan Thu 09-Jul-15 08:31:20

"I'm worried about how he will behave and the possibility that he might be cold or weird with me."

I doubt he'll be weird with you, but he probably will seem a bit colder towards you if the plan is to stop the flirty behaviour and just be professional.

bobbywash Thu 09-Jul-15 08:36:29

Places of work are ripe for gossip, if it's been relatively brief, and then clearly isn't anything, the gossips will move on to other people who seem to get on well. It happens, and has happened to me at least twice that I've heard of.

It's now concentrating on others, so in answer to your question yes it is, especially if there has not been a relationship.

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