I Want to Date My Co-Worker…p.s. I’m Married

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Hello Beth,

I have a work colleague who I have a crush on. We have spent a lot of time together and have become very close. We talk constantly and text all day. The problem is she has a boyfriend, and I am married but in a long distance relationship that is not working out. I think she may be interested but she respects the situation. Should I attempt to take our relationship to the next level or just simply remain friends and see what happens?

Craig

 

Hi Craig,

Wow, there is a lot going on in your email. You have 1) your own marriage 2) the fact that your co-worker is in a relationship 3) uncertainty about whether this woman is even interested in you 4) the messiness of dating a co-worker. If you feel jumbled while reading this response, trust me, I felt jumbled while writing it.

Call me old-fashioned but before you even think about pursuing another woman, you need to deal with your marriage “that is not working out.” It’s hard to tell what you mean by that—have you hit a rough patch but there’s been no decision made about the future? Or are you separated and there’s an understanding that dating other people is okay? Or are you just waiting for your divorce papers to be finalized? Unless both you and your wife have agreed that you no longer want to be together and that seeing other people is acceptable, and you’re actively pursuing the dissolution of your marriage, you need to put your dating plans on hold.

Having this failing relationship as a part of your current emotional, financial, or legal life is going to make anything you pursue with anyone else, very complicated. For instance, if I were your co-worker and considering dating you I might be concerned that you’d eventually treat our relationship with the same disregard. Not to mention that all of this could complicate your relationships with any mutual friends you share with your wife (who might be horrified that you’re dating while still married), or your future relationships with your co-worker’s family and friends (see previous parentheses). Finally, being unhappy in your marriage might make it seem like a new relationship is a necessary balm to soothing your pain, but it could be a mistake to start something new before you’ve had a chance to get over whatever happened between you and your wife.

A word to the wise, dating your co-worker can get…complicated.

Setting all of that aside is the fact that your co-worker does, in fact, have a boyfriend. Is it possible that you’re misconstruing friendship for serious interest on her part? Knowing nothing else about this scenario, I have no idea either way, but I think it’s something to ask yourself honestly. If you think there’s real potential there, and you’re being responsible about how you’re handling the end of your marriage, you could tell her how you feel in an honest, respectful (i.e., don’t try to make out with her) conversation. If you’re wrong about her feelings, it will may ruin your friendship or at least make it very awkward for the foreseeable future. If you’re right, I hope you’ll wait until she’s ended things with her boyfriend before you carry on.

Finally, before jumping into anything with this woman, find out what your company’s policy on dating in the workplace is. If it’s not forbidden, keep in mind that if you do date this woman and it goes south, it can make for a pretty uncomfortable working environment. Even the most mature adults with the best intentions can become petulant when hurt romantic feelings are involved.

-Beth

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