Straight talk can prevent relationship sabotage

By Ellie

Question: I love my wife of 10 years and our children and never want to leave them. A year ago, a new female co-worker and I became immediate friends. She’s in a four-year unmarried relationship.

We shared common interests and both had lost a parent to the same illness.

We were always together at lunches and breaks and I drove her home. We became emotionally involved.

I didn’t notice this till several co-workers thought we were having a sexual affair.

It hit me that I needed to pull back.

We never slept together, nothing physical ever happened. I told her we needed to back away, as we were in danger of crossing a line I didn’t want to cross.

She’s now angry, acting like a woman scorned and making my life difficult.

She’s telling everyone that I’m a terrible person and she’s thinking about telling my wife.

I’m heartsick because I don’t want to hurt my wife, and most women I know feel that emotional cheating is worse than physical.

Should I ‘fess up to my wife or just hope that this co-worker doesn’t carry off her threat?


Answer: Get to your wife before the other woman does. And avoid the phrase “emotional cheating.”

Any attached person inwardly knows that constant company with someone of the opposite sex, plus deep confidences, flashes “Trouble Ahead.” And it seems you didn’t tell your wife much about this friendship, which is a further set-up for fallout.

So start talking — about your love for her, and about this error in judgment in thinking you just had a work pal and not realizing the woman saw it differently.

It’s a bit unfair to your co-worker, since you were equally complicit. Do not be rude to her at work or spread any counter stories. Apologize to her, too, if you get a chance — but no texts, emails or phone calls which can be turned against you.

Question: I’ve known this guy for five or six years. We went to the same youth group through high school. And since he started college (he’s a year older) we kept in contact.

Last year I saw him several times, and asked how he felt about me. He said he had no feelings beyond friendship.

Six months later, we’ve become closer friends. We see each other at church or I visit the college he and my other friends attend. He’s in a band, so I’ve gone to every show.

Usually it’s me who contacts him. Obviously I’m really interested in him. But I can’t tell how he feels. He’s always there when I need him, always seems happy to see me, and flirts back most of the time. But sometimes he backs off and doesn’t show much interest. I can’t tell if maybe he just isn’t sure how he feels, or if he realizes he’s flirting, doesn’t like me, and then stops.


Answer: You’re both very decent young adults enjoying a friendship. And you’ve been obvious, in a nice way, that you like this guy. He’s responded as a caring pal, but never taking it further.

The answer is straightforward, there should be no confusion. What he said before still holds: He likes you only as a friend.

That’s not a bad thing, since you’ve enjoyed a lot of socializing through this friendship, and have a good friend to stand up for you when you need him. Through him, you can meet others, and expand your network until you find someone with mutual feelings.


Truth telling becomes critical when someone’s bent on sabotage.

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