How to Deal With Relationships in the Workplace/Mixed messages at work


I need some serious help interpreting this situation. About a year ago I started a new job and instantly clicked and became great friends with one of my coworkers. We work great together (in a small store environment) and thus, we have almost identical schedules so that we can partner up on daily tasks. Over time our friendship started to strengthen, and one day... Almost like a light switch... The situation just changed somehow. Out daily conversation about hobbies and interests quickly turned into flirting, mild touching (lower back, shoulders, etc), and confessing feelings for each other. So why is this so tricky? Oh... Because he's engaged. The engagement happened a few months after I started working there, before our relationship took this flirty turn. Now to be clear, we are both very moral people and NOTHING has happened between us outside of our at work flirting.  This is so challenging for me because he will tell me that he fantasizes about me, or would be with me if the situation was different, and has feelings for me but can only be with one person. He knows that I'm head over heels about him and I try and try to accept it, but the behavior at work makes it impossible for me to believe that he is with the person he should marry. We have tried multiple times now to "draw a line" and make the relationship more appropriate so my feelings will go away, but each time is a failure. Each time ends in an argument or in hurt feelings because we don't seem to be able to be around each other at work without thsi extream flirting. Recently, an argument led to a discussion that concluded we can no longer maintain this type of relationship. We have feelings for each other, mine being extreamly strong, that we simply can't act apon. We are trying to draw a line and extend our relationship into an out of work friendship as well (that must remain a secret according to him because she doesn't like me). My problem is that I am having such a hard time controlling my feelings for him because I believe that there is something more between us. I don't understand how someone who's engaged to the person they are supposed to be in love with could risk that relationship by flirting so heavily, and secretly hanging out with a person they obviously have feelings for. I want to keep him in my life but I'm in so much pain having him tell me he cares about me and is attracted to me one second, and then talking about her the next. Work has become a constant struggle of attempted self control and convincing myself that when he says all of these suggestive things it's "just the way we are together" when in the past he has confessed that his feelings for me are stronger than that. How can I handle this situation? I seriously believe that we are perfect for each other, that while the timing seems bad, in reality we showed up at just the right time. That there is a reason he is able to feel for someone else when he is engaged. What I'm supposed to believe; that he is engaged to the person he loves and we are just flirty friends; does not add up with what ACTUALLY happens, and what is actually said, and for that reason I'm having a hard time excepting the situation and moving on. I thought if I spent time with them together maybe I'd start to believe that they are meant to be and get over this, but he refuses. He says he wants to keep me in his life forever but I'm in so much pain when what I experience is not what's supposed to be happening .

Hi Aubrey,

I think you know what my answer will be.  This man is playing the game called having my cake and eating it, too.  There is much in the game on his side and little on your side.

He wants you in his life forever, and you can see each other in secret.  Seriously?  Does that mean he will keep you on the side when he and his fiance are married?  Are you willing to settle for that kind of life?

My suggestion:  start seeing other people and cool it with this man who can't be trusted.  Face it, if he isn't faithful to his fiance, what makes you think things would be any different if you were his girlfriend.  

I don't know how old you are, but it's time for you to move on and start living a real life where you don't have to sneak around to see someone.  Life is short; tomorrow isn't promised, don't waste any more time on this guy.

Join social groups, church, a gym, any place where you are in contact with other people and can start expanding your circle of friends.  There is someone out there for you; it's not this cheating guy.

Take care.  I wish you well.

Alice J Bogert

How to Deal With Relationships in the Workplace

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alice bogert


I can field questions related to employee-employee relationship issues as well as employee-manager relationship issues.


I supervised staff at the county and federal level for over 25 years. I have extensive experience dealing with employee disputes, management employee disagreements, morale issues, managing change, etc. I teach a variety of leadership and conflict resolution classes.

National Association of Retired Federal Employees, Business Women of America.

I have a Masters Degree in Sociology.

Awards and Honors
Three Quality Step Merit Awards for Excellence while employed with the federal government. Numerous awards for training classes I've done.

Past/Present Clients
Private industry, Los Rio Community College District, federal, state and county government

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