They Do Exist.

Women In The Workplace: Emotional Affairs And Co-Workers

Editor’s Note: We often spend the majority of our time with co-workers, and usually, we don’t have the option to choose which of them we have to interact with. This includes men that we would never ordinarily date, but fall into caring for because of the time and energy invested in them. Today’s story is Anonymous. – Lauren

I was in my mid-twenties, single, with a penchant for older men and a lot of questions on why God still had me waiting.

My colleague was in his late thirties, handsome, well-read, funny, British (and aren’t I enthralled by British accents) and overall, just a really nice guy. We started working together in the company’s construction department. Since he couldn’t speak Spanish he brought me along for on-site translation. That meant many, many hours of car rides and time spent alone.

We hit it off. We laughed a lot. We talked about music (Lord knows I’m passionate about music), about film, about environmental issues, about the business, about what it was like in my country, about what it was like in his.

Randy’s wife was a new mother and her recent role, added to the stress of living in another country, was damaging the marriage. While Randy didn’t say this in so many words, I could tell by the personal stories he confided.

Over the course of several weeks we bonded. How could we not, when we shared so much personal insight into each other’s lives?

Photo by Branden Harvey

But I knew (as one always knows these things) that there was more to it. I could tell by the way he looked at me, some of the things he said, the attention he bestowed on me. And I… I was smitten.

My heart skipped a beat whenever he was around, I felt crazy energy by just being in his presence… And then there was the guilt factor. Randy was married.

Yes, I was Christian. But, things were a little muddled. My heart wasn’t 100% in it. I was harboring resentment towards the past (due to the death of a loved one), I was harboring resentment towards the present (lack of opportunities for improving my family’s life and mine) and I was scared of the future… not entrusting it to God.

When the heart is set on such things, it becomes a nest where the worst seeds are bound to thrive.

There was silence in the car that day, when we arrived on site. The tension was so palpable it really could have been cut with a knife, as cheesy as that sounds. I knew in my heart that if I stayed in that car one moment longer, Randy would lean over and kiss me, so I practically leapt out of that car and kept my distance during the remainder of the afternoon.

The next day I called an older woman from my church, a lovely lady, passionate, kind and wise. I broke down on the phone and told her what had happened, or almost happened.

“It’s enticing… when someone with characteristics you admire waltzes into your life,” she said gently. “There are ways we can be tempted and you-know-who knows them all too well… What’s happened, dear, is that you’ve dived head-first into an emotional affair. You’ve held the soul of another woman’s husband in your hands. It’s got to stop.”

I nodded my head, incapable of uttering a sound through the tears. “Tell the Lord how you feel. And ask him to bring you that man you’ve been waiting for.”

A month later I quit my job. When Randy asked why I was doing it, I told him it had to do with my relationship to God. I couldn’t volunteer any more information, I had no energy and my shame was too great.

That same week the company threw me a going-away party. Randy arrived with his wife. As I kissed her cheek – according to Chilean custom, all I could think of was the Earth somehow opening up and swallowing me. I couldn’t even bring myself to look at her.

There are such things as emotional affairs and it’s all too easy to get caught up in their rollercoaster rushes, especially in the workplace. Co-workers tend to become something of a substitute family. It’s a sad by-product of the social-financial system we abide in that we spend more time in the office than we do at home. This makes it paramount that we be on guard; taking care of our hearts (from where our very being springs forth), nurturing them, always rooted in God’s Word and knowing, knowing all too well that by giving someone too much entrance into our personal space, into our hearts, we might just get waylaid by our own emotions.

It is then we end up hurting another woman and another man just as much as we hurt ourselves. We should know better.

Proverbs 4.23 (NLT 2007) says: Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.

Our hearts make manifest the road we choose to take for our lives, the decisions we make, the times we wait silently, the times we act and how we act. Cultivating our hearts is something of an art. The practice of any art, according to philosopher Erich Fromm, requires discipline, concentration, patience and supreme concern.

1. Discipline. Within the art of cultivating your heart, the practice of discipline is as simple as focusing your thoughts on what is right, true, honest and good (you are your thoughts, never forget this – Philippians 4:8).

2. Concentration. Concentration implies living fully in the present, engaged in what is noble and right, rejecting false ideas implanted by the media (lust, sexuality as the basis of intimacy, individualism and false standards of womanhood) and also rejecting today’s greedy corporate culture that preaches entitlement above all else. When you feel you’re entitled to something, it’s easy to get caught up in emotional wrong-doings. For instance, if you’re lonely and feel you’re entitled to romance, then your heart will make up excuses if you find it in the wrong place.

3. Patience. If we fall, we get up, forgive ourselves and try again, knowing that God, our biggest fan, roots us onwards.

4. Supreme concern. The condition of practicing any art is supreme concern with its mastery. This means we must be diligent, considering the art of cultivating our hearts to be of supreme importance.

And finally, Erich Fromm states that the practice of any art requires faith. And because we know we are in fact, good women, daughters of one most high, we have faith in him; faith that when we surrender to him, he will lead our way. And his way is always perfect for our lives.

Psalm 37:23  - The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives.


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13 Responses

  1. Happy

    For more information, google "Emotional Affair": "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emotional_affair"

    June 4, 2012 at 9:59 am

  2. Thanks for this transparent story of your life. Very moving and it gives all glory to God. He is so faithful to rescue us!

    Brooke

    June 4, 2012 at 10:54 am

  3. Thank you for sharing so openly with us. I'm 27, a graduate student, and single, and I have my first "real job" starting in August. Until this point, I've not worked with any married men. Your story is an excellent reminder and encouragement to me to guard my heart and be aware of how I interact with men (especially married men) in the workplace. Thanks again!

    June 4, 2012 at 11:10 am

    • Thank you Lauren. :) It's amazing the amount of information there is regarding "emotional affairs" (just google the term), however it seldom gets talked about. Many blessings on your new journey into the workplace. Stay safe.

      June 4, 2012 at 4:10 pm

  4. justsaskia

    This line is a challenge, "For instance, if you’re lonely and feel you’re entitled to romance, then your heart will make up excuses if you find it in the wrong place." phew! Thanks for speaking truth.

    June 4, 2012 at 1:07 pm

  5. Thank you for sharing this, I'm unfortunately familiar with this situation and associated emotions. Fortunately, I was freed from it before it really took too deep of a hold on me but the truthful words are helpful because, until it happened, I didn't recognize what it was or think that it could ever happen to me. Being able to recognize it and preparing yourself to cope are very important, especially when you work in places or with people where that is a very real threat to your heart.

    June 4, 2012 at 2:05 pm

  6. Ruth

    Thank you so much for this. I, like you, just broke free of an emotional affair thatalmost tore apart my own long-term relationship. He was my "study buddy". He was exoticly handsome and charismatic and more experienced than I was. The excitement of the newness and the intoxicating feeling of being paid special attention by a man to whom women were drawn led to intimate conversations and many long nights together. I was captivated and oh-so tempted. The worst part about it was that i still loved my boyfriend of four years. I felt so guilty, even though nothing physical ever happened. I simply couldn't tear myself away though. The only thing that kept me from from falling physically was the thought of how it would hurt my devoted boyfriend. I wish I can say that I broke our friendship. It took graduating college to do that. I am so glad that my relationship withstood my affair, though it certainly took a toll on us. It is so easy to let someone worm their way into your heart, especially in work or school situations that you can justify to yourself. I wish I had read this article before I met this man. Such advice might have saved me over a year of heartache, and maybe i could have escaped with my heart intact.

    June 4, 2012 at 2:26 pm

    • Happy

      I'm sorry you had to go through the pain, but thank you Ruth, your words mean a lot. That's precisely why I wrote the article… to save a ton of other women out there from heartache and emotional damage.

      You can find so much information on the net by just googling "Emotional Affair". It's something that happens often and to many of us, however it doesn't get discussed as much as it should. God bless you (and the rest of you ladies). And many thanks to the Good Women Project for creating a space where we can all grow.

      June 4, 2012 at 3:48 pm

  7. "You've held the soul of another woman's husband in your hands." Wow. Those are powerful words. Thank you for sharing.

    June 4, 2012 at 4:25 pm

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