My troubles began back in August of this year. I am a software engineer at a well-known, internationally reputable software company. I have a beautiful wife, three kids, and a large dream house that is close to finally being paid off. For all intents and purposes, I appear to have a perfect life. Unfortunately, it all began to veer off the rails for me with the hiring of “Angie,” one of the test engineers who now currently works for me. Not only is Angie very good-looking, but the two of us actually have quite a bit of previous history. She was in fact my one big, unrequited crush from all the way back in high school. That I never dared approach her or talk to her you could probably well understand. I was a bit geeky back in high school, and I was also incredibly awkward when it came approaching the opposite sex. Now, on the other hand, I have no choice but to interact with Angie on an everyday basis. To my great surprise, it actually seems like Angie is into me. At first, it began with mere flirtation. The two of us would talk and joke around with each other. Before long, we both found ourselves working on projects together late into the evening hours. Then, just last week, I confessed to Angie that I had always had a simply massive crush on her. She laughed after I’d finally admitted this, as she too had apparently always harbored similar feelings. We then shared a quick kiss on the lips, which in turn made me immediately backtrack. Not only did I betray my beautiful wife by kissing this Angie woman, but it also seemed like I had betrayed my three little daughters. Am I tempted to run off and make a new life for myself with Angie, who is nothing less than the complete and utter woman of my dreams? Yes, absolutely. At the same time, I have always strived hard to be a good guy, and the last thing I would ever want to do is be disloyal to my family.
So this now is my conundrum: Do I take off with Angie, effectively exiting my dream life and abandoning my family, or do I find a way to justify having Angie be fired? Needless to say, I cannot endure working with a woman who continues to tempt me. Leaving my job is also not a possibility, as I have been working my ass off the last twenty years to begin moving progressively up the corporate ladder. Now that I am finally in a senior position within our company, the last thing I would ever want to do is endanger it.
—Very Conflicted, and Yet Still a Complete Gentleman
Hi, Very Conflicted.
I understand where you are coming from. At the same time, I can’t help but make this one simple observation: In no way do you appear to be taking responsibility for your actions. You keep blaming this “Angie woman,” as you refer to her, like she alone is responsible for your current conflict. In fact, you are Angie’s superior at work. As her superior, it goes without saying that the onus of responsibility ultimately falls solely upon your shoulders; and NOT upon hers. That it is difficult for you to work around someone you used to have such strong feelings towards sort of goes without saying. If you truly do love your life, your job, and your family, then the best possible thing you can do is REFUSE to have anything to do with Angie outside of the workplace. Do not flirt, do not joke around, and absolutely do not be tempted to run away with her. More importantly still, absolutely DO NOT fire or otherwise retaliate against Angie. If I were you, I would ask to be reassigned to a different department. If that ends up affecting your future career progression, so be it. Far better that than to risk a very serious lawsuit.
P.S. In light of all the sexual harassment/assault accusations in the news of late, I would tread especially carefully. As you are clearly Angie’s superior at work, your behavior could well constitute sexual harassment. Not only will you risk losing your family by pursuing a relationship with her, but you may well wind up risking your job. You should absolutely apologize to Angie at your earliest convenience and explain to her that you are not interested in pursuing any kind of future romantic relationship. If she gets upset in the wake of this and approaches HR, then again, the onus of responsibility ultimately falls upon you. Best of luck, and I do hope that everything works out for you.
Feel free to contact Anonymous Zaius and ask him dating/relationship questions at AnonymousZaius@gmail.com.
For the record, Anonymous Zaius (AKA Jason Famous) is not, nor has he ever been, a licensed counselor or psychologist. What advice he has to give was acquired the old-fashioned way, through the dual schools of both hard knocks and his own personal dating experience. It thus goes without saying the above dating advice is to be used for purposes of entertainment only.