Engaged but attracted to a co-worker


Engaged but attracted to a co-worker


your avatar   Raven (24 year-old woman)

I am a 24-year-old female who is engaged to be married in a year. My fiance is 35 years old. I have always dated and been attracted to older men, so that is not the issue. The issue is that I recently got a new job. I am an aerobics instructor and personal trainer at a very busy health club. It has always been my dream to become certified and to work in the fitness industry. However, I was not prepared for the sexual tensions that I face everyday from members at the club as well as my co-workers. It is a very sexually charged environment. Think about it: you're dressed in tight clothes, as a trainer you touch people's bodies all day, you sweat, there is so much emphasis on how you look and how attractive your body is. It seems as though everything becomes a metaphor for sex. Even though I conduct myself in a very professional manner, it doesn't mean that everyone I come into contact with will do the same.

There is one co-worker in particular who has been quite aggressive in getting to know me. We are always scheduled to work the same shifts and it is impossible to avoid him. There is a really strong attraction and a lot of sexually charged energy between us. A lot of seemingly innocent flirting (winking, smiling, etc.) goes on between us all day. Lately I have even become sexually distant from my fiance because I think about and fantasize about being with this other man constantly. I have even had some doubts about getting married at all. Right now, I don't trust myself enough to not let my curiosity take over. Summer is coming and that is the most sexual time of the year, magnified even more in that environment. One innocent drink after work could lead to other things that are not so innocent. My fiance is my best friend. We have shared so much together and I love him with all of my heart. I have never entertained the thought of cheating on him...until now. Part of me thinks that I am young and I should be having fun with my life and enjoying being young and in my 20's instead of being tied down.

How do I deal with what I am feeling right now? Is it normal to have these doubts and temptations or is there something deeper going on with me?


    Bob Rich, Ph.D.

Dear Raven,

First a little reassurance: your experience is entirely normal. Almost anyone in your situation would feel the way you do. And it's OK to feel like that.

It is very much to your credit that you don't simply give in to your impulses and hop into bed with this colleague. That's what a great many people would do, then regret the consequences afterwards. In my practice, I have counseled couples wrecked by the infidelity, and subsequent remorse, of one or both partners, and I have worked with people who have slipped into the temptation of the moment, and then carried a secret guilt until it drove them to suicidal thoughts.

The trouble is that our culture is saturated with the consumer mentality. 'If I want something, I MUST have it -- NOW!' And satisfying these impulses doesn't make people happy. Instead, they are constantly dissatisfied, and 'need' more and more and more, and different all the time, and of course if it didn't make them happy the first time, the thousandth won't either.

This attitude to material goods has spread to personal relationships and to experiences. And this is one important reason why more than half the marriages end up in divorce.

I hope you can see from this that you are doing far BETTER than the average. You have refused to follow the urgings of momentary impulses, and instead have used the intelligence that makes you human. You have considered the loss you could suffer if you give in to the temptation to 'try out' this other guy. You know you have a great thing going with your fiance, and do not want to risk losing this.

I think you have made the right decision -- but it's so hard! This colleague, the other men at work, are there, goodies on the shelf, and you want to reach out and have a try. Of course you do.

Raven, nothing worthwhile ever comes easy. If you didn't have to strive to be faithful to your man, then your commitment to him would not be worth all that much: it would be just the way you are. But precisely because you have to WORK at it, your faithfulness is a wonderful thing to be cherished.

If you had a fling with this colleague, and nevertheless married your fiance without ever telling him, you would be carrying a load of shame for the rest of your life. I can tell from your words, that's the kind of person you are. However, if you manage to keep your love where it belongs (however hard this may be), the lifelong memory will be one of pride in yourself.

What to do about the problem?

I suggest you draw your colleague aside, and talk to him. (Practice what to say and how to say it first, perhaps rehearse with a trusted person like a girlfriend). Explain that although you find him attractive, and want him as a friend, you are very much in love with your fiance and under no circumstances will you cheat on him. Ask his help in keeping your resolve.

He can react in one of two ways. He might well accept this, and go and chase other girls. Or he might go into a sulk. If he does, that's his problem, not yours.

If he keeps pressuring you, then you know you've had a lucky escape. Imagine, having anything to do with someone that childish!

The thought is in your mind: 'What am I missing? Would it be so much better?'

It mightn't be any better. It might be worse. Sex with love is ALWAYS better than the mechanical rubbing together of two bodies, however athletic or skilled. But even if it might have turned into a few moments of ecstasy, so what? Life is short, and involves choices. There are a thousand million experiences I'll never have, but I value the ones that have come my way.

From your letter, it's clear that you want to stay faithful to that lucky man, your fiance. You can do it.

You have not left an email address, so I can't send this answer directly to you. If you have read it, please write to me at bobrich@bobswriting.com.

Have a good life,

Bob Rich

This question was answered by Dr. Bob Rich. Dr. Rich has 30+ years of experience as a psychotherapist. Dr. Rich is also a writer and a "mudsmith". Bob is now retired from psychological practice, but still works with people as a counselor.For more information visit: http://anxietyanddepression-help.com


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