Professionals can spend long hours at the office, putting men and women in close proximity in charged situations. Sharing risk, intensity, and a sense of accomplishment can cause a sense of intimacy, according to relationship expert LeslieBeth Wish, Ed.D., MSS in her article "Why Office Affairs Occur and What to Do About Them" in W2WLink. These attachments occasionally evolve into affairs, some of which end in love and others which cause personal and professional problems. If you're in the latter category, it can be difficult to end or contain a workplace affair as you're likely to see each other on a daily basis. Still, there are steps you can take to distance yourself from the issue.
Limit Your Time Together
Wish recommends trying to create as much distance as possible. You want to try to replicate normal workplace behavior. Once the workday or even a specific task is completed, move away and stay away. Turn down lunch, after work socializing and even chats about how to end the affair. A real ending is a quick ending -- avoid temptation and cement your break-up by ceasing contact as much as possible. Relationship coach, author and founder of The Marriage Wellness Institute Suzie Johnson recommends in her article "How To Permanently End The Affair" staying away from any places or situations where your ex-lover is likely to be whether that's the break room or a committee you can get out of. If the situation turns into harassment, legal firm and sexual harassment specialists Outten and Golden suggest in "Top 10 Things To Do If You Are A Victim of Workplace Sexual Harassment" collecting any communications and reporting the situation to your company's human resources department. The firm recommends sitting tight and letting your employer fix the problem. They are legally obligated to do so, according to Outten and Golden.
When telling your coworker that you want to end the affair be as direct as possible. Dr. Scott Haltzman, author of The Secrets of Surviving Infidelity, recommends telling your coworker in a way that doesn't leave room for doubt. Don't say "I think we should end this." Instead try "I can’t see you again. I need to work on my marriage. Don’t contact me." Telling him or her in person can be quicker with less room for back and forth. Endless phone calls or emails discussing the end of the affair will only delay you further from reaching a true ending. Be firm about cutting off any more non-essential contact. If your spouse is aware of the affair, a written break-up can help him or her stay in the loop and be aware of your commitment to truly ending the affair.
Prevent Further Contact
Haltzman compares affairs to addictions -- it's likely that your coworker will try to re-engage you. If your spouse is aware of the affair, share any further communication with him or her to build a team against this former lover. You'll also want to limit temptation for yourself. Johnson recommends deleting all correspondence, whether in your phone, personal email, social networks or otherwise, and also blocking future messages. Throw out any momentos and ban all "what-if" thinking about your former lover. This is an important step to truly break free, says Johnson.
Work on Your Marriage
Take time to work on your relationship with your spouse. According to Wish, affairs usually happen when a marriage is in trouble and there isn't any communication about what's wrong. Reflect on your marriage and your own role in it. You may want to seek counselling either individually or as a couple. You might also be struggling with whether to tell your partner. Wish says that a quarter to a third of relationships survive after a woman confesses to cheating. You may wish to keep this information to yourself. If you don't, be sure it's for the right reasons and not to hurt your partner.
Alana Vye is a Canadian writer living abroad. She had a Bachelor of Arts in English literature from the University of Toronto and has worked in online marketing and publicity. She's also an avid traveler who has visited Asia, Europe and Central America.