I had an affair with my colleague at work, but now we’ve broken up. How do I cope?

Kavita Panyam
office romance

We work together, so I can’t even get away from him

Sneha tells her story: “I am a smart and pretty 25-year-old woman in a good job. Success and hard work have been my companions all my life, leaving no scope for any other pastime. Avinash is a handsome 32-year-old colleague and we worked closely in many projects. I always admired him and somewhere along the line he reciprocated.”

“The lunch breaks became more eventful, projects more meaningful and official tours beautiful. Call it a whirlwind romance or throwing caution to the winds kind of once in a lifetime chance, it was all that we could see.”

“As they say, all good things come to an end. Avinash left me suddenly without offering any closure. I work with him closely and the pangs of proximity laced with separation tears up my wounded heart. The smell of his familiar aftershave leaves me feeling heady and needy. How can I go on without him? Is there any way out of my predicament?”

This scenario is not an uncommon one. Today’s work schedules are erratic, with long hours. At such times, casual acquaintances might become each other’s support systems. For some it might be curiosity, newness or admiration, while for others it might just be a one-night stand. And when it is over, life comes to a standstill for the one left behind. So, how does one cope with this situation?

Related reading: How to move on after the breakup if we work together?

It is okay to mourn the loss

When a relationship ends, it is normal to feel sad and mourn the loss. One may cry and let the feelings out and/or talk to friends to feel better. This is not an overnight healing process, as it takes time to get it out of the system. It might take close to about three months to be able to come to terms with the situation, after which you are ready to look ahead. So, don’t stop yourself from crying or beating the hell out of pillows. You may choose to play darts on his/her picture hung on a wall. It is okay.

Accept your role in it

First, you must understand that both are equally responsible for the office rendezvous and you must accept your part in it. Where there is no blame, the situation is well under control. If the person that is left behind blames the other partner, he/she is in a state of victimhood and it is very easy for self-pity to seep in. When one takes responsibility and accepts his/her part in it, they are giving way for healing, as they are fully aware of the situation.

Related reading: Why is it so hard to let go, even if the person doesn’t love you?

Stop trying to connect with them

A closure is thought to bring about clarity and acceptance. Some jilted lovers might try to stalk their ex to elicit a reason for the breakup or to possibly try and rekindle lost feelings. But for the person that has announced the breakup, these things may not matter, as he/she would have moved on mentally much before the physical separation. So, please do not give in to the temptation of contacting your ex with hopes of a reconciliation, as that is only going to hurt you further. During times when this urge crops up, try and divert your attention by going out with friends or family. Try not to be alone at this time. The urge will pass, leaving you with a lot less to worry about.

Change your job/department if possible

Any proximity after a breakup only increases the misery for the person left behind. Watching your ex live a normal life can hurt beyond description. It would be in your best interests to either look for a different job or ask for a change to a different department. This would save you from the agony of confronting an indifferent ex.

Related reading: Breached lines, broken hearts: An office romance

When you can’t change your job/department

If you find changing departments or jobs to be tough immediately, do not panic. Try and remain cordial with them. If you are teamed together in a project, make it a point to finish during daytime and ask to rejoin the next morning. Where late hours are unavoidable, try and rope in a third person as well. If this is not happening, you need to clearly draw a boundary and stick to it. Familiar surroundings and intense memories may bother you, but do not give in to those fleeting feelings. This is the time to remain strong and steady.

experts advice

Enrol in new courses or take up a hobby

Once you have crossed the stage of active mourning, the next step is to get busy in your life. Join a new course you wanted for a long time, or take up that hobby you so love. When you get busy doing what interests you, there would be less time to mull over non-existent things.

A breakup is just that; it is the end of a relationship and certainly not your life.

A breakup is just that; it is the end of a relationship and certainly not your life.

While this takes some time to decipher, the day does dawn when one is finally able to move on willingly.

But before any of this happens, the decision to look ahead has to come from you. When you decide to move on, remain strong and steady no matter what, you take back the power in your hands.

So, do not despair for tomorrow is waiting around to lift your sagging spirits. Won’t you reclaim your positives?

Ways to move on and find meaning from a broken relationship

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SHYAM August 17, 2018 - 10:46 pm

Stay calm.. don’t do anything. dont try to find solace in trying to find one more boy friend/ lover atleast for a while.treat him like a co worker if you are working in same project.
Don’t initiate or encourage small talk..it may take a while to get out of the intimate feelings. dont allow him again if he tries to come back..With time you will know exactly what to do

Aryan Ghosh
Aryan Ghosh August 14, 2018 - 12:52 pm

What made sense is it’s okay to mourn the loss. Thanks…

Kavita Panyam
Kavita Panyam August 14, 2018 - 1:54 pm

Yes, it does not matter whether the connection was real or fake. A loss is a loss.

Tina Vashishth
Tina Vashishth August 12, 2018 - 10:23 am

Two of my closest friends are struggling with this. The thing is that however much they want they can’t seem to get over it. I also understand why. Their lovers are like a fresh breeze, they feel noticed. It’s a break from the everyday monotony of life. But yes they need help because they are miserable too. Right now their husbands don’t know but once they do, it will be hell!

Kavita Panyam
Kavita Panyam August 14, 2018 - 1:56 pm

These same lovers are someone else’s rotten air. It’s all momentary. What matters is what you want out of your life. Short term gains with stress or long term peace with a bit of compromise.

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