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Love Letters

She’s got an office crush, but she’s married with kids

Q. I’m wondering if you and your readers can weigh in on a potentially large dilemma. I am the parent of two small children, married many years. I recently started a new job where I am in contact several times a week with a colleague who I — completely unexpectedly — am drawn to almost unlike anything I’ve ever felt before.

We share a profession, which makes us look at the world similarly. But we also have a similar sense of humor, and this person makes me feel interesting and smart. Our conversation flows naturally without gaps. It helps that this person is also very interesting, well-traveled, intelligent, and good-looking.

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Literally from day three, I felt like I have known this person for years. I have a feeling that if we were both single, we would have already been dating. We have been e-mailing here and there outside of work, but nothing overtly unprofessional, mostly just funny things. There is an energy unlike anything I’ve experienced, yet I have to play poker face because of my situation.

My kids are so important to me, but my marriage, while it has its good times, is what I might describe as so-so right now. The difficulties that come with raising two children (there are joys too, of course) and managing two careers are not faring well with us.

And of course there is the possibility that my radar is completely off and this person simply sees me as a friend, and I’m freaking out for no reason.

My question is naturally: Am I being silly and selfish by even letting myself feel drawn to this person and wasting my time wondering how this person feels, too? Do you meet people at a certain point in your life for a reason and should I not ignore this? Or do I need to just relax and make my kids my biggest priority right now? Obviously, the dissolution of a marriage would have ridiculously huge ramifications, and frankly not something I’m not sure I’d consider.

Further, I am not sure I would have the guts to say anything to this person about it, and I have a feeling this person is far too respectful to do anything either. I appreciate that, but again, I also can’t help but wonder if you meet people for a reason at certain times.

I’m sure you’ll say something like I should remove myself from the situation and stop talking to this person, but for the next couple months that will not be doable due to work. And yes, work is too important to leave right now as I am trying to establish myself in a new position. I feel like a scattered mess and thinking about it is eating me up. And yes, for the record, I feel incredibly guilty for even feeling or thinking any of this. Who wouldn’t? I am only human.

Please be gentle, commenters.

HELP!

A. Calm down, Scattered. I can’t speak for the Love Letters commenters, but I’m not going to yell at you for having a crush. I’m not going to tell you to quit your job. I’m not even going to tell you that you’re selfish.

That said, I’m not going to validate your feelings for this guy. I don’t believe that we’re “meant” to meet certain people. And I certainly don’t believe that your new friend is your destiny. But I do believe that this guy has taught you a big lesson.

He’s taught you that you miss being you. You miss being someone who isn’t just a mom. You miss being someone who has time for jokes. You miss having a husband, not just a busy co-parent.

So give your marriage a break and ask for some help. Instead of shutting the world out and focusing only on your kids, spend money on childcare (or call friends and family) and take a vacation. See movies with your husband. Do some of the things that you used to enjoy before you became overwhelmed with daily obligations.

You had this kind of connection with your husband once. That’s why you fell for him, right? You can get that back. It just takes time and energy and some shared experiences. Again, this new guy is just a reminder of what you’re missing. Don’t let him become more.

READERS RESPOND:

Some people can enjoy a quiet crush internally while carrying on in their life but I can’t see you pulling that off. Your emotions seem to be running too deep. Cut off all nonprofessional contact. You may have to work with him but you don’t have to giggle over shared jokes and e-mails outside of work. Put that time and energy into your marriage.

The purpose of your job should be to earn income, not escape your marriage. Period. . . . Come back from fantasyland with this fabulously built-up colleague and put a fraction of that effort and attention toward your spouse.

Perhaps if you put a little of the energy you are putting into this co-worker into your marriage you could raise the bar above “so-so.”

I think you need to honestly ask yourself if that’s what you want. Forget the crush — for him, you’re simply a fun buddy, and he won’t be around waiting in the wings if you divorce. The question you need to ask yourself is whether remaining married sounds less appealing than being single, period.

Spare a little time now and work on your marriage. Then if it still doesn’t work out, at least both of you can walk away knowing you tried. And maybe your ex-spouse won’t be writing into Love Letters wondering what the heck happened to his/her life.

Let your crush be that special little island in the sun, but don’t fool yourself, it is just an illusion.

Having a friend at work like you now have is fine, it helps you get through the day. But don’t overinflate what it really is. Make an effort to spend more time with your husband and these questions SHOULD be answered.

This guy is probably just being friendly and has no idea that this woman has a whole screenplay of their fantasy relationship arc all sketched out.

Dear Love Letters, should I ruin my life or not?

Therapy. Stat. This isn’t about the guy — this is a giant red flag that you are ignoring your own needs.

Edited and reprinted from www.boston.com/loveletters. Meredith Goldstein can be reached at mgoldstein@globe
.com
. She chats online Wednesday at 1 p.m.
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