Q. I started a new job four years ago and within a couple of weeks began to develop feelings for my supervisor.
Over the years we have gotten to know each other well. We are similar in temperament and personality. I am very attracted to him and I have sensed all this time that the feeling is mutual; there’s clearly a “connection” between us.
Besides the fact that he is my supervisor, we are also both married. For four years I have attempted to push down, ignore, cover up, rationalize, and in every other way tried to remove my feelings from my heart and mind. Obviously there is no future for us, and I can’t figure out why I can’t just accept the attraction and move on.
I’m in my mid-40s; too old for this! Sometimes it feels like I’m keeping a secret that has power over me, and if I could just share the secret with him it would diffuse the power. But I realize that would endanger my job and my reputation, so I immediately put that thought out of my mind.
How can I work out these feelings? Honestly, it’s become exhausting. Is leaving my job the only way?
My husband is a good man. He is hardworking, smart, and he loves me deeply. I hope you can provide some insight into how to control my mind and feelings while working for this wonderful man whom I admire and adore.
A. Having a great spouse doesn’t make you blind. And most people continue to feel attractions to people other than their partners throughout their lives. Mainly, this is relatively benign and even life-affirming. But the key to how you are feeling now is to be found in your marriage and your inner life. You are at a midlife transition and you can grow through it.
I give you credit for not blaming your husband for this or inventing faults to justify your feelings. This is an opportunity, really, to reassess your life (personal and professional).
Please, find a counselor to share this with before you do anything drastic. I agree with you that sharing this secret may diminish its power, but you need to share it with the right person.
For insight, read “The Breaking Point: How Female Midlife Crisis Is Transforming Today’s Women,” by Sue Shellenbarger (2005, Henry Holt and Co.).
Q. My 32-year-old daughter just lost her childhood friend to cancer.
At the end, my daughter ended up making all the end-of-life decisions, as per her friend’s wishes. The dying friend’s father and his wife told my daughter they would rather she handled it.
My daughter has come across a number of letters her friend wrote to her father begging him to have a loving relationship. These letters were written over many years. The friend gave her enthusiastic permission to tell her dad how she felt after she passed.
Should my daughter send these letters to her deceased friend’s father?
A. Yes. Your daughter should send them, along with a simple note saying, “These were among Trish’s things. I thought you might want to have them.” He can then decide what to do with them. Your daughter sounds like an amazing friend; she has my admiration, along with my sympathy for this loss.