First, I would like to thank all the ?other women? who stepped forward to share their stories. This has been really helpful for me to get my blinders off ? at least for a little while. Because of the value of their sharing, I will add my own story, even though it goes against the grain of my morals to write a kiss-and-tell story. But my intention is not to create an expose merely for sensation's sake, but perhaps to help someone else, while concurrently telling the real truth to stay out of denial.
The affair I found myself engaged in started a few months ago at a Native American social service agency I worked at, and was very innocuous in the beginning. He was a spiritual advisor employed to run ceremonies and provide counseling to clients. This was not an unusual encounter for me, as I have had the good fortune to work with many wonderful Aboriginal Elders. In our initial getting to know you chit-chat, he told me he was divorced, and I mentioned I was separated. Looking back, I realized that what I saw as an ordinary day at work, he probably saw as an opportunity to check me out on a sexual level that I wouldn't have considered, since I don't tend to assess my co-workers for dating potential.
A few weeks passed, and I didn't see him during that time. He lived out of town, and commuted to work on the weekdays, which is not unusual for Elders, who tend to travel a lot in the course of their work. The next time I saw him was at a large ceremony, and again, he didn't say anything inappropriate, but I had a strong gut feeling he was interested in me. At that point, it was flattering, because he was quite respected by my co-workers, and we shared a common spiritual interest.
Again, a few weeks passed without contact, and on our next meeting, he casually invited me out for dinner. I accepted the invitation on its' face value ? we'd had a long day at work, and sharing a meal was appealing. But by the time dinner was over, there was a powerful shift in our relationship. Being in a private setting with a very sexy, spiritual guy, and engaging in subtle flirting was extremely enticing. At the end of the evening, I exchanged phone numbers with him, and we had a brief hug. But in that quick moment of physical contact, an inner alarm went off: ?oh, this could be very dangerous if I have such an intense passionate response!?
At this point, the pattern of not seeing him for a little while, then running into him and having an intense, sexually charged reaction was starting to set in. I can see how the combination of some time away, followed by unpredictable meetings, really fueled the whole feeling of intrigue around our affair. We had a couple of coffee dates, and the intensity continued to grow in an almost, but not quite, overwhelming way. It was obvious to both of us what was going on, and he was very reserved about making moves on me. He'd say things like ?I don't want to push you, or scare you?, ?I would never do anything to hurt you?, or ?I won't gossip about our relationship at work because I respect your professionalism.? I found this very comforting at the time, thinking he was being attentive to my feelings and needs. Now, I tend to think these were tactics of a person very skilled in the art of seduction!
It wasn't too many days before we did have an intimate encounter, followed by another a few days later. What can I say? The sex was amazing. At the same time, I was stressed out trying to hide these passionate reactions at work, and my concentration was suffering as a result. Plus, my spidey sense was starting to wonder about what he did with his time away from my home town. The only way I could cope was to avoid him, and this was very difficult because he was now pulling strings with our management, trying to have me assigned to working on projects with him. Fortunately, management didn't cooperate! All this happened in a short time frame, followed by another ceremony he was hosting where I was extremely worried about my reactions since I couldn't avoid him there.
At the ceremony, my co-workers were gossiping about him, and the topic of his marriages came up. This was the first time I had clear indication he was probably either currently married, or in a common-law relationship with another woman. Afterwards, I felt hooped; it was as if my own sexual urges were undermining my resolve to end our affair. Then he disclosed he'd applied for another job, and I feverantly hoped he'd take it and move away. All I had to do was get through one last week.
I did attempt to do the logical thing: tell him I didn't think it was wise to continue our relationship given his involvement with another woman. He was very understanding and apologetic. What was more disturbing was how physically distressed he acted when I said this, as he had a severe, and unexpected asthma attack after I told him I didn't want anything other than a professional relationship. He gasped that he couldn't talk more at the time, as he was having difficulty breathing, and would talk to me about it later that day over coffee. As with our initial meeting, where I took his response at face value, I now wonder if this was acting on his part to evoke guilt and manipulate the situation to his advantage. My only thoughts at the time was to allow a chance for closure, to break up in as civil a way as possible, so as to preserve peace at work. However, my resolve crumbled the minute we were alone and he kissed me, leading us right back to bed.
There are a couple of important things I learned from this (and can hopefully apply!). One, after reading other women's stories, I am grateful that I haven't lost my job, professional reputation, respect of my co-workers or friends, or more severe consequences like financial ruin or illness as a result of this relationship. At the same time, I am really aware how easy it is to bury my head in the sand and think that won't happen to me.
I don't have illusions about him being in love with me ? yet. The danger is it's so easy to slide into that fantasy, and before I know it I am one of the women consumed with guilt, ignoring the impact of our affair on myself, and the innocent people in his family, while increasing my own sense of sexual shame. None of these are feelings I want to experience, or inflict on another person, but I am also aware I can''t rely solely on my good intentions at this point.
Partially, this is because of my awareness that the whole approach I took to breaking up is probably wrong for this situation. In real, honest relationships it is good to be respectful and give each person time to express their feelings in person. But in this situation, where my primary hook is a powerful sexual attraction that frankly, I have little confidence in coping with, I need to adopt a different strategy all together. This is where the blunt advice on this site is so useful: just avoid him. Don't call, e-mail, initiate or otherwise respond to him. Most important: at no time be alone with him!
At this point, my planning is all theoretical since it's only been a couple of days since that last fatal encounter. But I know it's a time where being an ice queen is the only way to save myself. If I am lucky , he will move on to another job. If not, I have other job applications pending, which are not just in response to my problems with him at work, but my own desire to seek better career opportunities elsewhere. All I can do is hope and pray I will be successful, and that he will move on when it gets tiresome pursuing me if he does wind up coming back to my home town for work.
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