DEAR NATALIE: I am a married man with children. While my wife and I have been married for many years, our relationship was not always good, and we fought a lot. However, through counseling, we were able to work through it, and I have never cheated on my wife, even when things were rocky between us. My wife and I have a good romantic life, we get along well and are best friends. Our lives are not perfect, but in general we live a good life.
But I have become increasingly attracted to a single female co-worker. It is more than just physical; I have strong feelings for her. We are friends. I have tried everything I know to bury my feelings for her. I mostly avoid her when I can. My co-worker is not more attractive than my wife, but she has other qualities. I have tried everything to get away from her (even attempting to switch jobs), but nothing works. I feel that telling my co-worker about my feelings would be a mistake, because chances are it would make things very, very awkward at work and probably hurt my career. Also, I don’t want to tell my wife because it would just hurt her.
I don’t know what to do. — DROWNING
DROWNING: Like the idea of forbidden fruit, wanting what we don’t have always seems sweeter. You already know this is a bad idea and that expressing your emotions to either party will only make the situation worse. Instead of pining for what you can’t have, why not tend to your own marriage and try dating your wife again? Sometimes, we take the people we love for granted, assuming that they will always be there. But what if tomorrow she wasn’t there when you got up in the morning?
My advice (and I can’t take credit for this, my partner said this to me once) is to mythologize your wife. Put her on a pedestal. Turn her into Aphrodite, into Venus, into a goddess that you can adore. Take a moment to transfer that energy you are putting on your co-worker and give it to her instead.
Maybe you are going through an emotional crisis, unsure of where to take your life. If you have a solid foundation with your wife, talk to her about your fears, your dreams, your desires. Be present together and remember why you fell in love. Sometimes, it takes a distraction for us to realize what really matters. And what really matters is the woman next to you day in and day out.
Natalie’s Networking Tip of the Week: You aren't going to get along with everyone you meet, but that shouldn’t prevent you from reaching out to people with differences to try to find common ground. You may be able to forge friendly relationships and leverage those connections later on. Remember, you get more bees with honey than vinegar!
Natalie Bencivenga is the Post-Gazette's Seen and society editor. She has a master’s degree in social work from the University of Pittsburgh. Need advice? Send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Natalie on Twitter @NBSeen and on Instagram @NatalieBenci.