It’s surprising the number of women who have been involved in drama filled relationships with men that they work with and I’ve had several requests asking for advice on how to reduce the drama.
It is so difficult to suffer a breakup but it’s made all the worse when you have to say their face day in day out. You have to put on a braver face for a larger portion of time than you would if you didn’t work together.
As usual, I have been there, done that, worn the t-shirt, as the guy with a girlfriend was someone I worked with, so I have first hand experience of having to fend off an assclown that worked within spitting distance of me.
For a start, you need to decide whether you love the job so much that you’re prepared to see his face every day even though you’re no longer together. Or you may be in a situation where you can’t leave the job. Whatever you do, you need to ensure that you are staying in your job for the right reasons…
Are you there because you’re hoping that if he sees your face day in day out that he’ll suddenly go from cockroach to frog and declare his undying love for you?
Or are you there because you know that the relationship is over but you actually want to keep your job?
If it’s the first, you are destined for more drama unless you get over him or get out.
If it’s the latter, here are some tips….
Drop the friendship thing right now!
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – the friend card is something that guys throw at you to make themselves believe that they aren’t as big a bastard as they actually are. It’s a way of keeping tabs on you, prying into your affairs, tugging with your heart and libido strings, and keeping you on ice whilst they play elsewhere. Work is for working and friendship is a bonus and I think you guys have done all the ‘friendly’ stuff that you need to. The key is to be civil in awkward public situations…and ignore/rebuff him if he tries to get you on your own.
Lay the terms down
I hate to make things serious, but you are in a workplace environment and some of these ‘interactions’ are actually deemed inappropriate, particularly if they get in the way of you working. Spell.it.out. I told my ex that unless he had to speak to me about something work related, I wasn’t interested in anything he had to say. I reminded him that it was a place of work, not to email me, and don’t bother calling me up. I told him I didn’t want to hear any of his opinions about what guys coming on to me and not to come out with BS about how he loved me and bla, bla, bla. I told him that I would give him a chance to prove that he could abide by my terms and be polite to him when we saw each other but if he broke the terms, I’d ignore him completely. In the end, I had to ignore him… After a while he adapted to the new rules and we were civil. Every single time he stepped out of line, I cut him off completely, eventually he gave in and we didn’t have issues anymore.
Tell another colleague…or pretend you have
I don’t mean go to a manager but the more people that know that you were involved and that now you aren’t, the less opportunity he has to operate under a veil of secrecy and the more likely he is to come under scrutiny. These guys don’t like people knowing their business, not only because their Mr Wonderful image gets dented but also because they can’t try it on with another woman in the office if the word is out about him. However, don’t be petty. It’s better that people realise that you’ve had a breakup though than think that you’re being difficult at work for no reason.
Whilst I made a point of telling certain people that we had been involved, I also made a point of not getting involved in gossip and that included making sure that people didn’t come to me telling tales about him. Workplaces are great for Chinese Whispers and it’s best not to listen to or be at the frontline of the stirring pot.
I used to go to various places for lunch with him and initially we kept bumping into each other, so I broke my various routines and found fresh places and made fresh memories.
Don’t engage, don’t explain
These men will find any itty bitty excuse to draw you into engaging with them, often by picking a fight or tugging at your heart strings with a pathetic email. Don’t engage, don’t explain your actions, and certainly don’t respond to emails…unless of course they are genuinely work related. If he calls you because you’ve been ignoring him, ask him if it’s about work and the moment that it deviates, bail out of the call.
Keep him in a real light
From the moment I started seeing him for what he was and was no longer drawn to the drama or chasing a relationship with him, it was a lot easier to deal with him. At first it’s awkward but it is amazing how quickly you adapt.
Create your own life and meaning
Sounds strange but part of the reason why it got easier to get over him at work was because I got on with my life. The more of a life you have, the easier it is to forget him. If you’re spending a lot of time thinking about him, you’re still too invested.
Be careful in social situations
They tend to use this as an opportunity to ‘talk’ as alcohol tends to be involved. The likelihood is that if you engage, you will welcome a whole load of drama into your life. If you guys have to be social, stick to groups, and avoid alone time.
Take some time out
If you’re really struggling try and take a holiday or even a long weekend to get things into perspective.
But what if he’s my boss????
Well unless you start mentioning the words sexual harrassment a lot (and do you really wanna do this?), you’re in a pickle there and it would be advisable to come up with a plan b that doesn’t involve him having power over your career. It sucks, but from the moment that you’re involved with your boss, it’s unlikely that you can revert to just being colleagues. Get out of there or hope and pray you can get a transfer.
But what if he won’t leave me alone?
Then you’ve got serious problems. Explain to him that it’s a place of work and that you’ll report him if he won’t leave you alone. Make a note of days, times, and what happened and use it if you have to. It’s either that or you’re back to leaving the company again.
In reality, you can either let drama in or tune out as much as possible because unless he’s your boss, your workplace environment can act as your protective shield and barrier.
Always act professional at work and don’t let whatever beef you have with him affect your ability to work or how your colleagues perceive you.
Most importantly though, you need to be focused on moving forward. No matter what has happened between you both, take the driving seat and opt out of the drama. Unfortunately because you both work together, it’s a fake it till you feel it situation initially, but if you stick to your guns and don’t engage, you will forget him very soon!