Ending a Workplace Affair: How I Ended An Affair With a Married Man at Work
A workplace affair isn’t just another common trope in the movies. For the women who have experienced them, they know the struggles and nuances of getting involved with a married man at work.
Like in the movies, workplace affairs can begin feeling exciting and mysterious—but, almost inevitably, over time they create a whole lot of pain.
I learned this through personal experience, after having an affair with a married man—who was also my boss—for seven years.
If you’re cheating with a coworker or superior at your place of work, you also know how isolating it can feel. In this blog, we’ll be exploring common experiences shared by women who find themselves in workplace affairs—and the steps you can take if you’re ready to end it.
11 Common Experiences When Having a Workplace Affair with a Married Man
Affairs that start at work are unique in so many ways. Being the other woman in these emotional affairs and/or physical affairs comes with unique experiences only those who’ve walked through it can truly understand.
If this resonates, here are some experiences you’ll probably relate to (and how to get through them).
If you’ve ever been the other woman in an affair, you’ve probably felt how quickly society is to shame you.
“Homewrecker”, “slut”, “foozy” —name-calling like this only leaves you feeling more pressure to keep your relationship under wraps. However, this means lying… to those around you and to yourself. In exchange, you’re left with fractured moments of joy, followed by the full gamut of emotions. Guilt, remorse, hope, delusion, the list goes on. But you knew he was a married man, so it’s all your own fault, right?
Wrong. There are many reasons why you ended up in this workplace relationship, and your circumstances are unique to you. Society’s desire to put you into a corner should not be yours to carry. You are not a “bad person” or “flawed” because of your affair relationship. Being in an affair is an experience, but that does not mean it defines you as a person.
Extramarital affairs are exhausting—and lying is exhausting. It’s no wonder people crumble from harbouring secrets for extended periods of time. Living a double life takes its toll in so many ways, while your brain works overtime ensuring neither you or your affair partner is exposed.
Now, with hindsight and a healthy perspective, I can see seven years was an incredible stretch to bear the weight of a work affair with a married man. The constant need for secrecy and maintaining the web of lies was agonising— a mind-bending marathon without a finish line in sight.
Ending contact with this person for good lifted a weight off my shoulders and allowed me an exhale I’d been needing for a long time. Finally, I didn’t have to plan my storylines and could simply be the same Kate London in every room I walked into.
Confusion and codependency.
Being in an affair with a married man can be incredibly confusing. You might think you have some power, but the minute you have to hide in secrecy is the same moment you take your power away. The truth is, your true power is being kept from you in a codependent affair. It makes sense: Who would feel strong in their independence when they’re constantly grappling with conflicting emotions, hiding and constantly wondering where things will lead?
But here’s the truth: Weaving a story you want to hear just to make you feel good in the short term strips you of your dignity. His words make you question your gut instinct and your choices, which only makes it harder to find the clarity and peace you need to think clearly.
The emotional rollercoaster.
The ups and downs of a workplace affair are intense. Falling in love often consumes a big portion of your life and so does work so when you combine the two, you really can feel trapped at times. You might experience moments of euphoria followed by deep sadness and longing.
The realisation that what you are involved in is forbidden and will never lead to a happy, stable future together. The married man has a familiar environment to return to at the end of the day, but you are on your own.
Being in a secret relationship with a married man can be incredibly lonely. You can’t share your relationship with friends and family. You can’t enjoy each other’s company in public. You are alone with all of the emotional experiences you’re going through. You have an inability to contact the married man you love if and when desired. This isolation is further intensified by the fear of reaching out for help. After all, how will others react? You feel trapped by perceived judgement and lack of safe spaces to air your feelings.
Whether it’s confiding in a family member, friend, support group, or Affair Recovery Coach, you deserve to feel seen, heard and understood.
Unpredictability and feeling on edge.
The uncertainty of an extramarital affair is a smouldering pain that increases with every passing month, year, and milestone.. You may have fantasies about him leaving his spouse, but the reality is that the longer the affair goes on, the more you lose hope that this will happen.
When you’re in an affair with someone you work with, it’s difficult to truly plan for your future and what it will look like. This level of uncertainty and unpredictability creates ongoing anxiety and almost always ends in terrible heartache.
Jealousy and insecurity.
Despite knowing he’s already married to someone else, it doesn’t mean you skip over feelings of jealousy and insecurity. It’s actually a much more common experience than you might think. For instance, you may constantly wonder why you aren’t enough, or what you have to do to earn their full attention one day.
Being in the role of the part-time lover.
Being a part-time lover when you desire full-time commitment leaves you feeling unfulfilled. For now, you accept the crumbs because you are convinced—or hopeful—that there are better times ahead.
No matter how long you accept this role, there is no guarantee your relationship status will change. In fact, the longer you accept being the other woman in an affair with a married man, the more likely he is going to expect you to accept it too. In the end, you’re left feeling neglected and unimportant more often than happy and content. Remember it’s okay to not settle and move on to someone who can offer a full commitment.
The fear of being found out is a constant source of stress when involved in a secret relationship with a married man. If the affair is exposed, it can lead to painful consequences for everyone: your job, how he treats you in the workplace, the impacts on him, his spouse, children, extended family and friends, and of course you. This ripple effect can be huge and have lasting effects emotionally and physically, for years. But this isn’t the only option for your future. It is possible to find a way to navigate the end of this relationship before it ends in a fallout you can’t control with the right support.
Shame, shame, and more shame.
Engaging in an affair with a married man brings a deep sense of shame. Underneath the intoxication of desire and yearning, you may feel morally compromised, especially if you are considering the pain and betrayal it will cause his family. This shame erodes self-esteem and mental wellbeing over time.
No matter how much reassurance you receive from him, it can’t compensate for the weight of your shame. You may find other ways to try and compensate for this feeling, including engaging in unhealthy or otherwise harmful habits—or at the very least denial as the affair continues.
Emotional coercion and gaslighting.
Emotional coercion is a common experience in an affair with a married man. Especially if he is abusing power with his role as a boss, superior, supervisor, manager ect. This type of manipulation involves the practice of subtle and not-so subtle methods to control your feelings, choices, and behaviour. These methods include guilt-tripping, gaslighting, humiliation, and isolation.
Your affair partner may want you to believe that this affair is your primary source of happiness, which leaves you feeling helpless and trapped, even when a part of you also wants to leave. When emotional abuse enters an affair, it’s important to remember that these relationships are complex and never one-sided. While people who haven’t walked in your shoes may find it easy to lay judgment, the truth is that only those who have been there too can truly understand what you’re going through.
I Ended My Workplace Affair—And You Can Too
There is a lot to unpack when you’re the other woman in a workplace affair, and it takes courage to walk away—even from the destructive situations.
It took me seven years to end my affair, made all the more complicated by the fact that it was a workplace affair (and trauma bond) with my boss. That might seem like an extraordinary amount of time, but when you feel alone and trapped, it’s extremely hard to turn to someone for help, especially if you are afraid of being judged.
The extreme contrast in emotion and liberation inspired me to not only share my own journey of healing, but also help other women in workplace affairs get the resources they need to make the right choices for their situation.
Whether you are tempted by an affair with a married man at work, in the early stages of one, or entrenched in an affair with a married man, finding empathy and support is crucial.
That’s what you’ll find inside our private community for women in affairs. Book a call with me today and let’s explore how you can move forward with the support and understanding you deserve.
More resources if you’re considering ending an affair: