Q: Roger and I have been working together for about eight months and I have always thought he was a quality type of guy. We both have custody of our children from previous relationships and he's a dedicated father. We had only a professional relationship until three weeks ago, when we became intimate after a long conversation and a few drinks with co-workers after work. A couple of days ago, I chose to venture off with other co-workers after work instead of spending time with him and he was upset over it, hung up on me later, and has not spoken to me since. I felt it would be in our best interest to keep this relationship under wraps and it would have been too obvious for me to leave with him, so I stayed behind with everyone else. I'm hurt that he hasn't called me and I will be seeing him for the first time tomorrow since that night. I don't even know how to approach him let alone work with him. Should I let it blow over or inquire about his feelings? Was this a fling or is this more to him? I can't read him. -- Emma
Dr. Susan: When was the last time you read a book without opening it? Not possible, Emma. If there's the slightest chance of your having any kind of relationship with Roger, you're going to have to come right out and talk about this with him. Not in a major, "Let's process all the issues endlessly" kind of way that many guys find intimidating, but more in a "I got the feeling you were upset with me when I didn't stick around the other night, right?" kind of way. Then you can explain your reasoning for leaving, and if it sounds legitimate to him, his hurt feelings ought to disappear. You wonder if your after-work relationship is just a fling to him, but he was probably wondering the same about you when you flounced off with friends instead of hanging with him. What's complicating your situation is that you want to keep your intimate connection private, but you haven't come right out and talked about it between the two of you. Secrecy from the others may make sense, but not secrecy between you and him. As for the prospect of his hurt feelings blowing over (he actually hung up on you?!), that's not how feelings work. They tend to go underground and fester and get moldy. Let the sunshine in.
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Advice for Her
Advice for Him
Susan K. Perry, Ph.D.
Susan K. Perry, Ph.D., is a social psychologist, relationship expert, and bestselling and award-winning author. Her books include Loving in Flow: How the Happiest Couples Get and Stay That Way, and Kylie's Heel, a novel for adults.
Pamela G. Chollet, Ph.D.
Dr. Pamela Chollet has a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and Master degrees in educational psychology and fine arts. Her passion has been helping people face and get through those times when they feel trapped and unable to move forward.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist, stress management expert, and author. If you're feeling overwhelmed, stressed out, or struggling to make changes in your life, Anna can help.