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Attracted to Co-Worker

Attracted to Co-Worker

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Dear Rachel,

I thought I was happily married but find myself incredibly attracted to a co-worker. This co-worker seems to find me attractive as well. I always thought if you love someone you will not think about other people, and yet I find myself constantly thinking about this guy…What can I do?

Confused
Northridge, CA

Dear Confused,

Loving your husband does not automatically make you unattracted to other men. However, loving your husband should be enough to stop you from acting on it and ideally from thinking or harping on it as well.

Attraction is something extremely powerful, and yet, we have the ability to neutralize it. The best way for you to do that is to constantly remind yourself that you love your husband and that you don’t want to do anything to create problems in your relationship.

Our mind can only think about one thing at one time. If you are thinking about your husband, it will mean that you are not thinking about this co-worker. Likewise, when you think about your co-worker, you make it impossible to focus on your marriage.

I do not know your situation at work or what flexibility you may have, but if possible, you should look into creating a work environment where you will have as little to do with this co-worker as possible. Clearly it is not healthy for your marriage to have this attraction to someone else, for even if you do not act on your feelings, having these thoughts themselves are quite destructive.

You also mention that you notice that your co-worker is attracted to you. It is possible that he is, but more likely is that he is picking up and sensing your attraction to him and responding. If you put a stop to any behavior that may be allowing him to think that there is a possibility of a relationship with you, he will not have anything to respond to.

While it is a bit of a leap to say that inappropriate thoughts are “cheating,” please do not underestimate their power and their destructiveness. There is even an aspect of Jewish law that addresses this, in which you are actually not allowed to be intimate with your husband if you are thinking about another man. What this teaches us is that we ultimately are able to control our thoughts, and are required to do so, even if it may be difficult.

Therefore, do whatever it is you need to do to ensure that you get this co-worker out of your head so that you can focus on your love for your husband. If you are strong enough to simply put a stop to it, do so, if not, see if you can arrange a situation at work where you can avoid seeing or interacting with him altogether. Or maybe, depending on the situation, look into different work or see if you can do your job from home or a different location. But remember, though it may be hard, you are able to put a stop to the very thoughts that you shouldn’t be thinking, and not only should you, but you must for the good and future of your marriage.

I wish you strength and clarity in recognizing right from wrong and having the ability to redirect your thoughts to where they should be.

Rachel

"Dear Rachel" is a bi-weekly column that is answered by a rotating group of experts. This question was answered by Sara Esther Crispe.

Sara Esther Crispe, a writer, inspirational speaker and mother of four, is the Co-Director of Interinclusion, a non-profit multi-layered educational initiative celebrating the convergence between contemporary arts and sciences and timeless Jewish wisdom. Prior to that she was the editor of TheJewishWoman.org and wrote the popular weekly blog, Musing for Meaning. To book Sara Esther for a speaking engagement, please click here.
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Discussion (31)
July 9, 2014
Just admit to yourself that you're attracted to the guy, and that such feelings are natural for anyone. Figure out why you're attracted to him. Eliminate the mystery of the attraction. Essentially "okay, I like this guy, I like this and this and this about him. So what?".

I think humans have trouble denying themselves of what they want for the sake of someone else, so it may sound selfish, but think how acting on your feelings will effect your life in the long run.
Jeht
April 22, 2014
i would disagree
Attraction at the workplace always for me is relief from the overly competitive, headstrong, and viciously manipulative people, who only seek power. I am also married, but attraction after marriage to coworkers or anyone else (at the local cafe or supermarket) is a mental break from singular or blind thinking and acting. I've never acted upon an attraction, but the mental fantasy has been a kind of chance to trust myself to think and feel, and for that matter desire, freely. If you trust yourself then, what are you worried about? Feel free to explore your feelings.
Anonymous
December 16, 2013
I find a woman may be attracted to their male coworker because she experiences heightened emotional, physical, and mental connections that her husband no longer provides for her. I find that all people need love, as a gift of God, and nothing is worse than being in a loveless marriage where a husband puts his wife behind other things. It is not God's intention for a woman to be lonely in her marriage and a logical God understands why she may be having attraction to someone else, especially if she has sincerely put effort in trying to fix or improve her marriage via counseling but to no avail. I always remember that no man should separate what God put together, but sometimes the woman separates what God put together, and sometimes the woman does not pick the person God picked for her, until she meets that person later in life.
Anonymous
Canada
October 3, 2013
Why fight nature?
I am married for 5 years and have kids. I love my husband, he is the best man I've ever met, but that initial adrenalin and anxiety that comes with a new romance is gone. I find myself drawing to my coworker who is also married. It is innocent flirting, lunches and chats about kids, but I think about him a lot. I will never act on it (I think), but it makes me wonder: are human beings built to be monogamous? Maybe it is in our nature to change partners and maybe we'd be happier if it wasn't such a taboo.
Anonymous
November 22, 2012
YOLO
You only live once. If you want to try it out one or two times - go for it! So much hypocrisy about this subject. Just don't get caught! :) And if you like it - then definitely break up with your current significant other and move on.
Anonymous
June 25, 2012
Attracted to Co-Worker
Many years ago I went through this. Some of the things that helped for me. Recognizing and admitting to myself what was happening was a big step. By recognizing it, I could make determined decisions to avoid him whenever possible. When not possible I made effort to NOT be alone with him. When the opportunity came to change departments I took it and I am very glad I did. I think that no matter how happy you may be in your marriage there will be times when these attractions are just there. I loved my husband and he loved me. I could have acted upon it, my life would never have been the same. I could have lost my self respect, my husband, my children and my job. Or if he is a social contact I would have lost my self respect, my husband, my children and my friends... I think if you really look at what you could lose the decision to make sure you to not tempt yourself becomes much easier.
gm
June 17, 2012
ATTRACTION FOR COWORKER
From where I'm sitting it sounds like this Jewish wife is having a spiritual lesson in "IMPULSE CONTROL:" If she doesn't learn it from this situation she will simply be tested in another one until she does learn it. I wish her the best, and I hope that she realizes the underlying Truth contained within the challenge before her.
Your answer to the wife was a very good one. Thank you.
Sharon Lockwood-Habram
Tucson, AZ
February 15, 2012
Attractions, Boiose, ID
Praying surely helps. But if you want to get him out of your mind, it also helps to get him out of your sight, if that's possible. It's surely not your husband.. Try concentrating on him (your husband) more. Think of him all day. Do more for him. Cook his favorite meals. Dress up, put on makeup for him. Go out together. If a thought of this other guy pops into your head, ignore it and fill the space with a different thought. Like, for instance, "This world has one Creator, Who took us out of Eygpt and gave us the Torah". or, "H-shem, I love You", or, "Ein od milvado" there is nothing in exisance except Him" etc..

Come on now, you can do it. Put a lttle power to it!
Shoshana
Jerusalem, Israel
February 14, 2012
Attractions
I am attracted to another man and have found these comments helpful. I am wondering if this is a character flaw, and am angry at myself for feeling this way. I can't stop thinking about him. I think it helps to weigh consequences and realize it is not my husband but my shortcomings. Praying helps.
Anonymous
Boise, ID
December 26, 2011
The true greatness of a woman
If after trlying all the suggestions in lthis article you can still not control your thoughts then you should leave your job, as palnful as that may be. But NEVER tell your husband the real reason that you left. If it's someone who you see regulary and not at work, figure out a way not to see him at all. If it's someone in your synagogue then go to a different synagogue or stay home, (or go to a separate seating synagogue). As wives and mothers, our ultimate success in life is to be the very best wife and mother we can possibly be. This does not leave room for a crush or flirtation or whatever you want to call it. Anybody can be a failure, but it's the special person who is lthe success. Every person has to have a goal and not diviate from it. Our goal has to be to be the most devoted wife there ever was. This is the true greatness of a woman-not her salary or career. So be brave, and great, and don't loose sight of your goal. ( Try a job where there are only women)
Shoshana
Jerusalem, Israel
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