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?

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.