There’s a colleague of mine at work—we don’t work closely together, but we’re in the same company—who’s smoking hot. I’m single…but he’s married. With a kid. We have great chemistry together, and when he started at my company last year, we got friendly very quickly. Our e-mails started getting more and more personal, and eventually he said outright (in an e-mail) that he really had the hots for me. I tried to brush it off with a, “Ha ha, I guess that’s one of those things that will never happen,” to which he replied, “Why not?” Right away I replied saying that I wasn’t comfortable getting romantic with a married man, and that I didn’t want anything to happen between us that his wife wouldn’t be 100% okay with. He apologized, and then we didn’t really talk for a while.
Eventually we started talking again, and he actually invited me over to his house for dinner. I accepted, and had a nice time. He hasn’t crossed the line again with any inappropriate comments or suggestions, but it’s obvious (at least, to me) that we’re still really attracted to each other. Should I keep my distance, or do you think this friendship is okay?
Well, what a dilemma you’ve got yourself into! But it’s not too late—it’s good you’re stepping back and evaluating the situation before you dive into an affair or not. It sounds like the foundation of your friendship is basically a strong attraction, and that’s not going to go away soon. You need to ask yourself: What exactly do I want from this ultimately? Will it be enough to be around him as a friend, and bask in the pheremones and chemical glow that radiates between you? Be satellites of love, dancing around each other? How strong is your willpower?
While he hasn’t crossed the line with any suggestions, I expect that is likely in the back of his mind, and that will happen down the road if you continue to do things as friends. Often, things like this happen of their own volition, without any words, before you know it. Many people don’t have the strength to resist when there’s great chemistry and opportunity keeps rearing its head.
Its unfortunate, on a couple of levels, that he’s married. First, he doesn’t seem to have any regard to being faithful. You are right to tell him you’re uncomfortable getting together with a married man, and doing things his wife wouldn’t approve of. While she may not find out, it still can impact the marriage negatively if he’s being fulfilled with you—he won’t work out any issues they might have, and he may not go over to you completely either, so you’re kind of caught in the middle.
Two, if you do wind up together, then you’re in for a mess of complicated emotions for a long time. Having an affair is rife with agony and ecstacy. You have to endure things like waiting for him to be free to be with you. Sometimes that can be a long time. He likely won’t be able to be there for you when you want him. Usually things will have to be on his terms. Maybe you won’t be able to call him, and your contact with him will need to be minimized to maintain the secrecy. The affair could be exhilarating, with the added rush of the unexpected occurring anytime, and the heightened intensity of few and far-between stolen moments together. Also, you don’t have to live with him day in and day out (for now), so you get all the fun without the work of the relationship. There is, of course, also the guilt of doing something he took vows not to do. It can cause a rift in the marriage, even if she never knows, because part of him is elsewhere and he’ll never be able to be 100% hers once he starts catting around.
Ultimately, before you delve into something that will likely cause both of you more pain than pleasure—and if he’s a decent human being, who simply cannot resist you, he should feel some guilt and regret for cheating on her—you need to find out the status of his marriage. Is the fuzz off the peach, and he is looking for a way out, and that way could be you? Or is he simply looking to indulge himself in the attraction, with no intent of ending the marriage? Or somewhere in between? Are they still having sex, or not really anymore? Once you know more about the status of the marriage, this will help you make a decision that will fit what you are able to tolerate or indulge in yourself, if you’re cool with waiting, left “spinning in the wind, dangling in the night,” as Mick Jagger sings. But I don’t recommend continuing to try to just be friends with him, as that isn’t really what this whole thing is about. If you are strong in your intent not to be with a married man, you should keep your distance.