DEAR ABBY: I am a 36-year-old single woman who has worked as a service dispatcher for the past four years. My longtime boyfriend died of cancer in January 2001.
My relationship with the techs at work is casual and friendly, but one has become very personal. I'll call him Mike. He has been with the company only since December, but we have become very close.
I told Mike about what I went through with my boyfriend's death. He was very understanding. Eventually we slept together. (I hadn't been with anyone since a year before my boyfriend died.)
What complicates things is that Mike is married. In the beginning, it sounded like a divorce was imminent, but since I slept with him, I'm not so sure.
I have tried to tell Mike I shouldn't see him anymore. He insists that he wants to be with me. My head tells me to break things off, but I feel deeply connected to him -- like I've known him forever, and I don't want to lose him.
He knew his wife only one month before they married 10 years ago. They now have two kids, 7 and 4. We haven't slept together other than that one time, but we spend every lunch with each other and time every day after work before Mike has to head home.
Are we having an affair, Abby? Should I feel bad for his wife? I see this man every day. I've told him I can't take this anymore, but he always talks me into keeping things as is. -- IN LOVE AND LOST, SOMEWHERE IN NEW JERSEY
DEAR IN LOVE AND LOST: Yes, you are having an affair -- an emotional affair. And yes, you should feel bad for his wife. He is pouring time and energy into his relationship with you that rightfully should be directed to her and the children.
The only person who can help you out of this mess is you. Mike appears to like things just as they are. That's why he talks you into "keeping things as is." (What a salesman!)
You have experienced one great loss with the death of your boyfriend. It pains me to think about what awaits you when you finally realize that this relationship is going nowhere. Ask yourself how you will feel in another year -- or five, or 10 -- when things are still "as is."
Better to draw the line now. Trust me on that.