Friday, April 19, 2024

I CONFESS: Beware the office romance

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I read once that insanity was “doing the same thing repeatedly, but still expecting a different result”.

We all recognise to do this is pure madness; yet, in so many things, plenty of us do this each day. We do it by going to bed late, but expecting to wake up early in the morning, feeling fresh, well-rested and alert.

We do it eating loads of junk food and not exercising adequately, but still expecting some miracle to lose weight.

We do it by liming with the same people all the time, yet expect to meet new people, have better quality conversations and more positive friendships.

And we do it all the time by getting involved with work colleagues with the hope that no one would find out, and we could actually be happy.

Why we fool ourselves in this way when we know better is anybody’s guess – yet, we just do it!

The craziest of all these things is the office romance. If ever anything is usually doomed to fail before it starts, it is that. Few of them ever end good. Instead they usually lead to one of the individuals, usually the woman, being embarrassed and regarded as stupid or a slut, or both.

I left my last job because of one such failed relationship. I fled under a cloud of personal embarrassment amid snickers and gossip from those in the office whom I thought were my friends. Many of the things they said about me were lies.

But what hurt most were the things they said I said, or told them about my relationship with the guy I was involved with. I could not believe that people I used to have in my home, whom I assisted on the job and saved their tail from trouble, even those whom I may have lent money, all ganged up to tell lie upon lie on me.

They said I used to have sex with my colleague in the male washroom; that we used to go out on sex dates at lunchtime; that he used to pay for my apartment and gave me money every month; and that on the two occasions I took five and nine days certified sick leave, I was actually overseas with my colleague, who happened to be on holiday.

All of these things were lies yet they said them inside the company and told people in our social circle, too. As a result I now have a reputation of being worthless and a real slut. Some people think that I was a gold-digger, too.

The truth is that though my ex made more money than me, because he has a child, a mortgage, and his new car to pay for, he hardly ever has a cent to spare. So I was the one who gave him money and not the other way around.

As for the allegations about sex romps at lunch and in the washroom, I would not even dignify those nasty statements with an answer. And as for the one that I travelled overseas while on sick leave, that is a fat lie and my passport can prove it.

What I realise from this situation is that people just love to gossip and talk your name, and the truth does not matter. Nobody cares that what is being said can also be easily disproved. All they care about is repeating the falsehood for a laugh.

The lessons I learnt from my office romance are:

1) Don’t defecate where you eat. That is, office romances rarely work. The men have their time with you and tell their male friends; and you find out the extent of the nonsense said about you when the break-up takes place.

The thoroughness of the rumours suggest that the statements are always carefully constructed to inflict maximum hurt and pain to the person being talked about; and the details clearly show it had to come from your ex.

2) You never really have friends in a workplace. They only talk with you good when they can use you, or think that they need you to help them succeed. But they really care little for you.

This is demonstrated in the way they turn on you and are part of the rumour mongering network.

3) Most important is the man you were involved with. Never get involved with someone who is an institution in the place as his loyalties lie there and not to you. When the “do do” hits the fan he will leave you high and dry.

Also, that person is often so well connected to those who matter that they can get away with saying and doing just about anything they like; and when discipline has to be applied, you – the woman – and are the one at the receiving end.

Given my nasty experience, I will never again become intimate with anyone I work with, and I suggest you do the same too.

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