Q: After a particularly hard day, I received a card from a female co-worker wishing me well. She prefaced her signature with "love." We are both married -- I'm 52 -- and are also both aware that each of us is in an unhappy marriage. While I am attracted to her, I am not sure if the feeling is reciprocated but I suspect it might be. I'm reluctant to approach her about it in case I am wrong. We have become friends and I wouldn't want to jeopardize that. Am I reading too much into the word "love" on my card? -- Phil
Dr. Susan: Phil, your desperation is showing. You're not only reading too much into the word "love" scrawled on a well-wisher's card, but I think you're half-hoping something more intimate and exciting might come of this relationship to make up for your misery at home. Nonetheless, it would be wildly inappropriate for the two of you to risk so much to pursue a fling at the office. Absolutely, as you sense, your work friendship would be greatly jeopardized if anything of that kind were to transpire.
So what do you do? Stop wondering if she is attracted to you and enjoy the friendship on an office-mate level and leave it at that. It's only too easy to become confused at work, thinking you've found what's missing at home just because you're "attracted" to someone kind and pleasant. Attraction is easy! Relationships are a challenge, but well worth the attention. Go home and examine what you have. I bet you your marriage can be made a lot happier, but not if you're seeking easy answers with a co-worker. Playing musical mates never changes anything for long, except to complicate your life in a lot of messy and hurtful ways.
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Susan K. Perry, Ph.D.
Susan K. Perry, Ph.D., is a social psychologist, relationship expert, and bestselling and award-winning author. Her books include Loving in Flow: How the Happiest Couples Get and Stay That Way, and Kylie's Heel, a novel for adults.
Pamela G. Chollet, Ph.D.
Dr. Pamela Chollet has a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and Master degrees in educational psychology and fine arts. Her passion has been helping people face and get through those times when they feel trapped and unable to move forward.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist, stress management expert, and author. If you're feeling overwhelmed, stressed out, or struggling to make changes in your life, Anna can help.