‘I slept with my boss on a work trip – I know it’s bad but I need to keep him sweet’ – Lalala Letmeexplain

In Lalalaletmeexplain's hit column, readers ask for her expert advice on their own love, sex and relationship problems.

With over 200k Instagram followers, Lala is the anonymous voice helping womankind through every bump in the road. An established sex, dating and relationship educator, she’s had her fair share of relationship drama and shares her wisdom on social media to a loyal army of followers. Every week thousands turn to her to answer their questions (no matter how embarrassing), and her funny, frank approach to love and relationships has made her the ultimate feel-good guru.

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Dear Lala,

I've recently started a new job where I'm on probation for a year. I’ve known my colleagues for a while, and we’re a great team and all get along as good friends and are a mix of ages. My boss (who’s the person in charge of deciding whether I pass the probation or not) and I slept together whilst on a work trip. He is 14 years my senior and has a partner. We flirt constantly and meet up secretly to talk and have dinner and drinks, though he says nothing more will happen.

I am very confused because we constantly text and he is definitely interested in me, but also tells me about arguments with his girlfriend and that he wants to fix their relationship. I know I could do so much better than him, but I can’t get him off my mind. I also need to keep him sweet for my probation. I know it’s bad because he has a girlfriend (who I know). I also know I’m second best and he’s got his cake and is eating it. I don't want to lose respect for myself, and I don't want to lose my job but also, I’m really enjoying my time with him and I’m developing feelings. Help!

Lala says…

Before I start, I’d like to say that there are probably going to be some people making nasty comments on my Instagram post that accompanies this column, and to those people I’d like to say – have you never messed up? Have you never had a scenario that gives you butterflies in all sorts of places that make you act in crazy ways? Have you never acted from a place of lust, excitement and danger and done something you later regretted? Yes, sleeping with the partner of someone you know isn't a good choice to make, and if you’re someone who has been cheated on it can be very jarring to read letters like this, I get it, but the holier than thou people need to stop acting like it’s always so easy to make the right decision all the time. You’re trying now by writing in, so please ignore anyone who seeks to make you feel like you’re some kind of raging scumbag, you’re not, you’re human.

Of course, girl code and just general morality says that when we know someone has a partner, we should back off immediately. Whilst the accountability for cheating is entirely on him, it is s**t to enable a man to hurt another woman, and my view is that we should run the second we establish they’re not single, but not running doesn’t make you a terrible person.

There is nothing in this situation that makes you a terrible person or deserving of vile comments. But chasing after attached people isn’t a great thing to do, for you more than anything else. It puts you in second place from the off, it makes you a naughty secret rather than a valued companion, and if you’re not in it purely for secret sex, then being in that place can really hurt. You’re already feeling anxiety and insecurity. It’s not a situation that’s making you feel good. To not lose respect for yourself, it is important to not pursue people who don’t make you feel fully respected. It is also important to stay true to your own morals and values.

More than anything, he is the one who should be losing respect for himself. He is your boss, and he has power over you and your career. He’s abused his power and has probably breached company policy by engaging in this relationship with you. It’s a real power trip to sh*g the new employee at the start of her probationary period and he knows he shouldn’t have done it. It’s cruel.

Do you feel that there is a genuine threat to your job if you stop meeting up with him or are you using that as a way to make yourself feel like there’s a valid reason to keep doing it? If there is a threat or an implied threat, then he’s breaking all sorts of employment laws, and you could take this further with support from a union or solicitor. If that’s the main thing keeping you there then scrap that, he cannot legally hold your affair against you, but if it’s just an excuse you’re giving yourself then you need to let that one go.

You said that following your first and only sexual encounter he said nothing more will happen, I’m assuming that means sexually because you’ve continued meeting up for secret dinners and he continues to use you as an unpaid therapist. It makes me so annoyed to think about this man – probably a lovely bloke in his late-forties or fifties, one of the lads, a great boss who the team all love, who has probably come to a bit of a stale point in his long-term relationship and has found an ego boost and a spring in his step with the new woman at work who makes him feel young again. Your presence might even be improving his relationship. He offloads to you and then goes home in a better headspace. It’s really vile behaviour, but, me or others saying to you that this guy is a piece of s**t who is cruelly using you and hurting his partner for his own gain won’t necessarily work because you clearly don’t see him as a POS.

Whether he’s an outright pr**k or a good guy who’s got a bit lost, this isn’t serving you well, and people are going to get hurt. You should do your best to cut it off before feelings develop further. You are in control of your thoughts and feelings and if you want to get out of this then there are ways to re-frame your thoughts on him. Therapy would help. You may even have to consider leaving the team. But I’d strongly advise you to shut this down as soon as possible because it will only lead to pain.

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