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‘I Work with the Other Woman’

Dear Chump Lady,

How do I deal with the following situation?

I work at the same organisation as my husband though in a different team. His other woman is in my team.

She is full-time in the office, I am in the office for one day every two weeks for meetings (home based worker).

In 8 days time I have to go into the office, which is a large open plan one and I don’t know how I will react when I see her. A lot of the team have worked together for years, so I think some will know what’s been going on.

I was with him 17 years, married 9 years ago and have figured they have been seeing each other for at least 3 years, probably longer but he won’t say how long. He rents a flat so he can go to the office daily and comes back to me on a Friday evening before travelling back on a Sunday.

Co-worker Chump

Dear Co-worker Chump,

This is a shit sandwich of epic proportion. And when faced with a shit sandwich you can either eat it, refuse it, or reframe it (i.e., “tasty!”)

So, you can either keep your job (and stress vomit biweekly), quit your job, or realize you’ve already faced this situation — repeatedly, for three years, unknowingly — by working cheek-to-jowl with the OW.

If anyone should be mortified, crouched under a cubicle, it’s her.

I’m going to assume you need your job and won’t find another one in the next 8 days. So in the short-term, I think you’ll have to summon your mighty and stare that motherfucker (husbandfucker?) down. Put on your best bitch boots, stand to your full height, and treat her like the insignificant twatwaffle she is.

Remember CC, the OW could be any willing orifice. She’s not special. Really. But what’s NOT insignificant is that she and probably entire swathes of your office have been conspiring against you for years. And that is truly traumatic and awful.

I think you should be talking to a lawyer ASAP and Human Resources about this situation. A lawyer to help you figure out your divorce and how to approach HR on this, because time is of essence. If the office knows, that means the two idiots could be fired at any time (or enabled, sounds like you got the dysfunctional office culture) and by telling HR, you may put them in the position of having to do something about it, and you probably need that asshole’s paycheck.

About that asshole…

Chumps often send me the Wrong Question, and your letter is exemplary. You’re describing deck chair formations on the Titanic, when you really should be looking for a lifeboat.


The marriage is NOT sustainable — “husband”? Multiple years of cheating and conspiring against you where you WORK? A separate fucknest? (How convenient!) Working with the OW?

Big things need to change here. I can’t tell you how to live with this, because I don’t think you should live with it. I think you should quit the husband and quit the job. Fuck working with ANYONE who enabled your abuse. And I’m sorry, keeping the culture of silence going while you were being chumped is enabling your abuse.

Fuckwits like your soon-to-be-ex and his OW press everyone into their conspiracy of enabling your abuse and that’s wrong and unfair, and I understand why people do not tell, but I also understand why people do cowardly, weak things and don’t stand up when consciences tell them to stand up. Doesn’t make not standing up right. Someone should have told you. Period.

See a lawyer, and in 8 days, call in sick. Buy yourself some time until you’re firmly in that lifeboat floating toward a new life.

Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at [email protected]. Read more about submission guidelines.
  • I have noticed that chumps frequently minimize their cheating spouse’s role in the abuse of adultery. Our minds get caught up in the actions of the spouse poaching whore. The letter writer isn’t discussing accidently bumping into her husband at work. His actions have consequence here too.

    Dear Co-Worker Chump, please, please follow the advice of Chump Lady. If you haven’t read her book, do so. I just handed out another copy of LACGAL. This book saved my life. I was going down hard until I somehow found Chump Lady, Chump Nation and read LACGAL.

    I know you feel overwhelmed, exhausted by grief and betrayed. The very best way to deal with these horrible people is to file, divorce and go on without them. Leave them behind in the dust of your awesomeness. Divorce your cheating husband and gain a life. One where you don’t worry about bumping into work whores.

    You deserve so much better than this. You can fix it. Get you a “pit-bull of a lawyer” and a good therapist. When you interview therapists ask them about adultery. Book the therapist who agrees Adultery is abuse. You have the power to make your life better.

    I am so sorry you’ve been betrayed. You are going to get through this. You got this.

    • It’s not an accident that he picked someone in your team. Could have fucked anyone. Ultimate power trip for him. He is despicable. It’s no fun for him unless he can inflict the ultimate hurt. Don’t shit where you live or work. This make me furious.

      • My ex cheated on me, and I later found out he also cheated on his GF with her best friend. Just because he could. I mean… talk about a power trip! He cheated on BOTH of us!

        Side note – what does that say about how much he respects his GF? He respects her so much that he fucked her best friend? And what does that say about her friends? Her best friend fucked her boyfriend – not even mentioning that he was married to me as well.

        He left me for his GF and told me how much better she is than me. She cooks and cleans to his specifications, whereas I was a terrible housewife for the 17 years we were married (according to him – according to me we both worked full-time yet I was expected to be a full time housewife and mother instead of splitting the duties).

  • Divorce him first, get her fired second, leave your job third, all the while pretending like you have nothing against them and wish them no ill will.

    Careful with lawyers, they would very much like to get you all charged up and convinced that you can get anything you want, for $300 an hour. Know what you want but do your research and know what is reasonable to expect.

    Do not trust any one person in particular in this process, it’s a vulnerable time when some people would pay *anything* for revenge, moving on, avoiding situations, whatever it is and those “helpful” lawyers, therapists, and others are well aware of this.

    • Great points Robert. I say do not quit your job until you have another-to new employers you are worth more when they have to steal you or get you to quit elsewhere. Your current job is a bargaining chip for getting what you want at the new one. Not fair, but this is how it is IMHO. This whole situation sucks BIGTIME, but better to get yourself on firm footing in the process. So true about attorneys…really pissed off spouses bring in more cash. Sad there are those that take advantage of our darkest moments, but we know this is true.
      CL is right you are not the one who should feel any shame, try to own that.
      Thank God you don’t have to go there more often!

  • Thank you so much for your responses. I filed for divorce within around 5 hours of it all being confirmed. I will be divorcing him. He is now doing what you might expect and has told me hes dumped her etc but I think it is him just trying a bit of damage limitation in terms of finances. I have made arrangements to get legal advice. Thank you again. I will attend my meeting, will hold my head high and can pretend as Robert suggests. My chump lady book is due to arrive tomorrow so I will read it before doing anything further, i am waiting for HR to call me back but my work union said my employer should make reasonable adjustments. xx

    • Good for you! Assume the exact opposite of everything he tells you. NEVER trust him.

    • Oh Co-Worker! Look at you! Being all mighty! I am impressed. You GO! Yahooooo YOU! Don’t believe a thing he says. Trust yourself.

      There is a private page on Facebook if you just need to vent. The support there is amazing!

      I’m so glad you won’t tolerate this abuse.

    • Co-Worker, you are indeed Mighty! So glad to read you are being so proactive and have such clarity. Keep reading and posting – it’s a long road, but it’s the only worthwhile one. Hugs!

    • Co-worker, you are amazing!!!! Keep coming here for support. Things are about to get very real for the cheater and watch the rage-self pity-charm channels flip.

      No contact or as little contact through scheduling software as possible is key.
      Pain is finite when you are taking the steps you’re taking.

      Life will be great on the other side. We are waiting for you.

    • Co-worker.
      I have not read all of this tread, but what I have read tells me YOU are one Mighty Lady.
      I am SO proud of YOU!
      You make my heart sing.

      I am so sorry for all of your pain.
      CL,CN, will guide you along the path, toward the light.
      Stay strong!


    • 5 hours?? You are AMAZING. Seriously impressive.

      Now is the time to keep your cards close to the chest. Expect more empty promises from your ex but trust none of it. Start locking down your finances, important documents, and heirlooms (as soon advance your lawyer gives you the ok). Sneak things that can’t be replaced to a friends house or storage locker. You’re in a war; expect the enemy to play dirty because they already have.

      • This is excellent advice. My lawyer told me that I could move anything that was mine–a personal item, a family heirloom, anything I’d purchased prior to the marriage–out of the home. She also told me that she’d advise creating a secure cloud site for important documents so that I would have copies in case CheaterX went on a rampage. She said that even if the STBX spouse hadn’t had a history of destruction, once the divorce started, you never knew.

        I moved pretty much anything that was truly mine into a storage locker. CheaterX never noticed. I also took every single tax return out of the house because I didn’t want Schmoopie having my social security number. I certainly didn’t want CheaterX to have it, either, but figured that he’d be able to find past returns by contacting the IRS, so he’d find it someplace.

    • This is the best update. Keep being mighty, and don’t settle for the first settlement with your XH or accommodation that HR gives you. Ask if there is more you can get first. She might just have to take a shit-sandwich of a job or team switch and I will hope it comes with a terrible manager or boring work.

    • I am glad that HR is willing to make those adjustments, though they won’t seem fair. My HR has told us flat out that this means that if the Cheater is in the position of supervisor, they can’t be allowed to give performance evaluations of their APs. What happens, then, is that someone gets reassigned. It can be a bit of a shit sandwich, and HR was very up front about this.

      HR also cautioned the supervisors against having office affairs. Ours is not a teensy town, but it’s still small enough to remember your grocery clerk’s faces. Affairs can’t be secret forever. Their advice was to either get the divorce or the marriage counseling.

      • HR won’t, but a union rep often will. HR works for your boss, union rep works for you.

    • Like

      But if you’ve already gotten ALL that done…you are doing GREAT!

      You’re executing the Best Plan & doing it perfectly!

      Just make sure you take time for self-care & remember to get rest & drink tons of water!

      You got this!

    • OW thrive on watching you squirm. The best way around that is to avoid any direct communication, such as eye contact or speaking to them. I’d imagine your job requires you to interact with her in some way, which sucks. But if you keep your interaction with her to a minimum it will make it much less difficult to get through the meeting and will limit her ability to taunt you. Be prepared for ignoring her to make her very angry and level accusations against you. She will likely try to turn the office against you (in the unlikely chance that she hasn’t been working on that for the past 3+ years). Don’t be surprised if she files her own HR complaint against your husband. Once your divorce process gets under way and their exciting affair ends or simply loses its sparkle, she is likely to get jealous of the attention (however negative) you’re receiving in the divorce. Filing a workplace complaint against your husband, or simply stirring up love triangle gossip among colleagues, are strategies she might choose to reengage herself in his and your life and keep the triangulation going and the attention focused on her.

      Cheaters all suck in their own ways and are typically desperate for attention, but someone who maintains a 3+ year affair with the spouse of a coworker is especially messed up. Expect that you’re dealing with a full-blown psychopath who will not fade quietly from your life. And remember that you have done nothing wrong and have nothing to be ashamed of. Coworkers who don’t fully understand the situation (or have been manipulated by the cheaters for years while you were oblivious to their scheming) are likely to be apathetic or unsympathetic to your concerns, and that’s something to be prepared for and try not to take personally.

  • I don’t know who you can trust at work. Friends can and will stab you in the back.
    The ow might get people to provoke you or she may lie about you. I wouldn’t trust her an inch.
    She may appear nice, but its all a lie.
    I feel for you, don’t be surprised if your fed a load of lies.
    She will expect you to feel sorry for her
    Mine did
    Cheeky bitch.

  • As RuPaul’s character, Ruby Red says; “We all wear drag”. Meaning, especially as women I think, we dress up, makeup and suit up our public face every day. Yours is an especially slimy shit sandwich, you loose your spouse and have to question your own ability to keep your career, mind and salary at your current position.

  • Co-worker –

    I’m so glad you’ve found a lawyer and are ready to strap on the Bitch Boots and deal with that meeting.

    Meanwhile – go find another job before this blows up. As sick as the culture in that business has been so far, I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if they fired YOU. Don’t be caught off-guard. Get out.

  • Also, find out if the OW is married. If so, her spouse deserves to know she’s a pig.

    • YES! Agreed! Find out if she is married, and tell HR. This happened to me too. I did not work with the Penis nosed twatwaffle, but she knew about me. She knew allll about me. Knew that I was disabled, on dialysis, waiting for a kidney transplant call any day now. She knew I was on SSDI and working from home, being careful not to make toooo much money or my benefits get taken away. Amazing… She knew and he knew all about me and my situation obviously. Did that stop either of them? Hell no! Both of them are so selfish and narcistic. I mean who does that type of shit to people?

      Whats weird to me, is that when I first started dating him, he found me, and chased me. Everything was wonderful and actually so sweet and perfect for about 3.5 years out of 4. I never ever thought such a sweet kind loving and generous man would ever cheat on me. He even told his family and friends about my sisters Ex husbands multiple affairs! WOW. The most difficult and vulnerable time of my life… And I find out he flew her to France so he wouldn’t be alone. I cant travel so easily because of needing dialysis every other day. I mean, I want to think he is an idiot, but most of me thinks this wonderful sweet stable loving kind man is a serial killer. A total psychopath. Because normal people don’t to things like this.

      Which senator cheated on his wife while she was undergoing cancer treatment? Newt Gingrich? These men need a special place in hell and for their abuse victims to get great satisfaction watching Karma take care of it all!

  • I’m glad you contacted HR and your union. I’m not so sure you should be the one to find another job though. Maybe OW will get fired. But you seem to be doing it all the right way. You rock (but I’m sorry you’re going through this)!

  • I see two edges here.

    On the one hand, I agree with the advice to move on and leave this shit show in your taillights. Life is way too damned short to waste time trying to puzzle out that kind of bullshit. You have nothing to prove because you’re not a useless heap of garbage, unlike the cheater and the AP.

    On the other hand…

    Maybe this is a terrific job, or it’s just economically unreasonable to leave it until you’ve replaced it… Or whatever reason might keep you there, at least in the short term. Why should assholes get to make you blow your whole life up just to escape from them? Why should they have that power? If you need time to line up ducks and make a strategic career move, then the fact that they are immature douchebags shouldn’t provoke you to give up that time.

    So, I’m going to speak to the original question about how to face them.

    First of all, you have 100% of the moral high ground, which means you have nothing to be ashamed of and nothing to prove. Internalize that, because it’s the foundation of everything else. Cheaters don’t cheat because their partners are bad, or lacking value, or hard to deal with, or any of that other horse shit. There are, literally, thousands of alternate options to cheating when faced with those challenges. Cheaters cheat 100% because they are selfish dicks. There isn’t one thing about the cheating that says anything bad about you.

    From that foundation, the next thing is to be more angry than sad and to exist in controlled anger. Calm, cool, calculating. Summon your inner Iyanla or Meryl or whoever you think of as strong and in control of the situation. Walk tall, have disdain for childish gossip and folly, and kick ass at your job while you are in their presence. Be a person who does not suffer fools and has no time or energy for drama while you are there. Fake it if needed. You can cry it out later.

    This is all so much easier said than done. But you have 8 days to build it, so just do your best.

    Shove the shit sandwich to the side of the table and focus on the work for the length of one day. You can do it.

    And if you DO decide to quit that job, consider telling HR you feel you have to leave because the workplace has become too hostile for you to stay. Hostile workplace language speaks the language of risk — and HR’s sole function in any organization (no matter how cute they act in person when they meet with you) is to minimize agency risk. Remember that, and leverage it. The more you can make the cheater and AP look like the primary sources of risk, the better (and this is not mere manipulation because it’s actually true.)

    Good luck, Friend.

    • My XW’s main AP was fired for stealing from the company. He was/is married. Shows that someone who can cheat on a spouse can do other bad things. No morals.

  • I’m so glad you are being proactive Co-Worker!
    Keep on rocking! You’ve got this!

  • I am so very glad that I found chump lady today while I was searching for books on divorce. Thank you for your messages, I just spoke to my organisations wellness support and she gave me some tips for my walk into the office when I will feel as though I am in the spotlight but what I am going to do is read all of your messages again before I walk through that door. Thank you all xxx

    • Congrats on all your mightyness! You’ve got this, and we’re all here to support you!

  • A word of caution about going to HR. Be very clear and very very pragmatic with what it is you want from them. Meaning that your employer is not in the business of punishing adulterers or teaching morality and no, unless some employment rules were breached, they don’t fire cheaters for cheating.

    If it’s not a situation of manager humping a subordinate or some other such direct violation of workplace rules, HR will do nothing about it because employees’ personal lives are not their business no matter how odious those personal lives may be.

    Pragmatic in your case means that if you want her or yourself moved to a different department, team, role – if/when that’s possible and available, then that’s what you can realistically ask for and get. Even so, be sure you don’t give up a good position just because. Keep in kind that it’s much easier to find another job and move on up when you already have a good position to begin with and are currently employed.

    I wouldn’t frame this as a shit sandwich, I’d frame this as focusing on yourself and taking care of you, your future, your finances, your personal well being. When it comes to that, emotions can go sit in the corner. Crying in the HR’s office or the bathroom wont’ serve you well. Giving the proverbial middle finger and showing some serious power will impress people and benefit you. Don’t focus on short term satisfaction of stirring the pot, focus on long term benefits for yourself. Sometimes that means making sure that fuckwit does get to keep his job because….child support/alimony, etc. Again, make this about your personal benefit long term.

    As for facing OW, you’ve been facing her for the past 3 years. Only thing that changed is now you know. So yeah, put on your bitch shoes and don’t give her the time of day. She doesn’t deserve it. Best way to make her feel small and insignificant is not react to her at all and treat her as a nonentity that she is. Don’t let her see you sweat ever. Don’t call in sick, don’t go over dressing or looking haggard. If you can summon all the strength that you have, and you have plenty, look as normal as you always do. That will deflate the bitch more than anything. OW’s think they are special and nothing says you aren’t special like zero reaction from you to her.

  • X#3 was sleeping with the office HR manager, so as to avoid sexual harassment charges for shagging anyone else at work! There was a seemingly endless list – men & women. #eyeroll So whilst taking the complaint to HR is correct procedurally, they might also be compromised. It’s early days. You don’t know yet who’s tainted. Hopefully your STBX hasn’t shagged anyone at the Citizens Advice Bureau & they might be able to offer the odd bit of support. Proud of you that you lawyered up & filed straight away! What also helps is finding – or creating – a local support group of those who’ve been chumped. You’re stronger together. You are mighty, and you can do this! x

    • My ex was the HR manager sleeping with his married subordinate. Yup, sometimes HR is compromised.

      • The HR director where I worked was a fuckin’ psychopath (that’s where I got my interest in psychos – she was textbook). She got “hers” however – fired from every job she’s ever had!

  • FINALLY – somebody going through something similar!!! My soon-to-be-ex-wife is having an affair with married co-worker. And all 3 of us work for the same company in the same IT department!!! I cannot begin to describe the trauma I have been through, seeing the person I once loved with this idiot, day in and day out. Seeing them in each other’s cars in the parking lot, sneaking make-out sessions and who knows what else. I need my job and can’t quit. It has literally been hell and only recently have I relocated to the building next door. Legally and HR-wise, nobody seems too bothered about it (must just be ME). The only way to cope and not lose my sanity was to adopt a “dead to me” approach with regards to both of them. Obviously we are getting divorced, but damn – karma please find these people 🙁

    • Dear Co-worker,
      ChumpLady is so right. They all knew. Nobody did the right thing. They all deserve your contempt. Cold contempt. Give no one the satisfaction of any reaction. Leave when it is best for you. No one else matters at this point. Ignore sympathy? from anyone at this office. They are slimy worms hunting gossip. Believe me, I know that story.
      Why he did it is not important. You can go mad trying to figure that out. You are important. Your sanity is important. Operate from a place of anger and power. Power is not given. It is taken. Grab yours. Don’t let anyone ,including HR tell you you can’t do something. Unless it’s illegal, do what is best for you.

    • BreakingUpBad,

      I also experienced this situation – we all worked at the same company. And I found out later it was not just one ho-worker, but there were several of them across the country (it was a national company and he travelled a lot). I felt like I had no safe place to get away from the pain and trauma of it all. The embarrassment was overwhelming. I understand now that I should not have felt bad, but not gonna lie, everyone looks at you differently. Our home was full of triggers and work was too.

      I finally left for another job which helped tremendously. It is maddening that the workplace does not care two sh*ts about this – they would if they knew how much it destroyed productivity and workplace culture.

      Please take care of yourself and continue to try and to get away from it as much as possible to help with the healing. I agree, Karma bus can’t come soon enough for the cheaters and the f*ck buddies at the office.

  • You are mighty! You are doing the right things! You have class! You hold your head high!

    I agree with the comment above regarding other people in the office being complicit. In my situation many people knew (Ex married his Howorker), and that realization cut deep. Do not confide in anybody, even if you feel you can trust them. The only way to keep a secret is to tell no one. So I would go NC with everyone connected to your work–don’t give any potential ammo to come back to stab you. My BF worked with Ex & Howorker and I found out 1 1/2 out from DDay, she was on team A**hat. Unfortunately, money talks and morals walk.

    FYI–Be prepared for HR to side with them. My Ex co-owned his company, so they were able to hire an attorney (2 hours away) to find a loophole that “excused” their behavior. Not sure how much leverage your A**hat has (or may he’s even got “friends” in HR ???? ).

  • There’s no point in telling HR. I tried that and they just replied it was none of their business, and unprovable rumours. Unless the company has a strict no-family rule, then they aren’t technically doing anything to get themselves fired.

    Don’t feel bad that co,workers knew but didn’t say anything. It’s not like their telling you was going to change a fuckwit’s behavioural choices. Most of them either instinctively know that or simply don’t care enough to get mixed up in it.

    • You are right that more than likely HR will not do anything or be able to do anything. However, I feel it is important to get this on record (sooner the better) even if nothing is done. If her ex or the OW decide to play games, issue complaints, set her up, etc. at least she has their affair on record if they try any funny business. CC should write up the complaint herself and submit In-person and via e-mail) to HR. The complaint should be factual and without emotion. This is CC’s protection and if her ex or OW try to undermine CC’s job in any way shape or form it would be considered harassment. If the company does not address ex and OW antics then CC could have one hell of a lawsuit against the company. Besides I’m betting HR is already well aware of the affair.

  • Do not let him sweet talk to you about anything. The bastard stole three years of your life you can’t get back. I hope his penis rots off.

    Just a smidge of karma. My brother’s cheating, abandoning, ex wife has a social media life. I finally found it. If “pretty is as pretty does” then I don’t know what in the hell she has been doing since. The witch in the old Disney movie Snow White could be her double. OMG!

    • Let go–

      Take that smidge and enjoy it for as long as you can, as it just reinforces that the grass is green where you water it.

      My Ex’s photo popped up on a local restaurant Instagram account this summer during our city’s film fest. The difference between a February 2017 photo (still with me) and the recent July 2019 photo (taken two weeks after his wedding to Howorker) is alarming. It proves she’s a succubus–he’s gained 30+ pounds, turned grey and has aged a decade. My stoic therapist’s jaw dropped when she saw the difference. The immediate response everyone has to the two photos side by side is “He doesn’t look happy”. Trust that they suck.

  • I suspect that many (maybe most) companies will dispose of these two in short order. The law varies quite a bit depending on where you live, but it’s possible this might put the company in a legal bind. What’s more, there may already be HR rules against this kind of fraternization; you can find out by looking in the corporate handbook. Even if neither of those two situations applies, it is likely the HR department and/or the company’s lawyers will still be scared to death of keeping them both on. Talk about a “hostile work environment!” No one will want to have all these skeletons dragged out of the closet in court. Hopefully, a decent labor attorney will help you out.

    If and only if they’re still there after all this, QUIT. You will find a way to make ends meet. No job in the world is truly irreplaceable. You can take short term work that’s no stress till you get things turned around.

    • I agree with TTW. Time to think about your own finances. Before you quit, find out if any others at work knew about the affair. If so, I think that you would have a great case for a hostile work environment suit against your employer.

      IMO, you would be better off divorcing an employed man, versus an unemployed one. Talk out the different scenarios with your attorney.

  • Co worker,
    Sorry you’re going through this, but ultimately the truth will set you free.
    I’m with ChumpLady on this one about moving on to another work place. Yeesh! This workplace is a total cesspit.
    I bet your Soon to be X and his Ho worker tart are the most sparkley turds in it.
    Hugs and prayers for you Co worker.

  • You are mighty! Hold your head high.

    A year after abandoning our two boys and me to go to another state, my ex took a job at my place of employment knowing that we would have to meet together weekly. HR was no help, but friends within the organization helped out until I could get another position. A few months later, his ho-worker got a job in my organization’s HR department. Go figure. Each time I have the unfortunate chance of seeing either one of them, I just smile. My life is not what I had planned, but it honest and peaceful.

    I recently saw a work group picture that included the ex-diddler (according to the caption). However, I didn’t see him. A friend later pointed him out. I simply had not recognized him because apparently he has shrunken several inches, gained a few pounds, and aged tremendously. I am sure it was from all of his “winning”.

    When you do have to go to work, focus on steadying your breathing. It will help to calm you. Good Luck!

  • I read this early this morning when there were only 10 comments. It has been on my mind ever since.

    While I certainly understand getting away from the mess and pain and starting new. I don’t agree that you should quit your job and be forced to find a new one.

    If most people who get discriminated against, bullied, sexually harrassed, or are in a bad climate at work quit their jobs, nothing will ever change for the better. You did nothing wrong! Why should you be the one to quit?

    I realize that I may be thinking somewhat idealistically and that the poster must act in her own best interest. However, nothing will ever change in our society if no one stands their ground and stands up for what is right and what is wrong.

    • Good points Rose. I love that CN looks at changing the prevailing attitudes toward chumpdom while at the same time being supportive of individual decisions. We all do what we have to do while our hearts are broken. Of course, we don’t know the full story of everyone. I hope chumpworker does what is best for her and whatever decision she makes is one of agency rather than shame. I hope she has a big pair of bitch boots – or goes out and buys a shiny new pair and wears them with a smile on her face and an attitude of “I got this and any other bs you two dimwits can throw at me.”

      • I think the main reason so many are suggesting she leave that job is simple; if she stayed, what would her life and/or healing be like?
        1. If she reported them to HR, it might make one or both of them lose their job. That might seem okay on the face of things, but as a woman who will then have to go through the legal divorce process, having him securely employed is pretty important to HER chances of getting a fair settlement. Not to mention that she’ll also then have to defend getting him fired (as righteous as it is).
        2. If one or both of them didn’t lose their job, she would have gained nothing except being the primary source of an endless rumor mill. Plus, she’d still have to see one or both of them daily…even if the marriage ended.
        3. If they did lose their jobs and she stayed there and successfully navigates the rumor phase, would she be able to mentally outlast the judgements (and you know they’re will be some) that come after? Fair or not, it is a reality and WILL be connected to her work performance in the eyes of others. Will others trust her not to lodge complaints about them? What do you think that will do to her professional ability/credibility within that company?
        4. MOST importantly, how will she ever adequately heal in that environment?

        We’re always preaching NC and gaining a life around here—the basis of which involves removing their centrality. In this instance fighting to stay in a job where the affair partners are either under her nose, or freshly fired as a result of her actions would be like adding gun powder to an already out of control inferno.

        Staying, for her, would make going NC and gaining a life pretty impossible and make her professional life a living hell. She doesn’t need a double whammy. She needs to leave him and the job as fast as her feet will take her.

    • I agree, but I also think that for those who can manage switching jobs it can really help you move forward. Changing your day-to-day life and just doing something new, taking on new challenges, is a great way to avoid the trap of wallowing in despair and resentment.

  • The fact that you’re stressed out about seeing that “twatwaffle” (love that CL!) is because you are questioning your value as a person, if you’re worth loving or not. You should be thinking what a moron he is! He lost the best thing that happened to him! But you’re not thinking that because you think it’s about you. IT’S NOT. His shitty actions are not a reflection on you. They are a reflection on him and has exhibited what a deplorable person he is.

    To quote Eckhart Tolle, “When you realize it’s not personal, there is no longer a compulsion to react as if it were.”

    Hold your head high, you’ve done nothing wrong: You are a completely beautiful person. Those two cheaters are despicable.

  • @warriorprincess
    To quote Eckhart Tolle, “When you realize it’s not personal, there is no longer a compulsion to react as if it were.” ❤️

  • Co-worker,
    You are handling the situation like a BOSS! Someone should make a movie about you. Better times ahead.

  • Dear CoWorker,

    I am so sorry that you are living through this agonizing set of circumstances. I have lived through something similar, so I will share with you what I learned, and how I survived it.

    My cheater-narc-ex was involved, for almost a year, with a woman who represented me at my publishing house. I had liked and respected her, and for most of that period she was knowingly involved with my partner and scheming with him behind my (and her partner’s) back. When I found out, I went into a complete tailspin of shock and panic, and did not know what to do. I mostly dealt with her by email (though I did/do see her at public events a few times per year). But I was dependent on her to perform certain tasks, and I knew that my professional reputation would be on the line if I acted out in an angry way that could be perceived as abusive (even though what she did was clearly a breach of trust, conflict of interest, and abuse of my privacy). One of the first bites one tastes of this particular kind of shit sandwich is the bitter one of knowing that organizations protect themselves first, above individuals, and that whoever makes a complaint also comes under scrutiny. You might, for a while, have to wear calm and restraint to work, like a fake suit that you take off the minute you get home.

    Out of sheer panic, I tried to resume working with her over email as if nothing had happened, and after one attempt, I found myself too angry and sick to my stomach to continue. I ended up trying to build email relationships with other people in her department, which was awkward but eventually worked (and I know your situation is different because you’re on the same team as the abuser, so I’ll skip past this part). But what happened next is what I want to share with you. I bided my time, and took a close look at who worked in the organization, and who I thought I would be able to trust with a difficult story. I also sought professional advice, from a publisher in another city, who responded to my story by saying right away that she was so sorry, that it must be agonizing and humiliating for me. Her affirmation helped.
    She then got down to business and said that it was a clear conflict of interest and abuse of my trust, and that I should not have to work with this person anymore. She told me to go to a senior person at my press and to tell the full story–not a juicy-detailed or overly personal version, but to be direct and not to mince words. She also told me that I should have a plan–what do I want the senior staff member to do for me, after I drop this awkward bomb?

    After speaking with her, I also asked a friend with a career in HR to “coach” me in ways of telling my story so that I would not come off as a shocked, angry, raving, jealous person on the verge of collapse (which is how I felt at the time), and in a way that would make the person I was speaking to most willing to help me out of a bad situation. I have very good friends who helped me to practice telling my story without breaking down, and without letting my anger lead (which is appropriate, on an emotional level, but which people in the professional world won’t want to deal with).

    Eventually I did it–I booked a private meeting with a senior staff member and told them my story, and I made the request that I would not have to have any further contact with the OW, and that someone else in the department might take over as my main contact person. The person I told was compassionate, and agreed to what I asked, and I now go “around” the OW for all requests.

    But. It is hell every time I see her at public events. I walk around feeling as if I have been gossiped about in the marketing department (one other employee has changed their tune toward me). I have had to do whacky things, like, in the early days when the pain was still raw, get my friend to check facebook to see if my press had posted a photo of who is sitting at the booth, so I would know what I was walking into. The question I have to ask myself is: what sane human, or professional person, wants to live that way? The sad fact is that despite my book doing well, and the many other positive relationships I have built at my press, I no longer feel emotionally or creatively safe there, because a staff member crossed lines that can’t be uncrossed.

    The injustice of it, at one time, was enough to drag me into a depression. So my (ex)partner screws some bimbo who gets her kicks from having one over on her clients, and I lose the professional foothold I had worked so hard to gain? The sad conclusion I have come to is “yes”. It is a loss. A tremendous one. But I just wrote a new piece that is being published elsewhere, and I’m beginning to see that they fucked up one part of my career, but not the actual source it springs from.

    So my advice to you is to be smart, be careful about who you talk to. Seek outside professional advice first, and find out what your rights are. And when the time is right, choose the right person to tell, and act on your own behalf.

    Also, practice using language that an employer can relate to: conflict of interest, breach of trust, privacy violation, consent–all of these words are “rational” and not rageful (I know, I know, bimbo and howorker are more satisfying! But save them for your girlfriends). Be it a team change, or a request to work only from home for six months–make whatever arrangement your employer will agree to that is survivable to you. But also be prepared to find another job. As CL so wisely says, the other really disturbing thing is that other people at your office might have known about the affair, and that makes it a toxic atmosphere for you to be in, as they have sold your well-being for whatever social gain they get or maintain by keeping silent. It helps me, despite the grief and rage I still feel, to think that it’s as if my press burnt down, and I have to find a new one.

    Keep walking, and in time you will find other places for you to work where your rights to basic things, like respect, truth, and dignity, are valued.

    Big hugs to you,

  • Well, I did it, I went into the office yesterday, him and her didn’t know I was going in as I cancelled it in my diary. I found a reason to take something over to her, walked into her cubicle and placed the papers for a colleague who is off sick but who sits next to her, onto their shared deskspace, telling her to make sure she passed them on. She didnt even look at me and stared at the desk the whole time but at least I’ve been in and she knows I have no fear of her. Thank you all again for your advice and support

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