Having sex with a superior? Recent cases make it sound like a bad idea...and yet lots of people keep doing it. Three women spill all about their secret work affairs.
A late-night swim...and more
I was 27 and working in public relations when I met my new department head, Charles (all names have been changed). He was 10 years older than me and married...but a few weeks after we met, his wife moved out. At that point, I was going through a painful breakup with my boyfriend of almost four years, and Charles and I leaned on each other for support. At first, it was just friendly: we'd get coffee and talk about how we were coping. It was nice. After a few months, he invited me to his house to swim in his pool. That's when things went from nice to hot. We ended up in bed.
Nobody at work had a clue-though we did have some close calls. One night, the whole staff went to happy hour nearby, and I drunkenly decided I wanted to have sex in the bar bathroom. I followed Charles in, but he hustled me out just in time to avoid being caught by a colleague.
Maybe we should have been stressed about our situation-Charles's boss even asked him if anything was going on between us. He denied it, and we didn't worry. Charles was looking for another job, and I was friends with the entire management team, so I felt protected (yes, that was naive). We also had no delusions about being anything but a rebound.
Five months after it began, I ended the affair. Charles had just left the firm, and it felt like it was time for it to be over. We wanted different things in life. He and I still talk, and he helped me look for my next job. In retrospect, I feel Charles and me helped each other get through something difficult. And that's all we were ever meant to be.
''Business'' Out of Town
I started reporting to David after being promoted to the marketing department at my medical-device firm. I was 35, he was a couple of years older, and we were both married. My marriage had never been great, but at that point, my husband and I hadn't had sex for two years. Craving intimacy, I flirted with David, figuring that, with both of us being married, there would be no complications. Was I wrong.
We'd been working together for about a year when, at an out-of-town conference, David started rubbing the small of my back as we sat alone at a bar. We ended up in my room, chatting for three hours before he nervously asked if he could kiss me. I said, "What took you so long?"
At work, we wrote dirty e-mails to each other…but we only slept together every few months on business trips. To discourage suspicion in the office, he'd often disagree with me during discussions among co-workers. That made me feel incompetent at my job and I even asked for a transfer.
However, over the next two years, I blossomed. I lost 60 pounds, was promoted twice, and was the most creative I'd ever been. Our relationship evolved too. We were still passionate, but more like a couple. Though leaving our spouses was never on the table, in part due to his kids, that was okay; it even made him more attractive.
Then everything blew up. My husband read our e-mails and confronted me in a rage. "I cannot believe you're sleeping with him!" he screamed and went on to punch a hole in the wall in a fit of rage. I ended the relationship with David, while my husband put me under virtual house arrest and secretly installed keystroke-tracking software on my computer. Then I found out that David and my husband were in touch to try to work through the situation and that David was blaming me for everything, as though he was the victim.
That was the last straw. I quit my job and wrote a Facebook message to David's wife, telling her the truth but also included his love for her and his children. She never wrote back, though David later said they're trying to work it out. Do I regret anything? Yes: getting caught. I was happy the way things were. The affair helped me regain my self-esteem, and I hope I find someone who inspires me like David did. So even with the pain and with the pain and drama, my life
changed for the better.
The lunch that didn't end
It started with lunch. I was a 31-year-old human-resources consultant for a hotel chain, and Jim was the new 34-year-old general manager. We were both single. He took each staffer out to lunch individually, and I was nervous, but it ended up feeling like a date. We made each other laugh and before we knew it our one-hour lunch lasted three. He immediately felt like more than a boss.
As a consultant, I was only in a few days a week-commuting from 100 miles away and staying at a hotel. About a week later, Jim asked if I wanted to get a drink after work. I was thrilled. We started going out weekly and talking about everything under the sun. For three months, all we did was talk. Then one night, we went back to his apartment, opened a bottle of wine, and…well, let's just say I stopped staying at a hotel.
At work, nothing changed. We kept it secret, although our company didn't forbid it; we felt co-workers would think I was being favoured. Jim once yelled at me over an issue I thought he was wrong about. It felt awful, yet I was able to separate it from our personal life. After two years, I left the firm, and we moved in together. Soon after, he let it slip to co-workers that we are a couple. There were gasps, but some people said they knew all along. (That I don't believe) Now we have been together for three years and are talking about getting married. I think he'll be a great husband. After all, he was a great boss!