DEAR Miss Lonelyhearts: I've been reading about "office wives" in your column lately and I'm feeling sick because I recognize I'm being groomed for one. I'm almost 30, single, and some would say I'm beautiful. I'm being given all the best projects while my boss passes over men and women who've had more experience. I'm always called into his office on excuses. His secretary hates me for no reason. I know now he's shaping me up for the confidante, the one who goes on trips with him. Yesterday, I lied and told him I now have a wonderful new boyfriend who has asked me to move in with him after Christmas. I smiled and lied through my teeth to get some space, sitting in his office while he went on about the wife who "got herself" pregnant. My lip must have curled visibly. Anyway, a chill settled over the room. Now what do I do? I don't even have anybody to bring to the Christmas party. By the way, I love my work, so don't tell me to quit. This is my chosen field and jobs are very hard to get. -- Lying Mouse, Winnipeg
Dear Lying Mouse: It's hard to squeak when you're the favourite, but you did. Good! You may find the chill continues after your confession of another man in your life, and that's fine if your boss doesn't take it out on you. He hasn't done much to get himself in trouble for sexual harassment at this point. So, let's look at protecting you right now. If you don't have a smart good-looking male friend you could rustle up as a party escort, you might want to get sick the day before the party and stay sick until the day after. That way you don't have the boss pumping your fake new boyfriend's hand and asking questions. If the boss asks where you were later, tell him your boyfriend was bringing you echinacea and chicken soup and you were afraid you were getting the flu. If he still puts pressure on you to be his office babe, call the Human Rights Commission about what constitutes sexual harassment. Not ready to do that? Then these are your three choices: 1) Have a frank talk about your policy of not getting involved with bosses. 2) Continue to play rat and mouse and end up with a nervous twitch. 3) Look for a new job in a similar company, even if you have to relocate to do it.
Dear Miss Lonelyhearts: In the very early days of our relationship I cheated, but with counselling, we got past it and have been good since. I recently got reconnected with a former sweetheart and we have enjoyed emailing for the last year. Then, with both of our partners' knowledge, we met and had dinner together just to talk. Now I can't stop thinking about him! The friendship has deepened and I am very attracted. I don't want to jeopardize my marriage and I don't want to end this friendship. How can we back away from the danger zone, but still be friends? Or do you think this is impossible? -- Torn, Transcona
Dear Torn: Your much longer letter strikes me as being a bit off because there were so many identifying details in it, as if you were trying to humiliate your husband. I took those details out to protect him. In answer to your questions, you're not "torn between two lovers" like that annoying song goes. You want your husband, and you want a little extra on the side. But you can't stray and not feel the heat. That's not how cheating with a novelty partner works. You have to stop all contact if you want to keep your marriage. You may have gotten away with cheating in early days, but most people have limits and you probably got your quota of forgiveness the first time.
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