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How to deal with my Ex at work.. NC not really an option


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OK, so my ex left me 3 months ago after a 2 year relationship. We lived together, work together, were together 24/7 for 2 years straight and we moved very quickly from the beginning, moving in together after just a couple months of dating. We were a great couple and never had an argument -- our friends often marveled that we were the perfect couple. She left abruptly because we were about to sign a new lease and she was scared to commit to another year. I had been under a lot of stress and grown distant and she felt that I no longer cared. When she left, she said she didn't nec want it to be for good and that she would wanna hang out in a month or 2 and see where we go from there. It wasn't a messy break up

and there were no raised voices... just her saying it wasn't working lately and she wants her own place.


Both her and her friends insisted there wasn't anyone else (I didn't push it with her, I only asked her once). Her friends agreed that she needed some time and that I should do something romantic with her next time we hang out and she would probably come around. 2 weeks after the break up, she comes over to get some of her stuff and we have a short conversation where she says she doesn't think she wants to work things out or attempt to reconcile. It was a civil conversation and I left it at that, but I had a hard time understanding this situation w/o there being someone else involved. I know she didn’t cheat on me, there would literally not have been an opportunity as we were together ALL THE TIME, but she may have been emotionally cheating on me.


We go NC (well, we work together, so maybe it’s more of No Unnecessary Contact - NUC), but at about this time I notice a co-worker's car at her apartment late in the evening a couple times (I have many friends and co-workers that live in her apartment complex... not stalking her, I promise). At first, I was in denial about this guy... he's not attractive, he's overweight, broke, and his sense of humor is not her type (she's got a sarcastic whit, while he has kind of a goofy, male-bimbo/airheaded sense of humor and personality). She is drop-dead gorgeous and could have just about any guy she wanted, so it just didn't seem to make sense to me. I start hearing from co-workers that live in her complex that his car is there a lot, even stays overnight a few times a week, but she hasn't said anything to anyone about hanging out with him, which makes me think she has something to hide. Everyone that knows us is absolutely baffled by the two of them as well. After reading the Grass Is Greener threads on here, this fits that scenario pretty well, but it’s hard to imagine her thinking the grass is greener on his side of the fence. Is it weird that it doesn’t really bother me that she’s seeing him? Maybe it’s because I don’t feel threatened by his looks or charm, maybe it’s because I feel it keeps her from sleeping around or hooking up with guys I would feel threatened by. Maybe part of me just can’t accept that they’re really together… IDK


After a month of this NC, she breaks it with a very trivial email (offering me some candy she can’t finish at work one day) and we start trading emails and chats at work regularly (just jokes and such) and she initiates almost every time. We get together to close out some of our old bills, bank acount, apartment, etc and she breaks down crying, saying that she misses me and that it's been a very tough month and a half. I had made a # of changes after the breakup: lost a good deal of weight, quit drinking, started going out and getting my social life back. She said she had noticed these changes and that if I had made them before the break-up, this never would've happened. I didn't ask about the possibility of getting back together, just told her that I missed her too and that I regret having made these changes too late.


We continue trading emails all the time and start making plans to hang out. I wanted to take the process slowly, so it was a couple of weeks until we hung out again. When we do finally hang out again (about 2 months post-breakup) it’s kinda awkward, and she says so. She says it’s probably not a good idea to hang out as it would complicate things and there’s still too much baggage from the relationship. I tell her that I understand, that I regret that’s the way it is and to let me know if she ever feels otherwise. I did ask her if she still had any feelings for me and she thought for a moment before saying that it would be unhealthy to answer that. I want to make it clear that, at this point, I have gotten over the pain and sense of loss. I have dated a couple girls and consider myself to be nearly (not entirely, but nearly) over this as much I can be for a while. At the end of the day, however, I still feel that she is the girl of my dreams and that I very much want her back in my life. Unfortunately, we work together and I have to see her everyday – luckily any communication is fairly rare, though.


So it’s been back to NUC ever since. Right now, her desk is about 20 feet away from me, but I find out yesterday that she will be moving shortly to a desk about 5 feet away and this about to get even more awkward. I’m not really sure how to take this. On one hand, it sucks to be around a girl that I know I could fall for again but doesn’t reciprocate. On the other hand, is this a golden opportunity to possibly re-ignite her feelings for me? I believe she still has feelings for me, but the other guy is new and intriguing and is also the option with the least drama (or at least requires the least amount of effort to overcome the drama). I also think that she knows I would be open to being friends and seeing where it goes, so she doesn’t feel like she is losing anything by continuing on with this other guy for the time being. Originally, she fell in love with my personality and sense of humor and I think she would again with the right exposure to me, just as I worry about falling for her all over again if I have to be around her too often.


Ok, so the question on which I am hoping for advice… how do I approach the situation of having her so close by for 40 hours a week and able to hear and see everything that I do on a daily basis, knowing that this could be an opportunity to bring her back around? The easy answer is to just act natural and be myself, but that’s easier said than done given the amount of history she and I have. Right now, we avoid eye contact altogether (though I catch her looking fairly often) and there is absolutely NO unnecessary communication at all. At some point, I guess I need to reopen some sort of friendly communication or she will probably never warm up at all. I feel that if I can do this properly, she will come around when the newness of this other guy wears off.


I can honestly say that I am in no rush to get back together with her. If she wants to see other people I can entirely understand that. It’s not like every day without her is torture or that I can’t live without her. That being said, I would prefer a future with her in it.


BTW, the new boyfriend (if they are officially an item) works on the other side of the office, so contact with him is very minimal, though he has gotten a little weird around me when I pass him in the halls… maybe I’m reading too much into that.


So, anybody out there have ay advice, either on things I should do or things I should be sure to avoid? Any insight would be much appreciated.

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It sounds like you're handling the situation very well as well as having to make the right decision. The only thing that's in the way is the fact that you two work so close together and if she's going to be literally next to you almost, it may complicate things. She may naturally feel pressured, either in positive or negative way.


Have you considered moving to another department or even a new job if things don't work out between you two? You don't sound like a person that will have hard time handling the situation but I guess the space & being away from her during the day may help her to miss you (which I'm sure she does everyday). If she's with this new guy, it's an obvious rebound relationship.

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I know she misses me, I just wonder when/if it'll be enough -- I hate the fact that I work with her. I feel as though it prevents her from missing me entirely, but maybe it's also a good exposure to what she no longer has around. We both have a very sarcastic sense of humor and would finish each other's jokes all the time. It's awkward when we both make the same joke at the same time in response to something that gets said in the office. It makes my co-workers uncomfortable as well -- I've had a couple people tell me to just stop making jokes, but that's just who I am.


I have been with this company for 3 years and she for 4. We've both put in a lot of work to get where we are. I am poised for a promotion in the next couple of months (then I'll be her boss... hehe), which had been denied to me in the past because we were together. I love my job and the people here, ex included. Not sure how I could pull myself away from all that too, it's become a part of who I am.

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Have you considered moving to another department or even a new job if things don't work out between you two?


Man, it is always a tough situation when you are in a relationship with a co-worker.


I have to be truthful, you would be better off finding another job, why?


Because you said you're up for a promotion which was denied because you two were involved, right?


What if you get that promotion and then get back together with her, and they take it away from you?


That would plain suck...right?


If you're really serious about wanting her in your life, the best way to accomplish that would be to leave your current position, this would really kick no contact into action too.


Life is a series of choices...we all have to make.


I hope this helped!

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Man, it is always a tough situation when you are in a relationship with a co-worker.

I know, but it wasn't an issue when the relationship started. We're in sales. I'm on the new business end of things, she was on the renewals end. In fact, she stepped into management on that end for a while during our relationship, and it wasn't an issue because there was no overlap in jurisdiction. She couldn't deal with her boss (don't blame her one iota) and stepped down, coming over to my end of the department. That was probably a bad idea, but I couldn't really tell her "honey, you're gonna have to deal with your boss cause I'm angling for a promotion", ya know?


What if you get that promotion and then get back together with her, and they take it away from you?


In sales, promotion doesn't always mean pay raise. Potentially, but pretty negligable in this case. I'd step down. Those in power above me already have respect for me and would respect the decision (I've been there for a while and when you're in sales, and have built up a strong book of business, your bosses love you). It's the level above that one that I'm intersted in, and stepping down wouldn't hurt my chances (unless I screw everything up professionally before I step down). Her and I actaully discussesd it a long time ago, if either of us ever gets to that ideal position, the other can quit working. I'm definitely getting there before her, so if she becomes the "one that got away", I'm financially set. LOL, I love finding silver linings to this.

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I'm definitely getting there before her, so if she becomes the "one that got away", I'm financially set. LOL, I love finding silver linings to this.


Problem Solved...you made a choice!


Now you just have to deal with this situation until she transfers, or finds another position.


I would just keep things on a "professional level" and avoid any personal talk...you can use the no contact rule and work together...it is just a lot harder that's all.


Good Luck!

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I'm giving this a little bump because I use a little insight. Leaving the job is not an option. The girl means a lot to me, yes, but I'm not giving up everything I have worked so hard to attain professionaly just because of a failed relationship. I want to deal with this, not run from it.


I know it's easy to say 'act natural' and 'just be yourself' -- I guess I just wanna make sure I'm not missing something here. Sometimes I feel that working with my ex is the worst twist to the story, sometimes I feel like it's a golden opportunity to keep the future open-eneded. Any thoughts would be welcome.

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I'm curious, what if you do not get the promotion in a couple of months, will you still stay with the company? Do you like the idea of being her boss? I doubt that will help make her want to be with you as a girlfriend.


I work with my ex but my circumstances are very different than yours. I've known him for just over 2.5 years and we had two 3 to 4 month "relationships" in those years. He dumped me both times, we are in a great band together which I did not want to quit because of him. I will admit to still not being over it a year later since the last break up because of the inability to go No Contact and just get the hell away from him COMPLETELY for a good six months. I know if that was the case, I would be in a much better place. But the longest I've gone is 3.5 weeks, and there was usually some band email to remind me and the anticipation of having to see him at these intervals was (and is) pretty nerve wracking. I sometimes think I'm getting better and then inevitably, something happens to set me back. And I haven't met anyone so moving on has been kinda tough.


I've just tried to act like nothing happened as much as possible. I have never made any initiation in any regard: I have never called him, emailed him or and I've barely even started a conversation with him. I always respond as I would anyone when he talks to me or emails about band business. I interact "normally" in the group but but it is not easy as I still am attracted to him after all this time and I know he is not seeing anyone.


I don't know.....I think you need to do NUC as much as possible, just be "professional" and friendly but don't initiate anything with her, and if you don't get your promotion in two months, then see how you feel and think about how to proceed at that point. Good luck.

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  • 8 months later...

I don't think you should eve consider leaving your position, department, or even your desk. Don't do anyhing differently. Don't acknowledge her unless she posts up at your desk, and then just tell her you're busy. Basically just act like she doesn't exist, unless you absolutely have to for work. One word answers or none at all should be used for trivial contact from her. She'll get the picture.

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