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Is this an emotional affair or just friendship with boss?


OldSoul91
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Hi everyone. I am 34F and my boss is 57M. My boss (let’s call him L) was once a colleague at a different job we both worked at. He eventually left to focus on his own company which he has owned for decades and I did some side work for him for extra money. A year ago I left my job and went to go work for his company full time.

When we were both working at the first place, my husband cheated and left me. L was a big help to me and constantly checked on me to make sure I was ok. He would often sit in my office and talk for a long time. When he left the company we rarely saw one another but we did have a group text going with us and another colleague. So we kept in constant communication.

Since I have started working for him things are a little different. I don’t really have much work to do so when I go to the office he spends all day talking to me. Most of the other employees work from home or are in other states, so often it’s just the two of us. We have lunch together and then talk some more and go home. He will then do his work from home. I am frustrated because I need to feel useful at work so I have brought up to him many times that I don’t have enough work and I feel useless and I would like to do more. He keeps telling me I’m overthinking it and that hiring me was the best decision he has ever made.

He constantly tells me I am his second priority after his daughter (she’s 15). He has a wife. He has always complained about things she does. She recently randomly came to the office twice to spend the day. On those days he did not talk with me and just did work. Over lunch on those days she asked me about my dating life (I am not seeing anyone) and asked about a man who works at the next office who seemed interested when he came over to drop off mail that was erroneously given to him. When she asked me if he was married I said I didn’t know since I wasn’t interested and she said “well you don’t want a married man do you” to which I told her absolutely not, I just wasn’t interested so I didn’t make it a priority to find out.

L has said throughout the years he would never get a divorce because of what his father did to his mother and that if he ever got divorced he would need to be with someone who knew his daughter and who knew that his daughter would always come first. He now has me getting involved in his daughter’s life, helping with homework, going to lunch etc. He recently told me two stories that he told me he has never told another person not even his wife. They weren’t extraordinary stories so it was weird that he would keep it from his wife.

Regardless, I’m starting to feel like I was hired to be a full time friend and not an employee. He pays me extraordinarily generously. This bothers me, I feel like I need to earn my salary.  At my previous job I was an expert in my field, I liked feeling useful. Does this sound like an emotional affair on his part? And how can I approach it considering he is my boss and I need this job until I find another? I have started working from home when I can, but it makes me anxious to do so because I know he wants me there.  He will say to me "are you coming to the office tomorrow?" and I feel obligated to say yes.

I will say I don’t think I’m his type physically. His wife is very petite and I’m curvy, so perhaps that helps in him actually not being interested, or perhaps that's wishful thinking on my part.

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15 minutes ago, OldSoul91 said:

He now has me getting involved in his daughter’s life, helping with homework, going to lunch etc.

Discontinue interacting with his family or talking about personal issues. He did not hire you as a nanny. It's already sexual harassment, so keep your resume current. He seems to want to prey on your vulnerabilities.

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He is being inappropriate if any of the things he's doing are only done when he wife is not there. For example, sitting in your office all day and having lunch with you.

He pays you well because he wants you to feel obligated to him.  He may view you as a sort of "paid mistress" minus the sex part (hopefully).

Being the mistress of a married man is a terrible way to go. I  recommend you start sending your resume to other companies so you can get out of this uncomfortable and inappropriate situation.

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I would look elsewhere too and for the reason that you need to keep up your job related skills or else your next potential employer may realize you have deficits in those areas. 
My boss and mentor for 10 years was also that age difference.  I met him when I was 32. We did actually discuss some personal matters. But he mentored me, I worked extremely hard for him all the time and I kept it to business and actually had a good relationship with his wife who was in a related field.
 He helped me get other jobs when I left to relocate and become a full time mama - meaning when I returned to work. 
   You don’t have enough of a professional relationship or one where he is helping to develop and enhance your professional skills and experience and that is a problem. You won’t be as marketable or salary competitive as a result.  I think you’re potentially playing with fire. 

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30 minutes ago, OldSoul91 said:

Regardless, I’m starting to feel like I was hired to be a full time friend and not an employee.

More like full-time mistress lol

That guy knows what he is doing. Paying you generous, having you spend time with him, even helping him around his daughter. Wouldnt be surprised if he starts to flirt with you soon. Even his wife knows something is wrong, that is why all the questioning.

You should start looking for another job. Unless you want to be amistress of some sleezy married man.

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25 minutes ago, Batya33 said:

I would look elsewhere too and for the reason that you need to keep up your job related skills or else your next potential employer may realize you have deficits in those areas. 
My boss and mentor for 10 years was also that age difference.  I met him when I was 32. We did actually discuss some personal matters. But he mentored me, I worked extremely hard for him all the time and I kept it to business and actually had a good relationship with his wife who was in a related field.
 He helped me get other jobs when I left to relocate and become a full time mama - meaning when I returned to work. 
   You don’t have enough of a professional relationship or one where he is helping to develop and enhance your professional skills and experience and that is a problem. You won’t be as marketable or salary competitive as a result.  I think you’re potentially playing with fire. 

I will say that he does try to mentor me, but then I never really get to do work.  When I worked for him part times I was slammed with work.

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31 minutes ago, OldSoul91 said:

@boltnrun yes, that's my worry, that I am being paid well but not really earning my salary. 

I've learned nothing is free. At some point he will come to you and bring up how you've been paid very well to do very little work. And he'll want a "return on investment", so to speak. He may even tell you not to be naive, that you had to know there would be expectations. And that you had to know he wasn't paying you that much to just sit there.

Hopefully you can find another job soon.

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This is an extremely inappropriate situation that you need to get out of ASAP. His wife knows he's emotionally attached to you, and that's why she came to work--to suss you out. Triangles can have deadly consequences, even if you're not in a physical affair. 

Yes, try to get another job as soon as possible. In the meantime, come up with your own projects at work that will give you an opportunity to say, "If you'll excuse me, I want to get back to working on XYZ." 

Feel free to tell him you are not comfortable hearing about his family problems and continuing to help his daughter with homework. Reject the outings to lunch. Bring your own and say "no" or go out on your own. Become boring. Cut him off short with discussions. You can always excuse yourself to go to the bathroom or to make copies.

You're an adult so so don't let people treat you like a puppet whereas they can pull the strings and you move in whatever way they wish.

Good money is never a good reason to stay in a toxic environment.

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My heart goes out to you. I hate how hackneyed and militant this term has become, but this IS a form of harassment. It's a false job--a bait and switch--and I was positioned the same way years ago.

Back then, I pacified the two men over a boozy meal at the end of my contract while they tried to sell me on renewal but could not name the project that I would manage.

The next day I declined the job, and the guy representing the consulting firm, who would have received a kickback, had a meltdown and threatened to fight any unemployment claims since 'work' was offered. 

My unemployment insurance was denied by a woman government worker who had zero sympathy for another woman being overpaid for a 'cupcake' job.

So I just went without the money until I landed another job. Looking back, even now, it makes me furious. But I'm proud of myself for following my gut and getting away from those people.

Today, I'd probably do a search on 'legal defense for women in the workplace' and if you use Google, allow your location to be used for local results.

The end goal is not to harm, punish, fight or even educate this man, it's just to plan the best and safest exit during this time of holiday-low hiring with the least financial impact or damage to yourself.

Make a phone chain--on your private phone, outside of the office--with places like Legal Momentum, National Women's Law Center, or any orgs you can find where someone can refer you to resources local to you, and ask for advisement.

Otherwise, if you can leapfrog to another job--even a temp job, I would do that immediately.

I hope you'll let us know how things go, and I'm so sorry that this happened to you.

 

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2 minutes ago, OldSoul91 said:

@catfeeder I’m sorry that it happened to you but I admire your strength. Do these men typically present as super caring and wonderful? He was like that for years. Very generous, always checking in on me. That’s why this is so confusing to me. 

I think that people especially if they are in a position of authority can misuse that position and yes, appear that way.  And in that dynamic it can be really easy to sort of "fall" for that.

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12 minutes ago, OldSoul91 said:

Do these men typically present as super caring and wonderful?

Oh yes. Its a manipulative way to gain your trust. For example he already lay down how he has  problems in marriage. Next thing is to try to seduce you and promise how he would leave his wife for you. Since he already told you how he cares more about you then her. You are already "surrogat mommie" for the daughter so that is already taken care for.

My country is lenient when it comes to work affairs. Meaning there is a law but not too much lawsuits coming out of it when it comes to abuse of power. Mostly when you heard about it, its some big politician scandal. So, during my work career in different big companies, I have seen many cases of it. Getting jobs like that is hard. So its not out of the ordinary to even see married women agree to that kind of arrangements. You get a very safe, very nice office job, Boss gets a new lover. At the last one I saw the secretary leaving in Mercedes with one of the executives. For "lunch". They are both married. Not to each other, she is in young 30s, he is in his 50s. It wasnt me that commented something, her other women colleagues did. It was quite transparent.

Anyway, dont let yourself fall for somebody like that. They all will promise you anything you want to hear. Will give you nice jobs and better position regarding it. But at the end its not worth it. All those stories usually dont have a happy ending. As they never leave their marriages for affair, they just continue witth the next affair that comes their way. I would suggest to start updating your CV and try to find the job elsewhere, while you still work there. And change that job before what I am talking about starts happening.

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8 hours ago, OldSoul91 said:

Certainly not interested in being a mistress!

Then it is best to let him know immediately that he needs to back off and that you are uncomfortable with his attention etc.  Say what you mean, and mean what you say.  At this stage though, it would be best to start looking for another job.

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Has he ever said or done anything remotely sexual towards you? Hand on your shoulder? Hug? Inappropriate words? Stares at you? Buys you gifts?

 I agree this sounds weird and he is over sharing and has crossed the boss employee line some time ago so if you are not comfortable then look for another job that challenges you so the days to not drag on.  I can imagine how long the days are with little to nothing to do.

 Start putting some distance between the two of you and kick that job search into high gear.  Of course you would never become his mistress but being uncomfortable at work for any reason can really wear you done emotionally.

 When he asks why you are leaving just tell him you want a job that challenges you and gives you pride in your work.

I wonder how much the other employees are paid for like work?

 Lost

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19 minutes ago, lostandhurt said:

Has he ever said or done anything remotely sexual towards you? Hand on your shoulder? Hug? Inappropriate words? Stares at you? Buys you gifts?

 I agree this sounds weird and he is over sharing and has crossed the boss employee line some time ago so if you are not comfortable then look for another job that challenges you so the days to not drag on.  I can imagine how long the days are with little to nothing to do.

 Start putting some distance between the two of you and kick that job search into high gear.  Of course you would never become his mistress but being uncomfortable at work for any reason can really wear you done emotionally.

 When he asks why you are leaving just tell him you want a job that challenges you and gives you pride in your work.

I wonder how much the other employees are paid for like work?

 Lost

thank you. No he has never done anything at all sexual towards me. I do want a job that challenges me, the days certainly drag on here. I was surprised to find that another employee who has been there for 5 years makes half of what I make. I know another employee, a male, makes the same that I do. 

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3 hours ago, OldSoul91 said:

@catfeeder I’m sorry that it happened to you but I admire your strength. Do these men typically present as super caring and wonderful? He was like that for years. Very generous, always checking in on me. That’s why this is so confusing to me. 

Yes, that's how my two guys operated. However, I'm not trying to vilify your boss as deliberately trying to harm you, even while he is actually harming you.

He is self-interested at your expense.

Mine were out to 'make a party + profit' out of drinking, golfing, and ripping off a client company by creating a fraudulent consultant request for a project that didn't exist. They mistakenly targeted me because we'd gotten along during my successful legitimate project with the company.

They tried to parlay that relationship into fraud, and they harmed me when I wouldn't cooperate. 

But too-bad-so-sad for them. I'd rather suffer some hardship than let them corrupt me.

(BTW--I had long forgotten about this incident. I buried it. If I'd been surveyed a week ago, I would have reported never having been exposed to harassment in my career. Apparently, memory can be selective. I've been taking antacid today after recalling this, but there must be a valid reason. I'll likely use it for something soon, and thank you.)

Anyway, sorry to self-indulge. In your case, your boss committed fraud by presenting an offer for a job that doesn't exist. He was self-interested. 

His wife even knows it. That why she's showing up to 'mate guard.'

This doesn't imply that he's completely cognizant of his plan, only that he's paying to put you on deck while he formulates a plan.

But you already sense the damage to your own psyche and your own career. That doesn't even factor in whether the guy could be psychologically damaged and possibly dangerous.

I would just get out of this. I'd rather suffer financial damage than any other kind of damage. You don't even know if he could turn harmful.

Please be safe and exit. (((Holding you in my thoughts.)))

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8 hours ago, OldSoul91 said:

thank you. No he has never done anything at all sexual towards me. I do want a job that challenges me, the days certainly drag on here. I was surprised to find that another employee who has been there for 5 years makes half of what I make. I know another employee, a male, makes the same that I do. 

It doesn't sound like an affair per se, but it seems that your more like a personal assistant than whatever you were hired for. This is like getting hired as a financial advisor but cleaning toilets.

What is your actual job title/description? Certainly there's something in writing with regard to what you were hired for and what your duties are.

Personally if I were hired for a certain position but then was demoted to chauffeur or some other flunky position like nanny, no matter the reuneration, I would run.

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12 hours ago, OldSoul91 said:

thank you. No he has never done anything at all sexual towards me. I do want a job that challenges me, the days certainly drag on here. I was surprised to find that another employee who has been there for 5 years makes half of what I make. I know another employee, a male, makes the same that I do. 

Okay so lets not automatically assume he wants to bed you but he is over sharing for sure and has crossed many boss employee boundaries for sure.

 If you left all the other stuff out of this equation and only focused on the fact that this job does not challenge you, makes you feel unproductive and seemingly has no place for advancement not to mention the days drag on is more than enough of reasons to want to find something better suited to your work ethic.  I am sure there are plenty of people that would want a cushy job with good pay but that isn't you, you want more so I agree it is time to seriously look for something more suited to you.

 Lost

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On 12/1/2022 at 6:25 PM, OldSoul91 said:

He has always complained about things she does. She recently randomly came to the office twice to spend the day.

And then

On 12/1/2022 at 6:25 PM, OldSoul91 said:

When she asked me if he was married I said I didn’t know since I wasn’t interested and she said “well you don’t want a married man do you”

She knows there's something going on between you two.

How do you thing he treats his wife when HE spends most of his days chatting with you and bringing you closer to his daughter? How do you think HE treats his wife when he waits to go home and spends his time doing work instead of caring for his wife and daughter?

HIM complaining to you about his wife is the first sign of emotional cheating. He tells you she's supposedly not good, and then he gets your sympathy and you feel bad for him. You start getting hooked as he plays victim to a situation in which he isn't one. And that's just the beginning!

Absolutely get your CV out there and keep things professional in the meanwhile. It's a mess you don't want to be tied to. Don't even let him know you're job searching until you leave a job and give him your notice.

I'm sorry this career move didn't turn out to be so great, but you'll be able to land something asap and move on.

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On 12/1/2022 at 3:25 PM, OldSoul91 said:

Hi everyone. I am 34F and my boss is 57M. My boss (let’s call him L) was once a colleague at a different job we both worked at. He eventually left to focus on his own company which he has owned for decades and I did some side work for him for extra money. A year ago I left my job and went to go work for his company full time.

When we were both working at the first place, my husband cheated and left me. L was a big help to me and constantly checked on me to make sure I was ok. He would often sit in my office and talk for a long time. When he left the company we rarely saw one another but we did have a group text going with us and another colleague. So we kept in constant communication.

Since I have started working for him things are a little different. I don’t really have much work to do so when I go to the office he spends all day talking to me. Most of the other employees work from home or are in other states, so often it’s just the two of us. We have lunch together and then talk some more and go home. He will then do his work from home. I am frustrated because I need to feel useful at work so I have brought up to him many times that I don’t have enough work and I feel useless and I would like to do more. He keeps telling me I’m overthinking it and that hiring me was the best decision he has ever made.

He constantly tells me I am his second priority after his daughter (she’s 15). He has a wife. He has always complained about things she does. She recently randomly came to the office twice to spend the day. On those days he did not talk with me and just did work. Over lunch on those days she asked me about my dating life (I am not seeing anyone) and asked about a man who works at the next office who seemed interested when he came over to drop off mail that was erroneously given to him. When she asked me if he was married I said I didn’t know since I wasn’t interested and she said “well you don’t want a married man do you” to which I told her absolutely not, I just wasn’t interested so I didn’t make it a priority to find out.

L has said throughout the years he would never get a divorce because of what his father did to his mother and that if he ever got divorced he would need to be with someone who knew his daughter and who knew that his daughter would always come first. He now has me getting involved in his daughter’s life, helping with homework, going to lunch etc. He recently told me two stories that he told me he has never told another person not even his wife. They weren’t extraordinary stories so it was weird that he would keep it from his wife.

Regardless, I’m starting to feel like I was hired to be a full time friend and not an employee. He pays me extraordinarily generously. This bothers me, I feel like I need to earn my salary.  At my previous job I was an expert in my field, I liked feeling useful. Does this sound like an emotional affair on his part? And how can I approach it considering he is my boss and I need this job until I find another? I have started working from home when I can, but it makes me anxious to do so because I know he wants me there.  He will say to me "are you coming to the office tomorrow?" and I feel obligated to say yes.

I will say I don’t think I’m his type physically. His wife is very petite and I’m curvy, so perhaps that helps in him actually not being interested, or perhaps that's wishful thinking on my part.

If his wife said that to you she obviously bothered about you and him working together. 

Plus everything everyone said please look for something else. Because of the lack of work and you just sat bored basically talking to you if you go in.

He wants you involved with his daughter. So much is wrong here.

Your a young woman you shouldn't have to deal with all that.

While your waiting on new job probably don't go in a much keep distance. Make yourself busy going out with friends etc.

Then when a new job opportunity comes tell him your leaving but can see him trying to guilt trip you.

Just be careful here. 

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19 hours ago, lostandhurt said:

Okay so lets not automatically assume he wants to bed you but he is over sharing for sure and has crossed many boss employee boundaries for sure.

Agree. Keep in mind that sexual harassment includes treating you like a flunky, it isn't always about sexual motives. Do the men that work there have to babysit his child, for example? 

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