**This is a work of nonfiction based on actual events that I have experienced firsthand; used with permission.
When I engaged in a relationship with a co-worker at my old job, it was initially on the down low. Well, at least we thought it was, Those of you who have been involved in any kind of workplace romance probably know what I’m talking about.
Soon enough, the word usually gets out when two people who work in the same place get wrapped up in a romantic relationship. It only takes one person to find out about it and then the word usually spreads like wildfire.
That said, my paramour and I were able to carry on for quite some time before the rest of the work crew at work found out and everyone started gossiping about us.
Unfortunately, my boss found out about the affair — and apparently felt the need to call me into his office and talk to me about his thoughts on my love life. The person I was seeing and I did not technically work for the same company, nor did we inhabit the same building so there wasn’t much my boss could do besides ask us to keep things discreet.
However, this particular boss was around the same age as my own dad and had kids of his own who were just a bit younger than me.
He was concerned about my choices — and he wanted to express that to me.
I had been working for him for a couple of years and I was one of his best employees. I worked long hours. I was dedicated. He respected me and felt the need to let me know that the person I was romantically involved with was not a good choice.
The person I was seeing was married. My boss didn’t think I knew and he felt he had to break it to me.
Well, this wasn’t news to me. But the person I was seeing had assured me that he and his wife were separated, although still residing in the same home — because of the kids. I willed myself to believe him.
So, my boss now knew that I was willingly participating in a relationship with a married co-worker. I could see the respect he had for me drain from his face at that moment. That moment sucked. He was a mentor to me. I did want his approval.
Regardless, I was absolutely infatuated with the married guy. I was under his spell. I was in — deep.
I explained to my boss that my love life was of no concern to him unless it affected my job performance and if he brought it up again, I would be reporting it to human resources. It was a tense conversation. He said he understood but he wanted to let me know that this sordid relationship was a mistake that I should end.
His words to me were, “Don’t soil your own nest.”
I cringed. I thought that was a repulsive expression and I instantly recoiled at it. However, it turned out that these words would end up haunting me for quite some time — even to this day.
This is because he was right. Dead right.
Not long after this conversation, his wife showed up at our workplace looking for both of us — in her pajamas — to check her philandering husband’s timecard. Her suspicions were definitely not wrong. That’s a whole other article.
The love affair ended up taking a bad turn shortly after this. We would break up, get back together, break up, and so on. On those bad days, it became intolerable to even have to park in the same parking lot as my on and off again partner. There were days when I wanted to give him up but then I would see him at work — and I’d fall into the trap again.
He became insanely jealous when we would fight or ‘break up’ and he would call me at my desk from outside or from somewhere else in the facility, harassing me. It was horrendous. I’m pretty sure my boss noticed and I’m pretty sure he could see the stress I was under.
Needless to say, the whole affair was a mess. Workplace romances are common, however, that doesn’t always mean they’re all healthy. This one certainly was not.
Eventually, I moved to a different facility and so did he. My boss who told me to end the relationship retired.
I never forgot those words he said to me. They ended up being the most distastefully true words I ever heard.
“Don’t soil your own nest.”
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