Dear Thomas,
I fell in love with a co-worker. He has expressed that he loves me too, but we can't be a couple because it is not allowed in our workplace. I am deeply saddened that he and I will never be able to have a deeper relationship than just being co-workers. How do I "stop" my feelings for him? Neither one of us can change our work positions.
--In Love but Worried

Dear Worried,
Over the years I have found that people usually present their relationship problems in the form of an impossible dilemma. There seems to be no way out, and that's one reason why they feel so frustrated and discouraged. This sense of being in a dilemma means two things: It may be only the beginning of a process, and it may require more probing and talking.

So, I would say to you: Talk this problem through with your friend and ask yourselves tough questions all along the way. Are your jobs really more important than your relationship? Is there any way you can question or find a way around the rule about not having a relationship on the job? It's difficult to imagine a workplace in which people aren't pairing off and even getting married. Does this rule say anything about the values in the company you're working for? Do you really want to give your life to an organization that is so punitive and intrusive? Do you want to give up your soul for a paycheck?

Maybe I'm putting it in terms that are too black-and-white. You should be able to pursue both a good career and a good relationship. But, it seems to me, you may have to do that with another company. The sense of being in a dilemma can blind you to alternatives, so I'd suggest that you break out of the dilemma altogether. Open yourself to alternatives. Honor your heart and honor your career hopes. Go for both with passion. I would bet that if you turn up the heat on the situation, a solution will appear.

In some ways, you are experiencing Romeo and Juliet syndrome: your love has come up against a powerful obstacle. It happens to many people. Working it through could be a way to strengthen your love. The romance then becomes a rite of passage, and both of you are better people for it.

With the little information I have, I don't have a simple answer for you. I can only recommend that you look closely at the implications of working at this heartless place and choosing financial security over love. Clearly, you have to think over the deep issues this problem raises, especially with regard to your values and emotions. You are at a turning point, and your future choices will be influenced by the decision you make now.

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