Sex and Work

by Alex Zarafa

Alex Zarafa says:

The first year that I was married, I was attracted to one of my coworkers. The idea of monogamy, of a committed "us", was new enough that it hadn't sunk into my unconscious. I kept hurting my partner's feelings with the unintentional "I" or "my" that should have been a "we" or "our". I was terribly paranoid that I'd slip into old behaviors and accidentally have sex with that coworker. It had been the game of life for so long to try to have sex with whoever attracted me.

The urge was so strong that I didn't trust myself at all, so I made up a rule for myself: don't end up alone with him. This led to early departures from parties, declined rides, and self-consciously shortened after-work conversations.

It was good to have a solid rule like that, and I followed it. But I still found myself arguing with myself, to convince myself to do the right thing. I had to remind myself of decisions I'd made in less hormonal moments - that it would never be worth it, that it would be an incredibly destructive thing to do to my husband and the marriage.

I also played Sour Grapes, "He's not even cute! He's the David Letterman of the programming world." Ah, but David Letterman has his own charm. "He's too strictly scientific - he doesn't see magic at all!" Yeah, but opposites complement each other, and retain their individuality.

The whole thing was painful and embarrassing, which made my attraction feel like a young crush. I was overcome with junior high levels of awkwardness.

In the end, it was probably the fact that we moved to another city and I started telecommuting that really eroded the fascination. I'm very glad that I never tried anything with that coworker, grateful to myself that I honored the decision of monogamy made with my husband. And the experience was a good and necessary step in my married life - if it hadn't been that programmer, it would have been someone else. When you've spent so many years with a player's mindset, it takes time to process a change.

I'm much more comfortable with monogamy now, no longer reverting to nervous junior high mannerisms around attractive men. I trust myself at least, oh, 85% of the time. And the rest of the time I can always reinstate The Rule.

The Alex Zarafa Bio is coming soon.

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