How to End an Affair with a Colleague and Keep Your Dignity

So, you have just put an end to an office romance. You got rid of the reminders, deleted your mutual photos from social networks, complained to friends and girlfriends. Working with a former close friend is very hard. There are several ways to survive the end of an affair with a colleague, even if the former partner is sitting at the nearest table.


Any separation is a serious blow, but the completion of an office relationship is a completely different situation. Unfortunately, it does not matter if you have parted by mutual decision or because someone has quitted the game. But that is no reason to change jobs. Let’s see what can be done to mitigate the effects of separation.

1. Agree on a neutral behavior

We hope you and your partner have agreed at once not to mix work and personal affairs. If not, then it is high time to do so. Do not let the difficulties in a relationship ruin your reputation or affect the results of your work.

  • You need to clarify the situation and decide how you will communicate.
  • Only business communication is permitted at work, so you will have to adhere to this principle.
  • Even if you have separated as friends and maintained good relations, transfer them on the work process. Remember that your relationship is over. Try not to bother each other for some time.
  • Your conversation should be personal; it should not be witnessed by your colleagues in the hallway.

2. Professional etiquette

Treat your former partner in the same way as other colleagues, even if it seems impossible. Communicate politely (especially if you have broken up recently) and discuss only work items. There should be no sarcastic remarks, even if they can hardly be heard. Sometimes it is difficult to restrain yourself not to say something, but you will have to learn this. A conflict in the office will not be of advantage to anyone.

It is more difficult to stay within the framework of corporate ethics, if the former partner provokes a scandal and behaves like an offended student after an unsuccessful party. It may be trite, but there is no solution except ignoring the verbal attacks completely.

3. No gossiping

  • After finishing the relationship, you will be tempted to gossip about the former partner with anyone who is willing to listen. This is generally the first item in the list “What’s to be done after separation.” However, affairs with colleagues have other conditions.
  • There should be no office gossiping, do not talk with colleagues about the details of your separation (even if you are tortured, be silent).
  • If the inner voice demands revenge and tells you how to spoil the reputation of your partner, you will achieve nothing, except putting yourself in a bad light.
  • Do not add fuel to the fire, otherwise your story will become an office tale, discussed by everyone. Imagine the colleagues talking, for example, about a couple breaking up in the marketing department and then discussing the couple’s pictures.

4. No revenge

Speaking of photos, secrets, and blackmail, you should leave all these things to writers of TV series not to turn the office into a film set of a soap opera.

If you have separated, this is not the reason to delay your report, to hide the documents or prevent the former partner from meeting with the client. Anything could have happened between you. However, if someone starts to work ineffectively in your organization, it eventually affects all the employees due to the loss of income and additional costs.

At work, you are swimming in the same boat with your colleagues, so get rid of hostility as unnecessary ballast.

5. Reduce communication

So, you have admitted the fact that you need to swallow your pride and negative emotions before you continue to work with this person. It does not involve communicating for 40 hours a week.

As long as the wound is still fresh, use the old tactics of avoidance. Ex-partners are not the reason for you to miss meetings and corporate events, but there is always the possibility to adjust the work schedule and meet as seldom as possible.

By the way, here are a few words about your visit to a corporate party. For you it is going to be 100% sober. This is not discussed. If you have recently ended an affair, do not play with alcohol in the presence of colleagues. This situation is even seldom mentioned in anecdotes because the effect of a glass of wine at a party with your former partner can be really bad.

Come to work a little earlier, and you will not have to go down the hall depressed and in silence. Do not rush to the dining room when it is your former partner’s dinner time or go to dinner with someone else.

If emotions are very strong, and you cannot work safely, take a vacation for a couple of weeks. Get rid of all the negative thoughts and leave them as far as possible from the office chair.

6. Apply your energy in a peaceful way

At some point, the separation will occupy all your thoughts. That’s okay, we are all human. But you should not think about the former partner planning a new date. Use all the energy from unnecessary emotions to perform your duties at work.

It is not always easy, but try to leave emotions at the door of the office. You just need to work the required hours. Focusing on the work will distract you from the emotional anguish. At the same time, you will show the boss how well you can work. When you are rewarded, it will clearly sweeten the bitter feeling.

7. Do not talk about yourself

Do not talk about your personal life. Sooner or later, you will begin a new relationship.

Even if much time has passed and you have lived through that separation, do not wake old grievances and do not announce it in public that you are going on holiday with a new lover. Do not give any cause for gossiping and do not try to demonstrate unearthly happiness to hurt your former partner deliberately.

If you are asked about the details, it is better to interrupt a conversation instead of developing the subject. If anything is private, it should remain private.

8. Remember your experience

There is nothing surprising or bad when affairs with colleagues occur. We spend too much time at work, and many of our colleagues may seem attractive to us.

While you are recovering from a failed relationship, you can assess the consequences. Was this affair worthy of the subsequent difficulties? Maybe it was, and maybe it was not. Whatever conclusion you draw, consider the pros and cons. Especially if you are going to start a new relationship in the workplace.

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