My Boss Broke My Heart

I dated a superior at my office for over a year. When it ended, we agreed that we would protect our professional lives and not say bad things about each other. I thought this plan was going well until I caught him saying horrible things about me to my work friends. I want to stop his childish antics, but I don't know how to confront him. I'm afraid that no matter what I say, he will think I am a sore and bitter "loser." He has the upper hand in our office, and if he gets angry, he's bound to use it. Help!

--drea_kitty

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Sherry Amatenstein

Sherry is the author of The Q&A Dating Book and Love Lessons from Bad Breakups. She has taught dating seminars, appeared as an expert... Read more

First, let me stress how chancy it is to have an office romance in the first place; it is common, but when you fall for a boss you open yourself up to many tribulations. There are, however, right and wrong ways to deal with problems as they arise.

First, you are absolutely right: If you voice corresponding insults about your ex it will fan the flames. Instead, do not respond at all. Just hold your head up high. In time he will see that he's not getting a rise out of you, and without attention, he'll stop. As for your coworkers, say something like, "My philosophy is if you have nothing fabulous to say, say nothing. And we did have some good times together so I'm leaving it at that."

If (and only if) he doesn't stop bad-mouthing you after three months, then approach him. Don't lose your temper or hurl insults; that will only give him ammunition. Instead, stay on the high road, and guilt him into stopping. For example, say something like this:

"Hi _______, I know it's difficult that we have to work together. But I want you to know that I treasure our nice times, and I'd like to hold onto those memories instead of the ones of you saying unkind things about me. I know you're a good person at heart. That's why we were together in the first place. So hopefully we can move on and wish each other well."

Finally, do keep a paper trail on this man. Every time you hear about him bad-mouthing you, note the incident in a private journal along with the name of the person who told you. If he sends any harassing emails or memos, print out copies and save them. This way, if you cannot stop him alone, you have evidence to bring to other people within your corporation or, worst-case scenario, a lawyer.

Best of luck,
Sherry

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