Sex and The City: Toxic office love

I started dating my colleague who soon got a promotion & I had to start reporting to him. Work & personal life were kept apart till this point. Then I got pregnant & we had to abort. I went through a very difficult phase where he suddenly became distant after the abortion, but I had to keep reporting to him as my boss at work. He started snapping at work & we started fighting during each one-to-one meeting. One day he unilaterally decided to call if off & I was devastated. He subsequently suggested that we should still continue casual sex. I hate myself for being needy of his presence & I give in to the sex, while he has made clear that he won’t be making any commitments. I feel he is like a drug that will destroy me & yet I can’t stop myself. Please help.

Ans: Human beings often feel like they benefit a great deal from knowing too much about what excites them. However, sometimes an overfamiliarity with a topic, situation and person can lead to a sense of dreariness, fussiness and even burnout. A case of knowing too much may lead to a desire for further control. People hope to control what and who they know intimately. Let's look at the closeness shared between you and your partner. The lines between a professional and personal got blurred. A sense of overfamiliarity ensued due to the sheer amount of time that was being spent by you'll in each other's company both officially (for work) and unofficially (for sex).

Sometimes, closeness between people can breed contempt, fatigue and even fear. Maybe the fact that you had to go through the ordeal of an abortion gave your boss/boyfriend cold feet? Could this be his way of wanting to take a few steps back or have you exactly where he wants you so that you're amenable to meet his personal sexual agendas? If that's the case, there is the likelihood that he's using you merely to placate himself. Understandably, his promotion may also have primed him for certain office-based hierarchical advantages over you.

The fact that you had to report to him probably indicated certain things to him about this evolving power dynamic. Due to the fact that he was in an organizationally superior position to you, he may have opted to exercise some sway and veto over your availability and pliability. Maybe he expected your complete obedience and subservience? Maybe he sees you as someone who has to 'answer' to him for certain choices?

Understandably, this may feel humiliating and he may have acted in a controlling or patronizing way. In some abusive relationships, a person may attempt to prod their partner to act in a made-to-measure way that indicates that the relationship's tone is set by their narrow guidelines. At other times, a partner may evade or blame their partner to address their own discomfort with a certain emotionally loaded situation (such as an abortion).

Unless you conclusively figure out what your boss / partner wants from you, you may find yourself in similar situations in your subsequent relationships. The fact that he called off the relationship could indicate his boredom or eroding interest in you and the relationship and there's little that can be done to reverse that. Perhaps he was able to get out of you what he wanted to get out of you and has now decided to move towards another direction.

If you're uncomfortable having sex with a man who’s merely meting out instructions that you're expected to follow, you're going to have to stand up for yourself and simply say 'No' to him. Your neediness needs to be addressed in a session with a counsellor to ostensibly assess if any of your emotional issues stem from low self-esteem, lack of assertiveness and poor communication. If he won't commit and has decided to end it, maybe it's time for you to move on too.

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