Question for Meg:
“I’ve just ended an affair with a man in my office. I really am over it, but he’s not, and his constant pleas to start things up again have become like a boiling pot of stress and anxiety. What should I do?”
If you’re truly clear that you’re “over it,” then you need to ask yourself whether or not you’re still leaving an opening… such as trying to be “friends.” If you are, then you need to address the situation by making a clean break.
A clean break will mean you leave no opening for anything personal in the professional interactions between you. I know this can be hard to do when you’ve been intimate with someone. But avoiding a clean break just because it’s difficult will keep you from truly moving forward from this.
Trying to be “nice” will only undermine your effort to move on. But if you replace “nice” with “professional” you’ll be able to maintain a dignified, functional boundary with this person and get your job done with a minimum of stress.
If you’re hesitating because a clean break seems too “cold,” consider this: Is leaving the door ajar for behavior that threatens your career really a self-valuing choice?
To maintain good boundaries, you’ll need to consistently let everything you say or do reflect that it’s over and you’re moving on.