Q: My parents divorced two years ago and I’ve been on an emotional roller-coaster ever since. But there is someone at work who has been a great emotional support. The problem is, he’s 10 years older than me-I’m 19-and married. When I was upset and needed a hug, he gave me one-but it went further. I’m a Christian (and so is he), and I know what we’re doing is wrong. A few weeks ago I told him I didn’t want to be physically involved, and he agreed. However, he finds occasions where we can be alone, and I fall again. I don’t know how to deal with this. I feel guilty.
A: Children of all ages can be affected by divorce, and you are obviously still in need of significant support. Your emotions are confused, which makes you vulnerable. Unfortunately, I think your insecurity has made you a target.
You might think this situation is of your own making. This isn’t true. I’m not saying that you played no part in this development, but I am saying that one would have hoped someone older and married would have been wiser than to get himself and you into such a predicament.
The first step to freeing yourself will be to acknowledge to yourself that you are in need of support but that this is not the person to provide you with what you need. You need to find someone to talk to who is focused on your overall best interests, not their own—someone who can lead you through the maze of emotion that you are experiencing. Look for an older woman in your church congregation or a counsellor with whom to share your confusion and pain.
The answer to ending the relationship with this man is really quite simple although not easy: just end it. This may mean one of you has to find another employer, but you have to put distance between yourselves.
Avoid any situation where the two of you are alone. This is going to be hard, as you may be placed under pressure and even emotional blackmail to give in, but be strong.
Appeal to his sense of Christian values and make earnest prayer your stronghold. You fear that you’ll never find another such friend, but the truth of the matter is that this man is not a true friend.
He is using your need for friendship to fulfil his own needs. The sooner you can cut him loose, the better for you.