Q I am single, attractive, and 42. For the last decade I've been personal assistant to the managing director of my company. He and I have a very good relationship which is essential in this kind of role. When his marriage of 25 years broke down, he was loathe to discuss it with family or friends.
Our good working relationship and confidentiality paved the way for him to turn to me for advice and support. I was happy to provide it as he has been a good friend to me. Nothing sexual has ever happened between us, however, his ex-wife resented our friendship because she felt we always got on better than he and she did.
Three months ago my boss met a lady 20 years his junior at a party at one of our other offices. They fell for each other. My problem is his now wife-to-be will not tolerate me at all. He suggested to her that she and I should speak. She duly called me, and I attempted what I thought was a pleasant “girly” chat.
It was obvious she was reluctant to talk, but I put this down to the fact we didn’t know each other. Since then she has refused to discuss or acknowledge me. He can’t bring me up in conversation as it induces a row. This puts our friendship under severe strain.
It’s also going to make life difficult for me when I attend company events where she will be present. I am frightened anything I say or do may be misconstrued by her and lead to a row either with me or, when they return home, with him. This saddens me. I know he finds this situation difficult to manage because it involves a lot of female feelings he can’t comprehend.
He admits his new love is jealous of any female that comes near him, but she has a special resentment for me. I am keen for us to be friends, but I also feel he has to side with her which makes me a two time loser.
A Deborah, the ancient seer Epimenides said, "There is a pleasure in being mad which none but madmen know." There is also a perverse pleasure in jealousy which none but the jealous know.
Dealing with someone with a true jealousy problem is like dealing with someone with a mental illness. Your boss will be accused of things he hasn’t done, and she will see your actions as suspicious attempts to placate her reasonable fears. Forget any idea of winning her over. Jealous people can’t be won over.
Your best strategy is to do your job to perfection and keep as far into the background of their relationship as you can. When you run into this woman, maintain the wallpaper persona of the subordinate employee. We know this is demeaning, but your main goal is to keep your good job. As you know, a good personal assistant must be able to walk a tightrope, even without a net.
Wayne & Tamara
Invade – to enter as if to take possession, to intrude upon.