Why on earth would you sleep with your BOSS — who is dating someone else! — when you are trying to work things out with your estranged wife?! And then, as if that wasn’t enough of bonehead move, you literally smiled and walked away when your boss suggested you discuss things? Oh, brother. Now, not only do you have a marriage to try to work out, your job might very well be in jeopardy. Pro tip: when your boss suggests talking about an issue, talk about it. When you have slept with said boss and the issue she wants to discuss is the sleeping together and you know you don’t want to actually have a relationship with her and you want to try to work things out with your wife, you most definitely, absolutely talk to your boss!!
What you do now: as soon as you get back to work, reach out to your boss and apologize profusely for the way you handled things yesterday and the preceding weeks. Tell her that your behavior was a reflection only of you and not the respect you have for her and you are fully aware she deserved a conversation much sooner and you are sorry you didn’t have the wherewithal to give that to her. Explain that you’ve always admired and respected her professionally, and have enjoyed her company personally, too, and that on your trip the lines got blurred and you apologize for any awkwardness or discomfort that may have ensued. Tell her that you’ve been separated from your wife but have recently moved towards trying to reconcile, which means that you are not in a position to pursue any other relationship romantically but you hope that you and your boss can continue to enjoy a respectful and friendly professional relationship, and if there’s any reason you should believe otherwise you hope she will discuss it with you.
Also, not for nothing, but if your instinct is to shrug and walk away – or, in this case, smile and walk away – whenever you are approached about a topic you don’t feel like discussing, you should probably talk to a therapist about this, especially as you and your wife are trying to reconcile.
What if, instead of focusing on understanding, you focus on honoring your own self, your needs, and your boundaries? Whom your mom and your sister date isn’t really any of your business. Is it weird for you that they’re dating men you’ve called “uncle” most of your life? Yes, apparently it is. It may be weird for a while. Eventually, if these relationships continue, you’ll get used to it. You don’t mention anyone feeling hurt or bothered by these relationships, so if it’s just a matter of you feeling confused or weirded out, eh – so be it. There are worst things to be.
As for your stepdad’s behavior, that’s more painful because it actually affects you, is reflective of a relationship you are part of, and he dismisses you when you try to communicate your feelings. My advice would be to try a different means of communicating to him. How have you approached him so far? Is it face-to-face? Maybe that overwhelms him, and he’d be more responsive on the phone or through email, where there’s a layer of filtering that may feel more comfortable to him. Remind him how much you love him and how much he means to you and even though you appreciate he is building a new life for himself now and you are happy for him if he’s happy, you still want him in your life and you hope he makes a space for you in his.
You don’t say how old his girlfriend’s kids are, but if they’re young (younger than you) and they live with him, that would make him pretty busy. Raising young kids is incredibly time-consuming and exhausting, and the truth is, his availability is likely to just not be what it used to be. That doesn’t excuse him from canceling your plans all the time, but if he’d adjusting to a new normal, you need to cut him a little slack for that. Ask him if there’s a time in the week or the month that he can set aside just for you, whether it be a regular lunch date or going to the movies or something else that you might enjoy together than would allow you to catch up a bit and stay connected.
Finally, try not to take all of this too personally. Change can be difficult for any of us. If you have autism and you thrive on routine, a disruption to that routine or to what you’ve always known and expected can feel especially jarring. Honor your feelings while also appreciating that not everyone experiences the same feelings or with the same level of intensity that you do. Do things for yourself that make you feel good – exercise, get plenty of rest, eat healthfully, pay attention to your own needs. You are growing up, and while your family will always be important to you and those relationships should continue to be fostered, your dependence on your family to have your needs met should start easing up a bit and you should look inward or towards other relationships to meet some of the needs formerly met by your parents and other family members. Them being less available to you doesn’t mean they love you less – it simply means they are honoring their own needs, too. While specific details are different for everyone, this is a normal part of growing up.
If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at wendy(AT)dearwendy.com.