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I hooked up with the friend of my on-and-off crush. What do I do?

The question

Since summer began last year, I have had a heart-crushing crush on a co-worker. I couldn't think of anything other than us getting together.

Then, the unthinkable happened: We hooked up. Then hooked up again. But there was no talk of exclusivity. I was too nervous, and considered him such a catch that I thought it impossible that he wanted to see just me.

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What followed were sleepless nights, anxiety attacks, and the complete inability to act normal around this man.

I had to find a distraction. When friends came into town, I was introduced to another friend, who flirted with me. I jumped at the chance. I hooked up with the very hip friend of a friend, even went on a date and was able to calm down a bit, give myself the benefit of the doubt, have a little confidence.

Maybe that newfound confidence was what led my co-worker to make things solid between us. Now I'm meeting his friends, and he's meeting mine. In fact, it turns out, unbeknownst to us, we have many friends in common including … are you ready? The hip guy that helped "clear my head."

Long story short, driven by my attraction and devotion to my man, I slept with someone he knows quite well. Now what the hell do I do if we're ever all in the same room?

The answer

Let me get this straight.

After sleeping with your co-worker, in order to "distract" yourself from your intense feelings for him, you slept with someone else, who turned out, in the fullness of time, to be one of his friends?

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That … is awesome.

Madam, you've either contacted the absolute wrong or absolute right advice columnist, I'm not quite sure which.

Because, although I maintain a youthful, "hip" exterior, complete with tattoos, tennis shoes and an eternal-teenager demeanour, I'm quite old-fashioned in matters of love.

And in matters of language - and I can't help but feel your problem may be at least partially rooted in verbiage.

First of all, the neologism "hook up" (meaning "to have sex with," for our older readers), while a clear improvement on the cheesy euphemism I grew up with, "make love," trivializes the act too much for my taste.

And I thought the sentence, "I hooked up with the … friend of a friend, even went on a date," was telling - as if going to a movie were more significant than having sex.

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(Which, perhaps, in your world, it is.)

Secondarily, all this mumbo jumbo about needing a "distraction" and that you slept with the one guy because you were "driven by attraction and devotion" to the other one - well, it just doesn't wash with me, to be frank.

I understand that Guy No. 2 was a confidence-builder who may, ironically, have made you better able to relax in your co-worker's presence.

But apart from that - well, don't kid a kidder, honey. You cheated on one guy with another, end of story. And the sooner you face that fact the better.

In fact, I would go so far as to say once you've "hooked up" with someone two or more times, that person becomes your boyfriend; and you need to break up with your boyfriend before you sleep with someone else.

Got that, Miss Hot Pants?

I told you I was old-fashioned.

But all that's for the future. "What's done is done and can't be undone/The bell that's rung, it can't be unrung/The sands of time they can't unrun/You did the deed, now it's gotta be spun." (Damage Control's corporate motto, which we sometimes sing on the dance floor at company parties, snapping our maracas and twitching our hips to the beat. Try it at home-it's fun!)

How to extricate yourself from the bubbling tub of hot water you currently find yourself marinating in?

Well, you could beg your co-worker's friend to keep his mouth shut. But I don't see that lasting for long. The truth will out, and especially if these two are good friends, it's going to happen sooner rather than later.

Better this little bombshell should come from you. It works in your favour, I think, that your "hook up" with the "hip friend" was only a one-night stand. One-night stands exist in a bit of a separate category, morally.

For example, none of my friends can believe this when I tell them, but my wife, Pam, has said that a one-night stand would not necessarily be a deal-breaker for our marriage - as long as I came clean, cut ties with the person in question, and was really, really sorry afterwards.

But any variation on the above formula - especially repetition of the offence - and, she assures me, I will be served my Bachelor Papers on the spot.

So I would say to you that you should assure your co-worker, with whom you claim to be so enamoured, that it was just one of those things; a one-time-only deal; that you're really, really sorry; and you'll never do it again.

And from there you can only pray he has a forgiving nature, and that this "hook up" doesn't lead to you getting the heave-ho.

David Eddie is the author of Chump Change and Housebroken: Confessions of a Stay-at-Home Dad . Damage Control , the book, will be published in the spring of 2010.

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