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My coworker dated 3 other women in the office before we fell for each other. We've been married for nearly 25 years.

Feb 18, 2024, 19:18 IST
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The author and her husband were coworkers first.Courtesy of Kara Williams
  • My coworker was the office Romeo, dating three other women at our company.
  • But our friendship evolved into a romantic relationship after a ski trip in 1997.
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In 1995, I took a job as a copyeditor just outside Denver. When I first met my new coworker, Quent — a tall guy in glasses — I thought he was cute.

But I had a live-in boyfriend, and Quent was just a few months divorced from a woman he’d met in the office. I recall thinking, “That sounds messy. Not someone I’d want to get involved with.”

The universe had other plans.

Our relationship is rooted in friendship

My coworkers were a tight-knit bunch. Several of us in our 20s would socialize outside work, mainly over happy hours and on fun weekend excursions around Denver.

I got to know Quent, the supervisor of the production department, on these outings. I appreciated his easygoing nature, his work ethic, and his thoughtfulness.

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I suppose I shouldn’t have been surprised when Quent eventually started dating someone new in our office social circle. They got serious enough to travel together to Australia.

I wasn’t envious of what sounded like a wildly romantic trip, even though by then, I’d broken up with my boyfriend and was decidedly single, living in a new apartment alone. After all, Quent and I were buddies; we’d hang out and talk about our dating lives and our families.

Then something changed in our friendship

Quent was the generous guy who’d help me pick up my new furniture when I asked to borrow his truck. Super handy, he’d figure out what was wrong with my kitchen faucet when the apartment’s maintenance guy said there was nothing to fix.

A switch flipped when I’d had a rough day at the office. I was upset about something that didn’t go my way, so after work, I headed to the gym to exercise away my frustration.

When I arrived home that night, I found two pints of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream on my doorstep and a note from Quent: “I was nowhere near your neighborhood, but I thought this might cheer you up.”

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A ski trip solidified our romance

Alas, I was casually dating two different guys, and Quent had been seeing someone new at work (yes, he was on officemate number three). Romance wasn’t in the cards for us, though, until Valentine’s Day 1997.

“Just as friends,” we planned a weekend ski trip to Breckenridge with a colleague and her husband. Quent and I drove together, and he picked me up with a Valentine’s Day balloon in hand. That night, when he hugged me goodnight before heading to our separate rooms, one of us — we disagree who — leaned in for a kiss.

It wasn’t just the number of craft beers we’d had earlier in the evening that made the room spin.

I was worried about what the office would think

Clearly, we’d grown romantically interested in each other. But I was nervous about pursuing a relationship.

I wondered about his motive: Did he genuinely want to be with me, or was he just ready to date the fourth girl in the office? Also, did I want to be that fourth girl? If we broke up, would our work friends have to take sides? Would one of us need to quit a job we loved?

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I felt super sketchy trying to hide our blossoming relationship from our office pals. Sometimes, Quent and I fibbed about our weekend plans when we wanted to hang out together and figure out our feelings.

Everything worked out in the end

Ultimately, I quieted the “what ifs” in my head, and Quent and I came clean to the office crew. That April, we camped together in Moab. By mid-May, he was officially my boyfriend. Toward the end of the year, we took a trip to Hawaii on the company’s dime.

In 1998, we were engaged, and the following year, we were married in the Colorado mountains where he grew up and where we live today.

In 2024, we’re not only happy empty nesters who have raised two kids and still love to travel, but we celebrated our silver wedding anniversary.

Sometimes, I wonder why we couldn’t have sped up the 18 months between our first meeting and falling in love to get to the good stuff faster. But perhaps we had to muddle through dating other people to figure out we were meant to be together. If we’d rushed the relationship, we might not have been ready to find our forever person.

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Today, do I care that I was the fourth — and final — in the line of girls he dated at work? Absolutely not.

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