Ask Allison: I’m dreading the office Christmas party as I slept with a junior colleague and it could end my career

Allison Keating answers your queries about life and relationships

Social situations can create a lot of pressure and cause some to go against their boundaries. Picture: Getty

Allison Keating

Question: I have my Christmas office party coming up and I am a bit nervous about it. I am quite senior in my company and single. For the past two years I have ended up having sex with a quite junior fellow employee — we don’t work together in any sense and he doesn’t and won’t ever report to me. He is based down the country and I am in Dublin. He is about 10 years younger than me and I have no idea whether he is married or single. We don’t communicate at all outside of this. For some reason, I am really anxious this year as I have this irrational thought that it will be the undoing of my career. We recently had some training for HR that looked at power imbalances and I am terrified that if it comes out, my reputation will be undone. I will probably see him again this year and I would like your advice on how to avoid sleeping with him without hurting his feelings or making him resentful enough to make a complaint. I do drink a lot when socialising and I think if anything, he is taking advantage of me. How do you think I should handle this? I have to attend, so skipping it is not an option.

Allison replies: There is a lot of fear, stress, and anxious thinking present. It’s commendable that you’re reflecting on your feelings of fear, stress, and anxiety ahead of the Christmas office party. I want to gently explore the role of alcohol in these situations. Have you noticed a pattern of increased alcohol consumption during social events in general, or does it specifically arise during uncomfortable events like the office party? I ask these questions with a caring tone, aiming to understand the factors that may be contributing.