"Dear Thelma" is a relationship advice column that appears in The Star, a publication that is part of the Asia News Network.
I am a Malaysian man currently living in Sydney, Australia. I'm 34, married, with no children. I work as a chef in one of the cafes here.
My wife is currently in Indonesia for a holiday. We have not seen each other for two months.
I am now in a situation where I have a crush on a 23-year-old female colleague who works as front staff . She knows that I am married. I know I shouldn't be having these feelings or thinking about any other woman but I can't help myself.
This woman has even appeared in my dreams. I don't know what it means that I am even dreaming about her. When I told her about my crush, she was surprised. She told me politely that I am married and should not be looking at other women, even though it is normal that men look at women.
She told all her friends about my crush on her and from then, they have been teasing her. Every time they see me approaching, they say, "Albert, your crush is here." I notice that she smiles whenever they say that. I have heard that she is single.
When we work together, I have seen her looking at me. I look at her too but not in an obvious way. I have a feeling she likes looking at me.
So what does this mean? Whenever I see her at work, it really makes my day. And when she smiles happily, I wonder if it is because I am there.
In about a month, I will be going back to Malaysia for good. In my mind, I admit that I will always think about her even if it isn't right.
So what should I do? Should I call her just to hang out as a friend or forget about it? Should I get her a gift? Somehow, I feel shy with her.
Please advice me on this. - Albert
In an ideal world, marriage would automatically immunise us from having hankerings for other people. Sadly, crushes can happen to anyone at any time.
You see a nice girl day after day, and you have developed feelings for her. Okay, that happens. But you are married. You promised to forsake all others, remember? Being apart from each other for a few weeks is not an escape clause.
I'm concerned that you write only about your own feelings and that of your crush. You seem to have no thought for your spouse.
Kids are slaves to their emotions, and they often act without thinking very much. But you're a grown man. At your age, you should be thinking about actions and consequences. In short, you need to stop acting like a lovesick teenager and man up.
The bottom line is this: you have limited control over what you feel, but you have complete control over what you do.
An adult recognises having a crush is just human nature. You enjoy it when you're single. However, when you're married, you acknowledge the emotion privately to yourself, and then you ignore it. Crushes can evoke strong emotional feelings, but they do go away.
As it is, by blabbing to the girl, you've created a difficult situation. People are now openly gossiping. Just think for a moment: how would you feel if you heard your wife was infatuated with another man, and that everyone was talking about it?
If your wife hears, she's going to be awfully hurt. This situation could drive a wedge between the two of you. It could damage your marriage.
So my advice in this: remember you're a married man and stay away from that girl. For a happier future, build up your marriage. Work at committing to your wife, and be more thoughtful of how your actions affect others.
Also, for goodness' sake don't make it even worse by confessing. The best outcome is that your wife never hears about this and isn't hurt. If you feel guilty, do your penance by working to be a better husband.
If by some horrible chance it comes out, you will have to be honest. In that case, my advice is that you apologise, beg her forgiveness and again, do your penance by working to be a better husband.