Nadira*, now 30, fell for her boss, Jean-Paul*, 46. Her parents were horrified, her colleagues concerned, but Nadira couldn't see the warning signs…
I was 24 when I met Jean-Paul. He was interviewing me for a junior graphic design job with a big London creative agency. We seemed to click right away, and I liked him immediately. Although he was obviously older – I guessed him at late thirties – I thought he was extremely attractive with his lovely French accent and big brown eyes.
I was thrilled when he offered me the job. I’d only been there a week when he asked me out to dinner. Honestly, I thought he was just being friendly and super-welcoming. But I definitely fancied him – and why wouldn’t I? He was charming and great fun, and also single, as it turned out.
On our night out it was obvious that the attraction was mutual. We kissed, and the next time we went out, we slept together at his place. His flat share was far cooler than mine – a bunch of creatives living in a converted factory. I was so impressed. Well, impressionable really, looking back.
Almost instantly, we fell into being a couple – although Jean-Paul wanted to keep it under the radar at work. But of course, rumours flew round. Then four months in, we moved into a little rented house together and 'came out' as a couple.
A couple of female colleagues asked me if I was sure about being with him. He had a bit of a reputation, apparently. But I loved him completely and our 16-year age gap didn’t matter to me. We hung out with his clever, creative friends, had dinner parties and went to lovely restaurants. Before Jean-Paul, my life had been all grimy house shares and takeaways. If it seemed occasionally that I was playing at being a grown-up, I also felt incredibly lucky.
A couple of female colleagues asked me if I was sure about being with him. He had a bit of a reputation, apparently.
We’d been living together for eight months when Jean-Paul went on a visit to his hometown in France. And when he came back, something had shifted. Suddenly, little things seemed to irritate him – like me wanting to visit my parents on weekends. They’d been appalled when I’d moved in with Jean-Paul – my dad had wanted to kill him, actually – and I was trying to smooth things over with them.
However, I feared that they’d been right to worry when Jean-Paul started to pick silly arguments at home. He’d complain that I was messy and a terrible cook. Once, I made a bean dip which he said was disgusting and tipped into the bin, in front of his friends who’d come round. I was so humiliated. There were snide comments about my lack of understanding of world affairs – plus, I was too skinny, he said. Jean-Paul hardly ever wanted sex any more. I knew something was going on.
Next time he went to France, I had a terrible feeling in my bones. Sure enough, when he came back it was all over. ‘I’m with someone else now,’ he said. ‘I’m sorry but you’ll have to move out’ as if I was just a minor inconvenience to be got out of the way.
Of course it wasn’t that simple. Apart from being devastated, I also had to cope with everyone knowing at work, and seeing Jean-Paul strutting about every day, as if nothing had happened. I tried to brazen it out but was often a sobbing wreck. I was signed off with stress and then handed in my notice. I couldn’t work there, having him as my boss when he’d ruined my life.
I tried to brazen it out but was often a sobbing wreck. I was signed off with stress and then handed in my notice.
A final blow
I’d moved out of our house immediately and back in with my parents. I had nowhere else to go. Back in my childhood bedroom I felt like an idiot, seduced by the charming older man. Meanwhile, Jean-Paul’s new woman had moved over to the UK from France, and into "our" house. A few months later I heard they were having a baby. Jean-Paul had said he wanted a baby with me one day.
Gradually, with the help of my family and friends, I started to reclaim my life and the person who’d been lost, sucked into Jean-Paul’s world. I didn’t want to host dinner parties or go to expensive restaurants. My parents had been right about Jean-Paul all along, and I’m grateful that I’d had them to run to – and that they never said, "We told you so."
*Names have been changed to protect identities.
Read more: All of Yahoo UK's How I was dumped stories.