A real life Quora answer (which I wrote up)
To the guy I spoke to who is crushing badly on his married co-worker,
I know where you’ve been. Two years ago, I had a crush on someone that made me cry into my pillow. I actively sobbed myself to sleep.
Then I gained four truths. If this crush is with someone else, you need to know that this can’t end well.
First, you don’t really know her. You aren’t crushing on her, you are crushing on an idealized image of her. You are getting the best of her, the person she is at work with make-up on and a professional attitude.
She’s likely quite different. She’s human. You have likely never held her heads over a toilet when she is vomiting from bad milk, you haven’t gotten a taste of her annoying habits like chewing too loudly, being incredibly short-tempered in the morning or overspending on credit cards. She is not so perfect, and you need to be in love with who she is, not who you think she is.
Second, if you truly loved her, let her go and be happy. You stepping in and breaking up the relationship would ruin her life and make her miserable.
Letting her go is a true sign of love. If you go after her, you will damage her for life. You will hurt her ability to trust. You will cause her to fight and break up with someone she loves, someone she wants to be with. You will hurt her emotionally by betraying her trust.
This is doubly true if you are a friend to her. Not only could she lose the love of her life, but she will lose your friendship. Is that really worth it?
Third, remember that you truly deserve better than someone who doesn’t love you the way they should. You should be someone’s first choice, not someone who needs to be stolen away from someone else. There is someone out there for you, and you can’t find them if you are pining after forbidden fruits.
There was a time before you knew the crush, and you had no idea she would come into your life. Who knows what’s waiting for you in the future? Most likely, someone who you can actually have.
Fourth, you can’t win. If she won’t leave the person she is with, you are out of her life. The friendship you have is over.
If she does leave the person they are with, do you really want to be with someone who would do that to their partner?
Let it go. It will be hard, but the best is before you,
The Lady you spoke to on the Subway