Archived Q&A and Reviews

Crush on a co-worker

Jan 2006

I'm in a new job that I love. Much of my time is spent working one-on-one, developing various projects. Over the course of one particularly demanding project, I've fallen into a bantering, enjoyable relationship with one of my coworkers. He's funny and quite smart, and since our work tends to be intellectually serious, it's a relief to inject some humor into the situation. But I now find myself thinking about him quite often, in a day- dreamy way. I'm devoted to my husband and kids and have no intention of acting on these thoughts. However, I'm concerned about the way that my relationship with this coworker will proceed - despite my wedding ring (modest, modern, not very weddingy) and a photo of my kids on my desk, I don't think he realizes that I'm married. There have been some subtle signs of interest from him - a very understated compliment on my appearance, increased animation, and, well, a *vibe*. I have to admit I sort of like this vibe - it makes me feel attractive and interesting, which is nice at 40+. But I don't want to indulge in these feelings to the extent that my productive working relationship with him is compromised, or that any misunderstandings occur, or that any hurt feelings arise. I'm particularly annoyed with myself at the moment because I realized I was being elusive with him in conversation - he's going to LA to see his brother for new year's, and asked me what I was going to do. I said Oh, just hang around here. I feel like I missed an opportunity to mention my husband, family life, etc - but I also know that part of me didn't really want to throw cold water on the situation, even though I think I should. How do I delicately make things clear? I always hated it when I was single and some guy would talk significantly about his girlfriend - it seemed so obnoxious - but is that what I have to do? Can I still enjoy the banter (it's not sexual in the least - just dorky academic jokes, mostly) or do I need to become more distant somehow? (If so, how?) We have one last part of the project to work on later in the month, so we will have at least a day or two of intensive time together. And, of course, I'm going to see him around the office. Feel like I'm in jr. high

OH, I SOOOOO relate to your story!! I wouldn't back off, but you have to let him know you're married and not available but like him. Could this be a one sided crush? Yeah, I know those vibes. You could do something like say ''Oh, wow, my husband and I went to this great restaurant last night...have you ever been to_____? That would be mild, but get that ''H'' word in. Or you could just very matter of factly say, at the right moment, ''You DO know i''m married, right?'' Good luck,be careful been there...

Uh-oh, you are headed for trouble, and I am not saying this in a judgemental tone, but a completely empathetic one. I have been there (not precisely there, but close enough). Your co- worker knows you are married, I have no doubt. But you are not talking about it because you really appreciate the attention you are getting from him. And I have a feeling you probably need this attention. In my case what I found was that I was starving for attention, affection, admiration, respect, sensuality, etc. in my marriage but had been unable to get it. I decided I could have an affair on the side to get what I so desperately needed and hold onto the structure of my married life, which included a pretty well-oiled partnership, parenthood, some good times, and a lot of history. Well the affair broke up, my husband found out afterwards, and now we're facing all the problems that I thought the affair would help me avoid confronting. I would advise you either to go into therapy to help you understand your needs and learn to address them, to ask yourself whether you might be able to talk to your husband about this attraction and ponder together why this is happening now, to read a book called Affairs: A Guide to Working Through the Repercussions of Infidelity or all of the above. Having said all that, I'll also say that I wrote a note not unlike yours to the BPN and got LOTS of good advice to avoid the affair and confront my marital issues, and I ignored it. When you want it, you really do want it and need it. The affection, etc. that is. But be careful and take good care of yourself, try to divine your deepest desires. empathetic

Please tell this person right away about your husband and family. You can bring it up casually, and do not have to go on and on about them, but do it soon. Everybody is tempted this way occasionally -- you have to nip your feelings in the bud before it is too late! If you don't stop, your feelings will become too strong, and you may end up finding yourself falling out of love with your husband and destroying your family. This has happened to two good friends, who left their husbands of many years. The sad part is that a few years down the road, after the infatuation wore off, they realized the new person wasn't really as good a fit as the first husband anyway. But it was too late.

You can still deal with and enjoy the company of your co-worker. Just make it clear that you are unavailable -- both to him and to you. Dwell on your husband's good points. Please. You will be very glad you did later.

Couples who have been married for forty or fifty years say that the longer you're with someone, the more you love them... but also, that you have to work to avoid temptation -- all the time. But it is worth it .. for your family, your children, and for your own peace of mind and future happiness. Good luck.

Trust me, he knows you're married. If he thought you were single, he would not be flirting. I played with fire like this once, about twenty years ago, and I still regret it!!! Anon

You are probably feeling this energy because you love the work and the novelty of it. I've experienced something similar, and when I looked back at that time, I realized my attraction had more to do with the excitement of the new job. Enjoy it now, hope you don't get embarrassed about it later, and the crush will probably wear off as the novelty of your project does. Recognize the vibes

I suppose this is different for different people, but based on my experience, I'd say relax and enjoy it. Since I got married, I've had pretty significant crushes on 2 or 3 guys, and as long as I was clear in my own mind that I wasn't going to act on it, I found the flirting and ''vibe'' made life more interesting without causing problems. The main thing to watch out for is falling into the trap of saying, ''I wouldn't have X problem if I were with this guy instead of my husband,'' because that's generally not true and can lead to problems at home. If you wear a wedding ring, he's probably aware you're married and he's likely just having fun, too. flirt

It's nice to have some new excitement in your life. Married life can get boring....maybe you should ask yourself how you would feel if your husband were in the same situation ? Would you want him quasi-flirting and not mentioning his wife and kids ? It sounds like you could take this (so far) innocent situation down a road you might regret. Also, it's seriously doubtful that this guy doesn't know you're married with kids. If he has any interest he's found out through the grapevine about your status. - extinquish the flame

You say you are committed to your marriage, yet you've never told this guy you're married?!?!? That is a justification that will soon be followed with ''we didn't mean anything to happen, it just did.'' Things happen because people put themselves in the situations that allow them to happen. Tell this guy you're married NOW, and if needed remove yourself from that work environment. If your marriage is as important as you say it is, then you won't hesitate to do this. No Excuses

I believe that it's normal to have little crushes and of course to be attracted to other people.And it feels great to have're human. What concerned me about your post was you saying that you'd missed opportunities to discuss your husband and family. I think that you should take an honest and deeper look at your marriage. Perhaps you're not getting enough affection and intimacy at home. i believe, if you were, you'd let this person know the boundary up front. Since you have kids and a family, I think you should make the boundary incredibly clear, even if you like the attention. But I emphasize taking a deeper look into the intimacy and affection in your own marriage...perhaps you could be more fulfilled there? anon

Start mentioning your husband & kids more often, and make it clear that you are happy at home. There are some men who, for whatever reason, would like to have a relationship with a married woman-I suspect it's for easy or good sex, with no strings attached, plus a sort of sexual power/virility thing, and it's certainly not his problem if it screws up your family. In my history, men who were attached when I was single were suddenly very interested in me, and when I got married, suddenly I was very attractive to single or married men. (where was all this attention when I was single and available??) On one hand, the attention and bantering is nice, until you realize that it only works as a fantasy, and it's not really what you're looking for. I find, too, that this kind of bantering picks up steam if I'm having a rough time in my marriage... but I find that the sexual tension/vibe really goes away if you're clear in your communications and intent. You don't have to give up the fun jokes unless this guy doesn't really get it and is too persistent, or unless the jokes have more sexual energy in them than you're letting on. Most likely he'll cool down if you make it clear to him that you're in love with your husband and kids. Don't play with the fantasy-it really consumes too much time and energy, and it only gets more intense. A guy at my office was apparently pretty interested in my (and I in him, in a fantasy way), and fortunately I recognized it for what it is-he's married, I'm married, we both love our kids--and it wasn't ever necessary to acknowledge the tension. I just stopped engaging in bantering that was borderline unacceptable, and I started talking more things that were going well at home, and kept the jokes to the kind of jokes I'd make with my better-adjusted, stable & platonic friends. He stopped giving me the come-on vibe, and I got more realistic and relaxed, and started paying a little more attention to my own life.

Time to get a nice picture of you and your husband, hugging or gazing at each other or something obviously loving, and put THAT on your desk. Having a picture of just the kids implies there is no significant other, and might offend your husband if he happens to see your workplace. crushes crush!

How would you want your husband to behave if he were in the same situation? My two cents

Enjoy the crush to the fullest, it's not everyday you get to feel like you're in Jr High again. Just don't follow through. If you're temptempted to make physical contact, think twice. Having an affair is like wetting the feel great when your doing it, but as soon as you're done you've got a huge mess to deal with. Good luck

Developing a crush on an attractive co-worker is a very natural thing. When it gets to the point where it is distracting you (and it sounds like it is), it's time to bite the bullet and get real. That means forcing yourself to say ''my husband and I...'' or ''my husband always says...'' at some natural point in the conversation. It's okay to enjoy a little flirtatious energy, but you also want to keep your life uncomplicated and your workplace behavior professional. Please take into account that it's quite possible that the guy is completely aware that you are married, is picking up on the same vibe as you are, and is flirting with you anyway. Believe me, some ''nice'' guys don't consider extramarital affairs out of the question. You don't want this to go too far, or you'll really be in an uncomfortable position. Now is the time to set up some friendly boundaries. In my experience, when you mention your partner, often the other person suddenly mentions their own! Good luck, anon

You describe being enamored of a coworker of yours, and wrote ''I have no intention of acting on these thoughts.'' I have news for you! You *are* acting on your thoughts already. You've been ''elusive'' by not talking about your husband and children and you haven't done anything to change the tone that (you think) has been set in the relationship thus far. I find it interesting, also, that you say you're ''concerned about the way my relationship with him will proceed,'' as if you don't have any control over how it proceeds. I don't understand why you need to ''delicately'' explain anything to him. He's a grown- up, you're a grown-up, you're married and want to stay married and that is that. It's not about him. Why would you need to protect him from this information? A good start toward pulling this relationship out of the fantasy realm would be letting him see who you are: a wife and a mother, among other things. If there's a ''vibe'' you feel, that comes from both of you. I hate to sound hopelessly Californian, but you are in control of your own sexual energy. You can stop the ''vibe'' if you want. Can you continue to enjoy the banter (which I believe is part of the vibe)? In my experience it's a slippery slope. Affairs and indiscretions all start long before the actual kiss or declaration of longing. I've been in this situation several times before and it is tough. Meeting someone new and interesting who seems attracted to you is so intriguing and exciting! But each time I had to make a decision to stop engaging in the intrigue and get real . . . because either I wanted to stay in the relationship that I was in, or out of respect for the relationship the other person was in. You can only control your own actions/inactions. What he thinks, what he does, what he believes . . . thinking about that stuff is just an exhausting dead end. Good luck! been there, got tired

If you value it, you need to be clear about your married state with this person. Alot of what you say sounds like rationalization. Stop playing games. You can still have the fun banter, but the excitement of feeling the attraction for him needs to be transformed into value for his friendship, which you may earn if you are honest. arbor

Flirtatious Boyfriend

June 2003

My boyfriend of 8 months is very flirtatious with younger women. He is 62 and I am 42. He divorced from a 35+ year marriage last year. We have a great sexual relationship but he disrespects me around other women, then laughs it off like it's no big deal. He's not actually cheating with the women, just flirting right in front of me knowing that it makes me uncomfortable and hurting my feelings. He tried to hit on a coworker of mine behind my back and she told me. When I confronted him about it, he said he wasn't seriously persuing her. He wined, dined and I took him back. He and I have very good chemistry and enjoy spending time together. Should I dump him or try to have a sense of humor about the flirting? Please advise.

I think your boyfriend is treating you with a great deal of disrespect and he does not appear to be honorable. I think there is the strong possibility of heartache ahead. You don't seem to be overreacting to a little friendly flirting, he does seem to be overstepping the boundaries of what is appropriate. Good luck... anon

The floodgates will probably open on this one drop him! He disrespects not only you, but the women he flirts with. It always makes me very uncomfortable when a man who is obviously partnered with another woman (present or not) begins to ''hit on me.'' He has issues with his sexuality and you do not deserve disrepect. You can find sex that is just as good with actual love and respect elsewhere! And let him know how many people on this network agree with you. Maybe he can start to see himself in a new light... Or maybe not. I hate to see women disrespected

Your boyfriend reveals an extreme insensitivity to your feelings when he persists in this behavior in spite of your well founded objections. Moreover it is likely that he *will* proceed to actual affairs with other women, if his behavior is as you describe it.

Getting responses from other women can produce a kind of euphoria that he may feel is irresistible. He may be in a fragile and needy emotional state himself, after his divorce. Meanwhile, he may be trying to convince himself (and you) that there is nothing wrong with his behavior because he is doing it openly, in your presence. But he is really trapped in his own needs, to the extent that he cannot see or face up to the hurt he is causing you.

I am not trying to say that such a person is all bad. He may be generous and senstive in other contexts, such as when it is not a question of conflict with what he thinks are his own needs. Such a person can be a real heartache to try to live with.

This is just my unprofessional opinion. For reference, I'm a 56-year old man, in my second marriage. anonymous

I had a boyfriend who did the same stuff to me. (Interestingly, he was older too). Definitely, dump him. He doesn't respect you. The fact that it bothers you shows that you respect yourself, and don't let him try to convince you otherwise. anon

He sounds insecure. I've known men (and women too) who do this - flirt openly, even when they are with their partners. People like that need a lot of attention and will do almost anything to get a little ego stroke, including hurting the ones they love and making fools of themselves. They are so completely absorbed in themselves. How pathetic that he hit on your co-worker. Do you really want to be a nursemaid to such a needy person? I hope you can find a nice man who is more sure of himself and doesn't need to hurt you in order to make himself feel better!

I have been there! I say it is not worth it to be with someone who is basically showing no respect for your feelings. Flirting is not benign, in my opinion. It often can and does lead to more. It is very painful to watch and I think it is a sypmtom of how he may treat you in other areas. I would either tell him he must absolutely stop and then dump him if he doesn't, or just dump him! You deserve better! anon

I would ''lose'' the boyfriend--it sounds as if being with him would always be a torture. Life is too short to be made miserable by one's love object.

Good luck Eschews Pain

Normally I would hesitate about being so blunt, but here goes


You have someone who, when told that a certain behavior of his upsets you, does it deliberately, then laughs at you. He is not treating you with respect. You can't make him change, and he doesn't want to. He appears to be very set in his ways and this behavior is not something you need to put up with. been there

Your boyfriend's behavior sounds hurtful (not humorous). If you are at all serious, his behavior is totally inappropriate. I say dump him. Liz O.