“I Have a Crush on my Subordinate”

Office romance

I am a manager and I have huge crush on one of my subordinates. She is a beautiful, intelligent single woman and I am a married man with two kids. We often go on lunches and spend a lot of time talking at work. We also text each other till late where I try to flirt with her and she doesn’t mind flirting and texting. She is very flirty not just with me but with other male colleagues as well. About two months ago I told her how I feel and she told me nothing could happen as I am married. Even after that we carried on texting. As a result, I think she has lost her respect for me as her boss. I can’t stop thinking about her and regret telling her. This can really blow up on my face as my job and marriage can come under risk. I want to stop thinking about her, but I can’t help it. What can I do? I feel really stupid. — Really Stupid

Yep, that was really stupid of you. You may not be able to stop thinking about this subordinate, but you can certainly stop behaving inappropriately. Quit texting her and flirting with her and having lunch with her. Keep your fingers crossed she moves on to a new job or a new department soon, consider seeking a change in your location or department, and, in the mean time, apologize to this subordinate. Explain to her that you were way out of line, that you are deeply sorry for any discomfort you may have caused her, that you regret ever putting your job, her job, or your marriage at risk, and that you hope she’ll accept your apology and you can both move on.

I’d also recommend you start communicating with your wife about your feelings inside your marriage that may have triggered this behavior. Are you feeling under-appreciated? Overwhelmed? Bored? Are your needs not being met? If you and your wife can’t figure out and address these issues between you on your own, you should look into marriage counseling. Consider this transgression at work a wake-up call to start paying attention to your personal life and fixing what’s broken before it’s beyond repair.


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If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at wendy@dearwendy.com.


  1. Avatar photo mrmidtwenties says:

    Do exactly what Wendy said, as fast as you can, go, go now. Focus on your wife and your marriage. Also, it is very easy not to flirt, especially via text, you just don’t respond, same with lunch, you just don’t go for lunch. And she probably has lost respect for you, and you probably can’t regain it. I also have a suspicion that what you may see as flirting may be her just being friendly, but I could be wrong. I know a lot of men, and women for that matter that confuse the two.

  2. You feel really stupid – but you continue to act ridiculous? Just stop. Tell her you are sorry – you now realise how inappropriate you have been and you crossed a professional line and you will immediately rectify it. Then stop texting. Stop lunches. Be very careful not to penalize her in any way – just keep your relationship professional and focus on your wife and family and renewing your commitment to them.

  3. Avatar photo EscapeHatches says:

    Whoa. Get out, get out fast.

    You’re also opening yourself and your company to harassment suits. You need to stop being her supervisor, ASAP.

    It’s time to act like a mature adult. Take some responsibility and be an active agent in your situation.

  4. Avatar photo Mr. Cellophane says:

    MOA. Like, Move On Already. (Used in a very atypical context here). Find a new job. NOW. Before you are forced too. Which will happen. Do NOT attempt to apologize to this woman. Do not continue talking or texting or eating lunch with or flirting or ANYTHING. Break all non-essential contact. And be prepared for the coming S**t storm which you yourself have created.

    I have been where you will be soon. Except SHE told me HER feelings at an office function while VERY drunk. With witnesses present! I attempted to “clear the air” on Monday morning, and thought all was fine. None of it mattered two weeks later, when she complained to her supervisor that she did not “feel comfortable” working around me. I lost MY job. Those higher on the food chain don’t care who said or did what.

    So grab a parachute and be prepared to bail! Hopefully sooner (before the storm) rather than later! Oh, and better come clean with the wife about this now. Or your marriage may become collateral damage. Most wives don’t take their husbands being fired for sexual harassment kindly.

  5. Avatar photo Addie Pray says:

    Late to the game here, but yikes! You need to apologize and “end” it (somehow – I don’t know what you could say but I’m envisioning some sort of self-serving email/text to save your butt later; just have no idea what that would be without being more admission of inappropriate conduct). Because I feel like you’ll need a butt saving – it’s only a matter of time. And then the next thing you need to do is remove yourself from being in charge of her. This is a lose-lose situation. She likely has tons of texts/emails from you that prove your inappropriateness.
    If she gets fired/demoted/whatever, she could claim it was because she rejected your advances. On the flip side, if she gets a promotion/raise/whatever, others could claim it’s because you are favoring your lovah. And in either scenario, the company could be on the hook. This can’t end well.

  6. wobster109 says:

    Can we, as a culture, get past “I can’t help it”? Do you have a medical condition forcing you to text her? Are your coworkers taking your phone to text her? No? Then you can help it.

    1. Avatar photo Stonegypsy says:

      Seriously! I mean, don’t get rid of the phrase entirely.
      I legitimately can’t help that I have strong feelings for person A. The feelings themselves are not something I have control over
      I have total control over what I do with those feelings, if/how often I text Person A, whether I spend time with that person. I can help that.
      LW, you can help that.

  7. Really stupid says:

    Thanks for the input guys. I have stopped unnecessary texting. Apologised and only keeping conversations work related. She asked if we can go for a drink I declined. She is a good worker and I think will get promoted in next 6 months. It does take some will power to avoid attraction. Hopefully it will be over soon.

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