“I Have a Crush on My Taken Colleague”

I’m a gay man, and several months ago I was asked to interview this guy – also gay – for a position at my work. As soon as I made eye contact with the candidate, I felt something for him. It wasn’t hard to remain professional during the interview though, and, since he was right for the job, we hired him.

Due to a lack of space, he shares a room with me. His desk faces mine and we interact all day. We just finished a very successful eight-week creative project that we had a terrific time creating together. We seem like two peas in a pod when creating art. We talk very closely, smile a lot, text frequently at night when we aren’t together, and occasionally car pool to and from work together. We went to a party with other colleagues to celebrate the end of our project and he drove me home. I hugged him and kissed him on the cheek and as I was pulling away; he also kissed me on the cheek.

I’m single, but he’s in a relationship. He regularly tells me that his relationship is in a tricky place — that he and his partner are realizing that they may be in different places in life. I want a relationship with someone, and I’m wise enough to know that I may be projecting some of that desire onto him since I’m with him so often.

That said, I think he’s hot, I enjoy his personality, I laugh a lot around him, we get along crazy well and I TOTALLY want to grab his body and make out with him. And yes, I do fantasize about being intimate with him. But I HAVE NO CLUE if he feels this way too. So, I guess my question is: Do I tell him? — Working It

I’m not sure I believe that that’s really your question. In a large sense, you’ve already told him how you feel — or at least shown him, which is just as relevant. You text him all the time, smile at him a lot, and you even kissed him on the cheek once. OK, so it’s subtle, but you’ve still put it out there — enough that if he were interested in breaking up with his boyfriend and pursuing a relationship with you or if he wanted to cheat on his boyfriend with you — which I would not advise — he’s had enough encouragement to take the leap.

If you want to move past subtleties and make your feelings very apparent and you’re wondering if that would be appropriate given his relationship status and your status as colleagues, I’d say it’s not appropriate. There are enough complications dating someone you work with – and by your own admission, this is someone you work with VERY closely — that creating a potential love triangle or being the straw to break a couple’s back is just begging for drama. And why invite that into your place of work — the place you have to spend so much of your time? Why not continue enjoying your relationship as close colleagues and creative partners and take that sexual tension you share and let it feed both your creative work and relationships outside of the office?

If you’re having trouble meeting eligible men outside of work or your social network — a common problem for many — expand your horizons. Go places you don’t normally go, take a new class, post an ad on a dating site, and tap your social and work connections for potential matches. I’d even go so far as asking the hot work colleague if he knows someone who might be a good match for you. You’re both gay, work in the same industry, and are probably close in age, right? There’s a good chance he knows someone who’s also single and looking and could be right for you. And you asking him for a set-up might just be the impetus he needs to end the going-nowhere relationship he’s in and make himself available to you before someone else snatches you up. Not that either of you is interested in snatches, but still.


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


  1. SixtyFour says:

    Hehe… snatches! Wendy made a funny 🙂

  2. lol at the snatches comment, wendy. you are too funny…

    LW, im so, so sure that your coworker knows you like him. most people are pretty aware of that, and with the two of you spending so much time together… im just sure he knows. so what do you do? well you have to make a choice: are you willing to bring a potential relationship, including the fallout from his past relationship and all the drama that will (not might, WILL) come with that, into your workplace? i would say no. i would say to not do it, focus all your sexy energy somewhere else, and actively CHOOSE to not pursue this. so no more cute glances, no more kisses on cheeks, no more fantasizing *about him* ect. try to squish this crush now- nip it in the bud. i dont think its worth it.

  3. kerrycontrary says:

    WWS! If he and his boyfriend are meant to break up, they will eventually. And once he’s processed the break up, then is the appropriate time for you two to get together (if there is one). In the meantime, go out and date other people. Think Harry and Ginny from Harry Potter.

    1. +a million for your HP reference

      Also. Wait until you guys do not work so closely together.

      Do not shit where you eat. Trust me. I know this fist hand (too much wine at the holiday Christmas party… sending emails is now officially awkward!).

  4. WWS.

    This guy is in a relationship- even though it’s a rocky one. You work together in a very close manner… It just doesn’t seem like it’s worth the risk to me. Also, I’m pretty sure he already knows you like him. So really, the ball is in his court at this point anyway.

  5. Avatar photo GatorGirl says:

    I say go for it.

    Wendy’s suggestion of asking for a set-up is a great idea.

  6. Wait, are we clear the other guy IS gay? I know he says “partner”, but for some reason I was assuming the other guy is straight. (Of course, my assumption may be due to how many times I’ve witnessed my gay dudefriend’s unfortunate crushes on straight guy after straight guy…)

    Anyway, I agree with Wendy either way. You’re flirting, you work in close proximity—if neither of you can help yourselves, something will happen eventually. Be patient! A big confession is only going to 1.) make things awkward, or 2.) ramp everything up to 10 (suddenly, you’re sleeping together!) Either way: disaster is likely to follow without some kind of slow build up. And hopefully…he loses his “different places in life” relationship along the way (because nothing good will come out of becoming the Other Man.)

    1. i was thinking that too- is the crush gay or straight? but i think that is something this guy would likely know by now either way, since they have been working so closely for a good period of time…

    2. Actually, that’s a very good point. I read the letter like the crush was a gay man and he knew the LW was also gay. But we can’t say that for sure by this letter!

    3. I originally assumed the crush was straight, for whatever reason. I guess I was trying to add some more drama to the letter in my head. But now I assume he’s gay. I figured the LW would mention the whole gay vs. straight conundrum at some point, and if the colleague talks about his partner, he must mention him by name or some other distinguishing characteristics.

  7. The guy is taken. He is off limits until that changes. If his current relationship falls apart on its own, so be it. You don’t want to be the one that causes it to end, do you? How he treats his partner is how he would treat you. I think the potential for drama is too great, here. Dating someone you work with can get very messy. I agree with Wendy. Keep him at arm’s length and focus your interest elsewhere. If by chance you do get together, change offices at least.

  8. I agree that you need to lay low until the guy’s relationship runs its course. There is nothing sexy about being the “other person.” Also, I am of the mind that if they will cheat WITH you they will cheat ON you. If I were you, I would get out there, start dating, and then if there is ever an opportunity in the future for you and your coworker, let it present itself in due time.

    The reality is, this guy sounds smart. I’m sure he knows how you feel. Don’t overstep your bounds and ruin a great work relationship.

  9. I would also be wary of company policy. If you had the power to hire him, is it really okay for you to date him? Double check this before you think of making a move.

  10. I’m not a fan of people declaring their feelings for someone who’s taken. It basically telling them to dump their partner or cheat with you, and neither of which is appropriate. You emphasis on his relationship problems reminds me a lot of those people who justify cheating because the person they’re with is unhappy at home. Not that I’m saying you’re planning to cheat, but the whole line of thinking is extremely problematic. They may be having all the problems in the world, but if they aren’t broken up yet, then he’s still choosing his partner.

    Also, getting involved with someone you work so closely with is a bad idea. You may enjoy spending time with him now and think you guys would be happy together, but as soon as you’re not, it will be hell. Think about your exes, would you really want to be forced to sit across from them in a room indefinitely?

    1. kerrycontrary says:

      yeh my two friends who I worked with starting dating, and it was SUPER awkward when they broke up. Like not just for them, but for everyone at work because they were behaving awkwardly.

    2. Painted_lady says:

      “You emphasis on his relationship problems reminds me a lot of those people who justify cheating because the person they’re with is unhappy at home.”

      YES. This. I have a couple of friends who have been okay being the other woman for, literally, YEARS because “his wife makes him miserable and he sooo wants to leave her.” If he really wanted to, he would. No question. If he’s that miserable, he would leave. If he hasn’t? Not that miserable. If he were going to fall in love with you, he would have already, and he obviously hasn’t, no matter what he says, because if you *actually* love someone, you arrange your life so that dating them is possible. Just because they’ve thought about leaving doesn’t make them single any more than fantasizing about punching one of my co-workers doesn’t make me guilty of assault.

      1. Haha… Not sure if
        I agree or not you’re
        Hilarious though =)

  11. Avatar photo lemongrass says:

    I’d say leave him as a fantasy. If his relationship splits up- let him come to you unless it has been an appropriate amount of time. You want him to want you! Don’t hold your breath though, and certainly don’t put your life on hold. Lots of people in relationships allow themselves crushes which they don’t act on. It lets them feel that “new relationship” feeling without actually splitting up from their partner. He may be pulling that with you.

  12. 1. The guy is taken. NO. He is off limits. Period.

    2. Why, just WHY, do you WANT that at work? From personal experience, and this has happened twice – young, dumb, and super naive – you DON’T want a relationship at work on display for everyone to see, regardless if your office space is right there. Besides that, why would you honestly want to see you SO all day, everyday, and have no break from that person? Then, if there are problems with the relationship, you bring them to work and there is no work being done or resolution to your problem.

  13. landygirl says:

    LW, if you weren’t single and met this guy would you still be romantically interested in him or would you just think that he had the qualities of a great friend? Listen to Wendy’s advice.

  14. LW I have to agree with the majority. Do Not pursue this. It will end badly. If u make ur feelings known he may start to take advantage of that by trying to have his cake n eat it too. Listen to Wendy and try to find live n romance somewhere outside of work.

  15. No. You hired him. Sexual harassment lawsuit.

  16. The way I figure, if someone is taken then you should back off. But in the event that he suddenly becomes single, go for it. I agree with Wendy’s suggestion to get into different activities to meet people outside of your social (and work) circles if you’re looking for love.

  17. Moneypenny says:

    I am curious- What exactly does the LW think will happen (realistically) once he tells his crush how he feels? What exactly is he looking to get as a result of expressing to him his feelings? His crush -might- have reciprocal feelings, which would be great for the LW. But what if he doesn’t, or might possibly but isn’t sure how he feels at that point, considering he’s still in a relationship? If the LW just wants to get his feelings off his chest, that’s totally understandable (I would probably feel like my heart wanted to explode if it were me), but he might not get the result he was looking for. Instead it could make for confused emotions, awkwardness, or distance between him and his crush, whom he can’t exactly get away from without moving offices/projects. I would say, find a friend to vent to about your feelings, or write it all down, or try to distance yourself a bit until the crush is possibly more available. This is a totally risky and ballsy move, but I don’t think I’d jump on it at this point.

  18. Avatar photo bittergaymark says:

    Actually, I was left wondering if they actually both are gay or not. You see, I too, have had many workplace flirtations and what not with guys in relationships… only they were involved with women — not men. Only they were definitely looking to… “explore.”

    But thinking on it, I am probably projecting as if it was another woman you were competing with I trust you would have brought it up.

    I agree with Wendy — to a point. This guy already knows how you feel — to a point. But here is where and how Wendy and I disagree… For starters? Where do you live? Your environment very well may NOT be swimming with plenty of hot gay fish in the sea… I suggest you have an honest conversation with him sometime about this. Nothing very dramatic or overly intense. But if I were you I would definitely say SOMETHING… Moreover, what kind of relationship is he in? Is it an open one? I only ask, because that’s more and more common among my friends, and it’s not exactly the loaded question it would be in the fragile straight world…

    Here’s where it gets tricky. You interviewed him? Do you have power over him? Are you his superior in the workplace? If so, you must tread carefully. Very carefully. That said, I would risk casually saying to him something like this at some point…

    “You know, Jeff, sometimes I wish we’d met under different circumstances in a different time. Because if there wasn’t this whole work thing, and if you were single… Yeah, I could really see myself asking you out.”

    Now that I am 42, and single, and about as alone as it gets… (Being 42 and gay and broke in LA is rather like being 82 and straight, oh, and, uh, dead anywhere else…) Confession, yes, I do on occasion look back and regret some of my own “missed” opportunities… Yes, there are plenty of people I regret NOT asking out. Very few, however — none, in fact — that I actually regret asking…

    Take it slow. Play it smart. But don’t sit by in silence and let it all just slip away…

    1. A guy said that to me at work once. He never tried to hook up or anything, we just talked a lot We both have spouses/kids and it was nice to have a work crush and have him say that… We don’t work together anymore. So you could be making this guys day/month/year if you say it like that.since you get along so well he won’t be turned off and you’re not harassing him it’s just a one time sincere compliment. If saying it changes nothing and you still have fun/hes still taken, you could repeat 2 or 3 times but with like a year in between. If he mentions you told him that before you could coyly feign ignorance and then never mention it again as you know he knows. After you’ve said it like 3- 4 times for 3-4 years It’ll be stale and
      Time to move on or look ridiculous. But sometimes ppl need prodding to make decisions….
      In the meantime definitely try to focus on available matches. Looking fwd to your update

  19. Let me just say… I have been in this situation with a co-worker. We DID give in to the sexual tension, and I wish we hadn’t. Now that the lust is over, our work relationship is kind of dull. We got it out of our systems, and in the process I feel like I’ve lost my best friend in the workplace. We just don’t have the same fun, flirtatious relationship that we had before. We’re still cool — it didn’t end badly or anything — but we weren’t like “meant to be” and so as soon as we were done having our fun, everything fizzled out and it was like taking a giant step backward. We’re both just kinda over it.

    If I could go back, I wouldn’t give in. I’d try to make the tension last. Even if it did eventually die off, at least there would still be that “what if” feeling, and we could still occasionally catch each others’ eye or whatever. All the fun we used to have flirting and goofing around and working together on projects, that’s gone. And yeah, the couple of months we spent hooking up in secret was fun… But looking back on it now, I’d trade the sex to get the sexual tension back.

  20. What Wendy said…I think LW’s point was made clear enough, and if he asks his work friend to set him up it might be the motivation for the work friend to end a failing relationship. I totally agree that LW should not make a bold move or flat out confess his feelings, though.

    I have to disagree with a few of you on that the relationship would be bad if the work friend ended his relationship to be with LW. I was actually the one was dumped in a similar scenario, too. My first serious boyfriend and I dated during our last year of college and the first year out of college…He was great, but the relationship was more out of familiarity and comfort of having grown up together at the end. I loved him, but wasn’t “in love” with him anymore…and vice-versa. At 22/23, that is not a good sign to settle like that…and he clearly developed a crush on another girl. By that point, I was upset but not heartbroken. I had realized for a few months that our relationship was winding down, and I was eventually the one who technically pulled the plug…and we still are friends. Hell, I even like his girlfriend of a few years (and she’s the one he initiated the break-up with me for!). Sometimes, situations just work out like that.

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