“I’m Married, But I Have a Crush on an Unavailable Co-Worker”

I am about to turn 35. I’ve always been self-conscious about my appearance because I am a plus-size girl. I have been happily married for 12 years. I have been in love two times in my life — once, with my first love in high school and, second, with my husband. He was with his baby’s mom when I met him. I never pursued anything then but saw him a few years later when they broke ties. We hooked up, and I have been faithful ever since. I never cheated on him. Ever. We have been together for 16 years and married for 12. I absolutely, whole-heartedly love this man.

I consider myself a spiritual person, with strong moral values. With my first love, I was a teenager. And although we never were sexually intimate, I kissed another person and broke it off with him. Since my biological father abandoned us, being faithful and upfront is a priority for me.

Anyway, I work at a mechanic shop with much testosterone in the work place. I never pursued any of the men or even entertained the thought in my mind. However, I have been there for five years, and find myself to have strong feelings for a co-worker. He is younger than my husband, has a young daughter, and lives with his baby’s mom.

I don’t have any children with my husband, but he has two grown daughters and a grand-baby from a previous relationship. He has a beautiful heart.

I flirt with my co-worker and HAVE NEVER done this before. He flirts back. I know it’s wrong. But I wake up and go to sleep with this co-worker on my mind.

My question is: Should I confess my true feelings regardless if I pursue this or not? I feel as though I should but: I NEED HELP. — Conflicted Over Feelings for Coworker

No, you should absolutely not confess your “true feelings” for this guy, either to him or to your husband. What you should do is first figure out what your true feelings actually are because, from the sound of your letter, you’re unsure. You say you love your husband whole-heartedly and have strong moral values but that lately you can’t stop thinking about this co-worker — who lives with his baby’s mother and so is presumably romantically involved with her — and have started flirting with him, too. And then you mention the number of kids your husband has. Are you feeling like YOU want children (and like your husband is too old for that now)? Are you feeling unfulfilled in your marriage? Are you feeling like this co-worker compliments your appearance, which you say you’re self-conscious about, more than your husband does?

What is it that you think you’re getting from the co-worker that you don’t feel like you’re getting from your husband, whom you say you love so much? Whatever THAT thing is — whatever is missing in your life/relationship right now — THAT is what is driving this crush, not actual feelings for this co-worker. Whether it’s the potential of being a mother figure, feeling appreciated for your appearance, feeling flirtatious, getting attention, or something else — THIS is what you need to “confess” to your husband. You need to sit down and talk to him about what you feel is missing and what he can do to meet your need(s).

And you also need to figure out what YOU can do to meet your needs. If you don’t feel good about your appearance, what are some steps you can take to get the validation you crave internally rather than externally? Self-love and self-acceptance are much more meaningful than random flirty comments from an unavailable co-worker. And without self-love and self-acceptance, even the love from a committed husband can only go so far.

So: Figure out what it is you need, and then talk with your husband about how both he AND you can work together to address those needs. Find your truth, not a distraction from your truth. THAT is the path that will lead to greatest fulfillment.


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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. Not sure why, but this is my favorite Wendy advice in a while!

    LW, your letter is kind of all over the place, but if you’re ever seriously contemplating “confessing your true feelings” to a co-worker who is (as are you) unavailable, that’s a wake-up call that something is definitely wrong/missing/messed up in your life and you have to face it and address it. It will probably be scary, but I bet beneficial. Turn your attention away from this crush and toward the actual problem. Part of it does sound like you want kids, is that right?

  2. Totally agree with Wendy, especially with figuring out what is causing you to have feelings for your co-worker. That’s a pretty big issue. What does your co-worker have that your husband doesn’t? Are you bored with your marriage? I personally think it’s pretty normal to be attracted to other people, but the fact that you’re considering confessing your feelings is a HUGE issue. What would that really accomplish? Yeah you might feel better but how would your co-worker feel? Or worse yet your husband? It sounds like this is just a work crush. Is that really worth risking your marriage?
    For the record I’m saying this as someone who has an oddly close relationship with her boss — though it NEVER crosses professional lines. We joke around that I’m his “work wife”, we have weird inside jokes, and we spend a LOT of time together. Neither of us are AT ALL interested in a romantic relationship — I’m engaged and he is in a serious relationship. Yet our work relationship works for us.

  3. TheRascal says:

    I agree with Wendy’s advice.
    What in the world would you hope to accomplish by confessing your feelings???

  4. I agree with Wendy too. Also, I may be off base here, but LW seems to have to be now going through what a lot of us have gone through when we were younger. She doesn’t seem to have the experience of working-out those feelings. Your younger self sounds very rigid. Being a teenager is about exploring feelings and those god -awful crushes and flirtations and learning how to handle them without too much fall-out. As a younger person, you start realizing that crushes pass and as an adult, you learn not to act on them.

    1. I agree. It’s wonderful that LW has strong moral values, but it also sounds like she’s being super hard on herself and almost equating her feelings to being disloyal to her husband/cheating. We all have thoughts and feelings sometimes that we wish we didn’t have, but what makes you a moral person is how you choose to act in response to those thoughts and feelings.
      LW, you chose to reach out for advice, that very act shows you ARE living your life in line with your values. And Wendy’s advice is on the money; rather than despair about the unwelcome feelings you have, it’s time to explore them and figure out what’s really going on for you. It’s scary, but the alternative- acting in a way that does not line up with your values and responding to the situation without fully understanding it is a recipe for misery. Figuring out what’s at the root of this issue by approaching those feelings with compassion for yourself and curiosity toward them has the added benefit of making your life happier and more fulfilling in the long run. This is a gift from your intuition; you have so much to gain here.

  5. Avatar photo bittergaymark says:

    And said confession would hopefully accomplish — what exactly?

    1. Avatar photo Addie Pray says:

      It would make her feel better for 5 seconds. And then everyone will feel terrible for a long time.

    2. I was thinking the same thing.

  6. Avatar photo Addie Pray says:

    Love Wendy’s advice here. Good advice for everyone!

  7. Sunshine Brite says:

    Sounds like you’re not a person given to crushes often. I definitely am, usually celebrities in addition to the occasional friend/coworker. There’s a super cute flirtatious guy that works in my area. It’s just banter between him and all the females – I’m in a predominately female workplace unlike yourself. I’m married and would never dream to let one of these crushes get in the way of my relationship even if I am thinking of someone else in my dreams. I have a reality life that is separate from dreams, that’s the beauty of dreams and crushes.

  8. I’m definitely with wees. However, if you work on all that stuff with your husband, or try to and it doesn’t work….and you’ve examined your feelings for your coworker…..and he isn’t in a relationship and reciprocates, And you’ve been seeing a therapist…..go for it.

    I was in a serious relationship with a man I could not make happy. I tried for years. We had moved across the country together…. Twice! We bought a house together. We had two dogs and two cats and the next step was a baby… And marriage. We broke up, I moved out. We got back together and I moved back in. Then we were sleeping in separate rooms. I could barely stand for him to touch me. And I met someone at work. Slowly as my relationship died and I finally moved on, guy at work. Always on my mind. We were friends. He moved away. I got a promotion and moved to his new city. Two years later, here I am, the mother of his kid and happier than I could ever imagine.

    I’m just saying, it’s not impossible that this could be something. But you need to go through all the above steps first. And don’t cheat on your husband.

  9. Also, I was single for about a year and a half in the middle of that. Don’t do anything until you see a therapist.

  10. My answer is no, do not pursue these feelings. He’s not available and you’re not available. Pursuing your feelings would cause too much misery for too many people. Wendy is right. The answer to your problem lies within you.

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