Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

Major Problem @Work…Please Help

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  • #809709 Reply

    Ah. Where to begin? I guess I will start at the beginning…

    I have worked at the same company for almost fifteen years, am now in a very high position, and have always planned to retire from there. I am very happy with my company and my job. There is a man that is my age that started there around the same time I did, and back in those days, we were at roughly the same level in the company. We didn’t work in the same area and therefore, the only interaction we ever had was casually seeing each other around the building and exchanging the perfunctory polite greetings. I will admit that I found him very attractive, but with him being married, I never let on – I kept it very professional (I was single then and am now single again, btw). And he certainly never expressed any personal interest in me. He is very shy and didn’t really have much to say. All was well – the key word being “was.” Ehh…you probably know where this is going. Sigh.

    Fast-forward to about nine years ago. He got a big promotion (around the same time I did). Our new respective positions required us to work together (in large groups) and I could tell he was impressed with me, as I was with him. Nothing inappropriate, but I would see him looking at me in a sort of “fascinated” way whenever I was presenting. It made me feel great, as he is unbelievably intelligent and I took this as a great compliment. All was still well.

    Fast-forward to to about four years ago. He gets another huge promotion. So we then started working pretty closely together, even to the point that we had to take a business trip together (just the two of us). We really got to know each other and he came out of his shell quite a bit. We had sooo much fun (no…not that kind of fun…get your minds out of the gutter!) We just really connected and had each other laughing so hard we were practically in tears. Nothing inappropriate AT ALL, just the start of a work friendship. It was cool and all was honky-dory.

    Fast-forward to two years ago. This man’s career is on fire and he then became my boss’s boss’s boss (yes, you read that correctly). Well shit, good for him! I was very pleased, as I thought a lot of him. All was well.

    Fast-forward to a year ago. I got a promotion and we started working a lot together, like a lot lot lot. Group meetings that last for several hours type of stuff. Lots of face time. And I noticed he started staring at me during a meeting. At first, I thought I must be imagining it, because I knew this dude for almost 15 years (casually) and he never, ever gave me any indication that he was interested in me in any sort of personal way. But I was right…he was staring. I decided to “check him” by intentionally looking back at him to sort of shake him up. I figured if I caught him and made it obvious I knew, he would look away and be more careful. But no…he just continued looking into my eyes with a sort of sad, frustrated look on his face. We were in a sort of eye lock stare down for about five seconds. And he won the contest; I sort of panicked and looked away. Yikes.

    For the past year, he has continued to look at me on the regular (I can feel it and see it from my peripheral vision), but when I look back at him, he quickly looks away. So he hasn’t done the brazen stare right in my face thing again. When we interact one on one, it’s very obvious he has, at a minimum, a pretty big crush on me. He doesn’t outright flirt at all, but seeks me out in crowded rooms, sits with me at social work events, etc., and often seems nervous when he is trying to talk to me.

    Up to this point, you are hearing that this is completely one-sided on his part. But the trouble is, I have developed very strong feelings for him. I think I am actually in love with him, but of course, can never let him know this. When our eyes meet now, we both get that dazed, deer in the headlights look. We basically act like a couple of nervous, love-struck teenagers. But there is still NO flirting and never has been. But the sexual tension is always so thick, you can cut it with a knife. It’s so sad and painful. And I not only have to work with this guy, I have to work FOR this guy. Just kill me and get it over with.

    I am at a loss as to what to do. I have thought of leaving the company, but I have built a career there and don’t want to give that up. I am not exactly a spring chicken and starting over at this point in my career would be a bad thing. But this just feels like a no-win situation. I am in love with someone that I have no business being in love with. It’s killing me inside. And I also feel very guilty for feeling that way about a married man. I thought it would pass with time, but my feelings are only growing stronger. Good grief, this sucks to high heaven.

    Can anyone give me any insight into where you think his mind is at with all of this? What is he up to and why did all of this recently start after being around each other for years and years? Do you think he loves me or simply lusts after me? And if you were me, what would you do about this? I am limited to how much I can avoid being around him as you can imagine, and it would be career suicide for me to confront him about any of this, And yes, the feelings are mutual, so I have no room to talk. This whole thing is just a total shit show. Thanks for reading. I will go drink myself into a stupor now.

    #809768 Reply

    This reads like a very carefully constructed and treasured story that you like to tell yourself. All the cutesy colloquial phrases and the thought-out construction of the narrative makes me think this is a story of great significance to you.

    But at its core it’s just “I have a crush on a married co-worker.” And the answer is simple: Re-write this narrative. Flip the script. He’s a nice, intelligent guy that you admire, but he’s also a married man who’s making cow-eyes at a junior female employee in his chain of command. Abandon this storyline where you two have this amazing connection, are maybe even in love, but can’t be together. Just throw it out. Try writing it again another way. You have control here.

    #809795 Reply

    What Kate said. I’m not reading 9 pages of you like a married man. He isn’t an option so that doesn’t matter and as a married woman, fuck you for that thought process.

    #809802 Reply

    I mean, I can understand why women have crushes on married men. Totally. And sure, married people may have fleeting crushes on co-workers and that’s not wrong.

    What’s *wrong* is obsessing about his thought process, trying to catch him staring, staring back at him, wondering if he loves you or lusts after you, and turning this into a ~major problem~ at work and deciding you’re powerless because you can’t possibly have less contact with him. All of that is wrong and inappropriate if you’re a moral person who respects the institution of marriage, workplace rules about fraternizing, and staying employed at a job you love.

    Again, reframe this as a dumb crush that’s going nowhere, and discipline yourself to focus your attention somewhere else.

    #809810 Reply

    Yes I do understand crushes but without reading that novel she clearly is going beyind a crush if she has that much content hence my comment. Here’s how it should work: oh he’s cute, oh but he’s married and we work together, bummer, next.

    #809814 Reply

    Oh and you have zero idea if the feelings are mutual. Until someone tells you they are you are speculating.

    #809829 Reply

    Yup, all true.

    #809881 Reply

    This sounds so juvenile-especially as it seems to have gone on for years in various degrees. I think it is possible you are projecting your feelings on to him. He has “never done anything inappropriate” and there were times when you were alone with him on trips and he gave no indication then of being interested in you as more than a co-worker. Or if it is mutual,as the others said-he is married and neither of you have tried to take it further ( as is right and proper to do)-so it needs to left as is.
    What to do besides nothing? My thoughts on reading this is you need to “get a life”. Focs your time and attention t work on your work. Then outside of work develop new interests and hobbies to make your life better. How about dating,meeting some guys that you could actually have a relationship with?
    To say you or he is “in love”,makes no sense as you really do not know each other. Infatuation,crush yes,love no.

    #809889 Reply

    I’m going to be honest. I think that most of this is a fantasy in your head. The only things you’ve mentioned that are tangible actions on his part are making eye contact with you, talking to you, and sitting near you. None of those things really indicate anything other than a human interacting with another human. Especially since you have been friends for years, which doesn’t make it all that odd that he’d seek you out at events. Everything else, the feelings behind the looks, the nervousness, whatever — those are all things that you are making assumptions about. Not to mention that you have been choosing to stare at him a lot, too, so how do you know that his nervousness or looking at you isn’t a result of you acting weird? If I had a co-worker who obviously had a crush on me, I might act awkward around them too, whether or not I was interested.

    Either way, if you’ve decided that he isn’t an option (which is good, since he’s married and you don’t want to destroy your career), then I think you’ve been making some unfortunate choices. Letting yourself obsess over him, trying to stare at him so he’ll notice, watching him all the time — those aren’t the kind of things people do if they don’t want to start something. I suspect that you would be willing to get involved with him if he’d shown any tangible sign of being into you.

    Stop looking at him all the time. Stop dissecting every move. Distance yourself from him. Those would be pretty obvious for someone who truly doesn’t want to get involved with him.

    #809890 Reply

    You say he’s shy, but he is not so shy that he didn’t find a gf, get married and stay married nor communicate well enough and be take-charge enough to get mega-promotions. So, what you call shy is likely professionalism and at least a bit of introvert.

    It doesn’t matter whether he lusts after you, loves you, or merely cherishes you and a compatible colleague and platonic friend at work. He has never made a move on you, never flirted, never been anything other than professional and proper. This leaves two conclusions: first he had zero intention of cheating on or leaving his wife — this means you need to stop thinking of him in that way — it is self-destructive and very selfish to even consider fucking with his apparently very happy marriage. Second, he is unlikely to mix sex with work, as he views that as improper and unwise, especially now that he is your boss. If he didn’t act in the past to flirt/reveal a great attraction toward you, he certainly won’t today, whether or not he actually feels any question. Those two reasons are why your questions about what he actually feels are so totally irrelevant.

    You need to stop fantasizing about this guy. You have zero chance and you can only hurt yourself and your career.

    As I mentioned at the start: this guy doesn’t seem super shy; he seems super-cautious and proper. If he wanted something romantic/sexual with you, then he would have told you that years ago when the work taboo was less, because of your relative positions.

    It is also highly likely that this is all in your head. Find an actual bf who either doesn’t work where you do or is at the same level in the company, preferably not in the same department. Get involved in hobbies and other outside work activities where you can meet more people.

    You are in danger of destroying yourself with this fantasy. Keep building this up in your head and it will be you who says something grossly inappropriate to the end of your platonic friendship and possibly your tenure at this company. There are just sooo many reasons why it is incredibly stupid to pine after and obsess over married people who pique your interest. You’ve been at this one for over a decade. I have to wonder what impact this had upon your own marriage.

    #809891 Reply

    maybe he is looking at you because he has picked up on your obsessional fantasies and you make him uncomfortable.

    #809892 Reply

    Ha. Yes @purplestar

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