Hooray for embarrassment in the workplace.
March 25, 2011 5:18 AM Subscribe
I have a crush on an older co-worker and would like to stop acting like a nervous schoolgirl around him. How do I do this when he seems nervous too?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (18 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I’ve developed a crush on a co-worker twice my age (I'm in my mid-20s, he's 50) whom I've worked with for about seven months. It's a big age difference, I know, but he's got a great sense of humor, our personalities are similar, and he's good-lookin' to my tastes. As far as trying to get over it based on the age difference – that’s out. I am open-minded when it comes to relationship "goals," in that I don't have any that would be easy deal breakers with regard to older men.
This guy has always had a tense energy with me. We don't work in the same department, so our need for work interaction is rare. But on the few occasions he's had to come to me for help with something (all of which happened before my crush really developed) he didn't ask me for help directly, had a hard time making eye contact, would only look at me when I looked away, and seemed very tense. A couple of times as I passed his desk during the day, he'd turn to see who was walking past and when we'd make eye contact, I'd smile politely. He'd look away real fast upon seeing it was me and say "hello" while looking down at his paperwork.
The problem is that 1.) I am naturally shy too, and 2.) I tend to soak up the vibes that other people are giving off and give them right back. It doesn't help that I looked at this man and realized that I find him attractive, in addition to observing how witty and funny he is with all of the other people in the office (including a lot of women my age and barely older). We’ve gotten locked into this cycle of me trying to be nice and normal and him being weird in return, then him trying to be nice and normal and me being weird in return.
For example, we were good at the end of last week. Then on two occasions at the beginning of this week, he came in in the morning and I made eye contact and smiled in greeting, but he just looked at me blank-faced and then said hello to everyone else, acting his normal, pleasant self with them. Today I was the one who looked away purposefully and blushed a little as we passed each other, and he was the one smiling at me when later I got up the nerve up to see.
So…clearly it’s awkward! How do you break this cyclical tension? Can you? My office is tightly knit and laid back as far as its dating stance goes – there’ve been a few couples, kept quiet but known about – which means I can’t use harsh policy to discourage my crush. I know that he’s single, know that he’s straight, so that doesn’t help either. I socialize with a lot of other people in the office and have a pretty decent workload on some days, so it’s not like I’m sitting at my desk thinking about him 24/7 and just need to find other things to focus on.
He’s just a person and we have had regular, nice conversations intermittently. I want that to be the norm, crush or no crush, and I am tired of my sympathetic nervous system getting in the way. How might I work this out?