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How to Really Get Over Someone
December 22, 2011 7:00 PM   Subscribe

How do you really get over someone after you may have had something? Special, long details inside.

So, I'm the same person who posted this and this. To make a long story short, I and my boss' boss told everyone via e-mail, I got my own office, my supervisor hooked me up with a kind of social coach, and things have (more or less) died down and returned to normal. Ish.

But there is one thing about that whole mess that's been rankling me, and that's my office crush. While this question doesn't really deal with the same subject matter as the previous two, they do provide some much needed context.

I would have to say that I'd had a crush on him since my first day there. It's difficult to explain why, but his eyes had a large part to do with it. While not my supervisor, he is my superior, and is at the same level as my supervisor. He is married, although I don't know if it's happy (he only ever brings her up in passing), but I do know he has kids. He wears a shirt and tie most days, which I like, and he's really smart, which I also like. I think he's good-looking, even though he may not be so in a conventional sense. In those ways, he's sort of like my dream guy.

At first I would just say hi to him, but then a couple of months later, I started getting bolder. I'd go outside his office and talk with him about movies or whatever, but almost always during my lunch break. I would initiate these conversations. He would usually be working then, but he would take some time to talk to me. He seemed very pleasant during these conversations, and after a while, he'd approach me and start talking, instead of the other way around. He didn't really act this way at the time with my immediate co-workers. There were some occasions when he would even joke with me in the office, like, to tell me to stop making so much noise when I was actually quiet and doing my work. He always seemed pleasant and nice during these encounters, and that's what I was aiming for--to have him talk to me the same way I had seen him talk to some other people--like he was friends with them, or something. Like, more than the normal level of intimacy expected. I don't know, I can't seem to phrase it very well. I started to think, in a way, that maybe my feelings were reciprocated. I guess I thought maybe something would happen, like, he'd leave his wife for me, and then I'd leave the company and we'd get married, and I'd finally be able to pursue another career that I liked more, like publishing or radio or maybe even being a writer/critic. I seriously felt that maybe there was something there, and I actually really liked going to work during this period, because it meant talking to him.

(A note here: While I like the job, sometimes I feel underappreciated, and I feel sometimes like my intelligence isn't valued--especially after I made the disclosure. It is a lower-level admin-type position, and so I could be just a typical Gen Y-er, but still.)

But the entire point is, not once during that period did I ever really think that anything was amiss. It wasn't until everything in my first question happened that I knew something might be wrong. The day before everything happened, he came back from a week-long vacation. I said hi to him, and he didn't say hi back, and I knew he heard me. I got a little upset, and sure enough, the next day I was pulled into my supervisor's office. In a later conversation, she told me that standing outside his office, talking about random things, was inappropriate because he was my superior. When I told her that he was the only person I really could talk to there because he was nice, I was told that he is nice to everybody, and that I didn't get any special treatment. (This is true, but while he is nice, there was something a little different in the way he acted that made me think that maybe it was something special.) She also said, more or less, that because I have Asperger's I really shouldn't trust my initial instincts about these things. That really hurt. When I spoke to my counselor about this she interpreted it as kind of a clue that my supervisor knew who it was, even though it was never explicitly stated.

The point is, since then, he hasn't acted the same. He only really says hi to me every so often now, especially after I moved into an office and am not in an open plan where he can easily pass by and talk. I rarely get to ask him how he is, and when I do and he answers, he never asks me how I am. At least half the time he says it in a tone that's close to bitchy, and his face kind of matches at times, or that could be how he looks. I'm kind of bad at reading faces. While I've been good and haven't been standing outside his office, I also haven't gotten very many opportunities to talk to him, so I have no idea how he feels or how he could feel.

But what complicates this more is that around the time he got back from his vacation/the big disclosure, he also started work on a few very engrossing projects that are still ongoing. I've also heard people allude to things in his personal life (without going into detail). He was also one of the first higher-ups my supervisor told about the Asperger's, and I sometimes wonder if that maybe freaked him out. And, of course, there is the possibility that he somehow found out that I liked him and got scared.

(For the record, I don't know if my supervisor knows who it is. I recently asked her, because I was tired of all this and I really wanted to know, and she just said that it was ancient history, that she didn't remember, that she didn't want to remember, and that I should just move on.)

I'm kind of helping with one of his projects. While I like the tasks themselves, not only because I'm good at them but also because it's another way for him to potentially notice me and maybe talk to me again, it's seeing him talk to other people that gets me very sad. It just makes me think of what we used to have, and I get so sad, and I cry. I cry every day now--in my office with the door open, in the bathroom, when I'm near him, on the subway, on the bus. Even if people shirk away uncomfortably, I can't seem to help it--I just hurt too much and the pain has no place else to go.

I know I'm putting too much on this guy. I know that I should get over him. I know I should try to find what he maybe represents for me and try to replicate that. While I've done the first bit--he represents a normal life, the life I'd like to have--I can't replicate that because I'm not sure if anyone would ever want to be with a girl with Asperger's. As for getting over him, I've tried pretty much everything under the sun that should work according to past AskMe posts--meetups, trying to meet someone new via online dating, book clubs, reading, etc., etc., etc. I even told my counselor once that I'm not even sure if I want to get over him--I may just want things to return to the way they were. But I don't know why he's acting like this, so I don't know if that's even possible. Why? How can I get things back to the way they were? I just hurt so much.

I'm not sure if anyone here can tell me why he's acting this way. If you can, that's great. But I just want the pain to stop, and maybe get over him enough to at least be a little more cheerful when I'm around him and doing stuff for him, and so when he talks to me again, it will be just another pleasant thing in my life. Oh, and to do all this without getting fired. Thanks in advance. Sorry if this is a little unclear though--I am a bit distraught.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (26 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
 
I imagine that he realized you had a crush on him and got scared off; even if his marriage is unhappy (and that is only speculation on your part), he's still married, and you are still off limits. If your supervisor realized he was something special to you, he most likely did as well. (I wouldn't blame this on having Asperger's; most people, whether neurotypical or not, act a little differently around people they like.) I'm sure this hurts. But you will find someone. I'm in love with a girl with Asperger's. It does not have to define or hinder you.
posted by jeudi at 7:12 PM on December 22, 2011 [4 favorites]


He's off-limits. He's married, he's a colleague who out-ranks you, and push comes to shove, he's more valuable to the company than you are. You're not there to chit-chat with anyone, nice or not.

Your attention to him got noticed, and no doubt someone had a chat with him about the inadvisability of having any sort of relationship with you, special snowflakeiness and all.

You need to find another place to meet suitable men and activities to distract yourself while you're getting over this crush.
posted by Ideefixe at 7:16 PM on December 22, 2011 [6 favorites]


Sometimes no, you don't get over it. But you DO have to move on.
posted by schyler523 at 7:18 PM on December 22, 2011 [3 favorites]


I'm sorry for your distress over this -- having a crush on someone who isn't paying attention to you always sucks.

This actually boils down to nothing about you, though -- he is married. He has kids. You need to respect that.

Whether or not he is HAPPY in his marriage, he IS married and he has a life-long dedication to that marriage and the kids that resulted from that marriage. He is not free, and you need to deal with that fact. You need to get it in your head that your feelings for him are less important than the vows and life decisions he has made before you -- I'd be saying this to you whether you just had a crush on him, or if you'd been sleeping with him for months.

As far as his behavior to you -- it's anyone's guess. Don't read into it, is my advice. Just try to act normal to his face and he'll probably relax at some point. Honestly, he sounds like he is really busy right now and he could just be annoyed that you're trying to make small talk when he has a TON of work to get done. Or he could be pissed at you for some unfathomable reason. Or he could be super stressed out from his personal life and not up to dealing with people. Point being, you don't know and there's no point going over and over it in your head. Actions are what matters -- and the appropriate action to take is to act professionally in his presence. If there is anything going on because of your past actions, that should diffuse it -- if it's other life circumstances, you will be at the very least making his life easier.

As far as your own romantic future... all I can say is that it isn't easy for anyone. You seem to have a standard of the "ideal life" -- honestly, I doubt anyone's life would live up to your standard. I totally get that social interaction is more difficult for you and this can make it more difficult to meet people, have friends, and such. But I'd bet there's someone out there for you. It takes persistence and time to find the right person -- but just because you haven't met someone yet, it doesn't mean it's hopeless.

And as far as getting over him in your heart... the only way I've gotten over crushes is a) completely cutting them off, b) getting hurt by them, c) finding someone new. Deciding to get over them doesn't change how I feel, it only changes how I act.
posted by DoubleLune at 7:21 PM on December 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


You scared the heck out of him by your forwardness.
posted by Postroad at 7:29 PM on December 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think you know what you need to do, insofar as you know what the outcome should look like and the steps you need to take.

I think what you don't know is that this is normal. This is not Asperger's. This is a major crush not working out, and it happens to a lot of people. And he's behaving normally: He doesn't return your feelings, so he's withdrawing. People like to be in equal relationships--which is to say, they are uncomfortable when one person has stronger feelings than the other. He knows that you want more from him than he wants to give, and he feels badly about that. I mean, if I was eating a big piece of cake and I knew my coworker wanted a bite, I would feel like a jerk if I didn't share. Now amplify that by about a thousand, and that's what the object of an unrequited crush feels like. (Assuming he's the genuinely nice guy you describe him to be.) So withdrawing is a normal reaction. It sucks, but it's normal.

I hate to say that there's no magic bullet for this kind of thing besides limiting contact as best you can until you feel better. In the meantime, you'll cry a lot, you'll ruminate a lot, you'll wishwishwish this had gone differently, you'll entertain daydreams in which his wife suddenly leaves to join the circus and he finally can see that you're his soul mate.

THe problem with a crush like this is that almost EVERY interaction seems to trigger that sense of hope, so you want to create as few opportunities for that to happen as possible. That doesn't mean you have to quit your job, but don't seek him out for anything beyond what your work obligations require. Eventually the feelings will fade and you'll be able to make room in your heart for someone else.

I'm sorry you're going through this. I have too, and it sucks. Hang in there.
posted by elizeh at 7:42 PM on December 22, 2011 [7 favorites]


Honestly, you did not "have something" with this person. He is a married man, and no matter what is going on in his home life, you have no part in it. Keep your distance, fade out. Do your job. Be his coworker, and nothing more. I'm sorry, but that's the only answer here. I doesn't matter what could have been or what you think was. And nthing that this has nothing to do with your Asperger's. This is just life, honey.
posted by two lights above the sea at 8:05 PM on December 22, 2011 [25 favorites]


I'm not sure if anyone here can tell me why he's acting this way.

I think he is trying to indicate to you that you need to back way, way, way off. I think, paradoxically, the only way you will ever be friends with him again is if you totally get rid of this obsession and think of him as nothing more than just a nice guy who is a casual work acquaintance, rather than your dream man who might leave his wife for you. Because it sounds to me like he is aware on some level that you are more into him than appropriate, and he's trying to squelch that. And I think as long as you keep giving out those vibes he will keep backing away.

I cry every day now--in my office with the door open, in the bathroom, when I'm near him, on the subway, on the bus.

You're crying in your office with the door open? You're crying when you're near him, like the two of you are working on the projects and you're sitting there crying?

If I'm understanding you right, then I think you are probably really freaking him and everyone else out, big time. If you need to cry at work, shut your office door and cry silently. Why are you crying with the door open? Are you hoping that someone will come and try to help you? Are you hoping this guy will try to help you? I do not think that will happen. I think all this will do is distance you from everyone. I don't at all mean to seem unsympathetic, because I feel horribly for you that you are this upset, but I really think you should cry privately, this is really really not helping you.


It just makes me think of what we used to have, and I get so sad
...
I even told my counselor once that I'm not even sure if I want to get over him--I may just want things to return to the way they were.


My take on this: What "we" (you and him) "used to have," in reality, was a polite work acquaintanceship. What YOU used to have was your fantasy of how he would fix your whole life for you. I think he was just nice enough to you that you could believe in your fantasies. Now he's not as nice, and you can't believe in the fantasies anymore. And you are really grieving that because it gave you all this hope. So I totally understand why you don't want to get over him, why you just want things to go back to the way they were. Because it's more more comforting to live in a fantasy world of hope where someone else will rescue you, than to have to face stark reality and work on really hard problems, and have to solve them yourself.


I know I should try to find what he maybe represents for me and try to replicate that. While I've done the first bit--he represents a normal life, the life I'd like to have--I can't replicate that because I'm not sure if anyone would ever want to be with a girl with Asperger's.

Plenty of girls with Aspergers date. Have you ever thought of trying Aspie meetups specifically? I think if you meet other people with Aspergers and see in a concrete way that plenty of them are in great relationships, you will feel a bit less hopeless about this.

But the relationship thing seems to be only part of what your fantasies about this guy were about. There was also this: we'd get married, and I'd finally be able to pursue another career that I liked more, like publishing or radio or maybe even being a writer/critic.


I think you should get your counselor to help you come up with baby steps towards making this different career happen for yourself. So you will not have to pin all your hopes on marriage to a guy making it happen for you.

I completely sympathize with you. Solving this parcel of problems for yourself is not going to be a piece of cake, and we all have times when we just want to forget about it all, escape into a dream world, etc. Or some people cope by drinking or doing drugs, or shirking all their responsibilities and becoming a deadbeat, or hiding from the world as a recluse, etc. You're not the only one who becomes overwhelmed. But the only thing you can do is keep trying. Lean heavily on your counselors and get them to help you figure these problems out because that is their job.

I do think, once you start making progress on improving your life and making it how you wish it were, then you will feel less of a need to be obsessed with this guy.

The other half of it is time. Getting over someone you are crazy about can be excruciating, and it can feel like it will last forever. But it won't. It totally fades. It would help if you could find another job, because it takes longer to fade when you have to see the person all the time.
posted by cairdeas at 8:24 PM on December 22, 2011 [23 favorites]


You need to stop talking to him. Don't ask him how he's doing. Don't try to socialize with him at all. Take your cues from his behavior: if he doesn't want to talk, don't push it. This is not only respectful of his wishes (and his marriage), it's also a way for you to move on. You'll only really get over him if you give up the fantasy of the relationship. Trying to grab little scraps of his attention is a way of holding onto the fantasy--you need to stop all of it.

Instead of spending time thinking about him and trying to get his attention, do this stuff: pursue another career that I liked more, like publishing or radio or maybe even being a writer/critic. You don't need a man or a relationship to make that happen. You might need better social skills. Work on your social skills and then start networking. Do research, ask people in those industries for advice. Look for a new job.
posted by Meg_Murry at 9:08 PM on December 22, 2011 [4 favorites]


While it is OK to occoassionally reminisce about the past it certainly isn't OK to live there. The past, be definition, does not exist. The future does not exist. You need to spend your energy on what does exist, which is right now. This man is not part of your future, regardless of what you wish or hope or imagine.

Those images you have created in your head of the two of you skipping off into the sandy sunset are ruining your life. Put them away and forget about them. I mean, actually imagine locking them away in a vault, weld it shut, melt the key, whatever. Make it impenetrable and put every single imagined-future image containing this man in there. Every single one. Never make another.

And you really need to stop with the crying at work. It is unprofessional, disruptive and disturbing.

I know a young woman with three little kids who lost her husband to brain tumors and she never let a single tear fall at work. She let go of floods at home, maybe in her car, but not in the office. You can be at least that courageous.
posted by trinity8-director at 9:20 PM on December 22, 2011 [5 favorites]


Oh, anon. Please memail me. I feel like we could be such friends.

Short story, though: you couldn't have had something special. Don't fantasize about married people at your workplace. That way lies madness. You're allowed to think "In another life in which many things were different, that person and I might have had something really wonderful" and then you put that thought in a small box, and close the box, and never open it again. That is as far as such thoughts are ever allowed to go.
posted by troublesome at 9:34 PM on December 22, 2011 [5 favorites]


Great advice, Cairdeas. The only part I'd disagree with is the suggestion that she try to meet a boyfriend who has Aspergers. IMO, she would do better with somebody who was more socially attuned than she is who can pull her a little bit about of her head. I think two Aspies together might be a nightmare. Also, imo, Aspie guys tend to be pretty unemotional, and I think she needs somebody who is more nurturing.
posted by timsneezed at 9:45 PM on December 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


No, it couldn't have been something. That's the thing you need to realize. It really couldn't. Everyone is so much better off the way it is than the way it could have been. Show some true mature love for him, his family, and most of all for yourself, and understand that, and move forward. Because the "special thing" you wanted was for a nice guy to dump his wife for you, and that's impossibly selfish, not to mention that it simply doesn't happen in the real world.* You seem to be blaming him for every single thing that's causing you pain and he's not doing any of them. He is not tormenting you at work. He's simply trying to avoid what is obviously and ridiculously uncomfortable situation for him. One that you created. If I was in charge of both of you at the office I'd tell you to work you shit out because you're making a hostile work environment for him, and if you can't, then you're out of here.

Get yourself a boy who reciprocates. You'll forget all about this guy who's marriage you wanted to ruin and who's job you're making deeply uncomfortable. And quit having fantasy relationships. They will always die painfully when going up against the real world.

*Okay, it does, sometimes. But not often enough for anyone to expect it to happen, especially from simple friendly conversation at work. And even then it very rarely ends in happiness.
posted by Ookseer at 9:50 PM on December 22, 2011 [6 favorites]


I was once in a very similar situation. I was 18 and we was my boss at the college newspaper. He was a senior and graduated a year later. For six years my crush continued despite having no contact with him because I was so goddamn sure we had had something special. It didn't matter that all it amounted to was very light ambiguous flirting and that he had a girlfriend at the time.

Then he happened to be in my neck of the woods for the summer and asked me if I wanted to grab a drink. I was elated beyond belief. I pinned all my hopes on this casual meeting. Surely this was confirmation that my intuition about his feelings for me had been right all along.

Well, our hang out was a disaster. It was clear he only saw me as an acquaintance/friend and he started acting rude when I became a tiny bit flirtatious.

After that I realized I had wasted six years pining over something that was completely in my head. It really is very easy to project feelings onto somebody when you feel so strongly about them and you're also starved for affection.

What's more is when I met him again, years later, I realized we had nothing in common and he would have made a terrible boyfriend. The way you described your crush reminded me of that because it was rather vague. You said he's good looking, has nice eyes and he's smart. There are tons of guys like that. It doesn't mean he'd be good for you and also...he's married. Trust me, he's not special. You have probably just fixated on him because he was a tiny bit nice to you and you feel so isolated from other people. I can relate.

If you look for somebody who is single and has more specific things in common with you, it will be more likely your feelings will be reciprocated.
posted by timsneezed at 10:19 PM on December 22, 2011 [11 favorites]


You can't have something special with someone who's married with kids. Wishing that he might be unhappy enough in the marriage for you to be able to break them up is not productive.

I would want to be with a girl with Asperger's. So, now you know.
posted by John Cohen at 11:08 PM on December 22, 2011


Wow. I'm sorry you're going through this. But the fact of the matter is--and this may help cure your lovesickness--that the man you think you're in love with does not actually exist. If you ever got to know him better, you would find that your "dream guy" had vanished. End of crush. (For one thing, the kind of man who would up and leave his wife and kids for you would not be one worth having. He'd be scum.)

It happened to me once when I was in college, before I met Dr. Tully Monster--I fell hard for a man who was just not available to me and was devastated when he gently turned me down. And for some time after that I wondered if I would ever find anybody worth having. But a year later I did, and we celebrate our twentieth anniversary next week.

It was several years before I really understood why he wasn't available. The truth was that the man I thought he was didn't exist (although the man he turned out to be has become a delightful friend--and so has his husband).

It really sounds as though perhaps you need to find a new job--one where you don't feel undervalued, and more importantly one where you can begin again with a clean slate and apply all the lessons you've learned about interacting with others. I work around intelligent, techie sorts, some of whom probably have a mild lashing of Asperger's, and these people are respected and liked for the work they do and not for their ability to charm the pants off everyone in sight. Perhaps you need that sort of environment. And who knows? Maybe you'll meet a nice, eligible, available guy there.
posted by tully_monster at 11:56 PM on December 22, 2011 [3 favorites]


Looking for a new job sounds like a good idea. You've created an uncomfortable situation for yourself in the office, and you would like to try another career. Why not take some time to evaluate your options and move forward?

Stop crying in public. You are not the only person in the world going through pain, and it won't make people sympathize with you -- they'll just think you're crazy. From the limited interactions you've had with him, there's no way you even know that he's your "dream guy." Knowing someone from within an intimate relationship is completely different from knowing them as a co-worker or casual friend.

In future, you need to respect people's marriages and relationships, and talk yourself out of any glimmer of inappropriate feelings that arise, before they blow up and consume you. It will make your life easier.
posted by redlines at 2:24 AM on December 23, 2011 [3 favorites]


It is painfiul, isn't it, when someone you like doesn't like you the same? I think he sounds like a nice man who wanted to be friendly, especially when he saw you making an effort to talk to him. Then perhaps he realised that you were feeling more than simple friendship and he didn't want either you or him to be embarassed, so decided to distance himself from you. People can feel very awkward sometimes, especially when they realise other people have feelings for them that aren't reciprocated, and this can be reflected in their manner and body language / facial expressions as you have rightly noted. I don't think he meant to be rude - I suspect he was just trying extra hard not to lead you on, as he saw it.

And yes, as others have said, crying openly at work is not a good thing to do. We can all get a bit overwhelmed sometimes, and the occasional tear can fall, but if you feel a bit cry coming on, best to shut yourself away, or take yourself off for some fresh air if you can. It may make people feel uncomfortable around you, which I'm sure you don't want, and runs the risk of looking undignified and definitely unprofessional.

I hope things pick up for you soon.
posted by Martha My Dear Prudence at 6:10 AM on December 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


He's not your dream guy if he's married with kids. There would be nasty amounts of drama, probably cheating, and his kids would hate you. Not worth it, especially with someone you work with. You are lucky this guy isn't responding.
posted by jenfullmoon at 6:21 AM on December 23, 2011


I asked for specific examples, and my supervisor gave me one where I had told a co-worker about how I had a crush on someone who worked there. Why this was an issue confuses me, considering how 1) I've seen other people do it at work, and 2) people did this all the time at the other places where I've worked. But to be fair, there were some things that I did that I know would be issues anywhere, like lurking outside of peoples' offices. I didn't really know that this was a problem, and no one said anything to me. I was told to basically think before I say things, and to try and not make others feel uncomfortable.
So, you had a crush on a married superior at work, told someone about it, and lurked outside his door to talk to him. This is an enormous problem.

I'm going to go a little off topic here, sorry, but I think the most important thing here is not getting fired, because I think you're really close to it. In the most literal way I think your focus right now needs to be on survival, so that you'll have the resources in the future to work on everything else.

First, you need to be a robot at work for now. No emotions at all. No talking to other people about anything except work-related things and the most basic of pleasantries. You can talk about the weather and... that's it. If someone asks you how you are, you can say "good" and smile. No more crying at work. I understand that your Asperger's means that you have difficulty controlling strong emotions, but in order to not get fired you really need to maintain a calm facade at work. No more talking to this guy, at all, except as specifically necessary for work.

Second, talk to your counselor about long term strategies for interacting with co-workers. How to recognize when something will make someone else uncomfortable. How much you can open up to co-workers (this may be not at all for you). Expanding your social circle so that you have people who you can open up to without getting fired. You should also ask about different types of therapy/counseling, which might help with specific things (such as controlling strong emotions). Given your current difficulties (you told a co-worker that you had a crush on a married superior) I'm not sure your current counseling is doing enough for you.

Third, look for a new job. I'm not sure this one will ever be comfortable for you/your coworkers. (Do not tell anyone that you're looking for a new job.)

Fourth, get over your crush by making new friends and maybe new crushes, and generally getting from other people the affection that you were seeking from this guy. (And yes, building the other parts of your dream on your own, too.)
posted by anaelith at 7:34 AM on December 23, 2011 [6 favorites]


Also:

I've also heard people allude to things in his personal life (without going into detail).
...
I rarely get to ask him how he is, and when I do and he answers, he never asks me how I am. At least half the time he says it in a tone that's close to bitchy, and his face kind of matches at times, or that could be how he looks.


Do the things in his personal life have anything to do with why you are asking him how he is? What I mean by that is, are you asking him how he is to express concern or caring over the problems in his personal life, or maybe in the hopes that he will talk to you about them?

I don't want to assume that's what you're doing, but if it has anything to do with it, that's definitely something to stop. For most people, if they want caring or concern about their personal life from a particular individual, then they will directly tell that individual about their problems. (As others have said you really should try to stop asking him how he is in general for now, but...) If they don't directly mention it to you, then there's a good chance you will come off as impolite and prying if you try to allude to it yourself. Even if you totally mean well.

I also want to answer this question a bit more concretely: How can I get things back to the way they were?

The main thing is you have to stop giving out vibes of special/inappropriate interest towards him. Also vibes of being unstable. I think that you will unknowingly do this as long as you are still crazy about him, but there are other things you can do in the meantime. If you follow these things strictly, I think he will feel less of a need to back off from you.

1. For at least 1 month, do not say anything to him unless he says something to you first.
2. Do not go near his office/him unless you absolutely need to for a work-specific reason, and don't go looking for work-specific reasons to go near him.
3. Only look at him when you are speaking to him or he is speaking to you, or you need to physically navigate around him like passing directly by him in a hallway. In all other situations, like say he's talking to someone else and it has nothing to do with you, don't look at him.
4. When you guys do talk, like about the work projects, only talk about directly-work related topics. If he brings up a non-work related topic you can make an upbeat, short (1-sentence) reply. Do not try to keep the non-work-related topic going with your reply. Example: Him-- "Have a fun weekend?" You -- "Yes! I went skiing for the first time." Smile. If HE continues to keep the non-work-related topic going then you can reply to the things he says, in this same way. You just can't keep it going yourself, like by asking him return questions.
5. Be pleasant when you are around him. Cheerful. I know it is hard, but if you want this situation to be less awkward, I think you are going to have to fake it till you make it. Definitely no more crying around him.
6. Ditto for the office in general. Cheerful. No more public crying.
7. Maybe try to reach out to your co-workers in just minor ways, like just saying good morning when you see them.
posted by cairdeas at 10:08 AM on December 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


I agree with others that your behavior toward this guy has been inappropriate for a work environment and makes you come off as weird - I don't have anything to add on that front, others have put it much better.

However, I want you to know that while what you did is on the one hand inappropriate, on the other hand it's pretty normal - I (and many of my friends) acted the same way toward a crush I had when I was 15. I barely new him, but I thought he was cute, and he seemed so smart, so, he was perfect! So I always tried to chat with him and force conversation In retrospect we didn't have much in common and he was never particularly interested in or nice to me (both of which I expect, among other things, from my partners now). I tell you this not to compare you to a 15-year-old's maturity level, at all. I think this is sort of like what Dan Savage says to straight friends frustrated with their adult gay friends who have just come out and are acting like teenagers as they pursue their first romantic relationships - those gay friends who are just starting to go after the people they're really interested in, in public ways, at 20 or 21 or even older ages, are at the same stage of going after potential romantic partners as I was when I was a 15-year-old straight girl. And I felt behind because many of my peers had been "dating" since they were 12. I don't think I'm putting this very well, but my point is, we start when we start, and many of us do dumb stuff. When I was 17, I cried publicly in my high school over a dude all the time. I'm embarrassed by that, and I wouldn't do that now - but so what. I was feeling what I was feeling, and I was new to those experiences, and I learned from them. I hope you can come to see this experience in the same way. You're not a freak because you behaved inappropriately in the office. You're just learning, and you're going to do better, and have other jobs, and meet other awesome people, including potential romantic partners.
posted by fireflies at 10:43 AM on December 23, 2011 [6 favorites]


I've been thinking about this: He is married, although I don't know if it's happy (he only ever brings her up in passing).

I, too, bring up my spouse in passing when talking to colleagues. I try to make sure it's generally known that I'm married, but I don't spend lots of energy telling my coworkers all about my husband and how happy we are together. For the record, we are quite happy together.

This is a very important social skill to learn: mentally cross someone off your "potential dates" list when you find out he's married or otherwise in a committed relationship.

You don't need to figure out if he's happily or unhappily married, or wonder if he'd leave his wife for you. You need to mentally re-categorize him. You can acknowledge that he's attractive, that if he weren't married you'd like to date him--but that's as far as you go, and you don't linger on those thoughts. You stop thinking about what you could have with him and start turning your romantic attention elsewhere. This important social skill will help you to act appropriately toward married coworkers and friends, will prevent you from getting really invested in a crush that's never going anywhere, and will free up your attention and energy for people who are available.
posted by Meg_Murry at 11:57 AM on December 23, 2011 [8 favorites]


I'm not sure if anyone here can tell me why he's acting this way. If you can, that's great.

I can tell you. He's acting this way because he doesn't want anyone, including you, to think he's romantically interested in you. If people think the two of you are having an affair it will harm his reputation at work and his marriage. His job and marriage are probably the two most imporant things in his life. When you told a colleague that you had a crush on him and when you decided you'd like him to leave his wife for you, you became a threat to those two Most Important Things. The chance of him being accused of cheating on his wife and/or having an affair at work became non-zero through no fault or action of his own. And that would be very bad for him.

So he's protecting himself by publicly snubbing you, making it very clear to observers that nothing is going on.

I think the best way to accept this is to focus on the fact that he's already married and that you are actively harming him personally and professionally by pursuing this. If you really like him and want what's best for him you'll pretend to be over him.
posted by fshgrl at 1:28 PM on December 23, 2011 [10 favorites]


Actually, if I were you, I'd try to get off of his projects. Your emotional reactiveness is only making the situation worse. What has happened here could happen to many people, especially in their first couple of "real jobs" when they are figuring out how to negotiate the work terrain. You've been given what many of them aren't though - a chance to pull yourself together and redeem yourself. Your work may be good, even exemplary, but you are continuing to damage your credibility and putting your job in jeopardy if you are crying constantly, bringing the past back up (with your supervisor), and trying to be near this person who does not reciprocate.

You cannot get things back to where they were. In fact, where you think they were is probably idealised. You have to start moving on. This may require more time, dedicated therapy, a job change, a lot more self-discipline, a good support system, etc.
posted by sm1tten at 3:28 PM on December 23, 2011


I really feel for you. I've always been prone both to workplace crushes and to getting bored in junior roles and feeling under appreciated. I'd bet crushing on this guy is as much about making work feel more important and exciting as it is about your "normal life" fantasy. In my early twenties going to work often revolved around the drama of whoever I was into (sometimes it was mutual, sometimes it wasn't). There was lots of inappropriate behavior I thought I was being super sneaky about (I wasn't) and lots of crying in the office. I do get it.

That said, there's a reason crying in the office is considered so career-killingly inappropriate that it's the title of a book. I actually recommend you pick up a copy of that (If You Have to Cry, Go Outside by Kelly Cutrone). I expected to hate it (I'm a union organizer for one, and I'm also British and hate self-help books) but I think it's a very useful guide to appropriate behavior for young women who may not be used to drawing clear lines between work and not-work protocol. I can't speak to the impact of your Aspergers, but it may not be as big as you assume - I've seen many folks on their first or second job make the mistakes you seem to be making - for example, your supervisor is not your confidant or mentor, they are there to give you work and make sure it gets done.

Unfortunately my sense is that you're on very thin ice at this job and quite possibly if you didn't have a named and documented medical reason for your behavior you would have been let go. While I think it should be available to everyone, the level of support and accommodation you seem to have been given is very unusual, at least in the US. I think you should follow all the good advice you've gotten above about behaving very carefully and sticking to doing your job going forward, and if I were you I would look for a new job so I had a backup if things continue to be weird, and so I could have a clean slate with the chance of promotions etc.

I have a lot less to say about getting over the crush. If you figure it out, please let me know. The only thing I've consistently found to help is to ditch all the music you listened to while you were crushing. I'm serious, don't listen to any of it again for years and consciously listen to a bunch of new (upbeat, not romantic) stuff. I guess if another habit or art form is important to your daily life, changing that up could help too, but for me it's the music.
posted by crabintheocean at 4:25 PM on December 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


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