A perfect storm of complications: acting on a crush on a shy coworker
July 23, 2012 4:36 PM Subscribe
Despite all advice to the contrary, I'm trying to get to know my shy coworker crush better -- have I made a hash of it? Or does it sound like I'm doing okay?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (36 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
For several years, I've had a crush on a woman I work closely with. She's quiet and a very private person, with the discipline to back it up in the long term. I've always respected the boundaries she sets with her co-workers in terms of her personal life -- she's a bit of a mystery to most of us.
For most of the time she's worked in our department, I was in a steady, long-term relationship. When the relationship began to fall apart last year -- nothing nasty, just a recognition that we'd been coasting together for too long without any real progress or change -- I made the mistake (I think) of confessing my crush to my coworker. It was a terribly awkward experience, and I felt bad for having foisted it on her out of the blue. Basically, I said, "I think you're great, and it sucks, because I'm with someone, and we work together, and it sucks."(I've paraphrased here; there was a lot more stuttering and near-hyperventilation involved. I'm not particularly smooth or charming in the *best* circumstances, and this was an unmitigated disaster.)
She said... nothing. Or nearly nothing. I figured I had destroyed our working relationship, made a fool of myself, and embarrassed her. I emailed her an apology, and we never spoke of it again.
Flash forward. I've been single for over half a year at this point. I jumped back into dating right away just to prove to myself that I could. Made a couple friends, but nothing ever got serious. And my coworker and I got back on good terms, to where I got the sense that perhaps she actually likes me on a personal level.
A few weeks ago, I worked up the nerve to ask her to go to lunch. This is out of the ordinary -- we both normally eat alone. When you factor in past history, the message I was sending was pretty clear: "I still like you, and would like to get to know you better." We've gone to lunch a couple times since. They were great if not stellar conversations between two introverts. I've learned more about her in two weeks than I had in the previous several years combined. I'm just very worried that I'm misreading the situation, and that she's not interested and perhaps just being a kind person or a good friend.
(And yeah, coworkers. I know. I know. But I've sort of made this choice -- life is way too short, and a question unasked is a regret always.)
At one point, I asked her if she was seeing anyone, to which she replied "No, are you seeing anyone?" I said no, and that I was interested in asking her out, but was not doing it right then and there, mind you. She expressed concern about being coworkers, and joked that maybe after a couple more conversations, I'd find some reason not to like her as much. It seemed promising.
So here's the thing: I asked her out a couple days later, and she turned me down, saying that it was "probably too soon", and that lunch would still be fine. In a subsequent conversation that day, she said in a pretty final way that it'd be "too weird." I got the sense at that point that a door had closed on the whole thing, and wouldn't be re-opened.
But when I asked about lunch later the next day, I found out she's still willing to eat with me next week. So have I been rejected and don't know it yet? Or was I rushing things by asking her out?
It comes down to this: I feel I'm skirting a line between being persistent and being a pest. Quiet types and shy women out there -- have you experienced something similar? What advice would you give to a smitten guy in my situation? Back off? Flag off and save the work relationship? Or something else?
Thanks for *any* insight, encouragement, warning or friendly criticism you can provide. I could use some fresh perspective on this before I sabotage the whole situation by over thinking it.