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September 17, 2012 9:13 AM Subscribe
Office Crush Filter: We work in a tiny office. Is this still worth pursuing?
posted by anonymous to human relations (32 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I’ve been working in an office of less than 12 people for under a year now. I have a coworker who at first struck me as very quiet and even cold. In the process of trying to work better with him, he started opening up to me a lot more after a few months, to the point where now he’s teasing me in staff meetings, telling jokes ("Anyone come in yesterday afternoon?" "Nope, totally quiet. I stripped down and worked naked after you left."), and otherwise appearing to flirt with me (it’s not normal to claim that someone is seducing you when you send an office email about making lunch plans, right?) and I’m crushing pretty hard. In some ways he seems interested in me (out of nowhere the other day he asked me where I lived) and in other it seems like he’s avoiding me (would rather speak to a coworker over the phone when calling in when the information was general and anyone could have taken the message but I happened to pick up the phone; avoids being alone in the lunch room with me). We have had occasion to confirm that we are both single. All touching has been rare and accidental.
In addition to being confused and unsure if I’m reading things correctly, it has gotten to the point where my boss seems to have concluded that something is going on, because we have conversations like this:
Boss: We’ll be having lunch, and then convening at $time, and then you can come back here with X.
Me (outwardly calm): -- or, whoever will be driving back this way. I appreciate that people are open to carpooling.
Boss: … so that was my vacation. How were things at the office with you and X?
Me (again, outwardly calm): Everything was fine - $other_coworkers were there too, of course. You know that X has been busy with Y project; I avoid bothering him unless it's important. [True.]
This is my major problem with expressing overt interest in my coworker – not only will it be awkward if he turns out to not really be interested in me (I’ve never told someone I had a crush on them and had it end in something other than awkwardness, rejection, and that person disappearing/going incommunicado. I wish I were exaggerating.) but the impact will be amplified because our office is so small and we see each other every day. Additionally, because the office is so small, everyone knows if my coworker tells a joke and I giggle, or if I go for a coffee run and he suddenly invites himself along. Surely everyone would notice if the dynamic suddenly changed between us, and we can't get away from each other - would it turn into a situation where one of us would have to leave? I don't want that at all.
I am very sensitive to the fact that we are in the office to work above all things, and I am very careful to limit the time we spend talking, partially because we both have things to do and partially because I feel eyes on me and ears listening when I talk to him about anything. I don’t want to make the work environment difficult for anyone, and it makes me wonder if pursuing him is subsequently impossible and I'm just not thinking straight. When I bring up the subject to friends, they change the subject.
Previous AskMes have me believing that extra-office dating is theoretically possible so long as ground rules are in advance, but I have to find a way to approach him first, if that is the right thing to do. Is this a risk worth taking, given the evidence, the close quarters, and the potential for fallout? If so, how should I go about it?
Certain details necessarily omitted. Throwaway email: email@example.com