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Help me understand how to deal with a guy I had a crush on at work
January 14, 2014 4:21 PM   Subscribe

Help me understand how to deal with a guy I had a crush on at work

I have quite severe social anxiety in certain situations.

I developed a crush on a guy who sits in front of me at work. (I'm a guy too). He is a super charismatic, confident, succesful kind of guy.

As well as having a crush on him, I also felt very jealous of him and wished I could be more like him.

He started to approach me at work and chat, and the combination of me feeling embarrassed about the crush and the jealousy issues, as well as the social anxiety, made me come across as very weird.

He started to invite me to parties of his, and to hang out with him and his friends. As I got used to hanging out with him, got to know him better, and became aware that he did not like me in that way, the crush started to dwindle.

I still get very nervous when speaking with him as I feel guilty and embarrassed that I had a crush on him, and being in his presence makes me feel very anxious. Over time I realized that there were parts of his personality I do not like very much. For example he seems arrogant, he talks about himself a lot and puts others down a lot. I thought that seeing as he keeps inviting me to hang out with him he must still want to be friends in some way.

However, the other day I was at his house with another friend of his. He kept making subtle putdowns about me, and when I left the room to go the bathroom I heard him talking about me to his friend, saying that he found me really weird. He must have known that I could hear this as I had literally just left the room.

Now I don't know what to do, I don't really want to speak to him again but we share a lot of mutual friends, we work together, and ignoring him would seem quite obvious.

Any advice? Should I maybe talk to him about it?
posted by iamsuper to Human Relations (14 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
Wow, he doesn't sound like a very nice guy. You don't have to ignore someone to show that you disapprove of aspects of their personality and how they treat you. I would cool right down and only talk to him when I need to, about work or other neutral topics.
posted by Dorothea_in_Rome at 4:27 PM on January 14 [3 favorites]


I don't really want to speak to him again but we share a lot of mutual friends, we work together, and ignoring him would seem quite obvious. Any advice? Should I maybe talk to him about it?

I think it is a really good idea to stop pursuing a friendship with him, but definitely don't overtly ignore him and don't talk to him about it! Just be perfectly friendly, with a high brick wall behind that.

Chit chat about meaningless random small talk and don't tell him stuff that's real about your life. Give friendly excuses when he invites you to do stuff. Say hi in the morning with a smile and keep walking. Just slowly, nicely, ease him back down to work acquaintance level.
posted by cairdeas at 4:32 PM on January 14 [9 favorites]


For example he seems arrogant, he talks about himself a lot and puts others down a lot. I thought that seeing as he keeps inviting me to hang out with him he must still want to be friends in some way.

People like this often just love to have someone around to put down and make themselves feel/look better in comparison to. That's why it's really confusing when someone seems to insult you all the time and have a lot of contempt for you but still seems really determined to keep you around.
posted by cairdeas at 4:33 PM on January 14 [7 favorites]


Go back to work chit-chat, and the next time he invites you anywhere, say "I appreciate the invite, I'll let you know if it will be possible for me to go"*. Continue to turn him down for social invitations. If he ever asks you why (not for a single invite, but for your track record of turning down every invite) feel free to say "If you really want to know, I think we make good work friends, but when we hang out I find you really weird. I hope you don't take offense." (which will be very satisfying.)

*playing off of Miss Manner's "I'm sorry, that will not be possible" respond to unwanted asks.
posted by davejay at 4:41 PM on January 14 [3 favorites]


Oh, and don't talk to him about it. If he were a nice guy he wouldn't have treated you that way, and odds are if you bring it up he'll just rationalize it or get defensive. Going back to being work-only friends or acquaintances is the real-world equivalent of "flag it and move on", and that's what I recommend.
posted by davejay at 4:43 PM on January 14 [2 favorites]


I want to point out that you don't need to feel guilty for having crushes on people, regardless of anyone's sexual orientation. (I used to feel guilty for having crushes on people - it more because I felt that I was so terrible that it was, like, an insult to someone to have a crush on them than anything about internalized homophobia, but it was still unnecessary.) Having crushes on people is normal and healthy, and anyone who is not a complete jerk is going to feel flattered if they can even tell (as long as you're not stalking them or being inappropriate). And I personally feel that homophobic people who are all "ew, that gay person has a crush one me" are complete jerks, frankly.

But anyway - it is okay to be attracted to people, even if they are categorically not going to be attracted back. It is also okay to have that mixture of "I am attracted to you and I also want to be you" feelings. I'd say those are probably more common when you're still figuring out a lot of stuff about who you are, but they're also perfectly normal and okay.
posted by Frowner at 4:47 PM on January 14 [8 favorites]


"Happy People Don't Do Bad Things."

This guy did a Bad Thing. He's mean spirited, and I doubt he was ever your friend in the first place.

Deep inside, he's a very unhappy person. You don't have to feel bad for him or cut him any slack, I'm just demystifying this for you so you don't have to feel like you brought this on yourself.

I mean, you got caught up in his charisma, but we've all been taken by someone and been hurt. Then we wise up and stop letting narcissists like this guy into our inner circle.

You live, you learn.

Hold your head high. Don't speak baldly about others, including this guy.

Carry on!
posted by jbenben at 5:37 PM on January 14 [6 favorites]


Don't worry about it. Not everyone is going to like you, you know? Just as you don't like everyone - in fact you don't like him, now that you've seen what he's about. Don't bring it up, don't escalate, be friendly/neutral at work and be vague about any further invitations (obviously don't go to any more stuff with him.) He's just a guy.

I know it's hurtful to hear someone make a nasty comment about you. It's really hurtful. But realize that for most people, it's pretty meaningless. I've worked in environments where it was completely normal for people who really were friends to talk smack about each other when their backs were turned. I didn't like it, but I came to realize it didn't carry much significance to them. It was just sort of a thing they did to make themselves feel better in a situation where we had a very lowest-common-denominator culture and people weren't thoughtful about what came out of their mouths.
posted by fingersandtoes at 5:58 PM on January 14 [3 favorites]


Oh, sweetie. I'm sorry you had to hear him say those things. This may be a harsh rule, but it's one that I've regretted EVERY time I've broken it: You Do NOT Have to Make Excuses For a Real Friend. Sure, real friends mess up, and real friends have their annoying traits, but they do NOT do things that require a lot of hemming and hawing and fretting and cognitive dissonance on YOUR part ("Oh, he's not [bad/mean/disloyal] he's just ____"... "She couldn't have MEANT it... that's just her way"... "Maybe I'M overreacting, because after all, he's always so ____?").

I had one friend whom I described for years as "THE most complicated person I've ever met". "Complicated" turned out to be my OWN mental euphemism for "self-serving and backstabbing", and she wound up kinda breaking my heart.
posted by julthumbscrew at 8:33 PM on January 14 [3 favorites]


This sounds like the behaviour of a self-hating closet case to me. Like he's attracted to you, but doesn't want to admit that to himself or others, so he keeps wanting to hang out with you but distances himself at the same time by putting you down.

Regardless of his motivations, he's clearly a douche and you shouldn't waste anymore time on him.
posted by RubyScarlet at 1:32 AM on January 15


Just to make it clear he is openly gay too. Thanks for all the answers, very helpful!
posted by iamsuper at 2:26 AM on January 15


Eh, it happens. We crush on people precisely because we DON'T know them very well. I can't tell you how many of my crushes dissipated once I got to know the object of my affections.

So you liked him at one time, at least you have the good sense and good taste not to continue to like him. You'd be surprised at how many people cling to the feeling of a crush in the face of contradicting evidence.

I'd stop accepting his invitations to hang out. Hang out with other folks at work and in your friend group, if he's there give him a cursory nod and politely avoid him. Don't be all drama llama about it, just be more interested in other people.

Sometimes people know when you have crushes on them and if they're a second or third rate kind of person, they'll bask in the glow of it, without having ANY intention of returning the affection.

Don't bother to talk to him about it, just slowly let him fade from your peripheral vision. He may become upset that you don't crush on him anymore, but oh well.

He may be charismatic and confident, but he's also a dick, and soon, others will know. I LOVE davejay's response. "I feel weird around you," is just so fucking perfect.

Hang in there. It's shitty that he's treated you this way, but at least the scales have fallen from your eyes.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 7:00 AM on January 15 [3 favorites]


One time in a teen magazine I read some great advice for moving on after a nonreciprocal crush and/or embarrassment situation:

Channel all your energy into being amazing. Just excel, more and more, with everything you do, and don't look back.

This has helped me a lot when I've felt small and weird around person/people. "F you, I'm awesome, I don't need this, I've got important things to do!"
posted by magdalemon at 8:47 AM on January 15 [2 favorites]


Eh, it happens. We crush on people precisely because we DON'T know them very well.

If you go to a meditation retreat, you may be warned (collectively) that falling in love (with other people at the retreat that you're not speaking to, since nobody speaks, and who you never hear speaking) is common and you should anticipate it and ignore it. I know at least one person who ended up dating a guy she met (and crushed on) in this way, and it was a disaster. There's even a skit about this on Portlandia (a woman crushing on a guy sitting across from her during a yoga exercise, and she envisions this whole life with him, but after the session he gets up and starts arguing with the yoga instructor in a whiny voice about getting his money back.) That's just how it is.
posted by davejay at 10:14 AM on January 15 [3 favorites]


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