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December 28, 2010 2:19 PM   Subscribe

I'm crushing on a coworker - what to do? Complication: extended business trip

So I have a major crush on a coworker in a different department. We normally only have limited contact at work - and at first we didn't even really like each other (I thought he was arrogant). However, working on a specific project over the course of the last few months brought us closer together. The vibe between us became more and more flirty, even though he is normally extremely serious and ultra-professional. Then (cue the clichés!) at the company holiday party, at the end of the night, we ended up in a corner flirting quite furiously – at one point he playfully grabbed both my arms while we were talking, and ohmygoodnessgracious… I felt that touch reverberate through my whole body. It’s been two weeks and I still can’t get it out of my head. I cannot think of the last time I felt such a rush at a man’s touch.

It seems he likes me, too. Lots of eye contact, big smiles, throwing glances at me from across the cafeteria, calling me when an email would suffice. We had coffee together yesterday at work (my suggestion, but he eagerly accepted and insisted on buying the coffee) – it was our first one-on-one contact since the Christmas party, and we ended up chatting for ages. It was lovely.

So I’d like to get to know this guy better. Like, in a dating context. It seems that he is interested in me (all signs point to yes - RIGHT?!) As bad luck would have it though, he is leaving at the end of the week for a three-week project overseas.

As we wrapped up our coffee chat yesterday, I mentioned that I needed his help with one of my projects and he replied with a smile, “well, everything has its price, you know.” It seemed a bit like he was testing the waters in some way, so I replied, “I guess you should make me an offer, then.” I was tempted to say something else along the lines of “How about I buy you a drink,” but it felt like the ball was kind of in his court so I just kept quiet. (Hindsight D’OH!!) He just smiled and didn’t say anything else.

So what is my question? I guess it is this - assuming that he is indeed interested, and I know y’all can’t answer that for me but any opinions on it are gladly accepted - what is the thing to do next? He told me he would stop by my office before he leaves (to give me something that he could just as easily send via email) so this feels like a last chance for three weeks. Should I drop some hints that I’d like to see him socially when he gets back? Just leave the whole topic until he returns? Just sit tight and wait for him to make the next move? Forget it because he’s a coworker (and I should mention that I am relatively new to the company... oh but I can’t forget that touch, AskMeFi…)
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (26 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Ask him out for a drink. Tonight. Why wait? On the other hand, it isn't going to hurt to wait, and then you can play the "you've been gone, how was it, let's catch up over drinks" card.
posted by J. Wilson at 2:29 PM on December 28, 2010

I would just wait 'til he gets back, and then when you see him you can be all, "Hey! It's been a while! We should catch up!" and make a date then. In the meantime, tide yourself over by doodling little pictures of the two of you frenching.
posted by Greg Nog at 2:29 PM on December 28, 2010 [11 favorites]

I think you should wait until he comes back to try to pursue this, and even then, you should go very slowly. Before you felt sexual attraction to this guy, you did not like him. Try to ignore your burning heart and figure out if you'll still like him once the fire goes out.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 2:34 PM on December 28, 2010

Preemptively pay for the help on the project with a drink--get all fake-funny negotiating with him and say that you taking him out for drinks is your final offer and you will not pay more for the help.

Negotiations ensue.
posted by Ironmouth at 2:38 PM on December 28, 2010

My rule in life: Don't mix business with pleasure.

But it's up to you of course, could be amazing, could be awful.
posted by wtfomghilol at 2:38 PM on December 28, 2010

is he going anywhere interesting? When he stops by to say goodbye, say that you've always wanted to see (insert interesting thing that's close to where he'll be) and tell him to take lots of pictures and show you them when he gets back. That gets him thinking about you while he's gone, and a reason to get together when he returns.
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 2:38 PM on December 28, 2010 [1 favorite]

oh but I can’t forget that touch...

Based solely on that, you should be making plans to jump him. Flirt more and ask him out for a drink this week, see how it goes. If it goes well, set up something to see him when he returns. Then you'll have three weeks to go underwear shopping, whoo hoo!

Some people frown at office romance, particularly if it's as chemical as you say. They have valid points and definitely ask around about the guy ('everything has it's price" could hint at something be it control issues or wild kinky side), see what the grapevine says. But if everything checks out, then go for it, you only live once and one shouldn't ignore chemistry.
posted by nomadicink at 2:43 PM on December 28, 2010 [1 favorite]

At least wait until he comes back otherwise you will be all excited and miserable at the same time because it will probably be difficult to connect while he is gone. Plus you will have a few weeks to think rationally about him since you won't be running into him every day. Hopefully absence makes the heart grow fonder... :)
posted by MsKim at 2:44 PM on December 28, 2010 [1 favorite]

The whole thing about someone leaving town, the whole rush-rush must get it on with this person, is slightly... well it's like high school a little? We're adults! We can wait. Because what's the difference between getting it on with him now or in three weeks? But also, don't set up a date now for when he's back! Three weeks of crazy? And it leads to another pitfall: having a digital affair while he's gone. Never as fulfilling as it should be! So yeah make your interest clear. Go ahead and give him a kiss even, and something and say "See you when you get back." Something like that. But. Don't overdo it.
posted by RJ Reynolds at 2:48 PM on December 28, 2010

Is he married?
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 2:50 PM on December 28, 2010 [2 favorites]

If he worked in the same department I'd wave big red flags and say "do not go there!" Different department make sit a little more easy to negotiate if it all goes pear shaped in the future, which it well might... BUT, if you can live with that go for drinks prior, go fr drinks after... just go.. and uh, go prepared.
posted by edgeways at 2:51 PM on December 28, 2010

I'm gonna play "yellow light" to everyone else's "green light" here.

Full disclosure: I experienced something very similar that ended in tears. Your mileage may vary. I hope it does, and that I'm just projecting.

I'm not saying not to go for it, just to put on the brakes. Just a little.

I had a coworker who, at first, I disliked because I thought he was arrogant. Then I developed hot chemistry with him, which made me throw caution to the wind. I assumed that he felt the same.

But no. He was up for a sport fuck and that was it. He was playing me. I assumed, wrongly, that if he was willing to get together with a co-worker, it meant that he liked me enough to risk all the typical complications. He assumed it shouldn't go any further than getting it out of our systems.

And he was arrogant. My first impressions of people tend to be correct, and I trust them more now.

Anyway, I hope it works out differently for you...just play safe, okay?
posted by xenophile at 3:01 PM on December 28, 2010 [1 favorite]

Don't do anything until he gets back, because no matter what happens those three weeks will seem like an eternity if you make a move before he leaves.

What kind of relationship do you want with him? And what kind of relationship do you think he might be prepared to offer?

Listen to what xenophile says - read it again a couple of times. And keep in mind that this is all happening where you work, so if something goes wrong it potentially involves your professional life too.

(I'm not trying to be all downer about it, I'm just telling you exactly what I would tell a friend.)
posted by mrs. taters at 3:06 PM on December 28, 2010 [1 favorite]

Is he married?
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 4:50 PM on December 28 [+] [!]

Or otherwise occupied? There may be things you don't know. There are people who derive pleasure or erotic energy from developing super flirty relationships that they don't follow through on. If they don't technically cheat they figure no harm/no foul.

You've been given a gift of a few weeks to do some reconnaissance. And there is no need to rush, it's just you crushiness telling you otherwise. Saying “I guess you should make me an offer, then.” makes your position clear as can be. Sit back and see what develops.
posted by readery at 3:09 PM on December 28, 2010 [2 favorites]

I met my wife at work. We are 23 years and 5 kids later. Go for it.
posted by brownrd at 3:10 PM on December 28, 2010 [2 favorites]

Take him out for a drink before he leaves, give him one kiss, and wish him safe travels. The tension will build wonderfully during those three weeks. It'll be FUN.
posted by Mala at 3:57 PM on December 28, 2010 [2 favorites]

Do you like him for who he is, or do you like this feeling of being pursued by someone who seems just out of reach?

Your coffee chat has my feathers all in a fluff for you. I don't trust him; he's still arrogant. There are far more courteous and respectful ways to communicate that he's interested in you than to say things like "everything has its price, you know?"

He sounds to me like the sort who, if I were in your shoes, wouldn't stick around for a relationship. If you're looking for a brief fling, then make a move. If that's not what you're looking for, then forget about him and move on. There will be other electric touches by others in your life.

In either case, forget about him for the next three weeks. YOU are an awesome person. You sound like you care about the people around you. Focus on living YOUR life and being the wonderful person that you are. Do fun and interesting things. It'll all work out.
posted by lover at 4:55 PM on December 28, 2010 [1 favorite]

You've made yourself really clear, I think -- any clearer, and you'll feel really crushed if he doesn't come after you when he gets home. Leave it for now, and do some research while he's gone.
posted by fingersandtoes at 6:05 PM on December 28, 2010 [2 favorites]

"Before you felt sexual attraction to this guy, you did not like him."

Yeah. I think your last impression of him will be one of not liking him, too. Doing research while he's gone is a good idea. I'm not trying to spoil your fun, but proceed with caution.
posted by tel3path at 6:38 PM on December 28, 2010 [1 favorite]

Nthing putting some weight to your first impressions and doing research while he's away. My first impression of my ex-husband was that he was rigid and cold, but as I got to know him, his charming, geeky side showed up, and I fell for him. And over the years, I was re-acquainted with his rigid, cold side once again. So I've come to the conclusion that while first impressions don't tell you everything about a person, they tell the truth about at least part of their personality.

If you're willing to take a risk at dealing with some arrogance because you just want a hot fling, I'd be the last to tell you not to do it. But you do work together, so the fallout from a workplace fling, even if you're in different departments, could be very risky to your career. Leave the ball in his court for now, and re-assess the chemistry when he comes back after you've found out more about him.
posted by rosebuddy at 7:35 PM on December 28, 2010

But if everything checks out, then go for it, you only live once and one shouldn't ignore chemistry. Amen!

I'm dating a coworker in a similar situation and degree of working-togetherness. It started as innocently as drunken makeouts, and we began hanging out a lot right before I left for a month. At the time I felt this sense of now-or-never that really accelerated our relationship.

I tell you this because now in retrospect, it seems silly that I felt all that pressure. A month seemed like forever because I was/am crazy about him. But in the grand scheme of things, three weeks, not that long. If there is potential, it will still be there when he gets back. If anything I regret speeding through those first stages of cautious flirtation. Then again, part of the fun was we couldn't help it.

So: do what makes you happy. Don't beanplate here, just be yourself. And have fun!
posted by ista at 7:54 PM on December 28, 2010

Um, something caught my eye. 'I mentioned that I needed his help with one of my projects and he replied with a smile, “well, everything has its price, you know.”'

That was probably a joke. What if it wasn't, though? What if you don't pay up in the way he expects and he becomes uncooperative?

And you're relatively new to the company.

I'd find out what other women he's worked with and see what you can discreetly find out from them.
posted by tel3path at 5:15 AM on December 29, 2010

Okay gang...OP here with a sock puppet as requested! A couple of things I forgot to mention: I'm female, in case anybody was wondering, and I am 65% certain Work Guy is single.

He actually stopped by my office just this morning to drop off a report and to say goodbye (plane leaves tomorrow morning). Nothing happened. It was a brief, friendly yet totally professional conversation and that was that. Kind of (okay a lot) disappointing but I'm not really sure what I expected.

The brevity and tone of our conversation today has got me overthinking everything again and thinking that he's not actually interested, after all. (But I am cute, smart, fun and sexy and he should TOTALLY WANT ME!)

In any case, as you all said, no harm in waiting a few weeks and it gives me time to cool off a bit and scope him out. Thanks all for your sound advice.
posted by supermetasock at 6:16 AM on December 29, 2010 [1 favorite]

Actually I think he's push-pulling so you will ruminate about him for three weeks.

That doesn't necessarily mean he wants you. He may only want you to want him. I'd take care of the other 35%, and then sniff out his reputation.
posted by tel3path at 6:24 AM on December 29, 2010

BTW, I don't mean to be totally discouraging. It's quite possible that when you check, you won't find anything sinister. But please do thoroughly check first. You'll be glad you did.
posted by tel3path at 7:02 AM on December 29, 2010

If you guys break up, how will you handle it? Do you have to see him every day at this point? Could this be avoided?

My rule for dating the coworkers is, can you deal with it if things go bad? Can you find a new job if you have to?

Think about this stuff BEFORE you make a move, y'know?
posted by jenfullmoon at 12:16 PM on December 29, 2010

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