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February 12, 2011 4:08 PM   Subscribe

She wants my advice, my empathy, my help, and my attention. I just want to date her. What is my next move?

We are both healthy, out-going, and energetic twenty-something teachers in the same seven-member department in a large high school. We have our professional shit together and are both very good at our jobs. She lives at home with her happily-married parents. She has one older brother with whom she has little contact due to geographic distance. The rest of her extended family lives far away too. I live on my own.

Three years ago when we were hired we were both in separate long-term committed relationships. Incidentally, this August both of us became single. That is when she started texting me every day and stopping by my classroom during our common free period most mornings for 30-45 minute chats that were full of flirting and innuendo.

She has had my mobile number for the entire duration of our time working together and we have texted/talked on the phone many times over the years: I’ve helped her pick out the right Mac, recommended an iPhone (which she loves now), helped her father fix his iMac, etc. She knows all about my family and I about hers. The only topic neither of us has ever brought up is (and was) our past or perhaps current relationships.

She turns and has turned to me for advice on the following topics: graduate school, family drama, friend drama, professional advice for issues/problems at work, movies/books/music, fitness centers, clothing, etc. She has introduced me to many of her female and male friends, including a few male friends that would probably very much like to date her.

She has made it clear through her actions and decisions that she takes my advice quite seriously. Periodically she has given me small gifts to show her appreciation: headphones for the gym, chocolate, coffee, and amusing hand-written letters in Spanish and the IPA hand-delivered to my classroom at random points throughout the day. She and I regularly exchange mix CDs.

She also has a tendency to SMS me dozens of times a day, from the moment she wakes up “OMG my pillow is covered in drool and my right arm is asleep—I’m a hot mess and it’s not even 6:30!” and to when she goes to bed “sweet dreams [redacted embarassing nickname she gave me].” I don’t usually reply immediately to her SMSes, but I in the last three weeks I have been more responsive, out of curiosity and genuine interest in her. In the past I have tried being more distant by ignoring her SMSes, taking steps that would lead to us never crossing paths on a given work day, and waiting a day before replying to her emails. She noticed immediately and sent me more SMSes and called me to make sure I was OK.

We have been out for dinner/drinks before/during/after work-related events such as parent-teacher conferences, open house, and records days. Usually others join us, but sometimes it is just the two of us. When this is the case I always drive us both. Up until last week we hadn’t been on a proper date.

That changed when she walked into my classroom last Friday and asked what I was doing that night. I replied that I was going to grade papers at a coffee shop and then go for a swim in Lake Erie (a joke because Lake Erie is frozen). She laughed and said “we’ll talk later—have a nice weekend!” and walked out. She texted me three minutes later saying that she would be joining me and bringing snacks.

She arrived at the coffee shop and we ended up talking about her classes and I gave her some good ideas for a few projects and lessons. She was laughing almost constantly and would periodically touch my arm or knee and kept eye-contact for most of the evening. When the coffee shop closed I asked her if she’d like to grab a drink and she agreed readily. We ended up spending about seven hours together that day (8PM-3AM) talking and laughing. I bought the drinks, food, etc. It looked and felt like a first date and it ended with a hug and more talking/laughing in the parking, despite the bitter cold temperatures. She SMSed me as soon as she got home saying how much fun she had and how great she thinks I am, etc.

I have been reticent to ask her out for a second date because a) she is my colleague and I have to consider the potential repercussions it may have on the department’s cohesiveness, b) she sends me mixed signals about how she feels about me, and c) I don’t want to come off as desperate or needy. Maybe going out with me once a month or so is all she wants.

1) Am I being used?
2) Am I in geostationary orbit in the friend zone? If so, how can I achieve escape velocity?

tl;dr This girl flirts with me constantly and I want to date her, but I can’t tell if I am in the friend-zone or not.

My very own Previously.
posted by Es ist Zeit, dass es Zeit wird! to Human Relations (57 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Um, this doesn't sound in the least bit friend-zone-y to me. Ask her out in unambiguous terms!
posted by peacheater at 4:12 PM on February 12, 2011 [10 favorites]

Best answer: What I got from your question is that she wants to pursue a deeper relationship, while you just want to keep things friendly.

Invite her over to your place for a dinner and a video. See what happens. Try to keep things above the belt, so to speak, so that if there is a mutual attraction you can maybe talk about what it would be like to have a romantic relationship with a coworker.
posted by KokuRyu at 4:18 PM on February 12, 2011 [3 favorites]

posted by dunkadunc at 4:19 PM on February 12, 2011 [10 favorites]

She has sized you up and found you worthy. She likes you, would like to date you and maybe... more. The real question is, do you find her worthy? Do you want to date her? If the answer is "yes," go for it! (Maybe check first with the school administration to see if there are any rules against teachers dating.)
posted by exphysicist345 at 4:22 PM on February 12, 2011 [2 favorites]

Where is the mixed signal? You haven't described anything she's said or done to you that doesn't, frankly, scream "I want to date you!" Either that or she thinks you're her gay best friend. So, if you're positive she knows you're straight, man up and go on a real date.
posted by telegraph at 4:24 PM on February 12, 2011 [10 favorites]

She could probably turn around and write the same question you wrote, except her question wouldn't be "Am I being used?" but "What am I not doing here?" I guess you think you're being "used" because she seems to constantly lean on you for advice and sends you unimportant, unsolicited status updates. This is just some peoples' way of saying "I want to interact with you! I am creating a reason to do so!" Just ask her out and see how it goes. However with her penchant for constant communication that you describe, I am sensing a possibility for this to get really train-wrecky if it doesn't work out. So keep that in mind.
posted by amethysts at 4:31 PM on February 12, 2011 [2 favorites]

tl;dr This girl flirts with me constantly and I want to date her, but I can’t tell if I am in the friend-zone or not.

Ask her out* if you're feeling shy or kiss her if you're not.

*Ask her out means specifically using the word "Date" and indicating it's just with you.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:31 PM on February 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

I just sent you MeMail. Also seconding KoKoRyu.
posted by xenophile at 4:34 PM on February 12, 2011

Um, no she's not using you.

If you want to find out if she wants to date you (because you want to date her), ask her out unambiguously. It sounds like there's a chance of that to me, but ffs don't try to trick her into a relationship or hang out reading tea leaves hoping you'll just wind up there somehow.

There's nothing desperate or needy about asking someone on a date, btw.
posted by J. Wilson at 4:36 PM on February 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

Good lord, she's clubbing you over the head. Take a hint!
posted by Devils Rancher at 4:38 PM on February 12, 2011 [19 favorites]

How many more hints can she give you? She's probably writing an AskMe that says something like, "I've been flirting and hanging out with this guy forever, but he doesn't seem interested. What should I do?" She's already asked you out. It's your turn.

I dislike this phrase usually, but I'm gonna use it anyway: Man up! Ask the woman out on a real date! And kiss her at the end of it!
posted by bluedaisy at 4:39 PM on February 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

The only thing this woman hasn't done to show you how she feels about you is mount you, and if you keep holding back, I'm pretty sure that's what comes next.
You can either wait for that, or you can ask her out on a date.
posted by newpotato at 4:40 PM on February 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: amethysts: I am sensing a possibility for this to get really train-wrecky if it doesn't work out.

Bingo. I’ll ask her out on a date next week to dinner and see what she says.
posted by Es ist Zeit, dass es Zeit wird! at 4:41 PM on February 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: How can you escape? ASK HER OUT. She was touching your arm and invading your space. Ladies don't do that with guys they aren't at least a little attracted to. It sounds like she went out with you to see if you were a nice guy she might like to date. Me and my lady friends generally let dudes pay for drinks ONLY if we want to go out with them- because it is a really easy way to tell a dude that you are into him without being too obvious.

are you being used?

...what are you talking about? you guys seem to be having a good time. Do you think that hanging out and taking your advice seriously means that she owes you something in return? Or is it because you paid for the date? I am not saying you are a douche bag, but unless she is actively trying to get you to pay for stuff in exchange for romance- the answer is no, you are not being used.

If you think she is "using you" by hanging out with you, valuing your opinion and letting you pick up the tab when you offer, but hasn't reciprocated by overtly coming on to you- then you are thinking like a douche bag. It doesn't sound like you made much of a move either, by the way.

If you want romance with this lady, simple. "I had so much fun last week. I'd love to take you on a real date. Let's grab a movie and slice of pizza." If she says no because of work or whatever, next time you guys hang out don't offer to pay.

Also, however unlikely it is that she DOES just want to be friends, don't be that guy who is constantly waiting in the wings trying to subversively manipulate a girl into bed while pretending to be a friend. It's slimy. If you want to sleep with her and don't want to be her friend- just stop hanging out.
posted by Blisterlips at 4:45 PM on February 12, 2011 [7 favorites]

OK, so she's clearly, utterly into you. The only thing that would worry me at all about this is in your related, previous question. Is it possible that the reason your colleagues don't take you seriously is that you've been having this heavy flirtation with a coworker for months? Could she be thinking that she's doing you a favor by talking you up at the functions that you're not invited to, but then your colleagues are getting a little TMI and questioning your professionalism as a result?

Without that previous question, this seems pretty straightforward. Kiss her, you fool! But with that, the plot thickens. There are a lot of potential outcomes here. Is your professional standing so far gone that it doesn't matter whether or not you date her? Or does dating her possibly make the bad situation even worse? You're the only one who knows enough about the situation to make an assessment of what might actually happen.

tl;dr: In general I am not a fan of dating in the workplace, but given what you've said here, she's totally into you and that would be a wasted opportunity. On the other hand, the previous context you've given us is important information and this could exacerbate that situation.
posted by Fuego at 4:51 PM on February 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Blisterlips: ...what are you talking about?

I left out a minor detail, but one that might add some depth to my feeling of being used or put in the friend-zone. I haven’t really thought about it since it happened, but your comments reminded me of it.

In November I asked her out for drinks and she showed up with a single guy friend of hers from college who was all over her in every sense of the word during the evening. I told her in no uncertain terms on the phone a few days after that I wasn’t happy that she brought him along without telling me. She explained that he is seriously into her and that she wasn’t into him.
posted by Es ist Zeit, dass es Zeit wird! at 4:52 PM on February 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

It sounds like you're disproportionately concerned with 'complications' of dating a coworker. I'll bet $100 the entire school will sigh with relief when you get around to asking her out. I'll bet your coworkers are placing bets. If I remember high school correctly, so are the students. You're the last person confused by this.
posted by Carlotta Bananas at 4:53 PM on February 12, 2011 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: Fuego: Is your professional standing so far gone

It is the opposite, really. I am respected and well-liked by most people at work and I think that the colleagues are just being nit-picky. In the time since I posted that question I have taken some of the advice to heart and really turned things around with regard to their attitude and treatment of me. A little psychology goes a long way it seems.
posted by Es ist Zeit, dass es Zeit wird! at 4:54 PM on February 12, 2011 [2 favorites]

unless she's "THE ONE", don't dip your quill in the company ink. Sorry...regardless of how many "oh but i met my SO at work!!!!!" replies this gets, the majority of workplace romances end uncomfortably at best.

So is she "THE ONE" (cue choral music and lights raining down from the heavens)? If yes, grab her by the shoulders and plant one on her. If not, go date some girls who don't work with you and give this girl a lot less time and attention.
posted by screamingnotlaughing at 5:02 PM on February 12, 2011 [3 favorites]

Good Lord, no. If there's ANY ambiguity the last thing in the world that you should do is ask her for a second date.

How could she unambiguously let you know she's into you? Well, she always has the option of chloroforming you and kidnapping you to an Elvis wedding chapel in Vegas and holding your jaw so as to manipulate your mouth into looking like it's forming the words "I do". Anything less than that, and unimaginable horror awaits you if you even think about pursuing this further. In fact, I'd get a tinfoil hat now because you could go to JAIL for thinking the wrong thoughts about this.

Kidding!!! Ask her on a second date. If she says "no", she is not into you, give it up. If you don't want to be friends and only want to date her and therefore need to end the friendship, explain that politely. If she says "yes", she is into you enough to want a second date.

Will you know, unambiguously and beyond all doubt so as never to receive a mixed-seeming signal, that she is guaranteed to want a third date, and so on? No. But that's life. Live it!
posted by tel3path at 5:03 PM on February 12, 2011

ok...instead of the shoulder grabbing and one planting, perhaps a slice and a movie would be better but you get my meaning, right? Stop vacillating.
posted by screamingnotlaughing at 5:03 PM on February 12, 2011

I think you should play it cool for now, and ask her out for real on the last day of school. Then you'll have all summer to see if there's any there there, and if things immediately fall apart, you'll have all summer to get over it.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 5:04 PM on February 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: ThePinkSuperhero: I think you should play it cool for now, and ask her out for real on the last day of school. Then you'll have all summer to see if there's any there there, and if things immediately fall apart, you'll have all summer to get over it.

I think this is probably a better idea, however she is going to a Spanish-speaking country for two months right after the school year ends to continue graduate school.

I really appreciate the frank advice from everyone so far.
posted by Es ist Zeit, dass es Zeit wird! at 5:09 PM on February 12, 2011

Es ist Zeit, dass es Zeit wird!

It sounds like that put you on your guard like you think that's part of her M.O. It's really common for women to have a hard time saying no- especially to indirect questions. If you think she is a cool person and like her enough- give her the benefit of the doubt. I'd bet that her bringing that other dude to drinks was more a message to him- an indirect "no, we are not an item, look now it's a group thing!" It was months ago. I might also assume as she got to know you her interest in you grew.

If you want to see if she is into you- there are a few back up tactics that me and my lady friend use-

1. we touch the other person. Accidentally, lightly, arm smacks, pats, elbows in the ribs, play punches. anything to touch.
2. we bring food or treats.
3. we initiate calls, messages, texts, sms.
4. we make up silly reasons to see each them, and invite ourselves to things.

basically it sounds like she is doing everything she possibly can, and is taking every single thing you put out. Don't misunderstand lady-like-boy talk as 'using you'. If she didn't like you she wouldn't keep accepting what you offer.

As for dating at work- uhh, almost everyone does. I'd say don't play at work. Don't have casual sex with coworkers. Don't even sleep together until you guys have had lots of real honest to god dates to make sure it has less of a chance of turning into super-awkward.
posted by Blisterlips at 5:17 PM on February 12, 2011 [4 favorites]

Dear God Man, what does she have to do...jump in your lap and say 'fuck me already?'
posted by space_cookie at 5:18 PM on February 12, 2011

If you wear glasses, I'd suggest getting the prescription checked cause damnit man are you blind?! She's probably at home like what do I have to do to get this fool to realize I like him?
posted by cashman at 5:27 PM on February 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: She tends not to respond to my texts if I send them after 6PM on Fridays and Saturdays…unless of course she is going to see me (like last weekend). Usually if I initiate with something mundane like “well at least the Cavs aren’t the worst team in history” (she is a Cavs fan) or I reply to something she had asked me earlier, she won’t reply until Sunday afternoon or evening. But pretty much Sunday night-Friday afternoon my phone is riding the flirty co-worker Text Train.

For example, she texted me on Friday afternoon saying “did you get the free 1000 AT&T rollover minutes?” and I replied “Yeah, thanks—qué haces este fin de semana? [what are you doing this weekend?] and haven’t received a reply yet, over 24 hours later.

But if she texts me and I don’t reply within 30-60min, she will resend it and say “Hey, where are you [embarrassing nickname]?!.”
posted by Es ist Zeit, dass es Zeit wird! at 5:29 PM on February 12, 2011

Response by poster: Cashman: If you wear glasses,

Funny you mention that…I am thinking about getting contact lenses and casually mentioned it last week on the date and she made me take my glasses off and took pictures of me with/without glasses and solicited her girlfriends’ opinions via MMS on the matter on the spot.
posted by Es ist Zeit, dass es Zeit wird! at 5:31 PM on February 12, 2011

posted by yarly at 5:32 PM on February 12, 2011 [15 favorites]

After reading your feedback about how she's all over you during the work week and totally cold on the weekend... I'm learning toward what the young rope-rider is saying. Be careful.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 5:51 PM on February 12, 2011 [8 favorites]

I agree with everyone else who says: if you're interested in her you should ask her out. However, 'Am I being used?' is a curious question to ask. From your description, if sounds like she likes you a lot. Whether she likes you as a friend or a romantic prospect is unclear—but why would you think she's using you? Let's say you've been misreading her signals, and in fact you have just a very affectionate work friendship—would that mean she's been 'using' you? If so, it might be worth examining why you think this.
posted by hot soup girl at 6:02 PM on February 12, 2011

You remind me of many of the players on the last 7th grade boys basketball team I coached. They would walk into the gym, look at the other team and beat themselves before tipoff. Look how big they are they would say. Look at how well that kid shoots. You have already talked yourself into all the negatives and what if that could go wrong and taken any possible sign as a negative. As I told my team, the reason they play and keep score is because you never know what the outcome is until you play the game. Ask her out on a proper date. "Hi, if you're not busy on Friday, I would like to take you out on a proper date. Last week was a lot of fun, but this time I would like a chance to prepare. How about dinner?"
posted by AugustWest at 6:33 PM on February 12, 2011

You're in this weird not-quite-dating spot that you have a really straightforward way out of. Ask her out. At that point, tons of wacky "is she using me"/"why did that guy come with her"/"why does she ignore Saturday night texts" stuff stops being ambiguous because either a) it stops or b) it doesn't, and you know where she stands.

Under no circumstances would I behave this way with a single dude I wasn't interested in. Or was completely convinced was gay. The glasses-off/MMS to girlfriends thing? Come on, man.
posted by SMPA at 6:44 PM on February 12, 2011

Cashman: If you wear glasses...

Zeit: Funny you mention that…I am thinking about getting contact lenses...

Zeit, sweetie, are you perhaps having a little joke with us?

If not, I suggest doing what AugustWest said. If you're still unsure, perhaps you could ask within the context of a polygraph test, and since polygraph tests are flaky perhaps you could give her some PET, MRI, and SPECT scans and compare the results with other deception studies, or if that's too resource-intensive maybe just video her response and hire Paul Ekman to analyze her microexpressions. Or even analyze it yourself frame by frame. Then you can determine whether she is a decent and honest woman who wants you for your body, or whether she is a conniving vixen who is leading you on in order to scam conversation and company out of you.

posted by tel3path at 6:48 PM on February 12, 2011

Why haven't you kissed her yet?
posted by Jacqueline at 7:15 PM on February 12, 2011

After reading the extra information contained in the OP's comments, I stand by my usual "don't date at work" philosophy. I agree with others that it's a huge red flag that she's responsive during the week but not weekends. Unless you know the reason why she's unreachable (and it doesn't involve a boyfriend), this sounds like she really just thinks of you as her "work boyfriend". She seems to hold you to a different standard than herself when it comes to replying to texts and such, and that's never a good sign.

Given this, I do think you need to clarify with her about her intentions and whether they are friendly or more than that, because that seems so incongruent with everything else that it speaks to something that she's not telling you, or she's got a weird sense of boundaries. Proceed with caution.

And it's kind of piddly, but somewhat relevant, I suppose. Despite what you've said, you haven't gone out on a date. She met you at a coffee shop and you hung out--not a date, and could still be written off as a friendly social meeting. So if you ask her out, that will be for a first date, not a second.
posted by Fuego at 7:26 PM on February 12, 2011 [3 favorites]

Two ways to go: Ask her out now, or ask her out when she gets back from her trip. Either way, you will most likely have to transfer schools, or at least departments, if it works out.

If she says yes, great, transfer. If she doesn't, great, work just became strange and you lost (if you realize it or not) one of your best friends such that it won't be the same again.

The only thing left to cover: what is this embarrassing nickname?
posted by irishcoffee at 8:12 PM on February 12, 2011

Kiss her, you fool.

Touching arm, knee, eye contact. DUDE. She's probably thrilled that you're such a knight in shining armor, but trust me on this -- your window is shutting quickly.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 8:14 PM on February 12, 2011

And for fuck's sake -- it's Saturday night. Please tell me you're on the West coast of North America and still have a chance of doing something, anything, right this very minute.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 8:16 PM on February 12, 2011

Agreed with Cool Papa Bell that if you keep ignoring her hints, the window could close. To tack on to that line of thought, DO NOT wait until summer break to ask her out or kiss her or whatever move you're most comfortable with. There's only so much rejection a person will take before moving on. Further, June is a long time away -- if you guys might really like each other, why wait, especially when anything could happen in the meantime.

Also, I wouldn't read much into the fact that she doesn't respond to texts of Friday and Saturday nights. She could be out doing stuff (other than hanging out with a boyfriend). She might not want you to think she's a loser who hangs out at home by herself every weekend. Who knows? SHE DOES.
posted by J. Wilson at 9:17 PM on February 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Again, I agree with the young rope rider. I also work in a school and I know that it is important (and awesome!) to have 'school friends' who get you, like you, understand you and want to hang out with you. But...she may not want to date you based on your november and no-texts-on weekends-stories. But also, since I am older and tired of dating (!) dances in some ways...I think just lay it on the line with her on some after works drinks friday in the future. If she says 'oh i can't because..i'm going away, confused, hung up on my ex, etc' then drop it, order another drink and say, well thank god we help each other get through the week. She sounds flaky. But I would love it to work out for you- put it out there and see what happens. But be able to walk away cool, calm and collected.
posted by bquarters at 9:50 PM on February 12, 2011 [3 favorites]

I'm usually completely oblivious to signals and afraid of the 'friend zone' but even I can see she likes you. Just ask her out! And kiss her! If she's not into you, the worse she can sat is 'no'
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 2:31 AM on February 13, 2011

She likes you. A lot. But is carrying on dating, filling her weekends, and having a life, because you're not giving her any signals otherwise. And she's well within her rights to do that - why should she sit at home and pine over someone who isn't a sure thing?

I've been this woman - liking my best friend a LOT and doing a lot of what you describe above, and him not realising that they were TEH SIGNALZ. He and I did this EXACT dance for 3 years till he one day realised I was going to keep dating other men unless he made his passion for me clear.

ASK HER OUT. It worked for Mr Shazzam, though I tease him lots now about how OBVIOUS I'd made it, and how thick he must've been to not notice.
posted by shazzam! at 6:07 AM on February 13, 2011 [4 favorites]

F'ing hell man. Ask her out or put *her* out of her misery already. You seem to wonder about what she feels when it's clear as day what her feelings are, but from the sound of your comments the question should be reversed: there are undertones of doubts and contempt for her I'm not sure I am comfortable with (ie judging her by the amount texting she's been doing, waiting a full day to reply - not cool in my books to play hard to get for no reason).

Either jump in, or get out.
posted by Sijeka at 10:22 AM on February 13, 2011 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: Message received, hive-mind! I will ask her out on Tuesday (to avoid v-day weirdness) for another Friday date.

I know I must sound like a bit of a dating nebbish, but that really isn’t me. This girl has just thrown me for a loop this year somehow…

Thank you again for the frank “just do it” advice!
posted by Es ist Zeit, dass es Zeit wird! at 10:39 AM on February 13, 2011

I'm glad you selected rope rider's answer as a best because because that reaction was immediately my reaction. But what is the worst that can happen? You date and then break up--How did she react to and treat her ex, and how does she interact with people she doesn't like? If relatively mature, then great. that's a good sign.

good luck!
posted by bleary at 7:21 AM on February 14, 2011

Response by poster: bleary: How did she react to and treat her ex,

I am not sure who her ex is, but he lives two hours south of us and may be a) married, b) much older, and/or c) wealthy. Here's why I (and my colleagues) suspect that:

She is from a relatively representative middle-class family, but owns multiple diamond necklaces, tennis bracelets, and earrings. It is all Tiffany, according to my female colleagues who talk about her quite often. When she needed advice on a new computer, she called me from the Apple store in this town and somehow afforded a $3,000+ 17" MacBook Pro on her teacher's salary. She also wears a rather large (so large that people comment on it regularly) diamond ring on her right hand ring finger.

She used to drive down every Friday after work and then arrive Monday morning straight from seeing him/being in that town.
posted by Es ist Zeit, dass es Zeit wird! at 7:46 AM on February 14, 2011

may be a) married, b) much older, and/or c) wealthy. Here's why I (and my colleagues) suspect that:

Ouch! If I found out that you were gossiping behind my back that I was dating a married man, I would never speak to you again, let alone date you. I mean, while you're at it, why don't you speculate that she's a jewel thief?

Hell, for all you know, those things are rhinestones. Or her uncle is a Tiffany salesman and she sold some tennis bracelets to pay for the MacBook.

I mean seriously. Dude. I take it all back. Do not ask her out.
posted by tel3path at 8:20 AM on February 14, 2011

Response by poster: Hell, for all you know, those things are rhinestones.

If you read my previously post linked above, you would see that I am the one who is being gossiped about at work. This is simply pertinent information in reply to the question.

As for the jewelry being real, she showed the other colleagues her gifts after each birthday (she has had three here since being hired) and also at our yearly Christmas party and identified them as being from Tiffany.

Since I am not invited to these all-female get-togethers, the way I found out is by being included in conversations about them during lunch--you know, one of those situations where they all had a common experience (party, outing, game, etc) and are excitedly talking about it and sort of catch-up anyone who wasn't there.
posted by Es ist Zeit, dass es Zeit wird! at 8:52 AM on February 14, 2011

Okay, so you know she's guilty of owning real jewelry, and according to you, it's everyone else that's guilty of gossiping about her having been involved with a married man based on this, and you have not participated in that gossip at all, is that right? I do hope so.

All in all, though, you seem to have formed a rather negative impression of her which is troubling. I'm forming a picture of a gold-digging bimbo who has half a dozen guys on a string, none of whom know about each other. Not suggesting that's what you mean, but based on what you're saying about her that's the artist's impression that's starting to form in my mind, you know? So I would recommend that you establish the truth about these things as quickly as you can without being indiscreet, and also that you consider whether you actually like her all that much.

At the same time as I'm picturing her as a bimbo, I'm also forming an equal and opposite picture of her as an innocent and joyful person who bounds into work to share her enthusiasm and gets branded a diamond-wearing adulteress by Gladys from accounts and the other inhabitants of the henhouse. I suspect but cannot prove that I've actually been run out of a workplace for gossip of this kind, which in my case was totally fictitious. So when you say "I am the one who is being gossiped about", I start to think that a) it's not just you being gossiped about, and b) no wonder you are worried. I am not sure what you could possibly do in this situation to make sure no-one gets hurt, but please try to go into it thinking the best of her until she gives you reason to think otherwise.
posted by tel3path at 9:24 AM on February 14, 2011 [4 favorites]

This may be one of those situations where there are just too many factors to consider. I wish you luck and hope things turn out well for the both of you, but I also rescind my gunghoness.
posted by cashman at 9:24 AM on February 14, 2011 [2 favorites]

I am not sure who her ex is, [etc. details on ex identity]
While his identity can be some sort of tell, I think it might be more useful to reflect on how she reacted to the breakup.

potential bad consequences of asking her out:

* she turns you down. It is just awkward and not the end of the world. This doesn't seem like the end of the world, and you can get advice on a graceful reaction. Ask her out in this case!

* she accepts and things go great. you date for a while and have a relationship, but then break up. Think what it would be like if the fire-hose of attention turns bad? If either of you don't handle breakups well, then it might be a bad idea to date since you are both coworkers.
posted by bleary at 9:30 AM on February 14, 2011

Response by poster: Leaving work today one of the female colleagues said to me “man, I wish I had taken Monday off like [the girl]—she has the right idea spending V-day in [city two hours south] with her new boy toy.” I just laughed and added “definitely,” taking it with a grain of salt.

I think for now I will see how she behaves around me and I will ask her out on Wednesday or Thursday. Interestingly she sent me a bunch of SMSes throughout the day, including one at 1AM asking how to call-in sick from work, which I didn’t get until this morning (and didn’t reply to).

Again your advice and comments are awesome, thank you. This experience makes me want to don a foil hat and eschew contact with my gossipy colleagues.
posted by Es ist Zeit, dass es Zeit wird! at 3:55 PM on February 14, 2011

Given your expressed concern about dating a co-worker, you really might want to ask yourself whether you actually like this girl before asking her out.

I don't doubt that you're attracted to her, but I'm distinctly getting the vibe (from your post, comments, and best-answer selections) that there's a lot you don't like about this chick. If I'm right, go back to being just work friends and get out there and find yourself a woman you think is awesome.
posted by J. Wilson at 4:38 PM on February 14, 2011 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: I walked down to the study hall she covers to ask her out on Thursday morning and before I could open my mouth she said this to me in Spanish: “Hey, tomorrow is a girls’ night out—but what are you doing Saturday?”

I replied in Spanish “Let’s get dinner and drinks.” She said “I’ll send you a text Saturday morning to let you know what’s going on.”

She texted me today at 3AM saying “Just got back from [hip downtown place]—I am going to be grading at my [female] friend’s Caribou later today—want to join?”
posted by Es ist Zeit, dass es Zeit wird! at 9:19 AM on February 19, 2011

Best answer: It sounds like you might be friendzoned. And after reading every single one of these comments, I think that's probably a pretty good place for this whole thing to stay.
posted by Fuego at 9:35 AM on February 19, 2011

Response by poster: Friendzoned for sure—glad that I sorted it out. I went to Caribou and we hung out for about four hours.

Right before they closed one of her girlfriends showed up and we three chatted for a bit. Her friend happens to be Jewish and jokingly said to her “you’re going to learn the meaning of shiksa tonight when you meet David,” (referring to her plans for going out after seeing me, obviously). Her friend wasn’t aware that I have tons of Jewish friends and I know very well what a shiksa is.

Thanks, to everyone for their advice and suggestions. THE END.
posted by Es ist Zeit, dass es Zeit wird! at 8:06 PM on February 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

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