Does this girl at work like me?
March 18, 2011 5:17 PM   Subscribe

Interested in this girl at work. Trying to figure out if she likes me before I risk a weird work relationship. Snowflake details inside

There is a girl at work who works in another department from me and is a few steps below. She just graduated from college last May while I am mid thirties. I deal with her a lot via email and I think we ended up flirting. At some point she was looking up information and I asked who else she stalked online and she said "only you" then the usual hahaha.

She was/is dating a guy and has openly talked about him. We had a conversation the other day about her future lifes plans (she has certain concerns about her direction). While we talked she certainly seemed to play with her hair, she leaned in at one point when I was talking. Before we left we were looking at something in my office and I just felt electricity between us.

So now two days later we go grab lunch and she tells me she is probably breaking up with her boyfriend. It was part of a larger conversation - it didn't come out of the blue.

Lastly before that she asked when my birthday was. Later when I asked why she said she wanted to look up my horoscope - even though she thinks its mostly BS.

She has not touched me in any way yet. But we frequently banter back and forth on email about our lives, jokes, etc. We certainly get along - just not sure if that is friends or if she is interested in more.

I don't know how to view any of this.

Throw away address:
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (29 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Sounds good to me. Be yourself and don't push, just go with the flow.
posted by Namlit at 5:21 PM on March 18, 2011

Next time you go grab lunch just ask if she'd like to go get drinks (see a movie, have coffee, insert other after work activity here.)

If she says yes then you can move forward. If she says no or makes some lame excuse you can go back to being work friends.
posted by TooFewShoes at 5:21 PM on March 18, 2011

She was/is dating a guy and has openly talked about him.

That's usually code for "Don't get any ideas."

Electric feelings of curiosity and attraction flourish at work because office environments tend to be very sterile and deliberately lacking in stimulation and distraction. This has the unintended effect of making us consider doing certain things with certain people that maybe we never would consider outside of the office. Looking back at all my office crushes, they are all people with whom I would have happily made out with in the stairwell, but would probably not have been interested in seeing outside of work.

If she wants to initiate something, let her. I don't think you should.
posted by hermitosis at 5:26 PM on March 18, 2011 [15 favorites]

Not sure why, but I get bad vibes off of this. She might be doing this just for attention. I think I'd stay on the platonic side until she had definitely broken up with the boyfriend. Maybe if she mentions "probably" breaking up with the boyfriend again, I'd say something like, "That would be a shame. If it happens, let me know if you need ice cream."
posted by griselda at 5:27 PM on March 18, 2011

she tells me she is probably breaking up with her boyfriend

That's occasionally code for "I may soon be getting some ideas."

(of course, nobody knows, right? That's why I wrote my first answer how I did. It may be too early to get overly invested in this, but if you're really interested, you might show it juust a little so she knows whether it's time to give you some more of that "code")
posted by Namlit at 5:32 PM on March 18, 2011

What we know: she has a boyfriend, who she is "probably" breaking up with. She's friendly to you in a possibly flirtatious way, but hasn't done anything overt. You're probably a good decade older than her.

To me, this sounds like she likes you at least a little, but maybe only sees you as a friendly office flirtation partner (see hermitosis's comment). She might be looking for someone to get with if things aren't going great with her boyfriend- in which case, you should stay far away if you like your romantic life drama-free.

But then again, how interested in her are you, exactly? It doesn't sound like she's free for a real relationship, but your work situation means going for something casual would be a bad idea. The work situation, particularly your power/age imbalance, means that if you make a move, you could maybe get in trouble at work if you've totally misread the situation. I wouldn't read too much into how she acts around you; girls can be flirty without meaning anything (how is she around other guys at work?)
posted by MadamM at 5:39 PM on March 18, 2011

It seems to me that she is lining up her next relationship before she ends the one she is in. If you're cool with that, great. But, keep in mind, if things don't work out, she may do the same thing to you that she is doing to the current guy. To me, it's a small red flag worth thinking about.

Also, it could just be me but I think the horoscope thing is a little juvenile.
posted by koinonia at 5:44 PM on March 18, 2011 [6 favorites]

I've experienced a lot of what you are describing with co-workers of the opposite sex, and in some cases, I think there was/is some underlying attraction, but in others, it was just a fun friendship in an environment not prone to fun.

From what you are describing, I'd have a hard time being sure if there's actual attraction there or not. It might be too soon to tell?
posted by Richat at 5:52 PM on March 18, 2011

I'm with the too soon to tell camp. In fact, seeming overeager is your biggest danger here. You could end up looking and feeling like quite a chump and fool if you jump the gun. Some people who are in her position really enjoy making people in your position squirm. If I were you, I'd be friendly but definitely play it cool on the attraction front. Let her pine after you and wonder if YOU are interested. Not vice versa.
posted by jayder at 5:59 PM on March 18, 2011 [1 favorite]

I say this every time someone wants to know if they should attempt to initiate a relationship at work. In my opinion this is always a bad idea, no matter how tempting it seems. It often ends in grief, and then you've screwed up both your work and your private life. This case has especially glaring alarm bells to my mind. I say don't do it, it's really asking for trouble.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 6:05 PM on March 18, 2011 [4 favorites]

You're about the same age as me. She seems to be in early 20s. I am not judging you *at all* and i don't see anything at all wrong with that kind of age difference- I've dated people almost that young not that long ago.

But here's the thing: Figure out what she wants, and what you want, and how they might match up. It definitely sounds like she is attracted to you, or at least enjoys flirting with you. But do you want a serious relationship? Because she might be at that age where she's just not ready. Sometimes people her age are still exploring and figuring out what they want, while people your age have kind of "been there done that" and know what they want. Just because (we're assuming) she find you attractive, doesn't mean she is willing or able to give you everything you want or need- or that she even wants a relationship.

So I would say, proceed with extreme caution. Think about what work would be like if you had a torrid affair and then broke up. Would she be able to handle it maturely? would you? Think through all the possible consequences before you do anything.
posted by drjimmy11 at 6:09 PM on March 18, 2011

"What we know: she has a boyfriend, who she is "probably" breaking up with. She's friendly to you in a possibly flirtatious way, but hasn't done anything overt."

You need to stick to the facts here. It's not that you need to be 100% certain of her devotion before you make a move, it's that you have to respect her boundaries and the boundaries of the workplace.

Right now, you know she has a boyfriend, regardless of what she is "probably" thinking of doing in the future. You know it's not impossible that she's attracted to you (I wouldn't put too much on the leaning and hair-twirling, men in particular seem to put a lot of faith in movements that are most likely the gestures of someone just living her life. Now if she pulled up her top to show her your new bra, then yeah. Anything short of that... don't speculate too much).

So if she ever says to you "I just broke up with my boyfriend", you can, well, maybe shouting "HOT PUPPIES" and carrying her across the threshold of your office would be a bit much. But you can take it from there. I would directly ask her out on a direct date which you refer to as "a date" as early as appropriate, because you are in a work environment and too much shadow dancing can make for big discomfort for her if you've misread things, big disappointment for you because of the building-up of hope.
posted by tel3path at 6:09 PM on March 18, 2011 [1 favorite]

Just ask her out. She's not married... and she did tell you she may be breaking up. Why would she tell you that? DO. IT.
posted by brownrd at 6:28 PM on March 18, 2011

She might see you as more of a mentor-type, considering that you were talking about the direction of her future. I'd wait for her to make the first move, or at least break it off with her boyfriend.
posted by the young rope-rider at 6:41 PM on March 18, 2011 [2 favorites]

However crude, I think the soundest advice on workplace relationships is "don't shit where you eat".

Attraction is basically a trick your body plays on you to convince you to engage in eventually-reproductive sex. There are a LOT of other women in the world who can also make your body trick you into doing that. Go find them.

If this was just a bullshit job I might say go for it, but you say 'department' and that sounds serious to me. To put it another way, career-track jobs are a lot scarcer than potential mates, as unromantic as that might sound.
posted by meadowlark lime at 6:44 PM on March 18, 2011

My S.O. says that your co-worker is interested and that TwoFewShoes has the best answer:
Next time you go grab lunch just ask if she'd like to go get drinks (see a movie, have coffee, insert other after work activity here.)

If she says yes then you can move forward. If she says no or makes some lame excuse you can go back to being work friends.
All I have to say is ... if she says yes - you'll be the rebound guy.
posted by hoodrich at 7:05 PM on March 18, 2011

I'm guessing that she doesn't have any serious intentions toward you. I mean, ask, sure, why not, what do you have to lose? But to me this sounds like a low level boredom-induced flirtation, or maybe one of those "theoretical crushes" where you are kinda into someone in theory but would never want to actually date them or anything. At best, you would be a rebound fling. This just doesn't sound like relationship material.
posted by Sara C. at 7:51 PM on March 18, 2011

You may want to watch the whole episode, but I'd skip to just before the 18 minute mark.
posted by mhoye at 7:52 PM on March 18, 2011

We had a conversation the other day about her future lifes plans (she has certain concerns about her direction).

Also, re this. If you are in any way in a mentor capacity to her, especially if you are her supervisor or strongly outrank her, don't pursue this.
posted by Sara C. at 7:53 PM on March 18, 2011 [3 favorites]

Find someone else. The work thing isn't worth it.
posted by CarlRossi at 8:06 PM on March 18, 2011

These questions are impossible to resolve. The bulk of human interaction is not words, but body language, tone, etc.

That said, on the facts you present—which, with respect, seem written so as to lead to only one conclusion—it does seem she is interested in you, if only as a friend. As TwoFedShoes sagely advised, do the only thing you can do and actually attempt to peruse it. If she says no, then you have your answer.

Remember in these situations it is very hard to stay objective, you are bound to interpret what you perceive in a way that supports you desires, be they subconscious or not.

Good luck!
posted by oxford blue at 8:09 PM on March 18, 2011

As a corollary to Sara C.'s excellent point, you have looked up your employer's workplace dating policy, right?
posted by evoque at 8:56 PM on March 18, 2011

I think it's too early to tell - possibly, though, a fling and/or she admires you. Slowly develop things further in reality before going any further in your mind.
posted by mleigh at 9:28 PM on March 18, 2011

If she's just out of college, she may be trying on a lot of "grown up" hats as she tries to figure out who she wants to be in this new phase of her life. She may be having problems with her boyfriend due to the strains of that transition. If she does have a crush on you, it may be due to what you represent to her -- the percieved maturity and professional seniority of an older man -- and a desire to more quickly leave college behind her, as much as anything else.

I say all of this because I was once the girl in the situation you're describing. The man in my version turned down my advances, and in retrospect I'm glad he did. A few months later, when I'd broken up with the college boyfriend and calmed down a little, I often wondered what I'd been thinking with regards to my coworker.
posted by Narrative Priorities at 6:22 AM on March 19, 2011 [3 favorites]

IMO, as long as she's still seeing the other guy you should not take any action yet.
posted by tvdveer at 8:25 AM on March 19, 2011

If you have to ask, you shouldn't do anything.

I think my answer would be different if it weren't a work situation and there wasn't such a large age difference. But in this case - you're both going to be better off letting this go on casually and without any kind of explicit romantic overtures from the older and more senior (work-hierarchy wise) half of this office relationship.
posted by Salamandrous at 8:51 AM on March 19, 2011

When I was working, a lot of people sort of had work flirtation partners that they kind of had a weird thing with but would never really date in real life. I think it was a boredom/attention thing. I get vibes that this is where she's at. I would stay away, especially since you aren't on the same level and she's new and fresh out of college.
posted by elpea at 10:35 AM on March 19, 2011

So far I like griselda's advice the best.
posted by Dr. Eigenvariable at 12:40 PM on March 19, 2011

A young lady who is new to the career/work environment does not have a full set of tools for what happens when things don't work out in an office romance. Everything you said/did in the context of flirting on a date could be office gossip so fast it will make your head spin. And that's assuming that nothing too serious even goes wrong.
Have a work buddy, a little sexual tension or flirting can make the day more interesting. If you consider this job a part of your career & not just your 9-5, it would be silly to jeopardize it for something like this (to be the rebound for a junior employee at your office)
posted by BillBishop at 12:45 PM on March 19, 2011 [3 favorites]

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