Okay to visit love interest at work?
May 4, 2011 4:15 PM   Subscribe

How acceptable is it to visit a potential love interest at work?

I’ve had a crush on an owner of a local restaurant for years. About a month ago, I, unbidden, gave her my phone number and asked for her phone number. She acted flattered and polite, but she never called me, even after I called her once. We did exchange some emails, though, and that led to me asking her if she wanted to do a certain activity we’d talked about before. She said she did want to do it and she’d get back to me with a good day.

She didn’t contact me again until a week later, and by that point, I was so burnt out on waiting that I just told her I already had other plans. I did offer to meet up with her before a group activity we’d both been invited to, and she said she wanted to. She didn’t show up, though.

So, I gave up and we stopped talking after that because I stopped initiating. The other day, though, I ended up at her restaurant alone. It was an accident that I was alone, I was supposed to meet a friend and she told me after I was already inside that she couldn’t make it (my friend). So I sat alone and had something to eat, since I was already there. She (love interest) approached me and asked me if I wanted to hang out with her the next day. This was all her. I accepted and we met up for a few hours, had fun, and now we’re back to not talking. I did tell her I had a great time and let her know I wanted to see her again. I haven't asked her out, though, since it wasn't working previously.

I’m now tempted to go in the restaurant by myself again and see what happens. I think about it quite a bit, but have not yet done it. I go back and forth between thinking lame/embarrassing waste of time to it’s not really a big deal.

Some points:

I’ve been in with friends and she hardly looks at me.

I don’t think she has had a boyfriend in many years, though I know she has many male friends. Speculation on the boyfriend thing, just going by what little I’ve heard.

We live in a small area where everyone pretty much hears what you’re up to. Small but relative factor.

So, my question is, how awkward is it to go in alone with the express (and probably obvious) intention of talking to her/being around her? Weird? Not weird? All in the delivery?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (28 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
It could work out to go visit her at work, sure.

But it sounds out like you already have her phone number and email. Why not just contact her directly and see what's up? That way you don't risk her being busy or preoccupied or thinking "he's just here because he wants a sandwich" or whatever.
posted by drjimmy11 at 4:21 PM on May 4, 2011

She is either:

A) Way too busy to meet up with you
B) Not interested and is being non-confrontational
C) A complete flake

Either way, I think you have a couple of options. Continue to play her game and have your "relationship" possibly go somewhere at some point in the future. You could also go and tell her straight up that you are interested in getting to know her better and formally ask her out (not necessarily on a date, just not "hey, let's do something").
posted by TheBones at 4:24 PM on May 4, 2011 [5 favorites]

Not awkward.
posted by Victorvacendak at 4:28 PM on May 4, 2011 [1 favorite]

Honestly she sounds busy. Although she may have a legitimate interest in you it's pretty clear that she is not making you a priority. I wouldn't go to her work expressly to talk to her because if she is interested she may get flustered and uncomfortable ( I would be flattered but seriously caught off guard). If she's not interested in you it will make her flustered and uncomfortable but also I hink backs her into a corner a bit. Keep in contact and hope that she is in a place at some point that allows her the energy to commit to dating. She may really need a push to do that but I think that it is unlikely. I wouldn't take the rumors that she hasn't had a boyfriend in a while to automatically mean that she's a miss lonelyhearts that needs to be forcibly dragged out Of her shell.
posted by boobjob at 4:29 PM on May 4, 2011 [3 favorites]

As a waitress, I have to say that it is never okay to pursue someone at their place of work. You have already expressed your interest, which she hasn't responded to. It is not okay continue to pursue her at a place where she is supposed to be nice (customer service) and has no exit (it's work...you can't exactly leave). If you are still interested in pursuing her, do it through the same methods you are already trying (email, phone) because at least there she has the option to not talk to you if that's what she wants.
posted by greta simone at 4:30 PM on May 4, 2011 [26 favorites]

If you have her phone number and email already, I would simply be direct. Call her up and ask her out. But don't suggest you go out "sometime" or "hang out." I would ask her outright if she would like to go on a date to [insert place] this [Friday/Saturday] night. This will give you a definite answer regarding her level of interest.
posted by Nightman at 4:38 PM on May 4, 2011 [5 favorites]

Restaurant people have a really tough go of it. It's hard them to make plans and things often go wrong at the last minute and/or they are often just too burnt out at the end of service to socialize or even imagine making plans for the future. (BTW, Monday nights are your friend for inviting out folks who work in hospitality!)

Anyway, I can't tell if her job is getting in the way here, or if this woman just isn't into you - or both.

I was a little put off by your statement: I was so burnt out on waiting that I just told her I already had other plans.

A week isn't that long, especially in the life of a restaurant owner.

(This sounds mean - sorry...) My guess is that you are kinda high-maintenance, especially for someone with her responsibilities. If you really really like her (and you think she likes you) please consider shifting your expectation to fit her lifestyle a little bit. Otherwise, I think you should pass on this and let it go.
posted by jbenben at 4:38 PM on May 4, 2011 [4 favorites]

Small business owners are usually really busy. Restaurant managers are usually really busy. And I'm going to second what greta_simone said, because it's really true. I've had managers who had to go tell someone to stop bothering a server or clerk before, and it's fun for exactly no one, and the server or clerk had to a lot of suffering before it got to the point where the manager actually intervened.

I don't think the place you're at is compatible with the place she's at, regardless of how attractive you are to one another.
posted by SMPA at 4:44 PM on May 4, 2011 [1 favorite]

Awkward, don't do it. In that setting she has no choice to hang out with you or not, so if she's trying to create space or express her disinterest without actually saying so, you're backing her into a corner.

It's hard to tell from your brief description if the things you've done together involved other people, but my gut reaction is that she's trying to build a friendship with you rather than a romance, and may be intentionally creating distance. That's certainly not the best way for her to deal with it, but it's something that people do all to often. It wouldn't hurt to have an actual, direct conversation about both of your expectations, but don't do it while she's at work.

And don't build a back-up, maybe-someday-she'll-change-her-mind friendship with her if your only genuine interest is romantic or sexual.
posted by you're a kitty! at 4:45 PM on May 4, 2011 [2 favorites]

you two are circling each other in just the creepiest way ever. drop it and look for someone you actually click with. she's not it.
posted by patricking at 4:45 PM on May 4, 2011 [3 favorites]

Everybody I've talked to about this (all women, for what it's worth) has expressed the opinion that someone coming to visit them at work, especially when it's someone with a romantic interest in the person working, is bad news for the reasons that greta simone lists. It's an asymmetric relationship where you, as a potential customer, have a certain advantage that makes the situation awkward.* I agree with the people who suggest that you just call her.

* This is true even if the person is a friend and not a potential romantic interest. You have to be pretty close to a person to not have the superimposition of the worker-customer and friend-friend relationships be weird.
posted by invitapriore at 4:46 PM on May 4, 2011 [2 favorites]

If she has a lot of male friends and doesn't date much, it seems possible that she's trying to build a friendship with you while maintaining enough distance to make it clear she's not interested in you romantically. I've done this many times myself (somewhat less awkwardly, I hope), and while she's coming off really flaky here, if she was romantically interested in you, she wouldn't behave this way at all, so I'd put that possibility out of your mind.

If you genuinely want to be friends with her, stick with inviting her to group, non-date like activities for the time being. As you get to know her better you'll surely get a clearer idea of her situation and be way better informed to proceed from there.
posted by libertypie at 4:47 PM on May 4, 2011

Also, she may very well be extremely busy, but if she were seriously interested in you as a potential boyfriend, she would go out of her way to make it very clear that the reason she's flaking out is her schedule, and would make a very real, concerted effort to reschedule and contact you. That's what signals "making space" rather than "just super busy," to me.
posted by you're a kitty! at 4:48 PM on May 4, 2011 [2 favorites]

She sounds busy and casual about the whole thing. You, my friend, sound uptight and overthinky.

I was so burnt out on waiting that I just told her I already had other plans.

What's up with the games? To me, a busy casual person myself, when an early prospect gets crabby and passive-aggressive about my not responding as quickly as he wants, it is a big turn-off.

we met up for a few hours, had fun, and now we’re back to not talking.

You make it sound like you're having some big fight. But again, she's just not responding on your schedule.

If you want to go out with this busy casual person, put on your big boy pants and ask her out for a specific day. Don't just drop by her workplace -- that's where she works.
posted by ottereroticist at 4:51 PM on May 4, 2011 [5 favorites]

It is never good to mix business with pleasure. No wonder she doesn't want to interact with you.
posted by HeyAllie at 5:01 PM on May 4, 2011

Anyone who knows anything about running a successful restaurant business will tell you that restaurant owners who want to succeed work long hours. Very long hours. When she's not busy, she's probably tired.

If you're serious about wanting to date, it would be good for you to express awareness of that fact and some understanding about it. If this is a problem for you, move on. Stick with a communication medium that is best at getting a response, which seems to be e-mail until you have a better sense of her schedule and her boundaries. Until then, don't talk about seeing her when you're dining at her restaurant unless she initiates it.
posted by Hylas at 5:03 PM on May 4, 2011 [1 favorite]

Agreeing with people who think it's a bad idea to visit a love interest at their place of business. You already have more direct means of contacting her, so risking that she might feel cornered by your visit doesn't seem worth it. I used to bartend and felt slightly put on the spot when this sort of thing happened (even when I was interested). It's not like I would ever have visited my then soon to be bf at his office in the same spirit of dropping by/asking out on a date kind-of-thing. I think it's better to call her. If she doesn't respond that's your answer.
posted by marimeko at 5:14 PM on May 4, 2011

I understand why you're asking the question. She asked you out while you were at her work, and it was the most fruitful interaction you had with her. It makes sense that you want to replicate that experience.

I don't think it's a terrible idea, but it's not a great idea. Maybe roll in there with a buddy again. It may be different now that you've actually gone out with her. Or just call her now and take the temp. It'd be embarrassing if she didn't call you back, but going in there in person and being all naked seems moreso.
posted by amodelcitizen at 5:32 PM on May 4, 2011

I think she's really busy and is maybe a bit flaky on the personal level, which is probably due to her devoting so much time to her job as a small business owner.

I also wonder if maybe she didn't originally have trouble connecting your face, when she'd see you in her restaurant, with your voice on her machine. I'm bad with faces myself, and she sees so many people every day that maybe she has to do this mental refresher thing like, "Oh, yeah! That cute guy at the table is the one who called me up the other week!"

And then she approached you at your table and you two got together and had fun, and she dropped the ball again. Which also, sorry, tells me that she probably likes you fine, but isn't really interested in anything serious. Just seems like her work is a huge part of her life and she'd be fitting you in when she had time, and based on your question here, I'm thinking you'd want more than that. I kinda think anyone would.

So I'd leave her alone when she's at work. In fact, I think you are going to have to let this go on your side, because approaching her at work could get really uncomfortable for her.

Then if she approaches you again, decide how far you want to take this. You might want to be really specific about where/when you will be meeting up, or you are likely to be disappointed yet again.
posted by misha at 5:35 PM on May 4, 2011

I don't think she's that interested in you. Certainly not enough to follow through on much. Kind of makes me wonder if she's just trying to be polite/keep a customer on some levels.

I'd let this one go. She's not going to pan out in the end.
posted by jenfullmoon at 5:40 PM on May 4, 2011

From the sounds of it so far, my guess is she wants to be friends with you and can tell that you want more than that. But the way things have played out so far, it's a bit ambiguous.

You need to ask her out on a date. You need to use the word "date" when you ask her. Do not ask her in person at her workplace. Do not go out of your way to run into her somewhere else. If you do coincidentally (for real) run into her in town, ask her then, face-to-face. Otherwise, call her phone number, no more than once a day, until you get her on the phone. Do not leave a voicemail, you want to be talking to her and you need to be the one calling. Propose a low-pressure activity like getting coffee or drinks. If she declines without counter-offering another time/location, then she doesn't want to date you. If she accepts, great - see how it goes and if all is good, ask her on another one. Regardless, be gracious and show some class. Remember, you have a lot to offer here, and if she doesn't want to go on a date for whatever reason, it's ok.

Best of luck.
posted by hootenatty at 9:31 PM on May 4, 2011

To answer your question, and from someone who was in her position: Okay to visit love interest at work? Not really. You can try one more time to set up a date by email or whatev, but if she doesn't respond, then it's a done deal. Stop by with purely culinary intentions and leave it at that.
posted by lakersfan1222 at 10:04 PM on May 4, 2011

Please don't visit her at her workplace. This has happened to me before. It's awkward enough when you're interested in that person; if you're not interested, it's just annoying.

Also, she's the owner of the restaurant and (I assume) has to be nice and polite to everyone who walks in. If you walk in to hang out with her, you won't know if her interest is merely part of her job or really coming from her. Wouldn't you rather be with someone who's flat out interested?

Or, on preview, what everyone upthread is saying.
posted by onegoodthing at 10:22 PM on May 4, 2011 [1 favorite]

You've got her details. Ask her out normally.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 10:35 PM on May 4, 2011

Ugh, for the love of god, no.

Unless you're legitimately visiting the business to take advantage of said business' services, stay away. It's weird, annoying, and sort of nerve-wracking to have a guy you hung out with once just waltz into your workplace and divert your attention from running your business.

Not a restaurant manager, but a store manager, so pretty damn close.
posted by mornie_alantie at 10:59 PM on May 4, 2011 [1 favorite]

I don't know. I would be frustrated with all of this. If it were me, I would just ask her straight out what is going on. Don't do it at work obviously, but life is too short to play games, isn't it?

"Hey, I like you. It seems like we have had fun. I am trying to figure this out. Care to help me?"
posted by Silvertree at 7:02 AM on May 5, 2011

Go to her work, bring flowers. In card invite her to activity x. Delicious snacks for staff also help!
posted by By The Grace of God at 10:46 AM on May 6, 2011

I honestly would say let this one go. I've got a jam-packed schedule between work, school, and community service groups, but if I had someone...I would definitely make time. As my recent post states, I avoided the guy I've had a crush on for the past year because of previous relationship issues. Now, with the same schedule, I am trying to do everything I can to make amends for ignoring the crush. I agree with the points listed out by the TheBones and, at the end of the day, neither convinces me that she wouldn't change IF you guys actually got on the same page and dated. I commend you on your endurance on this matter, but I would be frustrated beyond belief. If you want, you could give it another go and see where that takes you...but I would suggest dropping the issue from there if she does not change her ways and/or show you more interest.

Good luck! :)
posted by penguingrl at 11:27 PM on May 11, 2011

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