Lingering crush on coworker.
October 8, 2007 1:04 PM   Subscribe

Lingering, inappropriate crush on coworker driving me batty (long).

I have a several months-old crush on a coworker (let's call her M). She was originally on as an intern, and then, after a brief absence, returned as a full-time employee. We share an office (it's a human rights non-profit), and we work closely on a lot of projects. She's wonderful, intelligent, gorgeous, hilarious. We share a lot of common extracurricular interests. In terms of our work, she feels like a philosophical kindred spirit to me in an office-full of people who often seem to be at odds with my theoretical approach to what we do.

M has a boyfriend, Q. I'm not sure how long they've gone out, maybe six months. She has, a couple of times, mentioned areas of incompatibility with the boyfriend when I've described my own feelings on a given subject. For instance, she and I both love going to the movies, whereas Q likes going to see live music and often takes her to loud concerts with him. Q loves dive bars, M and I don't. I met Q two or three weeks back at an outing with a bunch of my coworkers including M, and he seems like quite a nice fellow, although very different from the sort of guy I'd expected M to be interested in. Admittedly, I was sort of flattering myself and my hopes here -- I'd imagined that I was her "type," physically, but Q doesn't look anything like me. Despite the occasional expressions of mild displeasure, mostly M just mentions how she and Q spend time together and are apparently very happy. She's also said and done absolutely nothing to indicate she has the glimmer of anything besides a professional interest in me.

I'm thinking the best case scenario here, realistically, is that M and I will have a great relationship as like-minded colleagues in a challenging profession for which we both have a passion. Unrealistically, I can hold out hope that M and Q will break up due to their difference in dive bar proclivities, and somehow M and I would finagle a relationship that would end in professional bliss, cohabitation, and numerous adorable children. I'm not holding my breath. Worst case scenario is that I do end up holding my breath for years and feeling awful. Apocalyptic worst case scenario is that I frustratedly pledge my feelings to her in a way that skeezes her out, making her uncomfortable enough to slap a sexual harassment suit on me, my actions thus making worklife stressfull and miserable for everybody in the office, getting me fired, etc. (I don't actually think I would do this.)

This is where it gets yucky. I feel like my interest in M is growing increasingly obsessive. I come home, and I have a hard time not thinking about her and getting upset. I wake up at night thinking about this. The other day, I was feeling so wound up about it that I went on what was for me a long (90 minute) bike ride, and still when I came home I had enough negative energy about it that I paced around in circles in my apartment still worrying about it for another hour. I find myself wishing horrible, nasty, selfish things (i.e., for me to meet Q and for him to turn out to be a huge asshole). I tried (unsuccessfully) to find a friendster profile for her boyfriend so as to -- I dunno -- learn his weaknesses? It's stupid, and frankly I'm starting to creep myself out.

Here's the question: How do I get myself to stop being a baby and to get over this crap? I go on internet dates aplenty, I spend plenty of time with my non-work-related friends, I have time-consuming hobbies, I get a decent amount of exercise (biking), but still I come home from work and I tie myself in knots about this. I've looked at the relevant Ask MeFi "work and dating"-tagged threads. I'm seeing a shrink. For the next year or so, it won't be possible for me to transfer to another department at work. I fully realize that M is not perfect (she can be a little bratty and workaholicy), but I love all the time we get to spend together at work. I'm just bonkers about her...and I'm worried that the emphasis is increasingly on me being bonkers. I do okay when I'm consumed with something difficult (e.g. my work, the music class I take once a week), but I find that any down time quickly ends up with me getting upset, my thoughts obsessively drifting back to M. Occasionally I lie on the bare hardwood floor of my apartment crying and listening to bad music. Occasionally I also get so frustrated with things that I get the urge to start punching myself in the head. Sometimes I actually follow this urge, not hitting myself in such a way that I draw blood, but hard enough that I have a headache the next day. (This last behavior is, of course, the main reason why I decided to get into therapy a year or so ago. I'm not on meds but am open to the idea.) I also have the nagging sense lately of feeling sorry for anybody who dates me since I'm such a moody bastard. I realize that perseverating on this line of thinking is not particularly productive.

What do I do to stop feeling like a self-indulgent melancholy teenager? I'm too old (27) to be acting like this.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (29 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
You mention that you're in therapy. This would be a much better question for your therapist than asking random strangers on the Internet.

But your goal should be getting over your obsession with M. No other outcome will end well.
posted by justkevin at 1:22 PM on October 8, 2007

Imagine that there are one or two other women out there in the world who are just as wonderful, perhaps in slightly different ways, as the diving Miss M. Focus yourself on preparing to meet the next one of them.

How do you prepare? Learn skills that you think would be appropriate and helpful (jewelry making, cooking, writing, whatever); save money; research places to live (this is just an example) -- basically set up your life so that you're ready. This will give you something else to focus on when you think you're going crazy. You'll be working toward love, just not _this_ love.
posted by amtho at 1:23 PM on October 8, 2007 [1 favorite]

Divine, not diving. I have no idea what this person's hobbies might be.
posted by amtho at 1:24 PM on October 8, 2007 [1 favorite]

In my experience, this is something that just takes time. I've been through crushes, love, and obsessions that didn't feel like they'd ever end. They were always the first thing I thought of when I woke up in the morning, and much of what I thought of all day.

My solution is to go on living life (as you are doing) and wait. Eventually it wears away (unrequited situations tend to do that, I think, as a matter of necessity; I think our brains are built that way). You're lucky if you meet someone new or situations change, but if not, time eventually heals.

The last time I had this sort of thing it went on for around 5 months. Which was nothing compared to another time when, I just realized, lasted one year longer than I had previously calculated. And I won't depress myself by stating exactly how long we're talking about. :)
posted by iguanapolitico at 1:27 PM on October 8, 2007 [2 favorites]

You're startlingly self-aware, anon, and that's great. I hope you bring this level of revelation and honesty to your therapist. If not, print this out and bring it to your next session.

You know you're being obsessive, and the usual question to ask when one is obsessing is, what is missing here? What void is the Object of My Obsession filling? I think that's something to think about and explore. In your case, this crush is filling some need. (Of course, I would say that you've got an unusually strong crush, but that alone isn't odd, especially when you see the object of your crush every day and work closely with her, to boot.)

But your reaction to this crush - the self-punishing, especially - is what I would single out as most worrisome. You are judging yourself and your emotions incredibly harshly. Look at the language you use; describing yourself as "self-indulgent," a "moody bastard" and a "baby." Come on! You're human and your having strong feelings. That doesn't make you ANY of the above.

(You know, if you didn't realize you were behaving in a way that isn't healthy, I would have very different advice for you. But you recognize that you don't like your own behavior and are working to change it.)

So, yeah, my basic advice isn't that terribly groundbreaking. Continue going to therapy, being as honest with your therapist as possible about your obsessive thoughts and self-harming behavior. But, for goodness sake, ease up on yourself about it. You've got enough to work through without berating yourself for having something to work through. Know what I mean?
posted by minervous at 1:29 PM on October 8, 2007 [2 favorites]

Is it weird that I (almost) envy you, anon? A nice unrequited crush can be a swell thing. (I'm 28 and with the girl I'm gonna marry, but still!)

Now let's get this out of the way: you've idealized this woman to a degree, and you're in love with this ideal, probably. That kind of sucks, because no one else is likely to measure up. But as a perhaps-helpful exercise, you should try and look at the situation from outside of yourself. Whatever externalizing-perspective exercises you can find, give 'em a try. This isn't to piss on your officemate's image but to flesh it out: nnything you can do to humanize your coworker, i.e. make her more of an autonomous agent and less of a figure in your fantasy-future, the better. (It sounds like you're having a swell time in the present but so much of that seems to be wrapped up in your maybe-they'll-split-up hopes, right?)

Obviously you're gonna have to change something. You can't change her feelings, you can't/shouldn't change her circumstances (because ewww, plus you're not the boss of her), and you can't change your own feelings except indirectly. Meaning it's your own circumstances you get to alter.

So: you can talk to her. Look, there's a good chance she's figured out how you feel, so as usual such a conversation might play (from her perspective) as belaboring a point she's apparently not interested in addressing directly. Plus it takes some of the frisson out of the situation to talk about it. Still, maybe you'll actually listen when she says 'Hey that's cool but I've got a boyfriend and we're just friends.' Or maybe she'll say 'Fuck it, you're obviously a better match.' Either way you're through it, but then you're guaranteed future awkwardness (either immediately or after the inevitable 'I shouldn't have gotten into a relationship with my nearest officemate' breakup horror).

You can try to distract yourself romantically or otherwise. This seems to me to be the wisest course, though also the most painful; that kind of loss isn't fun or easy. Now, you say you go on 'Internet dates'; what the huh? How about just 'dates'? She's overloaded your thoughts so you need new thoughts: go out dancing, drinking, take a trip, take three days off work and visit friends in another city, start lifting weights, write a short novel about this dramatically fertile situation, make a short film featuring every single dog on your city block, and so endlessly forth.

You could also become friends with Q, which sounds awesome and hilarious and just isn't gonna work because he'll instantly know unless he's a complete lummox.

My own (depressing) suspicion is that you should find a work-related excuse to move out of the office, at least away from her physically, and use that distance to gain a little perspective. The more you can focus on other things, the more you'll fit your genuine (enviable) affection for this woman into a less unsteady life. Talk to her, move, distract yourself, whatever: her relationship with Q is none of your business, none whatsoever, and so you gotta take care of yourself somehow. As nice as a crush is, if you can't get through the day without (literally?!) beating yourself up about it, you've got to get out of firing range. Describe this incredible woman in detail in your diary and then take a big step to put this situation in your past.

Was this vague or dumb? I've lost all perspective, reading blogs all day. :)
posted by waxbanks at 1:37 PM on October 8, 2007 [1 favorite]

Frankly, I'm worried about M here. I realize there's probably lots more to the story, but from this description, you sound threatening and obsessive. Punching yourself? Jesus, dude. For her sake, I hope you get help, and a new job.
posted by M.C. Lo-Carb! at 1:42 PM on October 8, 2007

Anon: Try to find a way to transfer/take time off/quit to put some distance between you and M. You will have a hard time working through this if you have to interact with her everyday.
posted by special-k at 1:53 PM on October 8, 2007

So if I am not mistaken, you are in therapy now because over a year ago you began punching yourself in the head in order to deal with your crush on this woman? And the crush still runs strong? If this is the case, you need to quit your job.

You also need to go meet more women. Right now M is your unattainable, perfect angel. If you actually dated her you'd find that wasn't the case. You need to find other real women to love and hold--go join some community groups, go volunteer and find other non-profit-lovin' ladies, hell, just go to a bar and talk to a few.
posted by schroedinger at 1:53 PM on October 8, 2007 [3 favorites]

Is it maybe time to find another therapist? I'm not sure how things are going with the therapy, but if things are stagnating, you could try someone else.
posted by amtho at 2:04 PM on October 8, 2007

I agree with minervous. Until you act on it by thumping yourself in the head or by voicing it (God forbid!) to M or (God forbid!!!) Q, this obsession harms zero people--including you. What would you be doing with yourself if you were not lolling about dreaming of the impossible femme? Probably playing computer games or watching unrewarding television. Obsessing is a drag, obviously, in that if we didn't do it we could spend our time writing symphonies. But would we? No! We (for "we" read "I") would lie on the couch and eat several pounds of greasy pigs-in-the-blankets made with Li'l Smokies and Pillsbury splodin' biscuits and watch three straight hours of Curb Your Enthusiasm. Given the transfat content of splodin' biscuits, this would have longer-lasting ill effects than even your overtly self-injurious behavior.

Lookit, you have something going on, something that's actually worth spending time thinking about, so you're spending time thinking about it. Where is the crazy in that? Instead of whanging your head on the wall to get rid of the thoughts, I encourage you to buy a lovely blank book and write them all down in it. In a year or two when you try reading over it, you will find that it is impossibly dull and repetetive, like Poe, but for now you can craft gorgeous sentences that you will read over and over and over again and revise until they are stunning and perfect. Who knows, you may even end up with something salable. Like Poe. Memoir is so hot right now.
posted by Don Pepino at 2:10 PM on October 8, 2007 [8 favorites]

It’s good that you’re in therapy. You might also want to take a look at the following book: How to Fall out of Love: How to Free Yourself of Love That Hurts--and Find the Love That Heals

This book presents a bunch of behavioural/cognitive therapy techniques such as thought stopping, “negative” visualization, and list making for overcoming obsessive romantic thoughts.
posted by Jasper Friendly Bear at 2:58 PM on October 8, 2007 [3 favorites]

Nthing the advice to get out and meet more women. As others have stated, you've built M up into this goddess of perfection (which she can't possibly be in real life; everyone has some big stinky flaws).

I've been given the advice to picture the object of one's obsession wearing saggy socks while sitting on the toilet taking care of business. The goal of this mental picture is to humanize the object of one's obsession by envisioning them in a non-idealized way. While this may or may not work for you, I do think it's important to keep in mind that M is not an angel and, chances are, isn't as all-encompassingly wonderful as you have built her up to be. At work, most people put their best feet forward. You're seeing the good, fun, funny, public face of M and not the one who emerges when she lets down her guard in private.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 3:08 PM on October 8, 2007

I think first you really need to stop the whole self hating thing. This really isn't that unusual. Everyone has had an unrequited crush and very very few people can just turn off those feelings once they find out it isn't ever going to happen. So stop hating yourself for obsessing over her, on some level you are just going to have to accept that for some indeterminate amount of time you will have feelings for her and it will hurt and that sucks, but it isn't because of some massive personal flaw within you. I think half the problem with this mindset is basically you hate yourself and therefore "no wonder she doesn't want me" and furthermore "how could anyone else as great as her ever want me either." So its just a self perpetuating thing that is to be honest quite removed from anything to do with her.

You also need to accept that this is a fact of life. We will all meet many people that we think could be the "one". Not every day, but probably more than we would initially think we do. But most of the time the circumstances, other relationships, distance, careers, religion, family, so many things get in the way, and yes sometimes because the feelings aren't reciprocated. But you can't internalize those things, life is rather random. You work with her, she has a boyfriend, this was never meant to be. Eventually the right situation with the right person will come about, but you can't take every let down as evidence of your own failings or you will just let it destroy you and you will likely miss other chances with other people because of it.
posted by whoaali at 3:18 PM on October 8, 2007 [3 favorites]

The things you've mentioned having in common with M are all very simple things. Lots of people love movies but hate loud concerts and dive bars. If these details were of great importance to M, she probably wouldn't be with Q.

Lots of people are also reasonably attractive and funny. Accept that M is unavailable and focus your attention on something or someONE else. Given that you're harming yourself over this, the suggestions that you quit your job and move on aren't off-base. But obsessing about your obsession isn't going to make it go away. Meet more women. Find new hobbies. Get another job if necessary. But take action other than lying on the floor, thinking it.
posted by katillathehun at 3:19 PM on October 8, 2007 [1 favorite]

I suspect this is less about M than you think it is. I think the real issue is that you're pretty much consumed with self-loathing. M provides a respite of happiness which is great when you're hanging out with her, but when you're alone only serves to give you a focus for all of that internal anguish. You can go out on all the internet dates you like but if you hate yourself, none of them are going to make you feel any better when you're home with just yourself and your depressing music.

If you've been in therapy for some time and you're still spending time sobbing on the floor, it's probably time to discuss meds with your therapist (or get a new therapist. or both)
posted by stefanie at 3:34 PM on October 8, 2007 [4 favorites]

You're making two errors:
1) That she likes you because you work together.

She doesn't. She's forced to be friends with you. Don't try be friends with her, it's work. She's not going to jump ship today, next week, or ever for you. You could save kittens and babies every day, and her work relationship with you isn't going to translate to 'OMG, I love you!)' In other words you 'smell wrong'.
How you know this: She doesn't want to spend her weekends or free time with you.

2) That you've idolized her.
You think that she's the *perfect* little girl. That you two would be the best couple ever!

Stop making this about you feelings (Hint: it's not about her directly either)
You're taking the whole thing personally. She's not interested, it's not going to change and the sooner you come to grips with it....the sooner you'll be less self destructive. And this self loathing escapes as self punishment.

Start thinking of her as a lesbian. That she dates a group different from you. There's zero chance she's interested - you can't 'make sense' of these things.

Stop idealizing her. Stare at her nostrils (eeww, nosehairs.) Picture her taking a dump (I hope you're not into that). Start exaggerating her grossest features to turn you off. Start pretending she's republican (or whatever is contrary to your believe) or that she's a member of some hate group. In other words, knock her off that pole in your mind.

Most of all:
How can you meet the girl who is right for you if you're pining after this one?

Go get on those meds. You're extremely self destructive because you can't handle your frustration/rage of not getting what you want
posted by filmgeek at 3:57 PM on October 8, 2007 [1 favorite]

You mention you're in to music. I'd just like to point out that there is along tradition of unrequited lovers producing music as an outlet for these feelings. Might be worth a try.
posted by phrontist at 4:04 PM on October 8, 2007

I have to agree with a lot of the observation and advice given thus far - I think you need to work on you! Nobody will make your life better - not M or not anyone. Only you can make your life better.

Sharing an office can't help either. I agree that you should consider changing job. You risk preventing any possible progress while M is still in the picture, I am sorry to say.

I had to get over a similarly-obsessive relationship by leaving town for a few months. It was one of the hardest things I had to do.

You can't get over cigarettes when you are still smoking them, if I can make such a comparison... you can't get over your crush while she is still in your life.

I also agree that maybe you should evaulate the progress you are making with your therapist. One year is enough time to make a fair assessment. And just because someone is a therapist doesn't mean that they are suitable for you. My former therapist for example was more interested in hearing about my pain, but seemed clueless about what to do about helping me heal (well, that was my perception at least).

I wish you courage and strength. I know you will heal and you will look back on this stage in your life and say "wow, I can't believe how far I have come!"
posted by bitteroldman at 4:14 PM on October 8, 2007

I went through five years of this over one person (although not to the point of physical self-harm, but it was definitely obsessive.) Got over than, immediately found someone else to fill that role for six months; got over that.

The trick, in both cases? I physically removed myself from the situation. In the first case, I had to move out, quit my volunteer position, and take up other hobbies. In the second case, I had to quit going out for long enough to break the habit of just "dropping by" the bar she worked at. In neither case did I say anything about my feelings to the person in question - I just drifted off. I remain friends with them (to the degree appropriate to our actual level of intimacy) in both cases.

And at this point, I can recognize when I'm falling into those patterns - idealizing somebody, and constantly fantasizing about conversations we'd have, things we'd do together, plans we'd make. So far, I've been able to be aware of my feelings, and not let them get to the point of life-disrupting intensity. It's all about being able to say, "Oh, hey, I'm doing that thing again. It's not True Love, it's just... that thing I do." That takes a lot of the impact out of it, for me, and has kept me obsession-free for over a year.

I don't know if I could have come to that level of self-awareness without getting myself out of the situation. It had gotten to the point of a physical response to being in that person's presence, and the physical response fed the emotional obsession. So... be aware of that.

And overall, man, don't beat yourself up. It's not a moral failing, just like it's not true love. It's just... that thing you do. Don't attach so much weight to it.
posted by restless_nomad at 4:22 PM on October 8, 2007 [6 favorites]

I can relate to your first paragraph here -- in a hostile or indifferent environment, finding a kindred spirit can be a really amazing thing. And I've often found that it segues rather easily into romantic feelings for that person, though it's important to realize that these feelings aren't necessarily absolute, that they don't always translate to when you're around that person in a different context and they're not a shining diamond in a pile of poo anymore.

It also sounds like you may be an obsessive person in general, which sounds bad, but can be good if you know how to manage it, and channel your obsessive tendencies into more positive, less self-destructive pursuits. You mention being okay when you're consumed by something else (your words, my emphasis) but beating yourself up during downtime. The solution is simple then: don't have downtime. Fill as much of your day as possible with interesting, consuming things. You mention a music class, why not take that to the next level? Practice the shit out of an instrument you're learning and get really fucking good at it. Take that obsession and turn it into something awesome. It doesn't have to be music obviously, but preferably something that you feel strongly about, or something that has that potential. Eventually, hopefully, then your downtime thoughts will turn to your new obsession and not back to M.
posted by speicus at 5:00 PM on October 8, 2007 [3 favorites]

I agree with those who say you need to love yourself a little more. If you know you're awesome, who gives a shit what this girl thinks? She obviously can't spot quality or she'd be into you. Convince yourself that you're great and greatness will follow.
posted by ludwig_van at 5:47 PM on October 8, 2007

I think some meditation techniques would be of great use to you. You are living in a fantasy world, meditation would encourage you to come back to the moment at hand, and help you get in touch with your feelings. I get the sense that your true feelings are being obscured by your fantasy and that if you get in touch with what is really going on with you, this obsession will cease to be so powerful.

The links I've included here are to posts where specific meditation techniques are detailed.
posted by zia at 5:50 PM on October 8, 2007

I wasn't even going to read this thread because it hit a bit too close to home. I've got a similar crush on a coworker--yes, this kid. I'm not really in such a bad place about it, but my suggestion is this: definitely relax about it. Everyone has their stuff, this is yours. People are in all kinds of bad relationships, stuck, bored, what have you. You get to spend every day with a cool person you care about. Just relax about it. This won't kill you. One day, you'll either be with her, or you'll be over her. This won't go on forever. Other activities, dates, whatever are good but they won't take the place of those feelings. You just have to give it time and accept what happens.
posted by sweetkid at 6:08 PM on October 8, 2007 [2 favorites]

Yeah, I had to pop back in to say that I once had a crush on a coworker and it really hurt me when he got a girlfriend. And then he'd start inviting me to lunch with he and this girl. Ugh! It was all I could to not burst into tears while I watched the two of them do all that mushy romantic stuff. But then he moved to another state, and there was no *chance* of us getting together. My crush was over in a couple of weeks, and you know what? He got in touch with me soon after, and we talk regularly, but I no longer have the feelings I used to have. In fact, I'm in my own relationship and very happy. I managed to move on and still maintain a good friendship. Distance was all I needed.
posted by katillathehun at 6:23 PM on October 8, 2007

She has, a couple of times, mentioned areas of incompatibility with the boyfriend

Yep, people usually have these things. Its what makes relationships interesting.

You gotta focus on what's going on with you. Usually when these feelings linger with me, its because something else totally unrelated is bothering me. Once I work those out, the feelings fade quick.
posted by Ironmouth at 6:36 PM on October 8, 2007

Here's a comment from someone who would prefer to remain anonymous.

I've done the punching myself in the head thing, too. For me, it was because I was frustrated with myself, there was an internal battle going on. There was a childish or primal part of myself that was very attached to a relationship. The relationship needed to end -- it was very painful. But I was very afraid to lose the things I was attached to. So I'd compromise what I needed to do or say to protect myself, and again and again, I kept finding myself in very painful situations.

And I was very frustrated and angry at myself about this. Why wasn't I protecting myself enough that I didn't have to feel all this pain? But the solutions I saw were ones that I (part of me, at least) wasn't willing to take. That attached part of myself recognized things weren't right, but really wanted to find a way to salvage the relationship.

Ultimately, I found tiny steps I could take in the real world -- little ways to protect the part of me that was in pain but without explicitly challenging the obsessed part of myself. These were very simple actions, so I (both parts of myself) felt sure that these actions were entirely reasonable. They didn't say "I'm ending this whole thing!" They just said "at this moment, I can't do A. I need to do B to feel okay." For me, in short order, the whole situation cracked under its own weight (ymmv), but even doing those little things had already somehow made the sun come out again.

I don't know if this self-conflict interpretation rings true, but if it does, I'd try to figure out what situations cause you pain, and what little actions would make it not painful. How could you better protect yourself, or show more concern for yourself, or be more on your own side about all this?

My situation was different from having an obsessive crush, but if you want to talk more, you can email me at
posted by jessamyn at 8:02 PM on October 8, 2007

Plenty of good comments here. Special props to Don Pepino for humour, and whoaali for the very correct "shit happens, but it's not your fault" approach.

I just wanted to add a small angle: watch out for your own confirmation bias.

You mentioned your shared preferences for movies v loud concerts, and your mutual dislike of dive bars. In your own head, you might be latching onto these as examples of how you're just so right for each other, building up your mental case from examples in which your tastes coincide, whilst probably simultaneously downplaying areas of difference. For example, if she actually liked the loud concerts that you hate, but it turned out that you both like sashimi, you might be all "...and we both love sashimi! How awesome is that??!?"

I actually think this is a reasonably normal thing to do. For example, I've dated people who were complete diametric opposites to each other - sometimes right after each other - and in each case I've ended up emphasising one thing or another to bolster the situation, depending on whatever they've brought to the table (eg "aw, intellectual & bookish!" or "mmm, healthy & outdoorsy!"). In that sense, I believe it's quite common to play up similarities & downplay differences, but that's really only in a situation where there's a pre-existing chemistry & an ongoing relationship.

If you're doing that sort of thing in an unrequited crushy situation, you'd probably be better off trying to be aware of how confirmation bias happens, and first, seeking out similar coincidences in taste when you find them in other people; second, actively paying attention to differences in taste (for example, the fact that she apparently likes a type quite different to you).
posted by UbuRoivas at 9:30 PM on October 8, 2007 [1 favorite]

Wait, wait, wait.

You're not crazy. You're in love, and you're jealous. That's all it is.

People are telling you that you're doing something wrong. You're not! You're in love, and you're jealous. It happens all the time. It's like catching the flu. Being with a beautiful, intelligent, funny, taken woman who shares your interests 8 hours a day while you're single is like being in a small room with some phlegmatic guy who can't stop coughing. It's inevitable!

It's fun to have a crush, that tingling of desire. Then it gets serious, and you feel the ache of love. And then it passes a certain date (which isn't printed on the label) and it curdles into jealousy. You're a moody bastard simply because you're in love, and you're jealous! Sure, it doesn't feel good. It is, however, human. Some guys do punch walls, mirrors or glass instead of the floor or themselves; that's your choice. Bad music, on the other hand, is universal. There are lots of movies on this; the French ones are better (cf. Children of Paradise).

None of your behavior sounds like it's substantially more crazy than any other guy. Sometimes this passes in a few months, and the jealousy and emptiness slips away. Sometimes, she haunts your dreams for a decade until you meet her again and everything that didn't work out the first time is behind you and everything you dreamed of falls into place. That last one happened to me. Despite having gone through this, I really have no advice other than to drink lots of liquids and get plenty of bedrest.

Some guys might ask her out, despite the fact that she's a co-worker, and despite the fact that she's taken. That's not a bad thing, or an ethical lapse. Some of them might succeed, some of them might be turned down, some of them might be slapped with a sexual harassment case. It depends on how you do it! Nobody ever got fired for asking a girl to a movie. If you ask her to a movie and she doesn't want to go, take a hot Internet date instead, tell your co-worker about it, and perhaps your co-worker will realize that she actually wanted to go. Or maybe you'll fall in love with your Internet date instead! That's the way it works, you never know. Very few people get it right the first time, it seems.

Good luck.
posted by eschatfische at 8:06 AM on October 9, 2007 [4 favorites]

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