I’ve been working at my company for a year now and from day one, my straight co-worker has had my attention. She’s extremely smart, very attractive, and is a woman of authority. And as much as I love having a muse in the office, this crush has proved to be a wanton distraction.
How can I move forward and not let this distraction affect my performance at work? Or is this an attraction worth pursuing? In any other situation, if I knew a crush wasn’t good for me, I would distance myself from her until I could get over it. But because I have no choice but to see and communicate with her everyday, I feel like my feelings are growing and there’s no hope in them going away. Any guidance you can offer is greatly appreciated! — Over-worked and Under-paid
Anna says: It’s uncanny how similar your situation is to my last big office crush, Over-worked. I too would fawn over this girl’s every interaction, analyze the emoticons in her g-chats to me, and generally do whatever she asked me to do, which once involved darning an item of her clothing (not in my job description). The good news is I have lots o’ advice on the subject. The bad news is, you’re probably not gonna like it.
Let me first say that pursuing someone you work with is generally not the wisest idea. Pursuing someone who does not share your sexual orientation ups the un-wiseness even more. Also, you didn’t explicitly say this, but if she has “authority” aka the power to fire you or out you when you’re not ready, then that makes it even riskier still.
All that said, Over-worked, plenty of people ignore all of these factors and pursue something anyway. It’s not unheard of for lasting relationships to start after a boozy hook up at an office holiday party, or equivalent. It’s also not unheard of for people to end up horribly embarrassed and/or forced to quit their cushy jobs because of ill-conceived romances. I happen to fall into the camp of Learning Things The Hard Way, but you have to decide whether the potential risks outweigh the consequences, especially since you already feel uncomfortable around this chick a lot of the time.
The most direct route to “moving forward” as you put it is simple: make a move on her or confess your feelings. Either she’ll be into you, and you can properly start her lez-ucation, which will surely be filled with lots of slow-mo shots of you spinning in circles like they do in Katherine Heigl movies, and eating lots of yogurt-granola breakfast cups with the same spoon.
Or she won’t be into you. You’ll undergo a brief but arduous period of awkwardness whereby you’ll shield your face with staplers and TPS reports to avoid seeing her, but slowly and surely things will normalize again, and your crush on her will start to wane.
There’s a third option, too: Find someone else to crush on. It’s all too easy to become infatuated with people at work because we see them all the time (duh). There were times when I saw my coworkers more than my actual girlfriend, which was sad, and perhaps a reflection of how we all work too damn much. Speaking of, you better have gotten paid overtime for those weekends you spent enchanted by your crush’s sweater vest, Over-worked. Otherwise, that’s just wrong.
The great thing about crushes is that they aren’t sustainable. If you choose to do nothing, eventually, you’ll become simply friends, or one or both of you will start dating someone, and you’ll begin to see her as a real person, as opposed to a goddess in pleated pants. This is what happened with me, and truth be told, it couldn’t have worked out better. I still wanted to make out with her on top of the mail supplies and post-its from time to time, but it wasn’t not nearly so stifling.
What say you, Queeries? Have you ever successfully picking up a straight coworker? Any tips for Over-worked?
Hailing from the rough-and-tumble deserts of southern Arizona, where one doesn’t have to bother with such trivialities as “coats” or “daylight savings time,” Anna Pulley is a professional tweeter/blogger for Mother Jones and a freelance writer living in San Francisco. Find her at annapulley.com and on Twitter @annapulley. Send her your Hook Up questions at email@example.com.