What do you do when you are so wildly attracted to a colleague that every time he or she walks into a room your face lights on fire? The answer is simple: You do nothing. The most important thing to keep in mind is what your purpose is in that particular environment. You’re not at work to meet your soulmate, or a fling, or even to make friends; you’re there to do great work.

However, we spend the majority of our waking hours at the office, and so chances are (if you’re lucky) you’ll develop friendships, you’ll laugh, you’ll commiserate, you’ll go to happy hours, you’ll get to know who you all are outside the confines of the professional sphere. And yes, you may develop office crushes.

Crushes at Work

My best advice would be to first play out all your day dreams and fantasies in your head, exhausting every romantic notion you feel creeping into your consciousness. Chances are that the butterflies will come and go. Enjoy having another reason to look your best, enjoy having another reason to look forward to work. This crush can be a motivator that makes an office environment a little more exciting but it should go no further than the dimensions of your daydreams.

On the flip side, what do you do when a co-worker has a crush on you? Assuming you are not interested in any way, my advice would be mostly the same: You do nothing. Do not flirt with him or her, do not accept invitations to do things just the two of you, do not find yourself with him or her at a bar three beers deep after a stressful week. Avoid putting yourself in situations where you would have to dodge a move, and make sure the boundaries are drawn from the beginning. If his or her advances are becoming more obvious or aggressive, then simply tell them you are flattered and you enjoy spending time with them but you would prefer to keep your relationship professional and platonic. Everyone respects honesty and I would strongly advise to make that point early on in the game.

If you meet someone through work and the feelings are mutual, then slowly but steadily explore exactly how deep they run. There is no harm in going on a date or grabbing drinks with someone you work with who you might be interested in and who might be interested in you. I know plenty of colleagues who have met their significant others at work. However, what you want to do is differentiate between a crush and a soulmate. After a few dates you will know whether or not the feelings are real and serious, and if they are, then you should have an open and honest conversation about the ramifications of taking it further. If it turns out it was a fleeting attraction, then cut it off for the sake of your professional relationship.

Humans are sexual creatures, and it is naive to think that we can turn on and off (pun intended) our sexuality when it is convenient for us. The more you pretend those feelings aren’t there, whether they are coming from you or toward you, the more they will grow into a large mass of awkwardness between you and the colleague any time you interact. Run with the butterflies, not from them; but at the end of the day, I would tell you to leave them where they belong: Within the fields of your imagination.

How have you handled work crushes in the past? Share with us in the comments!

Photo courtesy of Atlantic-Pacific