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What Do You Do About That Office Crush?

Career Advice |

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.

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!

 

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Topics

careeradvice communication office romance

10 Comments

Life is too short to do nothing. Do you want to go through life without knowing and being with that person? How many times do you really meet someone you like? And, you want to do nothing about it? Life goes too fast. When you get much older, it becomes much harder to make things happen. Go for it! Enjoy the thrill and the feeling.

1y

It was nicely written and very insightful.. thank you so much for keeping all these period for me.

those who are here naturally had some kind of crush during life time.. but how one manages make one stronger..

still not Givenup on a crush... trying harder

2y

As an added note...
While you're determining your "butterfly species" make sure to NOT discuss it with co-workers - even those you consider friends. If you need some workplace crush commiseration, try friends outside of work who can provide some much needed fresh and objective perspective.

3y

"Determine the 'species' of butterflies"...Stephanie that quote is fabulous! I love how blunt it is! It's a great reminder for me and a great article for girl friends who are constantly asking me what they should do in their situation and now I can just kindly direct them to this article. Bookmarked!

3y

Definitely advice everyone should take to heart, Claire!

My first office crush during my first full-time job when I was 18 turned out to be mutual, but I feel blessed that those butterflies were quickly murdered. I realized that my crush stemmed from a deep admiration of someone who's very good at what they do and it turned out that his came from seeing his younger self in me.

I think both parties really need to sit down and determine the 'species' of butterfly before saying "Hey, we've got a cute thing going here. Let's go for drinks (and risk facing an incredibly awkward situation)!"

3y

yes - love this !

3y
Anonymous

Too bad there aren't any crush-worthy candidates at my office!!

3y

This is really wise advice, Claire. It may not be what we want to hear in the moment when the butterflies are going wild, but I think this combination of restraint and thoughtful (if any) action can go a long way toward helping us avoid messy (and potentially career-damaging) situations.

3y
Carly Heitlinger

It's definitely a challenge when so much of our personal lives overlaps with our careers!!!

3y

I have a rule about crushes at work; not allowed during the first year wherever you are, new company, new industry etc. Do not act in that first year! You don't want that to be your reputation. After the first year and you've established yourself, I say then is when you can go for it!

3y
Claire Smith

Claire is currently working in the Digital Media department of NBC Universal as a Senior Coordinator. She lives on the Upper East Side with two of her friends, and graduated from Loyola University Maryland in 2009 with a degree in Journalism. She spends her weekends exploring her passions for music, photography, and red wine.