Being attracted to a coworker when you are already married or in a long-term relationship is the predicament of a lifetime. On one hand, you already have a partner who cares for you and has chosen to stick by you for the rest of your life. On the other hand, you can sense a tingling feeling every time your coworker walks into a meeting or glances at you from their desk.
That’s the thing about attraction and sexual tension. Even if you are in a happy relationship, there is no guarantee that you won’t feel attracted to somebody else. But no matter how common this is, how does one deal with such a situation?
Attracted to a coworker but married? You’ve definitely found yourself in a soup. One of our readers was in a similar situation recently and approached us with a query on how to navigate this mess. Counseling psychologist and certified life-skills trainer Deepak Kashyap (Masters in Psychology of Education), who specializes in a range of mental health issues, including LGBTQ and closeted counseling, shares his insights on this common yet unnerving predicament.
Being Attracted To A Coworker
Q: We work in the same company. We worked together for two weeks, nine months ago and there was a lot of chemistry between us. So much so that we exchange messages every day. We have swapped naughty pictures but have never done anything physical. He came to my house for lunch once and told me later on that there was a lot of sexual tension. We clearly think the world of each other. He has called me things such as gorgeous, striking, and very beautiful. When we are together at work, people comment on our closeness, and I see him scanning the room for me. He is going through marital problems of his own. I am struggling in my eight-year marriage as well.
I told him yesterday that we could no longer be friends and had to refrain from keeping in touch as I had feelings for him and it wasn’t fair to continue like this, especially to our respective partners. Being attracted to a coworker is one thing, but we had gone too far. He replied saying that he didn’t know where this was coming from and tried to get me to stay. He did not want me to leave. Why won’t he let me break off contact? He has said before that I am too special but now that he knows how I feel, he should let me step away. Isn’t it? He is 39 and I am 37 years of age.
Related Reading: It Had All Started With Innocuous Flirting On WhatsApp
From the expert:
Ans: Step away from him. For now, at least. You need to understand that despite the genuineness of emotions you feel for each other, problems in your respective relationships might also be coloring your imagination drastically. It is a human tendency to get lost in the fantasy of a ‘perfect lover’ and capitalize on mutual attraction signs with somebody else in the future when our current relationship hits rough patches every now and then.
It is advisable to first give attention to your existing relationship to see if there is a chance of improvement and betterment there. If there is and you still love your current partner, then you should work on it. Perhaps being attracted to a coworker is just a fleeting phase for you so it’s time to shun all the workplace flirting signs he throws your way.
Acknowledge the fact that it is normal to get attracted to other people, even when you are in a happy relationship. The point of commitment is to not act on those attractions. Monogamy is not the be-all and end-all of life, however, non-monogamy or a polyamorous relationship should be a consensual decision that you and your present partner make together as opposed to you unilaterally acting on it. So in this case, what to do if your coworker likes you too much and isn’t letting you go? Do everything you can to end it with him.
However, if you think that there is no hope left for your present relationship, that’s when you have to be honest with yourself. After the breakup, you would need to give yourself some much-deserved time to heal before you have the energy to pursue anyone else, least of all a man who is struggling with challenges in his own marriage.
It will be hard for him to take things forward with you before he takes stock of what’s happening in his life. However, you have the power to put a stop to it, do it. I wish you all the very best. Talk to a counselor all by yourself, if you think a more detailed analysis is required. All the very best.
Related Reading: Dating A Coworker? Here’s How To Handle Office Romance
How To Tell If My Coworker Likes Me?
Now that the expert has cleared the above query and given us his take on how one should handle such a situation, Bonobology takes it forward from here to give you a better idea of what an office romance might look like. If you feel like you have been inching toward one and that’s what brought you here, we can clear that up right away. Here are a few coworker attraction signs that you just cannot miss.
1. They keep finding reasons to grab your attention
One of the signs a coworker is attracted to you is if not a single day goes by without them trying to talk to you or get your attention. A platonic relationship is different and feels very different from a potential office affair in the making. But when your coworker is truly into you, you’ll sense it in the way that they talk to you or approach you throughout the day. Making cute faces at you in the middle of a meeting, finding reasons to come sit next to you, or urging you to have lunch with them are some of the tell-tale signs that they’re interested in you.
2. Eye contact lingers a little longer — Coworker attraction signs
“Does my male coworker like me?” Have you ever found yourself wondering about this possibility, then you need to pay attention to the little signs that are a dead giveaway of his feelings. For instance, you can be sure a coworker is attracted to you if you feel like he can never stop staring at you.
Have you ever caught him stealing glances when you’re working and then quickly looking away when you notice him doing so? Sometimes when you’re talking, does he stare into your eyes in an endearing way and then start looking down at your lips? This is not only one of the signs coworkers are attracted to each other but also points to an underlying sexual tension in the equation.
3. They like to discuss things outside of work
This is one of the most obvious signs a coworker likes you. They might begin every conversation with something that’s related to work. Perhaps about an important presentation or commenting on how Sylvia is always late. But you’ll notice how every conversation will segue into something personal and before you know it, you’re telling them all about the time you got in a fight at a tailgate party.
One of the signs coworkers are attracted to each other is when they’re always laughing and giggling about things that have nothing to do with work. It’s like talking about the things that you do on a date except you’re sitting at a desk with your PC in front of you.
Attracted To A Coworker? Here’s What You Should Do
Now that we’ve addressed the “how to tell if my coworker likes me” dilemma, let’s now dive straight into what to do if your coworker likes you. There are not a lot of options when it comes to handling a situation like this but there are a few simple things you can do. If an office romance has been brewing for a while and you have been partaking in it as well, then it really boils down to where you see your life with this person and who you want to be morally.
When attracted to a coworker and married, you must pick between your partner and your coworker. If you think your relationship with your coworker might be a lasting one, you can choose to let the previous one go and focus on this one solely. But if you’re sure your relationship with the coworker is just playful bantering along with some workplace flirting signs, then maybe it’s time to call it quits? Is it really worth it to ruin a perfectly good relationship just because you’re enjoying some attention at work? Deep down, you know the answer. You just need to give yourself some time to dig it out.
Yes, it is. It happens more often than you think.
If they’re always talking to you more than to others, if they try to make you blush a lot and if they keep trying to touch you or spend time with you, your coworker definitely has a crush on you.
What to do if your coworker likes you and you do not want to take things further with them? Start by reducing contact with them and giving them the hint that you’re not interested. If they still do not understand, then tell them that you’re attracted to them but it’s not a good situation to be in and that you don’t want to make things any worse.
They sure can! Working a 9-5 job sitting next to each other can definitely make people start falling in love.