Coworker Crush Falling Apart

iVillage Member
Registered: 11-08-2012
Coworker Crush Falling Apart
Sat, 11-23-2013 - 5:08pm

Hiya, here's the story. I've worked with this guy for 9 years, and to be honest, I've always had a mini-crush on him. It's nothing serious, but it's there. He's very physically attractive, and gets a lot of attention from ladies. Things were pretty good for about 7-8 years. Our work roles are more entwined than a lot of other people's we work with. But we each work in virtually same-gender departments. I work with all women, him with all men. Even before I had a crush on him (and what I think lead to it) the women would talk about how cute we'd be together, blahblahblah. The other guys give me a hard time and say stuff about how he goes out of his way to work with me. Aside from the crush, I do value him on projects and feel like I'm closer to him as a human than the other staff. We still joke around sometimes, but...

The thing is about a year ago, things seemed to shift overnight. Out of nowhere he started being rather rude and dismissive of me. Figured something going on outside of me, since I didn't do anything, and brushed it off. It seemed personal though, one specific instance, there were 5-6 of them working on a project as I left, and every said good night to me but he stared straight ahead and ignored me. Things got better a few months later...but he's become very passive-aggressive. We had a 45 minute conversation that involved me saying Y should be done, him insisting X. Eventually, I agreed to X because it's more of his specialty, and he said, 'okay I'll do Y'. So I'd agree to Y, he'd question why not X. repeat. 45 freaking minutes. 

It hurts my feelings because he used to be dependable and we got stuff done. Now, anything involving him becomes a hurtful headache for me. I take it so personal and I'd like to talk to him about it. I've tried to communicate better, when I ask for things let him know I value his input, etc. It's not working. I just don't know how to approach the conversation. Technically, I'm his boss, but I'd like for it to be more of a person-to-person conversation than a lecture to an employee. It's getting pretty bad, I was so frustrated with him on Friday that I acted like a complete child and stormed away from him. Later on in the night I yelled, why are you so mean to me???? then told him to leave me alone and find something to do. I'm worried the stress he puts on our relationship, is pushing me so far away it's going to be at a point of no return. It's like I can't figure out the right way to show him that I care. 

iVillage Member
Registered: 02-25-2013
Sun, 11-24-2013 - 9:48am

Wow. Nine years is a long time to have a crush on someone. You've apparently not had a real relationship in all this time, otherwise you wouldn't be emotionally investing your thoughts in a man who will clearly never be a future partner to you. I'm not there to observe, but I will just take a guess that perhaps he doesn't like a boss who has a crush on him. And if you say he doesn't know, don't fool yourself. A guy always knows. Since you call yourself being in a "relationship" with him, you're obviously too invested in what is supposed to be a professional supervisor/employee situation. I don't consider myself being "in a relationship" with my supervisor, and if he had a crush on me, I would hate it.

I know you won't like this advice, but you need to start thinking of him as you would any other employee. This crush is a big waste of your time and he clearly doesn't like the added attention you probably give him, with his passive/agressive, mean behavior. If any employee is acting in a way that must change, if you don't know how to do it in a professional way, get some managerial books from the library on the best ways to speak to employees.

If it's a boyfriend you want, look outside of the workplace where personal and professional lines can't blur. Join a group. Do volunteer work. Join a co-ed sports team. Having crushes that quickly don't pan out is living in a fantasy world. You can do anything you set your mind to do, and you'll thank yourself later when you meet a man who returns your affection. Good luck.

iVillage Member
Registered: 11-28-1999
Sun, 11-24-2013 - 11:02am

If you are technically his boss, then you need to start acting like his boss.  You can ask for input on decisions, but remember that you have the ultimate say--if he doesn't like it, too bad.  You should remember that it's more important for you to do a good job at work,  since you don't seem to be getting anything out of this guy anyway.  Sometimes it's fun to have a crush.  When I first started working at my job 17 yrs ago, I did have a crush on my boss--he's single and the same age and I had just gone through a divorce, so it was like a nice diversion.  At that time, sometimes we'd even go out & do things together, like go out to eat and go to the movies, but usually his brother or his friend would tag along--it was never romantic.  Even while I had the crush, I recognized that we weren't really right for each other and I knew it was just kind of getting my mind off my divorce problems & being alone.  Thankfully it never went anywhere because I am still working there and now because his personality has really changed a lot (and maybe my thinking has too) I don't even like him as a friend (of course in that time I also got remarried & divorced).  But if you have spent all this time pining over this guy & haven't dated other people, you need to give yourself a little prod to get out there and meet some other guys to get your mind off this one--cause nothing is happening here and if it hasn't happened in 9 yrs, it's really not going to.  You also really have to watch yourself about showing him that you care since you are in supervisory position to him and not just co-workers.  It's kind of inappropriate.

iVillage Member
Registered: 11-08-2012
Sun, 11-24-2013 - 2:47pm

I appreciate you both giving direct responses and constructive criticism. :) I've had romantic relationships. It's almost like he's a convenient crush (because he's a great guy and used to have a fantastic personality with looks to match)....After I'm single for awhile I get a crush on him 

After the first time, I met a guy within a few months that I dated for a couple years, and the crush fizzled for awhile. So yeah, I agree that if I had a boyfriend now my feelings would probably go away, but...I just want to get back to being comfortable working with him.

I do have a relationship with him, it's a work one..maybe I should've used a clearer word. It's really hard to get advice on this since it's work, we're not dating, but the issue is coming from feelings. I guess in reading both your responses, maybe the best thing to do is ignore his behavior? Instead of trying to figure out how to respond to it? That's what I'd normally when there's friction between me and employees or coworkers. No one wants to work with someone with an attitude problem. So if hearing why they're not happy, and trying to resolve it, is best for them and the group, I'll do it.  I spend a lot of time with these people, of course I'm going to care to some degree. At least want to work peacefully with all of them...and in this one I really do care because I feel responsible.

Musiclover had a good point about if he doesn't like my decisions too bad..maybe I'm wasting too much energy trying to fix the situation. If I send out work and he gets assigned it, tough nuggets.

As far as distracting myself, it's at work where the problems come it, so it's kind of tight on what I can do. I always follow protocol (no crush is worth getting fired for sexual harrasment, I am very careful not to seem like I'm going out of my way to interact with him), but next thing I know I'm dealing with his crap. I've bent over backwards to try and minimize our interactions since he's developed his attitude. Including, encouraging him to call or email me, instead of visiting. Which is how I communicate with most people anyhow. Then despite being annoyed to talk to me, when I offer a way out, he gets snarky and acts like I've offended him.

It doesn't matter whether or not people know, nothing's changed. Before I liked him and before I was his boss, my boss used to make me call him because “he'd only answer for me”. Which, wasn't true (I don't think) I think they were just...being jerks. Or they'd giggle because he blushed every time he came to the office. Which had nothing to do with me, he told me he always felt like he was getting called to the principles office and it made him nervous. They just wanted to make it personal. I'm talking about 45+ year old women and I was only 19. The guys have always been worse, but this is long enough and that's a good enough example to get the point across. Crush or no crush, I work with the kind of people who talk just to be talking. I bet he could quit, and they'd still force him into conversations with me.

SO....I mean, I'm trying, but everything I've done has made it worse...but...yeah

iVillage Member
Registered: 09-29-2010
Sun, 11-24-2013 - 10:14pm

"It's like I can't figure out the right way to show him that I care."

There is no right way to show him that you care, because it would be inappropriate and unprofessional to do that.

He might be acting weird because he can tell that you have a crush on him and he finds it uncomfortable. Possibly other employees can tell too, and he's heard that you and he are the subject of office gossip, which would make somebody upset.

I think you need to work on thinking of him just like any other employee or subordinate with the same expectations for their work, and their behavior and attitude in the workplace. If he's acting pissy or snarky or undermining your authority then you need to confront the behavior, which you probably would do if any other employee was actiing like that. If you don't know how to approach it talk to HR.