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Discussion in 'General Advice' started by Angela Gee, Jun 24, 2017.
Sorry. Had to.
Ok, I have to admit what you were describing was very hot till I got to the part where she has a partner. So, if you are already infatuated with her, then you need to keep it very professional. You can't ask her out. Keep your career.
You have a couple of dilemmas, one is that people are already talking. The other is that cutting off the normal conversations all at once would be very awkward. If I were you, I would phase it out, like getting your print jobs elsewhere. If people are really talking about you and her and it is all over town then it is legitimate to bring it up with her and tell her you need to keep your distance and why. It depends, but I think the subtle backing off and less chance meetings will do the trick.
I want to make a reference to that old show Desperate Housewives. I only watched the Lynette stuff and fast forwarded through the rest of it. Well, Lynette's character at one point was not only the desperate house wive but also a desperate owner of a pizza joint with her husband. She was struggling till a great cook came along and turned things around for her. He also flirted a bit and made her dinner and poured her wine every night. Then one night, he confessed his love for her. That was when Lynette threw down her napkin and said, "You have ruined it, ruined it! Up until now, you were just a nice man who cooks me dinner. But now you have ruined it."
So, you are a nice connection she has with a staff member that being The Big Giant Head (another show's reference) does not usually get. That can have some intimate outcomes, but if you don't sexualize it, she won't either.
Crushes are so hard to deal with alone, aren't they? It is nice to be able to confess a secret crush. The biggest problem I see is that she is taken. The career reference I made is that if you end up being a homewrecker, then people may look at you differently while in a career. And it has already affected your career. If you had not felt bad about taking that position Jess created, that position may have been a better fit than the one you will get in 8 months, or no?
Like you have described, sometimes, sexual attractions help enhance certain mundane things but if it tip toes from fantasy to reality it may not end up to be the situation you would want. Whatever the situation is, please think thrice before you get between 2 people, it is not fun to start a relationship that way.
"This one might actually stand a slight chance...."
A lot of times we see what we want to see or believe what we hope to find in a situation. That's not to say the chemistry you feel isn't real or that that certain something isn't there. However, she has a HIM. Strike one -- she's involved with someone; strike two -- you have no idea if she would ever date a woman.
I've always thought that making a play for someone who's in a relationship -- is just as bad as the person in a relationship straying from the relationship. Encouraging someone to cheat - or even to break up -- is not a good thing and demonstrates a disrespect. If you value commitment at all -- and I'm not saying this necessarily because of your boss -- but if you do, you'll put the thoughts of asking her out out of your mind.
Would it be different if she weren't involved? Maybe -- but then you have the work thing. Your boss is already taking shots by making comments...and workplace drama regardless of whether anything happens could escalate to the point of really damaging your good reputation -- in this workplace or even another. Baggage follows people and don't assume that if you could easily find another job, you'd ultimately not pay a price if something were to happen now. It may not even be "Jess" that's the reason -- your boss' suggestion that she's in love with you is enough to start that snowball rolling down the hill.
At the end of the day, I think it's important to maintain your self respect....and the respect of others. If something's there and meant to happen, let it happen on its own without your instigating. Let her make the decision if there is something there...because its' also entirely possible that you're reading more into the situation that isn't really there at all.
Not trying to rain on your parade...just trying to be realistic.
Other people might read this differently, but I'm going to be really honest: I don't see a ton of real evidence that Jess is interested in anything more than friendship. It sounds like a "work crush" - she thinks you're smart, effective, honest, and interesting - but one that is relatively uncharged. You chat about work sometimes? She tells you a little about her personal life? She greets you daily and seeks out your advice? She looks at you intently when she is trying to get your attention and you are trying to ignore her? I dunno, that seems like pretty normal close work friend behavior. I've had relationships like this - close, made up of real admiration, supportive - that have had zero sexual implications or interest. Her greeting you, feeling discombobulated when you ignore her, or making an effort to check in all suggest that you are a solid work friend; she doesn't have to want to get into your pants to be unsettled when you don't acknowledge her despite a past friendly conversations!
And your workplace sounds really toxic. I think given your boss's consistent mis-characterization of your friendship/platonic flirtation, even if Jess IS interested you're going to get raked over the coals if you pursue it. Your boss will gossip about it and imply impropriety. You will have no privacy and might lose your standing in your workplace (whether social or hierarchical).
Also, your characterization of Jess as "not entirely single" makes me uncomfortable. I know a lot of people who use "partner" for their spouse/serious significant other, as an attempt to be egalitarian, acknowledge seriousness despite legal commitment, or avoid childish terms like "boyfriend" when they are grown adults. I used partner consistently before my wife and I were married, because it was an accurate, gender-neutral, non-infantilizing word for the commitment level of our relationship that didn't lay claim to legal marriage. If she has a partner, she is not single, full stop, and until she discloses anything about the openness of that relationship, it is serious and sacrosanct.
Crushes can be torture, but be careful not to see every interaction through your rose-colored crush glasses. Enjoy your admiration and butterflies for what they are: sweet, exciting, and probably not returned or going anywhere. And maybe consider trying to meet some actual out, available women to direct your admiration and crushes at; it's a lot safer and more satisfying when you aren't risking your job, a friendship, and stepping over the boundaries of someone else's relationship.
I am going to have to agree with @lorienczhiu - I don't see a lot of evidence that the big boss is even remotely interested in you.
It can be very easy in relationships - either romantic or friendships, to assume that the other person wants the same thing that we want. In many cases, that can be a faulty assumption that leads to a lot of hurt feelings. One person might be thinking 'wow, I am so in love with this cute girl' and the other person is thinking 'it's just a harmless flirtation and nothing more.'
There are plenty of cases of someone mistaking being friendly or a little flirtly with being romantically interested. And there are plenty of cases where someone likes being on the recieving end of an ego stroke, but does not want anything more than some compliments and a little flirting.
Everything you have described about the big boss could be 1) someone who seeks you out because they value your candor about work 2) someone who is friendly and maybe feels a little isolated at work 3) someone who has strong female friendships - and no, I don't mean in a closeted or gay way 4) someone who appreciates the ego stroke of some attention, but has no desire to act on it.
Honestly, telling you that she has a partner - a male partner at that - seems like a big, giant, neon sign way to friend zone you. I have certainly used this tactic - name dropping that I have a wife to brush back overly flirtatious people. (Why do people never check for wedding rings anymore? Can someone tell me this?) But I digress. Name dropping a partner pretty clearly sets a boundary by exclusion - "I am in a commited relationship and therefore exclude anyone else as a sexual / romantic partner."
I have had people (mostly men, occasionally women) ignore it when I dropped the big "I have a wife" bomb. The attitude among men seems creepy and patronizing - I know better than you what you want and what you want is to be with a man.
However subconsciously, you are displaying a bit of this attitude with her. She has chosen to partner with a man, she has chosen to name drop said partnership. You have no evidence that she is bi / gay / closeted / unhappy with her relationship / is in an open relationship. Yet you are here asking advice, wondering if maybe you should ask her to lunch, etc... No, no you shouldn't ask her to lunch. No, no you don't. Have a chance with her. If she is secretly closeted and / or unhappy with her partner, it is up to her to come out, break things off with him, etc... It is not up to you to second guess her choices and try to move in on her.
Second, you may not work directly under her, but if you are in her chain of command - it is still a very volitile situation for you. Big, Big Bosses can still over ride little bosses and cut positions / budgets / reassign staff / give bad recommendations, etc.... Additionally, harrasment doesn't just flow top down Underlings can sexually harrass bosses - unwanted advances are unwanted advances. You don't want to be sitting in HR's office getting the "don't hit on your boss" speech / punishment anymore than you want to be in there getting the "don't hit on your work peer" speech / punishment.
The situation is already weird with the Big Boss knowing what a jerk your immediate boss is to everyone but doing nothing about it. And the little boss being controlling, possessive and spreading rumors about you. Those kind of rumors can kill your career and undermine your reputation and effectiveness. Plus, jealous little boss is pretty likely to retaliate against you in some shitty way (rumors, set you up to fail, unfair evaluations, can't win project assignments).
If it was me - I would consult with a lawyer, document everything, back as far away from the big boss as I could and start looking for a new job. Granted, I tend to be risk adverse - but little boss really sets off my alarm bells.
Thank goodness I posted this because I definitely got the kicking I was speaking of and sincerely, all of the responses were exactly what I needed to hear.
Heard. I made plans on healthy coping/dealing which did not really work 100% on the first day after being back to work but tomorrow's another day.
You're all right regarding my rose-colored glasses. I need to start seeing through my regular glasses. I value this relationship because we do have a great connection/chemistry AT/regarding WORK, sharing the same vision, passion and work ethic. I don't think staying completely away from her is the way I'm going to take. However, I will definitely cut down on personal convos, minimize or completely eliminate "running into each other" and raise my awareness regarding boundaries.
I must say though, brain over heart is definitely not always easy. I envy all who have responded because certainly, it's not easy to just put your feelings aside all the time, whether or not they're "real". I get it though. It makes sense and it's not something that I never thought of. I did not ask her out. I did not kiss her. I did not make any advances. But I did mirror her. I do admire her life story and I admire a lot of her qualities and her mere simplicity. No, I did not check her out. It was never a physical attraction. Those are easy to overcome. This definitely did not happen overnight and I had no intention of ever liking her or anyone else I work with. The fact that it has taken almost a year to get here does not make it easy to just drop in an instant. But I will work on it. Not for the sake of "career" but for doing what's right.
Thank you, everyone!
You get to admire her! And I don't think anyone is thinking you can turn your feelings off. And you know yourself best - whether you need to pull back to remain professional and enforce a boundary. But the option isn't "no feelings or full-on staff room makeouts."
The thing about crushes is that they are fantasy. They are fun and harmless as long as you recognize that. My tactic is to let the feelings be what they are, to notice the odd things your body does when you like and admire someone ("huh, that wobbly feeling in my belly is just so interesting"), to see the way your mind wanders onto the topic of her and then gently to help it wander away. It's not bad or creepy for you to like someone, to experience what that feels like in your body, to recognize it and then to let it go. It is okay to think a coworker is the bee's knees, to want to be around and friends with people who are great.
Lots of times in my professional life, I have had feelings of intense admiration that felt pretty crush-like; this is usually a sign to me that I should get to know someone better, because they are someone who I connect and work well with. Almost always, these people are in relationships, straight, or unavailable - which has been almost freeing, because I don't have to think it being "real" or not. It's not romance, it's admiration, friendship, deep mutual respect. I've never had a relationship or overt flirtation come out of one of these situations, precisely because I recognized that a crush did not have to mean I had a crush on a manager of mine for years. She was smart and competent and funny and gorgeous, and I just admired the hell out of her. I never wanted it to be anything but admiration and friendship - she was straight and a number of years older than me, and I was maybe 19 so that mattered - and just enjoyed the hell out of following her lead during events, chatting over dinner afterwards, discussing our careers during retreats. The work I did for her was amazing, because I found her inspiring and fun and wanted her to think well of me.
If you can't be friends with this person without straying towards romance territory - for sure, dial it back and let space make your boundary for you. But just because we are queer does not mean that we can't experience gray-area friend crushes, admire people, and still get to be around their awesomeness.