Should I tell my colleague I'm in love with him? (Illustration by Tess Emily Rodriguez)
She’s made all the mistakes, so you don’t have to… Ask Erin is a weekly advice column, in which Erin answers your burning questions about anything at all.
I have been at my company for three years now; I have really enjoyed my time there and made some great friendships.
Just over a year ago, a guy my age came to join my team.
We instantly clicked and became great friends.
We sit diagonally across from each other and are always talking, making jokes, emailing and texting each other if something funny happens, and flirting.
He has also always stared at me a lot, and if I'm honest, I have always been attracted to him and felt that he was attracted to me.
For the first eight months, there was another female colleague that sat next to me, and the three of us were all friends together. She used to occasionally make comments about him having feelings for me.
Since she left, he and I have been thrown even closer together. We will only go to after work events if the other one goes and will always sit together. We also flirt A LOT. He always defends me and takes my side at work, compliments me all the time (he voted for me as colleague of the year), tells me I'm his favorite and that he's my biggest fan.
The problem is that he has a girlfriend.
They started dating about two months after he joined work and the other day revealed that it was coming up on their one year anniversary. That knocked the wind out of me, made me realize that I'm completely in love with him and is making having to work with him quite painful. I'm trying hard to hide it, but I'm worried it's obvious.
He hardly ever talks about his girlfriend or posts about them on social media and they don't live together. When he does talk about her to other colleagues, he sometimes looks up at me to check my reaction. He is usually quite careful not to mention her to me. He is a real gentleman, and I know that he wouldn't want to cheat on his girlfriend. I don't want him to either.
I have realized that I've been waiting for it to fizzle out but now I'm worried that they may be getting serious and it's my fault for not saying anything.
I just need some impartial advice about what to do. Should I tell him how I feel? What if it's all in my head and he doesn't feel the same?
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This question is not so dissimilar from the one I had a couple of weeks ago (woman in love with a best friend who has a girlfriend). In this case, you work together, and he hasn’t crossed a line with you per se.
There are a few aspects to consider here.
First, I doubt this is all in your head.
That doesn’t mean he necessarily has romantic feelings for you. But, friend crushes do exist, ones in which there is no intention of crossing that threshold into romance. We’ve all had those friendships (with either sex or the in-betweens), which while platonic, consume us in a way similar to when we fall in love.
Next factor to consider: he has a girlfriend.
This is a big one. It doesn’t sound like you are at all interested in going there if he is involved with someone else. Good. Don’t change that.
(And yes, for the people who will inevitably comment that I am not considering the possibility of an open relationship…yes, that could be a possibility, but that doesn’t sound like what the writer of this email is looking for. As for the chap, I have no idea.)
Lastly, you work together.
You may have heard people joke about having a work spouse…it’s not such a joke! When we spend significant amounts of time with people at work, it is common to view them much in the way we would a partner, because they become a partner of sorts in that specific setting.
All of this to say that this scenario is common. But, also tricky. The last thing you want is to make your work environment feel even more uncomfortable. But, you know what will dispel that discomfort, even if it makes it temporarily awkward? Telling him how you feel.
You have nothing to lose. I know that some may disagree with me, as he is in a relationship and you could potentially be rejected, making things awkward at work.
But, trust me. Knowing is better than not knowing.
Murkiness is for the birds (Why do birds always get the crappy end of the stick?? Wow, I never knew!).
The worst case scenario here is that he says he doesn’t have romantic feelings for you. You won’t have lost anything other than the idea or possibility of romance.
If he does have feelings for you, perhaps he’ll get honest with the girlfriend, and you can start from a fresh place. That scenario also allows her to find someone who is not secretly pining for his coworker.
PLEASE, whatever happens, do not enter into any romantic dalliance with him unless he has broken things off with the girlfriend. I speak from experience here. I have been the impatient, selfish "other woman" who didn’t wait for the guy to break up with his girlfriend. It did not end well — for any of us.
Don’t let someone else’s cowardice push you into compromising your moral compass.
As with most situations, honesty is what will set you free from this. I know it is scary to open yourself up in that way — to risk rejection — but as with most things worth having in life, sometimes you have to take that leap, take that chance and see how the universe responds.
Good luck! And let me know how it goes!
The information within Ask Erin should in no way be interpreted as medical advice because I'm not a medical professional. But I am here to help — to share with you the wisdom I've gained after years of making mistakes. If you have a question for me about relationships, addiction, recovery, friendship, sex, consent, what I’m watching, Green Aventurine, or anything at all, use the contact form below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. As always, your anonymity is golden. xoxo