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Suzanne
Suzanne, Therapist, LCSW
Category: Relationship
Satisfied Customers: 919
Experience:  Experienced in treating trauma, relationship issues, co-dependency
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I have a co-worker with whom I became friendly and began talking

Customer Question

<p>I have a co-worker with whom I became friendly and began talking frequently. The conversations, however, seldom veered into personal topics. She must have heard from others that I have a live-in girlfriend; sometime later I found out that my co-worker had started seeing a guy regularly. </p><p>While our conversations never delved into our private lives, I thought that my coworker’s body language suggested that she was attracted to me: she continuously ran her fingers through her hair, touched me occasionally, sat rather close to me, etc. She kept asking repeatedly about my weekend plans. On a few occasions she commented that we were lucky to have met each other or something to that effect.</p><p> I concluded that this woman must have suffered some sort of emotional trauma and didn’t have the willingness or the skills to elevate the flirting to a higher level. As to the body language suggesting attraction, I attributed that either she was doing it subconsciously, or simply was yanking my chain and was craving for attention. I also found her contradictory behavior somewhat emotionally taxing. I sensed that there was something neurotic and codependent about her. So I started acted warmly but in a rather aloof manner. </p><p>Lately, I began noticing that my co-worker has started giving me the cold shoulder. I find myself in a psychically vexing situation: if her earlier body language was genuine, I would like to provide an acknowledgement and appreciation for her feelings. Then I would like to end the tension and tell her that while she and I are currently tied up with someone else, if both of us become available in the future, we should get together and give it a go. In essence, I’m looking for a thank-you-maybe-later-when-things-are-more-clear approach. </p><p>This, I’m hoping, would acknowledge that 1) I’m reciprocating her feelings toward me, 2) boost her self esteem, 3) end the whole thing on a happy note. I’m not exactly sure how to get her to reveal her true feelings toward me, though. I tried humor and she became very cagey and confessed that she plays it close to the vest. If I ask her straightforwardly whether she is interested in me she might panic, and attribute this to a huge misunderstanding on my part. I can directly ask her out, of course, but I’m not ready for a steady relationship with her. I just don’t think my entering into her life – without serious commitments on my part – would be emotionally healthy for her. </p><p>So there is this palpable tension between us and for some reason this is taking a toll on me. I could, of course, move on without broaching the subject. But somehow this does not seem the right options: I feel that I have to talk to her and say something soothing. </p><p>But I don’t exactly how to say it without digging a deeper hole. Basically, how do I convey that we both seem to be attracted to each other -- without providing her an opportunity to deny it and make me look like a fool -- but lets not jump into it right now and do it when we both are unattached.</p><p> </p>
Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: Relationship
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
Relist: No answer yet.
Expert:  Suzanne replied 4 years ago.

Thanks for writing to JustAnswer.

 

I see that you want to find a way to tell her,"thanks, XXXXX XXXXX but maybe later." May I suggest that you re-think this?

 

If you want to perhaps someday be in a relationship with her, do you really want her to think you are the kind of guy who is lining up his next relationship while he's still in a committed relationship? Most women would take this as a red flag.

 

There seems to be a lot of mental energy being spent on what was essentially a friendship, which has apparently now cooled (with her giving you the cold shoulder).

 

She could have seen you as a safe friend, as you are also in a relationship. Her playing with her hair could be a nervous habit. If your conversation never delved into your private lives, the chances are good that she liked you as a friend, but had no further intentions. You changing the dynamic by acting "warm, but aloof" would be very confusing to her if that were the case. You worrying that her self esteem would be affected by something you say is a bit premature...especially since she's seeing someone.

 

This is not what you wanted to hear, but it seems like you're trying to have your cake and eat it too... You're in a relationship, she's in a relationship. There is no "thing" to be ended on a happy note. You had a casual work friendship until you started reading body language and I think there's a good chance you read it wrongly. The fact that she didn't "elevate the flirting to a higher level" could also mean that she has good boundaries and doesn't believe in flirting when she's involved with someone, or when she's talking with someone who's in a relationship.

 

I'm sure this is not what you wanted to hear, but I think the chance of you embarrassing yourself by making an issue of this is too risky. And because this is a co-worker, you might leave yourself open to a sexual harassment complaint. She has backed off from the friendship...this is not the time to be stirring things up.

 

This is one time when doing nothing is truly your best course of action.

Suzanne

 

 

 

 

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Thanks for your reply,

 

But I think that somehow I didn't make my point more clearly. I thint that my premise -- that she would have liked my attention -- is correct. I'm not basing my observations on body language alone; similarly, I'm neither self-infatuated nor self-absorbed. Case in point, once she suggested that we travel to another state together (which I kind of brushed aside). Could she have suggesting that we take a vacation together as mere "friends." Somehow I don't think so!

 

So there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that she was/is seeking romantic attention. My question is how do I tell her that while I value her tremendously as a human being and a member of the opposite sex, the reason I'm not making any overtures is the complicated situation that both of us are in.

 

Thank you.

Expert:  Suzanne replied 4 years ago.

Thanks for the additional information.

 

That certainly does put another spin on the situation, which is quite different than how it originally read.

 

Since I can't think of a better way to put it than you just did:...

 

"I value you as a human being and woman, but because we're both in relationships I don't dare express how I am beginning to feel about you. If at some time in the future both our situations change, I hope we get the chance to see where this might go."....

 

I will bow out and let someone else take a go at it, now that more information is available..

Suzanne

 

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Thanks, XXXXX XXXXX all due respect, and just like you said, "you didn't put it any better way than I did."

If you could pass this on to someone else, I'd really appreciate it.

Customer: replied 4 years ago.
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