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TherapistMaryAnn, Counselor
Category: Relationship
Satisfied Customers: 5809
Experience:  Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues
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For Kate McCoyHello Kate, just following up

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For Kate McCoy Hello Kate, I'm just following up on my two previous questions, which I assume you can still see. Again, I'm feeling unsure of how this relationship is developing, and need your "interpretation" of some of the things this lady is doing. Basically, since December, I have been trying to touch her a lot more at work and when we go out, such as on the arm, shoulder, and back. When we have been out, several times I have put my arm around her shoulder to emphasize a point I am making, and then let my arm drop to her waist, and we continue walking with my arm around her waist for maybe 5 to 10 seconds. She has never given any sign that she was uncomfortable with this. On the contrary, on two occasions she has tilted her head over so that it was resting on my shoulder as we walked, again for maybe 5 seconds. Once after work when she was feeling down, I took her hand as I talked, and held it for maybe 10 - 15 seconds. She didn't try to take her hand away, but lifted her other hand and held mine with both of hers. A few days later, again she was dealing with issues with her ex., and as we talked I ran my hand through her hair several times, then let my hand rest in her hair at the base of her neck. She showed no sign of discomfort nor of wanting to move away. Another step in the last weeks has been her arranging or texting me for us to meet on Saturday for a drink at midday, which turned into a 3-hour lunch the second time. We've never met up at weekends before (unless in a group), and as before she asked me to keep these "dates" a secret. Finally, we agreed to go into the office on Good Friday to deal with some backlogged issues, and I took her out for lunch afterwards - significantly, this time she told her best friend that she was having lunch with me. To my knowledge, this is the first time she has admitted to her friend that we have been together alone (i.e.. not within a group). The following week she was super happy, and repeated a slightly odd behaviour; when we have been insulting each other (in a friendly way) she takes a step towards me, and gives me a body check - almost a shoulder charge. It would be enough to knock me over if I didn't see it coming. She's done this a few times before, once in an elevator when I really had the feeling she was waiting for me to kiss her - but that could just have been me! Last night we were supposed to go to a sushi restaurant with her best friend, but she had to cancel when her baby sitter fell through; so I went out with her best friend anyway, and she told me how so many of our clients think that my friend and I are either married or in a relationship already; then she said maybe my friend and I should just get married anyway to dispel all the speculation! I think she was being flippant, as she didn't return to the subject. Can you tell me what her behaviours say to you? I'm really worried that she just regards XXXXX XXXXX a really good friend, and nothing more. I guess if I just continue to slowly escalate the touching and the invitations to go out, there will come a point where she would make it clear that she doesn't want to go any further? She is very aware that her job depends on me, (actually, she is my employee) and I know she would be scared of offending me. It's very complicated! She is 37, I am 52. Thank you so much for your opinions, I appreciate it.

Hello, it's nice to hear from you!

Her behavior definitely says she is interested in you. No one allows another person to touch them in ways that you have touched her unless they have feelings about that person. Your point about her being an employee and not wanting to offend you is something to be aware of. And that would be a factor if she tried to tell you no or moved away when you attempted to be closer to her. But at this point, she has shown no signs she is uncomfortable with what you are doing (and you are paying attention for signs, which is great). She actually has shown the opposite, she is very interested in what you are doing. For example, when you have hugged her around the waist she has a few options in how she reacts. She could pull away easily, she could push you away or she could just let you hug her. But instead she puts her head on your shoulder. That is an expression of her agreement to what you are doing and an acknowledgment that she feels the same.

Also, running your hands through her hair is a very intimate gesture. Hair is known as an erogenous zone which means that it is very personal to be allowed to touch someone's hair. The fact that she let you touch her hair and seemed to enjoy it tells you she likes being close to you and maybe is willing to be closer.

The contact you both have with each other is telling as well. Having long lunches and conversations means you both communicate very well, a sign of a good, solid relationship. Some people become a couple based only on physical attraction but it sounds like your relationship is deeper and more well rounded.

Her comments about her friend being with you are telling as well. She sounds almost insecure in what she said. For one, she was interested enough in you having lunch with her friend to find out other people's opinion of what happened. Two, she made sure to let you know what she felt about it. And three, after the relationship you have had so far, she shows no signs of wanting to stop being together which only means that her comments are probably jealousy. She has feelings for you and to see those feelings threatened by you being with another person may make her want to test you to see how you would react to her comment about having a relationship with her friend. By testing you, she can see how you react and if there truly is any threat to your relationship.

Overall, it sounds like she is reacting like she is very interested in your relationship going even further and is fearful that it is threatened by your interest in her friend, even if that interest was only superficial and not romantic. It may help to reassure her that at this point, you are very interested in staying with her and continuing your relationship. That way, she knows how you feel and is more willing to open up to you.


PS I need to sign off for a bit to be somewhere but I will be back later to respond if you have any follow up questions.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Hi Kate,

thank you for the explanations! I appreciate it.

I think there may have been a little misunderstanding with the lunch date and the failed dinner date. The woman I have the relationship with is called "J.". Her best friend, who also works in our office, is called "L.". So far, J. has asked me to keep almost all of our 1-on-1 meetings a secret from L., because she was concerned that L. would make an issue out of getting too close to the "boss". A while ago, L. actually asked J. if she thought it was "healthy" to have such a close relationship with me!

Anyway, as far as the Good Friday lunch went, that was the first occasion when my lady J. actually told her best friend L. that I was taking J. out to lunch. For me, this represented a significant development, because J. was finally admitting to someone that J. and I were having a "date" as opposed to just a few drinks after work. She didn't say how L. reacted.

The other issue was last night, when I was supposed to be taking both J. and L. out for dinner. My lady J. decided not to come when she had trouble with her babysitter, and there seemed to be some tension in the air between J. and L. So the three of us went for a quick drink after work, then my lady J. had to leave, and her best friend L. and I went round a few other bars, then went for dinner. This was the point at which L. told me about so many clients assuming that J. and I are already in a relationship, and that maybe J. and I should just get married to stop the speculation. L. herself is already married with 2 small children. I hope I explained that a bit better! One thing is certain - L. is at least a little jealous of my lady J., because J. attracts a lot of attention wherever she goes.

One other thing that's happened twice, that I found almost unnerving; on 2 occasions J. said she felt something in her hair and asked me to look. Both times, when I looked and then ran my hand through her hair slowly to check, she looked down, nodded her head slightly forwards and to the side, towards my hand - almost like an old labrador when you rub its ear. I was startled, because I expected her to keep looking at me as I checked her hair, but both times there was that drop of the eyes, and the head movement. It didn't happen the last time, but my hand was resting in her hair for a good 15 seconds, at the base of her neck, as we talked. This was in a public bar, whereas the other 2 times we had been alone.

Sorry for the long posts - just trying to explain circumstances! This has been a long, slow road, and at times it's felt like 2 steps forwards and then 1 step back. Each time J. shows a bit more interest, the following week she's a bit quieter, then maybe 2 weeks later something will happen that takes the relationship up a notch again. Then a step back, then a while later up 2 notches again!

I'm pretty sure J. is interested in me, but what's holding her back now is letting the relationship out into the open. Her ex. has already seen us leaving work, me with my arm around her, and he gave J. a hard time about that, so it's not easy for her.

I think my next step is to directly ask J. out for dinner on her own (after all, I've just taken her best friend out!), and at that time try to discuss how we can see each other more, without affecting our working relationship. I don't want to ask her directly if she likes me, for two reasons; first, it looks "needy", and second, it doesn't give her a way out. On the other hand, if I talk about wanting to see her a lot more because I enjoy being with her (I've already told her this), then she has the chance to agree up front, but simply make herself "unavailable" if she doesn't want to take things further.

What do you think?

Many thanks once again, I really appreciate your opinions.


Thank you Dave for the further explanation of the situation between J and L. It makes it more clear.

It sounds like L is concerned with your relationship with J and that might be part of why J is moving away some after you both are together (the "on and off" you experience with her interest). She not only has L who is most likely telling her about her "concerns" and maybe showing jealousy regarding your relationship and how it affects work, but J also has her ex who seems to have an odd interest in her life and a lack of boundaries with her after their separation. So J is trying to be with you, but she has two people in her life with inappropriate attention to every bit of interest she shows with you. THat does not make it easy for her to relax and enjoy your relationship. Given that, it makes sense how she pulls back sometimes. She might be getting a reaction from L and her ex. Or it could be her own doubts because of the interference L and her ex are creating.

That also affects how much she can show you of herself. Anyone who has others criticizing or commenting on their behavior is going to be affected by that, especially if they do not feel free to ignore that interference in their business. J may also be getting pressure from her co workers (even through looks or comments) about her relationship with you. Offices tend to be rumor mills and there is little you can do about that.

Asking her out on her own seems like a natural next step. Asking her to see you more will not only let you express your interest, but her response will help you know more about how she feels as well.


TherapistMaryAnn and other Relationship Specialists are ready to help you
Thank you so much Dave for the positive rating and bonus! I appreciate it. It sounds like your relationship with J is progressing very well and it is encouraging how she is reacting to your interest in her. It seems that the only thing holding her back is the interference from L and her ex and the doubt it probably causes for her in her work and with her ex. Hopefully, it will get easier for her as your relationship progresses.

Let me know how things go!


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