Smash Talks: Love Thy Co-Worker (!?)

Ashera is a Marriage and Family Therapist with an extensive background in sexual health education. You can ask her stuff anonymously and she won’t get weirded out. Seriously, try her. Send your queries through our anonymous contact form here.

Dear Ashera,

Maybe you can help me. I don’t know what to do — if I should do anything, that is.

I’m in love with a co-worker of mine and have been for some time now, at least a year, and I’ve known this person for a few years. I cherish our friendship so I don’t want to tell her how I really feel because I don’t want to ruin anything or make anything awkward. She has a boyfriend and also hooks up with other guys, which I’m used to knowing about at this point so it doesn’t bother me much because I love her as a person. I don’t want to hook up with her because I respect her boyfriend and because I don’t want to be another number, or ruin our awesome friendship. As time goes on I notice I think about her more and more, and even feel overexcited when I see her. I think she might have a crush on me as well but I’m not 100% sure. So, what do YOU think? Should I do anything about it or just let it ride out and see what happens in the years to come?

I was thinking about hanging out with another girl around her to see if she’d be jealous, as cruel as that sounds, but I feel like it’s the only way to know how she really feels about me.

Thanks for reading my pathetic sounding story that I thought couldn’t happen to me, but life seems to never cease throwing curve balls. : p

Sincerely, and with Love,

– A

Dear A,

It sounds like you’re in an especially tricky situation, seeing as you’ve hit a triple whammy of Confusing Love Interest, At Work, Already Partnered. Let’s break this down bit by bit and see if we can get a little clarity, shall we?

The fact that you work together is the most concerning for me. While it works out for Jim & Pam in The Office, it has a very real potential to go pear-shaped if you do act on it. Generally, mixing business and romance is frowned upon, especially if there is an unequal amount of power in your workplace between the two of you. Even if you do have a fling, there’s a potential for drama if things don’t work out in the long run, i.e.: the rumor mill.

If your feelings are strong for this person, it may be wise to put some distance between yourselves. Are you able to move to a different location, branch, or shift? While it’s clear you want to see her, that feeling can wear thin, as right now it appears that you can’t have what you want. Are there any steps you can take to keep work at work?

Her already being partnered is another hurdle. Her indiscretions seem to be her business in your eyes, which is a good boundary to keep, in my opinion. Sabotaging her relationship to get closer to her would really fuck up any chances you have to ever be with her. I am glad you’re being respectful of her relationship, even if she is not always. You’re right to be cautious about just hooking up with her. If you want more than sex, it would be even more hurtful to sleep with her and then have her go back to someone else. Like, truly devastating.

As far as bringing another person around “just to see,” I would tread carefully. The potential third party did not consent to this and it’s really douchey to put someone in that situation. This could also really backfire for you, as your beloved might just end up being friendly with the third party and trying to reinforce your (fake) love interest. This has B-movie drama written all over it.

I can’t really tell you what you should do, as I don’t respond well to directives and I don’t think other people do, either. I think it might be a good idea to step back from this person and focus on you for a little bit. If her relationship ends, then having a conversation about it could be helpful. This is what it comes down to: is the pain you’re experiencing right now by just being her friend more or less devastating than losing the friendship? If you’re just slowly building up resentment and hurt, then saying, “Hey, I’ve developed feelings for you and it’s confusing and painful so I can’t be in contact with you right now,” is a legit thing to say. It’s painful as fuck, but giving yourself time away can help.

Time and space can heal you. Take care of yourself right now.


On that note, here are some related Smash Talks!

Smash Talks: A Friendship Fracas

Smash Talks: Caught in the Middle

Smash Talks: Monogamish Mess

Smash Talks: Hella Jelly