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situation with my colleague

(978 Posts)
MortalEnemy Thu 21-Sep-17 19:05:21

Let me start by saying that I am over 40, but if I sound like the most clueless of teenagers, that is because I am in relationships terms -- I was with the same man from my teens until a couple of years ago, and as I've been single since, and am the busy working parent of a demanding small child with no evening childcare, as a result I have pretty much zero experience of relationships, flirting etc.

Which is why I'm finding this confusing and talking to a bunch of strangers on the internet about it.

I've been in my current job at a large organisation (being deliberately vague) for just over a year. Over the last two or three months, I've found myself feeling close to a colleague from another department with whom I have intermittent meetings/dealings, after only vaguely registering him as a nice guy before that. Recently we seem to end up drifting together at any events we're both at, and falling into conversations which end up often being very long and wide-ranging, and often end up hovering by the lifts or in the corridor talking more, if it's something at the end of the day.

I thought I was overthinking this while I was away over the summer, but now it seems to be becoming more frequent, if anything, and the conversations more personal. It's a busy period at work, with a weekend event and a conference we both had to attend, and in the last five workdays alone, we must have spent four or five hours talking at a reception/on the way out of the building/on the way to the car park. I'm finding myself thinking about him more and more, and realised I find him attractive. He's 48, clever, funny, observant, and kind, and apparently amiably divorced, but clearly a besotted and very involved father to teenagers.

The issue, I suppose is that I'm completely confused about what this means. The last time I was in this situation I was 18, pretty and confident, and I was falling in love with the man I married. Now I am in my 40s, no looker, and my confidence has taken a big knocking for various reasons in the last five years, when I found parenthood tough, my career foundered, my marriage ended and I haven't been particularly happy -- my marriage was celibate for the last few years, and I have not thought of myself as someone who could be considered attractive for a very long time. I also have none of the basic comprehension of men that an average, single 40something woman has. At some level I am terrified, but mostly what I feel is as though I'm a beginner at a language everyone else seems to speak fluently.

How on earth do you know if someone reciprocates your feelings? How can you tell the difference between someone who likes you as a workmate and someone who is developing stronger feelings for you? I have butterflies. I'm off my food. When someone says his name I get a rush of pleasure. I am a teenager in the body of a 42 year old professional.

I realise this probably sounds like a complete non-problem to anyone with experience of adult dating, but despite being a functioning adult I am absolutely unable to conceive that anyone would find me attractive, and while we gravitate to one another when we encounter one another at work and can't stop talking, it's always 'accidental'. He's very self-deprecating, and I sense he's been out of the game for a while, too. I'm especially wary because presuming something about a workmate could have horrible consequences. Also, we're both originally from the same country, though have lived in the UK most of our adult lives, so I wonder whether this might just be nostalgia for 'home' from him. But then I think of all the times when an hour suddenly melted away just standing in the corridor, and the fact that he remembers absolutely everything I tell him.

Thank you for struggling through this -- any advice? How does this sound to you? What would you do? A bit of me hopes you will all say 'predictable office crush all in your head-- no basis in reality, no need to do anything'.

girlwhowearsglasses Thu 21-Sep-17 19:11:03

Ooh I hope it works out...

I'd be terrible at this too, so someone will come along, but it sounds promising to me! Especially if you're both single.


Nuttynoo Thu 21-Sep-17 19:13:51

Does he ask you to go out of the office for coffee or lunch? Does he casually touch you? I think if he does these two then you should ask him out, the worst he can say is no.

BR62Y Thu 21-Sep-17 19:24:14

I think for one you are overthinking it!

Many people don't have a great deal of relationship experience. It is a bit like riding a bike though. Being divorced in your 30's and 40's is not as uncommon now as it once was. In fact it is pretty common.

If a man is spending more time with you and gravitating towards you then there is a good chance he is interested too unless you are completely misreading it.

MortalEnemy Thu 21-Sep-17 19:27:50

girlYou see, I find it terrifying that a random stranger on the internet thinks it's a viable thing!

nutty, no, never. In fairness, it's not really a lunchtime-having kind of workplace -- it's not a very sociable environment compared to my last place of work. I literally don't know anyone who takes a lunchbreak, or goes out of the office for coffee -- people have their own offices and have kettles and presumably sandwiches from home? --, or even hangs around in shared space, chatting.

I was about to say he doesn't casually touch me -- then again, half the time at the moment, we're both carrying stuff when we meet -- but he does mirror my body language and if we're walking somewhere together, our arms are brushing. The only time I've deliberately touched him was when I had been away on holiday and came back to find out his father had just died, and he was just back from the funeral in our home country -- and honestly, I think the fact that I gave him a hug was genuinely more from shock that no one at work seemed to know about this. (Very different attitude to death in our home country to the UK.)

I could never ask him out, because if he said no I would die for years.

MortalEnemy Thu 21-Sep-17 19:30:48

If a man is spending more time with you and gravitating towards you then there is a good chance he is interested too unless you are completely misreading it.

BR I worry I am completely misreading it, because I feel like such an amateur. This is why I feel about 17 and clueless, and as if everyone else has done a degree in a subject I've never even heard of...

MortalEnemy Thu 21-Sep-17 19:32:14

And I know more people are divorced -- that's not the unusual bit, it's the fact that I've only been with one man since my late teens, so I do have unusually little experience.

dishwasher71 Thu 21-Sep-17 19:35:43

I don't think you should ask him out, no, until and unless you are a lot more sure that he would say yes. Otherwise it will be very embarrassing for you both and you would potentially lose what seems like a nice friendship.

You need to find out if he's dating anyone. Can you ask subtly?

badbadhusky Thu 21-Sep-17 19:38:11

Seeing as you have so much in common and shared heritage, is there anything you coujd hang a non-date hang out off (eg "celebrate Bastille Day/Independence Day") and see if things take off outside a work setting?

SpongeBobJudgeyPants Thu 21-Sep-17 19:39:01

If you say 'do you fancy a coffee' then he can say yes or no. You have not risked much, and you have given him an opening, should he choose to take it. He may be waiting for some other signal from you. Worth the very small element of risk IMHO.

Monkeypuzzle32 Thu 21-Sep-17 19:39:33

it certainly sounds to me like he likes you-most men, in my experience, dont really do small talk unless you are working in really close proximity and have known each other a while, even then not that often.
Ask him what plans he has for the weekend or mention a local place youd like to visit or just be bold and say 'oh we'll have to go for a drink after work instead of chatting here'
You will only regret the things you dont do in life

pudding21 Thu 21-Sep-17 19:40:05

I will pass on some advice my very lovely friend says to me often "breathe darling, and enjoy the ride", I think you are overthinking it (I am a major overthinker). go with the flow and see what happens. Don't overthink!

MortalEnemy Thu 21-Sep-17 19:43:11

I'm absolutely never asking him out. I'd rather die than have to sit across from him in meetings afterwards. He's not seeing anyone. He's very open about his life, which is pretty much work and parenting. I know all about who broke his heart at university, and his relationships with his parents, now both dead, and what his daughters like doing, and a million other things.

idontknowyou Thu 21-Sep-17 19:43:33

I hope it works out for you.
You don't need to ask him out. Just carry on being friendly, he may be wondering the same as you. And when you have the chance cross over from colleague territory to friends territory like offer to get him a coffee, share a snack.
It's hard to read signals, I think maybe some people are more confident or thick skinned when approaching someone, your not clueless. Nobody can read minds.

Elenasparkles Thu 21-Sep-17 19:44:32

Maybe next time you find yourself chatting at the end of the day and time is 'melting' away, you could maybe say something along the lines of 'ooh look at the time, did you maybe want to go grab a quick coffee/drink and continue.. (whatever it is you were chatting about).. this then is a very informal and an off the cuff offer to take your chat outside the office but also if he says no then you've not "asked him out" and can just brush it off as a casual coffee as you were chatting away for so long. If he takes you up on the offer it should be a bit more clear wether this is just a friendly thing or if its a bit more..but if he says no, or is busy then you can leave the ball in his court (and he may genuinely be busy) potentially opening the gates for him to ask you for a drink after work at a time he is free. You say he is divorced so he too may feel like you do and be worried about overstepping a boundary or the same fears you have that it's a familiarity thing as your from the same country. Give it a go, nothing ventured nothing gained...good luck and let us know how it goes xx

Monkeypuzzle32 Thu 21-Sep-17 19:49:07

well then, you may well miss your chance with him. Life's too short.

MortalEnemy Thu 21-Sep-17 19:54:39

Sorry, x-post with a lot of people. We live really far apart -- we both commute a long distance to work from opposite directions, so casual meetings at the weekend aren't possible, and in any case would involve several children, and after work meetings are problematic for me for childcare reasons. Basically, I've got nothing after the after-school club ends. It's one of the oddities of where I live, a small village where the only people who seem to babysit are relatives who do it for their own extended families.

And honestly -- I realise I sound like I'm coming up with reasons to do nothing, which I probably am -- we've spent so much time just hanging around having met by accident, and our workplace is so unsociable, that asking him if he wants a coffee would be the equivalent of shouting I THINK I'M DEVELOPING FEELINGS FOR YOU.

girlwhowearsglasses Thu 21-Sep-17 19:57:01

So maybe you can contrive to do him a favour/ ask a favour - lend of a book/DVD/gadget, or ask for the favour... then when he/you returns book or whatever you could do a parting shot 'thanks, I owe you a coffee/you owe me a coffee' -see what the reaction is then? Do it so you're about to go so you don't get embarrassed...?

badbadhusky Thu 21-Sep-17 19:57:37

Well, you are - and its nothing to be ashamed of. I am amazed at how much you know about him. You clearly have a very open and frank friendship. Sounds like a good basis for more...

MortalEnemy Thu 21-Sep-17 20:01:19

I know, Monkey. And I realise I'm being irritating. I'm a generally confident, relatively high-flying professional, but I have no confidence in this kind of situation. I don't know how to think about a man with whom I've shared endless, very personal, very enjoyable conversations, but only ever when we're thrust together (sexual connotation unintended) by circumstances.

Apileofballyhoo Thu 21-Sep-17 20:13:16

No idea what your work is but could you dress up a bit more? Or really dress up because you are going somewhere straight from work? It might give him a push in the right direction.

If you were going on a date who would mind your DD?

Fishyfingers Thu 21-Sep-17 20:26:44

Is he actually single?
If a guy is into you he will treat you differently to others and will do you favours, going over and beyond polite/work mate.

If a guy is into you and is holding back, it could be either due to:

- being with/seeing someone .. you can find that out
- unsure of your feelings and interest in him .. you can amp the flirting
- knows you're interested but is too worried about work situation ?
- just wants sex, no relationships but unsure of how to say it .. would you be up for that? then drop hints too.

RaininSummer Thu 21-Sep-17 20:34:13

What you need is an invitation somewhere where you need a plus one. I guess if there is something developing he will grasp the nettle eventually.

MortalEnemy Thu 21-Sep-17 21:00:52

Apile, I just couldn't go on a night time date unless DD's father (involved but currently living abroad) happened to be here. Which also makes dressing up as if I'm going out probably look slightly mad, as my colleague knows my situation perfectly well. grin

Fishy, he's definitely single. He's an old-fashioned romantic, so I doubt he's angling for a FWB situation (anyway, would a colleague be the best choice???) I think I may need a flirting tutorial...

Shayelle Thu 21-Sep-17 21:05:09

Youre only 42. You sound lovely. Sounds like he think you might be lovely too grin

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