I started a new job 3+ months and I’m in my early 30’s in a LTR (4+ years) and the male, married co-worker is in his early to mid 40s. My bf is around my coworker’s age. We both hold senior positions, but he has more work experience than I do (obviously because he is older than me). Before you start judging, please hear me out!
My new boss has partnered me up with two senior people on her team to help guide me through several large projects and learn more about the company (policies/procedures/culture). So one of the two guys, I’ll call Joe, is extremely smart, witty, charming, and good-looking! The day I was partnered up with him, I knew right away he liked me. Some things that happened over the past 2 months include the following:
• long, long staring contests
• huge smiles
• passing by my cube a lot (my cube faces a hallway)
• mirroring my body language A LOT
• he twirls his hair all the time when I’m in a meeting with him (unless in a room with upper mgmt.)
• he always hooks his fingers in his belt buckle, tucks his shirt in when it’s already tucked --- preening all the time!
• when I’m too busy to join a b-day celebration, he comes back with a slice of cake or goodie for me
• He helps me all the time with work questions all the time in-person/email/IM in a timely manner
• Sits on my desk (showing his ahem) to help me out
• He’s complimented on my new haircut
• We joke about random things a lot
• He teases me in meetings
• Sits really close to me in meetings or in my cube
• Run into me accidentally
• There were many times where I was laughing while talking to other people and I swear it seemed like he was scoping me out to see WHO is talking to me.
So all those are typical signs (and there’s others too) but I knew he liked me when only after the 2nd or 3rd time we had a meeting, he asked what am I doing for the weekend and I told him I’m doing smthg with my boyfriend and he asked me to repeat what I said, so I told him (he heard me the first time). he also told me he used to exercise during lunch with other coworkers but they no longer work for the company so he indirectly asked me and I said I would be too smelly afterwards to go back to work (this is when we started working together).
fast forward to now (2 months later) and I realized in the past two weeks, he’s been very distant with me and I can’t seem to gather what it exactly is. He just went cold all of a sudden and this worries me (just hear me out).
You see, beyond what I listed above about reasons why I think he likes me, we’ve never “verbally” flirted in a sexual manner, nor touched each other (like hands/arms/back), not even had lunch together, etc. I see him as my mentor and an office crush. We just enjoyed each other’s company and spoke of mostly work (we know little of each other on the personal side). If anything, I feel he “wanted” me more than I “wanted” him, but I think we are both equally attracted to one another, BUT we know we are at work and he’s married and I’m with someone. However, he started doing the following things, which I found weird because he would not do that before:
• In my email communications to people, I usually cc him because he’ll let me know if I’m on track or not. Before, if I didn’t do smthg right or he has suggestions, he would stop by my cube or contact me via our instant messenger system to let me know. NOW, he will only respond to my e-mail or rarely, ask me to call him. He only sits 30 – 40 feet away from my cube. It’s not that far!
• His timing of responses to my questions via e-mail are delayed and in the past he’s told me to include him in all the meetings so he can help me out and now he just doesn’t show up to the meetings (maybe he feels I’m capable of handling the meetings myself?).
• In the mornings, when I run into him I’ll say good morning and when I say that now, he’ll respond back and walk away and DOESN’T make eye contact nor pause to acknowledge that i said good morning, which I find rude and the WAY he says good morning just doesn’t sound the same anymore
• When he walks by my cube, he doesn’t even say “hi” or acknowledge that I’m there, even though I am looking right at him and my cube faces a hallway. I want to say “hey” like I normally do, but he keeps looking straight ahead, BUT I see him giving me the side eye look to see if I’m looking (and I am). However, he doesn’t say one word – it feels pretty rude.
• Usually after his meetings, he’ll stop by to see me and he doesn’t do that anymore.
Sooo, my concern now is that I NEED to continue to learn from him to better understand how this company works and the politics. My boss partnered me up with him for a reason – per my boss, “Joe” is the best person to learn from – he’s been in the department the longest and knows everyone. How am I supposed to learn if he’s distant from me? I don’t even feel like his co-worker anymore, I feel like we’ve never met before – this is upsetting to me since most of the people in the department are introverts and I haven’t found a lunch buddy yet and i haven't learned about the company enough to stand on my own two feet to run my own projects.
I’m thinking IF I should ask him in a casual way, if he is “okay” or not. Should I? OR, should I let him be and not even react to his behavior (but how would I learn from him – my boss is expecting me to learn a lot from him for the next 6 months or so)? I am also thinking that when I do have questions for him in the next week or so and I ask him (via e-mail since he doesn’t respond well in-person anymore it seems) and he doesn’t respond at all, then that would be a problem for me and I would need to bring it to his attention. I don’t want to come accross like “I’m worried” about him (when I really am), but I want to ensure that my career isn’t impacted by his odd behavior. For all I know, he could be playing “hard to get” and senses that I like him. Could he?
It’s only been 2 weeks like this. I know he’s not that busy with work either. I feel like I did or said something wrong, but I know I haven’t. Maybe he feels guilty of “liking me” as HIS office crush? OR maybe he has personal problems that came up ( I noticed that he’s had a few “doctor’s” appointments in the past few weeks…his calendar is open to everyone)? I don’t think other people in the office has caught on that he liked me (before). Also, i really haven't seen him lately interacting with others so i can't tell if his behavior with me is consistent with other people in the office. EVERYONE in our department of 80ish ppl like him A LOT so to NOT be on at least a common, working ground with him would be career suicide for me. he hasn't done anything to "ruin" my career, he's just distant.
how should i approach this situation without hurting our professional relationship?