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Uncertain regarding my co-worker


WinterNights
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Hey there.

I'd really appreciate some dating advice. I'm a 26 year old girl. I started working at a new company in late November - and there's a guy my age. He's quite shy, at first his super chatty friend approached me and he just came along, not saying much. Only when his friend went on leave, he and I got to talk properly. He'd come to my desk every lunch break just to talk (and he's not the talkative type at all, he told me he doesn't know anyone because he never talks to people - apart from his chatty, friendly co-worker, he loves that guy and honestly, I think everyone does). He said he'd like to do a road trip next year and that I should come with him. A few days later he invited me to go to some sport's place (wall climbing) with his friend and his friend's girlfriend. He suggested we could go somewhere to eat afterwards. Sadly I was busy that day, so I had to decline. He gave me his number anyway. A few days later I wasn't in one day, the next day he immediately approached me and said he asked others about me, was told that I was sick and so he was quite worried.

Over the holidays, he went home for two weeks. The last time we met before he left was at his office, we ended up talking for an hour, just lightheaded fun stuff, but also about our home countries. Then he asked me if he could give me cheek kisses, "like we do at home". Now I know it's not uncommon to do that, but is it normal in this context? Did he "friend-zone" me by doing this? Or was he testing the waters, so to say? After the cheek kiss, we were both a bit speechless, just looking at each other, away, and back at each other. I'm really not sure what to think of this all. I wish I knew if he wanted a friendship or if he'd be interested in dating. Please let me know what you think, if you have any suggestions or ideas.

I might have to add, I have pretty much zero dating experience so I don't know the "signs", especially not in shy people. I was only in one serious relationship so far, that one lasted three years, but sadly didn't end well at all. Honestly, I didn't want to experience anything like that again, so I ruled out dating, I definitely wasn't actively searching for someone...but then I met him, and realised that I really like him. I'm scared that if I rush things or if I tell him I'd be interested without knowing that he is, too, I might ruin things.

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35 minutes ago, Wiseman2 said:

Be discreet about office romances. Act professional at work and keep socializing to outside of the office.

Do not blurt out feeling it's awkward. Or rush things. 

He seems to like you so step back and see if he asks you pout on a real one-on-one date.

Thanks for your reply and the advice you shared. You are right, even though it's a very open and welcoming environment at my workplace, one of the bosses actually noticed something and commented on it in a joking tone. Said she is very sorry to interrupt us, but she needs my attention for a moment. I immediately helped her, and then she smiled and basically said "now get back to whatever the both of you were doing" and winked at us. He didn't even know she was one of the bosses.

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49 minutes ago, WinterNights said:

Hey there.

I'd really appreciate some dating advice. I'm a 26 year old girl. I started working at a new company in late November - and there's a guy my age. He's quite shy, at first his super chatty friend approached me and he just came along, not saying much. Only when his friend went on leave, he and I got to talk properly. He'd come to my desk every lunch break just to talk (and he's not the talkative type at all, he told me he doesn't know anyone because he never talks to people - apart from his chatty, friendly co-worker, he loves that guy and honestly, I think everyone does). He said he'd like to do a road trip next year and that I should come with him. A few days later he invited me to go to some sport's place (wall climbing) with his friend and his friend's girlfriend. He suggested we could go somewhere to eat afterwards. Sadly I was busy that day, so I had to decline. He gave me his number anyway. A few days later I wasn't in one day, the next day he immediately approached me and said he asked others about me, was told that I was sick and so he was quite worried.

Over the holidays, he went home for two weeks. The last time we met before he left was at his office, we ended up talking for an hour, just lightheaded fun stuff, but also about our home countries. Then he asked me if he could give me cheek kisses, "like we do at home". Now I know it's not uncommon to do that, but is it normal in this context? Did he "friend-zone" me by doing this? Or was he testing the waters, so to say? After the cheek kiss, we were both a bit speechless, just looking at each other, away, and back at each other. I'm really not sure what to think of this all. I wish I knew if he wanted a friendship or if he'd be interested in dating. Please let me know what you think, if you have any suggestions or ideas.

I might have to add, I have pretty much zero dating experience so I don't know the "signs", especially not in shy people. I was only in one serious relationship so far, that one lasted three years, but sadly didn't end well at all. Honestly, I didn't want to experience anything like that again, so I ruled out dating, I definitely wasn't actively searching for someone...but then I met him, and realised that I really like him. I'm scared that if I rush things or if I tell him I'd be interested without knowing that he is, too, I might ruin things.

In that hour discussing cheek kissing he could have asked you if you wanted to grab lunch together, enjoyed lunch time and led into asking you to dinner or a date. 

He does seem to like you but is awkward. What’s with the group date foursome also? If he comes over again and asks you to meet his friends, by all means, if you’re free or interested. Give him some signs you’re interested too if you want to date this guy. 

I’m not a fan of office romances so be wary about this not working out and having to remain professional and cordial regardless of what happens. Your boss seems to have noticed so keep the workplace chats to a minimum.

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Let him approach the suggestion of a date.

And keep your expectations and hopes low. One of my previous supervisors had something similar happen (without the cheek kisses). A coworker came by our department to chat with her nearly every day. She liked him and got really excited, sure that he liked her too. She talked openly about him with our other coworkers, even talking about how when they got married she could quit her job to be a stay at home mom since this guy made good money (!). Welp, turned out the guy is gay and actually just enjoyed talking with her since they both have the same hobby. Oops.

So don't get ahead of yourself. Enjoy the conversations and see if he asks you out.

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He doesn't sound very shy to me. Bold, actually, to invite you on a road trip in the future when you barely know him, and to request the cheek kissing. To me, another red flag is he says he doesn't talk to anyone. If his only friend is an extroverted co-worker who is friends with everyone, then he'd probably make his gf the sole center of his social life, which can be smothering.

The bad thing about dating a co-worker is that if there is a breakup, you have the awkwardness of having to see an ex 5 days a week at the workplace. Since there is a 50/50 chance it won't work, can you handle seeing an ex every day? Especially if you were the initiator and he wasn't happy with the decision.

Whether or not you decide to date him, communicate to him that those stops at your desk need to stop because your boss has noticed, and she was nice about it that time, but repetition will sour her opinion of you as an employee.

Since you have very little dating experience, make sure you're not coming off as some naive waif who attracts predators. From what you've written, he's not coming off as prime dating material. I sense trouble.

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He does look very interested(though his road trip idea looks weird to suggest to somebody you barely know, but OK, maybe he didnt know how to approach you so he just throwed it out there). And rock climbing sounds like a date, minus the friends but he maybe thought it would be more friendly environment. Or friends would conviniently never show up lol. 

Anyway, you would have to be a bit more "open" if you want something. That means not turning off his date ideas. And to be more "prolific". You have his phone number so why dont you text him and see what he says outside work environment?

But, I would also like to point out that you dont know him. And that somebody "shy" wouldnt just approach a coworker that he barely knows and ask for something like a kiss on the cheek. So yes, you would have to be very careful there. And yes, office romances are messy. Mainly because if nothing happens or if it is happen and break up happens later, you will be in a very ankward situation. Where you have to see somebody every day. But now you have to avoid each other because talking or even seeing each other gets ankward but you have to maybe do it because of the job. 

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45 minutes ago, Rose Mosse said:

I’m not a fan of office romances so be wary about this not working out and having to remain professional and cordial regardless of what happens. Your boss seems to have noticed so keep the workplace chats to a minimum.

^ Agreed. If the boss has already noticed I would take that as my cue to back off (as should he). We are there to work, not to flirt with our co-workers. Always be professional in the work environment.

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1 hour ago, boltnrun said:

Let him approach the suggestion of a date.

And keep your expectations and hopes low. One of my previous supervisors had something similar happen (without the cheek kisses). A coworker came by our department to chat with her nearly every day. She liked him and got really excited, sure that he liked her too. She talked openly about him with our other coworkers, even talking about how when they got married she could quit her job to be a stay at home mom since this guy made good money (!). Welp, turned out the guy is gay and actually just enjoyed talking with her since they both have the same hobby. Oops.

So don't get ahead of yourself. Enjoy the conversations and see if he asks you out.

Agree. When I was in graduate school, I had a classmate who really seemed to like me. He joined me for lunch all the time, laughed at all of my jokes (even when they weren't funny), and even fixed things so that we had a cozy nook together in our studio class. Even though he was quite popular and friendly with everyone, other people noticed his particular attention towards me and asked if something was going on.

I thought he might have a crush on me, but I couldn't tell for sure. I liked him, but was very hesitant to read too much into his behavior. In our first year of graduate school, he mentioned having a girlfriend of four years. After about month, he stopped mentioning her and started paying more attention to me. He never mentioned a break up, so I always kept it in the back of my mind that he might still have a girlfriend.

Well, it turned out that I was right to do that! One day, towards the end of our second year, he brought in his girlfriend and introduced us. She knew all about me! I still don't know why he never talked about her. But after that, his behavior towards me cooled off significantly. He actually started flirting more with another girl in our class, who I was friends with. She and another of our friends actually asked me over dinner one night if there was anything between me and this guy. I told them that he had a girlfriend and they were both surprised.

I went to his wedding about 8 years ago. They are still together today--I'd say it's probably going on 16 years for them altogether. Every time I see them his wife is very friendly and he is a little standoffish. Go figure.

Something similar happened to me again about four years ago. This guy at work randomly started talking to me and stopping by my desk throughout the day. He'd tell me about running marathons. Sometimes he'd ask me random questions about work-related stuff, but we weren't on any projects together so the questions were mostly theoretical chit-chat. He also chatted to me about 'friends' who all seemed to be girls. I couldn't figure out if he liked me or not and felt glad I had a boyfriend because he was cute and knew if I was single I'd be a headcase over it. We exchanged numbers when he left the company and still text randomly here and there, mostly about work questions (we are in slightly different, but related professions that consult with each other). Sometimes he texts random stuff, like pictures of his new furniture, fancy hangers, or the cat he found. I have no idea what goes on in his head and I don't worry about it. It's better that way.

So, if you're not inclined to make a decisive first move then I suggest you don't allow yourself to get too hung up over him. People are strange sometimes and there's no explaining them!

Edited by Jibralta
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I met my husband originally at work -we were in our late 20s.  We started dating 9 months later- he was truly shy!  But the reason it was ok was -it was a huge company, we worked on different floors, different departments, really no chance of ever working together and we never hung out at work during the work day.

If we were both working late and were on dinner break we might sit in the cafeteria and eat but we acted like coworkers and were typically with another coworker . We were 100% professional at the workplace.  It's not a good look if you're not even if the boss thinks it's cute.  You want your boss to see you as a professional and hard working and ambitious.  Not flirty and cute.  

So yes if he asks you out and you don't directly work together I think work is a great place to find friendships and romance -with the caveat that you not work together or supervise each other.  Otherwise I'd be a bit wary of it.

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Thanks for all the replies so far. It really helps me to see things from a different perspective.

He definitely acts insecure and nervous often, and he referred to himself as shy, but I agree that some actions didn't seem quite as shy. He also told me that he feels quite lonely and that he hopes he will never have to work from home (context: most other employees work from home these days due to Covid) because that would be too lonesome and frustrating. When his extroverted co-worker was still in, he seemed glued to him. Followed him around like a dog. So I believe he does lack a few things in the self-confidence department. I think that might be the reason why he wants his friend to be around if we meet up. His friend is easy-going, cheerful and he talks so much that there won't ever be the chance of an awkward moment. 

And yes, we should make things less obvious at work. We mostly talked during our breaks, but that doesn't help much if people start to notice. The lady who noticed isn't my direct boss, but still, she's someone I work with regularly - and people talk. I can see how this can be considered unprofessional behaviour, especially since I just started working there.

Well, since we're not directly working together, I suppose we could avoid each other most days in the case it doesn't end on a good note and it's a fairly big company anyway. I don't want to think of this possibility, but I know I have to remain somewhat realistic.

We have another "climbing date" planned once he's back. I guess afterwards, I'll know a bit more where this might be going. 

I found Jibralta's post quite interesting. I've had a similar experience with both a friend from school and a friend at university, though the latter was a bit more direct, mentioning his girlfriend and then telling me I'd look "super hot today" within few minutes. I wasn't attracted to him, so I brushed it off, but looking back it sure was weird. We can never know for sure what's going on in someone's head and maybe that's for the best sometimes.

Frankly, I hope he's not the next one to be put on that list, because I do feel quite attached to him already. Which is far too early. 

 

 

 

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Be aware that people can describe themselves as shy and their actions show otherwise.  I'd avoid hanging out with him during work breaks.  That's still on the company's premises.  When my husband and I dated we'd be spotted in our neighborhood on weekends going to the movies.  I decided -that was totally my business - and people could talk . But if we met after work we didn't meet right outside the office (yes, everyone knew anyway - back then there were only landlines so, well, his secretary kept seeing I was calling and put two and two together lol - but all was fine!) - I felt though I acted with enough decorum/professionalism.

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