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Is my colleague flirting or just being friendly?


AoifeB
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I started a new job earlier this year and the whole business meets up once a month in the office - this always leads to a few drinks after work.

There is a colleague who is more senior than me that I often end up spending a lot of time with at the pub. We take the mick out of each other a lot and we make each other laugh, but I can’t tell if he’s flirting with me or just being nice as I’m new to the business. Day to day we don’t have much contact at work but he has said he doesn’t want me to leave the business (due to a tricky colleague of mine) and that I know he’s ‘fond’ of me. 

He tells me things in relation to work that he says he shouldn’t and seems to have my back a lot. However the last few times we have met I’ve felt him put his hand around my waist once or twice, albeit very briefly. We walk to the station together and hug goodbye, but this week he also kissed me on the cheek. He then messaged to check I had got the train okay. 

The next morning he messaged me on Teams taking the mick out of something i had said the night before and asked if I was staying in London next week for the event the company is attending. He then messaged me again later to complain about his hangover. 

He is married with young children and does talk openly about his wife and them, so I can’t work out if he is flirting or just being really friendly? I don’t have ill intentions but I want to understand if it’s appropriate or if I am just over thinking his actions and he is actually just being friendly after a couple of drinks. And if he is flirting, is it just innocent flirting or is it because he has further intentions? 

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6 minutes ago, AoifeB said:

He is married with young children and does talk openly about his wife

Stay professional at all times. If you feel he is coming on to you, you need to scale way back on the flirting and chitchatting outside of work. 

Especially since you are new, it's unwise to be the subject of office gossip by flirting with married men in the office.

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There’s no such thing as innocent flirting when that person is married. Keep your distance. Reconsider what this means to you and why you’re tickled. I would lose respect for a man with a loose tongue with a wife at home.

Since you work together, keep it professional and cordial. He’s crossing some boundaries with the excessive texts after work and details about his personal life. 

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In my work environments hugging and kissing on the cheek would be professionally inappropriate.  I hug my coworker after we have our bimonthly lunch (well we used to  pre Covid ) but she’s female and we’re straight lol. I think my male boss and mentor hugged me when we met for breakfast when I was on maternity leave.  We worked together for ten years and it was a friendly greeting. But no - hugging was not any regular thing at all.  And we traveled together a great deal and ate dinner and lunch together and I never ever felt any different with him as opposed to being with a female colleague. 
it really does depend on your work environment boundaries. I’m sure things differ by industry but this sounds out of bounds to me. 

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1 hour ago, AoifeB said:

He is married with young children 

That's all you need to know right there.  There is no reason to give this any more thought--it makes no difference if he's interested in getting a bit on the side from you, you can just refuse to engage and focus on your actual job when you're at work, and he can focus his efforts elsewhere.  Because men like this, you are far from being his first target and you won't be his last either.

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Yeah, him being touchy maybe goes to "affair" territory down the line. Admittedly, it maybe means nothing, however, its still playing with fire. You reciprocitating could lead to him crossing the line and trying something.

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10 hours ago, AoifeB said:

I don’t have ill intentions but I want to understand if it’s appropriate or if I am just over thinking his actions and he is actually just being friendly after a couple of drinks. And if he is flirting, is it just innocent flirting or is it because he has further intentions? 

I'm sure that you know  it's not appropriate, especially since you're aware that he has a wife and children.  Rather than looking at this with tunnel vision, you need to step out of denial and enter reality.

In short, I'd avoid being a side dish with taking on the role of his accomplice. At this point you're dancing on thin ice, along with having too much to lose.

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Eww touchy feely affair. Step back and compose yourself. If you don't stop this will turn into a messy situation. Don't poop where you eat. Don't go out with him anymore and keep your communication with him professional. I bet money on it you have not been the only one he's done this too, so don't count yourself as "special" by any means. What he is doing is grooming you. It has creepy married guy written all over it. 

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