“Flirtationship?”

So I got this coworker, right? Funny guy. Friendly. Sweet. Hes kind of a flirt, though he insists up and down and sideways that hes not. Ive been working with him about 6 months. Our interactions have always been based on real casual flirting: teasing, silly nicknames, overly smiley greetings, simple compliments, casual chats over our mutual interests, etc. I assumed (or still assume) thats just how he interacts with everyone, he IS an outgoing type.

But over the last month or so its sort of snowballed into something else entirely. Im usually a pretty closed off person but hes a stunningly good conversationalist and I find myself sharing details about myself I would normally never tell a guy Ive barely known a few months. And on the flip side of that coin hes also telling me things about his personal life that I really dont think hes sharing with his other coworkers. On more than one occasion we’ve discussed things like “plans for the future”, “ideal relationships”, skeletons from our pasts in our closets, insecurities… etc. Hes stupidly intuitive, so hes usually got a pretty good idea what Im trying to say without me being very direct and handles more delicate topics much better than I do. Im sure thats part of whats made me so comfortable around him (despite not really trusting a word he says because Ive written it all off as plays)

The flirting has actually died down now (Though I still dig that he pretty much laughs at every joke I make. I know my sense of humor is way too dry for most). But the more we stopped to chat about one thing or another the more other coworkers started to gossip. On more than one occasion weve heard “Just freaking date already”— which we both promptly brushed off and pretended didnt happen…. only for coworkers to insist more loudly that were seconds away from needing to “get a room”.

In the beginning we were both very clear. We had both casually mentioned to each other “Im not dating right now.” “Flirting is just a way to pass the time at work, it doesnt mean anything.” We were on the same page. It was just… fun. We dont even refer to each other as friends. Were just…. coworkers. Coworkers who like talking to each other.

And despite finding him attractive I continue to insist that thats all it is because hes already fooled around with 2 other coworkers (months ago now) and I dont want to be a part of some guy just making his rounds. He swears up and down it wasnt that serious with either of them but gossip spreads like wildfire at our work. There are fundamental flaws that would prevent us from being an ideal match that we’ve already discussed (Though it was discussed in casual conversation, not as us actually addressing the elephant in the room): I dont want to get married or have kids, He already has two young kids and severely romanticizes domestic life despite it never working out well for him in the past. Those conversations usually end in him insisting I’ll change my mind and grow up someday and me insisting I dont date at all and changing the subject. (For the record Im almost 25. Hes somewhere around 31.)

But if Im really honest with myself here. I would be totally on board with maybe giving the dating scene a go…. with him. Or… part of me is on board, the rest of me looks at those pictures of his adorable (motherless) daughters he keeps showing me and I back away so quickly I trip over my own feet because I barely think of myself as an adult as it is and I also just cant…. in good conscience walk in and out of a child’s life as a footnote in their dad’s story.

But despite my reservations and all my self preservation I did still…. find him on facebook and message him one evening out of boredom. We never exchanged numbers. But just like at work, our first facebook conversation was SUPER flirty (almost dirty) and since then we havent really messaged each other all that much. Hes messaged me once or twice maybe… Ive sent him a funny video or told him some work gossip after hours a few times… But nothing else.

And then a week ago, out of the blue he starts straight up avoiding me. I guess now that Ive written this all out I’m not as surprised by it. But as it was happening I was surprisingly heartbroken, despite having told myself over and over again that we were JUST coworkers. I managed to pull him aside and ask if he was ok, just like hes done to me before on my more off days. He insisted he was fine and continued to avoid me. I vented to another coworker what had me so worked up and she ended up confronting him to ask why. He told her nothing was wrong, he hadnt been avoiding me and it was in her head and then, that same day… returned to chatting with me like usual. Flirty grins and all.

Yesterday he confronted me about it, admitted he HAD been avoiding me but it wasnt anything I did, it was more just… to try and stop the ever increasing gossip and pressure from our other coworkers. He told me he had hoped one very jealous very obnoxious coworker we both dislike would leave me alone and stop making rude remarks if he didnt talk to me at all while she was working.

Im not entirely sure I buy that reasoning he gave… because I know him well enough to know that hes way more of a flirt than he will ever say and theres a distinct possibility he just doesnt want to seem unavailable to new cute hires but… she IS exceptionally obnoxious and… heh…. I do remember telling him about a week ago that the “harmless” teasing from our coworkers over my nonexistent love life and their projected relationship between me and him was making me miserable and I had considered quitting.

Now that I…. say that out loud it sounds a bit harsh. I wasnt implying that them trying to hook us up made me miserable. But I– guess thats one way it could be taken. I really just meant I hated my personal life being in their spotlight like its their own personal soap opera. Im pretty sure he knew that.

I feel like— my actions make it pretty clear that Im pretty into him but I know my words definitely completely contradict me sometimes. Hes the opposite. Everything he says is like a green light. His actions are more mixed and difficult to navigate because… theres really no reaching out outside work. But hes a single parent so I mean, I cant really fault a person for that. Despite mostly flirty/open body language hes extremely aware of my personal space and never even accidentally invades it, backing up if I move closer to him (which may or may not be because Ive had issues with other coworkers being handsy and have complained to him about personal space invaders)… also he IS extremely flirty/friendly with all the female coworkers and he IS kind of a sucker for the damsel in distress thing. Which on the one hand is great. Any time I fumble and drop something or fall behind with work he is RIGHT THERE to help but…. I dont know, if it wasnt me Im pretty sure it would be literally any other “damsel” in his immediate vicinity.

Ah… there wasnt really much of a question in all that, was there? I guess Im just…. confused where I stand with this guy.

6 thoughts on ““Flirtationship?”

    • resullins says:

      Speak for yourself! 😉 But to the OP, you’ll get a lot more responses if you make that story a little more succinct. I am at work and don’t have time to read that! It will also be a little easier to follow.

  1. Anonymous Blurb Author says:

    It is really long, isnt it? I didnt realize how much Id written until I posted. I will try to reduce it to key points…. I really would like…. just… some outside perspective. I tend to be a little too “in my head”

    -Got a new coworker
    -He was really outgoing and friendly and flirty
    -We became fast friends… well… coworker-friends. We had a lot in common, conversations came really naturally.
    -Coworker-friends who REALLY enjoyed talking to each other (to the point where other coworkers started getting annoyed and poking fun at us for all the flirting)
    -We went from being flirty to REALLY FLIRTY to…. bizarrely (mutually) emotionally intimate within one week. And then to him suddenly avoiding me the next.
    -I still dont know why Im being avoided.
    -Only that its not in my head that hes avoiding me because he admitted it… and gave a probably only half true answer as to why just because he knows Im insecure and didnt want me to think he was mad at me.

    Within a week Ive gone from being able to talk to him comfortably about literally anything to not really knowing how to greet him when I come in because his behavior towards me changed so abruptly.

    Please help?

  2. resullins says:

    ^^^ Much better, thank you! This I can respond to!

    Ok, this to me reads like a high school journal entry. You could literally replace the word “co-worker” with “cute guy from bio class” and it would make the same amount of sense.

    So I will give you the same advice that I give other people that find themselves trying to “read between the lines.” Go talk to him. Get some coffee (or a beer) and ask him. Tell him that you miss his company, that you don’t know what happened, and you’d like to be open about what’s going on.

    Do you have feelings for this guy? If so, you need to tell him, let him know. Get it all out there, so that he has the information he needs to process. But, you need to be prepared to get rejected. It very well may happen. If you don’t have feelings for him, and just want to keep him as a friend, then back off the flirting. All that’s going to do is cloud the issue, and confuse him.

    Now, to be completely honest, it sounds to me like he either has a girlfriend out there that he now feels guilty for betraying, or he realized that things were getting out of hand, and had to pump the brakes. Either way… getting things flat out clarified will allow both of you to recalibrate the relationship.

    Go have that conversation and come back and fill us in.

  3. Anonymous Blurb Author says:

    Yeah. I work in retail. Its a lot like being back in high school, socially ….. unfortunately.

    Fear of rejection is a really big— thing holding me back from doing that but Im working on building up the nerve. Im usually extremely shy and he knows that. He claims to be very confident but I can tell that most of its just an act. As far as I know he doesnt have a girlfriend. He just recently dumped another coworker for “moving too fast” and being really jealous/possessive… so Im– Ive been, no, we’ve both been avoiding any kind of labeling or establishing any solidity to our…. flirtationship. We didnt exchange numbers, we didnt add eachother on facebook, we construct our conversations so that were always saying the others’ name and never “My friend”. We joke a lot about hanging out outside of work but both always chicken out. Its not like we have a lot of free time anyway.We both work full time, He has kids, I have a second business out of my home . I know he dislikes labels and rushing into things and he knows Im distrusting/ intimacy phobic.

    I feel like Im playing a game of chicken? First one to step up and try to talk about it will lose. Or thats what Im afraid of. Im afraid of rejection in this instance not because it of the rejection itself but the potential destruction of the friendship in the process. I just moved to this city a year ago. I dont have many friends… even fewer that Im comfortable with like Im comfortable with him. And I dont really know how to tell him all that while hes avoiding me and clipping conversations short.

  4. JustMe89 says:

    I think you just need to be honest with him, there could be a hundred reasons holding him back and it may be as simple as the stresses of being a single dad or that he’s not as confident as he portrays 🙂

    Think honestly about how you would feel if nothing ever did happen between you both, if this makes you upset in any way then go for it! Life’s too short to live with regret and for you not to take a chance, yeh he might reject you which would be awkward for a short while and it’d soon blow over but what about if he feels the same way and is only holding back for fear that you don’t feel the same way about him, i think you just need to take a deep breath and go for it 🙂 even if you just ask him to go for a beer over Facebook

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