I just started a new job at the beginning of the summer, and globally everything has been going pretty well: I’ve developed friendships with a lot of my colleagues, and I also enjoy the casual work environment and the work itself a lot. However, there is this one colleague that always made me a little nervous and self-conscious; it doesn’t help that he was the one who mostly trained me when I arrived (we work on the same project). I always thought he had a dreamy smile and I kind-of feel attracted to his personality and his intelligence. However, lately this little attraction has grown into a full blown crush that is making my life in the office difficult, plus I feel super guilty because I already have a wonderful partner of three years whom I am deeply in love with and feel lucky to have. Obviously, I don’t want this crush-thing to go anywhere romantically-speaking. I’ve read a bit online and I know that crushes can happen even when you are already committed; it doesn’t change the fact that it doesn’t feel good. I tried rechanneling this excitement and extra energy into my relationship, and everything is going pretty well on that front. It is more the work-related consequences of this attraction that worry me.
The crush in itself wouldn’t be *that* bad if I were able to simply ignore it and go on with my business until the feeling fades. The thing is, I used to be a very shy person, and I worked really hard on myself in order to be able to socialize and be as natural as possible in most social situations. I think I succeeded pretty well, and my quick and pretty easy integration in this new workplace really gave me a confidence boost. However, when it comes to this guy, it’s like I’m back to square one, with all the awkwardness and over-thinking that goes with it. I have to gather a lot of courage to initiate a (work-related) conversation, I feel (and look) startled and react dumbly when he is the one initiating a conversation, and awkward eye contacts when passing each other in the hallway make me want to hide under the carpet. I feel exposed and obvious. Once we start talking, though, I usually regain my composure and can carry the conversation naturally enough; I am also more likely to be able to talk to him when there are other coworkers around.
My initial reaction was to avoid him as much as possible, avoid unnecessary eye contact and limit interactions to the strict necessary, but it doesn’t work very well since we work closely together and such a behaviour feels a bit out of place in my tightly woven, friendly work environment, plus it made me feel mean. So I’ve resolved to “practice” talking to him, hoping that it would stop being so uncomfortable with time. I found that how well I did was highly variable depending on the circumstances, notably my mood and my perception of how he responds. Some days I feel lighter and more confident, and we laugh together while working, make jokes, even maybe subtly flirt, smile at each other a lot, and other days I feel guiltier, insecure, moody, and easily intimidated and then it’s just plain uncomfortable. It is a real emotional roller coaster, and I feel like he must be very puzzled by my behaviour. I don’t want to make him uncomfortable, and I don’t want him to not like working with me because of this, but it’s like I can’t help it. It’s like a defence mechanism.
What can I do to be more “even”, “normal” in my behaviour and basically interact with him like I would with any of my other coworkers? How do I stop caring so much about what he thinks, overthinking my every move? I’m terrified that he knows (he probably felt a weird vibe) and will tell others in the office. I don’t want to lose my new friends or be teased about that, especially since everyone knows I have a boyfriend. What would your advice be? How do I make this crush go away, or best deal with it? I’m scared right now, I don’t know what to do and I feel bad about the whole situation.