Lovehacker: How Do I Deal With A Workplace Infatuation?

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Dear Lovehacker, What is the best course of action when a colleague confesses their love to you? I'm not interested in them in that way and just don't feel the attraction. But I still have to work with them. Help!Thanks, MT.

Hey MT,

God that's awkward.

Office crushes and low key flirtations are pretty common. They're a way to help fill in the hours of routine and monotony. This is fine if they stay harmless and don't cross the line. But this is clearly some next level shit.

Full disclosure: my partner and I work in the same office. I have a lot of experience keeping things professional and appropriate, as well as experiencing some of the assumptions people make. You've come to the right girl.

The word 'love' is concerning me. That's a strong thing to say to someone that you're not in a relationship with. Especially if you've only been engaging in an office based friendship. Even if you have spent time together outside of work, that's still pretty heavy.

It sounds like you have already let them know that you don't feel the same way. The next step is establishing clear boundaries.

Limit your interactions: don't hang out after work, keep conversations brief and professional, don't engage in unnecessary emails or PMs and avoid their usual haunts.

You may not want to let go of the friendship you had established, but you really should, at least for now.

I know this can be sad. You may have really enjoyed and valued this relationship in a platonic way. But trying to hold on would be unfair and selfish. Daily exposure will already make it difficult for them to get past this. Don't give them hope when there is none.

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It may seem mean now, but you're doing them and yourself a kindness in the long run. Be sensitive about it though - perhaps even tell them why you're taking a step back so they know where they stand and why.

The next step is to be aware of potential workplace gossip. When you spend so much time with people a shift in dynamic is noticeable. Try to avoid talking about the situation with other colleagues. It sucks, but this kind of thing can negatively impact on your professional reputation.

If they ask why you and X don't seem to talk as much anymore, just say you've been super busy or distracted with work. Neither of you can help how you feel, but you can try to spare each other the humiliation of becoming the office talking points. Or have it used against you.

This last point may seem a little pessimistic. Maybe I'm just a half empty kind of girl or still focusing on the premature "love" declaration, but I think it's also important to protect yourself.

I would also like to preface this by saying that I have zero gender bias here. I don't know who you or the other person are in terms of sex, but my advice is the same regardless.

Keep every piece of correspondence between the two of you and back them up on a non-work machine. This includes any future emails, PMs, etc too. If any concerning or inappropriate conversations occur, write them down in detail as quickly as possible. Now you hopefully have evidence that you have always been above board.

I'm sure your colleague is a good person, and this is definitely 'worst case scenario' advice. But you can never be too careful with these kind of situations in the work place. Hopefully you'll never need to use this information, but it's still good to have it if there is ever any fallout.

I hope that both of you can get past this soon, and that it won't result in someone feeling they need to leave their post. Good luck out there!

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Lovehacker is a weekly relationship and sex column where our resident Agony Aunt answers your questions. Need help? Drop a comment below or email [email protected].

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