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I'm a female programmer. I work at a very small company on a small team with two other developers and a project manager.

I befriended one of my coworkers and we hung out a few times outside of work. I'm not sure if he got the wrong impression from me, or if he simply just has a crush on me, but he acts like he likes me as more than a friend. He messages or texts me frequently outside of work asking me to hang out (multiple times a week).

I made a post on social media that was generally about why girls don't go for nice guys. He assumed the post was about him and confronted me and basically said he's not "into me". However my post was pretty general and didn't mention him specifically in anyway, so the fact that he assumed it was about him made me feel like he actually does like me, but was just trying to cover it up.

I don't really know how to deal with this situation. If I confront him about it, I feel like he will just deny it, or react negatively (angry/sad). I have to work with him virtually everyday. We've been pair programming a lot, and it's frustrating because sometimes I just want to get away from him but I can't because it's part of my job.

I've been trying to just ignore it, but I'm not sure if that's the best long-term solution. But I also feel like confronting him about it could end badly.

What can I do to make my work situation more comfortable for me? As a female in a male-dominated field, I feel that I have a right to a work environment that I feel comfortable in. But I'm not really sure how to achieve that goal. I have a general feeling that my voice needs to be heard.

EDIT:

Just to be clear, since he confronted me about my post, (about two weeks ago) I have completely stopped any behavior that would send him the wrong signals. I have refrained from participating in any sort of non-work related conversations with him. It has made my work-life significantly less enjoyable. He continues to message me outside of work.

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  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – Monica Cellio Oct 9 '15 at 3:13
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    TBH, you come off as an arrogant and entitled person to me, especially when you say "as a female in a male-dominated field, I feel that I have a right to a work environment that I feel comfortable in". Your colleague, or anyone else as a matter of fact, do not owe you friendship, or being nice to you. Also, what's the problem of him stating that he's not into you? Does that hurt your ego? If he's harassing you outside work ("He continues to message me outside of work."), this is indeed violation of your safety, so it is an HR issue. – Elchin Nov 29 '15 at 19:15
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    @Elchin I think you are confused. I don't want to be friends with my co-worker and don't feel that he owes me anything, other than perhaps a professional attitude at work. I was uncomfortable with him stating that he wasn't "into me" because I felt like it was totally unnecessary since I never said anything that would warrant him confronting me about it. I don't really care if he's into me or not, but I would prefer it if he would just focus on the work and not on having a personal relationship with me. – user17647 Nov 30 '15 at 19:39
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    I don't know how I feel about adding somebody I want to have a strictly professional relationship with on on Facebook/Twitter/whatever and, furthermore, sharing with him a post "about why girls don't go for nice guys". – Tobia Tesan Jul 31 '16 at 19:25
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You want the extracurricular attentions to stop without hurting your working relationship. I'm going to agree with @GreenMatt's comment, specifically:

Only an honest conversation has a chance to clear this up, even though it may be uncomfortable.

I agree with that he talked to you about your post is a good indication he may be into you, however it's possible he got the message, so to speak, and there may be no need to have an awkward conversation. But if he relapses into pursuing you, the adult thing to do is say "sorry I'm not interested" upfront.

Lastly, everyone is entitled to a safe workplace, not only females. I see no issue of safety, but I see how it can be a bit awkward. Keep in mind that feelings do develop even if neither participants really want it. We're only human.

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If you can, give him a little space to get used to the fact that you're not interested. If he was interested, he's got the hint that you're not, and with some space and time, he should get over it. If he wasn't, then neither of you was interested and everything's fine.

If you confront him, he'll probably stick to the "not into you" line, and might even get annoyed, which doesn't do anyone any good. He's said he's not into you, take his word even if it's not true, that's your fastest way to resolve this situation.

I don't know the precise circumstances of your pair programming or how much of a requirement that is, but if you can get on with some stuff on your own and then have him look through it, or break up your time with him in some other way ("We can work on Project X until 11 but then I need to {perform other task} so it's done before lunchtime" or similar) then that can help ration his time with you and give you more control over things. If you can, find reasons to spend time working with the other developer - more expertise, or a fresh pair of eyes, or whatever. Talk to your manager, express a preference for less pair programming with your current task, more development and then review. Try to express these things as positive changes rather than just "My colleague is acting weird" - that turns it into more of a conflict with your manager looking into it, and that makes it more of a problem, and focusses more attention on his (probable) lie about not being interested, which makes him feel worse, which just makes the problem bigger.

If he's doing anything inappropriate or unhelpful in a work context, keep a diary of what and when, and take that to management as evidence. But if he's just unhappy and things are awkward, bringing that to management makes it look like there's a problem between you and him. I get that you want your voice to be heard, and you're not comfortable having to spend so much time with him, but try to present positive reasons for being elsewhere rather than negative reasons about your colleague.

Above all, stay professional, and focus on the work and getting it done. If he's more interested in something else, and is now sulking/whatever, then this will become obvious and his behaviour will be looked in to. I very much hope that this problem will pass, but if it doesn't, you'll be very much on safer ground having been trying to not just get on with work but improve things.

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    I like this idea. Focusing on the work at hand is probably the best option. I guess the main thing is that I'm naturally extroverted/friendly. So it's been an extra challenge to try to avoid doing anything that would send the wrong signals. – user17647 Oct 7 '15 at 15:50
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    Yeah, if you only talk about the work, he can't get any wrong signals from that. I know it's a shame when you want to be friendly, but friendliness gets taken as more than that. – Hazel Oct 7 '15 at 15:58
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I must agree with @user70848 who said "Aside from existing, what exactly does he do that makes your work life, at work, uncomfortable?"

All I read in your question is "He messages or texts me frequently outside of work asking me to hang out".

Are you sure the problem is 100% on his part, or are you maybe reading a bit more into this then most people would? Some people would consider posting on social media "why girls don't go for nice guys" while a collegue (type mr nice guy) has a crush on you, as teasing, maybe provoking. Some might actually think you enjoy the attention.

@Joestrazerre said it in the comments: "Act only professionally at work (in your pair programming, etc). Stop hanging out with him outside of work. Stop answering his messages and texts. Unless he's completely stupid, he'll get the message."

And if he doesn't get the message, have the conversation with him again. Tell him it is making you feel uncomfortable. If he repeats, escalate: tell him you feel it's like he's stalking you. Tell him you'll lodge a complaint with your manager / HR / the police.

He'll get the message.

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When someone is infatuated with someone they see on a regular basis, it typically doesn't just go away on its own accord. There needs to be a solid, definite reason for that person to try to get over it, otherwise the feelings will unconsciously (or consciously) grow with time.

There's a good chance that your coworker wants things to change just as much as you do. Being in a courtship phase of a relationship can be brutal if you're not sure if the other person likes you back, and I think that he'd be happier if you gave him a definite answer of 'yes' or 'no'. A quite common mistake is that not responding to requests is not the same as rejection. People blinded by their feelings will ignore obvious signs and hold out hope until they have an answer for sure.

If I were you, I would try to talk to him at some point outside of work and tell him that you enjoy his company but that you'd like to keep things professional. Say that if spending time together inside or outside of work is getting in the way of your professional relationship towards one another, you will have to discontinue doing so. I hope he'll understand where you're coming from and take a step back.

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    This is pretty good advice. I've made the mistake of developing feelings for someone that had no idea and I've also seen it happen; it won't go away on it's own. Saying something about it or making something happen to turn the tide are the only options or that elephant will just get bigger or meaner and maybe more unpredictable. – coblr Oct 7 '15 at 19:38
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    I agree. I think I need to say something about it. I'm not great a confrontation, and the fact that he is denying it makes it even harder for me. If you have any advice as to how to make it known that I suspect he's got feelings for me and they aren't reciprocated, please let me know! – user17647 Oct 7 '15 at 21:09
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    @user17647 Don't discuss his internal state. It doesn't matter how he feels, or how he thinks about how he feels—just that he not engage in external behavior that bothers you. – CodeSeeker Oct 8 '15 at 21:07
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Good question, and a potentially tricky situation.

He said he's not into you, in response to a social media post you say wasn't about him. You could see if he can act a̶p̶p̶r̶o̶p̶r̶i̶a̶t̶e̶l̶y̶ consistently with that claim from now on. If so, problem solved. It is possible that he's telling more or less the truth, and his frequent texts and attention are mainly due to being excited a woman wanted to be his friend. (And if you know any other women who might want to meet him, you could see if meetings could be arranged.)

If not, then his statement also gives you a place to stand in referring to it. That is, he reacted to a post you made on social media (...) about nice guys, not about co-workers. So the next time it seems like he is acting like he is into you, he gave you an occasion to call him on it. "So, I was surprised you had that reaction to my post about nice guys. Why did you think it was about you, and are you sure you're not into me? Because [mention current behavior]." Or along such lines.

That is, it's up to him to keep to his line. Of course, you also care about your workplace, and concerned he may not be up to handling the situation well. It's his business and not your social responsibility to help him with it, but from a practical perspective of keeping the peace for yourself, you could also do what you're willing to, to help him out. That is, he's probably also afraid of an upset and wanting to avoid that. He may be afraid of negative reactions from you (as he's already tried to head off even in response to a social post he imagined was about him). That also possibly puts you in a position to help relieve the pressure by not seeming too annoyed with him, and tolerating his social weirdness enough to have him not freak out. As you apprehend, though, his behavior could end up becoming something you don't want to tolerate. At that point, you might need to head it off with a frank conversation.

If you do go the frank conversation route, I'd be very clear and consistent and honest, but again, if he leaves you room to avoid seeming too angry or judgemental, it may have a big impact on his (possibly edgy fear-based) reactions. It sounds to me like he may be far less socially balanced, skilled and perceptive compared to you.

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Professional work environment is a must in all workplaces but can be more intimate in some which can lead to a problem you have. You have said, you two are already hanging out multiple time after work, now you are worried that he might have crush on you. "Sudden" rejection in a good friendship may damage relationship weather professionally or personally. Let me recommend this tactic called "deflection of feelings." Do not abruptly stop seeing him unless it is a safety threat. Continue seeing him but less frequently and sometimes with other friends. Everytime you have a chance, talk about your personal life with others like your boyfriend or someone that you like. This will send him the message that you have nothing on him and he has no chance whatever he is going to.

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    Welcome to the Workplace -- thanks for your contribution. Note that this post is a little old, but there are a number of newer questions that need input as well. – mcknz Apr 22 at 19:11
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I am shocked at the answers so far. Based on your posts, you are past the point of talking it out.

At this point, you need to go immediately to your HR department and report the situation. No one should feel uncomfortable at work and receive unwanted communications.

HR reps, agree?

protected by mcknz Apr 22 at 19:09

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