I recently joined a new workplace and a colleague there reminds me of an person in my life who left after years of relationship, because of his looks like and similarities in cultural origin. The colleague has a girlfriend. He is very reserved, closed off and somewhat displays 'holier than thou' attitude. I want him to like me; when he is indifferent to me that makes me angry. I think if he can't like me that's fine, can he not behave cordially like everyone else?

I am trying to get over him and telling myself he is nothing great.

Our workplace encourages spending a lot of time socializing with our colleagues after work hours which is often boring. The colleague doesn't show up much at these events. Obviously I think about him too much. I have a history of putting new people I take a fancy to on a pedestal.

This workplace situation bothers me. I am scared that I might do something stupid as taking out my anger at the colleague and get fired.

How should I deal with this?

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    If you can, pretend he's your brother. – Dan Pichelman Dec 18 '15 at 13:55
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    Anger because he is indifferent is not a good nor proper emotion. If you are scared you might take out your anger on this person that is like getting into unstable. Indifferent on a social level is perfectly appropriate in the work place. This person is reserved and has a girlfriend. – paparazzo Dec 18 '15 at 15:44
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    @jmorc No it doesn't suggest anything of the sort. It's pretty normal behaviour and happens regularly to a lot of people who have had a bad breakup or been single for a period of time. It's absurd that you would suggest this is a mental illness. – Pequod Dec 18 '15 at 16:05
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    @NK7 seeing a therapist =/= mental illness. Underlying emotional trauma is not an illness, nor did jmorc use that terminology – pixels Dec 18 '15 at 18:05
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    @NK7 "happens regularly" does not mean that there isn't mental issues at play, and that professionals can't be of assistance. We as a society need to get over the hurdle that mental issues aren't normal - they are normal, natural, nothing to be ashamed of, and why not have a professional help overcome them? – corsiKa Dec 18 '15 at 18:21

Let it go

Romantic relationships with coworkers are usually a recipe for disaster, even if the person you fancy wasn't already in a relationship. Simply accept that a relationship beyond the professional is not an option with this (or any) coworker and try to avoid developing such attachments at work. I've yet to see firm evidence of Love at First Sight outside Hollywood: as long as you remember that coworkers shouldn't be considered potential love interests, you're unlikely to develop more than a cordial relationship with them.

You claim to want a normal relationship: realise that you won't find those at work. It's common for hard-working professionals to start looking for soulmates at work if they never manage to socialise outside the workplace but it's usually a terrible idea. Widen your network or social circle, pick up a hobby or go for any number of other traditional and proven options for connecting with the gender of your choice. I'd recommend skipping as many of those after-hours office activities as you can and replacing them with things you do enjoy.

As for your current situation: just give it time. Stop imagining things or connecting indifference to playing hard-to-get. Treat this guy with the same indifference you get from him. You're colleagues, nothing more, and you'll be respectful but otherwise keep your distance.

For what it's worth: indifference is a perfectly acceptable attitude to have towards colleagues, as long as it isn't a euphemism for disrespectful. In the workplace we're all supposed to be high-functioning adults, not best friends and some people prefer keeping their distance.

I want to make it clear that I'm not against any kind of romantic relationship developing at work. As sleske said in the comments, plenty of great relationships started at work. My main point is that those relationships will develop naturally while "forcing a relationship" at work by constantly viewing coworkers as potential love interests is bound to end in drama.

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    I would disagree with "relationships with coworkers are a recipe for disaster". I know several people who found their life partner at work (and did not get into trouble for it) - it really depends on the work place. Otherwise, spot on. – sleske Dec 18 '15 at 14:39
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    @sleske True enough, there are people who can make it work and there are a lot of factors to consider. In general though, it goes wrong so often (and often so dramatically) that it's best to not actively look for a relationship at work, which some people still do. Alison Green lists a few things to consider that apply even when the relationship itself is perfect. (Answer edited to clarify.) – Lilienthal Dec 18 '15 at 15:06
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    @Lilienthal - love at first sight definitely exists, as my wife and I would attest. Otherwise I 100% agree with your answer. Workplace romance is usually a bad idea, and butting into this person's life when they already have a partner is doubly so. – AndreiROM Dec 18 '15 at 15:10
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    All I can say is that I've been done the path of dating someone at the office twice. In both cases it was a disaster. – NotMe Dec 18 '15 at 15:48
  • @NotMe On the flip side I've been with my SO for 12 years. 2 of those years we not only worked together but were in the same department with no complications. Obviously you're mileage may vary. I just don't know that it's worth limiting potential happiness because it doesn't work for everyone. – MiniRagnarok Dec 18 '15 at 18:33

It is natural to get attracted to someone , if they remind you of an ex lover. But remember , both persons are different. I sense an emptiness in you searching for someone and it always is easy to fall back on something familiar.

If you find the office after parties boring , stay away from them. Find a hobby . Find a social network where you actually enjoy it.

But day dreaming about this futile pursuit won't help you. In fact , it might even set you back. It is difficult , but the only way to get over this is by keeping busy in other activities

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    I might add that martial arts are a hobby that tend to put a thought to racing, self-destructive thoughts. And the men are fit for some reason :). Some of them are even single. – Amy Blankenship Dec 18 '15 at 16:27
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    @AmyBlankenship Perhaps not the best suggestion for an OP with self-confessed anger issues but I like the idea. – Lilienthal Dec 18 '15 at 20:27
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    @Lilienthal Martial arts is good for the mind. It is a release not a source of aggression. – paparazzo Dec 18 '15 at 21:06
  • @Frisbee I know that and you know that, but would the OP know that? :) – Lilienthal Dec 18 '15 at 21:08
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    @Lilienthal, use Karate exactly for anger management issues. Even if someone doesn't realize that it's not intended to teach you to smash your enemies, I think most places reinforce constantly that it is intended for defense, not offense. – Amy Blankenship Dec 18 '15 at 21:30

One, don't do anything romantic at work. 90% off limits in general. 100% off limits given you've assessed this as high risk right now, with some clarity (which I laud).

Two, consider seeing a mental health professional (psychologist/therapist) to work through these issues. "Fear of doing something stupid because of uncontrollable emotions" is a bit neurotic and tilts me toward making the suggestion. I am of course not a professional myself and won't try to perform any armchair diagnoses but I think it's prudent to make the suggestion.


In a word, don't.

There is a crude cliche, which I'll clean up for the forum.

"Don't eat where you poop."

Most romantic relationships fail, and as such if you were to become involved romantically then statistically you would break up thereby creating an even more uncomfortable situation at work.

If this were outside of work, I would still say don't. You describe this person in negative ways--holier than thou, indifferent to you, makes you angry. These are not the makings of a healthy relationship.



Get to know him.

It appears that the consensus response so far is "let it go." This is easy to say for outsiders and makes sense at face value.

However, my personal suggestion is somewhat different: Get to know him. Here is why:

It sounds to me like you don't really know this person.

Your reasons for the affection seem to emphasize appearance characteristics rather than qualities of character (actually, it seems that when you describe his qualities, they don't seem all that worthy of adoration).

Appearances can be deceiving, and making any moves without getting to know the person first in a more routine, everyday kind of way would be presumptuous and the results likely to disappoint.

As others have commented, workplace relationships are not a good idea. Of course it always depends, and in some circumstances it might be OK to have a short romantic fling with a colleague if you are not in mutually dependent or competitive roles (e.g. on same team), or if you are about to leave that job (and the relationship) relatively soon, and don't anticipate problems in case the relationship doesn't work out.

I won't speculate whether your task is made more or less complicated by the fact that this person has a girlfriend, as that depends on the girlfriend. But generally, it should complicate things sooner or later, as the nature of love triangles is such that drama is inevitable.

At the same time, the above points do not suggest that the only sensible course of action in this case is to drop it. It is one possible course of action, and perhaps the simplest. But this answer could be applied to just about any situation where there is a hint of a problem with a potential or budding relationship.

My guess is, you would not have taken the time to post this question if you didn't feel like you had something to lose if you let it go. My guess is, you are interested in other options.

Therefore, my recommendation would be to take it very slow, and to begin to know that person better. Try to refocus your interaction with him on work-related matters, then mix in a few comments on more general topics here and there (a casually mentioned hobby, travel plans, likes/dislikes of neutral nature - food, weather, music, movies, travel destinations, things to do on weekends).

Your goal is not to make him like you, but to learn about him, find out what he is about. If attraction is meant to be, it will happen naturally in its due time. If it is not, then this will become apparent to you and you will just as naturally let it go. My sense is that you are just not yet at the point when you can make an education decision one way or another. Good luck!

  • Get to know him. What about the guy? I bet he does not want to get to know her. Have you considered he is distant for a (good) reason? – paparazzo Dec 18 '15 at 21:03
  • I think that kind of approach, of acting like you're "not that into him" will not result in him giving chase with his current relationship. But let's say it did, what does that say about him in regards to you and the next girl who plays "hard to get"?.. In any case, I support the overall view of "taking a natural pace" - but I would advise to start working on accepting that it will probably only become a coworker relationship, not an overly friendly or personal one. – DoubleDouble Dec 18 '15 at 22:55
  • This is so sexist. – user42272 Dec 31 '15 at 2:50

I think the best thing to do would be some internal soul-searching. I realize it's not really the "Workplace" response, (which is: forget about it), but I think it will help in the long run.

Consider your statements and the following questions... but no need to share your personal responses here. Rather, keep asking yourself "why" you feel the way you do. (Why do you have a crush), Why do you like those things? Why? Why? Why? A part of "self-awareness" is to practice this. Looking that up might be able to give you even better strategies then what I say here.

I want him to like me; when he is indifferent to me that makes me angry.

Are there other people you wish liked you? Do you care if others are indifferent? Why, or why not?

can he not behave cordially like everyone else?

How is he not being cordial? Do you expect more of him, than other coworkers? Do you expect him to be as outgoing as other coworkers? Why?

I am trying to get over him and telling myself he is nothing great. I am at a point in my life where I'm craving for a new beginning and a normal relationship. I can't seem to find anybody.

Don't beat yourself up over your feelings. Why do you crave a new beginning? What do you want to change? Is there anything you can do to start this new beginning? Do you really want to try and attempt a "normal" relationship, while making these changes? Do you really want to attempt it with this man, who is already in a relationship - or is it just physical attraction, which will fade with time?

If you find that you currently have no opportunities to meet people, start making some opportunities for yourself where you can meet the type of people you like! What kind of activities would those kinds of people likely engage in? Where can you go to meet these people? If you can't think of where to go, where would you like to go? What would you like to do on your days off?

Keep in mind you will find someone, and be patient. It will happen eventually, but worrying about it just makes it more personally painful during that time, instead - be optimistic about finding new places!


There is nothing wrong with being interested in someone at work and there is nothing wrong with eventually acting upon it if you get signals back.

However from your question and your question history makes me think this may be bad for you and I would recommend seeing a therapist. You seem a bit unstable and a bit immature. I think if you acted on something at work it could end very badly with your lack of control and your outlandish mindset.

  • Nice answer! Careful, I might steal it, lol – AndreiROM Dec 18 '15 at 15:36

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