Ik ben verliefd op mijn baas en hij is afstandelijkoktober 7, 2019
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I have a crush on my boss and he’s being standoffish
by Alison Green on October 7, 2019
A reader writes:
A few months ago, I started working at what’s basically the perfect company for me (introvert, diagnosed autism, possible undiagnosed ADHD). It’s a very small company. I enjoy the work, I’m good at what I do, I get my own space and lots of alone time, and there’s no customer interaction.
Thing is, I still crave the occasional good conversation, even though I’m not that interested in meeting new people. So I get most of my social stimulation from everyday settings, like work. This has led to me feeling left out at my current company. My two supervisors (both male, near my age) have interesting and animated chats about current events, that weird dream they had last night, relationships, and business ideas. When I’ve tried to join in, I’ve felt like an annoying kid instead of a smart, interesting woman. My two coworkers are pretty nice, but they’re still working on their English, so conversation is somewhat limited.
It turns out my direct supervisor and I share the exact same taste in music and an interest in politics. We had some good spirited discussions, and of course I got a crush on him. I made a cautious first move with a text saying I was moved by a certain album we both like … and of course he became standoffish and distant towards me, though still professionally appropriate (not surprising; no guy I’ve ever shown interest in has wanted me back).
I’ve continued being a competent and punctual employee and interacting with my supervisor-crush in a friendly but professional way. Something of our former fun interactions returned. Lately, though, there’s been none of that. It seems he’s always ready to chat with his fellow supervisor, my coworkers, our very attractive PR person, the UPS guy — everyone but me. Instead of being flattered when I ask him work questions (things he’d already told me a few times but I’d forgotten; where to find things I could have found myself if I’d looked a little harder), he’ll kindly tell me I should figure things out on my own. Now I not only feel ugly (I’m a woman and got rejected by yet another guy), but I have no one at work to talk to.
I love my space, but I also want to connect with the people I want to connect with. I don’t want my feelings to affect my work performance. Any advice for me?
This is easier said than done, but the key will be to stop the crush from affecting how you interact with your manager … and, if you can, to stop taking his lack of interest personally.
I know lack of interest does feel personal! What could be more personal? But he’s your manager, which means he 100% absolutely under no circumstances can date you, and even having a flirty relationship would be inappropriate.
Any good manager knows they absolutely cannot date someone they manage (and in fact, most employers prohibit it). At a minimum, it creates the appearance of bias and special treatment, and at worst it opens the door to abuses of power and even charges of harassment down the road. It’s not okay to do.
My hunch is that your manager pulled back from your interactions because he got the vibe that you might be looking at the relationship in a way that isn’t okay for him as your manager. When a manager gets the sense that an employee might be romantically interested — or is just crossing the boundaries that need to be in place for managers — they should pull back. That’s the exact right thing for them to do, because the hope is that that’ll reset the relationship back into the right place without any need for an awkward conversation about it. In fact, that’s the kindest way to handle it. (And this isn’t about how you look — a good manager would do this even if you were a supermodel.)
Hearing that your boss might be trying to politely deflect your interest might feel embarrassing. But truly, there’s no reason for that. People get crushes and they misread signals, and decent people on the receiving end of that don’t look down on them for it. It’s just a fact of life. Ideally the target of the interest sends out cues that reset the dynamic, the message is received, and everyone just moves on.
So, the best thing for you to do is to take the cues he’s offering and reset the way you’re interacting with him. For instance, it sounds like you hoped he’d be flattered when you brought him work questions that you probably shouldn’t have been asking (things you should have remembered or figured out on your own). But no good manager would be flattered by that; to the contrary, in a work relationship, that’s actually a performance concern. Similarly, don’t text him about music — that’s too much for most manager/employee relationships. Be friendly, but keep it in the same boundaries you’d use with a manager who you had good will toward but zero attraction.
If you reset your boundaries with your boss back to a friendly-but-not-friends / warm-but-not flirtatious level and then give it some time, it’s likely that you’ll return to being able to have friendly (but appropriate!) conversations with him at some point.