"I have a work crush. For the record, I have a boyfriend who I love and have been in a committed relationship with for 3 years, but for some reason every time I see this guy at work I get butterflies and now it's so bad that I'm thinking of him even when I'm not at work. I recognize that this is just a crush and I'm not seriously considering leaving my boyfriend, but I can't seem to get my colleague out of my head. It's distracting and I want it to stop. How do I deal with this?"
Not all they're cracked up to be.
Ah the work crush. That slippery thing between flirtation at the coffee machine and oh my god am I spending more time with this person than my partner?
The first thing to be reassured by is this is completely normal. The average full time worker in the USA spends 1700 hours a year at the office. That’s a lot of time spent with people other than your friends and family, bound together by the nuances, eccentricities and soap opera dramas of office politics that only you, and they, understand. The relationship you share with your colleagues is a unique one and no amount of explaining to your boyfriend/best friend/mother/neighbor/hairdresser about how Bob in marketing isn’t pulling his weight, Nancy in sales is always undermining you, or Jim on the management team is a full-blown idiot, will enable them to really understand what is going on for most of your day. And it shouldn’t. It’s boring. It’s boring to anyone but you, your colleagues and, inevitably, your work crush.
You work crush gets it. Your work crush can giggle with you after a meeting about that ridiculous thing Diane in accounts said. When you throw all manner of under-the-radar communications methods into the mix--an email here, an instant message chat there--you’ve suddenly got yourself a full blown “You’ve Got Mail” style relationship going on, and the very fact that you can’t (or don’t want to) act on it makes it all the more easy to get sucked in.
The thing with crushes is, more often than not, they fade over time. That’s the nature of a crush. Soon enough you’ll see them eating a sandwich with their mouth open or wearing flip flops with long trousers and you’ll forget why you ever got a flutter from them in the first place. Or you won’t. Because it’s also ok to flirt with people every now and again and frankly work can get pretty boring. What’s a bit of banter with the hot guy in legal amongst friends?
If you are thinking of acting on it that’s another matter. Maybe that has less to do with your crush and more to do with that fact that maybe there’s something that’s going on in your relationship that’s leaving you dissatisfied. And that’s ok too. Your crush might simply be a catalyst for reassessing what’s going on in your personal life.
Either way, don’t beat yourself up too much. You spend a lot of time at work, emotions are high, the fact that you can’t and won’t act on your crush inevitably injects it with even more sexual tension than any real life flirtation would. Everyone indulges in a bit of fantasy every now and again, it doesn’t make you a bad person. 99% of the time these crushes peter out, and for the other 1%, it really just serves to confirm problems that were already there in the first place.