Yeah, I know… She’s straight, but this crush that I have on her makes me feel so alive (something I haven’t felt in a long time). We work together and have the same schedule, so we see each other QUITE a bit. We goof off and the playful banter between us is. She seems to enjoy it and I sure as hell love it. The problem is, the banter and fun is when we’re around other co-workers.
When she and I are left alone, I’m so incredibly shy and awkward (which is a complete 180 when I’m around others and her). I don’t know what to say or talk about, so she just smiles and leaves me alone.
I’m not completely out (I like to keep to myself about certain things) but I have a feeling she already knows I’m gay. I know there’ll be nothing more than some friendly affection and touches with her, and I’m okay with that. I see her being affectionate to some of our co-workers and I want to be a part of that, but I guess I come across as arms-length.
So my question is, how do I talk to someone that takes my breath (and words) away? What would you do in this situation?
Hello reader, and thank you for writing in! I have actually been in a similar situation more than once, which is especially difficult if you’re not exactly “out” at work. (Back when I had a real-world job, I generally tried to use my invisibility to my advantage, and stayed in the closet at any work-related functions.)
I have to ask you: How sure are you that she’s straight? Is there any chance that she’s just not out either? If you’re crushing hard, and maybe she could be feeling the same way, I’d recommend jumping in and telling her how you feel. If you think she knows you’re into women and she’s not particularly weird about it, that’s a pretty good sign that she wouldn’t shame you for it if you confirmed things.
(Of course, you’ll need to use your own discretion here – there is always a chance that things will go bad, and if you’re in a region where it’s still legal to discriminate based on someone’s sexuality, it’s especially dangerous. Please be sure that it’s safe for you personally to be out at work, just in case she outs you – then hope she doesn’t.)
If you are completely sure that she’s not into you, I really don’t recommend “being a part” of that affection – it can mess with your emotions if it means something different to you than it means to her. Even if you tell yourself you’ll be okay with it, it’s not always easy to predict how you’ll actually react to the situation.
Next, you’ll need to figure out if your crush is easy enough to separate yourself from. In some cases, the crush is going to stay no matter what you do – and it’ll take more willpower to stay “just friends and coworkers” with her at this point. That’s not to say it’ll be impossible, of course, but it will be pretty hard on you. In other cases, it may be as easy as deciding that you’re not going to try for anything. I don’t know you, and I don’t know your crush – only you can figure this part out.
If it were me, I’d probably start out trying to figure out “just how straight” she was. I don’t know about you, but I’ve been guilty of accidental bi-erasure a number of times. As mad as I get at myself every time it happens, it’s a really hard habit to break – is there any chance that you’re doing this, too?
Once you’ve confidently established whether she is or is not interested in women (and maybe a brief overview of her type, if possible), you’ll have some points to either talk yourself into asking her out, or to talk yourself out of crushing on her. It’s not an exact science, but it is a fairly safe place to start.