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Married co-worker keeps staring at me

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Question - (23 October 2010) 6 Answers - (Newest, 23 October 2010)
A male United States age 30-35, anonymous writes:

Hello. I am 30 and work in IT. I am married and have a seven year old son. I have always been faithful to my wife (and any previous partners) and will continue to remain.

I am trying to figure out what to do about a married female co-worker. Maybe this is all in my head, maybe not... but she is roughly around my age who and had a baby several months ago. I noticed that she stares at me when I am in the vicinity talking with somebody else. For example, just the other day I walked over by her area to talk to the DBA and he wasn't at his desk, so I asked her and another guy where he was and they said he left for the day. So I started talking to the other guy about a question I had and I noticed that she was still looking at me even though I was no longer engaged in a conversation with her. Then, I looked over at her roughly 15 seconds later and she was still looking at me then quickly looked away.

Just today I had to go over and talk to her about an issue that she was having and she seemed very nervous. She is a really nice woman and friendly too, but she's not really that outgoing. So I walked over to her and said hi, she turns to completely face me, says hi back, and just stares in my eyes the entire time I'm talking to her. Now, I'm not talking about just normal eye contact when someone is engaged in a conversation with somebody else, it felt deeper than that. And it wasn't just that, she was twirling her hair and kept moving her eyes back and forth really quickly while looking into mine. I felt rather uncomfortable but never gave a sign of that is the case. I helped her with her issue and she thanked me, then she thanked me again as I walked away.

When I usually have to go by her area to talk to somebody, I never look at her and just go straight to the person I need to speak with. I notice out of the corner of my eye that she's looking at me, and not just a quick glance to see who it is, she watches me approach. I don't know what to make of it.

So is this all in my head or does it seem like she's secretly attracted to me? I just can't pick up on this shit. And don't get me wrong, I absolutely love my wife even though she really drives me up the wall sometimes. But... I am starting to find myself thinking of the female co-worker on occasion, and I can't handle it. I want those feelings gone. I have absolutely no intentions on wrecking two marriages... so my question is what do I do? How do I get a hold of myself and get rid of these feelings before they get worse? Avoiding her is not an option. I don't work in her area but I do have to talk to people around her all the time.

View related questions: co-worker, engaged

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A reader, anonymous, writes (23 October 2010):

This is verified as being by the original poster of the question

Thank you all for your suggestions. I think they're good ideas. I'll do my best...

In response to reply #5 that mentioned wrecking my marriage over sex, I'm confused. When did I ever mention sex? And third time marriage may be the one for me? I'm in my first marriage now so that doesn't even make any sense.

Perhaps I should have clarified a bit more of when I stated I was starting to think about my co-worker. I was thinking what it would be like to be with her (but not sexually). I don't even want to think about her at all. I realize why I'm even starting to have any kind of feelings for this woman, it's because she has qualities that my wife is lacking in which I wish my wife had, and my marriage is rocky. So the underlying issue really is between my wife and I and this scenario is NOT helping any.

My marriage has been rocky over the years where we end up fighting way too much. I know it's not healthy, but my wife is an extremely difficult person to talk to. She flies off the deep end very quickly and then there's no sense in continuing the discussion with her, so at that point I usually walk away. It's sad, really. The word "divorce" has been thrown around by her quite a bit but she always retracts that statement and apologizes, but it gets old.

I should also mention that our son has autism and is non-verbal. The last thing I want to do is destroy my son's life, but at the same time I don't know how much longer I can really stay in this marriage if things don't start turning around. I am not talking about leaving my wife for this other woman, I mean leaving my wife in general. I do love her very much and want to stay with her, but she's really emotionally beat me up over the years. She is in a bad mood at least 50% of the time.

Our son is a factor in the stress level for both of us and is likely contributing to some of our issues. He is a very difficult child at times. Lately he refuses to go to bed, throws fits all damn night up until midnight or whenever, and still gets up early. Sometimes he even gets up in the middle of the night and is up for the day. My wife and I don't see eye-to-eye on how to handle him. For example, my wife will lay in bed with him until he falls asleep at night. I don't. I absolutely refuse to. I'll read him a story or two and leave the room. At that point if he gets up out of bed I will make sure he gets back into bed. This is likely the reason why he's so bad at bedtime. I can't handle it because my wife gives in so much and I'm stricter, so I let her put him to bed most nights. She will yell at me and even calls me a horrid name "Hitler" because I am strict... what the hell, really? Just because I care about my son and want to enforce a routine, which these autistic children desperately need? Its things like that, and that's just one of many...

Now I am not perfect, and I know I have contributed to the rockiness of the marriage. My wife complains I don't spend enough time with her, and she's right, I don't. I'm working a full time job, then I am co-owner to an IT company a buddy of mine and I started fairly recently so I'm always busy, then I have my hobbies where I like to write music and whatnot. She is an at-home mom and does not work, and basically refuses to. Music is my creative outlet and I explained to my wife the other day that the creative desire is not something that you can just shut off. It literally rules you. If I get an idea in my head, I HAVE to get it down or I will lose it and drive myself crazy.

One of the things that drives me nuts the most about my wife is how she always puts herself down like she's just plain stupid and simple minded. She's far from it, but she lacks motivation and doesn't attempt to do anything for herself. When it comes to computer issues, she always asks me for help without trying to figure it out on her own first. I don't mind helping, but when she gets pissed at me because I can't help her immediately at that time, it's ridiculous.

Her self-esteem is in the crapper. She complains that she's overweight but NEVER exercises or changes her diet. She tells me all the time about how she's always losing weight, and gets mad at me for not noticing. Well, maybe it's because her weight is like a yo-yo and she never mentions when she gains weight, only loses it. Otherwise she would have lost so much weight by now there would be nothing left of her!

She went on this eBay shopping spree a few years ago, where she ended up spending over $10,000 in just under a year all on crappy clothes. Now those clothes sit in our closet and in boxes and whatnot in our basement. It set us back hugely. Instead of paying medical bills, I had to fund her eBay spree. I took out two $5,000 personal loans to pay off most of the medical debt and I'm still paying on those loans! She has extremely poor money management skills. She's an impulse buyer. I would have to say out of everything, the #1 problem I have with my wife is our financial situation and her pure ignorance regarding it. We fight about money more than anything else.

There are more things about my marriage that I could just go on and on, so I will stop here. I really should have mentioned all this previously; because this is also a factor into why this scenario is tripping me up... in fact I should have structured this whole question differently with a focus on my wife and mentioned the co-worker thing at the end. Oh well...

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A female reader, anonymous, writes (23 October 2010):

wreak your relationship over sex? that is up to you. Third time marriage may be the one for you

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A female reader, anonymous, writes (23 October 2010):

Hi, you need to know that this happpens a lot in the workplace.

It's good that you've noticed, and this definitely tells me that she is into you, maybe a crush.

Do not forget though that some people act like this just for attention.

It can feel really nice at first that someone else is attracted to you, and it can also manifest into a pre-occupation if you are not careful.

This all started for me last year so I do know.

You are lucky that you are not working too close to her, and can avoid her a little thus keeping it friendly.

What you need to do is tell yourself now that she is a colleague anad nothing more. If you begin to look back at her in the same way, things will escalate.

It soon gets to 'I'm looking forward to seeing her' and then ' I miss here when she's not here' Then conversations start and it can soon move on from there.

You are saying you do not want this attention which is a good sign. Keep telling yourself that and make sure you just stay friendly and polite with her.

She is putting out sub-concious flirting signs by the way.

When she is around, talk about your wife and family and the fun things you did at the weekend and so on.Talk about your son, you and your wife together.

If she tries to get into your personal space, which she probably will next,just take a step back. If she tries to make physical contact at all such as brushing against you or touching your arm, just move away and do not look her in the eye.

She should get the message if you keep it up.

If you have started to think about her already it will be hard to stop this, but you can do it if you do it NOW.

Please don't end up like me with a massive infatuation, a guy who knows it, and who has been leading me on for a long time now. Every day is more confusing than the next for me, it has taken over my life, and I can tell you, you do not want any of it!

What starts out as flattering, soon becomes an emotional nightmare, every day, and you can't avoid it when you are at work.

It is not worth the hurt it can cause, nor the hurt you will put yourself up for.

Also, don't think that a little eye contact is okay, or a little freindly banter is either, be strictly platonic at all times becasue she may take any of this behaviour as an interest from you.

All the best to you, and hang in there.

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A female reader, anonymous, writes (23 October 2010):

She may just be bored and staring because its someone different to watch. Some people are like that. My sister is one. A real people watcher. She will stare for ages and doesnt seem to understand it can make some uncomfortable. Not to mention its also rather bad mannered. Next time you are in her vicinity enquire after her child. Pepper the conversation with positive references to your wonderful wife and how great she is with your 7 year old. Make it subtle but let it show how much you love your wife. That will act as an antidote if she is feeling attracted to you!

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A male reader, Cerberus_Raphael United Kingdom +, writes (23 October 2010):

Cerberus_Raphael agony auntIt is noble of you to stay that faithful to your wife. You cannot control what this woman is thinking or what she is feeling, all you can do is ignore all the given signs. In the end, it does not matter if she is giving you hints because it is not in your best interests to act on them.

I see your thoughts are flooded with this co-worker of yours because you do not know what to make of it. Yes it does sound as though she is interested in you but you should not act on this. Just ignore it.

I hope that helps.

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A male reader, the_phoenic United Kingdom +, writes (23 October 2010):

from the details you have given i think

she abviously into you,

trying to avoid her isnt going to work because the nature of your work and because women usualy tend to chase those who ignore them,

so i suggest that you get your wife to know her and maybe become friends with her and through this friendship let your wife be the one who is always calling her and texting

her,

finally try to avoid any direct contact with her even if you become friends and keep your wifey always in the middle

Good luck

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