I received a great reader email, which I’ve edited for length and clarity that I wanted to share and answer. The basics of the email are: Colleagues meet, both go through breakups, bond, flirt, she rebuffs him but is interested in him, and wants him to pursue. Now, let’s do this:
I’m a 30-year-old woman living in gloomy England. I work in IT, 90% of time from home, and I have a work crush.
My crush, a 35-year-old man, joined the company a year ago. We were both in relationships at the time. I felt immediately attracted to him, but we were both taken. His ex left him shortly after he started working with us, and my ex left me shortly. I heal quickly, but my colleague was devastated for a bit longer. I was trying to cheer him up, and that’s how I discovered we like the same music, we both geek out over the same sci-fi series, and that we have major differences (political views!).
I always thought he was out of my league, so never tried anything more than just being myself and having a laugh. I totally suck at body language, flirting, and reading people’s intentions. I must have done something that sparked his interest because in retrospect, he was gathering intel about me over the past 2-3 months, and his behaviour towards me changed, like sitting next to me, trying to impress me with something he has done etc..
A few coworkers, including my crush went to town last Friday for drinks, dinner, and dancing. At some point during the night, I stood next to him and we started talking. I have a high tolerance for drink, but by this point my crush had lost his inhibitions. He was getting very friendly, looking for any excuse to get close, and among many other things kissing my neck and asking where I’m staying tonight. We all left the bar and whilst walking he approached me and said “I think we should have sex” which I turned into a joke with “all six of us?”. He cracked a joke back and we were off walking. A bit later I decided to go home and he walked me to the train despite my assurances that I’ll be fine. And that’s it, we had a hug and parted ways.
Now, I could easily had him in bed that night, I didn’t because the last thing I want is to be someone’s drunken “oops what have I done”. No idea if that would be the case, but I don’t risk such a thing when there’s work involved. I’m concerned that he must feel like a right idiot after his drunken advances towards me. Or, he didn’t mean any of it and was just drunk and in a mood to fuck someone without being overly picky.
So, my objectives are:
- do something so he doesn’t feel like an idiot
- make sure he knows I want to fuck him, but give him the pleasure of the chase
- do something to make him chase me
We don’t have social media accounts, we don’t work in an office together, and we don’t even live in the same city (we’re 30 kilometres from each other), and we don’t have mutual friends who aren’t our work mates. I know he’s in one of our offices every other Friday and I can spy on meeting schedules to work out when I can find him in our offices.
I’m not bothered if we have a fling or something more serious. The one thing I don’t want is fantasize about the guy without doing anything.
Many, many thanks for reading, and I hope to read your answers on the blog!
Hi G! Thank you so much for your email. I appreciate all the detail, since it provides a ton of needed context for your question. Since you so succinctly stated your goals, let’s address them.
Do something so he doesn’t feel like an idiot
I appreciate that one of your goals is to not make this guy feel like an idiot. No one wants to feel like an idiot when they flirt, and if he didn’t cross any lines with his flirting, it’s a good idea to try to convey to him that you’re interested so he doesn’t feel like he read the situation wrong.
Minus all the context you provided, the advice I’d give you (or anyone in a similar situation) would be to reach out to him and let him know that you didn’t reject him because you weren’t interested, you rejected him because you are interested, but didn’t want him to have any regrets if you hooked up. It’s honest, and gets the message across that he wasn’t wrong in flirting.
Specifically in your case, you should probably reach out to him via email, get his personal number, and shoot him a text (or call, if you prefer). I’m not saying you always need to take the lead on reaching out, but if your goal is to not make him feel like an idiot and get across that you are interested him, it’s better to act sooner rather than later.
Make sure he knows I want to fuck him, but give him the pleasure of the chase & Do something to make him chase me
My answer to these question is tied to the question above, in that your first step will be to reach out to him to get his cell. I also joined the questions to answer them because of how similar they are.
I know that being the person who initiates contact isn’t exactly creating an environment where it seems like it will lead to a chase, but it can. I mentioned above that you should reach out to him to let him know that you’re interested in him and you should do that, but you should also tell him that he’s going to have to work to get you into bed. Since you’ve admitted that you’re bad at reading signs, feel free to be upfront about what you want in very clear terms. Here’s the basics of what you should tell him, and feel free to reword using your own lexicon:
- Just wanted to reach out to let you know that I didn’t turn down your offer to go home with you because I wasn’t interested, I am if you are, I just didn’t want you think I was only going home with you because we were both in a state
At this point, feel free to ask if he’s still interested when he’s sober. If he isn’t, wish him well. If he is:
- Tell him that you’re still interested, and you’d love to be taken home by him at some point, but he’s going to have to work for it.
It’s really that simple. It’s up to you to decide what chasing you, wooing you, or working to get in your pants looks like in practice, but you can and should be candid that this is what you want. Worst case scenario, he hears that and loses interest but it’s a silver lining. A man who isn’t willing to work to get you into bed will not be willing to work to keep you satisfied once you’re in bed.
Besides that, I wanted to part by giving you a warning, some general advice, and end with a bit of a pep talks.
First, a warning. It doesn’t seem like it will be a concern for you since you’re okay with either a fling or something more, but he’s very likely to be rebounding. Based on how he handled his breakup, how long it took to recover, and how long it took between then and now to flirt with you. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t pursue things with him, just warning you to be a bit cautious.
Some general advice here: I think that most people are bad at reading signs that someone is flirting. So here are some quick pointers on what to look out for. Eye contact, Smiling, talking to you when they don’t need to, trying to keep conversations going, turning their torso to you when they speak, physical contact, and general being friendly. I know it sounds like everyone does all of those things when they speak to people, but really pay attention to how often those things happen. It’s not foolproof of course, but it’s a good place to start.
Finally, a bit of a pep talk. No one is out of your league unless you think they are, and allow yourself to be driven by that idea. People are either attracted to you or not, but your “league” doesn’t determine that on its own. Assume that everyone is in your “league”, because they probably are.
Good Luck Out There.
Also published on Medium.