Should I Tell My Manager How Attracted I Am to Her?

A question to Ask the Workplace Doctors wondering
whether or not to reveal a crush on a manager. 

I am a man who works in a family-owned wholesale company, outside of the United States. The husband is our General Manager. The wife is our Administration group manager and I am the business development manager. I have worked here for 4 years. Things seem to be developing like you read about only on the Internet–on how your boss man or lady is attracted to you.

Last year I started having problems with my marriage, but I did not see a counselor. My group manager saw that my performance dropped during that time and asked about it and I openly told her my problems. Ever since then, I have noticed my feelings growing for her. She does a lot for me–extra favors and extra money, which I reimburse. She has me assist her family, such as taking her Dad to see the doctor, because her husband is so busy as the GM.

We both spend time after work hours, catching up with major projects about which I always am asked to give an opinion. She looks for me if I am out of the office seeing clients. She gets angry if I don’t say good night before I leave, and she makes a point of mentioning it the next day.

I have seen strong signs that this woman is attracted to me as a man, not just an employee. I find this surprising, as I am not Chinese—I am of a different race. My feelings for her are growing. I am more sexually excited than ever when I’m next to her, but I control myself and don’t show it.

She is very good at keeping secrets, and I wish to just tell that I have crush on her, but don’t want to ruin my career or the good work relationship we have. At the same time, I clearly see signs she likes me. She calms down when I’m around and stops shouting at employees. We communicate. I feel she hides her feelings from others, as she is employed by in-laws to work in the family business.

I am dying just to tell her I have crush on her and that I find her attractive. I have twice reminded her she is sexy and beautiful, but she said she was not. Can I tell her just how I feel? I want to tell her, but I don’t want to ruin anything.

Please advise…as we don’t have specialist counselors in this country. I need help.

Response:
Our site answers questions about workplace communication issues. However, since you seem to have an extreme situation we will suggest a few things that might assist you. You should also read our archives and you will find many other questions like yours, all asking the same general thing: Should I tell my boss I have a crush on him/her?

You have clearly described how you are attracted to the wife of the owner of this Chinese wholesale company. After you confided to her that you were having difficulty with your own marriage, you found your attraction for her grow. You feel she likes you. You two communicate harmoniously. Your communication with her has gone beyond work matters.  Not only have you disclosed trouble with your marriage, also you have told her she is sexy and beautiful. You ask: Can I tell her just how I feel? But you worry that such a disclosure might adversely affect your job and career.

Here are five possible scenarios and outcomes for your situation:

1.In the first scenario, you continue to work cooperatively with the Administration group manager, who is the wife of the Manager of the company, being careful to not disclose that you are attracted to her. To cope with your attraction, you can resolve to only talk about work matters and avoid discussion of personal matters such as your own marriage or that she is sexy and beautiful.

If your attraction is so frustrating you cannot contain it, you may decide it would better to seek work elsewhere than to destroy either her marriage or yours. Perhaps you can get counseling for your own marriage to learn if it can be revived or should end.

2. The second scenario is that you tell her how attracted you are to her, but she says she doesn’t feel that way about you. If that happens, your working relationship will become very uncomfortable. She might even not want to continue working with you and you will be out of work and trying to explain to your wife what happened.

3. The third scenario is that you tell her you have a crush on her and she says she feels the same way. That situation will almost inevitably lead to the two of you having an even closer relationship, perhaps a sexual relationship. If that happens, the reality is that the husband will find out. The other employees probably already notice the closeness between you two, so they may tell him of their suspicions. Or, she will confess everything one day. Or, he will notice some tell-tale sign, especially if the two of you sneak around to see each other more privately than you can do by working late together.

If the husband finds out, he may do something violent to you or his wife or both of you, to avenge his honor. Or, he may fire you, to keep his wife away from you. Or, he and his family may remove his wife from a role in the business and both of you will be unemployed. This is another scenario in which you will have a lot of explaining to do to your wife.

4. The fourth scenario is that you don’t take the initiative to say anything, but one day the wife tells you she is attracted to you and you tell her you feel the same way. See #3 for what happens next.

5. The fifth scenario is that other employees notice the situation, which seems to be rather obvious, and one of them says something to the General Manager. #3 also applies in that situation.

The reality is that there is no happy ending if you tell your boss you are attracted to her or if your boss tells you she is attracted to you—or if the two of you show your feelings to others.  We would say the same thing if you were a female and the boss was a male. I realize that seems like an unromantic and frustrating picture, but it reflects what nearly always happens in situations such as you describe.

To help you make up your mind, consider these questions: Will you be OK economically if you lose your job? Are you ready to leave your wife or have her leave you, if she finds out about the situation? If your boss feels the same way you do, do you think she is willing to risk losing her employment in her husband’s family-owned business, in order to have a closer relationship with you? If she doesn’t feel the same way you do, do you think she would continue to work closely with you?

Keep in mind that when two people work together it’s easy to develop a feeling of closeness, because you may have a lot of shared interests and both of you may feel that no one else understands the daily challenges as well as the two of you do. It also sounds like both of you have been lonely and relied on the other one to fill the empty spaces in your emotions. She has a busy husband who may not give her a lot of personal attention. You have a troubled marriage and find solace in the closeness you feel with your boss.

So, even though right now it seems like a tremendously magnetic attraction, you may find it is more a result of other issues than any really close feelings that would stand the test of time and difficulties.

I wish you would find someone to talk to, perhaps a friend or relative, who can discuss things with you as the situation changes. Your future and perhaps your boss’s future, her husband’s future, and your wife’s future depends upon your decision.

Best wishes to you as you deal with this challenging situation.

Tina Rowe
Ask the Workplace Doctors