How Do I Get Over Loving My Boss?

A Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about how to get over obsessive thinking
about a higher level person at work. 

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Question:
I have a strong love for a boss at work. It started off early this year, when I first got to know him.  He’s higher than me in work level, but I do not report directly to him. We do play a sport at work on our free time.

At the start he was soo much attracted to me, he used to come up to my desk and talk to me and also used to tap me on my shoulder and give me a hug when I played well. I shared with him my personal stuff and also did mention to him once that I wish I had met him earlier, but I did not receive an answer.

He is very professional and he’s said that sending emails and messaging through work is fine but not in private. He’s married, divorced, has kids and also has a girlfriend, but he did mention once that he and his girlfriend can’t live together(for whatever reason, which he failed to disclose).

I am married, but my marriage is not a very happy one. I did share some of my personal married life issues with him when I met him outside work. I know he likes me although he has never told me this. But, I catch his eyes following me sometimes at work. I love this boss of mine a lot but I really don’t know if he loves me the way I love him.

I did soo much to be around him, because it is only when I see him at work that I’m happy. I love him to an extent that words can’t describe. When I was away from work for a month and when I returned back to work he was so happy to see me and he did come up and have a chat with me, which I assumed was love. But these days I feel he’s taken a bit of advantage of me and he speaks a bit rudely, which I’m not very comfortable with.

This relationship is going nowhere, but I cannot easily forget him nor can I be normal when he’s around in the office. I just want to get over him because I know deep down he’s never going to fall in love with me. Even if he does, he’s never going to let me know. For me to save myself from all this drama I did create a fake fight with him and asked him never to speak to me again. He respected my words I guess, because hasn’t come up to my desk or tried to talk to me since then.

Now I’m scared that he will come to my desk after a few days and start a conversation and get me talk to him, which I don’t want to. Please help me get out of all this drama as I feel my happiness should only depend on myself and I don’t like someone else controlling my feelings. What do I do if he comes up to me and talks again? How do I get him out of my head and move away? He literally showed me all the love and affection at the start and now he’s behaving different, I’m very confused please help me.

Response:
If you look through our archives you will find many questions like yours under the category of Romantic Affairs at Work. A common side effect of working closely with someone is that the attention or even just the friendship of coworkers can start to feel romantic for one or both of the people. Almost always such a situation has uncomfortable or bad results.

I will mention some ideas that others have found effective for getting over an obsessive crush. But, before I do that, let me mention a few things based on your message:

1. The things you have described as indicators that Mr. X might love you or that he has had, in the past and maybe still, a strong emotional attraction to you, don’t indicate that to me, as an outsider looking in. If those things indicate love or a crush, a lot of people who have friendships at work would be in the middle of the drama you describe. Unless there is more to it than you have mentioned, it seems that the deep attraction is all on your side. That is probably uncomfortable to admit and sounds harsh for me to write, but it is probably the first thing you will need to acknowledge if you want to move past this infatuation/obsession.

He has given you several indicators that he is not as attracted to you as you are to him.

*He failed to take the bait when you said you wished you had met him earlier. If he was attracted, all he had to say was, “Yeah, I know what you mean.” Or, “Me too.” Or, he could have said, “I don’t feel that way and I don’t think it’s appropriate for you to talk like that.” He simply didn’t say anything one way or the other—which is a way to say, “Maybe if I don’t respond, she will back off, but I won’t have to hurt her feelings.”

*He has told you that sending emails and messages at work is fine, but not private ones. You attributed that to being professional. I think you should attribute it to the fact that he doesn’t want you to even consider sending him personal messages and he knows you will not send romantic or very personal emails on work accounts. If he wanted a relationship with you, he would give you a personal email address to use and let you know you could write to him and he would respond.

*You created a fight with him so you could tell him not to talk to you again. I don’t see how a manager at work can promise that, so I expect he will simply stop having non-business conversations, which is what he should be doing anyway. You didn’t mention your respective ages, but if you are much younger than him, that may be a factor as well. Not all men are interested in much younger women and your actions may indicate immaturity to him.

*You say he showed affection at the start but now he is behaving differently. First, I would question that anything he has ever done has shown romantic affection. It might have shown warmth and friendly affection, but nothing that would cause him to leave his girlfriend or have a relationship with a married subordinate. He may be acting differently now because he realizes the error of his ways and wants to stop any misconceptions on your part about how he feels. Or, let’s say he DID feel some affection at first. Things change and the honeymoon with a new employee or coworker goes away after a while. He may still like you, but simply not want to be caught in, as you describe it, a drama.

*You say you should depend upon yourself and you don’t like someone else controlling your feelings. You have your wish, because you alone are in control of your feelings. We hear from many young women who have bosses or coworkers who purposely try to entangle them by making promises and saying they love them or bringing gifts or offering promotions. In those cases I would say the men involved are trying to control the feelings of the women. None of those things seem to have happened in your case.

The one phrase that made me think you two have done more than chat, is when you said you shared some personal married life issues when you met him outside work. If you have had a sexual relationship or a dating type of relationship, that changes things somewhat. Still, he apparently doesn’t want to continue it, so it might as well have never happened.

2. Here are the things that we have suggested to many women and have heard back that the ideas were effective:

*If you care about him, think about the fact that he could be fired if it were discovered he has a relationship with you—or if there is a thought that he has encouraged you to feel involved with him. Your business may or may not have a rule against it, but almost no businesses want to risk accusations of impropriety. Further, if suspicions or accusations harmed his career or caused him to lose his job, he would have plenty of reason to dislike you, especially since it appears he has not encouraged you in any specific way. You don’t want that to happen.

*Think about how he might be feeling, if he is really not interested in any kind of a romantic relationship. Hear him describe it to his girlfriend and talk to others about dreading having to interact with you, because he thinks you have a crush on him. That is a form of aversion therapy that seems to work for some people. And the harsh reality is, it may be true.

*Consider how much you need your job. If you need it to pay the bills and there are no suitable alternatives, you need to do what it takes to hold onto it. The obsession you have with Mr. X is bound to have an effect on your work at some point. Or, it will be so obvious that other people notice it and they will talk about it. Probably other people already realize you ae interested in him and are making remarks about it. If so, they realize he is not interested in you that way. Make them think they were wrong, by not showing any indications of your feelings in the future.

As a really serious solution—-if there is another job easily available, take it and get out of this situation.

*Consider what would happen if you lost your job because of something that you say or do, related to this situation. How would you explain it to your husband? What would you do? What effect would it have on your marriage? Do you have children? What effect could this have on them?

*If your business has counseling for employees or if you can afford such a resource, get assistance about your marriage, your self-image and this relationship. They are intertwined and all could benefit from an opportunity for you to discuss the situation with a professional counselor.

*The only way to stop a repetitious thought is to replace it with another thought. Consider finding something to do right after work, to distract you from Mr. X. Do NOT continue playing a sport with him or doing anything after hours that involves him. You may want to start a new exercise program, a new hobby, an activity that you enjoy…anything to make you have to learn something new or think about something else for hours at a time. Whatever you do that triggers thoughts of Mr. X, purposely do something else. When you see him or hear his voice, hear his thoughts and know that he is trying to extricate himself from your thoughts and your crush on him. At the same time, picture all the negative things that could happen to you because of it.

None of those ideas may fit your specific situation, but you can adapt the thoughts. However, even if none of those work, you can take heart in the fact that this will go away on its own at some point. You say it started early this year when you got to know him. That is only about eight months. In another eight months you will either be sick and tired of so much angst or something will have happened to bring it into the open and one or both of you will be made to stop it. The preferable thing is for you to have the courage to stop it yourself, right now.

I know you cannot just turn off the feelings. But, you can replace your thoughts by thinking about the bad consequences if they continue—and you can get counseling to help you on a more personal basis.

I hope you will do all of those things, because clearly this is leading you into trouble. If you take even a few steps to get this under control, you will feel better about it.

Best wishes to you with this situation. If you have the time and wish to do so, let us know what you do and what happens.

Tina Rowe
Ask The Workplace Doctors