Office romances can have wonderful endings, and there can be happily-ever-afters. And yet, many workplaces have strict rules about dating a coworker, not without reason.
Dating a coworker can become messy very easily. If things don’t go well, both parties must keep working with each other without letting the frigidity of their personal lives hinder their work. Moreover, office rules are also in place to prevent sexual harassment.
One has no control over who one likes. The guy across the aisle might be cute, or the girl in the opposite cubicle might be very pretty. And once you know them personally, you might like them.
On the other hand, there might be someone around you, and you may have no idea about it. Whether you are a man or a woman, if you see your coworkers suddenly acting weird around you, chances are they like you and not just because they want to work with you.
Your brain will immediately pick up signals if someone around you may have started liking you because their actions will change. However, that is not enough. Learning to decipher signals, whether any coworker likes you, will undoubtedly help you understand where to stand and give you time to think about how you react.
Why Should You Be Cautious While Dating a Coworker?
There are several reasons why you should be cautious while dating a coworker if they like you. No matter how much they want you and you like them back, you always have to remember that your professional relationship comes first. Here is why you should be careful.
1. Continuous Engagement
If you are dating a coworker, you will see them a lot. You will be together during work, and then you may spend quite some time after work as well. That will make you engage with them constantly, and the line between your professional and personal lives will blur very quickly.
It would help if you didn’t let any differences between the two of you while dating affects your work. That will make things difficult for both of you.
2. Dating on The Sly
If your office has strict rules against dating, and you choose to go ahead with dating your coworker anyway, assuming you two will be able to keep it a secret by saying that you are only coworkers. In contrast, you will have to live a double life at work. And there is always a possibility that someone may find out.
Another colleague may find you together at some party they just chanced upon, or you just forgot that some of your other coworkers were on your social media and inadvertently posted something. You can be fired immediately if any word gets to your manager.
3. Coping With Rivalry
If you are dating your coworker, there may come a point when you have to put aside your professional rivalry for the sake of the person you are dating.
Or, if both of you are very driven and ambitious, setting aside your professional goals for the other person can be difficult, especially in the early phases of dating. You may be vying for the same promotion or want to head a project that can take your career to the next level.
Do you step aside for the other person, or can you keep your personal life outside the office and battle for the spot anyway? These are questions you need to answer when you consider dating a coworker.
Understanding The Difference Between Flirting And Liking
When you work with someone nearby daily, it is sometimes difficult to understand whether a person likes you or is very comfortable around you. They may also flirt with you, but that does not mean they want you.
Harmless flirting is often seen as a sign of camaraderie. If your workplace has a laid-back vibe, or the Fridays are pretty casual, where the colleagues head out for a drink after work, such situations may arise.
Hence, it takes more than flirting about whether the coworker likes you. You need to give them some time and see how their behavior changes over time.
14 Signs That Your Coworker Likes You But is Trying to Be Discreet
Some of the most obvious signs that a coworker likes you are that they will ask you out for coffee or an actual date.
However, sometimes things might be obscure. Your coworker might also be trying to be careful because of any repercussions they may face. Whether you are a man or a woman, some common signs tell you that a coworker might like you but is trying not to show it.
If someone likes your company, they will be open and friendly around you. However, if someone wants you and has some kind of romantic feelings for you, they will become nervous around you.
You may see that they are not able to make eye contact when they are talking to you or fumbling while they are speaking. They may want to be around you and yet try to avoid talking to you. Being nervous is one of the first signs that someone likes you.
2. Staring When You Are Not Looking
An undeniable sign that your coworker likes you is when they stare at you from afar, but only when they think you are not looking.
You may, on the other hand, come to know of it from another coworker who may have noticed your admirer gaze at you from a distance.
Or, you may have caught them staring at you directly or indirectly through a mirror. This indicates your coworker likes you but does not want you to know about their feelings yet.
3. Eager to Make Acquaintance
Once the initial phase of nervousness is over, your coworker will try to speak to you. This is sometimes easy because there is often some work they want to discuss.
However, you will also notice that they are trying to talk to you at the slightest pretext, even when they could have simply sent an email.
In the process, they will also ask other questions, like what you do after work or your hobbies, to get to know you better. If this goes on for a long time, it may indicate the coworker likes you.
4. Being Attentive
If your coworker suddenly becomes attentive to your needs, it could signify they like you. For example, they may start bringing you coffee every morning, just as you like it. Or, they ensure you have someone to talk to during lunch break.
Of course, please note whether they do it with others or it is just you. If you suddenly find them showering extra attention on you, they could be like you.
5. See Them Smiling
While it is essential to be polite and cordial at work, the stress from the job can often make people cranky. However, if your coworker always smiles and lights up when you are around or speaking to you, it means they like you.
They could have been arguing with someone else a few minutes back, yet they instantly sober up and put on their best persona when you come around. They try to be friendly and pleasing, no matter how complex their day is. It indeed indicates they like you.
6. Always Listen to You
If your coworker like you, you often find them listening to you. Whether you are rambling about what a tough week you had or how you felt sad because your neighbor lost their cat, you will often find them listening to you attentively.
In fact, they will be very eager to know about what goes on in your life outside work. They will also learn about other minor details like where you are from or what you studied in college. They will often do this even if they have a ton of work piled up or will make plans to catch up later.
7. Dress Well
If you suddenly notice your coworker dressing well around you, it indicates they are trying to impress you.
You will find them asking you about your favorite color and turning up something similar a few days later. They will also put on a new perfume or have a new haircut.
Trying to look good is a sure sign of trying to impress someone. If you feel they are trying to gauge how you feel about their new look, they are looking forward to your opinion. And that is because they like you.
Bonus Read: How to Dress for a Job Interview for Men?
8. Ask About Personal Life
Your coworker will try to figure out if you are single, but they will try to do so subtly. They may talk about their personal life first and establish that they are single, and they will also ask you about your life. They will do so discreetly, asking you about who is at home and where your family stays.
You will see them happy when you mention you live alone and have just siblings and parents at home. You may hear a very audible sigh of relief as well!
9. Invite You to Events
A coworker who likes you but still trying not to show it might not ask you out on dates immediately, but they will still ask you to accompany them to events.
They may ask if you would like to go with them to the year-end office party or will ask if you would be interested in hanging out with their friends. They might also tell you they have extra tickets to an event and would you like to go.
It could be just group outings at first, but later they only want to hang out with you. This clearly shows they like you.
10. Try to Be Funny
A sense of humor is a major attraction, and a happy and funny person is very attractive. If your coworker suddenly starts cracking jokes around you, even if they may be otherwise reserved and distant, it could be a sign they like you.
They will bring their guards down and try to joke and flirt with you. If you were friendly already, they might give you a nickname, and you may soon have inside jokes. They will try to get closer to you and just be comfortable.
You may also find them acting silly and weird because that is how people work when they like someone but are trying to hide their feelings.
11. Pays You Compliments
Another sign that your coworkers like you is that they compliment and appreciate your slightest efforts. You need to be careful about this because if they go overboard, it could become a source of contention among other colleagues.
However, you will see your coworker paying you compliments about how good you look and how well you handled a client. They will often try to go out of their way to ensure that your work gets done smoothly and that you have everything you need.
Make sure you handle this well, so it does not become a source of office gossip.
12. Makes You Comfortable
Another sign that your coworker likes you is that they will try to make you comfortable. They will probably grab a morning coffee for you or ensure you have one of the best seats during a conference.
Or, they may offer to drive you home after work if you are without transport. These might be little acts, but coupled with some other signs, it could be because they like you.
One of the things in this regard is that if it keeps happening too often, your other coworkers may also start to notice, so you need to consider handling this extra attention.
13. Plans a Surprise
One of the biggest signs that a coworker likes you is that they will plan a surprise for you. Is it your birthday around the corner? Or did you just get a promotion? They may just plan a small office party for you.
This is a significant and noticeable gesture, especially if they do it exclusively for you. This will also make the coworkers, and maybe even the management, take notice.
However, the surprise can also be very small and subtle, like asking to treat everyone on your behalf or asking the team members out for a couple of drinks, which they pay for. The gesture counts, and that is definitely because they like you.
13. Brings You Gifts
Another sign that your coworker likes you is that they bring you small gifts. Since it is a workplace, they might not bring anything grand, but the gesture still matters. So they may bring you a flower or a book they think you would like.
It does not imply in any way that you have to receive the gifts, but accepting them would be nice, especially if they do so with politeness and courtesy.
14. Asks For Your Number
This is, of course, the most significant sign that someone likes you. They will ask for your number. They may ask for it directly or on the pretext of work. Of course, this does not mean in any way that any coworker who asks for your number likes you. It would be best to notice a combination of other signs and their body language to determine why they ask for your number.
On the other hand, if they already have your number through work connections, they may text you even outside of work requirements. If that happens, you need to think about whether you want to share your number or how to respond to them.
How to Differentiate Between Liking And Harassment
As mentioned earlier, there are rules against dating coworkers in offices to prevent harassment or awkward situations that may hinder the work culture or jeopardize the company’s reputation in some way.
Hence, if you see signs that a coworker is into you, it can sometimes take a turn for the worse. Here is how to detect a difference between liking and harassment.
1. You Will feel Uncomfortable
Yes, your gut instinct is your biggest asset here. Even if your coworker doesn’t act creepy initially, you will instinctively feel uncomfortable in their presence. Something about how they look at you or the tone of their voice will put you on your guard.
Sometimes, we make mistakes by overcoming these signals that our brain tries to send us simply because we feel so happy that someone is paying us a lot of attention. However, if you do not like that attention, start thinking about ways to keep the person at bay.
2. You Will Face Bad Behavior
If someone just likes you or harmlessly flirts with you, they will back off and respect your wishes if you express your disapproval. If a coworker likes you, they will give you adequate time to warm up to them and not try to force you to like them back.
However, a harasser will not take no for an answer. These people are usually narcissists and are used to getting their way. Hence, they might try to manipulate you into liking them or bombard you with calls and text messages, which can be very frustrating.
They might even behave badly with you when facing rejection and try to tarnish you by speaking ill of you to other colleagues. Ask them to back off politely, but if they do not listen, you can show them to the management and ask for action.
3. You Will Face Non-Cooperation
One of the ways in which a coworker may harass you if you do not reciprocate their feelings is that they will try to make work difficult for you. If you are a team member or work on the same project, they will put hurdles in your path. And they may do this with subtlety.
At first, you may not even realize it is happening, and you might not even have proof. You will make mistakes at work and be reprimanded by your boss for no fault of your own.
This is all because the coworker wants to get back at you because you do not like them or want to get involved with them. In such cases, try to keep meticulous records of everything that can lead back to the harassing co-worker so that you can show it to your boss if needed.
Not all signs will always mean that a coworker likes you and has some romantic feelings. It is essential to see the signs in context. It could be that one of your coworkers is simply very friendly, and you should know whether they behave in a friendly and affectionate manner with everyone else on the team.
However, if you see three or more signs, then it could mean something is going on. And you should prepare yourself for how to respond if they ask you out for coffee! It could be the beginning of something beautiful.