Q. I work remotely from home and my male colleague, whom I’ve never met in person, has started sending me instant messages every day — in the morning when I get in, at lunch, and before I get off work. Sometimes he sends me instant messages in the evening that pop up on my work mobile. The messages are mostly non-work-related. He’s seen my photo on my work e-mail and made it clear he thinks I’m beautiful.
While I’ve chalked it up to him being funny, I’m nervous he’s falling for me. We’re both married. He never mentions his wife, ever. I’ve mentioned my husband several times. Is this guy just being friendly or is he crushing, or am I reading too much into it? He always says he can’t wait to meet me and take me to dinner. Today he was on vacation and he messaged me just to make sure I’m OK. I thought it was nice but now I am starting to get a bit creeped out. In my gut, I don’t feel like this is normal colleague/friend behavior and banter. I think he may be in love with me. Tell me if I’m analyzing it way too much.
A. Your gut is telling you all the right things. This behavior makes you uncomfortable, which means it’s not OK. Tell this man (in a message; putting things in writing is good) that you’d prefer to be contacted about work during work hours only, and that there’s no reason for him to talk about your appearance, dinner, etc. If you need help with the language, maybe reach out to HR. Depending on how your office works, that might be a good place to start, no matter what. It’s possible they’ve heard about this person before. Guidance is good.
Friendships happen at work, even through Zoom. Sometimes people decide they want to know each other outside of their professional lives. But that’s not what happened here. What might have seemed like kindness in the beginning is now causing you stress. You don’t have to pretend you’re cool with something when you’re very much not.
Also, there’s no reason to hint. Bringing up your husband to remind him you’re off-limits hasn’t worked, and you shouldn’t have to be married to avoid this attention.
I’m sorry you’re having this experience. Set boundaries, get it in writing, and talk to the people who can help you manage this problem so that it goes away.
I don’t know if he is in love with you, but he has certainly developed an unhealthy infatuation with you, based on a picture. You should shut him down as quickly and plainly as you can. He obviously doesn’t know (or care) that the company IT department can get every message he has ever sent you. He is in for a world of hurt if you go to HR.
This isn’t love — this is your co-worker being completely inappropriate. You are going to have to be firm with him and tell him he’s making you uncomfortable and that the relationship has to be strictly professional, otherwise you’re reporting him to HR.
I don’t think he’s in love with you but he is flirting. If you don’t like it, you should tell him to stop.
ALWAYS listen to your gut/intuition. I had a similar experience years ago ... he always wanted to go out after work, but I kept saying I had plans and offered to do lunch instead. Needless to say, “lunch” never materialized and eventually he went away...
There is no gentle way of putting it, but when you feel uncomfortable you have to be clear and communicate for yourself because no one else is going to. Maybe “I appreciate how friendly you are, but I prefer to keep conversations to work-related topics during work hours; in the evenings I keep my conversations to my friends, family, and husband. I hope you understand.” Also, at the end of the day I wouldn’t focus too much on how saying something like this will make him feel. He knows he’s contacting you an inappropriate amount, and he clearly hasn’t worried too much about how that makes you feel.
Send your own relationship and dating questions to email@example.com. Catch new episodes of Meredith Goldstein’s “Love Letters” podcast at loveletters.show or wherever you listen to podcasts. Column and comments are edited and reprinted from boston.com/loveletters.