When you see a colleague on a regular basis, it often leads you to form a bond with that individual, and, for some, this connection may feel like it has the potential to go beyond surface level.
However, if they don’t like you back, it can leave you feeling rejected, embarrassed, frustrated, or anxious.
1. Take a step back and try to understand the “why” behind your feelings
“If you find yourself struggling with unrequited affection, it might just be because you have really strong feelings for your office crush. However, it could also indicate that something else is affecting you. Perhaps you’re feeling dissatisfied or bored at work, in your relationships, or in other aspects of your life.
“If that’s the case, then this presents a real opportunity for you to think about yourself and what you need in order to feel happy and secure. It’s also worth remembering that if you’ve fallen for someone at work, it’s possible that you’ve fallen for an idealised version of someone else, as we don’t all present our full, unvarnished selves in the workplace.”
2. Resist the urge to badmouth your crush at work
“If you’re feeling rejected, it might be tempting to speak negatively about your crush as a way to release your frustration or anger. But the reality is that it’s likely to leave you feeling guilty and dissatisfied, and it might also hurt your professional image among colleagues. If you need to find somewhere to have a rant, take it outside. Lean on your non-work friends to vent your feelings and explore your hurt outside of the workplace.”
3. Accept that they don’t like you back
“When you like someone, but the feeling isn’t mutual, you can start to drift into a no-man’s land of imaginings and denial that maybe they really do like you back, even though they’ve said that it’s not going to happen. If you’ve had clear-cut confirmation that your office crush isn’t interested in you in that way, it’s really important to try and accept this as a final answer, as the workplace doesn’t take kindly to unclear boundaries and awkward unsolicited flirtations.”
4. Find ways to cope when you have to see them in the office
“The biggest challenge with an office crush is that it can be really difficult to avoid them, as seeing them may become a constant reminder of those feelings of rejection. Think about what you need to do in order to cope with this, as maybe you could make some small short-term changes to your routine, like taking a different route to work, to avoid those moments where you would ordinarily bump into each other. If you can’t avoid them, consider strategies to manage any feelings of anxiety, like breathing or visualisation exercises, as this can really help you to maintain a sense of calm in those uncomfortable situations.”
5. Prioritise your self-care
“When we have been hurt, it’s so important to remember to look after ourselves. Self-care means different things to all of us, but it’s likely that you’ll know what might help to soothe your feelings. It might be a big night out, a quiet night in, a weekend getaway, or a binge-watch of your favourite show. Give yourself some time and attention.”
So, what can businesses do to help employees struggling to cope with situations like this?
Adam Butler, workplace solutions expert and CEO at Officeology, emphasises the importance of well-being initiatives in the workplace and how they can help employees deal with situations like this:
“It’s very important to prioritise your mental health, especially in the workplace, because if you are not in the right mindset at work, it can affect your overall performance and leave you feeling demotivated. As a business, it’s essential to implement well-being initiatives like mental health resources or health insurance schemes for your employees. Putting these measures in place can not only lead to higher performance and productivity but can also provide support for employees facing challenging situations. This is especially important for those who might not have anyone to turn to outside the workplace.”