I’m hoping you can help me with this because you and your army of Awkwardeers are – like my crush – awkward.
He is a gorgeous gorgeous man that I work with. I’ve only been there a few months but I noticed him instantly. I did my usual thing of kind of showing off a bit around him, but he never looked at me or joined in. He hardly ever speaks at work, and he doesn’t look people in the face – he’s a really shy, geeky type and rarely comes out with us when we go for drinks.
One time he did come and talked about how he hadn’t had a girlfriend for so long, he couldn’t remember. So I thought I had a chance.
We have a shared interest and I sent him a message along the lines of “Hey, want to go for drinks and talk about Shared Interest sometime?”
His response was pretty cold – “we can talk about it at work”. I just said OK and left it.
Some of my friends think he didn’t get that I was asking him out, but I think that plays to my vanity. Is he just really, really uninterested? I know he wants to be with someone because he’s mentioned it – but should I take him at his word and leave it, or do I need to take the sledgehammer approach because he doesn’t realize I’m interested?
Thank you, Captain!
Not That Awkward Actually
Dear Not That Awkward:
“Would you like to go out sometime?” ==>”We can talk about it at work” is a pretty blunt redirect, especially since I’m guessing that your coworker did not subsequently bring it up at work and you have not since gone out. Going forward, I would interpret all communications extremely conservatively. He knows you are interested in hanging out outside of work. He knows you have a shared interest. He has all the information he needs to follow up, or not, as he wishes. Possibly it was a face value statement – Let’s talk about this later, at work! – and possibly it was a message of disinterest. Redirecting personal conversations so that they are work conversations is what we advise people to do when they are not interested in personal interactions with coworkers. I realize this is maddening, but you’ve done what you can. The upside is that if he brings it up, you’ll know for sure that he wants to hang out. Until then, drop the subject.
Also, it bears saying that reserved people aren’t necessarily deep or even all that shy; sometimes the surface just hides more surface. Assumptions + Wishful Thinking + A Reserved Affect can be dangerously addictive crush fodder. We sometimes assume that quieter people aren’t good at communicating and need our help socially when really they are just not fitting the narrative we’d like them to. As in, maybe he doesn’t hang out with y’all at work functions because he’s shy, or maybe it’s because he runs home every night to play in a death metal band or cover his apartment ceiling with frescoes or hang out with his not-work friends.
You’ve been brave and cool and made your interest known in a clear, direct way. You haven’t been creepy….yet. So stop pushing before it gets to Firthing, or worse, COLLINS-ing. Be a normal, reassuring, non-fixated level of collegial and friendly. You’ll run into this dude all the time at work and at work functions, and if you’re meant to get to know each other it will happen naturally and organically and with equal effort from him. Stop trying to read him like tea leaves. Put the sledgehammer away.