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Crush on colleague who is higher up

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Old 8th November 2017, 2:42 PM   #1
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Crush on colleague who is higher up

I'm a newly hired assistant professor at a small liberal arts college, and I have a serious thing for my colleague. I felt like we had a connection from the very first day. We specialize in the same sub-field and have similar interests. We are both single. The problem is that he's higher up in the hierarchy - he is sort of my boss and sort of not my boss. Right now I'm being patient and seeing how our friendship develops, but I'd welcome any advice on how to play this - considering the power dynamic.

I was hired by a committee of my colleagues, and am evaluated by a similar committee, so I don't have a specific "boss" per se, apart from the Dean. Although I don't go up for tenure for several years, I do have job security He couldn't fire me, for example, and he didn't have any say in my hiring. I was hired before he was promoted to his new position.

I feel like if I let my feelings be known, I could be making him vulnerable to an accusation (from others) of sexual harassment. The HR policy does not forbid faculty relationships, but we would have to disclose it to HR, and he would have to recuse himself from any situations that involve evaluating me.

I think he likes me but I can't be sure - he's never been suggestive in any way, and likely he can't be, because of his position. If anyone makes advances, it would probably have to me - or I'd have to make it clear his advances were welcomed.

I know this is precarious, but finding someone you like who also specializes in your field of study and is tenured at the same school is so rare. It feels like a huge stroke of luck.

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Old 8th November 2017, 3:30 PM   #2
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I am one who feels strongly that work and romance need to be separate, particularly when you're talking about people who work in the same department.

If/when things go belly up, the situation can be very challenging never mind the scrutiny and nosy Nellies who seem to invariably come out of the wood work. Workplace environments aren't the most sensitive to office romances and often thrive on gossip and drama. If your relationship crashes and burns, it's hard to win back the respect of your colleagues not to mention the awkwardness of having to face and possibly work with an ex on a daily basis.

Tread carefully my friend.
"Stupid is as stupid does" - Forrest Gump.
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Old 8th November 2017, 3:36 PM   #3
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Good advice. I know this is tricky. I know I'm defending the situation, but we don't work particularly closely. I wouldn't call it the "same department." I'm not ever required to meet with him, unless it's a faculty meeting - twice a semester. It wouldn't be hard to avoid him if I needed to - but that doesn't mean it doesn't have the potential to be messy.

I'm trying to establish a friendship and move slowly - maybe I'll never say anything - I don't know.
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