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Am I being noble or foolish?

Friends and Lovers Progressing into "Friends with benefits" and beyond: When platonic relationships become more intimate.

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Old 23rd February 2019, 10:06 AM   #1
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Unhappy Am I being noble or foolish?

Hey there, I'd really appreciate the perspective of someone more objective.

I met this wonderful guy through work 5 yearsish ago. I felt an immediate sense of importance but not necessarily attraction. In fact, I thought he was gay for a while until he started being flirty. I was and still am in a relationship since we've met, but in the last 5 years I've discovered some really huge incompatibilities, and nearly broke up over finding out my boyfriend cheated early on.

For context, I have low self-esteem, I'm not used to being treated well or receiving love and it's damaged my ability to judge interest. A lot of big destructive life events happened right before I started that job and during, and constantly had me reeling to reach a state of comfort. I've lost tons of weight since my awkward highschool years and I can tell when strangers think I'm cute, but with my guy friend I'm hesitant to believe that his signals mean anything because he's so conventionally attractive it confused me.

After making a very clear move about a year into meeting by caressing my hands ( in the middle of the office...i was shocked and did nothing), he showed up after the holidays engaged to someone he had never mentioned. And here i was working up the confidence to approach him, it made me avoid him for 6 months...but at this point I realized how much he meant to me.

Here are some moments when I thought he was indicating interest:
- said we make a great team (we have similar taste)
- said he wants me in joking voice, increased long and intense eye contact lately
- told me I'm exceptional
- stares at my body /lips
- mirrors body language and lets our arms keeping touching etc
- invites me to events, talks to me more than his gf all night
- invited me to have lunch with him and his mom when she was visiting, she winked at me. And he still brings up how she thought i was beautiful and wonderful
- his eyes glisten when we laugh and water with empathy during serious discussions
- we've shared a lot of info about ourselves and families
- he said I'm a catch and anyone would be lucky to have me.
- tells me to leave my bf, doesn't like him
- tons of sexual innuendo, even miming foreplay etc as a "joke" regularly
- accidental touches
- he's put his hand on my lower back, he's brushed his hands across my hand like 5 times in a row, he's gently removed an eyelash from my face
- he stops by my desk multiple times everyday to chat
- we constantly have huge smiles and laugh heartily, we can make eachother blush.
- we have lunch together alone everyday at work.
- he makes very cryptic comments such as I should follow my feelings and that things in life are 50/50, that he's stuck between two people
- once he even quietly and in an odd voice said something like i love you, and I'll always love you.
- he remembers everything and gave me an incredibly personal and thoughtful birthday gift.
- he jokingly said I draw him like a magnet.
- has hinted at thinking maybe one day it would be worth seeing what I'm like in a relationship
- said i look like a celebrity then days later mentions how he used to crush on said celebrity
- always notices/compliments my outfit

Our banter is electric, we have so much in common, people in public assume we're a couple always, friends notice, I can't stop thinking about him and we both mention thinking the other person would've loved something when we're apart/ indicate missing the other person.

Some mixed signals:
He's a gregarious flirty enfj with tons of charisma and treats everyone like they're special.

He doesn't text, he keeps some distance by being cooler some days. He still speaks lovingly about his fiance. He's finally marrying her after a long engagement but recently indicated it was less secure because they argued on Valentine's. She has put him in debt with the level of financial support/gifting she expects. Sometimes he seems avoidant.

He said someone who knows what they want and goes for it is a wonderful trait... was that an invitation to confess?

Would I be terribly selfish, foolish and risking my job/best friendship to be honest about how I feel. It's driven me into a deep depression to be so in love with someone who isn't mine, and to struggle to leave the imperfect but tangible person by my side. I want to spend my life with my best friend, I'd leave everything for him. So far I've ignored my desire and all the signs because it seems more noble to let him be happy and to not ruin our friendship based on assumptions.

I really want to say something though because it might help me move on. What should I do?
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Old 23rd February 2019, 10:10 AM   #2
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He has a GF.

He's a flirty guy but nothing he has done crosses any lines. You are imagining his romantic interest in you. Especially because he's a coworker, say nothing.
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Old 23rd February 2019, 10:49 AM   #3
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Ehn, he sounds like a guy with a boundary problem. All that faux “relationship” talk and making hints about your future sound cheesy to me. Take everything he says and does with a grain of salt and keep your emotional distance.
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Old 23rd February 2019, 11:39 AM   #4
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I really appreciate the honesty, thanks!! I think I'll join the gym and start working out during my lunch break as a means of creating distance without being too obvious.
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Old 23rd February 2019, 11:42 PM   #5
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IMHO you're in an emotional affair (EA), esp. since you are feeling so attached. EAs can have a way of creeping up on you (mine did).

I flirt a lot, I admit. But I would never do some of the things you mention with a coworker. He clearly gets a kick out of leading you on. Possibly he really does like you too.

Obviously you've enjoyed the attention ("lunch together every day"?) But now you know he's engaged and you are very right to be walking away from this. Doubt his fiancee would be happy to see him interact with you.

Let him go and enjoy your life with someone you can have!

Last edited by mark clemson; 23rd February 2019 at 11:48 PM..
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Old 24th February 2019, 7:37 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by d0nnivain View Post
He has a GF.

He's a flirty guy but nothing he has done crosses any lines. You are imagining his romantic interest in you. Especially because he's a coworker, say nothing.
I agree. When I had a normal "9 to 5" kind of job, there was 2 girls that I would flirt with all the time. They were both cute, and younger than me... and would laugh at what I would say. I would walk passed one of their desks when heading to the bathroom, and even asked if she would join me to "look at a swelling issue" I was having. The other like that I road motorcycles, and I took her on a few rides and to lunch.

With that said... at the time... I would NEVER cheat on my wife, and they both knew that. Well... one knew that, and I think one was hoping for more. But work place flirting is normal... and so is having a "Work wife". I think it's natural for people to be attracted and to bond at work... but most people do not act on their feelings if they are honorable, and have someone at home.

So.. continue to flirt, but don't expect more. BUT... if he breaks up with his significant other... then be ready to go.

Last edited by Moderator; 25th February 2019 at 11:54 AM.. Reason: Fix spacing
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Old 24th February 2019, 1:03 PM   #7
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I too, think there are boundary issues with this guy and in a work setting I find people who are like this to be manipulative.

It seems to have been rather effective at keeping you engaged with confusion for 5 years running. This is not a healthy way for you to be.

Forget about this guy, evaluate your present relationship on it's own merits, and going forward choose to engage with people upon clear, direct and unambiguous communication. Life is not a game of poker, and when you find yourself staring across at someone who is always holding back some cards - it's time to walk away from the table.
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Old 24th February 2019, 4:23 PM   #8
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hi m/d, im not sure where the feeling noble could come in from anything that is going on in this post.

you sound like a well meaning person im sure (well im half sure perhaps), and maybe one who's loses their hearts either very easily or whose head is turned by attention (and I wouldn't knock you down for that because he is flirting big time and no it is not imagined...although....miming foreplay at work!!!! that sounds a bit immature, tacky and pretty innapropriate for a work place surely!!!!!

but whatever you think, im not sure its not going to get you anywhere because he is someone who isn't interested he's just using you, killing time and making himself feel good at your expense! and besides: this dude is getting married soon! and for your part in this too you are also with someone!!!!!

so I think the "morals" on both side aren't the best for either of you (even if he is laying it on and you are drinking it in!!!!)

I read this initially and thought one thing, but now ive read this again my post is now a bit different and the main point is this:

if he makes a serious and definite actual move to leave who he is with then tell him how deep your feelings are for him.

this guy sounds a bit immature in the way he is playing things here, so let him get married and il bet that his new wife will soon be seeing for herself how much he loves to play these little games and how he is capable of flirting with other women so easily and intensly!!!!!.

I don't belive any of this will be good for your self esteem, and because you are also with someone its going to hurt you when you see them hurt by this too if they find out what is really going on if they don't know already.

if you are getting tired in your relationship do something to sort it out, if you are getting bored and you know or feel more sure that you don't love your partner then leave him (for a short while at least) and make yourself free, if still you still want someone who can give you the love and attention that maybe you aren't getting in the way you need then maybe you just need to leave and find someone else properly.

if you do become single and he wants you then who knows but don't fall for his****** unless he really means it and is prepared to be single for you, either way, if you are going to get single then do it for yourself and do it because you want to start again with someone new.not nessesarilly him.

being single doesn't mean he's going to come running to you, but it might make him think and give you a chance to find out the sort of man you really want. maybe you've just got in a stale rut with your guy or maybe you do need something more. either way talk to this guy and tell him these games are damaging you and messing with your feelings and your relationship.

let him know its got to stop and don't encourage your friends to let you think somehtng is going to happen (unless he comes to you and tells you hes not getting married and is now single and wants to be with you).

he knows enough to keep you wanting him but isn't that serious I dont think and doesn't want to give you anything back properly, he's just using you.

so do yourself a favour, forget what your friends or his mother are saying, unless he leaves his finace then it doesn't matter what he promises you. he's still with her and wants for now what he can get from her!!!!!! and I suspect if he had a chance to get what he really wants from you you might see his flirting stop or cut back a lot!!!!!!

if after all the talk to you he does love her properly, dont get further in with all of this, because if he loves her after all then he will drop you anyway and you will feel really hurt and he will turn and blame you if you still get too into him once he is married!

but Im sure you actually do want to tell him!!!! so if this is bothereing you as much as you say it does then yes, I think you should talk to him and lay it on heavy as to how you feel and ask him what does he feel for you? anything? is he still getting married you will know straight away if he is rally interested or just playing games with you.

if he cannot handle your telling him how you feel then just say look I wish you well with your marriage, its been fun but im not interested in the banter and flirting anymore. I don't like you giving me false hopes and let him know you've been badly hurt many times before. hopefully this guy will take time to stop and think about the way he's playing with peoples feelings.

but before you look at his feelings and feel this is a done deal, I think you also need to honestly look at your own feelings and how they are impacting on your partner and self esteem anyway because of what is going on at work!

ok, good luck.maxi. ps, .whilst you are thinking about this, maybe you should also think about what is it about your partner that is not enough for you that you would leave him for this person.... or another man? ok, c u.
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Old 24th February 2019, 5:16 PM   #9
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That is just who he is. That wink was his mom telling you, "Don't take him too seriously, he does that all the time."

You said yourself he makes everyone feel special and is generally flirtatious. Not saying that makes it impossible that he's interested in you.

But ask yourself this. With him being the way he is with everyone, would you even be able to handle being his fiance and knowing he's leading women on and flirting with them all the time at work and elsewhere? Wouldn't you find that intolerable? Because that is who he is. He would not stop doing it just because he's with you anymore than he has now he's with his fiance.
"I care not much for a man's religion whose dog and cat are not better for it." -- Abraham Lincoln
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Old 24th February 2019, 6:30 PM   #10
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I am so glad that I posted here before acting. Thank you to all of you for your advice.

Yep I'm definitely one to fall easily and deeply and my crushes tended to last ages. I'm definitely naive in some ways, I'm a late bloomer who tends to idealize people and rationalize red flags when I'm emotionally invested. It's a weakness I hope to improve, and it sounds like having stronger boundaries is the next step. I'm working on self-worth but maybe I need therapy to really spark the change needed to act decisively in my own interest, I'm way too much of a people pleaser.

I've definitely felt uncomfortable at times with the innappropriate nature of my crush's words and actions. I guess he manipulated expertly over time by supporting me emotionally through some challenging experiences. I don't want to chock it all up to being used, some of it felt like genuine friendship/collaboration. I wish I could salvage the platonic portion. Regardless, the consensus seems to favour distance and that seems the best course of action. If he asks why I'm suddenly distant, I'll explain that I was no longer comfortable with the flirting etc and that it's best we keep things professional.

My relationship is suffering because of direct comparison, and from a distinct difference in terms of some difficult incompatibilities when it comes to priorities, values, communication style/love languages. My current partner has cheated on me in the past and lied about it for years. I only found out because the girl informed me of it way after the fact on facebook. He ended it on his own and had demonstrated a huge leap in character growth since(sobriety, patient accountability, full transparency), and we've managed to partially rebuild trust after what I'm hoping has been 4.5 years of fidelity.

I decided to stay but it has been incredibly difficult to forgive and I definitely used this crush to help build emotional distance and perhaps boost my confidence after having my heart and trust broken. I know I'm wrong for letting it progress to an EA, and I'm definitely going to heed the generous advice you've all provided.

It's time for me to get real about what I want from a partner and to end this unhealthy dynamic with a person who has demonstrated poor character. I want to live with integrity, I highly value love and honesty. I could never be happy with someone who so brazenly uses others for validation and I'm genuinely mad at myself for growing feelings mostly based on the fantasy and not the reality of the situation. Limerence is brutal, and I've been weak.
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Old 24th February 2019, 6:49 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by Moraldilemna View Post
I guess he manipulated expertly over time by supporting me emotionally through some challenging experiences. I don't want to chock it all up to being used, some of it felt like genuine friendship/collaboration.
As he treats everyone like they are special, I'm wondering how you feel he's been manipulating you. And why do you feel used? It sounds like he gave you solid support when you needed it, so did he take more than he gave?
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Old 24th February 2019, 7:31 PM   #12
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Do not approach. Hes looking to cheat.

End your relationship that you deem inadequate.

Work on YOUR own issues! Do not date until you resolve your issues.

Stop trying to justify bad behavior.
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Old 24th February 2019, 8:29 PM   #13
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I guess manipulation was more in reference to him being particularly flirtatious and based on other posters comments of him mostly wanting attention vs actually having interest in me. I don't feel used as his friend or entitled to more, just foolish for overanalyzing everything.

He has been a great friend, just a terrible flirt and only in regard to encouraging my admiration do I feel slightly used. He used to flirt more indiscriminantly, but in the last few years he doesn't approach any other women at work or spend time with them, but when I've seen him interact through projects etc with others or at events there is an inherent degree of charm and reciprocity he gives most people. He's mentioned being too shy to approach women he's really attracted to, and finding dating exhausting/preferring relationships.

I'm not aiming to excuse my bad decisions, rather elaborating on what I feel was the catalyst initially. I'm ready to be honest and work on my own issues rather than ignoring them. I want to avoid ever experiencing a situation like this again.

I still think he's a good guy and a good friend in terms of reciprocal emotional support, and intellectual collaboration. I don't think he'd actually cheat given he has experienced a previous partner cheating and it ended their relationship. I think maybe he just doesn't realize how much the flirting impacts me? I genuinely thought maybe it was an exceptional case of will they won't they/right person wrong timing.. my indecisiveness is fueled by a fear of regret.

I feel awful for ignoring my partner's feelings throughout this and I'm going to honour him more by pouring all my energy back into trying to rebuild intimacy before throwing in the towel, or letting him find someone who he can have a happy life with. No more excuses, no more fantasies, no more diversions.
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Old 25th February 2019, 1:03 AM   #14
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Yeah, this guy has a fiance. You have a boyfriend.

I think this is more about what you aren't getting in your current relationship. What is going on there?

There's no way I would spend this much time thinking about another man while I have a boyfriend unless there was something missing or not right about that relationship.

I think your priority is resolving that situation--can you see a future with the man you're with? If not, it's time to let him go.

Then you can worry about other guys. This one, though, is in a serious, committed relationship. Would you really want him at the end of the day if this is how he acts when he's engaged? How could you trust him if he went off into the sunset with you?

Not worth the risk...
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Old 25th February 2019, 2:05 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by Moraldilemna View Post
the consensus seems to favour distance and that seems the best course of action. If he asks why I'm suddenly distant, I'll explain that I was no longer comfortable with the flirting etc and that it's best we keep things professional.

Limerence is brutal, and I've been weak.
Yes, limerence can truly be brutal. If you're indeed in it and capable of doing what you intend, I'd say you're stronger than many. Power to ya!
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