Many people joke about having a “work husband” or a “work wife” they spend a lot of time with at the office. But what happens when that relationship starts to feel flirtatious—and not in a harmless, joking way, but in a serious way?
Married men and women flirt for a variety of different reasons. They might be attracted to you, enjoy the attention, or just be doing it for fun. Whatever the reason, it’s best to proceed with caution and think twice before flirting back.
If you suspect it’s happening but aren’t sure, look for these signs that your married coworker is flirting with you. Once you know it’s happening, there are a few ways you can put a stop to it.
1. They invent reasons to see you at work.
If you notice your married coworker hovering around your desk, bumping into you in the break room, or leaving to get lunch at the same time you do a lot, it’s probably not on accident. They’re looking for ways to see you, and they’re trying (or not trying) to be subtle about it.
2. They pay you compliments.
Whether it’s “you look nice today” or “you’re so beautiful,” if your married coworker lays the charm on thick, they’re probably flirting with you.
3. They always sit next to you.
In meetings, at lunch, at happy hour—if your married coworker is always claiming the empty seat next to you, it’s not on accident.
4. They ask you to get lunch or coffee a lot—but they don’t ask other people.
Grabbing lunch and going on a coffee run are normal parts of working in an office. And it’s not uncommon for people to have lunch or coffee buddies, either. But if your married coworker has only one buddy—you—it’s definitely a sign that they’re flirting with you.
5. They tease you constantly.
When people have crushes, they tend to revert back to the kindergarten way of flirting: calling names and pulling pigtails. If your married coworker teases you a lot, it’s likely their way of flirting with you.
6. They avoid talking about their partner.
Part of your married coworker trying to get your attention includes not drawing attention to the fact that they’re married. They probably exclude details about their personal life and opt for “I” instead of “we.”
7. But they’re super interested in your personal life.
And your dating life in particular. If you’re single, they’ll ask a ton of personal questions about the kinds of people you meet and date. And if you’re in a relationship, they’ll be curious to know all the details. (Even though they don’t want to share the details of their own relationship.)
8. They send flirtatious emails and messages.
If they sound more like Tinder messages than Slack messages, you’ll know they’re flirting with you.
9. They get jealous when you talk to other coworkers.
If you want to know if your married coworker is flirting with you, see how they react to your other office friendships. If they get easily jealous and try to interrupt or ask you about it later, they’re definitely flirting—even if they’re doing it subconsciously.
10. They always pick you.
If it seems like your married coworker favors you, you’re probably not imagining it.
So, what do you do if your married coworker is flirting with you? Put some distance in your professional relationship. Avoid situations where you’ll be alone together, especially outside of the office. And if you have to be a little cold to get your point across, that’s fine, too.
If your boss or a person in a position of power is flirting with you, or if you feel uncomfortable with your coworker’s behavior, you can always confide in HR. You have the right to a safe work environment, free from unwanted flirting.