Picture this: you've been making eye contact with the cute guy in the office across the hallway. You enjoy light conversations with this male colleague in the elevator, and you can feel the sexual tension between you.
You know there's a fine line between an office romance and a serious problem that could ruin your professional reputation. However, you can't deny your feelings... can you?
Well, if you believe in studies on the subject of office romances, the answer is no.
Things to know
- Make sure your flirting isn't actually sexual harassment in the workplace.
- Look for body language and other nonverbal cues to determine if the guy you work with is interested in you or not.
- When flirting with a guy at work, be sure to make eye contact, smile, and joke around.
After a series of survey questions, the job site Firsthand (previously Vault) determined that over half of all working adults have participated in some type of office romance during their career.
But is it okay to flirt with a guy at work? And if so, how can you do it without crossing that line between flirting and harassment? We'll cover all your questions in this article:
- Flirting At Work: Is It Fun Or Is It Sexual Harassment?
- How Do You Tell If A Male Coworker Likes You?
- What To Do If He Isn't Interested
- How To Flirt With A Guy At Work The Right Way
- It's Time To Take Your Relationship To The Next Level
Flirting At Work: Is It Fun Or Is It Sexual Harassment?
Although some may call a flirty text message from a coworker a form of sexual harassment, there's actually a big difference between casual flirtation and cringe behavior.
Unfortunately, these lines can become hard to recognize when we care about the individual, which is why it's important to understand the difference between flirting and sexual harassment.
Typically, flirting is attention a person wants from us. When we flirt with other people, we use playful behavior to show them we are interested. If they flirt back, then chances are they are showing you they are also interested.
Flirting can vary from short, playful comments to something more elaborate. Regardless, flirting is only flirting when it is mutual, and consent is given for it to be okay.
On the other hand, sexual harassment is behavior that is unwelcome and unreciprocated. When people sexually harass coworkers, they may make inappropriate comments about the person's physical appearance or even make sexual advances toward the other person.
Sexual harassment can look like harmless compliments, but it can also include unwanted sexual advances, touching, and inviting the other person to touch you back.
Chances are if someone feels uncomfortable, it's not just a simple flirtation but rather something borderline inappropriate. As you can tell, there’s a lot of subtlety in flirting with coworkers.
If you are still unsure whether your desires fall under a simple workplace romance or something a bit more complicated, you can use this checklist to verify for yourself:
- Is the flirtation going to scare or alarm my coworker?
- Are we on a fairly level playing field, or does one of us have an advantage that could create a power dynamic?
- Has the coworker already made it clear they are not interested?
- Am I just trying to get something like a short-term fling, or do I genuinely care about the person?
- Am I being genuine or a jerk?
If your answers made it seem unclear as to whether or not you're pursuing a coworker for the right reasons, you'll want to take a step back and rethink whether you should even flirt with them.
How Do You Tell If A Male Coworker Likes You?
Many of us make small talk with our coworkers. However, there's a huge gap between friendly chatter and flirty messages between colleagues.
Before you make a flirty move on a guy at work, you'll want to make sure he feels the same way you do about your relationship.
So, how can you tell if a male coworker likes you?
Sometimes it's hard to distinguish between typical kindness and flirting, especially if your flirting styles are very different. Nonverbal cues are sometimes hard to read, and most people try to flirt subtly at work, but this only makes it harder to tell if someone is into you, especially if they are shy.
The next time you are around a male colleague you are interested in, look for these signs that he likes you.
1. He acts differently around you.
2. He seems nervous around you.
3. He gives you compliments.
4. He regularly makes eye contact with you.
5. He comes up with excuses to spend time with you.
6. He sits next to you during meetings.
7. He regularly compliments you, even in front of coworkers.
8. You catch him looking at you throughout the work day.
9. He’s asked about your relationship status.
10. There has been some light touch, like patting you on the back.
11. He is always there for you, even on bad days.
12. He notices changes in your appearance.
13. He tries to make you laugh.
14. He brings you things like coffee or lunch.
15. He makes an effort to look good in front of you.
16. He’s suddenly more focused on his hygiene.
17. You share inside jokes.
18. He offers to help you with your work.
19. He flirts or says suggestive things to you.
20. Your coworkers make comments.
21. He shares details of his personal life with you.
22. He learns details about your likes and dislikes.
23. He surprises you with gifts.
24. He asks to spend time with you outside of work.
What To Do If He Isn't Interested
Even if your initial flirty move isn't considered harassment, continuing to flirt with someone who has no interest in you is both ineffective and unethical. Therefore, you need to recognize what you're doing with your coworker and stop if they're uninterested.
If your coworker points out that they are uncomfortable with your advances, apologize and try to rectify the situation. If they simply tell you they aren't interested, acknowledge that you have heard the message, and make an effort to stop what you're doing.
Picking up on the hints and learning to read the room will save you from a whole lot of trouble and ensure that you don't end up with a harassment claim on your hands.
How To Flirt With A Guy At Work The Right Way
The easiest way to see if a male colleague likes you is through flirting with him. However, flirting at work can quickly turn sour if the other person isn't into you or if your work environment has a strict policy on flirting.
In both cases, it's better to flirt subtly until you can be sure that the other person is interested.
But is there really a right or wrong way to flirt with a guy at work? The answer is yes. Luckily, you can avoid any mistakes by learning how to flirt with a guy at work the right way.
1. Turn your flirtations into a joke.
Remember how you used to tease the boy you had a crush on as a child? Well, you can use the same general technique to flirt with your coworker.
You can take simple compliments and turn them into a joke that is complimentary but also playful and light. For example, if your colleague shows up to a meeting late, you can say, “Oh, are you running late because you actually spent time on your hair today? Well, it was clearly worth it!”
Most people will laugh these types of comments off, but if he’s also interested, he may playfully flirt back. Either way, you can use this trick to flirt without making others suspicious or causing issues in the office.
2. Enhance your body language.
Body language can be a powerful communication tool that doesn’t require you to say anything at all. When we make eye contact with people, they feel seen and admired. It shows the other person you care and want to look at them. Our eyes, face and body positioning can also express emotions since they serve as a form of nonverbal communication.
Eye contact is one of the most powerful tools in the flirting game, so use it to your advantage. Even a casual glance several times throughout the day can have an impact.
3. Walk by his desk more often than normal.
Love at first sight, may not be the norm, but people are more likely to notice attractive people when they see them frequently. So, a really simple way to get closer to your crush is to walk by his desk a few times each day so he notices you.
You can wave hello, or just walk past him and smile. If he’s interested, he will definitely notice and may even wave or greet you as you walk past.
4. Compliment him on his work.
Men love to have their egos stroked. Complimenting a male coworker on a project they just completed or a well-executed presentation can be a great way to do this and show your affection at once. You can compliment him one-on-one or cheer him on in front of your coworkers — either way, it will get the job done.
Just make sure your compliments are genuine and don’t go overboard. Too much of a good thing can make you seem desperate or insincere.
5. Touch him, but keep it work-appropriate.
Physical touch is another powerful way to make a flirty move on someone. A simple pat on the back or a playful swoop of the hair can go a long way towards showing someone how you feel. In many cases, this is a surefire way to let someone know you’re into them.
However, physical touch can be complicated at work. Just make sure you keep the PDA to a minimum and don’t come on too strong.
6. Send him a sweet text message.
If you aren’t bold enough to make the first move in front of all your coworkers, that’s okay. Instead, you can simply shoot a sweet text message or email to make him feel better about himself.
Obviously, this method only works if you’ve exchanged numbers, and you’ll want to keep it innocent at first. However, when done properly, your simple message can quickly turn into an entire chain of flirtatious text messages to get him chasing you.
7. Invite him to hang out after work hours.
Although the methods mentioned above can all be done at work, you may find that you’d like to spend some quality time with your potential partner. If that’s the case, try asking him to go to a coffee shop with you or drop a subtle him about what you like.
Once you're away from work, you can have conversations that don't revolve around spreadsheets and other work-related tasks. Instead, you can really get to know one another.
It's Time To Take Your Relationship To The Next Level
Many people wonder how to flirt with a guy at work without endangering your professional relationship. Flirting at work is the stuff that modern rom coms are made of. So why can't you have a bit of fun at work too?
If you notice in his body language and nonverbal cues that he's into you, then it's time to decide which of the flirtation suggestions outlined above you'd like to do the most and pick one of those options to improve your flirting game.
Just make sure the feelings are mutual, and listen if your coworker tells you they are uncomfortable so you can avoid any possible issues in the future. This will not only help you avoid a harassment claim, but it will show that you genuinely care about your coworker's wellbeing.
Not all workplace flirtations turn into new romantic relationships. But if the feelings are mutual and you play your cards right, you could very well master the art of flirting at work and score that male coworker you've had your eye on for a while.