Date with office pal led to obsession

Marie G. McIntyre
Tribune News Service

Q. A few weeks ago, I went on a date with one of my co-workers. “Ryan” and I became friends at work because we have a lot of shared interests. When Ryan said he was attracted to me and wanted to get to know me better, I agreed to go out with him.

On our date, Ryan was so sweet and romantic that I immediately became infatuated and wound up spending the night at his place. The next day he said we should go back to being friends because he’s not ready for a relationship. I had already fallen in love with him, so I was heartbroken.

I have told Ryan that I can’t sleep or eat because he’s always on my mind. I know we could be happy together, but he says I need to move on. Although he has stopped replying to my texts and emails, I’ve noticed that he stands close to me when we’re working together. How can I tell if he really isn’t interested or is just playing hard to get?

A. First of all, this isn’t love. This is an unhealthy obsession. And since obsessive ideas usually preclude rational thought, I doubt you will heed anything I say. Nevertheless, I will attempt to penetrate the fog of your infatuation.

As I’m sure you know, people often want what they can’t have. Your fixation on Ryan provides an emotional rush, and the less accessible he seems, the stronger those feelings become. Ironically, this is actually a role reversal. Before your sleepover, Ryan was intrigued, but he quickly retreated to the friend zone once you became available.

Having decided that Ryan is the love of your life, you are now searching for any sign of hope and ignoring his obvious lack of interest. However, you must not continue to pursue a colleague who has told you to stop, because that could be considered sexual harassment. So you really need to abandon this imaginary relationship and start looking for a real one.

Q. Ever since my co-worker went on medical leave, I have been drowning in work. No one knows how long she will be gone, so I have her responsibilities for the foreseeable future. Because both of us were always busy, it’s impossible to get everything done.

My supervisor has offered to assist, but she doesn’t know how to do these tasks. We aren’t allowed to work overtime or bring in temporary help. What should I do?

A. When the volume of work greatly exceeds the time available, the inevitable outcome is a drop in quality or quantity. But instead of allowing this to happen randomly, you need to have a chat with your boss about priorities.

Start by listing your duties in order of importance and then present them to your supervisor for review. Explain that while you have this dual workload, you want to ensure that the most critical tasks receive enough attention. If the two of you can agree on which duties are most and least important, you can put first things first and let the lesser ones slide.

Marie G. McIntyre is a workplace coach and the author of “Secrets to Winning at Office Politics.”

Twitter: @officecoach