Enthusiastic Endorsement: Forget HR, Indulge in a Work Crush

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In Defense of the Office Crush...Khadija Horton - Getty Images

The prophet Kim Kardashian said it best: “Nobody wants to work anymore.” We're all slugging through our nine-to-fives for the sweet release of a $15 Aperol spritz at 5:30—one we can only afford because of said nine-to-five. Between capitalism, commuting, and clocking in for the daily grind, work is soul-crushing. The only way to make it better? Finding yourself a work crush. HR might say a workplace romance is a potential nightmare, but no, consider this permission to go ahead and say eff that (off Slack, ofc) because having an office crush is literally a daydream, and it’s one tiny, fun, and free thing we can do to make the day bearable. Hear me out.

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Where we defend a controversial sex/dating strategy.Hearst Owned

The only thing that can make an early-morning meeting (be it virtual or IRL) worth it is making eye contact with a crush, pinning their window, and/or gazing at them longingly while your colleagues drone on and on about their vacations, kids, or whatever quarterly goals we haven’t hit yet (blech). Yes, morning meetings are torture and most of them are unnecessary. But a morning meeting with a work crush on the calendar invite? There is no better way to get me out of bed! Suddenly I’m laser-focused, my camera is on as f*ck, and I even put on makeup and pants. Who is she?!

Ofc, there are different types of work crushes to be had. A crush on a colleague or a member of your team makes catching up over Sweetgreen Harvest Bowls feel like a mid-day date. A crush on the cutie computer nerd in IT can make the spinning wheel of death feel like the spinning wheel of love. (Yes, you can enter my computer remotely. Let’s get intimate with my files.) And a crush on your manager or boss? Well, that’s the jackpot. Normally, getting assignments from an authority figure is miserable, but not if you have a crush on them! It gives you a legitimate reason to go above and beyond at work. Maybe you’ll even get a promotion!

One of my previous jobs was high-stress, with some 80-hour work weeks and a toxic boss. (Worst of all, it was business attire. Having to stress-cry in the supply closet in the middle of the day was bad enough, but having to do it with pancake ass?! Just, no.) One of the few bright spots of my week was our team’s standing check-in with a client based across the country who had a hot assistant. Did I enjoy the hours of administrative work it took to put together their brand activation? Not particularly! But when he’d email that he was “sorry to bother” me with a question, in my reply, my sign-off “best” actually meant “I’ve saved my best for you,” rather than what it usually means: “I’ve answered, now please leave me alone.”

(As we all know, “Thanks!” means “I need something from you.” “Thanks” without an exclamation point, means “No Thanks.” “Sincerely” means “F*ck you,” and “Regards” means “No really, f*ck you.”)

When the hot assistant came into town for the event, I was thrilled to learn he was tall. I had a feeling (IYKYK), but it’s hard to tell on Zoom. When he thanked me for my hard work and saved me a branded bottle of Veuve as a gift, I wondered if maybe I was his work crush too….

Then he flew home, I was laid off (for reasons related to the economy, unrelated to my crush), and never heard from him again. Granted, I never found out if he had a girlfriend, and hey, I had a boyfriend! But it wasn’t about that. The hot assistant was strictly business and served his purpose of making my daily grind just a little more ~fun~. You see, you don’t have to be single to have a work crush. What happens in the office (and in your head) stays in the office (and also in your head). You don’t call them your “Work Wife/Husband” IRL (embarrassing), no one knows about your affections (not even your work bestie, your work crush is your sacred space), and most importantly—and for the whole thing to stay harmless—nothing actually happens. That’s why it’s not cheating!

You do not—I repeat, do not—go full Jim and Pam and act on your crush for real... because unfortunately, HR has a (very annoying) point. And before you come for me, I know some people have met the loves of their lives by the water cooler or at the company holiday party. Even my own parents met at work—he was a more senior employee, she was an assistant. But it was the ‘80s...you legally had to meet your husband at work.

My parents were the minority, and hello, now they’re divorced! Trust, the likelihood that your coworker is the future co-parent of your child is slim. The likelihood that they’re the future cause for a UTI because you broke up and now you have to walk by their desk anytime you need to go to the bathroom, so you decide to just hold it in instead? 100 percent.

One innocent after-work drink could lead to months of awkward interactions as you wrap a group assignment. Suddenly you’re signing off your emails with “Respectfully,” as in, “I saw you naked but let’s forget that happened,” or “Cheers,” as in, “I’m currently drinking to feel better about having to keep talking to you.”

I had a situationship with someone I supervised once. (Yeah, I’ve always been a girl boss.) At first, it was fun to keep a hot little secret from our coworkers…until he dumped me and I had to see him the following Monday, and every work day for six months until he left for another job. We never got in trouble—it wasn’t the kind of gig where they had HR. (I was the closest thing to Human Resources, and I was 24 so I was barely a human.) But like, it sucked! (And I should’ve known he didn’t have a bed frame because I knew how much money he made—that is on me.)

So next time you’re at your all-hands, don’t feel bad about fantasizing about your hot coworker’s hands. Just keep the crush professional. You can touch base, but never go to first base. Unless you’re planning on quitting or you’ve been laid off. Then, fuck it, you might as well get laid.

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