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Q: There’s this new guy at work (much younger than me) and I fancy him like mad. What should I do about it? Maria, 29

2011 September 4
by Zoe Strimpel

A simple-enough sounding question.

But in reality, not so simple. First up: work-place romance. Should you or shouldn’t you. Well, you know the correct answer to that. It’s the second one. But the truth is, sometimes it’s the people we work with – who have to be nice to us (sometimes even charming),  who we see every day, smiling at us from behind the digestives bowl in the microkitchen, letting you go first at the water cooler, and who can be of a high calibre professionally and socially depending on where you work – that are the most desirable.

I think that out and out pursuing something with this person might be a bit odd. What do you want with him? If it’s a relationship, beware that many companies have anti workplace romance policies so one of you may have to move offices. But you may feel so strongly that you’re willing to cross that bridge (I for one wouldn’t want to have any direct professional relationship with someone I had done more than sleep with, eg “John, I’m going to need that forward planning list in my inbox by 3pm…oh and can you grab the catfood on the way to mine?”), then proceed.

How to proceed? Try to spend more time with him; first with colleagues (easy enough to concoct some excuse, be it socio-athletic or for “interdepartmental bonding”, or in your case intergenerational bonding), then basically show you’re keen in a “I’d like to get to know you” way, spring the awkward move of a one-to-one date rather than an “oops, everyone else has gone home” thing, and off you go. Be warned he may have issues – beyond the idea of a cheeky romp in the boardroom after hours with an older and possibly superior colleague – with anything serious.

And here we get to his age. I don’t know how young you mean by “much younger than me” but if you’re 29 and he’s 21 or 22, be prepared for him to be at his peak of ambition, and absolutely anything – like a workplace romance in a new job – that could derail him will be verboten. In this case, that means you. Do I care that he’s 22? Not at all, in and of itself. I hear good things about our younger male friends.

My advice is: give it a week. If you still fancy him, go out and find someone else to get your mind off him. If that doesn’t work, I don’t believe you have much choice but to ensure you look super-hot every day…and wait and see.


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