6 Telltale Signs There’s Sexual Tension Between You and Your Boss


Key Points

  • Falling for a someone at work is natural, but more tricky when they're your boss.

  • There are six signs to tell if you and your boss have mutual sexual tension.

  • Consider the outcomes before engaging in a sexual relationship with your boss.

You're in the same place at the same time. You share struggles, laughs, water cooler gossip, and maybe a few late-night brainstorming sessions before a major deadline. One thing leads to another and all of a sudden, you realize you have a serious crush.

What’s the catch? The object of your affection is off limits. It’s your boss. 

Starting a romantic relationship in the workplace is taboo or, at the very least, a difficult idea fraught with challenges. Many workplaces discourage interoffice dating and have policies that require people who hook up to report the status of their involvement to human resources. 

Besides, everyone is on an app these days, right? While this may seem true, in 2023, more people meet their future spouse at work than they do through a dating app. 

Falling for and getting together with a colleague or coworker is one thing. What should you do if you catch feelings for your supervisor? Do you ignore it and hope it will resolve itself? Send them an anonymous singing telegram? Or do you let them know about your crush and hope for reciprocation?

You’ve got questions; this article examines this tricky situation from all angles to help you decide the best course of action to keep your heart–and your job!–safe. 

Sexual Tension and Sexual Harassment

Before delving in too far, make sure you know the difference between sexual tension and sexual harassment in the workplace. The #MeToo movement alerted the public to the frequency of sexual harassment in the workplace, which often occurs between a person in power and a person in a subordinate role. This situation forces victims to make difficult decisions about their employment status. 

To be clear: A person in power should NEVER make an employee feel threatened or coerced into unwanted behaviors (sexual or otherwise). If you feel uncomfortable with your boss’s statements or actions, report them. 

Sexual tension, however, isn't the same thing as sexual harassment. Though still tough to navigate, sexual tension is a mutual feeling of attraction respectfully demonstrated between two people. Harmless joking and coy smiles between you and your boss is VERY different from your boss making lewd sexual jokes toward or about you. 

Still, is it okay to have a relationship with the person who signs your paychecks? Read on for six telltale signs there’s sexual tension between you and your boss — and how to proceed if the signs point to yes.

Reading the Signs: Is it Lust, Love, or are You Just Flirty Friends?

It can be tricky to determine what someone’s intentions are. If they compliment your new haircut, are they being kind, or are they saying something more? This becomes more complicated when the power dynamics between a supervisor and employee are in play. 

The following six signs are solid ways to tell if there is reciprocal sexual tension between you and your boss:

Intense Eye Contact

Most neurotypical adults feel comfortable making eye contact when talking to others. Eye contact is considered to be a sign of respect and allows you to read another person’s expressions more clearly. When people avoid eye contact, they come off as untrustworthy or unconfident. Prosecutor, international public speaker, author, and media commentator Dr. Wendy Patrick explains:

“Most people instinctively take eye movements and gaze aversion behaviors into account when judging credibility, and research corroborates the value of this practice.”

Sexual tension may manifest in locking eyes with the person you’re attracted to, and your gaze lingers just a little too long. When there's sexual tension between you and your boss, eye contact will likely be the first thing you notice. If your boss feels sexually attracted to you, they'll want to know if you’re feeling the same way. Intense eye contact may be their way of searching your face for signs of mutual attraction.

You’ll probably notice the difference in your supervisor’s eye contact with you versus your coworkers. If their gaze lingers a little longer than usual and they find every excuse to look your way, it could be a sign of sexual tension. 

However, there's also the possibility that sexual tension between you and your boss makes them too flustered to keep eye contact for long. In this case, you may notice that they break eye contact with you at the same time they stutter or blush. These are likely signs that they're attracted to you but are too shy – or too afraid of potential repercussions – to know what to do about it.


Overt Friendliness

A friendly boss is one thing, but if your boss goes out of their way to drop by your desk six times a day to say hi, it’s most likely because they have a thing for you. Sure, your boss may be very friendly, but no one is that friendly – especially to their employees. Their friendliness may extend to apparent signs of a crush like compliments, cutting you extra slack when you’re late for work, bringing you a coffee on their way into the office, or putting your thoughts and ideas before others' thoughts and ideas. 

When there's sexual chemistry between two people, it’s natural for one or both parties to want to please the other. When you like someone, you want them to like you back. Your boss may be giving you preferential treatment without realizing they’re doing so. While you may enjoy the perks of their affection, it could make some of your coworkers jealous or suspicious.

Overt friendliness and preferential treatment could cause you more problems in the long run if you aren’t careful. Should you pursue a relationship with your boss, don’t let them do favors for you at work. Ask them to treat you the same as they treat their other employees. Your coworkers will have less hostility towards you if they see that you perform as usual in your position. Being the boss’s crush shouldn’t allow you to cut corners on the job.


When there's sexual tension between two people, every touch feels like sparks flying. It can be a gentle brush of the shoulders while passing one another in the hallway. It can be a subtle touch of their hand on the back of yours. 

You’ll be able to tell if your desire and feelings are mutual with your boss should you notice them tense up a little at your touch, your smile, or if they give you intense eye contact while touching to see how you respond. Additionally, you may notice that they find any excuse they can to touch or be close to you. They may purposely graze your fingertips when passing you a report or stand too close to you when conversing in the breakroom. These are obvious signs of sexual chemistry. 

Sexual tension draws you close to the target of your affection, and it feels impossible to resist the chance to be near them. Subtle touching doesn’t have to be sexual to carry undertones of sexual tension. Innocent skin brushes or even a congenial pat on the back become heightened when there's sexual tension. 

Should the sexual tension between you and your boss progress, avoid having too much physical contact around coworkers and other company employees. An innocent pat on the knee may go unnoticed, but ongoing displays of affection or attention will make others suspicious. It’s best to keep physical contact and intimacy between you and your boss to a minimum while at work. Otherwise, you'll have the entire company sticking their nose in your business.

Awkward Conversations

No matter how socially competent you are on the daily, your social skills go out the window when talking to someone you’re crushing on. Sexual tension makes for awkward conversations between two people – especially if the topics of sex or dating come up. 

Feeling flustered or experiencing awkward silences in conversations with your boss could be a sign there's something between you two. You may notice this awkwardness in yourself and in them. They may stutter or stumble over their words, or fail to keep a conversation going – even if they show obvious signs that they wish they could. 

This social awkwardness is from frazzled nerves. It’s all too common to feel anxious or uncomfortable around a person you want to date. These feelings bubble up from fear that the other person won't return your attraction. In trying too hard to act perfect around them, instead, you sabotage yourself and act the opposite of how you intended.

You’re Always in Contact

If you and your boss are constantly talking both inside and outside the office, there's probably a reason for that beyond dedication to the job.

When you have sexual tension with someone, you want to talk to them every chance you get. This can take the form of in-person conversations, text messages, Slack/Discord chats, phone calls, or emails. Though there are legitimate reasons why your boss may need to contact you outside of working hours, asking what you're having for dinner isn't one of them. 

If your boss regularly contacts you before or after work to strike up a friendly conversation, they probably have feelings for you. It’s not normal for people in power to want to have intimate conversations with their employees beyond work-related topics. 

Attempting to solidify a stronger, more connected relationship with you and toeing the line between boss and something more is a risky move. It’s not always considered wise for bosses to be friends with their employees. Your boss attempting to get closer to you may show that they're willing to take risks for the sake of your companionship. If word gets out that they’re contacting you outside of work for casual conversation, people may suspect there's something more going on between you two. 

It may be wise to ask your boss to keep your conversations work-related or respond sparingly to their correspondence outside of the typical 9-5. This way, you should be able to deter your coworkers from probing.

Other People Notice

The most obvious telltale sign of sexual tension between you and your boss is when other people notice. And in the workplace, this is usually not a good thing. 

When your coworkers see the way your boss smiles when you walk in the room, how they're always eager to hear your thoughts, or if they witness preferential treatment, they’re going to assume there’s sexual tension. Your boss may not notice that they're treating you differently from their other employees. In their mind, they may be acting normal. 

On the outside, though, their thoughts and feelings are transparent to everyone around them – including their other employees. If your coworkers begin to comment about the sexual tension you have with your boss, there's something more than a platonic relationship brewing. Listen for jokes and watch for knowing glances from your coworkers when you and your boss are in the same room. If your coworkers notice the same things you’re noticing, then your boss isn’t doing the best job of hiding their sexual attraction towards you.

Should You Pursue a Relationship With Your Boss?

When it’s clear that there's sexual tension between you and your boss, what should you do about it? Romantic work relationships are complicated. There's the matter of professionalism to consider. Would it be professional for you and your boss to pursue a romantic relationship in your line of work? Depending on what you do, a romantic relationship at work could cause distractions resulting in a loss of productivity, or detract from the company's goals. 

As professional as people think they are, emotions often get in the way. It wouldn't look good for either of you if a personal conflict prohibited your production – especially if other people know about the relationship. Your coworkers or other company supervisors may notice the sexual tension between you and decide either one or both of you aren’t fit for your job. 

There's also the issue of tension between you and your coworkers. Your colleagues might think you seduced your boss with the hopes of getting preferential treatment in the form of a raise, more responsibility, or a better title. They may become jealous of the relationship you have with your boss and begin to treat you unkindly. They might go above your head and tell someone in charge about their suspicions. Your workplace could become an uncomfortable or even hostile environment that makes you dread going to work. 

Should you decide to further the sexual tension between you and your boss by seguing into a romantic relationship, it may be best to keep it secret – at least in the beginning. This changes if you enter a committed relationship but until then, consider keeping the tryst to yourselves.


It’s All Fun and Games — Until The Breakup

The most important thing to consider before pursuing a relationship with your boss is what would happen if you broke up. Working under your boss, who's also your partner, might sound like it offers a lot of excitement. Surely you’ve fantasized about secret breakroom romps and office room sex (cue shoving papers aside and getting wild on a desk or meeting table). 

Working under your ex, however, is a much different experience. Sometimes a breakup is mutual, but it's often one-sided. Having to work for someone who broke your heart would be excruciatingly awkward. How can you get over your ex if you see and interact with them daily? And espefcially if they have relational power over you?

Things get even trickier when that ex controls your paycheck. Should your boss have harsh or hurt feelings toward you, they may take it out on you at work. They could demote you, give you more work than you can handle, or even find a reason to let you go. In this case, report any unethical behavior. 

Before pursuing a relationship with your boss, decide how much you value your job. You may quit if the awkwardness of working with your ex becomes too much. Breaking up with your boss may ultimately mean losing your livelihood.

To Date Your Boss or Keep it Platonic

Sexual tension between you and your boss is likely not just in your head if you notice any of the six signs discussed in this article. Romantic relationships occur in the workplace, and they sometimes work out for the best. 

Be careful not to rush into anything serious with your boss, even when you’re sure the sexual tension is mutual. Before moving forward with a crush, think hard about the consequences of pursuing a relationship – especially if the relationship is slated to end in heartbreak. Entering into a sexual relationship with a manager or supervisor may lead to tension with your coworkers. It’s better to take your time and see how the relationship progresses. You may find that the sexual tension is not love and fizzles out after a short time. If it lasts longer than that, tread carefully before getting serious. Remember, your paycheck — and even your professional reputation — could be on the line.

For more information and advice on all things dating, sex, romance, and love in 2023, subscribe to CupidsLight!

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