Starting a romantic relationship with a coworker in the workplace is taboo, or at the very least, a bad idea. There are some legitimate reasons to steer clear of having sexual relations with a coworker. Relationships get messy, and a breakup could lead to awkward tension at your place of work. That’s not to say that relationships between you and a coworker are always a bad idea. Many people meet their spouse at work and have beautiful relationships. However, starting a romantic relationship with your boss is an even trickier situation to navigate. If a relationship goes sour with a coworker, it’s one thing, but a breakup with the person who employs you is another circumstance entirely. Plus, once your coworkers figure out you and your boss are getting intimate off the clock (or even on), they may think you’re doing it to receive extra benefits. Romantic workplace relationships are tricky no matter how you look at them. So, what do you do when you think there may be telltale signs of sexual tension between you and your boss?
Understanding Sexual Tension and Sexual Harassment
Before we delve into this article, let’s clear up the difference between sexual tension and sexual harassment in the workplace. In recent years the #MeToo movement exposed the sadly all too common sexual harassment women face in the workplace, often at the hands of their superiors. Unfortunately, many women have the dilemma of refusing unwanted sexual advances from their boss and losing their job or staying silent about the ongoing harassment. A person in a position of power should never, under any circumstances, make an employee or subordinate feel threatened should they refuse their sexual affections. Sexual tension, however, isn’t the same thing as sexual harassment. Sexual tension is a mutual feeling of attraction demonstrated respectfully between two people. Harmless joking accompanied by coy smiles between you and your boss isn’t the same as your boss making lude and inappropriate sexual jokes towards you. If you feel uncomfortable with your bosses’ statements or actions, you should report them. The sexual tension in the workplace can and does exist. Read on for six telltale signs there’s sexual tension between you and your boss.
6 Telltale Signs There’s Sexual Tension Between You and Your Boss
Intense Eye Contact
Most well-socialized adults understand the importance of making eye contact when talking to another person. Eye contact is 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. Studies on human behavior and body language show that breaking eye contact can signal that someone is lying to you. However, it could also mean that they’re disinterested (rude) or have social anxiety, making it hard for them to hold eye contact. When there’s sexual tension between you and your boss, eye contact will likely be the first thing you’ll notice. Sexual tension may first manifest in locking eyes with the person you’re attracted to, and your gazes were lingering just a little too long. If your boss feels any sexual chemistry towards you, they’ll want to know if you think the same way. Their intense eye contact may be their way of searching your face for signs you like them too. You’ll notice the difference between the 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 the sexual tension between you and your boss makes them too flustered to keep eye contact for long. In that case, you may notice that they break eye contact with you at the same time they stutter their words or begin to blush. These are signs that they’re attracted to you but are too shy to know what to do about it.
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 definitely because they have a thing for you. Yes, your boss may be very friendly, but no one is that friendly, especially to their employees. Their friendliness may extend into 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 above everyone else’s. When there’s sexual chemistry between two people, it’s natural for one or both people to want to please the other. When you like someone, you want them to like you back. Your boss may be giving you this preferential treatment without realizing that they are. While you may enjoy the perks of their affections, it could make some of your coworkers jealous. No one likes a “teacher’s pet” after all. Overt friendliness and preferential treatment could cause you more problems in the long run if you don’t get your and your boss’s sexual tension under control. Should you pursue a relationship with your boss, don’t let them do you any favors 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 girlfriend shouldn’t allow you to cut corners at work.
When there’s sexual tension between two people, every touch feels like sparks flying. It can be a gentle brushing of the shoulders while passing one another in the hallway. It can be a subtle touching of their hand on the back of yours. Sexual tension feels like fireworks when you and the other person are in physical contact. You may feel shivers and excitement at thoughts of touching them, and they’ll likely feel the same about touching you. You’ll be able to tell if the sexual desire and feelings are mutual should you notice them tense up a little at your touch, smile, or 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 you or be close to you. Your boss 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. The sexual tension between you two draws you both close to one another, and it’s 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 a pat on the back become even more heightened when there’s sexual tension between two people. Should the sexual tension between you and your boss progress, avoid having too much physical contact when around coworkers and other company employees. One innocent pat on the knee may go unnoticed, but continual shows of affection or attention will make other people 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.
No matter how socially competent you are, your social skills go out the window when talking to someone you’re crushing on. Sexual tension can make awkward conversations between two people, especially if the topic of sex or dating comes up. You may have no problem talking to people usually, but you can hardly utter an intelligible reply as soon as your boss asks how your weekend was. 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 as well as in them. They may stutter their words or fail to keep a conversation going, even if they show obvious signs that they wish they could. The social awkwardness results from their nerves being frazzled. It’s all too common to feel nervous or uncomfortable around an attractive person. The nervousness or awkwardness comes from our fear of the other person not returning our feelings. We try too hard to act perfect around them that we, instead, sabotage ourselves and act the opposite of how we intended to. The sexual tension between you and your boss may lead to many an awkward conversation.
You’re Always in Contact
If you and your boss are talking inside and outside the office, there’s probably a reason for that. When you have sexual tension with someone, you want to talk to them every chance you get. Sexual tension can mean in-person conversations, text messages, phone calls, or emails. Though there are some legitimate reasons your boss may need to contact you outside of work, asking what you’re having for dinner isn’t one of them. If your boss contacts you regularly after work to strike up a conversation, they probably have sexual tension towards you. It’s not normal for bosses to want to extend intimate conversations with their employees outside of work-related topics. Your boss attempting to solidify a stronger relationship with you by crossing 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 crossing the line 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 your boss contacts 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. In this way, you may 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 whether other people notice. 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 the preferential treatment you get, it’s a clear sign of sexual tension. Your boss may not notice that they’re treating you so obviously different from their other employees. Their kinder words toward you, lingering glances, and purposeful excuses to be near you may go unnoticed by them. In their mind, they may be acting normal. Subconsciously, though, their thoughts and feelings are transparent to everyone around them, including their other employees. If your coworkers begin to make comments about the sexual tension you have with your boss, there’s something more than a platonic relationship brewing. Listen out for jokes and watch for knowing glances from your coworkers every time you and your boss are in the same room. If your coworkers notice the same things you are, then your boss isn’t doing an excellent job of hiding their sexual tension towards you.
Should You Pursue a Relationship With Your Boss?
When it’s clear that there’s sexual tension between you and your boss, the next question is what to do about it? Romantic work relationships between a man and woman are complicated. First, there’s the manner of professionalism to consider. Would it be professional or wise 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 that lead to loss of productivity at work or take attention away from the company goal. As professional or mature as we all may think we are, emotions often get the best of us. It wouldn’t look good for either of you if a personal conflict got in the way of your work and other people knew about it. Your coworkers or company superiors may take notice of the sexual tension between you and decide either one or both of you aren’t fit for your job. Secondly, there’s the issue of tension between you and your coworkers. Your peers might think that you seduced your boss with the hopes of getting preferential treatment, including a raise or a better position. They may become jealous of the sexual tension and relationship you have with your boss and begin to treat you unkindly. Your workplace may become an uncomfortable, even hostile, environment that makes you dread going to work. Should you decide to further the sexual tension between you and your boss into a romantic relationship, it may be best to keep it secret.
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 boyfriend, might sound like it comes with a lot of excitement. Surely you’ve fantasized about secret breakroom romps and office room sex (cue shoving papers aside and sitting on his desk to tackle his next project). Working under your ex-boyfriend, however, is a much different experience. We all behave differently after a breakup. Sometimes a breakup is mutual, but often it’s 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? Things get even trickier when that ex controls your paycheck. Should your boss have harsh feelings towards you, they may take it out on you at work. There’s the possibility they could demote you, give you more work, or find a reason to let you go. You should report all unethical things. You may even quit if the awkwardness of working with your ex becomes too much. Before pursuing a relationship with your boss, you’ll need to decide how much you value your job. Breaking up with your boss may ultimately mean losing your paycheck.
The sexual tension between you and your boss is likely not just in your head if you notice any of these six telltale signs. Romantic relationships occur in the workplace, and they sometimes work out for the best. However, you should think hard about the consequences of pursuing a relationship with your boss, especially if that relationship ultimately fails. Workplace relationships aren’t always the best idea and can sometimes lead to tension between coworkers. Be careful not to rush into anything serious with your boss, even when you’re sure the sexual tension is mutual. It’s better to take your time and see how the relationship progresses first. You may find that the sexual tension between the two of you is not love and fizzles out after a short time. But if it lasts longer than that, tread carefully before getting serious. Remember, your paycheck could be on the line.