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Mostly in all Hollywood movies, workplace relationships usually begin with an attractive woman accidentally spilling coffee on a devastatingly handsome man and end with a declaration of their mutual love in front of astonished co-workers.

But in real life, combining work and romance can be much messier, especially if the attraction is one-sided. Maybe there’s a co-worker who keeps asking you out to lunch or drinks, even though you keep coming up with excuses. Or maybe, someone’s getting way too friendly every morning in the break room.

Whether the advances are simply annoying or they’re verging on creepy, we’ve come up with a few tactics to help you deal with every type of office crush.

Treat the coworker as you would any other coworker. 

The easiest way to hide your feelings is to simply deal with them. This is simple in theory but can be challenging in practice. If you find it difficult to keep things “business as usual,” limit contact with that colleague as much as possible.

For example, avoid going out to lunch with a large group of people. If you go with a group, do your best to interact with other people in the group, except those who interest you. Think about how you would treat any of your colleagues and imitate the behaviour of the person you like.

Never flirt with them. 

This can be very very difficult, especially if they tend to initiate flirting. However, reciprocating this behaviour will be one of the most obvious signals that you are totally interested in them. If you flirt, you won’t be able to hide your love for them for long. Would you flirt with a coworker you’re not interested in? Probably not at all.

For instance, don’t laugh at every funny comment they say. You don’t have to be rude, but a small smile at a joke and a change of subject will show them you’re not interested.

Avoid touching them.

 Obviously, you should avoid touching your coworker in an inappropriate way, but you should also avoid all physical contact (with the exception of a professional handshake, when necessary). 

Don’t put your hand on their arm if they say something teasing, don’t come up behind them and put your hands on their shoulders, and don’t hug them. Besides being obvious signals of your interest, it is also considered unprofessional in many working environments.

Never show favoritism.

If you, your unrequited lover, and other colleagues are debating an issue, don’t side with your unrequited lover all the time. If it is an important business decision, and the coworker you’re in unrequited love with truly does have the best idea, then by all means point out why their point of view makes the most sense. However, with smaller, more mundane decisions, try to avoid siding with them if you can.

When considering different perspectives, try to separate the idea from the person offering the idea. This will help you treat everyone fairly and normally. If you are in a position of power, don’t give all the best tasks to your unrequited love. Other subordinates will quickly pick up on this, and your secret won’t be safe. Try to continue to be as fair as possible.

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