I Heard She Drove The Silvery Sports Car

Dear Noted Relationship Expert,

This is kind of embarrassing, because I've never written to an advice columnist before. I've got this crush on a girl at work. Huge. Massive. I could go through the rest of the thesaurus (elephantine, gigantic, grand, immense, mighty, monumental, mountainous, tremendous, vast), but I'll spare you. J-- is tall, she's beautiful, with this gorgeous short strawberry blond hair and beautiful slate eyes that seem to go on forever. She's smart, funny, creative, dresses well, an apple-cheeked cherub with...

Yeah, we get the picture. Get on with it.

We're friends (not close ones, thankfully), and until now, I've been able to keep this feeling under control. But I feel that I'm sliding down that slippery slope (there was this dream last night -- it wasn't explicit or anything, so get your mind out of the gutter), and she's taking up more and more of my brain time. I haven't done anything about it, but it's driving me crazy. But there are a few problems. First, she's got a boyfriend. Second, well, it's at the office, and my pappy always said, "Son, don't dip your pen in the company ink". Also, I'm afraid that J-- finds me physically unattractive. I'm not a small fellow, and I've still got my hair, though it's started the inevitable process of migration off the top of my head. I afraid that I'm falling once more into an age-old pattern I have of falling for smart, sexy, and completely inaccessible women. What should I -- what can I -- do?

Signed, Co-Worker Crusher

Dear Crusher (is that a Star Trek reference? Ya freak),

You know that sound that AOL makes when you have email? You've Got Mail! Boy howdy, my friend, You've Got Issues!

First off, the whole self-image/self confidence thing. Is "big fellow" a euphemism for "fat"? No matter what you really look like, I'm sure that there are plenty of women out there who would find you attractive (lord knows that I see lots of hot women out there with total freaks (I don't know what they see in them, but hey, file under things I just don't get)). If it really is a problem, well, get to the gym and eat right. I know, much easier said than done, but it's definitely doable.

Second, you don't actually talk about trying to hook up with this girl. Wassup with that? She's the Girl Of Your Dreams (literally). You've got this huge (monumental, prodigious, stupendous, towering, tremendous) crush on her, big enough that you actually write to a Noted Relationship Expert for the first time and you don't even ask about hooking up? What kind of bullshit is that? Not that you're asking, but here's is how you should do it:

  1. Drop by her desk/office/cubicle/workspace.
  2. Say, "Hey, I've got a little dinner party thing going on this weekend. You want to come?"
  3. Wait for her reaction.
  4. Dazzle her with your intelligence, charm, and wit.

Pretty simple, eh?

It's probably pretty obvious that you're fond of her (at the least). Men are usually really bad at hiding these sorts of things. What's the worst that can happen? She says yes?

The "problems" that you mention? It sounds like you're trying to find an excuse for not doing anything. Not dipping your pen in the company inkwell is still good advice, but it's hardly a hard-and-fast rule. Hell, the way most of us work, we never meet anyone outside of the office anyway. Boyfriend? A bigger problem, but true love knows no boundaries. In the unfortunate event that the boyfriend is the true love, well, chalk it up to it never having been meant to be.

Let's face it: there's a 90% chance that nothing will happen (attraction is far too often a one-way street). And that leaves you pretty much where you started. So you go, you ask her, she says, very nicely, thanks, but no thanks. And then what? Well, then you let it go. You get on with your life. You did what could. Maybe the two of you will eventually meet again. I can't predict the future (well, I can say that I'm going to go each lunch when this finally goes up). You can't predict the future.

If nothing happens, the key thing, the most important thing, is to move on. The thing about a crush is that you're not falling for a person; you're falling for the idea of the person. It's not necessarily her (or as you call her, J--) that you're interested in; it's the idealized can-do-no-wrong construct that you've built up around her. And maybe, just maybe, she's interested in being herself, not someone else's idea of herself. Because at some point you have to remember that behind the pining and the crush and the glossy fiction that you've created ("Apple-cheeked Cherub?") is a real, live, human being with her own hope, her own fears, her own uncertainties, and her own life.

What are you afraid of? Maybe she might be persuaded to make room in that life for you. Maybe not. Yeah, rejection sucks (been there), but it's better to know for sure than to hang on, deluding yourself that maybe there might be a chance. There's only one way to find out if there might be a chance. Don't be afraid of it. A life lived in fear is a life half-lived (or something like that). So go out, do what I tell you to do, get on with your life. Spend your time being funny and sociable, instead of being hunched over a keyboard, tapping out letters to electronic agony aunts. Live a little. It's not going to kill you.

[letters may be edited for length and content]

Coming soon on Relationship Month: Dating: Why It Sucks.