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Why won’t she talk to me?

I love my coworker but she is never relaxed when she talks to me. Is it because I am always worried about my job?

It does sound like she is not that into you, says our elder. But try to be more positive at work.

Dear EWC

I am a 32-year-old male. I work in a government/federal job. The job is not particularly to my liking. My job performance is not that good and sometimes I feel insecure about my job and career. But I know from deep within that the job is secure and I will work till retirement, but it will take some time for things to settle down. So I am always in a kind of worry and tension about the job.

There is a colleague working in my organization, a widow. I love her. She is 44 years old. I like her. She likes me. But I feel she always talks to me superficially. She asks me about my family, and I talk to her children. I feel she is attracted to me. But she does not talk to me with an open heart. She never shares her personal problems with me. Does not talk about her emotions with me, never talks to me about her family members. She says I am always complaining about my job and I am always in tension. I see that she talks to some older male coworkers nonstop. I have never listened to their conversation but I feel that she is telling her personal problems to them. I feel jealous, that I am not worthy enough to share her problems with me.

She talks to them in a very relaxed way, how the day went and things like that. But she does not talk to me in a relaxed way. She talks in a very forced/artificial kind of manner with me. Is this because I am always worried about the job, resulting in the fact that I am not able to listen to her attentively with a calm mind, or that she feels I am not good enough for a relaxed conversation with her? Is this just my imagination or that she does not take me seriously?

Lincoln-Parker replies

It appears that you are much more attracted to this woman than she is to you. You say that you “love” her, but she “likes” you. There is a vast difference in those two words. Love is reserved for a limited number of people in our lives. Like refers to the rest of our acquaintances, and we can like individuals a little or a lot. That is, even if we like someone, we can sometimes choose to limit the time that we want to spend with them and the amount of personal information that we want to share with them.

It appears to me that you are trying to read your “love” for her into a mutual love that she should have for you. There may be several reasons why that will not happen. The first of these could be the age difference, which, while not insurmountable, is a difference that may make her uninterested. More of the issue, I think, is some of the other things that you describe in your dealings. Some examples from what you have written are:
“I am always in a kind of worry and tension about the job.”
“She says I am always complaining about my job.”
“I feel jealous.”

Excuse me for being so blunt, but this does not make you sound like a person who is fun to talk to all day long or try to develop a relationship with. Maybe when she talks to other people on the job, they are more upbeat, and therefore the personal exchanges are more enjoyable. If when she talks to you, all she hears is complaints, and all she feels is tension, she would rather talk to others who are more upbeat about work and life in general. Although you don’t know for sure if she is more personally open with others, it wouldn’t be surprising, especially since you admit to not always being attentive. One is apt to be more open with people who are not listening for the sake of listening until they get the chance to move the conversation to their own concerns and problems.

She probably understands how you feel about her, but she doesn’t want to encourage you to think that she has similar feelings about you. She may be too nice to come right out and say it. She continues to try and be a good coworker without letting it go any further. It is not that she does not take you seriously, but she doesn’t feel about you the way that you feel about her.

I think you should examine your behavior around her as well as the rest of your coworkers. I have been on both sides of this issue. I have been the complainer and worrier who, in hindsight I know, bothered people. I wasn’t much fun to be around; I guess I was depressed, and I was undoubtedly depressing to others. I got some help from a counselor and learned how to deal with my issues. Both my attitude and my work improved. I have also had people who worked for me who were never happy. They tended to bring others down and were not fun to be around. They often could not understand why they were not included or promoted.

I would suggest that you try to improve your demeanor in the workplace; try to become more positive about yourself and your work. It is not easy, and you, too, may need some professional counseling to help you address your job insecurities, job happiness, and general self-esteem. At 32, you should not be ready to admit that you plan to continue in a job that you do not like for the rest of your career. Possibly your job performance is not good because your heart’s not in it, but you do not have the confidence to do something about it. This not only reflects on the job but your interaction with others around you — including this woman with whom you want a relationship.

I don’t know if you still have a chance to change your situation with these women, but I am sure that to do so you must become a more positive and engaging person. Do some research on the internet about developing a more positive attitude or a stronger self-confidence; consider talking to a professional counselor. All of these can help you become a person who can more easily deal with tensions and frustrations and be a much more enjoyable person to be around.

Good luck. You have a long career ahead of you; make it more enjoyable.

Letter #: 458785
Category: Friendship

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