A couple of years ago, a coworker began flirting with me. Because it went on for a while (I saw them every day and we would spend hours together due to work), I was able to determine that flirting was indeed happening, which meant I was able to start preparing for a response if a move was made.
“Well, you see… You’re fun to talk to. And I like you, just not that way. I’m sorry. I’m what’s called asexual, so I just don’t work like that.”
Then the move came.
One day, I left a book of ViewMaster reels of dissected cadavers on their desk. (Yes, that is a thing. I own it because I’m into stereophotography and that’s an odd stereophotographic collectible item, not because I’m into anatomy or cadavers or anything like that. They, on the other hand, were into vintage things with a morbid twist, so I figured they’d be interested.) And that started the process.
We were in the office, so it’s not like we could just have a straight up conversation about anything like this without everyone else noticing or overhearing, so it began on the company’s internal chat program. While they were pouring their heart out, I kept getting interrupted by people coming up to ask questions (which happens to me all the time at work), so it wasn’t ideal. Among the words they typed were “I’m asexual too”.
Well, there goes my counter plan.
The conversation continued throughout the day. We went to lunch (which I later discovered was considered a “date”), where they told me that they loved me and that they already had a boyfriend and that they’d never done anything like this before. After work, we sat in a hallway talking about things for several hours as they inched closer and started touching my arm. As we parted that night, they gave me a hug and a kiss on the cheek.
For some people, this would be a dream scenario, but for me, it was extremely awkward. I don’t know what to do with this sort of situation.
Should I give a clear no, ain’t gonna happen? But how do I do that without losing them as a friend?
Should I make something up about “I don’t date coworkers”? Well, no, they were thinking of leaving the place anyway, so they probably would just for the chance to be with me, at which point I would have ruined both their professional and personal lives.
Should I go for it and see what happens? But there’s nothing appealing about being in a relationship with this person. Specifically, there’s nothing appealing about being in a relationship period. I don’t know how to do that and I don’t really want to do that. I wouldn’t be good at it. Going this route would lead to me being uncomfortably pulled into things I don’t want to do pretty much all the time, and it would lead to disappointment for them, and the combination of that would probably lead to the destruction of what had the chance to turn into a long friendship.
After agonizing over it for a day and a half, I told them the truth. That it wasn’t anything against them. That I just didn’t see a way that a relationship with me would work, because I’m incapable of doing the things that a relationship would require. That I’d probably feel compelled to act like I was into it, even when I wasn’t, which would be stressful. That I couldn’t be what they’d need me to be.
It was hard to do, but it had to be said.