Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Office Space

By: Yuet Ng

We are sexual creatures. Given enough time, we’ll start developing feelings or attractions for one another. Put a guy and a girl in constant contact for long periods of time and chemistry begins to do its work. Look at The Real World. It’s inevitable that if you have people of the opposite sex in the same house for months, they’ll eventually pair up during that time. That’s why most marriages spring from romances at work. Under any normal circumstance those same people would never have shacked up.

At work, you see the same people day in, day out. You talk to them, get to know them, maybe even hang out. You have more interactions with your co-workers than with your own family. Plus, you don’t get much opportunity to meet potential significant others. Maybe visit a club here or there, but you can’t really get to know someone from a club… or at a party through a mutual acquaintance. But more likely than not, it is the same people you hang out or work with all the time. And of course, you can’t trust any old stranger off the street.

So it’s natural that with what few resources we do have, we tend to fall for people at work. Even people that we are not initially attracted to or probably never would have been outside of work. You see someone so often that s/he just starts to grow on you. Like a fungus. I’m sure there’s been a song on the radio that you could care less about but you hear it so often that eventually you find yourself humming along to the tune.

The only problem with these office romances is that it’s hard to trust that those feelings are real. Do you like the person because you sincerely like the person or because there just aren’t many candidates around and you click with that person the best?

Now if that close proximity is taken away, the chemistry does not react as strongly, and with time, will probably peter out and fade into nothingness. That is the whole basis of a crush, isn’t it? You hang around someone for so long that something flickers. You put two heat-producing bodies together long enough, the heat increases and soon there’s a fire, however tiny, springs to life. Then you put some distance between those sources of heat and it cools down.

So how do you know that an office related romance is for real? Plus, because they are the people that you work with, there is a certain measure of distance you must keep. You can’t get too personal and thus you don’t really know that person. Yet another reason not to trust an office crush. Is there any real depth to the feelings we develop for co-workers?

And if a romance does develop, there are certain inherent problems. Unless both parties can be mature about the whole thing or the match is perfect, once the relationship falls apart, the work relationship becomes stilted. You gotta see the person day in, day out. And if there are any lingering resentments, well… makes for an interesting work environment, doesn’t it?

All this makes logical sense, yet it doesn’t stop people from falling for their co-workers, least of all me. At my first job out of college, it was Matt. Cute white boy. He had a girlfriend but that didn’t stop my heart from fluttering every time I saw him. What I felt for him wasn’t anything serious, especially since I was in a relationship as well, but hey, just because I’m in a relationship doesn’t mean that I’m dead. I can still appreciate looking at something attractive, can’t I? That was a year ago and I can barely bring up the memory of his face now. At my second job, it was Greg. Not so physically attractive but he had a great personality. Towards the end of my six-month stint there, I developed an attraction for him. Since leaving the company, I haven’t thought about him. I feel nothing for him now.

At my next job, it was J. The first time I met J, I felt nothing. Absolutely nothing. I felt more for my lunch than I did for this guy. I wasn’t remotely attracted to him, physically or otherwise. Three months later, after seeing the fricking dude every day, a flicker burned to life. He grew on me. I wanted to be around him all the time, found every excuse to see him. I had a crush on him and I didn’t know anything about him. I see him a lot less now and that flicker has slowly died down.

So you see, office crushes are meaningless and entirely without depth. The only true test of your feelings for a crush is if you don’t see the person for a long stretch of time and still you can’t get that person off your mind. Lucky for me that hasn’t happened yet. 

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