Sunday 21 January 2018

Dear Mary: I can't get over my crush on my younger ex-workmate

Mary O’Conor

My problem is that I'm 44 years old and I have a crush on a former colleague. I'm in the job 18 years and it started four years ago.

In the beginning this guy was very nice and very friendly and then just two years ago things changed. He changed his attitude towards me and I then felt lonely, rejected, isolated and heartbroken. He is much younger than me as he is in his mid to late twenties.

I loved and respected him as genuine friend. When he left towards the end of last year I wished him the very best of luck but I have emotional memories. I am now beginning to realise that I really suffered last year, and both at work and outside of work I feel very emotional about him. Also I worry about what would happen if I were to bump into him and how I would feel. Please help me.

Mary replies: You sum up your problem so well in the first sentence. You have a crush on a guy and it is not reciprocated. Almost everybody will be able to relate to this because we have all had crushes of one sort or another although they usually happen at a much younger age. Crushes are generally with somebody older or in authority, like a teacher or somebody totally out of reach such as a well-known musician or sports person. So there is nothing to be ashamed of in having a crush and behaving a bit foolishly when coming face to face with the person.

However crushes can cause a lot of heartache because they are so very often inappropriate and part of a fantasy that almost never works out.

You developed feelings for a very much younger man who initially was very warm and friendly with you and then things changed. Who knows what was going on in his head, but it may very well be that he realised you fancied him and he decided that this was not for him and he began to keep his distance. Or perhaps as he knew he was thinking about leaving the firm he began to withdraw generally. You will never know what was going on for him but it is very unwise to take it all so personally.

Stop looking back and instead focus on living your life to the full. Try to get away for a holiday, or treat yourself to something that you wouldn't normally do. Your aim should be to make you feel good about yourself and begin thinking positively.

If you do bump into him you should inquire as to how his new job is going and then say your goodbyes. Don't worry too much about this because it may never happen. But most importantly let go of your emotional feelings about this young man, because he is getting on with his life and so should you.

You can contact Mary O’Conor anonymously by visiting or email her at or write c/o 27-32 Talbot Street, Dublin 1. All correspondence will be treated in confidence. Mary O’Conor regrets that she is unable to answer any questions privately.

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