We asked people to share their most cringe-worthy office romance stories...and, honestly, we're still not over some of these.
1. Technical Difficulties
"I went on a date with a man who worked in our IT department, and when he found out I was a writer, he told me at GREAT LENGTH about his novel. He was like, 'It’s about a guy who's bullied in high school and becomes a tech magnate, and everyone's jealous of him. It's a coming-of-age story. I don't think it's been done before.'
"I said, 'There have been so many of those it has an official name, and that name is bildungsroman,' and the date ended shortly after. I hate asking for help from IT now."
"I once invited a coworker I had a crush on to my apartment to watch a movie, and I thought we were on the same page, but instead he suggested an extremely unsexy kids' movie and spent the entire time talking about his woebegone lust for another coworker."
3. Mixed Messages Much?
"In college, I worked at a campus literary magazine and had a really big crush on one of my co-editors. One night after a magazine party, he kissed me and told me he had really liked me for a long time. In my mind, I assumed we were going to date after that. Boy, was I wrong: My co-editor avoided me completely. He had one of our mutual friends basically tell me the whole thing was a mistake. At another party, we ended up kissing again, and he told me that he actually did like me. THEN, an awkward week later, he told me that he liked me as a friend and was attracted to me but didn't like me like that (what???). We had to work together closely for another three months, which was miserable for everyone around us because I was just too mad to talk to him."
4. Reel Bad Timing
"In college, I was working at an events venue near campus, and this girl from work asked me out. She took me to the student movie theatre, and it was fun, but things didn’t end up working out. I ended up asking out this other girl from work, and I didn’t know where else to take her, so I took her to the same student movie theatre. As we were walking in, the other girl from work saw us together. The face she made still makes me feel like a bad person."
"When I worked as an assistant librarian at a high school, we often interacted with the tech department because they would help fix the library printer. There was one dude in tech. He was quiet and kind of funny, and he and I would often exchange looks like 'wow, life is hell.' I thought he seemed nice, and that was all.
"One day, the tech dude started very, very awkwardly flirting with me. I knew I should at some point mention my boyfriend, but I didn't know how to do it naturally, so I never did. On the last day of school, when my coworker and I were leaving, we stopped at the tech room to say goodbye, and, in front of EVERYONE, he shoved a piece of paper into my hand and walked out of the room. It was his telephone number. I never used it, and I never went back in the fall, and I still feel bad about the whole thing."
6. Take the Hire Road
"When I was in college, I spent a summer working at a clothing brand’s factory outlet. One day, a bunch of new hires came in for their first day of training, and a couple of days later, one of them had our coworker tell me that he thought I was cute. I told that coworker to tell him that I thought he was cute, too. We went to a mediocre Tex-Mex restaurant in a mall for our first date, and it was really bad. We had nothing in common. He walked me back to my car, and we hugged very quickly. Once I saw him drive off, I ran back into the mall. I really had to use the restroom, but I didn’t want him to see me going back into the mall we'd just left. Anyway, we stopped talking after that first date and then inexplicably went on one more date six months later. That one was bad, too."
7. Summer Bummer
"I was working at a summer camp and developed strong feelings for a coworker. He was the sweetest guy ever, and it was brutal because we got really close as friends, but I had no idea how to bridge the gap, so the crush just festered. Worst yet, he ended up getting with someone else who was in my friend group, and we would have to listen to her complain for hours about how 'shy' he was and how he followed her around like a lost puppy dog. I wanted to be like, 'I WILL TAKE HIM OFF YOUR HANDS.' She ended up avoiding him toward the end of the summer, and he got really sad, which made me even sadder. To this day, I still wonder if, had I actually just said something sooner instead of being so hard on myself, all of that awkwardness and despair, and his disappointment, could have been avoided."
8. Crush or Be Crushed
"A couple of people had been chatting me regularly about a coworker who had a crush on me. I didn’t like him back, and when he tried to flirt with me at the office party, I politely declined. A few weeks later, I saw him out with none other than my office crush. Joke's on who?"
9. Just Friends, Eh?
"I’d been working at the same company as this guy for a few months, but we were in different departments and only met for the first time at a work party. We flirted, he walked me to the train, and we started dating soon after. One evening as I was leaving the office, I saw him talking with another (female) coworker, with whom he seemed pretty friendly. After we left, I asked him if they’d dated previously since they seemed close, but he insisted they were purely platonic and would never be anything but.
"Fast-forward a couple weeks, during which we’d had a series of interactions where he’d give mixed signals or just cancelled altogether, and things dissolved quickly. A few more weeks passed, and I learned that he and that female coworker had been dating exclusively for, well, a few weeks. The kicker? I drew her name in Secret Santa that year and for some reason felt like I needed to prove there was no bad blood by giving her a great gift, so I made her a custom necklace."
10. Dashed Expectations
"When I first started working at my current office, I was like, 'Okay, I’m gonna allow myself one crush here at work.' I did get a crush on a coworker for one day, and the NEXT DAY he announced he got a girlfriend. I was very embarrassed and continue to be embarrassed because for like four hours on the day I had my crush, I had had all these little daydreams about our life together: going to the park, meeting up in front of the building after work to go home together... We hadn’t even spoken that much. Now when I see him, I just remember how extra I was about it and cringe."
11. Publish Humiliation
"My first adult job was in publishing, in an office of mostly women. There was one eligible, age-appropriate dude in the office, and so naturally, as time passed, I decided I probably loved him. I spent a while trying to look cute when I saw him, then somehow I made it into a Thing, and we went on a date. It was very awkward and bad, and at the end, when he leaned in to kiss me, I dodged him and ended up kissing his bald head by accident. For the rest of time, it remained very awkward. It also became a running joke with my friend group, and they printed out and hung up photos of him all over our apartment to torment me."
12. Human Romances Department
"I got drunk and made out with someone in HR at my office Christmas party. It’s really awkward, but at least I’ll probably never get called into HR."
*sets out-of-office reply for rest of life.*
Names have been changed to protect the loveless. All images by Getty images.