I’ve had my fair share of workplace flings.
Some of them were simple, others were complicated—but all of them have the potential to be confusing.
With so many hours spent together with our co-workers—crushes, flings, sexual tension, and full-blown romances are bound to happen.
It’s literally science!
According to statistics, 22% of married couples reported first meeting one-another at work.
In addition to this, one-third of American singles report that they’ve dated a co-worker.
Of these, 65% say that they’ve had a one-night stand with someone they worked with, and 56% have reported having at least one FWB setup with a co-worker at some point in their lives!
Long story short—office romances happen.
But as men, how can we tell the difference between friendliness, flirtation, and down-and-dirty sexual desire?
Here are the 21 key things to look for.
How to Tell If a Female Coworker Likes You: 21 Positive Signs
1. She Smiles When She Notices You
If she smiles at you when she notices you, does it mean that she’s into you?
Smiling may mean friendship or professional courtesy.
But it can also indicate attraction.
The key is to look at the context of the smile.
Is she smiling with her eyes, and making prolonged eye contact?
If it’s a genuine smile and she also holds your gaze for a second or two, it may be her way of saying, “I’m trying to look attractive and inviting. Notice me!”
2. She Finds Reasons to Spend Time Around You
Have you noticed that she’s been spending a lot of time around you recently?
J. Celeste Walley-Jean, a professor of Psychology, said this during an interview with Insider.com:
Mere exposure to someone repeatedly increases the likelihood we will be attracted to them.
It’s no secret that we want to be closer to the people we’re attracted to.
Women are experts at avoiding men they don’t want to spend time around. So if you find that she’s going out of her way to be around you—there’s probably something to it.
This could be her way of saying, “I wouldn’t spend time around you if I didn’t enjoy you. Take the hint and ask me out already!”
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3. She Often Seeks Out Your Assistance
If you feel like you’re the only one she ever picks on for help-related adventures, it’s possible that there’s more at play than meets the eye.
Getting your help with things may be her way of signaling that she needs a ‘strong man’ to assist her. This engages your ‘helper/provider’ instincts, which has the potential to increase your attraction toward her and generate a deeper connection.
It’s called the ‘damsel in distress’ technique—and it works.
Getting your help puts you in closer proximity to her. It’s her way of saying, “I’m attracted to you and want you to notice me. I’m literally a damsel in distress!”
4. She Often Offers to Help You
If she offers to help you throughout the day, volunteers her time to assist you with projects, and/or otherwise interjects herself into your affairs in a helpful manner—then there’s probably a reason for it.
Men, I’m going to let you in on a little secret.
She wouldn’t be trying to do extra work unless there was a reason behind it!
Either she’s just plain ambitious and wants recognition—or you are the common denominator.
This may be her way of saying, “Look, I’m helpful and I make your life better. I’m a good catch. Maybe you should make a move!”
5. She Tries to Spend Time with You Outside of Work
Does she message you, call you, text you, and/or invite you to things outside of work?
If so, there’s a strong chance that she wants to build a deeper connection with you.
I used to work with a beautiful woman who constantly flirted with me on the job.
But it wasn’t until I invited her over for breakfast one morning (after night shift) that I realized what was going on.
She was super enthusiastic about hanging out outside of work. She showed up in this sexy dress, had her makeup all done up, and sat as close to me as possible.
It was suddenly very obvious to me that this was more than a ‘friendly’ hangout to her.
(My then-wife wasn’t super thrilled about this, by the way—but that’s a story for another time!)
6. She Asks You About Your Friends and Family, and Also Tells You About Hers
Many studies have indicated that family characteristics factor strongly into mate selection, and for good reason.
She may be trying to learn more about your family because she’s interested in a future with you.
Why does she talk to you about her friends and family?
In the words of one of my close female friends, there’s a simple explanation for that as well:
It’s kind of a way for them to know more about me and who I am outside of work. Without giving away the obvious “I like you,” it’s kind of a sneak peek into my history. It opens up conversations, and potentially can peak their interest to get to know me better.
7. She ‘Accidentally’ Touches You More Than Once
Does she brush into you when she walks by? Do her feet or her legs rub against yours under the table during meetings?
I once worked with a co-worker who would walk up behind me and poke me to get my attention.
She was the only person in our department who did this, and she didn’t do it to anyone else.
I never pursued it, because I was married and monogamous. But years later, I found out that she had a pretty hardcore crush on me at the time.
Keep this in mind. One touch may be an accident.
But if it happens twice or more, odds are good that she’s doing it on purpose.
Pro Tip: Women don’t just touch YOU when they’re flirting. They’ll also touch themselves—their hair, their shoulders, their necks, etc. Keep an eye out for this important cue.
8. You Catch Her Looking at You
Does she catch your eye during crowded meetings?
When you walk into a room, do your gazes meet?
Women rarely stare at men they aren’t interested in.
In fact, according to one of my close female friends, there’s a specific reason for why women tend to stare at the coworker they’re crushing on.
Of course I look at him. You want to look at the things you want/can’t have!
If you catch her looking at you more than once, it could indicate curiosity.
Or, she’s looking at you because she’s interested.
If she smiles and keeps the eye contact going for a second or two after you notice her, only to look away and flip her hair—there’s a strong, strong chance that there’s sexual interest at play.
9. She Flirts with You
According to Joann Ellison Rodgers, flirting is a straightforward attraction signal that literally evolved in humans to help facilitate the survival of our DNA through sex and reproduction.
It’s how we focus the attention of someone we are interested in—a method for giving, displaying, and attracting attention and desire.
Does she often talk with you, joke with you, touch you, and do other things that successfully draw your attention to her—especially when the attention wasn’t professionally necessary?
This is her way of saying “Hey, I think you’re attractive and I’m trying to get your attention.”
10. She Remembers Details That You’ve Told Her About Yourself
Does she seem to have an uncanny ability to remember work and personal details about you?
If so, it could mean that she’s paying closer attention to you than normal.
Helen Fisher, a renowned biological anthropologist, describes why we tend to get so focused on someone when we have a crush on them:
When you have a crush on someone and are focusing on just that one person, the dopamine system in your brain has been activated. It all starts in a tiny little factory near the base of the brain. It’s way below the regions that orchestrate most thinking and emotions. It’s in the brain regions devoted to drive.
In other words—sexual interest and a crush equate to ‘hyper brain focusing power.’
This is her way of saying, “I notice more about you than anyone else because you’re important to me and on my mind.”
11. She Talks About the Two of You as Being ‘Together’
Women get excited when they develop a crush.
If she has a crush on you, she’s probably fantasized A LOT about being in a relationship together.
And sometimes, this may come out in her speech.
“We would make such a cute couple!”
“If we were together, I wouldn’t nag at you like your GF does.”
It could be a Freudian Slip—but most of it’s likely intentional. It’s her way of saying “Hey, I’m open to making this a real thing! Make a move already!”
12. She Makes a Determined Effort to Look Nice
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand that women try to level-up their appearance when they’re interested in attracting a man.
This is described quite directly by David M. Buss in his book The Evolution Of Desire: Strategies of Human Mating.
Because men place a premium on appearance, competition among women to attract men centers heavily on enhancing their physical attractiveness along youthful and healthful lines.
If her wardrobe, makeup, and hair are suddenly on point all the time—and if this cue is accompanied by other attraction signals, this may be her way of saying, “Notice me already! I wouldn’t go to all of this trouble if I wasn’t interested.”
13. Everyone Else Seems to Notice
Do other coworkers mention to you that she has a crush on you?
If other people in the workplace are noticing that she’s been acting ‘friendlier than usual’ toward you, there may be some truth to it.
This is especially true if other women notice and mention it.
Men can fall victim to sexual overperception bias. But if other women have noticed it and mentioned it to you—well, they probably know what they are talking about!
14. She Seems Genuinely Interested in Your Personal Life
Does she seem especially interested in learning about your hobbies, your house, your pets, and your personal interests?
Here’s the thing—women don’t invest time, energy, or attention into men they’re not interested in.
They’ll tune you out like static on a radio.
If she seems legitimately interested, and seems to be willing to invest time and energy into learning about you, it’s for a reason.
This could be her way of saying, “I’m asking about your personal life because I secretly hope that you’ll include me in it.”
15. She Leaves You Gifts/Tries to Surprise You
Does she grab you a coffee on her way to work? Does she leave occasional surprise muffins or donuts on your desk?
If she’s bringing you gifts, trying to surprise you, and/or thinks of you when she picks something up for herself—she’s definitely sending you a message.
This is her way of saying, “You aren’t just on my mind at work. I think about you while I’m getting coffee, getting breakfast, and preparing for the day.”
16. She Compliments You
According to science, compliments are a sure-fire way to motivate others.
So if she often compliments you at work—there may be a simple explanation for it.
Scientifically speaking, she may be trying to motivate you to continue interacting with her.
It’s kind of complicated—and yet, super simple all at the same time.
Pro Tip: You have to be a little bit careful with this one. Sometimes, compliments are completely platonic—so you need to pay close attention to context.
Is she giving you any other attraction signs? If so—it’s possible that she’s into you, buckaroo!
17. She Creates Inside Jokes with You and Keeps Them Going
Inside jokes are actually subtle, yet effective mechanisms for bringing people together.
Zach Brittle, a Certified Gottman Institute Therapist, said it quite eloquently:
An artfully deployed inside joke can shift the focus away from your fixed position and toward your shared we-ness.
Creating an inside joke with you may be her way of trying to eliminate the ‘distance’ between the two of you, and replace it with more ‘togetherness.’
It’s her way of saying, “I enjoy having a shared pleasure with you that nobody else has access to.”
18. She Shares Secrets with You
When we share secrets, we build connection.
In fact, according to A Conscious Rethink, increased intimacy is the fifth stage of falling in love—and involves building true comfort and new levels of closeness with your partner.
If she’s sharing secrets with you, it’s likely a sign that she trusts you. But it’s also an indication that she wants to be closer to you, build connection, and develop trust.
Either she thinks of you, at the very least, as a very close friend—or she has hopes that your relationship will blossom into more.
19. She Notices When You Change Things
A 2008 scientific study has shown that two of the hallmarks of early-stage infatuation include focused attention, and obsessive thinking about a partner.
It’s little wonder, then, that women tend to notice such small details when they have a crush.
Did she notice that you did something new with your hair?
Did she notice that you were wearing a new tie? There may be a simple explanation.
Her attention is hyper focused on you because she’s got a crush.
20. She Drops Hints, Makes Innuendos, or Teases You
According to researchers, more women than men engage in sexual teasing.
This may sound counter-intuitive—but it’s actually true.
But teasing, innuendos, and sexual hints serve a deeper purpose than most people realize.
They serve as a step in the process of getting to know others, especially potential romantic/sexual partners.
When she makes sexual jokes at you, it’s not by accident. This is her way of saying, “Hey, I’m thinking about this! Be a man and do something about it already!”
21. She Dislikes it When You Talk to Other Women
Despite what you may think, women compete just as often as men for sexual access to their ideal mates.
But nowhere is this notion captured more eloquently than in the book Why Women Have Sex, by Cindy M. Meston and David M. Buss.
In our evolutionary past, women who prevailed over other women by gaining sexual access to the most desirable men could gain access to a variety of reproductive benefits—access to better genes, an increased likelihood of producing successful sons and daughters, access to superior resources, and a boost in social status.
Does she get salty or withdraw when she notices you talking to the new receptionist?
It’s basically her way of saying, “Why are you talking to that dumb b**** when you could be talking to me?”
Did you enjoy our list?
Keep your eye out for these 21 signs to avoid missing out on your next potential dating adventure, and to help you avoid embarrassing yourself with a mixed signal.
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Go with grace, fine gentlemen—and never give up your power.