Unrequited love and one-sided attractions are always awkward, but nothing is more uncomfortable than finding out that a married person has developed a crush on you. This is especially true when the person is married to someone close to you such as a friend or family member. This can make handling the crush even more difficult. So, what do you do if a married person has a crush on you?
Create some distance in your relationship.Most people who develop crushes on each other in adulthood are those that are more or less forced to be around each other often. They are coworkers, friends of friends or parents of children who are friends. As such, spending time together is not always a choice which can make an already awkward situation far more uncomfortable. If you are in a situation where you cannot really avoid the person who is crushing on you, make sure you create some distance in your relationship. If you are coworkers, be professional instead of friendly and keep the conversation strictly about work. If you are friends of friends, try to limit your time together.
Push back if they want to continue the relationship.Whatever you do, do not give them hope that something could come of a relationship between the two of you. Take a step back and refuse to create or return to a close friendship or similarly risky relationship. If the married person pushes it and wants to continue your previous relationship, refuse. If they have a crush on you, even an innocent friendship can rapidly spiral into an emotional affair. Resist the urge to sugar coat things or imply that you two could have a close platonic relationship later. Be polite, especially if you have to see them regularly, but explain that you do not feel comfortable with the situation and that you need them to take a step back.
Avoid being alone with them.Being alone together is naturally intimate. It lends itself to sharing secrets, hopes, fears and facilitates honesty. In short, it has all the ingredients for forming emotional intimacy. If your married coworker or friend has a crush on you, the last thing you want is a deeper emotional connection. Emotional intimacy can rapidly lead to an emotional affair or give them false hope that there could be something more between the two of you. Being alone together also gives the married person a sense of safety and ability to express their feelings toward you. These conversations can be extremely uncomfortable and are best avoided all together.
Cut off contact.If the married person simply seems unable to take a hint, you may need to cut off all contact. Even if this means refusing to go to certain outings with mutual friends or rescheduling children’s playdates, sometimes stopping a crush cold requires removing yourself from their life entirely. It is not fair that you should have to rearrange your life due to another person’s inappropriate feelings, but that is sometimes the only way to get through to them that you are not willing to be the other man or other woman.
Completely cutting off contact with a married coworker may not be feasible, but you can ensure that the only thing you two ever discuss is work related topics. Limit your interactions outside necessary meetings to general greetings or light topics such as, cliché as it sounds, the weather, and politely refuse to engage in more meaningful discussions. Make sure that any sort of afterhours meetings involve other members of your team to discourage “meetings” that are actually disguised dates and to keep the conversation purely professional.
Seek appropriate help if necessary.Sadly, a crush can sometimes become something rather less innocent. It is disgusting, but not everyone will accept “no” as an answer. If the married person with a crush is acting inappropriately or threateningly, seek the appropriate help. If they are coworker who is making you uncomfortable in the workplace, speak with your boss if need be. If they are someone who is in a position of power over you or your family, such as your supervisor or a child’s teacher, be prepared to take legal action if they attempt to use their power inappropriately. The odds of it happening are unlikely, but always take any sort of threats or attempted blackmail seriously and speak to the police. Most crushes will result in nothing more than some awkward conversations, but stalking and harassment should never be brushed off.
Depending on your relationship, speak to the spouse.Sticking your nose in someone else’s marriage is rarely a good idea. That, after all, is precisely why you are trying to distance yourself from the married person and their crush. As such, running to their spouse to tattle on them like a three year old is rarely a good idea. That said, you may need to seriously consider speaking to their spouse if you are close to the spouse. Inappropriate advances by a brother-in-law, for example, might warrant speaking to your sister. There is no good way to say for certain whether that is the best idea or not. It will all depend on the situation and your relationship with their spouse.
Having a married person crushing on you is one of the most horrendously awkward situations in existence. There is nothing you can do, however, to control how another person feels. All you can do is make sure that you do not give them any reason to believe that there is even the slightest shred of hope that something will develop between the two of you. The rest is up to them to handle before their angry spouse finds out about their inappropriate feelings.