It’s a lot more common than many people think.
Bosses fall for employees all the time.
Sometimes both parties are single, and the attraction is mutual.
Other times the boss is married, the subordinate isn’t interested, and the situation is fraught.
You’ve likely landed here because you suspect your boss may be into you, but you’re unsure.
So today, we’re breaking down the signs that your boss may have a crush on you.
Does My Boss Like Me?
Bosses are humans, too. And yes, they sometimes fall for subordinates. According to the latest statistics, an estimated 36% of people have cheated with a coworker, and 27% have had romantic relationships with their bosses.
Is it right? Professionally speaking, it’s not ideal, and most companies forbid office romances — especially when one party supervises the other.
Because any way you slice it, sex and work rarely mix well, and problems almost always percolate in the public glare.
When a supervisor is overly familiar or demonstrative to a curious degree, you may feel:
Your reaction to a manager’s attention will depend on how you feel about them. Did Cupid’s arrow strike you, too? Is the attraction undeniable?
Or are their advances threatening and wholly unwelcome?
Protocol says you should inform your company’s human resources department if you feel sexually harassed. And sure, when a situation is cut and dry, you should absolutely take those concerns to HR.
However, remember two things before looping them in:
- The job of HR is to legally and reputationally protect the company, not the employees.
- Bringing complaints to HR can create life-shattering issues for you and the accused — and the system isn’t always fair. Even if your boss is acting inappropriately, you may end up in the hot seat.
So before speaking, ensure all your ducks are in a row, and your receipts are in hand.
In extreme cases, consider hiring your own lawyer ahead of time to serve and protect your rights and interests.
27 Signs Your Boss Likes You But Is Hiding It
Now for the main course: how to tell if your boss likes you romantically.
Please remember, though, that these are not foolproof signs. Moreover, if your boss only exhibits one or two, it’s likely nothing.
However, if you recognize seven or more signs on this list, there’s a solid chance your boss has a crush on you.
We also included a “reality check” as an objectivity reminder. After all, you don’t want to make something out of nothing.
1. They Give You Preferential Treatment
You’re bright and good at what you do, but the preferential treatment you’re receiving is outsized.
The best projects are routed to you, and even when you do a standard job, the superior in question praises you to high heaven.
More than that, you get more freedom than other team members, including more days off.
Reality Check: Don’t rule out the possibility that you’re more talented than you think. If your boss recognizes your value, they may give you a tad more leeway to ensure you stick around.
2. They Promise You a Great Future at the Company
Is the boss who may be crushing on you always mentioning your name to the head honcho? Are all the “right” people being told that you’re a huge asset? Is it deserved, or is your boss trying to juice your profile?
If your supervisor has a crush on you, they might talk you up in a passive-affection attempt to make you happy.
Plus, if it works, they hope you’ll recognize “how much they did for you,” which (the theory goes) will make you like them better.
Reality Check: Again, the root of this behavior may be low self-confidence on your part. You may genuinely be more gifted than you think, your boss sees the potential, and they want to foster it.
3. They Compliment You Incessantly
The compliments are getting out of hand. As far as your boss is concerned, everything about you is brilliant. Daily, you’re doused in showers of compliments:
- I can’t believe you [insert minor task]!
- Wow. You’re so smart.
- You look great today. I like that [insert clothing item].
- It’s incredible how much you know about [books/films/music/et cetera]
Reality Check: Are they like this with other people, too? If so, they’re probably just a positive compliment machine.
4. They Confide in You
Have you become your boss’s confidante? Do they tell you things they don’t share with other coworkers?
Or even give you information you probably shouldn’t have? Has the situation reached a point where they’re pouring their heart out to you about non-work issues?
If this sounds familiar, there’s a possibility your boss likes you more than a valued colleague.
Reality Check: When people go through personal issues, they sometimes open up to removed third parties. If your boss doesn’t exhibit any of the other signs on this list, it may just be a case of oversharing.
5. They Laugh Too Easily
Does your boss laugh at everything you say? Do they react like you’re the second coming of George Carlin or Ali Wong?
Even when you know your quips aren’t that funny, they’re yucking it up like you’re the most clever, humorous human on the planet.
Maybe it’s a gangly attempt to convey their intellectual attraction. They want to let you know they appreciate your mind and attitude, not just your looks.
Reality Check: Objectively speaking, are you funny? Are you the comedian in your friend group? Or perhaps your boss happens to have a similar sense of humor. Again, if this is the only sign, it may be nothing to worry about.
6. Give You an Inside Track on Opportunities
Your boss has the inside track on upcoming opportunities and always gives you advanced warning to prepare.
Maybe they also restructure your responsibilities to make you look like the best candidate.
Reality Check: Does your boss genuinely believe you’re a top-notch worker? Are they a good mentor who likes to see their employees thrive and grow?
7. They Always Want Your Opinion
No matter the issue, your boss always seeks out your opinion. It could be about something you know zilch about, yet they’re constantly at your desk, picking your brain.
Are they making up excuses to talk to you? Do they want to boost your ego? If they romantically like you, that might be the case.
Reality Check: Do they ask everyone for their opinions? Is your boss super insecure? If you answered yes to either question, that might be the reason behind their behavior.
8. Talk Trash About Other Colleagues
Gossiping at work is a categorically bad idea, yet it’s ubiquitous. Things can get especially dicey when a boss picks a pet with whom they share all their opinions.
They may even reveal what other people are doing wrong or an upcoming termination.
Not only can this be uncomfortable, but it’s an HR issue that could ultimately put you in the crosshairs. If your boss has lost their mind over you, though, they may not think straight and cross professional boundaries.
Reality Check: As we said at the beginning: Bosses are human, too — and some of them are blather mouths who failed managerial discretion. Or maybe they’re new to the executive suite and have yet to learn what not to tell their subordinates.
9. They Flex Their Power
Power flexing can be used for both good and evil. At its worst — (i.e., sexual quid pro quos) — it’s toxic. At its best — (i.e., empowering deserving people who’ve been overlooked) — it’s welcome.
Does your boss behave like a bombastic bwana when you’re around? They may be showing off for your benefit — a sign of attraction.
Reality Check: Some people are moody and narcissistic. If your boss falls into that category, their pomposity may have nothing to do with you.
10. They’re More Stylish
When you first started working together, your boss was schlubby. But lately, they’ve been looking sharp. New clothes, a trendy hairdo, and an elevated glasses game topped off with impressive accessories have transformed them into a style maven.
If it’s clear they want you to notice their new look, affection for you may be the motivating catalyst for their upgraded appearance.
Reality Check: People give themselves makeovers all the time. So if this is the sole sign, don’t read too much into it.
11. Eye Contact Gets Intense
We stare at people we like and find attractive. So if your boss’s eyes are glued on you frequently, it’s a safe bet they find you appealing. If you catch them looking at you from across a room, and they don’t divert their stare, it’s on.
Reality Check: If you catch your boss looking at you, but when they realize you see them, they look away and focus on other things, you may have just caught them lost in thought.
12. Late-Night or Private Meetings
One rock-solid tell-tale sign that your boss is attracted to you is if they ask you to stay after work for private meetings.
If they start coming up with reasons for the two of you to go on business trips together, there’s a better-than-average chance they’re into you.
It’s especially telling if they don’t act this way with other staffers.
Reality Check: If the work in question genuinely falls on your shoulders, all-nighters and business trips may just be par for the course. You’ll know the difference.
13. They’re Mean to You for No Reason
You’ve heard the saying, “Age is nothing but a number.” It’s true. Some people have piled up the years, but they’re still stuck in Kindergarten. Yes, even bosses who’ve climbed the corporate ladder may be immature.
So if your boss treats you like excrement for no particular reason, they may suffer from playground syndrome: be mean to the one you love!
Reality Check: No rule says everyone must get along. Sometimes, we don’t like people for superficial or no particular reason. It’s unfortunate, but it happens.
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14. Always Asks You Out for Drinks
Does your boss always want to have a few drinks with you after work? Do they make up work-related reasons to grab a glass of wine or a few beers after hours to talk about X, Y, or Z?
You accept, but once you arrive at the drinks place, all they want to do is talk about personal stuff, not work.
This is classic “I like you” behavior.
Reality Check: Your boss may have a substance abuse problem and perpetually prowl for reasons to knock back a few. Coaxing coworkers into drinks is a common tactic among this crowd.
15. Remember Everything You Say
Does the superior under romantic review remember every utterance that escapes your mouth? Many bosses don’t even remember their employees’ names.
So if they’re on top of everything you say and commit it to memory, that may be a sign of attraction.
Reality Check: Does your boss have a photographic memory? Can they recall everything everyone says? If so, you likely aren’t dealing with a smitten superior.
16. They Change Their Tone of Voice When Talking to You
Is your boss stern with everyone else but gentle and kind with you? This is a tell, and they’re likely attracted to you on some level. The key is that you’re the only one who is spared their wrath.
Reality Check: Does everyone else have an office with a door, but your desk is out in the open? If so, it could be a matter of them putting on a front.
17. They Love To Joke Around
Your manager is severe and stoic with everyone else, but they yuck it up with you all the time.
Do they try to develop inside jokes with you or share memes making fun of other team members? Humor is bonding; if they like you, they may try to build a connection.
Reality Check: Are you more valuable to them than other team members? If so, they may be trying to butter you up for their own professional purposes.
18. They Mistakenly Call You In…Frequently
Every couple of hours, your boss shoots you a message saying they need to see you.
When you get there, they “forget” what they need but keep you around to chat for a bit. If this happens frequently, it could be a ruse to spend an extra few minutes in your presence.
Reality Check: Has your boss been forgetful about a lot of things lately? If so, they may be having a memory issue.
19. They Flirt With You (And Nobody Else)
You can probably tell when people are flirting with you. They wink and lightly touch your arm or leg — or maybe even the small of your back — whenever possible.
Who knows, they may even share a suggestive joke now and again. All of that is flirting, a common sign of attraction.
Reality Check: If they’re like this with everyone, they may just be a flirt.
20. Ask Coworkers About You
Remember how in high school, people would send out emissaries on their behalf to suss out their interests? Well, some adults never grow out of that behavior.
So instead of asking you questions directly, they’ll ask coworkers about your hobbies, tastes, et cetera.
Reality Check: If they’re asking about your work history, their interest is likely professional and not romantic.
21. Work-Related Conversations Frequently Turn Personal
You start out talking about the next project deadline, but within minutes, you find yourselves chatting about what you did over the weekend or some other personal thing.
If this happens all the time, and your boss usually steers the subject to non-professional topics, there’s a good chance they like you.
Reality Check: If your boss checked out of the job? Are they unfulfilled? If so, they may be desperate to talk about anything but work.
22. Find Ways To Work With You
Lately, your boss is going out of their way to greenlight projects requiring you and them to work closely together. If the work seems superfluous, it may signify that they want to spend more hours by your side.
Reality Check: Is the company changing direction or taking on a big new project? If so, the time you spend working together may be a coincidence.
23. Their Body Language Is Speaking Volumes (Exclusively)
Do they always turn toward you in meetings? Do they lean in when explaining something — and not in a platonic way?
Do you catch them staring, or are they constantly giving you light taps? If you’re the only person with whom they behave this way, they’re probably into you.
Reality Check: People often make mountains out of body-language molehills. Not everything signals something. Sometimes, people move awkwardly. So if it’s a one-off thing — or a nervous tick — don’t take it to heart.
24. Call or Text Randomly
It’s 8:30 at night. You’ve been home for a couple of hours when your boss texts to say hi or tell you something that absolutely could have waited until the following day.
If this happens regularly, then yes, your boss is likely trying to show that they’re thinking of you after hours.
Reality Check: If your boss is a workaholic and sends work-related messages at all hours of the day and night, there’s probably no there there.
25. Tell You About Their Personal Life
Do you know way more about your boss’s life than you should — like family arguments and their kids’ personal lives?
If you don’t offer up personal anecdotes, but they’re always “reading you into” their family drama, it could be a sign that they like you more than a colleague. After all, we share personal things with people we trust and admire.
Reality Check: Is this the only sign? If so, they may be going through a hard time, have nobody to talk to, and randomly pick you to be their sounding board.
26. Your Gut Says So
Sometimes, you just know when someone is into you. So trust your gut if it’s screaming. If you feel something is different, you’re likely right.
Reality Check: Does your boss turn you on? If so, the feeling you’re having may be hope. Make sure to do a sober assessment of the situation and ask your friends for their opinion.
27. They Tell You
If someone tells you straight up that they have feelings for you, believe them. It’s that simple.
Reality Check: There’s no reality check for this sign. If they’re bold enough to speak their truth, then that’s that.
How to Deal with Your Boss Liking You Romantically
We’ve gone over the signs. Are you reasonably sure your boss is into you? If so, what should you do!?
Are you into it? Then the best option may be to tell each other how you feel and disclose the relationship. Hey, why not give it a shot if it’s meant to be?
If, however, their affection is unwelcome, consider:
- Creating firm boundaries
- Letting them know that certain things make you uncomfortable
- Going to HR (but protect yourself first if you do)
Good luck with your situation! Remember that you are in control of your own life. So think before you act, and then do what you feel is best, logistically and emotionally.