Our expert says:
Gay, lesbian and bisexual expert
Hi Curious and welcome to our forum. Your post is beautifully poignant and very sad and of course we'll be gentle with you.
You don't tell us whether she is gay or not; on this forum we've heard from several people who've fallen in love with straight people and our advice has generally been that they need to move on. Four years is a very long time to harbour such feelings for someone who's definitely unavailble to you.
Based on the information you provide it does indeed sound as if she's at least very aware of you, or aware of your interest in her. You mention that she frequently touches you, but you don't tell us whether she does the same to others she interacts with. Obviously you're searching for cues that would indicate that she cares for you. I have two reservations. Firstly, that you've developed such strong feelings for her that you may tend to justify these by interpreting her behaviour incorrectly, in a manner that reinforces your need for her approval and love. And secondly, that she's fully aware of your feelings but simply enjoying your attention and flirting with you.
Perhaps you need to begin socialising with her outside of the office, in a neutral space, and gauge how she responds to you. There are countless ways in which you can, over time, make your feelings known without being too direct and having to deal with the humiliation of rejection. Invite her out to lunch one day, if she's been ill phone her to find out how she's doing, find a way of spending quality moments together, bring her a tiny gift on her birthday, or ask her to read a passage from a book you've recently read. If you sense a negative response from her, back off and accept that she's not interested. If she responds positively give the relationship time to grow and develop but set a limit on how long this can continue before you'll be obliged to discuss your feelings with her. You can't continue as you have been doing for the past four years - you're not being kind to yourself. There's always a risk of being rejected, but on the other hand there's the risk that if you don't resolve this you'll be in the same uncomfortable and frustrating position (not knowing how she feels about you) ten years from now. Set a very clear limit on three months - max - to tell her. Don't go the anonymous route - that will only perpetuate or exacerbate the current uncertainty and result in complex game-playing.
If you're still in this position in four months time please post again but then give us permission to not be so gentle.
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