Dear Abby: My workplace crush, 21 years younger, won’t talk to me

Man’s small talk brings only the briefest responses from the woman, who chats happily with other guys at the office.

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DEAR ABBY: I work closely with a woman who is 21 years younger than I. We are both single. Because of our age difference and professional relationship I am not looking to date her. However, over the last couple years I have developed romantic feelings for her.

I converse with her by asking questions about movies she likes, books she reads or what she did the previous weekend. Her answers are usually short and without elaboration. I even share with her things that I do in my life, but never once in the five years I have known her has she ever initiated a conversation with me or asked me about my life.

She acts differently with other male co-workers. She does things for them, smiles at them and seems genuinely interested in their conversation. It really stings every time I see her socialize with others and ignore me. What can I do to get out of this psychological rut I am in? — STUCK IN ILLINOIS

DEAR STUCK: Your co-worker may have picked up on the fact that you are attracted to her and it is not reciprocated, which is why she keeps your relationship strictly formal and work-related. I am sure this stings, and for that you have my sympathy.

You now must do what everyone else in your situation does, which is concentrate on meeting women who are available. You are not going to find what you’re looking for in your workplace. What’s going on is not healthy for you or conducive to a productive work environment. If you can’t quell that crush on her, you may have to change jobs so you won’t have to work so closely with her — or at all.

DEAR ABBY: My wife and I have been together since we were 16, married for 25 years. Her parents took me in as a teenager, and her family has been my family ever since.

I’m the kind of person who loves everyone equally. I will bend over backward for someone in need and have done so for my wife’s family many times.

Over the last few years, my wife’s brother, nephew and niece have turned against me. They’ve called me controlling, hateful and racist. I am none of those. I am, though, a law enforcement officer and a Christian. My wife’s brother is a convicted felon, and her niece went to one of those anti-everything colleges.

This has created a rift in the family and caused my wife and me to feel hated and isolated, which has ruined family gatherings and holidays. How can I fix this? What can I do to help them see me for who I am, instead of their biases based on my religion and occupation? — REALLY NOT LIKE THAT

DEAR REALLY NOT: There is nothing you can or should do to erase their biases. From your description, you have done enough good deeds for your in-laws to have shown them the kind of person you are.

You have mentioned only your brother-in-law the felon and his radicalized daughter. Where does the rest of the family stand on this? If they are joining in and allowing you to be isolated, quit trying to impress them. Instead, spend your time with people who like, understand and accept you for who you are and don’t look back. Your brother-in-law and his kids will come looking for you as soon as they need something else from you, but when they do, I sincerely hope you’ll resist the temptation to buy your way back in.

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

To order “How to Write Letters for All Occasions,” send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $8 (U.S. funds), to: Dear Abby — Letter Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. Shipping and handling are included in the price.

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