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I am a middle aged man living in western Europe. I have a crush on a female colleague who recently joined the company where I am working, but in a different department from me.

Today by random chance I saw some information suggesting that this woman might be gay.

Usually I don't care if my colleagues are gay or not, but obviously given that I have a crush on this woman I do care. And though we work in an environment where being gay is nothing to be ashamed of, it still would feel inappropriate to me (and uncomfortable) to ask her about it.

Is there a good way for me to handle this situation? Is there some way to phrase the question in a not too direct fashion so as not to stir up any trouble?

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    What information? It can vary depending on what the information is, for example, was the source from someone else or your crush? – TheRealLester Sep 3 '18 at 23:34
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    @TheRealLester For privacy reasons I'd rather not say exactly what that information or the source was. I left it out in the first place because I didn't (and I still don't) think it would be useful to answering the question. – Pseudonym Sep 8 '18 at 6:13
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For a moment, let’s set aside the matter of your crush’s sexuality and focus on the fact of her being your ‘crush’.

Do you plan on asking her out or telling her how you feel?

If you do either of those you will find out if she reciprocates your feelings.

If she doesn’t reciprocate your feelings, then it makes no practical difference to you if that is because she is attracted to women or to other men.

So to return to your question, while there may be many ways to find out if she is attracted to women or not, in the end that is immaterial. Because what you want to know is whether she is attracted to you.

There is nothing gained by trying to find out if she likes you by a process of elimination or by category. She isn’t obligated to fancy anyone purely on the basis of them belonging to her preferred dating pool.

Try getting to know her better as a person and a colleague and then ask her if she is interested in going on a date with you. If you happen to learn that that’s unlikely in the process of being normal and friendly, well... then you know.

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    I disagree on that "you'll find out if you ask her out". If a gay co-worker asked me out, I wouldn't assume it was a date. It's quite possible to end up in a situation where one person thinks it's a date, and the other doesn't. That actually happened to me when I ended up at a one on one dinner with a woman (thru some random events). We were halfway through the meal before I realized that in her mind we were on a "date". Needless to say, not a great scene. – DaveG Sep 4 '18 at 0:10
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    @DaveG I imagined that the OP might make explicit that he was inviting her on a date. – Spagirl Sep 4 '18 at 6:33
  • Let us continue this discussion in chat. – Spagirl Sep 4 '18 at 12:01
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Your question sounds like you saw her a couple of times but that's it. Shouldn't you get into better contact with this woman as a first step?

Start a normal conversation with her. If the time has come you can ask her things like what she is doing after work or generally in her leisure time, what her hobbies are and the usual stuff. If she does by asking her whom she does that and so on. There is a good chance she mentions her relationship status. Then keep on asking, depending on what she said.
Don't make a question-and-answer game out of that, it should be a normal conversation without evidence about what you really want to achieve.

Another approach is to ask colleagues about her. (see Edit!) Again, wait for a suitable chance to ask if you don't want to reveal your plan to some colleague.
Question the things you saw (what are they?). Has anyone else seen that? What do they say about it, if so?
Does she have a common colleague that both of you talk to? Do you have common fields to work on? Find a "network" at your company to take advantage of.

Whatever you do be aware that even if she is single and not gay you still are not automatically her new partner ;-) Or you will find out she isn't your best match.

Edit: Asking colleagues doesn't mean to ask "hey is she gay or not". I meant to subtly find out if they know a little more about this person. This can be her task in the company, where she worked before, what region or city or part of a city she is from, how old she is... and so on. The normal chitchat that happens often without any harm. Perhaps there is somebody who knows about her and perhaps this can help to get a better picture.

  • "Another approach is to ask colleagues about her." This is likely to start rumors, get the OP in trouble with HR, and/or may inadvertently out someone who would rather not disclose at work. How would you mitigate these problems? – apaul Sep 4 '18 at 15:51
  • Starting stupid rumors wasn't my intention, I edited my post to explain what I had in mind. – puck Sep 5 '18 at 4:08
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If you can find out if she is gay, then that would be best. You could ask her out without knowing, but given that she is a colleague, then not only do you risk the embarrassment of rejection, but you also risk creating an awkward/uncomfortable work environment.

I'd recommend that you start having friendly conversations with her. Invite her to coffee or lunch just as coworkers, not as a date. Get to know her, what her interests are, and how she spends her time. She might tell you if she already has a significant other or what her sexual orientation is.

Once you become friendly with her, you can friend her on social media (assuming she has an account on a social media network). Look at her profile and see what she has liked. Maybe she has a lot of gay-oriented likes, which wouldn't necessarily mean she's gay, but you can weigh that with the other information you found and determine if you still want to ask her out.

I was in a similar situation recently. A woman started working at my company and I had some friendly conversations with her and went to lunch with her. I was interested in dating her, but I was hesitant to ask her out because dating a coworker can be a tricky situation.

I friended her on Facebook and noticed some photos of her participating in a pride parade. At another lunch she talked about the pride parade, and although that didn't necessarily mean she was gay, it did make me wonder. Not long after that, I saw a post on Facebook from another woman who tagged her in an announcement that they were in a relationship!

So she is gay, and we can continue to be friends. If I had asked her out before though, then that could have made things awkward between us.

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