Dikushin Dmitry/Shutterstock @stephlovesweets/TikTok (Licensed)

‘It’s called the proximity effect’: Worker says she gets crushes on her ‘ugly co-workers’

‘I have to be in love with someone at work at all times.’


Melody Heald


A survey from February of 2022 found that 50% of its respondents have “had a crush on a co-worker.” While TikToker Steph (@stephlovesweets) probably didn’t take the survey, she definitely would’ve been in that 50% if she had.

Steph revealed in a TikTok that’s been viewed nearly 700,000 times that she develops crushes on her co-workers, even if she considers them “ugly.”

“When you start to get little crushes on your ugly co workers bc their the only ppl you socialize with,” Steph, who has over 20,000 followers, wrote in the text overlay of her video.

Steph revealed in the caption of the TikTok that she usually comes to her senses, writing, “HAHAH and then i realize and im like wtf was i thinking.”

Steph jokingly added a public service announcement for anyone she works with. “If we work together I’m kidding,” she said in a comment.

@stephlovesweets HAHAH and then i realize and im like wtf was i thinking💀😭 #fyp #trending #foryoupage #OLAFLEX #coworkers ♬ original sound – DanielleDaniels

Viewers are letting Steph know crushing on co-workers is more common than she may think and are pointing to social psychology terms to justify it.

“I have to be in love with someone at work at all times,” one viewer said.

Another said they had a crush on two “mediocre dudes” their height all because they had the same shift as them.

“It’s an actual thing! I learned in Psych that it’s called the proximity effect,” TikTok user @AB wrote.

“It’s bc of the mere exposure effect,” another said.

Viewers could be right.

According to the Proximity Principle, one is simply more likely to form a relationship with people they spend the most time with. Hence, co-workers who spend 40 hours together a week becoming interested in each other. And, according to the Mere Exposure Effect, people may become interested in people simply because they have more encounters with them at places they would have to frequent often, like at church, school, or even a job. When breaking down these terms, Neur Science cited a Pew Research study that found 38% of people in 2006 had a long-term relationship with someone they met at such places.

The Daily Dot reached out to Steph for comment via TikTok comment.

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