Think about it: If you work full time, you spend 8 hours a day, 5 days a week in the workplace — that’s a quarter of your week spent in one place! At some point, you’re bound to be attracted by a coworker. I’ll admit, there are complications to dating a coworker, with lots of consequences to consider. If you’re still lusting after that girl in the next cubicle, or that guy in the break room, here are 7 helpful tips for dating a coworker.
1. Know company policy.
Although rules for interoffice dating are easing in general these days, it’s important to read up on your company’s full policy. Some will allow dating between coworkers only on the same level, and others will allow dating between any department or in any part of the hierarchy as long as the relationship is disclosed. Once you’ve researched the company’s policy — HR should be a great resource — you should begin to consider the consequences…
2. Weigh the consequences.
Your job is at risk as soon as you begin dating a coworker. If company policy strictly prohibits office romances, well, you need to decide whether or not the relationship is worth it. If you just want a fling, you’re better off getting it elsewhere. If you feel that the two of you could make it in the long run, then that’s your decision to make. According to a 2009 survey by the job search website CareerBuilder, 3 in 10 people say they married the person they dated at work, so it’s not infeasible.
Also, realize that you may be the talk of the break room, so prepare yourself to quash rumors.
3. Be discreet and professional.
I shouldn’t have to say this, but you never know. No PDA in the office. It might feel racy to do so, but you risk your job and your reputation. Don’t use company email to make contact. Most companies monitor their employee’s emails, so if you have to send that sexy message, do so via text or your personal email.
4. Stay within your hierarchy.
Your company’s policy may allow you to date your boss or your subordinate, but you should really stick within your hierarchy. There can be all kinds of complications — both professionally and emotionally — when it comes to dating a coworker outside of your level. You might put yourself or your partner in a difficult position! Office romances are complicated enough, so make it easier on yourself.
5. Don’t talk shop.
When you get together outside of work, don’t talk shop. It might be tempting to unload on your partner about the rough day you had — hey, they can relate! — but you should focus on other things. Make the relationship about something else. After all, you share a large portion of your life at work, so spice things up a bit.
6. Plan ahead.
This includes considering the consequences, but also plan what will happen to you and your relationship in the future. There is no cookie cutter answer, but you should just take the time to look ahead.
Sit down to talk to your partner about where you want the relationship to go. How will you handle questions at work? Should one of you move to another department? What happens if things don’t work out? It might seem awkward to talk about the last question, but it’s for the best.
7. Recover quietly.
Things didn’t work out — what now? The best way to handle a breakup with a coworker is to handle it like you (hopefully) did with the relationship: Discreetly. You were already the target of water-cooler talk while you were dating, but now that things haven’t worked out, it could get worse. Keep the arguments away from work, and just act as if things fizzled out. If you play down the breakup at work, everyone else will shrug it off, too.
[Image via Tumblr]