You Can Date A Coworker, If You Read These Tips First
Did you spend the year eyeing that cute girl who sits in the cube next to you? You’re not alone. A recent survey shows that a whopping 56% of employees polled engaged in some type of office romance.
But dating your coworker isn’t exactly a straightforward situation. For instance, if things go south, running into your now ex-girlfriend becomes inevitable. In fact, it turns into a daily occurrence.
So, how do you evaluate the pros and cons of getting involved with your coworker? Let’s head straight to the experts to get their take on the dos and don’ts of dating someone you work with. Here’s an expert guide to dating your coworker without having things get messy — plus a few circumstances where you might want to pass on pursuing that office romance.
Do: Make Sure It’s Worth It
It sounds simple enough. But as professional matchmaker Samantha Daniels cautions, it’s important to keep in mind that the person you know at the office is likely different from the person that your coworker becomes when they’re not in a professional setting. “Make sure he or she is worth it and that it could become something real,” Daniels says, “since you will be creating a potential for awkwardness and problems in your workplace.”
Don’t: Let Office Hook-ups Earn You A Reputation
“The last thing you want is to be known more for your side play than your work,” says relationship coach Todd Valentine, “Not to mention, the odds of having a sexual harassment suit slapped on you is going to be higher if your female coworkers feel like they’re being constantly ogled, auditioned and in line for the next notch on your belt.” If there’s a coworker that you have a true interest in, proceed. But don’t start looking at your office as a place to pick up eligible singles.
RELATED: The Exhaustive AskMen Guide To Online Dating Sites
Do: Review Your Company’s Policy
“If it’s strictly against the rules and you have your dream job, think twice before becoming involved with a coworker,” Valentine says. “There are lots of options out there, and a coworker might be appealing because she’s convenient or because the whole thing is naughty by nature.” If you try to explore other options, but you and your coworker can’t stop thinking about each other, Todd recommends talking to HR to see if there might be a clause for exceptions.
Don’t: Engage In PDA At Work
Even if your company policy doesn’t explicitly state anything against engaging in romantic relationships at the office, don’t give HR a reason to add a clause when the two of you get caught going at it. “Sure, nabbing a quickie or a make-out in one of your offices is hot,” Valentine says, “but your boss doesn’t need to see your PDA — and even if you’re sure no one is around, you might get busted by surveillance cameras.”
Do: Talk About The Worst Case Scenario
Break-ups are messy, and are doubly messy when you have to see and work with your ex every day. Before things get too serious, relationship coach Folashade Butler says to lay out a clear plan of action with your potential partner on how you both promise to handle things if it doesn’t work out. “The last thing you want to do is have an awkward and uncomfortable work environment because of your break up,” Butler says. Psychologist Dr. Rachel Needle agrees. “Don’t bring the break-up in to the office,” she warns. “If you want to confront or argue with your ex, do it after hours. If someone at your office asks about the breakup, keep it brief to avoid escalation.”
Don’t: Date Your Boss
Don’t date your boss. Don’t date your CEO. Don’t date someone much higher up at your company who may at one point have to make direct decisions on things like your salary or employment status. Same goes for the reverse. In case this information is coming at you too late, Dr. Kat Van Kirk recommends going to HR before someone else in your office does. “It’s best to avoid relationships with those you supervise or are supervised by,” she says. “However, if it does happen, get to HR quick so they can help you handle the situation in a proactive manner.”
Do: Take Your Relationship Public
“Colleagues and superiors should (ideally) be happy for you if you’re truly in a committed, healthy and happy relationship,” Valentine says. Once you’ve cleared it with HR, don’t be shy about informing your coworkers about this new development in your life. “I have a few friends who are now married to — and have kids with — a person who started as an office romance,” Todd says. “It’d be wrong not to pursue something that positive.”
RELATED READING: I Slept With My Coworkers (This Is What Happened)
Don’t: Give Them Special Treatment
“Not only is this practice inherently wrong,” Valentine says, “but once your relationship becomes public and you’ve been pegged as doing favours for that person, your job — and reputation, aka your chances of getting another job — could seriously be in jeopardy.” When it comes to work, make sure you treat the coworker your dating just like you would any other coworker — and save the special treatment for after office hours.