The Do’s and Don’ts of Dating a Coworker

Two people who are dating a coworker working together.

Thinking about mixing business with pleasure? (So, in other words, dating a coworker?) With many of us working upwards of 50 to 60 hours per week, office romances can be hard to avoid. According to a recent Office Romance Survey, 51% of business professionals report participating in some type of workplace relationship. Of that number, 16% were lucky enough to meet their spouse or partner at work. And, regardless of the success or failure of the relationship, 64% said they would do it again. But what are the things about dating a coworker you should think about before going for it with someone at work?

Just like relationships forged anywhere else, some office romances will work out but many won’t. One downside to the work fling is if it doesn’t work out, you may be forced to choose between your job and your sanity. However, dating within the workplace has its advantages too. If you find yourself falling for a colleague, the experts offer some do’s and don’ts to follow so you don’t end up with a failed relationship and career issues to solve.

DO: Adhere to company policy.
Some companies have an explicit policy against inter-office dating and for good reason. “Think very carefully before crossing this boundary, as responding to your instinctive urges may alienate you from management and colleagues or could cost you your job,” says professional matchmaker and dating coach, Julie Ferman. Every company is different and the office dynamics may make it easy to be with someone you work with or hard. Either way, if your company says no to relationships take them seriously.

DON’T: Drop your drawers too early; be friends first.
We all know what happens if sex occurs too early in a relationship: someone may mistake that intimate moment to mean something more and heartbreak usually ensues. Ferman points out that a failed love is exacerbated when it’s not only two personal lives that are affected, but professional lives, as well. Be careful about jumping into something too soon, and make sure you have a bond that goes beyond the psychical first.

DO: Consider your priorities.
What’s more important to you? A hard-to-get job and your career or a romance? “A good job and a promising, satisfying career can be tough to find. Be careful not to take this professional opportunity for granted,” advises Ferman.

DON’T: Tell.
If you feel that your office-mate is the one and you’re willing to risk your job, then you might elect to keep the relationship a secret. That means the both of you agree not to tell anyone, especially colleagues who might be inclined to succumb to the gossip mill. And, you must resist the temptation to post your love affair on social media too.

DO: Stick to the dating pool of your peers.
You’re just asking for trouble hooking up with a superior or a subordinate, says relationship expert and author of “Everything’s Relative,” Jenna McCarthy. Many feel office romances are unacceptable when it involves co-workers at different levels and may see an inter-office relationship as a means for the inferior partner to get ahead.

DO: Keep it professional.
In other words, save the make out sessions for home, not at the water cooler.  “It’s nice to sneak in a quick smooch or cop a feel as you pass in a deserted hallway, but nobody wants (or deserves) to catch you getting hot and heavy in the break room,” says McCarthy.

DON’T: Trash talk. (Before, during and afterward)
Sadly, most romances don’t end with happily ever after. Know this going in and refrain from speaking negatively about this person to your coworkers. This also applies to outside the office. “Don’t go on a social media rampage,” advises McCarthy.

DON’T: Ask coworkers to choose sides.
McCarthy says to leave the disagreements at home, as this can make office settings awkward. Once the breakup reaches the office, it can be difficult to stay friends with both people because the ex-partners might get offended as to who is still friends with the ex.

DO: Plan and strategize.
Office romances required good communication, say the experts. Talk openly with each other about your relationship and make sure you’re both on board with the pros and cons that may come with your budding office romance.

The fact of the matter is, we spend a lot of our lives at work and working alongside someone is a good way to get to know them. We’re all only human and attraction and relationships can form anywhere. But when you’re deciding to take an office romance further, consider these do’s and don’ts and how serious you really are about the other person. If you think he or she is the one for you, by all means go for it. But if this person is just someone you admire or enjoy spending time with but can’t see yourself being with long-term, consider the complications before making your decision. Remember, 64% of people said they would have the office romance again, but that’s 36% that didn’t think it was worth it.

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