An office romance can make your Monday mornings a lot more enjoyable. But is making your work life more exciting worth the risk?
However, if you are seriously interested in dating a coworker, this article looks beyond the honeymoon period and gets down to the good, the bad and the ugly of the situation.
Why You Should Consider it
Most people spend the majority of their day at work, and that’s why the temptation to start dating at work is so strong. These are the people you see every day, and chances are you have a lot in common; when you spend most of your time with someone, you often get to know them in quite an intimate way and create the type of chemistry that is hard to ignore. One of the greatest things? When you date a colleague, they understand the pressures of your job and “get you”.
Dating someone who understands your demands and how work affects your time, is critical for a strong relationship. It’s almost inevitable for you to be attracted to someone who gets this stressful part of your life.
Other people would also say that an advantage of workplace romance is the safety of starting a relationship with somebody you already know rather than dating someone you met at a bar or a club.
You can also benefit from the excitement of “hiding” your love interest and pretending that you’re not dating. Who knows; maybe you can create a very good collaboration system with your new beau/belle.
How to Successfully Date a Coworker
Now that you know all the positives, you need to know how to be successful and handle your office romance in a professional way.
1. No PDA
No hand holding, no hugging, no caressing, none! Even though these actions might seem harmless to you, thy will make your coworkers feel uncomfortable and weird. There’s no need to make them feel like that!
2. Don’t Close the Door If You're Alone Together
You don’t need anyone gossiping or speculating on whether you are actually working or doing something completely different. Leave the door open and keep a distance in between you.
3. Don’t Sit Together
Everyone at work already sees you as a couple. If you want to keep your professional reputation try to show them that you can function as independent workers. You don’t need to act like lovebirds at work.
4. Keep Personal Issues Out of the Office
If there’s tension between you, or you’re having a fight, it is vital that you leave all your personal issues at the door and come to work looking fresh and professional. For example, if you’re working collaboratively on a project you need to speak pleasantly to each other, so you don’t cause any trouble with your coworkers. Work is work.
The Dangers of an Office Romance
1. You Will Lose Focus
If you are spending most of your time sending heart emojis using the office messenger instead of working, then you know that your romance has gotten the best of you. Your coworkers might ignore your fling as long as you are actually working. If you start wandering around your fling’s office using lame excuses such as “I need to print something”, “I need to check that the printer is working”, your colleagues will feel uncomfortable and have a negative effect on your professional reputation.
2. Things Can Get Awkward if You Break Up
Not all relationships work out, and your office romance can go from heart-shaped to pear-shaped very quickly. If you don’t manage the break up smoothly, all those things you shared about your colleagues work, and how you hate the company’s policies will come back to haunt you.
If you disagree with every idea they propose in meetings, or cry every time you see them, you are going to have problems. How are you supposed to go to work every day, be productive and have great results while you’re busy hating on your ex?
3. You Might Face Legal Issues
If your workplace romance ends up going horribly wrong - which is very possible - there is the possibility that a lawsuit might ensue. It usually happens when a superior is dating a subordinate(one of you is a manager, and the other is an assistant). They can easily accuse you of sexual harassment, and these accusations are not good for anyone’s reputation.
How to Avoid It
A survey by the Daily Mail found that one in three people admitted to having an office romance while 28 percent of working women said they have had sex in the office. Nevertheless, it goes against most Human Resource rules and can get you fired.
So, what should you do if a co-worker declares their love for you and you want to avoid it?
1. Make Your Intentions Clear
Never blur the boundaries of work and your personal life. You should be clear with your co-workers and if you are approached in a romantic way, make sure that you make it obvious the feelings are not mutual.
2. Avoid Flirting
While it may be ‘human nature’ to flirt, you should avoid it at all costs in the office. Not only will you give your co-workers the wrong impression of you, but you could offend others and be on the wrong end of a sexual harassment claim! The less you flirt, the less likely it is that you will end up in an awkward and potentially damaging office romance.
3. Don’t Drink with Colleagues
Getting drunk is one sure way to get yourself into trouble, especially at work events, so it is important that you never get drunk with colleagues. Your drunken behaviour could be the start of a long office romance, or worse, could cause you to do something you later regret.
4. Keep Yourself Private
Try not to discuss your personal life with your coworkers, especially those you are attracted to. The more information you give, and the more you let someone into your life, the easier it will be to strike up a romance.
5. Don’t Be Alone with a Coworker
Spending alone time with a colleague can lead to difficult circumstances. You should try to avoid spending long periods of time alone together and when you do have to, keep the topics of conversation relevant to work.
Now that you know all about the good, the bad and the ugly of office romance make sure to stay away from trouble and if you want to date your coworker always try to keep it professional, so you don’t get fired.
Have you ever had an office romance? What happened? Let us know in the comments section below…
This article was first published in July 2013.