Office Romances: The Pros and Cons of Dating a Coworker

couple flirting in the office

It happens. You spend one too many nights doing overtime with a co-worker and in the midst of bonding over your mutual dislike for your bad boss while flirting, err, fighting over the last few slices of pizza, it suddenly hits you: you’re in love. 

Before you panic and swear off watching Jerry Maguire forever, first – breathe deep, relax and know that office romances happen more often than you think. And, now that you’ve discovered that you fancy the pants off your colleague, you should think about how it could work out and what’s terribly wrong about it.

But if the thought of reflecting on your own life choices makes you cringe then you’re in luck! We’ve put together a handy list of the pros and cons of having an office romance.

The Pros

You Understand Each Other’s Work

You don’t have to explain why you came home late or why you had to cancel movie night when you’re dating someone you work with - it’s easier to understand each other’s schedule and more importantly, be more sympathetic to the dedication that you put into your work.

It’s the ease that comes with these types of relationships that makes dating a co-worker, so appealing. That’s why according to a survey by Office Genie, more than a third of Britons have romantic relationships in the workplace, while a report from Vault shows that more than half of American professionals have engaged in office romance – and it’s not that surprising either.

Finding someone you’re compatible with is significantly a lot harder in today’s world (just ask your friends suffering from swipers thumb because of Tinder), by going out with someone you already know and have spent time with, you immediately eliminate all the awkwardness that comes with the early stages of dating.

You’re in Love and Proud of It!

There are a lot of benefits to falling in love; you’re more motivated, you look better, and you also become a lot happier. And if that’s not enough, according to an article published in the International Journal of Psychological Studies, the same positive effects can also translate into your work. Participants in the study showed increased interest and engagement at work due to their romantic relationships. They’re also more motivated to work harder because of their partners, which leads to better productivity and efficiency for the company.

You’re Together Every Single Day

Hurray! You no longer hate Mondays. In fact, you welcome it with open arms and can’t wait for the weekend to be over. Others can find you a bit annoying, but you don’t care. If anything, you pity the other 9-to-5 workers who drag themselves to work instead of welcoming the challenges that the new work week has to offer.  Of course, this newfound positive attitude has little to do with the workplace policies and more with the fact that you get to spend more time with your partner.

Romantic relationships in the office are especially exciting because of all the espionage that both partners have to go through to keep their relationship private. The mere act of sharing a secret increases their bonds of intimacy which in turn makes every working day more exciting.

The Cons:

You Become Less Critical of Each Other’s Work

Before you were lovers, you and your partner would openly talk about work, provide constructive criticism for one another and maybe even get a little competitive from time to time. But now that you’re sharing straws and holding hands, it’s become a bit challenging to give honest and, sometimes harsh, feedback on each other’s work.  

It comes with the territory and romantic connections cultivated in the workplace are no exception. In the early stages of your relationship, you tend to see your partner through rose-coloured glasses – they can do no wrong, all of their ideas are great, and you’re essentially each other’s groupie. And while that’s perfectly normal when you’re in separate industries, it can be a problem when you’re working together, essentially damaging your reputation as a respected professional.  

You’re in Love but (Not So) Proud of It

When you’re in love, you want to shout it from the rooftops because you’re so flipping happy that you just want the entire world to know! Unless, of course, you’re dating a co-worker in which case you’d like to keep your relationship on the down-low, preferably at negative decibels so that it barely even registers as a whisper.

Despite the many advancements society has made, there’s still a bit of cultural stigma surrounding workplace romance and it’s not just limited to adulterous affairs (we’ll get to that later on).

The problem with dating a co-worker is that it crosses the line between your professional and personal life – and that’s where a lot of people’s (unsolicited) opinions come in. As much as you’d like to keep your relationship private, chances are the office gossip will find out and spread it like wildfire, making you feel paranoid and unsafe in your workspace. Having these fears constantly hound you are not only damaging to your career, they put a lot of strain on your health, too.

You’re Together Every. Single. Day.

Apart from possibly irritating your co-workers, the second person you’ll most likely end up annoying is yourself. Yes, you read that right. If secrecy increases intimacy, then familiarity breeds contempt. And, spending every working day of your life with your partner can definitely lead to boredom or in some cases, pure hatred (especially if you’re not in it for the long-haul).

It’s not entirely uncommon in all forms of relationships. It’s the reason why some of your exes ask for space or a cool off period and why even married couples call dibs on their own ‘girl time’ or ‘boys night out.’ No matter how much you love someone, at one point or another, everyone will need a minute, or a whole day, even, to themselves, hence the saying ‘absence makes the heart grow fonder.’

Not having time away can make you feel suffocated, and it’s a lot harder to take time off from the person you’re dating when he or she also happens to be a co-worker.

When Dating a Co-Worker is Really Off Limits

Of course, there are instances when dating a co-worker is an absolute no-no.  In case you find yourself in one of these situations then our advice would be to get out of that relationship and get out of it quick. These include:

  • Dating a married co-worker (even if they say they would leave their spouse because, newsflash! They never will)
  • Dating the boss (trust us, you don’t want to be known as the person who sleeps his or her way to the top)
  • Dating someone who reports to you (we all know what that promotion’s going to feel like: awkward)
  • Dating a client (there’s a reason why the legal phrase ‘conflict of interest’ was invented)

Most people spend a third of their adult lives in the workplace – that’s more than 90,000 hours of your entire existence (and that’s if you don’t even do overtime)! So, it shouldn’t come as a surprise to develop feelings for someone you work with. And while some find their own happy ever after, there are also those who end up losing their dream jobs, so think wisely when reflecting on your personal list of pros and cons.

Have you ever dated a co-worker? Share your stories through the comment section below.