Dating a coworker has its pros and cons; you need to go on your first date with more information than you need. But don’t worry if you’re already on your third or fourth date! These tips for dating a coworker will help you dodge the problems that workplace relationships can bring.
The first and most important tip: don’t rush into a steamy love affair with a coworker. These pros and cons of dating a coworker will show you how important it is to go slow, take your time, and keep your eyes open.
“If you do not allow yourself to rush into falling for someone that you have not become friends with first, you will be more sure when you let yourself go to the next step,” writes Dr Henry Cloud in In Boundaries in Dating: How Healthy Choices Grow Healthy Relationships. “Certainly you might find yourself having all sorts of feelings. Enjoy them. But do not believe them. Only believe your experience of getting to know a person and seeing if you can share at a deep level. See if you find that he or she is a person of the kind of character you would trust as a friend. And as important as all of that, see if that person is a person that you would like spending time with if there were no romance at all. That is the one true measure of a friend, a person with whom you like to spend time, having no regard to how you are spending it.”
One of the pros of dating a coworker is that you already know you want to get to know him better. That’s also one of the cons because if your dates reveal an unappealing side to your coworker’s personality, you’ll have to find a gentle way to break off the relationship. So, before you fall head over heels — especially if you’re dating a coworker who has authority over you — make sure he has character and shared values. You want your best friends to be honest, faithful, deep, spiritual, responsible, connecting, growing and loving, wouldn’t you? Ask the same of your boyfriend.
7 Tips for Dating a Coworker Without Losing Your Job
The title of this blog post — 7 Tips for Dating a Coworker Without Losing Your Job — contains a con: getting fired or having to quit your job because of the failure (or even the success!) of the relationship. Other cons of dating at work: it causes problems with other coworkers, it can lead to nepotism or the suspicion of unfair treatment and advantages, and a breakup can be both heart wrenching and professionally damaging.
If you’re having an affair at work with a married man, read How to Stop Dating a Married Man and Heal Your Heart. You’ll find the comments section especially helpful. Not only will you see you’re not alone, you’ll also find tips and support for unsatisfactory dating relationships.
These “dating at work” tips depend on your job, professional relationship with your coworker, your work environment, and even your age and culture in relation to your coworker’s age and culture.
1. Consult your workplace’s Human Resource (HR) Policy and Procedures Manual
Most companies frown on dating in the workplace because the cons outnumber the pros (especially for the company!). The potential for abuse, unhappy or unfair alliances, and distraction are high. Before you date a coworker, consult your company’s HR or Policy and Procedures Manual or talk to a HR representative. Find out if there are guidelines for dating at work, especially between supervisors and subordinates. If dating at work is against company policy, don’t do it. You could lose your job. You might hurt your chances of getting promoted. Your professional reputation may suffer.
If you work in a small business, your company many not have an HR Manual. What then? It depends on the company, the other employees, the relationships – but it may be worth talking to the owner of the small business about how to prevent problems when you’re dating a coworker.
If you’re not sure if you’re professionally or personally ready to date a coworker, read Questions to Ask Yourself Before Starting a New Relationship.
2. Check out these stats on workplace relationships (a pro of dating a coworker!)
Almost 85% of 18-29 year olds would have a romantic relationship with a coworker, according to a recent Workplace Options survey. Older employees are less likely to date a coworker: just over 35% of 30-46 year olds and about 30% of 47-66 year olds would date a coworker. This is probably because they’re already married or dating outside the job. About 40% of those 18-29 year olds would date their supervisors, says a recent CareerBuilder survey. Here’s a pro of dating a coworker: workplace relationships have a fairly high success rate – of the 38% of people surveyed who dated a coworker at least once, 31% went on to marry that person.
But there are cons to dating at work: “Love affairs end more often than not, and when the personal and professional overlap, the office affair can create heartbreak on steroids,” writes Dr Judith Sills in Love at Work in an ancient Psychology Today magazine. “Despite a profoundly altered relationship (a breakup, in other words), continued contact may be unavoidable, prolonging — even utterly preventing — recovery.”
3. Do not talk to your coworkers about your dates or relationship
Before I updated this article to reflect the pros and cons of dating a coworker more clearly, I suggested “announcing” the relationship at work. I said, “If you want to prevent gossip and rumors about you and your coworker dating, you might consider announcing it yourself. You don’t need to send an interoffice memo or email; rather, be open about your dating relationship. Talk about it in the lunch room, when you’re getting a coffee at the Keurig machine, or during casual office door conversations.” That was bad advice.
Never share anything about your relationship with people on the job — even after the workday is over and you’re having cocktails in the pub. Don’t gossip, confide, or trust anyone at work about dating a colleague. If you need relationship advice, talk to non-work friends or search the internet for articles like When Your Boyfriend Doesn’t Have Time for You Anymore. That’s one of the cons of dating a coworker: you should never ask people at work for advice about your love life.
4. Leave your emotions at home or in the parking lot
This is the biggest con for dating a coworker even if you’re prepared for potential problems: your emotions may overcome your professional performance and relationships with other people at work. You may lose concentration or motivation to do your job. And even if you are cool as a cucumber, your coworker may not be able to separate his emotions, physical passion, need for connection, etc from his work relationships.
Whether or not your relationship leads to marriage, expect awkwardness for you and your other coworkers. It’s worse if you end up breaking up, but even successful relationships can be uncomfortable at work. What if you get a promotion, or your coworker does? What may seem like a pro can cause problems when you’re dating someone you work with.
5. Never tweet, blog, Facebook or use Pinterest to celebrate your workplace relationship
Mixing your social media updates with your love affair at work will eventually backfire. Nothing is ever completely removed from the internet; I’ve heard it described as trying to take pee out of a swimming pool. Whether or not your relationship works out, you may one day be looking for a new job…and a new company may not be eager to hire an employee who dates coworkers. This may not be one of the biggest or most realistic cons for dating a coworker, but it must be considered.
On a related note: don’t mention your dates on a professional website such as LinkedIn or in your company’s newsletter.
6. Do not show affection at work
Your colleagues don’t want to see you and your coworker holding hands, gazing into each other’s eyes over the Keurig, or brushing by one another in the elevator. This makes coworkers uncomfortable, and creates unprofessional images of you in their minds. Avoiding affection at work also helps you compartmentalize your relationship and distance yourself from dating a coworker. If you act professionally, you’ll learn to keep the affection outside the office doors. Refrain from sending personal emails, photos, winks or hugs in the office.
There are other pros and cons of dating a coworker, but they depend on your specific workplace. The bottom line for love at work, however, is discretion and caution. An office romance is exciting, but it can lead to more than a broken heart. It can affect your professional and financial future…which means dating a coworker should not be taken lightly.
If you’re having an affair with a married coworker, read When Your Husband Still Works With His Ex Affair Partner. It’s important to learn how office affairs between married people affect the home and family.