Alright, maybe that title is a little dramatic. You probably won’t die, although someone might lose their job. A survey from a few years ago shows us that 36% of people have dated a co-worker at some point in their career, and 30% of those people end up marrying that co-worker. Dating at work is hard to avoid, you see these people every day! However, following through on that can lead to some awkward problems.
If you’re a fan of The Office you know that office romances needed to be documented by Toby, (damn you, Toby!) the HR manager. Surprisingly, this is something that actually happens in major corporations. Huge, global companies generally have a way to set parameters and navigate the waters of allowing personal relationships while also protecting employees from sexual harassment.
You might be interested to know that Facebook has a pretty strict policy
“We train that if you ask a co-worker on a date and they say no, you don’t get to ask again — and beyond that we make it clear that an ‘I’m busy’ or ‘I can’t that night’ is a ‘no’.”
Bars and restaurants aren’t likely to have a policy that is that strict if they even have a policy, which is why you want to know what to do if you find yourself catching the feels for someone you work with.
Remember that you’re at work
You can’t forget that you are at work. Nobody likes PDA, especially if you are in the walk-in sucking face when your other co-workers go looking for more fruit (that you were supposed to get five minutes ago). Maintaining a professional line between the two of you is going to help keep everything in line.
I won’t lie, that’s way easier said than done. One or both of you is going to want to get all cute and handsy when you’re at work. Just keep it to a minimum. You know how weird it is to have a couple trying to bang on their seat at the bar? It’s weirder to see staff getting…friendly. Just keep it down and out of sight.
Have a plan
The two of you are going to need to discuss how you are going to handle working together. You’re going to have to talk about how you’re going to keep personal separate from professional. Should you rely on each other for breaks? Can you take their tables or cover their shifts?
What are you going to do when you’ve been driving to work together, you’ve been fighting, and now you have to spend the next eight hours together without bringing it up? Oh, and I have to say it even if it’s obvious:
Keep your fights at home
Work is not the place to air your sexy laundry, to quote Scott Pilgrim. There is enough bullshit flying around in a bar. The last thing everyone needs is to feel like they’re walking on eggshells around the two of you, or that they need to take sides in who should have done the dishes and folded the laundry two weeks ago.
Literally nobody cares. We’re all just trying to deal with Scott and Karen over here trying to redeem a coupon from Spotify for the jukebox. We don’t have time for your nonsense.
Be prepared for someone to switch jobs
I’ve never considered this in this light, but most of my romantic life stemmed from dating co-workers, so you can believe me when I say that if you want your relationship to survive and thrive, you aren’t going to stay co-workers.
Working together is fun, it provides you common ground for the start of your relationship and endless opportunity to talk about what you like and don’t like about work. It is genuinely a good time, but at some point the the relationship is going to start interfering with work, or vice-versa.
Ultimately, it’s a sign that the relationship is more important to you than work. Leaving a job isn’t always an easy decision, or something that most people take lightly, so if you or your partner is willing to make that decision, it shows how loyal you are to each other and how much you care about your other co-workers.
As the relationship gets more and more serious, the risks of everyone around you thinking that the two of you are just out for yourselves becomes too great. Both of you are at risk of losing the respect of your co-workers and once that’s gone, you aren’t going to get it back.
Stop seeing them as your co-worker and see them as your partner
Work is temporary. For all you know, you could be doing something completely different in six months, or working with a different company. Your life doesn’t revolve around work, it’s just a part of your life. Your actual life is going to involve a partner. If you found that partner at work, you need to be willing to set aside that job and give everything you have to them. The operative word here is willing. That’s an article (or several) in and of itself, but a truly healthy relationship is going to require the willingness to sacrifice from both of you.
My Fiancee, Robin, and I met when we were at work. It can blossom into the best relationship you’ve ever had, but you have to place the relationship ahead of everything else. No matter how you handle things at your job, if you aren’t focused on making your relationship work, it simply won’t survive.
I don’t regret dating a co-worker. In fact, if I hadn’t my life would be completely different and far less fulfilling. I’d love to hear your co-worker dating stories (we’re safe, because we aren’t at work) so feel free to leave a comment!