If you’re dating a co-worker, or are attracted to one, you just entered a whole new zone of controversies and office gossip. Dating a colleague feels like having a guilty pleasure or tasting forbidden fruit. You know that it’s against the rules but you can’t stop yourself from giving into it either. From Jake and Amy in Brooklyn 99 to April and Andy in Parks and Recreation, we’ve all seen our fair share of workplace romances. Well, sorry to break the bubble but workplace romance isn’t as romantic as it sounds. As much as you may enjoy sneaking around, it has a dark side too. At times office affairs can spell a doom on your professional life.
And, if you’re asking, is dating a co-worker a bad idea? You may want to know what you’re getting into first.
According to a study conducted by Reboot Online on 2446 participants, 48% of the employees had dated a co-worker, out of which 36% indulged in an extra-marital affair with their co-worker.
“You would hope that co-workers who are dating can act professionally. But then again, some people can handle it and some people can’t and those who can’t kind of ruin it for the rest of us.”
-Katherine Robertson, Author
The 9 Do’s and Don’ts of Dating a Co-worker
The first thing that comes into mind before dating a co-worker is: Can you get fired for dating a co-worker? Well, if your office policies says so, then yes, you could get fired or transferred for your guilty pleasure. And don’t think that you’re one of the lucky ones if your office doesn’t have any such rule for dating co-workers, because then you are the hot topic for a hell lot of office gossip. Be ready to face raised eyebrows and be under constant vigilance as your co-workers will be watching you like they watch a reality show.
This will become least of your concerns when you’ll have to compete with them for major projects and promotions. Not to forget the awkwardness that will kick in when the relationship ends. Feels too much, but sadly, it’s true. So, how to make dating a co-worker work? Here are some tips for dating a co-worker with the 9 do’s and don’ts of dating a co-worker.
1. Do: Establish ground rules first
The first thing that you should do before dating your co-worker is to establish ground rules. Discuss about the various incidents in the work place where you both could be in a compromising situation. Ensure that you both don’t work in the same department, and work on the same project together. Discuss about your career goals as well, as you both don’t want to be seen competing for the same position at the same time. Another red flag is to mix relationship with work. Establish that no matter what happens, you won’t mix your personal feelings with your professional relationship with him/her.
Related Reading: I Love My Husband Very Much But I’m Still Attracted To My Co-Worker
2. Don’t: Share details with other colleagues
We all have our small little group of friends at work, where we love to share snippets of our lives with them. However, when you’re dating a co-worker, refrain from sharing the intimate details of your relationship with them. You may tell them about your relationship and give casual responses like, “It is going well, still a bit early to say where it’s leading.”
Or, “We’re in a good place.”
Likewise, if you feel that a colleague likes you and you too have feelings for him or her, do not disclose details to avoid being a topic of gossip later.
3. Do: Keep your work life and professional life separate
It is important that when you are at work, you both should treat each other like any other colleague. Maintaining a professional boundary with your partner is important as it will help you both concentrate on your work goals and will also help you both maintain a professional conduct in the work place.
Bringing your personal life to work will only make things more complicated. Imagining you both creating a scene at work because of a fight you had this morning. You don’t want that to happen.
4. Don’t: Have sex in the office
As hard it is to resist, having sex in the office is a bad idea. Many of us have this fantasy of making out in the cabin or office washroom, while as sexy as it sounds, the more horrifying it could be later. Sex, or even making out in the office should be off limits. You could get fired if you’re caught for starters.
You’ll no more be able to concentrate on work. Moreover, if the relationship doesn’t work out, your memories will keep haunting you even at work.
5. Do: Stick to your career goals
When it comes to workplace romances, somewhere down the line you’ll find yourself mixing your personal feelings with work. You may see yourself making career sacrifices to make your relationship work. Remember your career goals and stick to them. A relationship that forces you to make career sacrifices isn’t a healthy one. Imagine yourself denying a promotion because it will hurt your partner’s feelings, you don’t want that to happen. Make sure you discuss about such situations with your partner beforehand.
Related Reading: In That Dark Pantry Our Office Romance Met a Horrible Fate
6. Don’t: Restrict conversations to work
Many a times due to your professional relationship with your co-worker, all that you both talk about could be work. Your partner isn’t your work wife or your work husband, with whom you just keep sharing details about your work. You both need to share your lives with each other as well. Talk about your childhood memories, fears, dreams and fantasies. Open up to each other at a deeper and personal level.
7. Do: Think whether it’s worth it
Understand the risks of dating a co-worker. You could be fired if it’s against the company policies. You’re both risking your career for a relationship whose outcome you both don’t even know. Ask yourself whether sneaking around and keeping secrets is worth the risk. And what happens if you go your separate ways? Coping and moving on after a breakup if you work in the same office can be tougher than you think.
Even if dating co-workers isn’t against company policies, ask yourself whether you’ll be able to focus on your career and will be able to take a stand for yourself when you’ll be competing with your partner for a promotion or a project. Choose wisely.
8. Don’t: Think you won’t get caught
A common misconception that couples indulging in workplace romances have is that they won’t get caught. Secrets have a way of catching up and everyone in the workplace is more observant than you think. If dating a colleague has severe repercussions, there’s some thinking that you need to do. It could begin as a rumour and with one thing leading to another, before you know it the entire office knows about your workplace affair. Someone is bound to connect the dots and word spreads fast.
Related Reading: Confession Story: How I Dealt With Having An Affair With My Boss
9. Do: Discuss about handling things if you break up
When it comes to dating a co-worker, it is important for breakups to be dealt with maturely. We hate to think about the possibility of a break up, especially even at the beginning of our relationships. But when it comes to workplace romances, you need to think about all possibilities.
Imagine your relationship not ending well and your partner creating a scene at the workplace or complaining to the HR about the affair. Sounds like a Rom Com gone wrong, right? Dealing with office romances can get tricky and is not everyone’s cup of tea. Make sure that your relationship doesn’t turn into a workplace horror story.
Dating your co-worker seems right at the moment, you both belong to the same company, have same timings and understand each other’s work. You feel that no one can understand the importance of your work than this person. Moreover, having the same timings means that you both get free at the same time which makes it easier for it to work. Pros aside, mixing your personal life with your professional one has its downsides. You don’t want to make your workplace another dating spot for you both. Let alone the ego clashes and superiority complexes that you both could have. Ensure to talk to the HR about the company policies related to dating your co-worker before you begin dating. Also seek for dating a co-worker advice from someone who has experienced it before. Remember what is at stake and decide accordingly.