10 Things You Must Consider Before Dating a Coworker
What happens if you fall in love at your workplace? Can you handle it professionally, without jeopardizing your career, or possibly, the love of your life? Here, a career expert shares how to handle the situation with as much class as possible.
How common are office romances?
While you might have a hard and steadfast rule against dating a coworker, Vicki Salemi, Monster.com career expert says office romances are more common than we might think. In fact, a 2014 study, 38 percent of co-workers say they’ve dated a coworker at some point within their professional career. Why? Salemi says it’s the simple truth that too many singles know to be true: meeting someone is a lot of work. “It can be challenging to meet someone outside the office and considering we spend so much time working, it’s likely for relationships to organically form,” she notes.
You might be nervous to consider dating a coworker, and you’re right to feel that way. Because a romance could have an impact on your reputation and could even prevent you from furthering your climb up the corporate ladder, thinking twice isn’t a bad idea, but as Salemi puts it, it’s more about the approach. “If you’re overtly flirty and over the top in the office about and with your new sweetheart, you may be viewed in a less professional light,” she says. “It’s never worth risking getting fired or feeling like you’re the favorite of the group because you’re dating a boss, but overall when you proceed with caution, such as dating someone when they’re in another department or another building, there’s less risk involved,” she says.
Stay away from the boss
The other risk, Salemia explains, is about who you decide to date: dating a coworker at your same level is different from getting busy with your manager. “If you date someone who has power over you, such as your boss or a colleague who’s a higher level, if things don’t work out, you may mysteriously be passed over for a promotion, a raise, more challenging work, and more,” she says. Not sure if your boss has your back? These tips will help.
Consider if it’s worth it
The million dollar question, right? Or rather, the whatever-your-salary-is inquiry that could or couldn’t, define your success. There’s no 100-percent foolproof solution that can rescue you from tearing apart your career or on the other token, your heart. Instead of wondering if it’s worth it, Salemi suggests taking a look inward. “When cupid strikes its arrow and you decide to go for it, there’s always the possibility it may fall flat. If this happens, you run the risk of having to see this person every day and you can’t escape them. That’s a risk everyone needs to decide for themselves if it’s worth pursuing,” she says.
And not just to your manager, but to one another. If your coworker/significant other and you have decided you’re in it for the long run (or at least, a lingering relationship), Salemi says to come up with a game plan together. Be proactive and tell your boss what’s happening. While most employees are ‘at-will’, meaning they can be let go for any reason at any time, if you and your partner handle the situation proactively, it’ll work better in your favors. You might consider booking an hour-long meeting, where you can explain the growth of your relationship, allowing your employer to ask appropriate questions and determine a blueprint for handling the situation in the most ideal way for all parties: your relationship, your career, and your fellow co-workers, who may be surprised to find out this hot-off-the-press info about you dating a coworker.
Coming out as a couple
Once you have your company’s blessing, discuss how you’re going to break it to the rest of the office and squash the rumor mill. Do you both post a picture on Instagram and tag each other? Do you mention it at a social gathering the next time your department convenes? Speak about it so you’re both on the same page, Salemi advises. And never post these things about your relationship on social media.
Keep it discreet
Once the cat is out of the bag, it’s normal for your colleagues to ask questions if you’re dating a coworker. They might be curious to know you became attracted to one another, how you knew there was a spark, and when you decided to make it official. Even so, Salemi says their curiosity isn’t an open invitation to be inappropriate while you’re at work. “Even when colleagues are informed you’re an item, there’s no need to flaunt it in the office thinking, ‘phew, they all know, so we don’t have to hide it anymore!’ That’s not the case,” she says.
Keep your home life at home
And when you wake up on the wrong side of the bed with your significant other, who you also happen to commute to work with, each morning? Keep those squabbles at bay, Salemi suggests. “Avoid arguments that may arise during the day. Do not confront one another in the cafeteria or anywhere on the premises,” she shares. Here are wise quotes that will stop any argument in its tracks.
Of course, when someone is your lover, your partner, and that person you can’t wait to hug on the daily, you want to be around them all the time. But since you are spending time before and after 9 a.m. with this person, it’s important to set limits on how much physical interaction you have when you’re clocked in. “If you’re tempted to send flirtatious emails at work, refrain. Want a quick smooch when you see each other in the copy room? Just say no. Keep your relationship outside the office. Keep work inside the office. Set clear boundaries with one another as well as respecting your work so no one, including your employer, gets hurt,” Salemi says. Don’t miss these signs your relationship is solid as a rock.
Consider a new position
Depending on your current role and the position of your partner, Salemi says having a candid conversation about moving areas of work or possibly, to another company, is a good idea. Not only might this make communicating and spending time together easier—and far less complicated!—but it could make excelling in your career easier. “I’m a former corporate recruiter and have seen relationships at work turn into marriage. In one instance, a woman was the boss of her boyfriend. When the relationship escalated, they addressed it personally and he was transferred to another group. Having to give annual performance reviews to a significant other simply gets messy,” she shares. Next, find out the 11 communication rules every couple should follow.