There’s a reason why so many companies have strict policies against inter-office dating: it’s really hard to do without creating a lot of workplace drama. Take it from someone who’s been there—dating a co-worker is just as tricky as it sounds. You think you’ll be able to separate your personal life from your work life with no problem, but it usually doesn’t work out that way.
However, that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. Studies have shown that nearly one-third of people date someone they work with at some point in their life. Sometimes these relationships fail, but sometimes they work out, and co-workers end up getting married. Hey, just look at Leslie Knope and Ben Wyatt in Parks and Recreation—if those two career-savvy individuals can make it, then anyone can!
Seriously though, it is possible to date your co-worker without getting fired or ruining your workplace environment… you just have to keep a few rules in mind. If you’re beyond interested in the person who sits a few cubicles away from you, read on.
These 10 tips on how to date a co-worker will ensure that work gets a lot more interesting very soon:
1. Figure out the company policy about inter-office dating.
Before you make any sort of move, find out how your company feels about co-workers dating. Some companies are totally fine with it, others are okay with it as long as you follow a certain set of rules. Figuring out where your company stands on this issue could help you manuevar your way around this complicated situation.
2. Be upfront with your boss.
Before taking this step, consider the company policy, then consider your relationship with your boss. If you have a strong feeling that your boss will fire you if you date someone you work with, you’ll probably want to keep the relationship a secret—unless you don’t mind being unemployed. But if you feel like your boss will be more understanding, then you should be honest. It’s so much better for them to find out through you rather than to find out through gossip or worse, catching you in the act. Your boss will likely respect your decision more if they feel like they’re involved in some way.
3. No PDA at work.
This should go without saying, but seriously: no touching, kissing, or doing anything dirty while you two are at work. Even if it’s fine to date co-workers at your job, you still don’t want to go around rubbing it in everyone’s face. You have to be professional about things. And hey, think of it this way: being secretative is exciting!
4. Confide in only select co-workers.
Again, even if your relationship is acceptable, you still don’t want to go shouting it from the rooftops. Only tell a few close co-workers what’s going on. Word will spread on it’s own, but that doesn’t mean you have to be the one doing the spreading. And if you’re keeping the whole relationship top secret, then don’t tell anyone, even your closest office friend.
5. Avoid talking about work too much when you’re not at work.
In order to have a happy, successful relationship, you have to make sure it revolves around more than just your job. Find other things in common besides just where you spend most of your days. You don’t have to make it an off-limits topic, but agree to only discuss it briefly while you’re hanging out on your own.
6. Don’t make work issues into relationship issues.
It’s normal to have disagreements with your co-workers about different things that are going on—even when you’re dating that co-worker. Don’t take these things personally, and don’t assume that just because you have an intimiate relationship that means you can get special favors or treatment. If you’re arguing about something that has to do with your job, leave it at work.
7. Keep all drama out of the office.
Just like you have to leave your work drama at work, you have to leave your relationship drama at home. If you two get into a fight about something personal, you have to act like everything is okay when you’re on the job. That definitely doesn’t sound fun, but you have to realize that this comes with the territory.
8. Think about what you’ll do if things end.
There’s no guarantee that this relationship will last forever, and it’s completely possible that you two will end things while you’re still working in the same place. That means you’ll still have to see each other and interact on a regular basis, and yeah, that’s pretty awkward. Before you make things serious, talk and think about what you’ll do in that situation. If you think it’s going to be too much to handle, this might not be worth it.
9. Make mutual friends outside of work.
If you guys only hang out with other co-workers, your whole relationship will basically be about your job. Try to mix it up and go out with people who have nothing to do with your career once in a while.
10. Don’t hang out in the office together all the time.
Try to avoid each other while you’re at work. You don’t have to do it all the time, but if you’re around each other all day long and then all night long, you may get bored of each other and your relationship pretty quickly. Try to create a little mystery.