You've been flirting with a coworker for months, and it seems like they're totally into you too, which leads you to the question: Is dating coworkers okay when you're also trying to succeed in your career?
While there are obvious pros and cons to dating someone that you work with, that's not the focus of this post.
In what post, what I actually want to give you is the parameters for you to actually date someone that you work with.
Yes, contrary to what most career strategists will tell you, I actually don't think that dating is totally off-limits at work, but before you do jump into her relationship with a colleague, I want to give you six guidelines to help you not only continue to thrive at work while you're in a relationship.
And if things go sideways to hopefully mitigate the risk of things going really bad.
Does your company have rules about dating coworkers?
I know, totally boring and mundane, but it is worth starting here. This is going to vary from company to company, and there might be different rules about dating someone within your department, within your team that sitting in different places in the corporate ladder, or maybe dating a colleague is just completely 100% forbidden.
Before you actually jump into her relationship with the coworker you need to know what this is. The last thing that you want to do is to be having fun dating someone and then have to pick in between them and your job.
Choosing between your relationship and your income is not a boat you want to be in.
Find out what the actual rule is before you begin dating a coworker, and whatever the rule is, I do in general recommend that you follow it.
Tinder is for hookups, the water cooler is not
I know most modern workspaces don't actually have a water cooler, but maybe one of those cool fruit-infused ones - my point is, is before you jump into a relationship with someone at work, having a fling or one night stand with a colleague might seem like not a terrible idea.
Until it really is a terrible idea.
Also, you especially don't want to be that person who maybe imbibes a little bit too much at a company event and ends up hooking up in front of everyone. Trust me, that girl is going to be judged. I'm not saying it's right - it is not fair, but it is the reality.
That said if you think Steve from accounting is really cute and really sweet, and he seems like someone that you can really get along with in the longterm and he feels the same way, then it might be one that is actually worth exploring.
But don't start off a relationship with a colleague if it's for hookups.
There is a saying #$%& don't where you eat. Live by it.
Consider the power of structures
If you have someone reporting directly to you, you cannot date them.
If you have a massive crush on your manager, you should not date them.
I even question, and I know that this happens in big companies but it doesn't sit well with me, where a very senior person dates a very not senior person. It just creates this power imbalance and can create a lot of misperceptions about the relationship and what, who's in it for what now - which obviously you both want to avoid.
So this is really keeping the best of intentions out for both of you know, one of the things that I actually think has been one of the biggest benefits about the discussion surrounding appropriate conduct at work is that we have started to have an open conversation about how power can influence relationships.
Listen, no matter what side of the coin that you're on, you might feel and they might feel like there is a genuine relationship.
However, we really can't deny that power can influence our feelings and emotions.
And it might not be staging everyone for long-term success.
And if you truly care about that other person, you don't want them to be in a bad situation like that, and obviously you don't want to be in that situation either.
Keep it on the down-low (but don't think it's going to be a secret)
Listen, people aren't dumb. They're gonna find out. You will probably be the topic of gossip for a little bit, especially as people start to put together the pieces or maybe you get spotted out.
However, being secretive about it isn't ideal either. Trust me, people are going to know no matter how well you think you're going to hide it. Don't be dishonest about it, but also don't flaunt it.
Now, there might be two people that you do want to have a conversation about the fact that you are dating a colleague, especially if it is a serious relationship.
First of all, your manager. You don't want your manager to find out that you're dating a colleague from someone else on the team. You want them to learn from you because, again people will find out about it, and you don't want them to be surprised.
An added bonus is they also can also be a great ambassador to help mitigate any of the gossip that might arise from your relationship with a coworker can bring up.
The other person that you might need to consider having a conversation, depending on what the rules are at your company, is human resources. You want to make sure that there is no conflicts of interest or anything like that so it might be helpful if you have a human resources person that you do work with or is available to you to have a conversation just to understand what you need to know if you are in a relationship at work.
Keep the PDAs out of the office
No obnoxious PDAs at work.
No making out in front of your office.
Don't address any emails 'honeybun' or whatever your pet name is for each other.
When you're at work you need to conduct yourself like professional people. That includes not talking about anything personal. If you're in a personal fight, you need to be able to leave that at the door.
This can be really challenging to navigate, especially if you end up in a serious longterm relationship with one of your colleagues. What about when you have a fight and you have to still work with that person? You need to draw very distinct lines between your professional selves and your work selves. The more that you're actually able to distinguish between the two, the easier it is going to be as your relationships settles in and you go through the different stages of love, hate and everything in between.
Dig down and figure out: is this worth it?
You could end up falling madly, deeply in love. You could end up at a longterm relationship, getting married and having kids and telling them about how you met their dad and that you fell in love over negotiating a client deal together.
But the reality is is that that's not where most relationships end up.
And if your relationship doesn't end up there and it ends up over, what implication is that going to have at work?
Are you going to be able to work with this person every day, that you might have very strong feelings of some sort or another towards that?
Think about their character and are they someone that if you break up with them, they're going to lose their minds and start telling graphic information about you to your colleagues, that they have absolutely no business knowing.
You need to really weigh if this is worth it.
Now, if you think that this person might be the one, then you're probably going to see it's worth it.
And while the best-case scenario is super fun to think about and daydream about, it's really the worst-case scenario where it all goes to hell in a handbag that you need to be super cognizant about before you start dating a colleague.
What's going to happen if you date for a little bit and it doesn't work out?
How are you going to feel having to show up and sit in meetings with Steve from accounting if he just broke your heart?
On the flip side, how is Steve going to react if you break his?
And ultimately is the risk of this relationship worth it for the fact that it might actually have implications in your professional life? You're never going to know what the answer to this question firmly unless you give it a try. But it is something that you do need to weigh very seriously before you jump into a relationship with a coworker.
Because if you don't, and it ends up in the worst-case scenario, you can fairly, very quickly end up in a toxic workplace and that is something that you absolutely want to avoid in your career.
I'd love to know, have you ever dated a colleague? How did it turn out? Do you have a love story that you can share down to the comments or a really, now that you're over it, hilarious, but cringy story about how it went sideways. I would love to know.