I just started a great new job at a highly respected company. A corporate cutie in a nearby cubicle has been sending me major flirty vibes. He’s a few years my senior, and I’m not sure of his romantic past, his intentions, or if he’s even single! Maybe I’m reading too much into this, but I’m more than sure this guy is as attracted to me as I am to him—if not more. I’ve caught him stealing glances, but does he want a hook up or something more serious? In any case, what are your thoughts on an office fling? I think I like this guy, but I’m not looking to deal with the aftermath of a messy breakup or an awkward post-hook up brush in meetings. Should I go for it, or stay safely within the confines of my cubicle?
—Cuddles in the Copy Room
I’m reminded of a line from Meatloaf’s 70s pop rock jam “Paradise By The Dashboard Light” —you know, the part when the girl says, “STOP RIGHT THERE! Before you go any further. . .” I’m glad you have already intuited that an office hook up could lead to uncomfortable exchanges around the water cooler, but it could also be the end of your—or his—job. While its true that many relationships have bloomed in the boardroom (and if you are working a typical 9- or 10-hour day, where else are you going to meet someone?), so have many pink slips and lawsuits.
I’m going to be slightly buzz-kill-y because your budding professional reputation is at stake and you risk alienating your colleagues—and both of those things would suck since you love your fab new job! If you decide to date your co-worker, the first thing to do is check if your company has an official policy about romance on the job. If not, you’ll have to be scrupulously sensible and discreet. This means no kissing in the coffee room, no flirtatious emails (you never know who else is reading your corporate mail!), no special favors, no graphic gossip to your work buddies, and no posting on social media. Basically, think “Pam and Jim,” not “Ryan and Kelly.” And finally, from 9 to 5, try to keep the main focus on your work. As Sheryl Sandberg says, “We [as women] compromise our career goals to make room for partners and children who may not even exist yet.”
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