It’s been universally understood that the majority of us will spend about one third of our lives at work. So it’s no surprise that the office romance does occur here and there. After all besides the time commitment to one place every day, you’re thrust into the company of the same people who are experiencing the same things. That naturally leads to a bond, whether romantic or platonic. Many people will say that dating a co-worker is a bad idea and never to engage with someone at work because if it goes bad, you’re stuck seeing them day after day. Whereas obviously the upside of breaking up with someone you don’t work with doesn’t usually come with a daily reminder that you can’t escape. I have tiptoed along the line of dating a co-worker and can see both sides of this argument, so the advice I can give is some things to make mutually clear if you’re going to go for it.
Check your HR situation
It never hurts to make sure you’re not in violation of any strict (or even lax) policies stipulated by the Human Resources department. Some companies could care less, other companies have rules about these things, and it’s best to know ahead of time what your company thinks of inter-office relationships. Some places only have rules against a boss dating a subordinate, but not opposing peers or colleagues having a relationship. Whatever the rules might be, inform yourselves.
Are you going public?
When I dated a co-worker, I suggested keeping it quiet at work because our company was very large and I didn’t know everyone. The thought of people who didn’t even know me discussing my love life on their coffee break made me very uncomfortable. But I have worked with plenty of couples who are openly together and that’s fine too. It’s a personal choice, but it’s one that needs to be made together. You’re a team versus the office gossips.
Ground rules are more important than ever
It’s important to anticipate potential issues at the workplace and set some rules about it. As difficult as it might be, personal and professional needs some separation. If the two of you were put together to work on a project, you can’t let personal feelings interfere with getting your work done. Agreeing upon that ahead of time can help avoid any stickiness if you disagree professionally on how something should be accomplished. Know that you will probably not agree on everything and that’s ok. Also no airing of personal grievances at work. If you had a fight outside the office, leave it outside the office.
Don’t succumb to jealousy
One of you may get promoted before the other. Or receive opportunities that the other person wanted. If your SO worked for another company you’d be thrilled for them, so treat their success as if they don’t work with you.
Make sure it’s what you really want
There’s so many additional obstacles that come from taking a chance dating a co-worker that you really need to be sure it’s what you want to do. You have to ask yourself if you’re willing to ignore possible scrutiny from colleagues, keep things professional in the office and nurture the relationship outside of work. It can be hard to do that, but it can also be really comforting to come home with someone who knows exactly the joy and aggravation you experienced throughout the day.
Work is something that can really bring two people together. Many of my jobs have entailed long hours and tough situations that it’s easy to confide in the person who’s experiencing it all alongside you. You think “wow no one else understands my day like this person does.” And it can be an incredible foundation to build on into a great relationship, but don’t forget everything that it comes along with because it’s something that requires some thought, not blindly following your emotions.
[Photo via NBC]