For better or worse, dating is one of the hardest things that most of the population willingly engages in. Yes, getting to the relationship part is fun, but there is a lot of before, during, and after moments that make even the most even-keeled people squirm.
And things can get even more complicated when the object of your affection is a coworker.
Although it’s still considered taboo in some circles, wanting to date a coworker actually makes a ton of sense! Think about it, we spend most of our week at work, which means it’s not only the place that we often end up meeting new people, but we really end up getting to know them — at their best, and at their worse.
So the real question is, how do you go about asking out your coworker…without it being weird?
E. Jean Carol who writes the Ask E. Jean column over at Elle had this to say on the topic of actually asking out a coworker when we reached out to her via Twitter:
“BAH! DON’T ASK. Just drop a cookie/donut/macaroon on his/her desk and say: “let’s go get coffee.”
We totally understand this approach of making it as much of a low-pressure situation as possible. You still work together, and you want to keep it professional. Plus. asking them out for coffee is great, because if they’re interested in getting to know you they’ll take you up on it. Also who doesn’t love cookies, donuts, and macaroons? (You’d probably really seal the deal if you dropped all three on their desk!).
But if they say no, take them at their word. Asking more than once will create a hostile work environment, which could jeopardize your working relationship with them.
However there is also something to be said about a more direct approach as well. Lydia Faithfull, who writes Ask a Hooker, the sex/relationship advice column at Broadly, had this to say about her experience with dating coworkers:
“Many moons ago, I found myself perplexed over the intentions of a male coworker…I texted him soon after, requesting a heart to heart conversation. We sat in silence for a moment before I asked, “So what’s the deal? Have you been hitting on me?” He shifted uncomfortably and gave a longwinded, indirect response before asking, “Do you want me to hit on you?” Of course I did. Desperately, in fact. “Kinda,” I sputtered, in attempt to play it cool.
Spoiler alert: he totally wanted to hit on her! And the two eventually went on to date! Thus proving if you think someone likes you, sometimes the best way to find out is just to ask!
And what do you do if the date goes well?
Most workplaces have policies in place about dating coworkers you should be aware of. While some places are totally cool with it, in other workplaces with stricter dating rules it could lead to you losing your job. As in any dating situation it is important that you’re both aware of any consequences and are both of the same page.
Most experts agree that if it’s in the casual stages there is no need to tell anyone at work. Be sure there’s no PDA, and do your best to act professionally in the office. If it gets more serious, then it’s important to meet with HR and let them know about your relationship. That way they have a record of it and can manage any conflicts of interest.
And the kind of bummer part?
Have a break up plan. We know it sucks to think about, but a lot of couples break up, so it’s important to know what your plan will be in case you have to end things. Because unlike every other ex you’ve had, if you date a coworker and you break up, you will have to see them all the time and be mature about it.
Faithfull also details a little bit of the downside to office romances. Initially her coworker crush had ghosted her!
“Our flirtation accelerated, but after we’d arranged to meet, he completely ghosted,” she said. “God, I felt bitter. I was aloof toward him in the months that followed. After the discomfort subsided, he approached me and communicated what he’d been feeling. He wasn’t put off by my directness, but was uncertain that he could rely on my discretion. We hadn’t known one another long and it would have been a career risk. We gave it another go, this time with confidence, and it’s evolved into something stronger than either of us anticipate.”
Despite the happy ending, Faithfull sums up her opinion on workplace dating thusly:
”Workplace attraction should be quelled until mutual trust exists. Rejection is a real possibility and makes for a depressing water cooler. I’d never quit my job over a bruised ego, but it certainly crushes morale.”
Faithfull brings up a really good point. It’s important to acknowledge that no matter how much you’re into someone, sometimes things get don’t work out the way you like them to, despite everyone’s best intentions. So it’s important to be ready for the possibility that things might not go perfectly, and what that will mean for you workplace.
According to Glamour workplace couples report a much higher level of workplace satisfaction, than non-coupled partners. (But honestly, looking forward to cute people who are happy to see you will do that!)
Glamour also goes on to point out that work is kind of a great place to suss out if you’re a good match with your future partner. You get to see their values, how they work under pressure, and if they’re kind to the people around them. Work is also a great, neutral environment to get to know someone without the regular pressures of the dating scene, since you have to keep things professional for the most part.