So, you think you’ve fallen for your coworker, and now you are trying to decide if it’s a good idea to date them. In all honesty, it’s not a surprise that many romances bud from a workplace, since you’re in constant touch, and the repetitive work nature leaves enough room for boredom and a wandering mind. However, with all the great parts of finding love where you work, there comes some risks and special precautions to take.
What You Need To Know
For many, attraction to a coworker is just something that happens. We’ve all seen it represented in some of the best TV relationships, with adored characters like Jim and Pam from the office falling in love in front of our eyes. However, when it happens to us, we have all sorts of concerns and insecurities and legality questions.
Is Dating Your Coworker Legal?
In a purely legal sense, it’s not prohibited by the law itself. You can date without fear of legal action taken against you, but some company policies may overrule the law and you could still end up with consequences like suspension or termination, or a demotion. However, workplace consequences aside, you won’t go to jail or be fined.
When Is It Ethical?
Ethically, dating your coworker may fall into a little bit of a murky area. Sexual harassment or using sexuality as a means to find favor is illegal, but if you and your crush are genuinely interested in each other…. It may feel like the right thing to do. When you are assessing the ethical question of it, consider your own likely behavior in the relationship. Will be giving favor to your partner? If so, you’re probably breaching some ethical ground.
Dating a coworker actually has a lot of risks. The first thing you should do before diving into a relationship is check with your company policy book. What sort of relationships are forbidden, and what are the consequences?
Aside from the potential of workplace backlash for broken policies, you are also risking the potential for promotions, especially if it would infringe on the relationship. If the two of you have a nasty break-up, there could be a risk of some foul play by your partner to try and remove you from the company.
There is a lot of worrying situations to consider, and some risks involved. Be sure you’re really sure about dating this person, and handle it with grace.
Pros of Dating Your Coworker
Now that we covered some of the scary, discouraging risks of dating a coworker, let’s dive into the many positive aspects of this sort of relationship!
You Support Each Other
Having someone who just gets it when it comes to your workplace woes and endeavours can be so, so satisfying in a relationship. While at work, during a bad day or a particularly difficult time, you have your partner there to lean on a bit, and together… it feels like everything can be conquered. This sort of support both at work and at home is amazing.
Plus, it’s already proven you two work really well together! That sort of established sense of teamwork and partnership that a coworker dynamic brings means you can tackle rough times in your personal life together, too. You two just fit together as a team, and that’s amazing.
Something helps bring & keep you together
Meeting people can be really rough, especially if you’ve been single for awhile. Finding someone at work is a great way to start a relationship, but also a really great way to motivate you to stay together. No one wants to deal with a messy breakup at work, so you’ll have more reasons to work together for the continuation of the relationship.
Since you already have something in common, too, it helps those early dates because it’s an easy conversation starter. Dating a coworker is a lot easier to do than you may think, and the chances for success are great just because you share such a big part of your lives together already, even in the beginning.
Your Lives & Schedules Are Very Similar
One reason many couples fail to make it past the early months is because of scheduling conflicts, especially if your job is demanding. With a coworker you’re dating, this obviously won’t be an issue. They’ll likely share your schedule, too, and they’ll understand when a demanding work week takes your attention away from them.
Additionally, you two probably already share a pretty similar friendship circle, so there is no awkward moment of having to meet “the boys”. Having this sort of understanding nature so early in the beginning of a relationship brings such a sense of sincerity and connection that is truly beautiful and makes dating easier than ever.
Cons of Dating Your Coworker
With your head now firmly in the clouds, let’s return to reality. Stay grounded and realistic by acknowledging both the positives and negatives of a workplace romance. Here are some important cons you need to decide are worth it before giving this relationship a true shot.
Jealousy & Resentment
Not only is dating a coworker breeding grounds for jealousy and resentment among your peers at work, but within the relationship. The potential for problems may arise when the two of you have to compete for a raise, promotion, or special projects, or when one of you does well at work and the other doesn’t.
You also have to think of the emotions your other coworkers may feel about the relationship, as well as your bosses. If you start to experience feelings of resentment, either your own or from someone else, it could start an issue in the relationship.
You’re Never Apart
Healthy distance in a relationship is very important. For most couples, the time spent away at work during the day is what brings a lot of that separation into the dynamic, but if you’re dating a coworker, you’ll need to find a different way to include time apart.
In the beginning, when puppy love is still raging bright, this probably feels great! As that begins to fade, though, you really need to look for ways to have a healthy distance to keep the romance alive and not get overloaded on togetherness.
It Could Be a Messy Breakup
One of the best ways to recover from a break-up is to go to work, get your mind off of it, and just try to pick up the pieces by living as normally as possible. With a coworker, this isn’t exactly possible, especially if you work close together. You’ll be confronted with the pain day after day, and open the doors for arguments or workplace distractions.
Plus, if you two ended badly, they may have some sort of agenda to make you feel worse. Flirting with other coworkers, spreading rumors, or just generally affecting your work performance are some worrying side effects of a breakup.
5 Ways To Make The Relationship Work
If you and your coworker decide to go ahead with the relationship and see where it leads, that’s great! There is a very high chance for success here, and you could be on your way to living your dream life. However, if you want to get that point of success together, you need to approach the relationship with a certain mindset and take a few extra steps to making it work.
Here are 5 important ways you can eliminate problems and focus on the two of you in a healthy, progressive way. Working together, as you two already do so well, is key to staying together long term!
1. Seperate home & work life
This can be a difficult task to accomplish when you work together. The lines easily get blurred, and if you both had a bad day, it can follow you home quickly. On the flip side, maybe your day was great, but not much for your partner. Either way, it’s just as important in any other relationship to leave work drama there, and focus on only the two of when you leave the office building.
2. Plan ahead for the worst
The worst thing that could happen for a dating situation among coworkers is that dreaded breakup. Though up to 30% of workplace relationships end in relationships, it’s difficult to realistically count on that… so just have that awkward conversation early on. What will the two of you do if there is a fight, or in a worst case scenario, a breakup? Find a way to keep the messiness to a minimum with some pre-planned damage control.
3. Remember the differences between couple and coworkers
It’s probably not a very good idea to be all over each other during work hours. When you are both on the clock, keep it professional, and put your work relationship first. You’ll have plenty of time to flirt, kiss, and be close to each other sentimentally later. Blurring these lines too much can lead to some problems pretty quickly.
4. Decide together when to make the relationship public
You don’t want to go rushing through the office or workplace area bragging about your new boo, especially if you aren’t 110% it’s gonna work out perfectly. You definitely don’t want to let the cat out of the bag before your partner is ready, too. Now, it’s not a good idea to keep it a total secret either, but timing is everything here. Make sure you’re both in it together, and do the reveal together, especially if you have to go through a boss first for approval.
5. Be ready for the relationship to be tested
Want to know what makes unhappy people more miserable than anything? Happy people. If you are in a healthy, functional relationship, it will show, even if you’re at your most professional while at work. Unfortunately, your happy relationship may disgruntled other employees, and they may target you, or your partner. Accusations of favoritism, unfair treatment, or unethical behavior may be thrown your way, as well as rumors. Sadly, it’s just something you need to be ready for, and there isn’t much you can do about it.
3 Tips For Navigating Awkward Work Situations
No matter how professionally you handle things, there is a chance you may encounter some tension or awkward moments at work regarding your relationship, especially in the beginning. If you do come across a tricky moment, be it a jealous coworker or an irritated boss, stay professional and don’t fall into these 3 common behavioral traps.
1. Don’t overshare
If someone challenges your relationship, don’t immediately jump into a speech about how great you two really are. It comes off as insecure and insincere, and will only fuel the flames. Plus, if someone is jealous and lashing out, the last thing that will help is bragging about the great romance.
2. Don’t distance yourself
Sometimes, it can feel isolating to date at work, because now you feel different from those who were your friends. There may be tension at first, but don’t give up too quickly. Stay involved with work functions, friendships, and everything else you did before. Before too long, it’ll all feel normal again.
3. Don’t retaliate
Even though it’s hard, it’s important to take the high road when someone is being a bit rude about your relationship. Eyes are on you right now, and they’ll be looking for a way to mess up the good thing you’ve got going on. Your best bet? Just wait for it to play out, and don’t get involved in revenge.
Dating in the workplace is a tricky situation to maneuver, but worth it for a true connection! Dating between coworkers is no new experience, and it’s not something to be afraid of, either. While it’s true you may face consequences, jealous coworkers, or other obstacles… every relationship has its issues. Facing them together and remaining professional is the key to success, so don’t be afraid to give this life a shot.
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