You don’t know if it happened that afternoon when your co-worker handed you the monthly sales report and the rays of the afternoon sun bounced off their hair in such a way that they glowed like some sort of office-based angel. Or if it is due to the way that this very special co-worker always brings donuts for everyone — or how they always compliment you on how entertaining your PowerPoint presentations are. To be honest — you don’t know and you don’t care how it happened. What matters is that the two of you have hit it off and it has now become an official workplace romance.
Yes, dating a co-worker can be thrilling and exciting. The ability to be able to eat lunch together every day, the coquettish smiles and winks as you pass each other in the halls — yes, heaven and work rolled into one. However, especially in the modern workplace environment, there are certain things that the both of you should consider. No, we’re not talking about finding a way to have your workstations moved closer to each other — we are referring to having a basic set of rules.
You might exclaim, “Rules! We have no need for these rules that you humans talk about — we are in love!” While the power of love is potent, so too are workplace rules and the inevitable “issues” that arise when two lovers share the same air throughout the day — day in and day out.
In order to avoid encountering problems at work — and among yourselves — we have listed the following seven rules for dating a co-worker.
1- Do It For Love — Not Self-Interest
If you date a co-worker make certain that you are doing it for the right motives. In other words, make sure that it is because you genuinely care for the other person and you have an interest in pursuing a formal relationship. Dating a co-worker simply as a fling will only create uncomfortable situations going forward. Also, you will likely become the subject of the office gossip mill.
2- Avoid Dating Above or Below Your Pay Grade
It is best to avoid dating co-workers that are your superiors or subordinates in the chain of command. Such situations can result in real or perceived instances of favoritism. This, in turn, may lead to other co-workers complaining to management and creating unwanted tension in the workplace. We understand that one never knows where cupid will strike — sometimes these relationships will develop. If that happens, it would be advisable to have one of you transfer to another department to avoid any potential conflicts of interest.
3- No PDA in the Workplace
There is nothing more uncomfortable for your other co-workers than having to witness two of their own smooching in the conference room, fondling each other in the copy room, or engaging in unmentionable acts of lewdness in the break room — hey, they have to eat lunch on that table!! That is why it is best to keep your public displays of affection at a minimum while you are in the workplace.
This can be hard, but you can make it easier by using technology to be discreet with your affections. If you feel the urge to lavish your partner with some love while at work, send them a sexy text instead. That will keep the fire going until you are both back at home and can tend to such matters in a more appropriate setting. Just be careful not to use work-based email or messaging systems to send your “affectionate” messages. The last thing you want is to accidentally send that “selfie” you took in the restroom to everyone in accounting.
4- Avoid Work-Related Topics at Home
The both of you are spending eight, nine, ten hours per day at the same workplace. That means that you will both be tuned into the same pressures and demands. This can create a situation where one, or both of you, will be prone to drag these tensions with you wherever you go after work. You should establish a ground rule that what is work related stays at work. Do not sacrifice any of your free time together discussing next week’s presentation or brainstorming ideas for the next sales meeting. Your time together should be for you — as a couple.
5- Discretion Is Best
When two people start dating, it is normal to want to announce the news to those close to you. The temptation will be there to announce this to your fellow co-workers. While there may be one or two very close co-workers — the type that are close friends outside of the work loop — with whom you can entrust the news, it’s best to be discreet with everyone else. This doesn’t mean that you have to actively hide the relationship, nor should you pretend it doesn’t exist. It’s more of an issue of keeping your private life private while at work. Don’t volunteer the news, but don’t deny it either.
6- No Lover Quarrels at Work
One thing that is a given — no matter how lovey-dovey any couple starts out — eventually, there will be moments of strife. While that is perfectly normal, what is not normal is bringing your relationship troubles to work. Trust us, none of your co-workers will want to be sucked in by the powerful gravitational forces of a couple’s problems. Do not solicit the advice or opinion of your co-workers about your arguments with your partner. Your problems are your own and should not involve a workplace privy council to resolve them.
7- Have a Plan if It Doesn’t Work Out
We know, it’s unthinkable. After all, you haven’t felt this way about another human being since, well, NEVER. However, not all relationships are destined to be — even workplace romances can come to an end. This is why the both of you should discuss early on what will happen if things don’t work out. It’s best to do that very early. The longer you wait, the more potential exists for one of you to feel hurt or offended by even considering such a possibility.
It’s advisable that if you do break up, that both of you agree to keep things civil and professional. That you will not spread bad rumors about the other in the workplace — that you will still be able to address each other at work to fulfill your work responsibilities, etc. You know, basically be adults about it. Remember, it’s a workplace, NOT junior high school.
— The Rules Will Set You Free —
The workplace — no matter how modern it may be — will always have rules. Yes, they may seem boring, they may seem unnecessary at times, but if you are honest about it, you will admit that they exist for good reasons. So too should be the case with any workplace romance — have a basic set of rules. You will find that they may take some getting used to, but in the long run, will help keep your burgeoning romance free of workplace stress and keep your romantic life private. Yes, rules can be a good thing. (OMG, we must be getting old or turning into Martha Stewart)