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Dating at Work

Most of us know that dating at work is something that should make us wary. However, statistics show that we aren't listening: a good chunk of people date or marry co-workers. So if you're determined to multi-task and scope out the hotties while doing your filing, read on to learn how to best go about it.

First, although there are no laws against employee dating, some companies have policies for dealing with such situations. The consequence for violating these procedures is often termination. Even if there are no formal rules about dating, there may be an unspoken understanding that workplace relationships aren't in line with the company culture or tend to cause problems in your industry. You should also be aware that some behavior may leave you open to charges of sexual harassment. Before you get involved with someone, take a look in your employer's policy manual, talk to a trusted mentor outside your company, and do a little research. If you're thinking about dating a supervisor or subordinate, take extra care to make sure it's what you want and that your company will view it as appropriate. Such relationships have additional complications and messier endings.

If you decide that you still want to date a co-worker, you may try to form a friendship first. Take time to learn about him or her. Is he even single? Is she the boss's niece? Does he gossip about his personal life? Then invite him or her out to lunch. This will help you see if there are any sparks and enable you to gauge whether or not the other person is open to spending more time with you outside the office. If things work out, go ahead and ask him or her for a real date, but remember: no means no. Don't risk being seen as too pushy. If you ignore rejections and keep asking, he or she may complain to a supervisor.

Even if your co-worker is into you, there are still many potential pitfalls. It's important to continue to go slowly since a relationship that's moving too fast is more likely to blow up in your face. Realize that if things end badly, you'll still work with and probably see your ex every day.

Because you work with this person, you'll have to have two relationships: a professional one and a romantic one. It's a good idea to concentrate on work at work and leave personal issues at home. If you have a fight, put it on hold at the office in the name of getting the job done. Don't punish your loved one by refusing to give him or her a file or by sabotaging a joint project. It's not only unprofessional, it also makes you look like a jerk. Even if your relationship is going well, still keep your two worlds separate. Nothing is more uncomfortable at work when two co-workers are all over each other, so please, no flirting or touching.

Make sure that you agree on the proper time to tell your boss and co-workers, if you plan on telling them at all. When the workplace does find out about your relationship, be prepared to talk to your boss and reassure him or her that you will not let the relationship interfere with your professional obligations.

Despite all these warnings, however, know that what you're doing isn't so unusual. And also know that you may have found the one—44% of workplace romances lead to marriage.

Elsewhere on the Web

Dating in the Workplace
41% Have Had an Interoffice Romance
Workaholics and Dating: Finding Time for Relationships


Office Mate: Your Employee Handbook for Romance on the Job
The Office Romance: Playing with Fire without Getting Burned
Office Romance: Love, Power, and Sex in the Workplace


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