Business People Discussing a Project

Dating a Coworker: Pros, Cons & Secret Rules To Know

by John Santana

Office romance is an enticing, forbidden love that leaves your heart itching and wanting for more. In some office settings, dating a coworker is strictly banned due to conflicts of interest. Needless to say, that has not stopped people from biting the forbidden fruit.

If you are dating a coworker, there is some important etiquette you need to know so you do not lose your job. Or if you are tempted to pursue someone at work, you need to go through this article so you understand the correct approach and what risks are involved.

Is It Unprofessional to Date a Coworker?

Each profession has its specific rules regarding dating a coworker. As a general rule of thumb, it is not unprofessional as long as you can keep things separate. According to various surveys, nearly 40% of people have dated someone from work before. Dating a coworker seems to be a very common trend.

It is not hard to understand why. Most people spend more time in the office than outside. When you spend more time with someone, love naturally develops. This is especially true when you are tasked to solve problems and go through challenges together. It makes you feel this is someone you can be romantically linked to.

As for professionalism, some fields strictly state that dating a coworker will lead to immediate termination of the contract. In other fields, you merely have to file a report to HR so to keep the company in the loop.

There is no golden rule about it. You need to exercise your judgment to decide. The usual practice for couples in the same firm is the power of separation. You will likely not be given the same project. That way, it can be ensured that you two cannot exclude other teammates, particularly when a bonus incentive is involved.

Who you date is strictly your business. However, when it clashes with your professional life, you need to carefully evaluate it and disclose the necessary information to concerned parties.

Failure to disclose sensitive information can result in getting fired or having your license revoked. There is certainly a lot to lose if you do not play this right. That being said, for most corporate positions out there, dating a coworker is quite casual. The company rarely interferes unless it is affecting your work performance.

Rules of Dating a Coworker

1. Read about the company policies

Before you jump into a hot bath with your coworker, spend the time to go through the company policies. Highlight anything that relates to your situation and see if this is allowed. If there is nothing formally mentioned, you are free to go ahead. But if you are notified to inform your supervisor, you probably should do so to avoid future troubles.

In the most unfortunate scenario where it is absolutely prohibited, you need to reconsider your urge to pursue this further. If both you and your partner want to give it the green light, one of you may switch departments. If you are insistent on staying in the same position, then you better make sure you are a genie in keeping a secret.

Company rules are different even in the same field. It is prudent to check the HR handout before you make things public.

2. Avoid discussing work-related subjects if there is a conflict of interest

That is a dilemma every office couple has faced at one point. There are gossip and news that you want to share with your partner but your paygrade forbids you to. It is probably for the best. Mixing your professional and romantic lives together is not always the smartest.

The work knowledge you leak to your partner may give them an upper hand or is unfair to others. While it is a natural instinct for you to help your partner advance their career, you must find the strength to restrain yourself as it could lead to disastrous results. If someone else finds out you have been leaking sensitive information to your partner, both of you will be disciplined.

3. Keep a low profile at work

Unless you enjoy the attention and gossip from your colleagues, it is in your interest to keep your romance private. In a plain old boring office, the most exciting news is two coworkers hooking up. You will hear all kinds of nasty comments and speculations about your relationship. Once it gets out, there is no putting it back. You should think twice before announcing it publicly.

Public affection in the workplace is quite unprofessional in most circumstances. Although you are dating someone you work with, your work life and private life should still be separate. You have the right to deny the speculations and accusations from your colleagues. Only share the good news with others when you feel ready.

4. Take things slow

There are lots of uncertainties at the beginning of your relationship. Going too fast can put unnecessary pressure. Rushing things will not do you any good. Let things flow smoothly and see where it takes you. Go on more dates so you can see if you two are compatible. Do not put a label on it just yet. Wait until things are clearer and you are certain you want to commit.

5. Avoid discussing your relationship with your supervisors or HR

Even if you have made your relationship public, you should still keep it visibly away from your bosses. The problem is, you never know how the bureaucracy will bite you in the ass. If your boss ever decides they do not like you, there are so many relationship issues that they can use as a pretense.

Keeping an appropriate distance is the right manner for an employee. After all, your boss should not be involved in your private life too much. If they are your real friends, you can share all your secrets with them when one of you is no longer with the company.

6. Discuss the possible change in position

No one knows what the future holds but ideally, you are well-prepared. Discuss with your partner how to handle the relationship if one of you changes the position. For example, what happens if you get a promotion and will now manage your partner? This can lead to arguments and is something to compromise.

Likewise, ask how your partner will approach the situation if the circumstances change at work. Being together should not be an obstacle to your career progression but it is something to think about. Be happy if one of you is able to get a promotion. It does not change your feelings for each other.

7. Talk about what will happen at work if the relationship does not work out

It is hard to start thinking about a breakup when you jump into a relationship. Unfortunately, that is the realistic side you need to think about. If things do not work out, it could get awkward around the office and affect productivity. And the impact will extend to others sharing the same space.

Have a civil discussion with your partner to see how they want to solve it in case you break up. Come up with a mature way to handle work professionally. Letting your private shenanigans compromise your work performance reflects poorly on you. You need to both agree on the outcome in case things go down.

8. Keep your work ethic and do not let work arguments affect your love life

When you are standing in a heated debate between your partner and another colleague, it may be easy to take your lover’s side. But you need to keep your moral standards at work high. Be impartial in making business decisions.

That being said, any disagreement at work should stay in the office. Taking it home will not solve it. When you are home after work, talk about something else. Find some common hobbies and new activities to do. Appreciate it if your babe can separate these issues. On the contrary, if the debate continues after work, you need to put a stop to it. Do not let your emotions take over. Any discussion about work should happen between work hours. When it is your off time, enjoy it like any other couple. Go for a movie date and order a fancy glass of wine.

What Are the Challenges of Dating a Coworker?

There are quite a few obstacles when dating a coworker.

  • It could affect your progression

To begin with, your performance and promotion evaluation are highly dependent on your relationship with your partner. If they are in a higher position, promoting you may lead to criticism and complaints from other colleagues. Your chance of advancing your career may be hindered even though you are perfectly fit for the role.

  • Comments from colleagues

Aside from having to work harder to prove your worth, you also need to bear with the comments from your other coworkers. This unpleasant gossip circling your private life is more prominent in the sales department where you are competing with your coworkers for a higher salary. Then, your relationship is easily your weakness for people to attack you. There are too many false claims they can make up that you most likely cannot defend.

  • You can get distracted

On top of that, you still need to focus on your work. Some big corporates will even relocate office couples to different locations to avoid a conflict of interest. It is heartbreaking to have your professional life turned upside down because you have fallen in love with someone.

Dating a coworker will not be easy in all regards. But if you can find a way to do it. Not only will you excel at work, but you will also harvest a love that is greater than others because you are a united front.

How to Approach a Coworker?

Employees Discussing on a project

Approaching a coworker is a delicate art. Aggressively pushing your workmate for a date is annoying and uncomfortable. Before you can establish a clear connection and bonding, it is better to take the wait-and-see approach so it does not backfire on you.

At work social events

During your after-work hangouts, you can slowly sit closer and closer to the colleague you have a crush on. Ask them some personal questions without prying too much. It gives them a hint that you might be interested in something more but not like a creep.

Propose a coffee

After a while, you can start asking them out for a coffee alone. Pay attention to their response. If it feels like they are simply being polite to not turn you down, keep some distance until they feel comfortable hanging out. At every stage, you need to be cautious about their reaction. When they are hesitant, leave some space.

Things get trickier if your paygrade is above them. You do not want it to look like you are threatening them with your power. Forcing someone to date you out of fear of losing their job is a serious accusation that can bring you to court.

Drop hints first

Drop subtle hints that you think you are compatible but let them initiate to make sure the feeling is mutual. Wait for them to make a move so you know they mean it. When you are courting a coworker, minimize the drama by not asking for your colleagues to help. The oldest cliche of confessing your love publicly in the office is embarrassing if the feeling is not returned.

In all scenarios, respect the other person, and even when you start dating, there is no need to commit to a serious relationship immediately. Enjoy a few more dates before it is set in stone so you have a more solid foundation to stand on.

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There is so much to learn about dating a coworker. The taboo part surely makes it lustful but keep in mind that your career may be the ultimate price to pay. Your decision is affecting everyone in the workplace. Make every move wisely so you can soak in the joy of working alongside someone you love.

John Santana

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