Can Dating a Coworker Work?

Yes, it can work because you see each other all the time and likely share many things in common. However, you need to consider your company policies about dating coworkers and do your best to keep a separation between the office and your private time. If the relationship doesn’t work out, you may have to choose between your work life and your love life.


Advantages

It sure is tempting to date a co-worker. And in fact there are a lot of advantages to doing so, let’s consider some of these now.

1. Familiarity
The first advantage is that you know each other very well. If you working in the same office for days and weeks and months on end, you tend to know each other better than you know anyone outside your own family. While it’s true that familiarity can breed contempt, it can also strengthen attraction to those we find appealing. And at times, continually close proximity can make that attraction feel irresistible.

2. Convenience
You and your coworkers tend to have the same working hours, the same vacation times, and very similar lifestyles. Add to the fact that you see each other very often and it’s easy to make contact on a moment-by-moment basis if you really want to. And conversely, if you’re very involved with your work, you may not have time to date other people and you may be too busy to even find someone to date.

3. Similar interests
People who work in the same office tend to come from the same culture and they tend to be in the same economic and social class. And because you are so similar, it becomes very easy to do the same kinds of fun activities on a date. Every company creates its own culture and if both of you fit into that culture, then you’re going to match up very well on your as well.

4. Externally Vetted
Here comes the hidden benefit of dating a co-worker. The business, by hiring both of you, has already approved you both as being the right kind of people. If your business has high standards, you’ve both passed a background check, a drug check, maybe even a social media check. Now what about that person you meet in a bar, how long will it take you to find out their true background?


Disadvantages

In spite of the advantages, there are a number of disadvantages to dating a coworker. In fact, there are many people who advise you not to have an office romance or to date somebody who’s a co-worker. Let’s discuss those reasons now.

1. Gossip
The first reason is that an office is a very small community and it’s very hard to keep secrets. Once you start going out with your coworker, it’s really hard to keep it a secret and so people will talk about you. And gossip is almost never in your favor. This gossip can poison the office atmosphere, so that not only is your social life uncomfortable, now your work life is uncomfortable too. This is a big reason why many experts advise against office romances.

2. Too much time together
Another problem is that you can end up spending too much time together with someone when you’re working with them for 8 hours or more a day and then dating in the evening. And whatever you’re having difficulties in your relationship, it’s going to invade your office space as well. Bosses don’t like that. When your non-coworker boyfriend is being a jerk, you can complain to your office mates and get some consolation, but when your own office mate is your date who can you complain to at work? Andy drama in your life is going to be multiplied.

3. Changes all work relationships
Dating a co-worker tends to change all the relationships in the office. Anybody who was already unhappy with you is now going to use your office romance as evidence that you are a problem in the office. And anybody who feels they’re being treated unfairly is going to use you an example of why things are unfair. Honestly, sometimes your relationship will cause a problem in the office, and even if people don’t bring it up to your face, they’re still bringing it up behind your back.

4. Breaking up is Awkward
Often this is the real deal killer. The fact is that not every relationship lasts happily ever after. But if your relationship fails, then you still have to work together in the same gossipy office. That can become very painful and uncomfortable. In the end, it’s likely that one or both of you will have to leave the company.


Can you be fired for dating a coworker?
Some people wonder what are the legal consequences of dating a co-worker can you be fired could you even be arrested.

1. What is the law?
The law says that what you do on your private time is your private time, so obviously there’s no legal repercussion for dating your co-worker. But the company can legally prohibit co-workers from dating. In fact, the law generally allows employers to fire an employee for almost any reason. Except if it violates your civil rights. Dating a coworker is not a civil right.

2. Know your company policy
So you need to know the dating rules of your company. If there’s a rule against dating a co-worker and they find out that you are dating your coworker, they have a right to fire you. That doesn’t mean that they will fire you; it just means that they can take that legal option if they want to. If a company doesn’t have an official policy on dating a co-worker, then that company can’t do much to you. That means it’s your for you to know what are your company rules before you try and date a co-worker.

3. Deal with the consequences
Finally, if you break the company rules, you might get away with it, but if you get caught then don’t blame everybody else. Just accept the fact that you decided their relationship was more important than your job. That might be good for you. But don’t break the rules and then blame the system. Just accept the consequences for your behavior.



Advice on making it work

Assuming it’s okay in your company to date your co-workers let’s look at some ideas on how you can make this relationship work.

1. Stick to peers
First off, stick to dating your peers. It’s usually a bad idea to date your boss or subordinate. A bad relationship between those of unequal power levels can quickly turn into a case of sexual harassment. If you are a manager, date another manager, if you are a file clerk, date another clerk. Even better, date a coworker who is in another department, so there are no claims of favoritism.

2. Take it slow
While it’s tempting to just have some fun, hooking up is one of the most dangerous choices you can make because you’re still going to have to work together long after the hookup. So my advice is that you take the relationship slow and generally keep it quiet in the office and on social media. There are so many disadvantages to not just your private life but to your career. In the early part of a relationship, if you discover it’s not what you expected, you can still pull back to a casual relationship without too much drama. But if you jump head over heels in love and try living together quickly, then it’s really going to be hard to go back to a casual relationship.

3. Inform those who need to know
When the two of you dating coworkers recognize that you’re beginning to form a serious relationship, then you need to get ahead of the gossip. You should inform your boss or bosses quietly and privately, so that they will understand what’s happening in your relationship and how it might affect the office. You don’t want your boss to hear it second or third hand, especially from the people who are against you. If your boss shows that they understand your situation and at least tacitly support it, then you’re going to have protection from office politics.

4. Maintain some boundaries
You need to be able to have some separation between your private life and your work life. Everybody in your office would appreciate it if you don’t discuss your private life during working hours and you don’t try and make out in the office. Do your best to keep your relationship isolated from the office work, and it might also be good to not talk about the office in your dating relationship. One of the most boring things I can imagine is talking about work while I’m on my date.

5. Have a break-up plan

Finally, you need a way to continue working together even after you relationship sours or dissolves. In fact, one of you might need to leave and work somewhere else. It’d be better for you to choose that proactively instead of your boss choosing that for you. Work out something together while you are happy together, if you can, so that after the relationship ends you can have a successful post-dating relationship and successful careers.

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2 Responses

  1. Danielle Packer says:

    You provide some really great advice for people in this situation. Sometimes you can’t help who you fall for, and you have provided some sane and great advice for those trying to figure out how to handle it. Like you said, it will depend on the company you work for and your work environment, if they are supportive or gossip-like, it would be hard if everyone knew.

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