Before You Go Dating a Co-Worker, Consider These 10 Points

Proximity is the reason many relationships develop—people tend to form social bonds with individuals who are physically close to them. You only have to look at the many office relationships that form as proof: according to a study, around 62 percent of American professionals say they participated an office romance, 29 percent found themselves in a serious relationship with a colleague, while 16 percent eventually got hitched.

Though it’s generally viewed as unacceptable and bad for business, office relationships can be difficult to avoid. So, if you’re thinking of mingling business with pleasure, here are ten things for you to think about before asking someone out.

It may not work out

In-office romances can spell big trouble for business. For one, it can make other employees feel uneasy. For another, it can affect focus and productivity. And if it doesn’t work out? You’ll have to endure very awkward interactions in the office. Especially, when the working relationship and personal relationship come together. Worse, you could end up with career-ending and life-altering consequences. If you’re not willing to brave the tide, you can stop reading now. Otherwise, by all means, move on to the next consideration.

Know your company policies about office romances and follow them

Many companies have policies in place that require employees who are together to disclose their relationship. This is done so that the company can determine a strategy for handling the situation in a way that benefits all parties, including your partner, co-workers, manager, and even your career. Still, some companies ban office romances outright. Weigh the risks of getting involved with a co-worker against company policy, as it could cost you not only your job but your career as well. Different companies have different policies, but if your company is explicitly against office romances, better for you not to risk it.

Know your priorities

Keep your head in the right place at work and keep your personal life private. Remember what your company hired you for, so make sure your relationship doesn’t get in the way of you meeting your targets, deadlines, or quotas. Getting the job done during office hours will keep your employer and colleagues off your back, which will result in less stress at work for you and your partner.

Don’t be easy

You know the phrase ‘easy come, easy go?’ It applies to everything—even relationships at work. You may very well know what happens when physical intimacy happens very early. One partner may give it a deeper meaning, while the other may not, and that’s when all hell could break loose. It’s not only your personal life that could be affected but your professional life as well. Be careful about being intimate too quickly—make sure your bond goes beyond the physical aspects first.

Stay away from the boss

Dating a fellow employee is different from getting involved with your manager. That’s because the latter involves a power dynamic—if a subordinate is in a relationship with the boss, that subordinate can be viewed as ‘trying to get ahead.’ If things go south, that subordinate could be inexplicably passed over for a raise, promotion, and more work opportunities. On the other hand, a manager who’s ‘getting along well’ with an employee could be accused of favoritism. To put it simply, hooking up with a superior or subordinate is just asking for trouble.

Look out for that wedding/engagement band

If he or she is married or in a serious relationship, don’t even think about it. If your co-workers catch on to your relationship, get ready to be constantly judged and talked about because you instantly become a ‘homewrecker’ in their eyes. As the unattached one, there will always be that nagging feeling that it’s never going to work out. All of this can only add to your workplace stress. So when you see a ring on that finger, get ready to run the other way. Focus on work and the thousands of other prospects that come with no strings attached.

Keep it discreet

Even when you have your company’s approval, don’t consider it an invitation to be inappropriate at work. Maintain professional standards and boundaries and compartmentalize your personal life from your work life as best you can. People will naturally gossip, so be discreet and keep things low-key. You don’t need the added pressure of people talking about you. This brings us to the next point…

Don’t confide in your fellow employees

It was okay to do so before you got involved with your co-worker, but now that the cat is out of the bag, it’s time to stop talking about your relationship at work. It doesn’t matter if it’s your best friend or if you are having serious problems and need an immediate shoulder to cry on—you should never discuss your personal life with your partner with other people at work. Gossips destroy any office relationships, and word can get around much faster in the office. Open up to family or invite a neighbor over. You can even invite your high school buddy you haven’t talked to for many years. But never ever disclose your relationship issues with other co-workers.

Use your office email strictly for work-related topics

Remember that you have to practice discretion in your relationship, and this tip is all about keeping things professional. Your work email should only be used for work-related communications, and this does not include your messages to your lover/co-worker. Besides, most companies monitor the emails they assign to employees. You never know who’s reading your emails and how they may choose to use your personal messages, so better be safe than sorry.

Be prepared for the worst outcome

If the relationship fails, it’s very much possible that you won’t be able to continue working together. Which means one of you will have to leave. Are you willing to let go of your job and find another work? Will you be financially secure to handle a job loss? These consequences are the reason why if things go south, you’re better off dating someone outside the workplace, or at least from a completely different department.

Before things get messy, it can help to talk about moving to another department, or possibly another company altogether. Either way, you can make your relationship a lot less complicated.

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