We all know that dating a co-worker can make for a number of different workplace problems. A workplace romance could result in jealousy, negative feeling in the office, and even termination.
It’s been portrayed in countless television shows and movies (particularly well in the U.S. version of The Office), and every single time it follows the same arc: fun, exciting, sneaky, then frustrating, uninteresting, and the cause of many angry looks in the office.
But in certain situations, it’s possible to date a co-worker without disastrous effects and without workplace drama.
Here’s our guide to how to date a co-worker without drama. Just make sure to check with your significant other before taking any serious action.
Proceed With Caution
Hopefully, you’re reading this article before taking action with your significant other. It’s very important that you consider all the possible consequences of an office romance before engaging in one.
First and foremost, you should check your employee handbook for guidelines as to the company policy on office relationships.
Many companies choose to discourage office romantic relationships, regardless of the employees’ roles within the company.
While other companies outright disallow any intimate relationships between an employee and their superior, meaning a manager or supervisor.
When two employees work at very different levels within the company and then start a relationship, it’s almost always a recipe for disaster.
And then, of course, there’s the possibility of workplace drama.
All of these risks can be avoided by simply not forming an office relationship.
But if there’s just no way around it and you feel destined to be with this person, then read on.
Be Open from the Start
If you’re absolutely sure that the relationship won’t get either of you fired, then a very important first step is to be open about the relationship with others in the workplace, including your boss.
This doesn’t mean to go out of your way to make sure everyone knows you’re dating, but it does mean that you shouldn’t try to keep any big secrets from your co-workers.
Otherwise, as soon as someone catches a whiff of what’s happening between you two, the rumor mill will start working overtime to spread suspicion around the entire company.
Instead, don’t avoid any tough questions, just say very simply that you’ve been dating briefly. And if the relationship really isn’t very serious, then don’t imply that it’s serious.
You’ll find that attitudes concerning relationships in general have become much more tolerant, and your co-workers may accept the fact that you’ve been having a fling with someone else from the office.
It also helps if you both don’t work in the same department and don’t interact much during the day. This will cut down on distractions during your day-to-day routine.
Don’t Let it Affect Your Work
Once your office is aware that you’re dating a co-worker, your work will be under greater scrutiny than ever before.
You cannot, we repeat, CANNOT let your new relationship affect your work in a negative way.
Certain small mistakes may not seem significant to you, but your boss and your co-workers are much more likely to tie these minor failings to your workplace relationship.
And it’s all your boss or manager needs to sit you down and tell you that you’re no longer allowed to continue your workplace romance.
Hopefully, your new relationship will give you a new source of joy in your life, and as a result, you’ll be more motivated to handle your work as best you can, maybe even exceeding your previous performance standards.
PDA, or public displays of affection, are an absolute no-no in the workplace, regardless of whether or not you’re dating the other person.
Some basic examples of PDA include hand-holding, kissing, prolonged hugs, and heavy petting.
Not only are different forms of PDA just plain unprofessional, but they also attract undue attention to your office romance.
You don’t want to be seen as flaunting your relationship in front of your co-workers. Such an impression could lead to plenty of workplace drama and unnecessary infighting.
Back in high school, refraining from PDA may have been a bit more challenging, just given the sheer of amount of hormones involved in young romance.
But as adults, you shouldn’t find it too difficult to keep your hands off each other when you’re both in the workplace.
Even if your co-workers don’t seem to mind PDA all that much, there’s always the possibility that they could change their minds at any moment.
That’s why it’s best to keep your hands to yourselves and your attention on your work. Outside of the office, there will be plenty of time for hand-holding.
It’s natural to become friends with some of your co-workers. After all, you spend roughly 40 hours a week together. And maybe you just happen to share interests and attitudes with a few of them.
And when you’re friends with a co-worker, it can be easy to overshare information about your life. And in most cases, as long as your friend doesn’t mind hearing about it, there’s no problem.
For example, talking about religion, medical issues, and sexual orientation are not appropriate workplace conversation in general, but when shared with a co-worker you feel close to, it may not prove to be a problem at all.
But when it comes to sharing details about your workplace relationship, you should do your best to share little to no information.
This is actually a good rule of thumb for any romantic relationship, but it is especially important when your significant other also works with you.
Your significant other most likely wouldn’t want you to say too much about them to other office employees.
Even the smallest detail can lead to vicious rumors and a surplus of office drama.
And if the drama becomes too distracting to the workplace as a whole, then you could be risking your relationship itself as well as your job.
In closing, we’ll state once again that we recommend avoiding office relationships entirely, but there are times when this just isn’t possible.
Always be sure to consult with your significant other before making any major decisions about your relationship. And always make sure that you’re not bucking company policies without regard for the consequences.
If you need to brush up on the basics of workplace etiquette, then give this article a quick read.