Dating a coworker can be both exciting and risky. On one hand, being in a relationship with someone you work with can make the workday more enjoyable and create a strong bond between the two of you. On the other hand, there are a number of potential risks that come with dating a coworker, such as potential conflicts of interest, jealousy, and even the potential loss of your job. This article details the pros and cons of dating a coworker, if it’s illegal, and how to navigate the situation when you’ve seriously fallen for someone at your workplace.
Dating A Coworker: Pros
#1 You’re Familiar With That Person
When you’re dating someone from your office, chances are you already know that person and gradually develop feelings for them, instead of meeting someone new on a date where they might act a little different and fancier than they usually are! There’s a certain sense of peace and stability when you date someone who you’ve already seen in their raw form. That’s why most people love dating in college because it gives the same sense of familiarity as that in an office environment.
Having a coworker crush also eliminates the need to get to know them as you’re already aware of how they are, making it easier for you to decide in just a few dates if you see a serious relationship with them or not! Some people find the idea of going out and squirming among people to find the “one” and love that they already find someone attractive in a place that they visit regularly! Honestly, this is why office romances are popular as well because it just makes dating easier for individuals.
#2 You Get To Spend A Lot Of Time Together
One of the pros of dating a colleague is that you get to spend a lot of time together. When you’re dating someone who works in the same office, you can have lunch together, take coffee breaks together and even work on projects together. This can be beneficial for the relationship as it allows you to spend more quality time with your partner. Time and vicinity are major factors to grow a budding relationship, and since both won’t be a problem for you at the start of the relationship, you can be assured you’re giving the relationship with the person you like a fair shot!
Additionally, working in the same office also means that you have a greater understanding of each other’s work schedule and workload. This can make it easier to plan dates and other activities outside of work. You will both know when it’s best to take time off work, so planning trips can become easier too!
#3 Going To Work Is Fun
Studies have shown that people who date at work report better work-life balance, and job satisfaction, and rate higher on the happiness quotient. Obviously, when you have your SO in your job, it makes going to the job more exciting and fun. You look forward to meeting them and a good mindset also helps you make focus more on the work. This is why many employers support office romances, especially when they know both the employees who are in the relationship are mature and will handle the situation following all the ethical etiquette.
Additionally, dating someone from the same office can promote a healthy work-life balance as well. Since you both the demands and stressors of the job, it becomes easier to communicate the work schedule and responsibilities. If they’re from the same department, they can also give some helpful advice when you’re stuck on a problem and give you the emotional and practical support you need. All these factors can increase your sense of connection and intimacy with your partner, helping you to feel more fulfilled and satisfied in your relationship.
#4 It Can Lead To Exciting Collaborations Between Teams
Office romances between two people from different teams can potentially lead to better collaboration. When people in a relationship work in different teams, they may have a different perspective on the company’s culture, processes, and projects. This can lead to the exchange of different ideas and knowledge that can be beneficial for both teams. Employers also understand the benefit of dating a coworker and can also support the relationship, given the relationship is handled with professional boundaries at the workplace.
One way how these exciting collaborations can physically manifest is, let’s say, when one person may have a better understanding of the company’s communication channels while the other may have a better understanding of the company’s objectives. This can lead to the development of new and more effective ways of collaborating and reaching common goals. Additionally, having a partner in a different team can also provide an opportunity to network and build new relationships within the company. This can open new doors for professional development and advancement.
#5 Shared Understanding Of Work Environment
When you’re dating someone from your work, they understand the stressors, expectations, and politics of your office place. This can make the conversations about your career smoother and more empathetic. Careers form a major part of many people’s lives and you do want to talk about it with your special someone. And when they’re from your office, they won’t need more words to understand what you’re saying. This can create understanding and a close bond in your relationship. It also helps you get to know their professional side better and better trust in their authenticity and honesty.
Additionally, having someone from your office also gives you a better work-life balance as they will understand when you have a busy day at work and will be patient when you two come back from the office. They can provide support and encouragement when you need to put in extra hours at work, and also remind you to take time off and relax when you need it.
When you date someone at work, you don’t have to worry about the extra costs associated with dating, such as transportation costs. For example, if you date someone who lives far away, you may have to spend a significant amount of money on gas or train tickets to see them. But if you date someone who works in the same building as you, you can simply walk or take the elevator to see them. You can also decide to ride together for your date or come to the office together, which can also save you money on transportation costs that forms a major chunk of many people who have jobs.
Another cost-effective aspect is the time, you don’t have to spend time on dating apps, chatting with people, and going through the process of getting to know someone. This saves you the hassle of going out, spending money in bars or restaurants to meet people, and forcing yourself to meet new people. You already know the person you’re dating and you both have a sense of trust and understanding.
Risks Of Dating A Coworker
#1 It Can Hurt Your Professionalism
One of the risks of dating a coworker is the office romance leading people to doubt your professionalism at the workplace. This can be the first reaction of your boss and coworkers as well. Of course, how you handle the relationship at work (via boundaries, maturity, and ethical etiquette) will slowly fade away the perception, but initially, it can call some questions about your professionalism. Additionally, it can be difficult to maintain a professional demeanor while at work, which can affect work dynamics and productivity. Further, a romantic relationship in the workplace can create a perception of favoritism or bias, which can lead to resentment and mistrust among coworkers. This can affect the overall dynamics of the team and can make it difficult for other team members to work effectively with the couple.
Having a romantic relationship can also distract you from the main goal and can create a negative impact on the team. Furthermore, it can lead to difficulties in decision-making and communication, and it can also affect the overall performance of the team. It’s important for the couple to consider these risks of dating a coworker may impact their colleagues, and to make sure that their behavior at work remains professional, and that it does not affect the work dynamics and productivity.
#2 Figting Over Interoffice Politics
You know the rule of not bringing work home, but sometimes you will end up bringing some or the other topic from work where you can end up being on different pages, giving rise to disagreements. There are more chances of this happening when you’re in the same department and deal with the same people and problems at work. Moreover, when you’re in a romantic relationship, it is natural to want to protect and defend your partner, but doing so in the workplace can lead to conflicts and tensions with other coworkers and managers. It can also lead to difficulties in decision-making and can affect the overall performance of the team.
It’s important for the couple to be aware of the potential impact of their relationship on interoffice politics, and to make sure that their behavior at work remains professional, and that it does not affect the work dynamics and productivity. They should also make sure to keep their work and personal life separate as much as possible to avoid conflicts and tensions within themselves and with other coworkers.
#3 Jealousy Can Be An Issue
Jealousy can be another one of the risks of dating a coworker. One of the reasons for jealousy can be when a partner is promoted or given recognition for their work, while the other one doesn’t. This can be a real issue if the couple is working on the same project, and report to the same supervisor. Another reason can be insecurity that arises from talking to someone of the opposite sex and discussing any relationship-related matters with them that the other partner doesn’t want the other colleagues to know. It can also be hard for you to ignore the specific person they’re jealous of if they’re on your team, while your partner is on some other team or department.
When jealousy arises, it’s important for the couple to remember that jealousy is a natural feeling, and it can be managed in a healthy way. You should work on establishing clear boundaries and have open and honest communication about your feelings and concerns. Additionally, try to keep your work and personal life separate as much as possible, and avoid discussing work-related matters outside of the office. You should also try to focus on your own goals and accomplishments, and not compare yourself to each other or to other colleagues.
#4 Things Can Be Weird When You Break-Up
Imagine breaking up with someone and still seeing them every day at the office – for a considerable amount of time if you’re on the same floor or department. This is a continued risk of dating a coworker because you won’t be able to get time away from them. Seeing your ex also tends to bring back any residual feelings which can prevent you from moving on especially if you were in a serious relationship or one wanted to continue the relationship but the other wanted to move on.
It’s important for the couple to be aware of the potential impact of a breakup on their work dynamics and to make sure that their behavior at work remains professional. If possible, they should try to keep their work and personal life separate as much as possible and avoid discussing the breakup with colleagues or managers. You should consider the breakup early in dating to avoid any problems later. Just know that the healing process after the breakup takes time and you should give yourself some time to move on instead of pushing your emotions and being hard on yourself.
#5 Your Relationship Can Become A Topic Of Office Gossip
An office romance can definitely become the topic of office gossip, especially if the couple is seen as being in a high-profile relationship or if the couple’s behavior at work is perceived as unprofessional. Gossip can be detrimental to the couple’s relationship and can also affect work dynamics and productivity. For example, if the couple is seen as being too affectionate or if they are frequently seen together during working hours, it can create a perception that they are not focused on their work. Being at the center of office gossip might seem like fun for some time, but all it will do is hurt your professional reputation.
While you can’t do anything about how people talk about you behind your back, there are things that can help to navigate this situation. First of all, avoid talking in detail about your relationship with any of your colleagues. No one wants to hear about where you went on your first date or how much you’re into each other. Even if they seem interested that’s only because they want juicy gossip to spread across the office. Secondly, avoid any PDA in the office. Lastly, maintain a strict professional demeanor at work.
#6 Sexual Harassment Allegations
One of the risks of dating a coworker is sexual harassment allegations, especially when power dynamics are involved. This is also the reason why many organizations don’t want office romances to happen and have strict policies regarding the same. The claims are common in a supervisor and a subordinate relationship, but can also happen out of spite when the feelings aren’t reciprocated or when the relationship sours. Sometimes the claims aren’t false and someone in power can ask for sexual favors in return for a promotion.
One way of ensuring the allegations are authentic is putting “love contracts” in place saying that the two people are in a relationship. Another way is to inform HR when the relationship starts and ends. Sexual harassment classes also help individuals classify better what’s included in sexual harassment, making it easier for them and the organization to navigate the situation. Dating a coworker surely comes with some risks, but with clear communication, and boundaries, and by following the company’s policies and procedures, it can also be a positive and enjoyable experience
How To Navigate The Situation?
#1 See The Legalities & Policies Involved For Dating In Your Workplace
Before you consider asking a co-worker out and weighing in on the risks of dating a coworker, it’s best that you check your company’s policies and rules. They might be mentioned in your relationship agreement, but you can also directly talk to your HR regarding the same. Some companies have strict policies for workplace romances, others forbid some relationships like that between a supervisor and a subordinate, while others don’t have any policies at all. It’s important to note that even though a policy might not be in place, there can be some unsaid rules about dating your colleague. Your HR or someone senior would be able to better guide you on the same.
Some organizations also require you to report the romance to avoid any harassment issues later. Some others strictly don’t allow the relationship between a supervisor and a subordinate of the complications this relationship brings in the workplace. Dating a colleague in your direct chain of command can create conflict. Other colleagues can resent both of you, affecting morale, professionalism, and productivity. Some people can also claim that this was the only way to go ahead. All in all, these lopsided power dynamics can affect both of you and should be approached with caution.
#2 Date Someone Who Is From The Other Team
When you want to mitigate the risks of dating a coworker, it’s advisable that you date someone from the other team. Some employers also consider office romance between two people from different teams conducive to the work environment and increase social interaction and camaraderie among employees, which can help build stronger relationships and a more positive work environment. Partners from the different teams can bring new perspectives and ideas to your own work, as well as to the company as a whole, which can be beneficial for personal growth and professional development.
However, it is important to keep in mind that office romance can also come with its own set of challenges and potential risks. Do talk about clear boundaries in the workplace and be aware of the company’s policy on office romance. There are both benefits and risks involved when you’re dating someone from a different team. You should know that even with clear boundaries and communication, office romances may not always be suitable for everyone and it’s best to consider the company culture and policies before committing to a relationship at work.
#3 Don’t Get Involved In A Lopsided Power Dynamics Situation
Dating a coworker who is on the same level is different than dating someone who you report to, or who is on a senior level in your office. For one reason, people will believe that your promotion is because of the romantic relationship, and not because of your work – no matter how hard-working or competent you are! They could be acting out of jealousy, but there’s no way to avoid it. Plus, imagine how it could hamper your career if you two break up. If things ended on a rough note, he/ she can impede your promotion, give you negative reviews, or harm your transfer to the other job.
Another common problem with a supervisor-employee relationship is sexual harassment allegations or the possibility of sexual harassment. When the employee doesn’t get want they want from the supervisor, they can sometimes lodge a false sexual harassment charge, and when the supervisor doesn’t get what they want, they can make unwanted sexual advances towards the other person. Either way, the risks of dating a coworker above you are too much and should be avoided.
#4 Try A Love Contract
A love contract, also known as a relationship contract or a dating policy, is a document that outlines the expectations and guidelines for a romantic relationship between employees within a workplace. It is typically used when an office romance is disclosed to the management and the company wants to ensure that the relationship does not create conflicts of interest or harassment. The contract typically includes provisions such as:
- A statement that the relationship is consensual and voluntary.
- A commitment to maintain a professional work environment and avoid any behavior that could be considered harassment or discrimination.
- A commitment to report any concerns or issues that may arise as a result of the relationship.
- A provision for the company to reassign one or both employees if a conflict of interest arises.
- A clause that the contract can be terminated at any time by either party or by the company.
The love contract aims to protect both the company and the employees involved in the relationship by providing clear guidelines and expectations. It also helps to mitigate any potential legal issues that may arise from the relationship. Love contracts are not common in every workplace, but companies with a strict policy on office romance may require employees to sign a love contract before they begin a romantic relationship. It also helps mitigate the risks of dating a coworker.
#5 Establish A Plan With A Coworker You’re Dating
By the time you have your third or fourth date, it will become clear if you want to continue dating this person or not. This is also about the time when things will start getting serious between you two, which makes it the right time to discuss a plan of how you’re planning to hold professional boundaries at the workplace. If you work in the same department, things can get complicated as your personal life can interfere with professional goals and commitments. Things will be relatively easier when you work in separate departments and have minimal work interactions. Nonetheless, it’s recommended to set some boundaries. These include avoiding any ongoing disagreements at work, having no PDA, and keeping any conversation professional.
Some couples also choose to tell their team about their relationship, besides the manager, in that case, it’s important you don’t tell them a lot about your relationship. You don’t want you & your partner to become the source of office gossip. And also, just because a lot of people know doesn’t mean that the PDA is still okay. It’s best to keep things professional throughout all your interactions. Also, we know it’s a tough one, but you should also discuss how to keep things mature if you do decide to part ways.
#6 Stick To Serious Relationships
When it comes to office romance, flings are not worth the risk. Office romances anyways come with a set of potential problems, and risking your career for the sake of a fling is usually not advisable. Some issues with office romances include conflicts of interest, jealousy, and even harassment. They can also lead to a loss of productivity and damage the dynamics of the workplace. Furthermore, flings can be short-lived, and when they end, it can be uncomfortable for the individuals involved and can create a negative atmosphere for others.
On the other hand, if you see a serious connection building with someone, you can surely take it forward. In a survey published on careerbuilder.com, nearly a third of individuals who date at their workplace said they married the person they dated at work. So when you think your soulmate is the one you see at work regularly, dating them is just the right way to go! Not even a casual relationship is recommended with your colleague. Because no matter how casual, someone can end up getting hurt, making the workplace hostile for both parties.
#7 Disclose It To Your Boss/ HR
When it comes to office romances, it’s a good idea to disclose your relationship to your boss, manager, or HR. While some companies’ policies require you to disclose your relationship, others don’t have any such written agreements in their employment contract. Nonetheless, it’s a good idea to tell them if you’re dating a coworker. You don’t have to divulge the details after the very first date and this step should only come after you know that there is a possibility of a relationship with your coworker. It becomes important for someone senior to know, in case, they think that the relationship between the two of you goes against the company’s policies (companies banning relationships between supervisors and subordinates is common) or if you need to take some actionable steps to make sure the relationship doesn’t damage your work or come in between the professional attitude expected to be maintained in the office.
When you reveal your relationship details to your HR or manager, they mostly will question you on how you’re planning to balance your professional and personal life in the workplace, your career goals, and what’s your vision with the organization. From the company’s perspective, they don’t want to lose a good employee as well. These questions just help them assure your office romance doesn’t hamper your work, so just be honest and let them know that at the workplace, it’s all about work, and the relationship is meant to be heeded after office hours.
#8 Keep Things Professional If You Break Up
Your office romance might not last and when it’s over, it’s important to keep things professional. First things first, inform your HR or manager or any other supervisor who was privy to your relationship status that it’s over. You don’t have to go into details, just inform them. If you and your ex cross paths often in the office, it’s important to not fight in the office and keep things mature at all times. If you do have something to talk about, it’s best to let them know you want to meet them after the office. In case, they start the conversation inside the organization, let them politely know that you can talk after leaving the workplace.
Another thing to pay attention to is not to indulge in office gossip about your relationship. If someone’s trying to console you about the break-up, just leave it at that and don’t disclose any other details. Office gossip reaches from one corner to the other quickly, and it’s important to keep private things about yourself, private. Lastly, when you think seeing your ex is becoming too much, consider switching departments or floors, so your contact with them will be minimal.
Are The Risks Of Dating A Coworker Worth It?
The decision of whether or not the risks of dating a coworker are worth it is a personal one and will vary depending on the individual’s circumstances. It’s important to weigh the potential benefits and drawbacks of an office romance before entering into one. On one hand, an office romance can bring a sense of camaraderie and connection to the work environment, and can also lead to a more positive work-life balance. Additionally, dating a coworker can provide opportunities to share ideas and collaborate on projects in a way that can be beneficial for both the individuals and the company. On the other hand, dating a coworker can also bring a number of risks, such as the potential for conflict, gossip, or even sexual harassment allegations. Additionally, if the relationship ends, it can be difficult to maintain a professional working relationship with the former partner.
Ultimately, it’s important for individuals to consider their own personal circumstances and to be aware of the potential risks and benefits before entering into an office romance. Communication, boundaries, and following the company’s policies and procedures can help mitigate some of the risks and can help ensure a positive experience for all parties involved.
Does Dating A Coworker Question Your Professionalism?
Dating a coworker can raise questions about your professionalism, especially when the boundaries aren’t maintained at work. This can include anything from bringing disagreements to work, showing favoritism towards your partner, spending too much time together, or showing any sort of PDA in front of your colleagues. Getting involved too much in your relationship at the workplace can also hamper your productivity, further calling into question your professional attitude. However, if both parties maintain professionalism, communicate effectively and follow the company’s policies, then there’s no reason that dating a coworker should question your professionalism. It’s important to remember that dating a coworker can be a positive experience, as long as it’s handled in a respectful and professional manner.
How Common Is It To Date A Coworker?
A survey by CareerBuilder revealed nearly 40% of employees have dated in their workplace, and almost one-third of these relationships end up in marriage. Clearly, office romances are quite common and many people find it easier to date someone in their organization. It’s also easier than going out to meet some new people. After all, you do spend a considerable amount of time in your office. The same survey by CareerBuilder also found that 17% of workers have dated a coworker at their current job and that these relationships can have a positive impact on job satisfaction and productivity. Additionally, with the increase in remote work, the prevalence of virtual communication, and the need for social connections during the pandemic, office romances are likely to be more common now. The survey also found that working from home due to the pandemic has led to more opportunities for office romances to develop
Can You Get Fired For Dating A Coworker?
You can’t get fired just because you’re dating a coworker. Employers do discourage romance between colleagues but that doesn’t mean they can fire them. However, if your new relationship messes with your productivity and professionalism, the employers can cite poor performance to fire you. Some companies also take non-disclosure of relationships as unprofessional behavior. So it’s important to tell your HR or any other senior supervisor that you’re dating a colleague, especially when things have gone on a serious note. They will guide you on how to take this forward while maintaining a professional and productive environment at the workplace.
Do Office Romances Last?
The success rate of office romances varies and it depends on a variety of factors such as the individuals involved, the company culture, and the way the relationship is managed. Some studies have shown that office romances have a high success rate, with around 20-30% of office relationships leading to marriage.
However, many office romances are short-term and do not last. Some reasons for this could be that the attraction may be based on superficial factors, such as proximity and convenience, rather than true compatibility. Additionally, the work environment can be stressful and demanding, which can put a strain on the relationship. And, many times, the relationship can be affected by the company’s policies, the colleagues’ reactions, and the dynamics of the workplace.
It’s important to remember that any relationship, whether it’s an office romance or not, requires effort and communication to be successful. In the case of office romances, it’s important to consider the potential risks and benefits of the relationship, as well as the company’s policies, before entering into one. And if you do decide to pursue a relationship with a coworker, it’s crucial to establish clear boundaries and communicate effectively, in order to make the relationship work and avoid any negative impacts on your work and career.
Can You Date A Coworker Secretly?
It is technically possible to date a coworker secretly, but it is not advisable. Keeping a relationship a secret can create a number of problems and risks. Firstly, secret relationships are often built on a foundation of dishonesty and deceit, which can erode trust and damage the relationship over time. Additionally, keeping a relationship secret can put a strain on the individuals involved and make it difficult for them to be open and honest with one another.
Secondly, it can be hard to hide a relationship completely, especially if you work closely with the person you are dating. Colleagues may notice changes in your behavior or the two of you may be seen together outside of work. If your relationship is discovered, it could lead to gossip and rumors, which can negatively impact the dynamics of the workplace. Lastly, dating a coworker secretly can also put you at risk of violating company policies or engaging in behaviors that could lead to disciplinary action, such as harassment. In summary, there are more risks of dating a coworker than benefits, and it’s advisable to let your senior and some important teammates know of your relationship.