Dating a Coworker – 6 Rules You Must Follow To Do It Right

It’s no surprise that love and lust springs from the work environment. You are essentially a group of friends, a family unit, forced together to be as “productive” as possible! Sometimes you work so closely with a person, and you confide in him so often, you really start to develop a relationship beyond business and beyond friendship. You really start to see his standout qualities and his depth of character, even under the most stressful of circumstances!

Many couples have fallen in love at work and actually made a marriage work. However, just as many couples have failed miserably and ruined not only a good relationship but also a great job in their reckless pursuit of romance.

How do you prevent good chemistry from going so horribly wrong? Before you clear it with HR, take some advice from your fellow office dwellers. Here are six rules to follow when dating a coworker, beyond what’s written in the manual.

1. Remember what started the relationship in the first place: mutual professional respect!

Don’t let love drive you out of control! It’s surprising, all things considered, how some people lose all control when finding love in the office. Instead of keeping things professional while at work, they let their emotions explode and bring personal drama into the public eye.

This is a big mistake, since professional competence (from the both of you) not only drives the relationship, but also ensures you keep your jobs! You must keep work and matters of the heart completely separate. Finish all professional tasks on time and do quality work, making sure your superiors love you. Whatever relationships develop after hours, you can focus on during your personal time.

If you lose sight of what initially attracted you to each other—professional respect and competence—you will eventually lose everything.

2. Don’t sex things up. Don’t give your co-workers any ammunition.

Co-workers will have enough to gossip about just from the rumors they hear. That’s why giving them ammunition in the way of public flirting, romantic displays of affection, revealing outfits, and anything that suggests you’re taking your personal relationship into the office space, is dangerous. All it takes is one complaint to make you and yours a laughing stock and a problem for management to deal with.

3. Don’t play favorites…even if it causes problems at home.

This is one situation where it seems you can’t win. Your partner in love may resent it if you have to use good judgment and choose someone else for that big promotion, based on job performance and not personal favors.

Or maybe you’ll have to spend less time with your partner during work hours in order to spend more time with all your fellow employees, managers and subordinate staff. You don’t want people to think that you’re playing favorites, or forcing them to accept your relationship by openly admitting you’re dating.

Defy this rule if you want…but just know, most of your co-workers don’t care about your relationship, don’t care how you spent your weekend, and don’t want to know any cutesy details about what you’re doing on your spare time. Or if they DO want to know, rest assured they probably just want some scandalous gossip to spread around because of boredom and or long-standing resentment.

4. Don’t depend on your partner for a pep talk.

It’s only natural to want your partner to respect you, support you, and inspire you professionally. And it’s great that you have each other’s backs, so to speak. You look out for each other and you lift each other up when one of you is down.

The problem is, you can’t become DEPENDENT on your work colleague to be your personal cheerleader, and especially in the office. Don’t depend on your partner to help you score a big name client, or get that promotion, or help you get a kind word from the CEO. Continue to keep your professional goals apart from your personal ones. Earn your professional achievements with your own performance and don’t put that responsibility with someone who admires your personal qualities.

5. Don’t lose yourself in the process of working (and loving) too hard.

We’ve talked about the need to stay independent before and that need is all the more important in office romances. Seeing your significant other all day at work, and then all evening and night at home, can run the risk of over-exposure, so to speak. This is why it’s good for both of you to keep active independently of each other. Pursue your own hobbies, your own careers, and your relationships with family members. Keeping your own unique identity, as something apart from your partner and the intensity of the job, will help you stay balanced. Dinners together will actually seem far more enjoyable when you maintain relatively independent lives, both in and out of the office.

It should also be noted that taking problems home with you is a real buzz-kill. Many couples have been ruined because they took the stress of a fulltime job into the happy, healthy home. Make it a rule to not discuss business more than just a few minutes. Talk about the two of you, have fun together—you know, the stuff that’s really important!

6. If the relationships fizzles, DON’T go falling into the arms of another coworker!

It’s bound to happen sometimes—work relationships don’t always work out. The respectable thing to do, of course, is to end things amicably and respectfully (you know, so he won’t make a scene in the office!). The wrong thing to do, is to go out with another coworker, and another, and another. This is just asking for trouble, if not in personal conflicts, then in malicious office gossip.

You’ll quickly develop a reputation and someone who taps into the company’s resources of manpower. It’s an ugly scene. Men will learn of your reputation and look for a hookup, while women may resent you. Superiors may even find it difficult to take you seriously for a promotion if you brazenly defy the advice of management.

What’s that advice? Why of course…

“Don’t get involved with people you work with!”

Hey, we’re not saying it CAN’T be done. But if it’s done, it must always be done with discretion. This is both respectful to the company and respectful to each other. You both have a lot to lose, personally and professionally, so make a list of dating rules together as a professional couple, and live up to them. Make sure no one’s feelings are hurt and that no one’s reputation is endangered.

Believe me, I asked your CEO, CFO and VP and they all agree—approach office dating with caution. They do want you to be happy. But even more so, they want the office to remain productive!

About The Author

Matthew Coast

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