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Dating a co-worker: How to date a colleague without letting it affect work

Updated on March 16, 2014
Dating a work colleague? Make sure you don't mess up your job.
Dating a work colleague? Make sure you don't mess up your job. | Source

Dating a co-worker can be as messy as beautiful as it may seem. Office gossip, rumors, company policy, annoying colleagues, work schedules, undue favors and bosses who can get you fired – these are just some of the many other factors that can frustrate you and your boyfriend or girlfriend at work. Find out how you can be professional and business-like while letting your love and romance thrive at your workplace. Read this post before you decide to ask your office crush out on a date.

1) Try not to fall for someone in the same team

While attraction and romance can’t differentiate between teams and departments, a nice way to stop a potential complication from brewing over at your workplace is to avoid falling for someone who is in the same team.

Sitting side by side in adjacent cubicles will mean that the lines between your professional and personal relationships will be blurred. On the other hand, being in different teams will give you both a bit of space and help you focus on work.

2) Dating a colleague in the same team: Request a departmental transfer

If you really have fallen for someone in the same team, you could ask for an interdepartmental transfer if it seems feasible. Apart from the fact that being away from your love interest at work will keep tricky situations at bay, it might even be advantageous from a career perspective.

Moving to a different department and exposing yourself to a new job role might be just the kick start that your career needed.

3) Don’t send messages to each other on your work email

Regardless of how much you feel like sending a flirty email, don’t make the mistake of sending such messages from our work email. Apart from the fact that the guys in IT will get a kick from eavesdropping on your love life, you might run into trouble if your company has a policy against dating co-workers.

Avoid texting each other too. Your colleagues won’t take too long to notice both of you giggling away while flirting with each other from your cell phones.

As romantic as your relationship seems right now, you must mentally accept that one day you might be faced with the ordeal of working with an ex.
As romantic as your relationship seems right now, you must mentally accept that one day you might be faced with the ordeal of working with an ex.

4) Prepare yourself mentally to face your ex everyday if you break up

Working with an ex can turn out to be one of your biggest nightmares and you must prepare yourself for it mentally. You have to accept the reality that relationships do crumble apart and if yours does, you will be facing the wrath of an annoying ex-boyfriend or ex-girlfriend every single day.

In a worst case scenario, the sheer frustration might drive one of you to change your job. Whether or not this actually happens, you must think about it before you go out on a date with a colleague.

5) Don’t take a leave on the same day your partner takes a day off

Your boss and colleagues will immediately notice if you keep taking a leaves on the same day your office love interest has a day off. Sooner or later your colleagues will figure out that you took a sickie just because you wanted to spend some time with your girlfriend or boyfriend.

Don’t even think of masking this with excuses because after a couple of times, anyone will be able to see that taking day offs together isn’t just a merry coincidence.

6) Be professional when you interact with your boyfriend or girlfriend at work

Dating a co-worker can turn incredibly messy when people fail to stay within the boundaries of professionalism at the workplace. Regardless of how mushy your conversations are outside work, don’t bring your romance to the office.

Keep your behavior under check and don’t let your emotions get the better of you. Here are a few tips you should keep in mind while talking to the co-worker you are dating:

  • Keep your behavior totally professional
  • Avoid talking about your dates or other fun stuff that you did the day before
  • Keep your conversations limited to work related topics
  • Talk to him or her in the same way as you talk to your other colleagues

Undue favors and benefits are a complete no-no in a workplace relationship.
Undue favors and benefits are a complete no-no in a workplace relationship.

7) Avoid giving any preferential treatment or undue favors

Giving preferential treatment to the colleague that you are dating may be a one-way street to getting fired. Your other colleagues will notice it instantly and the mess it creates might cost you your job.

Keep reminding yourself of the potential risks every time you feel like giving your darling an undue favor or any other kind of benefits that were not at par with the rest of your colleagues.

8) Keep your lies and excuses realistic

You will have to pull off many excuses and lie to your other colleagues once you actually start dating a co-worker. For instance, you will have to lie yourself out of after-work drinks with your colleagues because you want to spend Friday evening with the co-worker you are dating.

This need to lie and use flimsy excuses will keep arising as long as you keep your relationship a secret form your colleagues. While this is unavoidable, you must weave your lies in a way that you don’t get caught. Both of you will have to use believable, practical and realistic excuses to sneak away from your other colleagues’ watchful eyes.

9) Be prepared to be teased and mocked by your colleagues

Be prepared to face the wrath of annoying colleagues once you make your relationship public. There will always be people around you who will behave like silly teenagers and tease you both all day long.

The trick to let the whole ordeal wither off without letting it spiral out of control is to be cool and calm. Your colleagues will stop making a big deal out of it if they don’t get a reaction from you. If the teasing persists beyond a certain acceptable limit, talk to your immediate manager about it.

People will gossip about you. Be calm and don't get annoyed.
People will gossip about you. Be calm and don't get annoyed.

10) Don’t get annoyed when you hear rumors about you both in the office

No matter how hard you try to hide your office romance, your colleagues will get a whiff of things sooner or later. Both of you might hear rumors and gossip about your relationship.

Play it cool and don’t get annoyed when this happens. You will make your work life extremely frustrating if you let the gossip get under your skin.

11) Keep PDA away from work

It does not matter whether all your colleagues know that you both are dating each other or not. Public display of affection is a complete no-no when it comes to a workplace environment.

Air kisses, cute hugs, naughty pats on the bum, flirty winks – keep all your flirty ways outside the office. Your colleagues will tease you notoriously and their lewd comments might rattle your professional image at work.

12) Balance your interactions out with all your colleagues

An imbalanced approach to interaction in the office is a mistake that many couples who work together may end up making. They may find themselves interacting just with each other. In no time, their colleagues will single them out and push them out of their core group.

Don’t let this happen to you. Make sure that you balance out your interactions and talk with all your other colleagues just as much as you chat with your love interest. The key is to not let everyone else feel that you only care about the guy or the girl you are dating.

Don't risk your careers. Avoid telling anyone about your relationship until you are sure about company policy regarding dating co-workers.
Don't risk your careers. Avoid telling anyone about your relationship until you are sure about company policy regarding dating co-workers.

13) Don’t tell any of your other colleagues until you check the company policy

Different companies have different rules when it comes to dating co-workers. Make sure you read through your company policies thoroughly before telling a single person in your office about your relationship with a colleague.

Be tight-lipped even if you think that one of your colleagues is your best friend. Your secrets will be used against you if your friendship turns sour.

14) Slowly let your boss and closest co-workers in on your secret first

Once you decide to let your colleagues know about your relationship, let your closest co-workers in on your secret first. Let it spread around the office organically after you tell your boss and your inner circle at work.

The reason to do this is to avoid making anyone who is close to you feel bad that they were left out in the lurch while the rest of the office knew about your relationship.

15) Beware of manipulative colleagues

Colleagues who don’t get along too well with you might try to take advantage of your situation. Here are a few ways how people might try to get under your skin:

  • Spread nasty rumors about you both as a couple
  • Complain to your bosses that you give undue preferences to your girlfriend or boyfriend at work
  • Tell your girlfriend or boyfriend lies about you in an attempt to break you apart

The possibilities are endless – so you must keep an eye out for colleagues who might try to create trouble and ruin your career.


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