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How NOT to fall in love with a co-worker

Updated on January 9, 2013

Office romances - don't do it!

How do you keep from falling in love with a co-worker? Yes, it can be difficult to not fall into a relationship with someone you work with, but no, just don't do it. Read on for tips and advice on how to keep your emotions and feelings in check when it comes to a potential office romance.

Do not find your co-worker attractive - If you find your co-worker's slight lisp adorable, or that little cowlick at the back of his head irresistible, you need to stop yourself and get a grip. Anyone you see regularly you will develop a familiarity with and an affinity for, it is human nature. That guy on the train, that homeless person on the corner, the waitress where you get the coffee every Saturday - all these people will become familiar enough to you that your body will respond when you see these people for familiarity sake alone. Your heart will quicken and your pupils will dilalate if you see these people unexpectedly somewhere else, and why? Because you are so familiar, your body has an automatic response. This is not love, it isn't even friendship. Studies show it is simply recognition. So that co-worker is just recognition or familiarity on steroids. Yes you may feel you know the co-worker intimately, but no don't act on this "feeling." Sorry, but you know the homeless guy intimately too, a little too intimately. You know when he has had a bath, and when he has not. And you are not in love with him, I think you get the point here. Keep those emotions in check, you are just office mates, nothing more so no need to read into this relationship. Keep it professional for everyone's sanity.

Do not find things in common to talk about - You may find that you agree on everything. You voted for the same candidates last time you went to the polling booth, you eat the same havarti cheese (dill, only with dill), and you just realized you both have the same telephone carrier so it would be convenient to call each other for free if you ever wanted to extend one of these long and thoughtful conversations you have been so fond of having over the watercooler (read: your cubicle, his office, or in the parking lot or elevator). Listen, go online to a free survey website and you will be surprised to learn you have something in common with hundreds if not thousands of other people. And you are not considering "kickin' it" with them, so don't even think about getting personal with a co-worker on the basis of commonalities. We all have something in common: there is only one "race" and that is the human race. Enough said.

Do not touch your co-worker/keep your hands to yourself at all times - If your co-worker is at the copy machine, let him or her finish before you go to the copier to retrieve your copies. Do not accidentally on purpose touch his or her hand as you hand him or her the copies. When you go to your co-worker's cubicle or office, do not sit down and make yourself so comfy right away. Knock professionally at the door to announce your presence, state your purpose, get the answer you need and get the heck out. People do work at work, so find a way to be one of this club and do some work. Don't go to your co-worker's office as a guise to ask important questions, fingering items on the desk, thoughtfully playing with the person's personal affects, or curly locks on the back of the collar. Just keep your grubby little hands to yourself. This goes for brushing up against each other in the elevator, going through doors which are held open for each other, walking up and down stairs, waiting in line at fast food restaurants or at the bank and when sitting in each other's cars on the way to a conference or to a business lunch. No touchy no feely is the rule, live by it.

Do not daydream about being stranded on a deserted island with your co-worker - One woman used to dream about her co-worker incessantly. She used to imagine they were alone, they had to live on coconuts and bananas, they had to weave thatched shelters and he had to take care of her by fishing in the ocean with a shoestring and a lanky bamboo pole. This woman kept her fantasy up until she found out ANOTHER co-worker had an amateur pilot's license. Then she promptly started daydreaming the same daydream about the second guy! Needless to say, how much work are you achieving if you are mooning over your co-workers all day long? Do not dream about co-workers. Do not imagine them undressed, undressing you or undressing themselves to techno club music. Remember, focus and you will overcome these unnecessary and unwanted fantasies. If you must daydream, figure out instead how to determine the current assessments and applicable milestones for the stakeholders on that project due next Thursday. Yes, I know, you will thank me later.

Do not buy your co-workers thoughtful gifts - Find a way to keep this promise to yourself, especially if the co-worker you are staring at lovingly actually makes more money than you do. Tell yourself, "Self, I don't want to spend money on anyone except myself right now." Trust me, your "self" will get it and not flounder on this one. Indugle your selfish streak and pamper yourself from time to time, spend the money on you instead.

Do not overanalyze the relationship with your co-worker - Do not feel that anything the other person does is a "sign" of his or her loving devotion to you. If he gives you a breakfast sandwich, don't take it as a diamond ring. Maybe he went to the fast food joint as they turned from breakfast to lunch, and they gave him a "two for" special to get rid of the extra food (instead of throwing it away). If your co-worker volunteers to help you with a project, remember you are on the same team, and this person is obviously the bigger person to want to get it right. Go with this but don't make a federal case out of it. It is probably already forgotten by the other person, so don't read anything into it at all.

Do not stand so close to your co-worker when you are talking to the person - Allow your co-worker lots of personal space. Do not stand close enough to smell the person's shampooed hair, baby powdered undergarments, or even tea tree minty fresh organic breath mints. Give the person a wide berth. If you are in the habit of standing too close to the co-worker, you will get the reputation for being weird at the least, and creepy at the best. If you can count the pores in the person's face, know what time the person probably shaved his whiskers that morning, see the persons's black roots (it may be time for a touch up at the salon), or stare at that person's crooked smile to see if the person is a closet smoker or not - then you are standing too close!

Do not stare into the co-worker's eyes from across the room - Do not make direct prolonged eye contact with your co-worker. In meetings, do not develop a secret simple comprehensive eye blink which will tell your opinion on any given matter. Do not label your co-worker's eyes hazel, then go to the mall to buy clothing to match the person's eye color.

Finally here is what you should never say to a co-worker under ANY circumstances:

"The next time there is an ice storm, come to my house to shower, I have a generator."

"My husband/wife doesn't understand me, so I bought you a mink stole (1960), tape recorder (1970), ipod (2007) or new gadgety digital handheld device (2011)."

After "how are you," let the conversation stay professonial at all times.

"Do you want to share a lunch/taxicab ride/season pass?"

"Are you an Aries or something else?"

So there you have it, so many reasons to not get too close to a co-worker. This advice also applies to the boss, supervisor, corporate manager, admin. staff, maintenance staff and anyone else you see regularly at work. Just remember to "keep yourself to yourself," and it can be done, so follow old Granny's advice and chill out with the co-worker.


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    • chileandivan profile image

      chileandivan 18 months ago

      Yeah, try not to dream him at night. Force yourself to dream of other people instead. Don't let this thing grow, it will overcome you. Sorry for the late delay to answer. Hope you did not marry him by now. Good luck.

    • profile image

      FenellaScent 2 years ago

      thanks for the wonderful advices ! I've been to a new project with new co-worker since june 2015. I was not interested with my teammate before until I find him attractive whenever he help me with my tasks. Whenever we bumped to each other in the pantry or in corridor or just passed by each other, he always give me that one calorie smile that made me like him even more. I know there are other girls in the office who like him too because of his superb personality. My advantge is , hes like my 'tutor' and we belong on the same team . But the big problem is that I couldnt concentrate and lose my focus when he's around, chances are, there are times that he had to repeat what he already taught me abt my task which is tooooo embarassing. :( Now I'm trying to forget this growing feeling of mine towards him but its really hard because he always appears on my dream at night :((

    • chileandivan profile image

      chileandivan 2 years ago

      Thanks for the comment. It is hard to stop the feelings once they take over, so try not to get on that roller coaster, you can't get off once it starts twisting and turning. Take care, Peace.

    • profile image

      tin 3 years ago

      it all make sense..putting colors in every actions will just cultivate unidentified feelings...its just a matter of a "Big No" thing... thanks for the article. =)

    • chileandivan profile image

      chileandivan 3 years ago


      It is hard when you have the love for someone with a baby coming. Of course the baby will take priority. You are better off in a supporting role, and do not be afraid to take a deep supporting role. The problem is that people, such as random people who mean well could also show up to "help" the new mother in need. Do not be jealous of this, you will also get thanks for anything you do as well, so just be around, no pressure as new moms are a bit "cray-cray" (read: crazy), and cannot tolerate more stress at that time. Let me know how it goes.

    • profile image

      mm 3 years ago

      Thanks for the good advise. I learned a lot for this cover page.

    • profile image

      narendra 3 years ago

      I am in love in deep with my coworker who is also a mother having kid.

      i don't know how to come out of this.

      kindly give me more advice

    • chileandivan profile image

      chileandivan 4 years ago

      Juan Carlos,

      No, in this case, this co-worker is giving you the come hither hints. Unfortunately, she may be the wrong person for you, but the hormones are going to kick in before you can find out. She is definitely into you, coming on to you, and probably wants you. But is she the right one, or just the right one right now for you? Think of it this you want a short fling with her or a real romance? If you want real romance, outside of work only - go ahead and hold her hand, eat her cookies she bakes and go out for drinks. Try to keep it together when you are out, enjoy her company and all, but really watch her for any red flags that she may be using you for her own ego pleasure. Before you do anything serious, try this experiment.

      Before you get busy with her, take a few nights and imagine and dream the hell out of an experience with her. Make it as real as possible, all the passion, pleasure, everything you have. Use familiar place, exotic places, give it EVERYTHING you have got (this will serve 2 purposes). So the first benefit is you will get out all of your romantic energy, you will feel relaxed. The second benefit this will have is that it will be so real, so raw, you will feel as if you already did get busy with her. Now hold that thought. How do you feel about it? Take that step back, do you feel good, bad, wish you had not, found out she has a boyfriend, found out she has dirty feet, found out she never does X or never does Y---the point is after you "dream had" her, do you still feel those powerful feelings over her? Be prepared for the answer. Because once you relieve the sexual tension, as it were, and can stop being clouded by that murky water, you will see her in a new light (and you will be satisfied at the same time before even having her!). Now you can look at her objectively and decide, to go for it, or sadly to pass on it. Not every girl is right for you, not every experience (although guaranteed to be pleasurable) is right for you. Let me know how the dreams go, but if you get busy with her, be a gentleman and do not kiss and tell. Best of luck to you, I am lighting a candle for your dreams.

    • profile image

      Juan Carlos 4 years ago

      Thanks for this great article! I am currently dealing with the not-to-fall-for-her issue, but it's not easy! She keeps giving things like chocolates, cookies, etc. We arrange for getting out for drinks and she ask in very low voice if we are going, etc. You may be right and I am over reading her actions (amazing what someone thinks when is in deep need of pasionate love!) and so on. She has even offered me to hold her hand (body language) and I am really under a lot of stress! I wil try to follow your advice, but.....the worst vice is advise!

    • chileandivan profile image

      chileandivan 4 years ago


      I agree, this advice will not help with the striptease coworker. You are going to have to think of him because of knowing this information. I am also thinking about him.....

    • profile image

      Vanessa 4 years ago

      I heard my co worker does STRIPTEASE! since then I can´t stop thinking about him or finding the way of looking at him... he looks so sexy, and he has only been here for 1 month!!! those advices wont help that much...

    • profile image

      Zed 5 years ago

      I feel like saying welcome to my world lol. Everything you said, makes sense... But unfortunately, I have already done all the No's and now I am having a hard time not falling.. What are the chances that.... (see below)

      1. We were born in the same month of the same year therefore same Zodiac

      2. We both went to the same secondary school, same university, same Academic program and graduated in the same year ( eventhough I fast tracked and graduated a year ahead). And I had moved to a different city after high school, but ended up going to this particular university in my old city. We did not each other in University.

      3. We both live and work in the same city ( which is different from the city we graduated in from school/university

      4. We have both joined this company in the same year.

      5. Our favourite colours are the same and we both drink the same brand/style of coffee.

      Yes, I probably shouldn't be talking about similarities.. but there is way too many of them and by the way, we are both single ..

      What do I do.. we get along extremely well and everytime we work together on the same project ( which happens from time to time) we nail it .

      The day feels so incomplete when we don't talk to each other (w hich happens once in a while).

    • chileandivan profile image

      chileandivan 5 years ago

      Mindy, you are never the only one out there. I speak 100% from experience.

    • profile image

      Mindy 5 years ago

      This is a very well written article. Unfortunately I have been doing most of the 'no-no' stuff. You article pretty much covers the entire ground. Thanks for a very practical piece of advise. After going through other reader's comments above, I feel kinda motivated to follow your advise. I am happy to know that I am not the only one out there.

    • profile image

      Awee 6 years ago

      Thank you

    • profile image

      6 years ago

      I'm trying to do these things. I feel like I am in love with her. I know this is a trap and I can't believe I am here. I cannot stop thinking about her.

    • profile image

      6 years ago

      My head says to do what you suggested but my heart won't let me. I just can't help it.

    • profile image

      Kay 6 years ago

      Thanks for the down-to-earth advice and for the great humor sprinkled throughout (especially the thoughtful gifts paragraph - LOL)!

    • chileandivan profile image

      chileandivan 6 years ago


      Glad it helped. I also had to take my own advice!

    • profile image

      Frank 6 years ago

      this is exactly the dose of real advice i needed. the 'familiarity and recognition' bodily response is spot on and so logical. i'm guilty of most of the listed no no's, and will be applying this great advice forthwith.

      THANK YOU!!


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