Tale as old as time. Boy meets girl. Boy works with girl. Boy flirts with girl. Boy finally finds the courage to ask girl on date. Boy and girl start having adult sleepovers. Boy shares Netflix password with girl. Boy and girl remember they’re coworkers. Boy and girl disclose their relationship to HR. Before taking the next step with your work crush, it’s important to ask yourself six important questions:
1. Is this person my boss or in some sort of senior management role?
Yes: Stop reading this article and reassess how much damage you would like to do to each of you and your boss’s professional reputation and integrity.
No: Congratulations. You are eligible to date your coworker.
2. Do we directly work with one another?
Yes: Let me answer this question with another question. Are you willing to possibly sacrifice professional advancement and promotions with your current employer in the future? You can’t manage someone you date and someone you date can’t manage you. That’s a textbook conflict of interest. Tough cookies. I’d suggest having a look at your company’s policy on office relationships. If it’s frowned upon, it’s best to do an about face and head for open waters.
No: Pass go. Collect $200. Still, have a look at your HR policy.
3. Can we keep our hands to ourselves?
Rule #1 of office relationships: never, ever, ever bring it into the office. Stealing kisses on the side, closet makeout sessions and sex on the copy machine are a one-way ticket to a meeting with HR or worse. You want your office to be a comfortable environment and nothing makes people more uncomfortable than PDA. Any argument or disagreement you have outside of work should stay at home. Once you set foot in the office, you become coworkers. Work stays work. And for God’s sake, never compare your relationship to Jim and Pam.
4. How will I be perceived by my coworkers?
It’s important to have one or two of your trusted colleagues to weigh in before going public. They hold the key to how well your office romance is going to be received by the office. They can help cover for you in the office and offer support on how to exactly break the news to your supervisors. It helps having an ally in this situation. If you break the news to them and they show some concern (like if they tell you it’s a bad idea), it’s time to seriously evaluate your relationship and determine whether or not it’s worth it to literally mix business with pleasure. Which brings me to the next question…
5. Will I want to marry this person?
Dating a coworker is throwing a Hail Mary. You’re going all in on your career. Dating a coworker is a tricky game, but it has been done before. Nearly 40 percent of American workers say they’ve dated a coworker and 30 percent of those who have dipped their pen in the company ink ended up getting married. If it doesn’t work out, it might end up costing both of you. Big time.
6. What will I do if it doesn’t work out?
The both of you need an exit strategy. Will you be able to work together if things go south in a hurry? It’s going to be a painful conversation, but one that needs to happen. The cold, hard truth is that one of you is going to have to exit stage right. It’s best to save yourself the trouble of having to walk into the office everyday and see your ex. Make sure the two of you have a set plan in place. If the two of you break up and have already disclosed it to your coworkers, think about the damage that’s going to do to your reputation around the office. It makes you look careless. However, if things end amicably between the two of you and you can still have a functioning professional relationship, then it’s all good.
All in all, dating a coworker is a tricky game that’s worth playing in most cases. Your dating pool is considerably more shallow than it’s ever been and sometimes love is just a few cubicles away. Put yourself out there.