I heard it for the first time when I was 16. “Don’t shit where you eat. And by eat, I mean work. And by shit, I mean fuck.” When I grew out of that job at a summer sleepaway camp and into my current role as cubicle warrior, the language got a little more formal, and lot more legally binding, but the message was the same: don’t make sex with your coworkers.
The temptation is natural. Coworkers are fucking each other in offices all around this great nation – maybe even your own. You spend 35 to 70 hours a week with like-minded, similarly motivated people. That company happy hour rolls around, the beer pitchers paid for by corporate turn into jaegerbombs and Fireball shots, and the next thing you know Billy is fingerblasting Suzy in the unisex bathroom just like it’s junior prom.
Everyone knows that abstinence-only education doesn’t work. If you’re gonna do it, be smart and know what you’re getting into. Take some advice from a guy who’s been there before.
1. Don’t go out of your way.
Hookups happen. I think you’re hot. You think I’m attractive enough with the lights out. There’s been some tension, but we’re both feeling it, and we let our judgement lapse in exchange for the promise of three to four minutes of pleasure. We exchange awkward pleasantries in the morning. Life goes on.
That’s the best way for this to go down. Let it happen. Que sera, sera.
Don’t be the creepy or aggressive one in this pseudo-courtship. Leave no evidence – that means no drunk texting. If the other person shows even the slightest signs up being uncomfortable, back the fuck off. One false move, and your job is hanging by a thread.
2. Only hook up with superiors and peers.
You hook up with your boss or any other superior? That’s their problem. They’re the ones held to a higher standard and are expected to know better. If shit really hits the fan, you felt “pressured” and you’re looking at a cozy “keep your mouth shut” bonus or a severance package with a nice recommendation.
Never, ever hook up with a subordinate.
They got promoted? You’re guilty of letting them sleep their way to the top (or more likely middle to upper-middle).
They get passed for that promotion? They come after you with that same “pressured” bullshit that you were ready throw around to save your own ass.
Interns are fair game (and easy pickings) only after their internship ends and you are 100% certain they won’t be taking a full time job with your company.
3. Make sure they’re single.
Now, I’ve never meant to be a homewrecker, but I can count on three fingers the number of girls I’ve slept with who were engaged. None of those girls ever told me about their significant other, and I always found out after the fact – I’m not a great person, but I like to think I have enough decency to respect a marriage.
If you’re going to sleep with a coworker, do your due diligence.
If your coworker is willing to both cheat and violate the First Commandment of HR, they’re too much of a wildcard to risk your job with.
4. Shut the fuck up.
Don’t tell anyone. Don’t be seen leaving together. Don’t crack inside jokes that will leave people wondering how you’re suddenly so close with each other. The key is to not let anyone know. Because once one person finds out, that nosy bitch Becky in accounting will hear about it, and you know she can’t keep her fucking mouth shut. The integrity of your secret is broken as soon as it leaks, and it’s only a matter of time before everyone knows.
4(a). If you get caught, don’t lie about it.
So you screwed up rule #4. As long as you followed rules #1, #2 and #3, it won’t be that bad. You’ll get a stern talking to from HR about how your company doesn’t approve of your behavior, and you’ll want to lay low from company social events for a little while. Whatever. If you get caught in a lie, the best case scenario is that you lose the trust of your peers and boss. The worst case involves you posting in the “Casual Encounters” section of Craigslist trying to scrounge together enough cash for rent and a penicillin shot. Just fess up.
5. Don’t start dating.
You thought it would be a great idea to give this thing a real shot? Are you fucking high? An actual relationship basically requires you to violate rule #4. On the off chance that your company believes in true and everlasting love and is willing to overlook your stupidity to grant an HR exemption for you and your equally stupid coworker, you just made a terrible mistake.
Your work life and love life are now intertwined. You’re a package deal. What if one of you wants a promotion? How will the ethics committee feels about one of you violating rule #2? How will your better half react to you being their boss? How would you feel about working for them? What happens if your new significant other screws up? Will you have to take their side? What would you do if they got fired? Would they break up with you if you got fired? What will your other coworkers think? Are these hypothetical scenarios planting enough seeds of doubt in your head? Good. Just don’t do it.
There you have it. The five and a half keys to fucking a coworker without ruining your career. A consensual one-night stand with a single peer that you won’t tell anyone about. Or not. Your current job probably isn’t that great anyways..
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