Dating a coworker is stressful and a bit taboo, naturally. There are so many questions and things to figure out! But with the amount of time you spend at the office and with people there, finding love in the workplace is actually pretty common. If you’re crushing on a colleague or are curious about how to make it work in the future, here are 5 steps for doing so professionally.
Step 1: Check office policy
If you value your job—which hopefully you do!—you must respect company guidelines. Read your HR handbook or information you were given when you signed a contract. If you see specific language about dating people you work with, follow those rules—even if that means needing to keep things completely separate. If you don’t, it’s usually fair game (in the right manner). A good rule of thumb: it’s typically not OK to get involved with someone that is your direct report, or who you report to.
Step 2: Put work first
Even though emailing emojis or flirting over G-chat is tempting, don’t do it! Your number one priority, no matter how cute they are, is your work. Refrain from using your company computer to do anything unprofessional and save the chats for breaks together. Your work should be consistently strong, no matter your love life.
Step 3: Meet up on breaks
There’s nothing against being friends with your coworkers or grabbing lunch with them, so take that opportunity to spend time together. Especially in the beginning when you’re figuring out if you jive, this time is fun and precious! Invite others so that it’s not incredibly obvious, especially if you’re nervous about people finding out. Also take time to hang 1:1, which coffee breaks are perfect for.
Step 4: Stay quiet until you’re serious
When I first started seeing my fiance (who I met at work!), I didn’t tell anyone in my office—not even my close friends. It wasn’t until we had been seeing each other for a few months and became serious about the relationship working that I opened up. And still, it’s important to only tell those you trust and to be on the same page with your BF/GF. The last thing you want to be is the office gossip, and it’s no one’s business but your own.
Step 5: Come out, professionally
If you hit a point where you’re officially dating and it’s too unnatural to hide it, do so in the polite way. Making out at happy hour or PDA in the office will never be acceptable, but a quick kiss goodbye is likely fine. Never make others uncomfortable or do something inappropriate in front of colleagues, no matter how casual the office vibe is.
If things go south, be sure to stay cordial with that person. It’s crucial to think about your actions before breaking things off, and if you’re the one to do it, be kind. If you’re the person getting dumped, make it your mission to not let this breakup define you at work.
Have you attempted an office romance before?
Written by contributor Chelsea Becker.