In some ways, the office is the perfect place to meet people—and that’s why workplace dating is so common. “Working closely with someone often allows you to get to know them intimately and create a connection that would take a lot longer to establish otherwise,” explains Dave Bowden, online dating expert and confidence coach. “Plus, not only will you have all sorts of shared experiences, but probably more than a few shared interests too.” After all, you’ve already selected the same (or a similar industry) and have chosen to work at the same company. This, Bowden explains, means you likely have similar educational backgrounds and aptitudes. These aspects serve as great a great foundation for the beginning of a relationship.
And let’s not ignore the fact that workplace dating can be, well, exciting and exhilarating. “There’s nothing more suspenseful than stepping out of the office elevator and counting down the seconds until you see your office crush,” says Lori Bizzoco, relationship expert and founder of CupidsPulse.com. “The feeling is unmatched and could make the most cynical person’s heart flutter.”
While the office may provide an idea setting for meeting date-worthy candidates, there is one glaringly unfortunate downside: you’ll still have to see this person if it doesn’t work out. “Even if you start dating a coworker with the best of intentions and the relationship has a rosy outlook at the beginning, you still run the risk that things could go sour, which will affect you personally, and quite possibly professionally,” says Bowden. “Dating a co-worker means that, at the very least, you’ll open yourself to potential gossip in the office—and, at the extreme end of the spectrum, you could even find that it’s impossible to continue working in the same office after a bad breakup, necessitating a career move for one or both of you.”
Whether you’re already dating someone you work with, or are flirting with the idea of saying “yes” to that guy in the upstairs office, here are relationship experts’ tips for how best to go about workplace dating.
Keep your personal life personal.
If you do decide to engage in workplace dating, Bowden recommends keeping things as professional as possible while at the office. “Even little gestures like kisses and back rubs that seem innocuous to you might make your coworkers feel uncomfortable, and make you seem less professional in their eyes,” he says.
Be careful with who you tell.
While your workplace dating could be the start of something wonderful, and potentially long-lasting, Julianne Cantarella, New Jersey’s Matchmaker and dating coach, warns couples not to be so quick to let everyone know. “I’d wait several months before letting anyone know you’re dating a coworker,” she says. “This way there’s a clearer understanding of whether it’s serious or not.”
Don’t vent about things in-office.
“Coworkers in every industry often follow the time honored tradition of complaining about their partner or significant other while at work, but if your significant other is also your colleague, you’ll need to bite your tongue,” says Bowden. “Unlike other relationships, your coworkers won’t automatically be on your side in every story—plus, you probably don’t want your partner spilling tea about you, so it’s best to take the high road and lead by example.”
Give each other space.
Since you’ll be spending twice as much (if not more) time with a colleague whom you’re dating than if you were dating someone you didn’t work with, it’s important to remember to give each other extra space both at work and afterwards. “For instance, if you have dinner plans that night, spend your lunch break with someone else,” says Bowden. “Spending time together is healthy, but spending nearly every waking moment together could spell disaster, especially early on in a relationship.”
Plan for the worst.
“It may be rainbows and butterflies at the beginning, but every relationship faces their own trials and tribulations—and sometimes, relationships don’t work, and that’s OK,” says Bizzoco. It’s helpful to be prepared for the fact that your workplace dating experience might work out, but it might not. “Acknowledge this and make sure you are confident in your decision before moving forward,” she adds.