It’s been well over ten years since I’ve played the dating game, so I’m clearly out of practice. I met my husband in school where we were only friends, and started dating him after he graduated. Aside from a short three month project we worked on together one summer, I’ve never dated anyone I’ve worked with. That being said, the workplace seems, in theory, like a great place to meet people.
Okay, hear me out. Just like college or high school, work is where you spend a huge chunk of time. Throw in a bunch of people around the same age, suffering through a long work day, and sparks are likely to fly! Misery does love company, and a quickie in the storage room can’t hurt either!
In passing, I mentioned my workplace romance theory to a single male friend of mine who works in IT at a reputable jewelry company. He promptly told me, “Nicole, I don’t [insert derogatory term for defecation] where I eat!” Aside from finding this hilarious, I started thinking; maybe he’s got a point. Work isn’t about pleasure; it’s about paying the bills. Risking that paycheck for love is a gamble. At the same time, you never know! You could be sitting in the cubicle next to your soul mate! And it’s that little bit of hope – that small chance of something real that fuels the inevitable fraternization between the cute guy in accounting with the newbie in sales.
According to the annual Office Romance Survey done by Vault, 44% of men and women between the ages of 18 and 34 have had a romantic encounter with a co-worker. In reality, that’s just the 44% that was brave enough to admit to an office fling. The number is probably higher. And what defines a romantic encounter? It could be something as innocuous as overt flirting at the office holiday party! Who hasn’t said something flirtatious to someone they are attracted to?! It’s a part of everyday life! So, let’s round it up. Let’s say half of working millennials have had some kind of romantically charged encounter with a co-worker. Out of all those people, there have to be some success stories!
This brings me back to my single friend. So after all his bluster about not dating someone he works with, he started seeing a girl he works with! The whole thing is rather complicated, as all relationships are, but the complications have nothing to do with working together! Then again, they don’t work in the same department and they don’t have a supervisor /subordinate exchange. So, what’s the answer? Is dating a co-worker a good idea or employment suicide? The moral of the story, there is no clear cut answer. Dating in the workplace is like dating anywhere – sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. The real question is – are you willing to take the chance?
If you find yourself crushing on a co-worker ask yourself these questions before accepting an invitation for drinks after 5:
Is this a job or your future career?
If you’re bartending for extra cash and it’s not a job that furthers your career in anyway, why wouldn’t you date the waiter you’ve got chemistry with?! If, however, you are working your way up at a publishing company and you’ve got the hots for your supervisor, you might want to keep the relationship on ice. Flirting by the water cooler is one thing, but if things don’t work out with a boss, you could find yourself in a very unhappy place.
Is this person a part of your everyday work environment?
Dating someone who works in a different department that you hardly deal with is a lot easier than working with someone who is two offices down from you and basically does the same job. It’s all about personality and chemistry, but conflict at home can become conflict in office, and it’s really hard to turn those emotions off.
Is this person worth it?
Accepting a date from a guy that started two weeks ago is a lot different than dating someone you’ve worked with for two years. You need to sit down and ask yourself, is he or she worth it? Would I rather take the risk at love than work at this job? Chances are you know the guy you’ve worked with for two years a lot better than the new guy in the mail room. Weigh your options and your compatibility. Sometimes love is worth it, and if you really care for each other, you’ll be able to separate your work relationship from your romantic relationship – just make sure the other person is mature enough to do it before changing your relationship status to “It’s complicated.”