The Dos and Don'ts of Dating at Work

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Posted by The Editors on February 14, 2012
The Dos and Don'ts of Dating at Work
Interoffice dating is bound to happen. Whether you become one half of these secretive affairs or you observe two coworkers pairing up, you’ll likely encounter many office relationships in your career.

When you think about it, it makes perfect sense. The office is a pretty good place to meet people: You’re surrounded with other single young professionals, you have common professional interests, and, for better or for worse, you see them day in and day out.

Over here at WetFeet, we have two pretty in-depth articles about handling an office romance and balancing love and work. But in honor of Valentine’s Day, I thought I’d break down some quick tips for appropriately handling an office romance.

DO be straightforward and honest about how you feel. This is good advice for any relationship, but in the office, subtle flirting can quickly turn into sexual harassment. If you’re interested in dating a coworker, ask them on a date—and be clear that it’s not just another work lunch.

DON’T hold a grudge if you’re shot down. Just because you’ve cultivated feelings for someone doesn’t mean the other person reciprocates them. Remember this is work: Keep it professional. One of my favorite bloggers, Alison Green, has an excellent story of a guy who wouldn’t stop sulking when his coworker turned down a date with him.

DO check your workplace policies on interoffice dating. Learn from what happened to Michael and Jan on “The Office.” Although it’s a TV show, many companies have very real policies that prohibit dating between managers and subordinates, and some prohibit dating across the board.

DON’T flirt or be publicly affectionate in the office. Not only is it inappropriate behavior, but PDA can make your other coworkers uncomfortable.

DO address office gossip. Like it or not, rumors are going to spread once you’ve gone on a few dates. Nip them in the bud and be the first to address what’s going on. Instead of being vague or evasive, say something like, “Yes, Joe and I have gone on a few dates but we are just friends” or “Yes, Danielle and I have gone on a few dates and I’m excited to see where it leads, but that’s the extent of what I want to discuss at work.”

DON’T give your crush preferential treatment. If you work closely or in the same department, it’s really important to treat your love interest the same way you’d treat everyone else. This includes not telling them confidential information, or indulging them in information they would otherwise not be privy to.

In all seriousness, dating at work is a sticky situation and can have repercussions that you may not realize when you’re still in the honeymoon stage (can you imagine what the break-up would be like?). Be mindful of the other person’s feelings, as well as the feelings of your boss, your coworkers, your clients, and everyone else who may be affected.

What do you think of office dating? Oh, and Happy Valentine’s Day!

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