Wisdom//

How to Approach an Office Romance

A psychotherapist and performance coach says there are a few important things to consider before moving forward responsibly.

Yuganov Konstantin/ Shutterstock
Yuganov Konstantin/ Shutterstock

Even though there are many ways to meet someone these days, whether it’s Tinder, OK Cupid, Bumble, Coffee Meets Bagel, or even the old school method of introductions by a mutual friend, the workplace remains fertile ground for meeting Mr. or Ms. Right… or Right Now.  In fact, many of my clients’ burgeoning relationships had their origins in the workplace, not surprising given the amount of time people spend with each other at work. In many cases, people spend more time with colleagues than they do with anyone else in their lives. 

If you find yourself attracted to a colleague and getting close, there are things you should and things you shouldn’t do as you move forward.

Here’s what to think about:

Know the company policy.  

Some organizations have a no fraternization policy.  It’s in place for a reason. It might be to protect information and respect the dynamic that exist between colleagues.  Weigh the possible risk of getting involved with a colleague against human resource policy (termination and impacting future employment).  It can have the same effect on the other person, too.

What’s your motivation?

Is the driving force behind this to escape the monotony and boredom of your job and add some sizzle and distract yourself from the workplace doldrums or does this person have the type of qualities that make you want to get to know him/her and rip their clothes off?  If the former, then spend your time looking for other ways to pass the time: redefining your role within the company, taking on special projects, or conducting a job search after hours. If the latter, that’s a different story and one must proceed with caution. 

Make sure you’re reading signals properly. 

Is he or she smiling at you and you only with those puppy eyes or do they smile the same way at everyone?  Make sure you’re not misinterpreting his or her general friendliness for flirtatiousness.

If he or she is married or in a relationship, forget it. 

You deserve better than to be the other woman or other man.  Instead, focus on work and the million potential opportunities outside of your 9-5.

Have a life outside or your relationship and job. 

If all you talk about with your partner is work that might grow old quickly.  Make sure you have more in common than just the job. It’s not only healthy to have a life and friends outside of your significant other, it’s crucial to the success of the relationship.  This is even more important given the eight or more hours you’ll be spending with this person during your work day.

Squelch the possibility of rumors.  

If you’re going to move forward with dating a colleague, consider getting out ahead of rumors.  Be proactive and meet with your supervisor and colleagues and explain your situation without providing all the lusty details.  Keep it simple and just say that you’re dating the person and provide reassurance that you’ll maintain your focus on the job.

Use discretion. 

No one wants to see you making out by the water cooler or back office.  Keep your clothes on and be aware that email exchanges about how good the sex was the night before don’t belong on your company’s server.  

So, as you move forward, ask yourself: What impact will getting involved with said colleague have on you professionally and romantically? Perceptions of favoritism may occur and there’s also the potential fallout should things not work out.  Sometimes dipping in the company ink simply isn’t worth it. But like all endeavors of love, there’s a risk and the possible payout is huge.

Be Fearless: Change Your Life in 28 Days by Jonathan Alpert.

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