Tips for tactfully dating a co-worker

It’s no secret; office relationships happen. You’re sitting in the office on what seems like a normal day, when suddenly an attractive co-worker walks by. You try not to catch their eye (per professional workplace decorum), but sometimes you just can’t
help yourself.

A few months ago, I experienced this potentially-awkward scenario for myself.
I was working on some issues with our copywriting department, but one of the normal staff members was busy with a meeting so he sent a replacement. Little did I know how that one schedule conflict would lead to amazing things for me. It’s a good thing my workplace doesn’t frown on employee relationships, because I was hooked from Day 1.

Over the next few weeks, we kept in contact to attempt to resolve my department’s issues, but slowly our conversations became non-work-related. I realized I was interested and decided to add a new friend on Facebook. If you’re interested in a co-worker, this is one way to show it that doesn’t involve asking for
a number or making plans to hang out.

After many Facebook chat sessions, and finally a phone number exchange, it was time to make a real move. At every point in a co-worker relationship, one of the involved parties has to take the big step. Whether it’s inviting them out for happy hour, or simply urging them to try your favorite restaurant (with you, of course!), it has to happen. Ideally, you’ll
want to approach this as a friendly outing. Then, if things don’t work out, the situation at work won’t be awkward. Think of it as a learning experience.

My boyfriend was convinced that our first “date” was more of a “non-date” because he wasn’t sure if it was meant to be romantic.
I, for one, am happy about that. I wasn’t sure we would have a real connection in person, and this way there was no pressure. Of course, we did hit it off.

The next day, I had some friends cancel on me for a sledding outing, and I invited him. We rode down the hill together (my
first time!), so it gave us the opportunity to get closer. I knew we had an amazing connection, and I was thrilled when he asked me to go on our first “real” date, which ended up involving sushi, drinks and a private ice-skating session.

Of course, every relationship is different. It’s important to play by the rules and follow the company’s policies depending on your work environment. If you do decide to embark on a new relationship with a co-worker, my best advice is to approach it without any
big expectations. In short, keep it casual.

Perhaps you’re rolling your eyes at my nearly perfect situation and wonder how I would deal with less-than-stellar dating experience in a work environment. Unfortunately, I’ve been there, too, but I managed to keep things professional. I did this by remembering our primary interaction was for work purposes, and that removing any post-relationship awkwardness is essential for getting projects accomplished. If there’s one thing to keep in mind while pursuing a relationship with a co-worker, it’s that, above all, you’re going to be confined to the same space for several hours a day. Keep it civil, no matter what.

Enough negative associations. You’ve probably heard most of the warnings about dating a co-worker before, but what are some of the perks?

• Your lunch break can become a great time to catch up with your significant other.

• Your co-worker has already been “interviewed.” They’re qualified to hold a job, and they’ve already made the cut with HR, so there are obviously some quality attributes involved.

• You’ll probably have better luck than at the local bar. Browsing singles boozing at the local hotspot is good for those looking for flings, but many bar patrons aren’t looking for long-term relationships. At work, you’ll have the time you need to really get to know a person, instead of just spending a few minutes of time sizing them up while sipping a martini.

• You can truly understand each other’s passions. You probably have similar approaches to your career and life, and your significant other will be more likely to actually listen and sympathize when you have issues at work. You’ll also have a good idea about how they deal with successes and failures through your interactions at work, which is very important in long-term relationships.

In conclusion, you’ll have to figure out if a workplace relationship can work for you, but if your company approves, why not give it a try?


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