How to Navigate an Office Romance

It starts with extra-long looks whenever you pass each other in the hallways. Soon, you’re finding excuses to talk to him, sitting next to him in the break room and sharing inside jokes. You know you’re into him, and he’d be perfect for you. Plus, you’ve seen that there’s some promising data for office romance. A CareerBuilder survey on office relationships said that 38% of people have dated a co-worker — and almost one-third of those who dated a co-worker ended up marrying them. But you’ve also heard a ton of office romance horror stories. So do you go for it, or do you run like the wind? Here are some guidelines to help you navigate the tricky world of office dating.

Don’t Go for Your Boss

Just don’t. The authority thing may be sexy, but it’s not worth the complications. You may think you’re keeping it quiet, but the workplace is a haven for gossip, and it's almost never positive. Co-workers are going to be extremely jealous, and you’ll instantly have a target on your back.

They’re definitely going to think you’re getting special treatment, too, even though you’re probably less likely to get more recognized or promoted for your hard work because the boss won’t want to show favoritism. It’s a no-win situation.

And Don’t Date Those You Supervise, Either

We already established authority is sexy. That’s bound to get you some admirers if you’re a supervisor or manager. But, just like dating your boss, there are way too many complications. You have to be fair to your workers, and you can’t really be fair when you’re dating one of them.

Understand Your Workplace’s Policies

Workplace dating policies vary greatly depending on the company. Some may have very strict rules that don’t allow any dating whatsoever. Other options involve notifying the company when you’re entering a relationship with another employee. Entire sections of the law profession are devoted to businesses and making sure everyone complies with the correct practices.

A sexual harassment case is a big deal, and a company needs to make sure no one can spring a case on them after a bad breakup with a co-worker. They don’t want a liability, so they’ll take this seriously. Make sure you understand the policy inside and out before you consider a workplace relationship.

Be Discreet

Yeah, new relationships are great and fun. You want to be affectionate and be around that person all the time. But giggling and whispering to each other at work isn’t appropriate. Keep the PDA at home. It makes co-workers uncomfortable and can lead to them complaining about you to the boss, which you probably don’t want if you intend to keep your job. Romance can wait until you’re clocked out for the day.

Keep Boundaries

Don’t use work email or anything for your love notes. Your email isn't as private as you think, and there’s a good chance the higher-ups could be monitoring it. Keep all the lovey-dovey stuff of the relationship outside the office. People may know you’re together, but they don’t need to be reminded of it every time they see you two together.

Have a Breakup Plan

No one really wants to think about breaking up when starting out a relationship. However, if you date someone you work with, you have to prepare yourself with the possibility of seeing them every day, even if you break up. It’s not fun, but it’s going to have to be something that’s discussed when you get serious.

It sucks having to see that person every day and thinking about all the times you shared, but you have to be prepared to deal with it if you’re going to enter into the relationship. If you’re too emotional and can’t handle seeing them every day, you may have to consider leaving your job if it comes down to it. Try and look at things from every possible angle.

Make Some Space

You see this person every day for eight hours. We spend more time at work than we do having a life outside of it. If you’re living together, you’ll literally be seeing this person almost every hour of the day.

You have to make some time for yourself, whether it’s designating some alone time in your apartment, or going out with friends for a few hours. No matter how much you adore the person you’re with, the amount of time you spend together is going to wear on you. Taking some me-time can help keep your relationship strong.

Don’t Let Fights Interfere With Work

Couples fight. It’s a simple fact. But if you’re fighting with someone you have to work side-by-side with, it can make things difficult.

Your company is counting on you to work well with others to achieve the goals of the business. It’s why they hired you. No matter what was said in the bedroom the night before, you have to make sure you don’t let that little spat interfere with your work productivity.

Workplace romance can be a disaster, or it could lead you to the person you’re going to spend the rest of your life with. Use this as a guide to help you through it.