Career Advice

7 Tips When Office Romance 'Just Happens'

Where did you meet your spouse/partner/significant other? If you believe TV ads (and I feel sorry if you do) online dating is the answer. If you prefer to get anecdotal information from surveys, check out this Mashable story, which reports on a survey conducted by a team from the Association of Psychological Science. Turns out they think meeting people in bars yields better results. (Really?)

Then there’s the time-tested strategy of hunting for love mates in the workplace. While it might seem like the Christmas party is prime time for finding a workplace more-than-buddy, interest really ramps up around Valentine’s Day, when New Year’s resolutions have failed (I will lose ten pounds, I will exercise every day, I will not date people I’m not in love with, I will not date a geek, I will be happy being alone forever, and the list goes on).

There’s no easily-mined data to show that meeting people in college, through friends or at church trumps meeting people at work, many studies indicate school and work are prime meeting places. It’s a reality so we best get prepared in the event. So let’s get to it: what are the rules for dating co-workers? What mistakes must be avoided?

Here’s my list of best practices for dating in the workplace:

  • Do not date your boss. Ever. It will not end well, and your job will be in jeopardy the entire time. Your co-workers will swing from hatred to jealousy to suspicion. Your reputation will be ruined, and people will spread the news beyond the walls of the company. The terms ‘bozette’ and ‘boy toy’ were coined for this situation.
  • If you are the boss, please try not to date your staff members. This is a recipe for power struggle disasters.
  • Do not go to a company party and leave with another employee unless you were married to them or in a relationship with them before you went to the party. Gossip is the lifeblood of many organizations, and true (malicious) gossips love nothing more than counting heads as parties end.
  • It’s ok to date someone from another department. But don’t expect to keep it private, and don’t expect it to end well if it does end. One of you will wind up leaving the company if the relationship falters or implodes. Keep your resume updated, and be prepared for extra scrutiny from management.
  • If you do date and/or live with/marry a colleague, leave home issues at home, or in the car, and work issues at work, or in the car. Observe these guidelines to protect your relationship and preserve your sanity.
  • If you’re married and your spouse is looking for a job, steer them away from your workplace. No doubt it’s a fine place to work, but in this economy having all your eggs in one basket is a terrible mistake.
  • Remember: Valentine’s Day, like Mother’s Day, Secretaries Day and similar holidays, is a marketing scam. Don’t allow yourself to feel pressured into a relationship because people are giving out candy hearts and pink cards.

Oh and if you happen to fall in “real love” in the workplace. Word to this wise, please find a new job. Smiles. Reality Check: Love happens.

What are your workplace dating rules? Let us know below.