As the temperatures drop, many singles are searching for someone special to snuggle with on winter nights. You know, a “winter boyfriend,” a “seasonal someone” or a “winter bae.” However, some are taking these relationships to the next level by dating a co-worker. Gasp! Yes, the taboo often becomes popular as snow falls and holiday parties pop up.
When you are dating a co-worker, beware of adding more complications to the mix. But, this doesn’t mean that is impossible to have a romantic relationship with a co-worker. You just need to go about things a bit differently than you would if you were dating someone you don’t work with. While there are no hard and fast rules about dating co-workers, there are some unwritten rules that you should take heed of in order to be able to properly balance your work life and your romantic life.
Don’t Date Your Boss
The most important rule about dating in the workplace is do not date your boss. There are several good reasons for this. First, if the relationship doesn’t work out, there could be a lot of tension. Also, some of your co-workers are likely to become resentful, and if you receive any perks, bonuses, promotions, etc., they may think that you are just getting special favors or preferential treatment because of your relationship status.
Don’t Date to Get Ahead
Many people make the mistake of dating certain co-workers because they think it is going to help them to get ahead in the workplace. Not only is this a sure-fire way to make a lot of enemies at work, even if you do get ahead, you won’t be doing so on your own merits. If you are going to move up the company ladder, do it on your own. If you get there because of a relationship, you might just find yourself going back down the ladder once the relationship fizzles out.
Take Things Slow
It is never a good idea to rush into any romantic relationship, especially when it involves a co-worker. No matter how attracted you are to the other person, don’t jump right into a serious relationship, or jump right into bed. You need to take time and make sure that this really is the person for you, and work on cultivating a solid relationship. Spend time together and really get to know one another. Find out what each other wants from the relationship to make sure that you are going to be right for each other.
Even though you are feeling happy and in love at the moment, there are no guarantees that any relationship is going to last forever. You need to be realistic about your situation, and be prepared for a breakup, just in case. How are you going to handle dealing with this person at work every day if you are no longer a couple? Will one of you be willing to move to a different department in order to avoid one another if you can’t get along? Are these even things that you want to deal with in the first place?
Learn about Office Policies on Dating
Some companies allow inter-office dating, while others frown on it. If you are thinking about getting involved with one of your co-workers, you need to find out what the company policy is about dating co-workers. It is a good idea to have a talk with someone from HR to make sure that you aren’t going to be breaking any company rules or get into any trouble by dating your co-worker. Don’t wait until you have been terminated because dating a co-worker is against company policy.
Be Professional at Work
Your relationship needs to be kept separate from your work life, and you need to remain professional at all times while you are at work. This means that you can’t be spending your time sending love notes via email to each other, staring at each other from across the room or conference table, or even talking about your relationship. While at work, you both need to maintain a professional appearance, and only talk about work-related subjects.
No Public Displays of Affection
You may be happy and in love, but not everyone wants to see the two of you in public displays of affection, especially in the workplace. “Not only is this unprofessional, it is going to make a lot of people feel very uncomfortable. This goes back to being professional at work. Keep your relationship strictly professional in the workplace, and enjoy the romantic aspect of your relationship on your own time. No holding hands, kissing, hugging, flashing rings or other expensive jewelry,” suggests Paul Gian from Beyond4Cs.
Tell Your Boss
You can keep a few dates secret, but if you decide that you want to be in a serious relationship with a co-worker, at some point, you are going to need to inform your employer. It is better that they hear it from you instead of through the office gossip mill. You don’t have to go into great detail about your relationship, but it is common courtesy to tell your boss what is going on, and that the relationship is not going to interfere with your performance on the job.
Know Who to Confide In
In any workplace, there are some people who you can talk to and trust, and there are others who are going to have rumors spread faster than you can tell the truth. It is best to keep your new relationship quiet in the beginning, until you know for sure that things are going to work out. Don’t tell anyone about the relationship until you are both comfortable, and you have decided who you can trust and who should be left out of the loop, at least for the time being.
Don’t Involve other Co-Workers
If you and your romantic partner are involved in a tiff, don’t involve your co-workers. Again, be professional, and keep your relationship out of the workplace. Most people don’t want to end up having to take sides and be right in the middle of your fights, and those who do are likely little more than instigators or trouble makers who love the drama, but aren’t really there for you. The only exception to this rule is if your best friend also happens to be a co-worker. After all, you need someone to talk to, right?