How To Date A Co-Worker Without Making It Weird For Everyone Else

Monica Torres
When you embark on an office romance, your decision does not just impact you. 

As long as professionals are forced to spend so many waking hours together in one place, the office will not just be a workplace but also a convenient dating pool of people with similar occupations and shared interests.

One in three American adults is or has been in a workplace romance, according to a 2019 poll by the Society for Human Resources Management.

Dating a co-worker ― even the right way ― can be high-risk, high-reward. Karen, a professional whose office romance at a software company blossomed into marriage nearly 28 years ago, called the relationship the “best decision” she ever made but also a choice that others should approach with caution. Initially, Karen kept her relationship with a co-worker from another department quiet “to the point where co-workers were trying to set us up with other people because they had no idea.” Karen wanted to know the relationship was more than a fling before letting her colleagues know. “For the longest time we didn’t tell anybody. Nobody at work knew until we had a strong feeling it would be more than a casual thing,” she said. “I’m trying to imagine if we had been out in the open and it had fizzled. I think it would have been really awkward.”

Still, not all office romances are quiet or successful. Both participants and bystanders have some basic tenets to consider for minimizing the drama these relationships can cause to everyone in the workplace. 

Thoroughly read your HR policies on dating a colleague. 

Before you engage in any type of office romance, figure out your company’s applicable policies and whether you have to disclose. Office romances are sometimes entirely against company policy, and more often so if you are dating up or down the organizational chart. A 2013 survey of 384 HR professionals from the Society for Human Resources Management found that 99% of workplaces banned romances between a supervisor and a direct report and almost half banned relationships between employees...

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