Is Workplace Romance an Outdated Taboo? 8 Tips for Dating a Co-Worker

Mar 11, 2021 | Business Insurance

With the amount of time you spend in the office, you’re bound to find a crush or two. While many choose not to act out on their “school-girl” or “school-boy” desires, some do, and it’s not entirely taboo.

Dating a coworker happens. However, with your work and personal life bleeding into one another, it is in your best interest as a professional to approach the situation with a bit of caution, common sense, and well, professionalism.

The risks of workplace dating are real and debatably not worth the fuss or trouble that can come when mixing love and the office together. But, if you are keen on exploring a potential romance with your coworker, keep on reading. Below we detail 8 tips for successfully navigating a workplace romance.

1. Check Your Office’s Policy

Before you dive headfirst into a relationship with a co-worker, be sure to check your office’s policy on workplace romance. One cannot stress just how important it is to do so, as not every company approaches workplace romance with open arms of acceptance.

Read your company’s handbook or simply speak to HR and inquire, “Is this allowed? Can you get fired for dating a coworker?”.

Typically companies have clear policies on whether or not workplace romance is permissible. However, if you’re not certain about the policies in place, again, simply speak to HR for clarification on the matter.

The old saying goes “it’s better to ask for forgiveness than to ask for permission”. If there was any scenario to which this saying is wholeheartedly inapplicable, it would be this exact situation. Inquire first.

If it’s not permissible then it’s not permissible, and if this is the case and you value your position, dating a co-worker secretly is also not in good faith and could cost you your job.

2. Consider if It’s Worth It

Let’s be candid, is this person worth it? Is this simply a “schoolgirl or schoolboy crush” or is it an actual mature connection worth exploring? These are valid questions.

You should assess your situation as a professional since this too directly affects your work both during and post your relationship (if it eventually ends).

Consult with a mentor at work, if you have one, or perhaps HR for insight if other employees have too explored the idea of a workplace romance. Were their attempts successful? And if so, how did they secure their workplace relationship’s success?

The more insight the better you can determine whether or not a relationship is worth pursuing. But do so prior to even stepping foot on your first date. There is no need to complicate a situation when it could have been avoidable in the first place.

Even if your company’s polity permits workplace relationships, you’re still mixing love with the workforce and therefore, you should approach your desires with an astute assessment and consideration of the factors that come with dating and relationships.

All of the factors, not just the rose-colored romance.

3. When Dating a Coworker, Take It Slow

If you do decide to move forward with dating your coworker, proceed with caution and take things slow. New relationships are exciting and people typically fall “head over heels” with their blinders on into their new romance. As this can be tempting for you and your coworker to do the same, don’t.

Take things slow and leave your relationship out of the office in the beginning months. You can still be amicable with your coworker in the office, yet carry on as you would with any other coworker to avoid unnecessary attention from your colleagues or concerns from management.

You do not want to make your relationship known until both you and your coworker are confident in the longevity of the relationship and are comfortable with letting coworkers know.

4. Always Prioritize Your Work

Always prioritize your work over your workplace romance. Why so? Because this relationship originated in the office, and therefore, could be subject to scrutiny.

If you and your coworker are boss and subordinate or both subordinate under the same boss and you are open about your relationship at the office, expect constant eyes from nosey coworkers or conflicted management.

Do not allow for a “lover’s spat” or quarrel to direct your productivity or performance. This is why you should deeply consider if pursuing a relationship with a coworker is worth the trouble that does eventually come in a relationship. Are you two mature enough to set your issues aside the moment your step foot into the office?

Rule of thumb when dating a coworker: work comes first and it will always come first.

5. Establish Workplace Relationship Rules

Furthering the matter from the previous tip, establishing workplace rules for your relationship is absolutely necessary if you and your partner are wanting to ensure your relationship is to never interfere with your work.

Suggested rules could be:

  • Carry on as you would with any other coworker while at work
  • Make sure feelings are never to be admissible in the office
  • Never show favoritism if you are boss and your partner is your subordinate
  • Work comes first for the sake of the company, your employer, and your colleagues
  • Over the top at work displays of affection are not permissible for the sake of your privacy and the comfort of your coworkers

Be sure to sit down with your coworker and write out these rules together to ensure you both are on the same page. Perhaps this too could be a first date conversation to determine whether or not you two have the capacity to uphold these rules.

If you find that you or your coworker cannot, use this as an assessment to decide if it’s worth continuing the pursuit of your relationship.

6. Be Discrete Until You’re Serious

Just as it advised to take it slow, it is also in you and your partner’s best interest to be discrete until you two decide when it’s the time to make things official.

However, regardless of the relationship dynamics or workplace acceptance, keep your relationship between you and your partner (and your personal out-of-work circles) until both of you believe it is the appropriate time.

It’s worth noting, discretion extends beyond the workplace. Don’t allow for your social media postings to be an oversight. Your colleagues are probably connected to you online. Any oversights could make your relationship subject to workplace gossip.

7. Be Considerate of Your Coworkers

If you and your partner have decided to be open about your relationship in the workplace, do so with consideration to your colleagues. This boils down to remaining considerate, professional, and appropriate at all times whilst in the office, during company outings, such as happy hours, or at company events.

Do not overshare with your coworkers as this is entirely unprofessional. Moreover, do not allow for your interactions with your partner to make your coworkers uncomfortable whilst on the clock or in the office. This is in conjunction with at work PDA or personal discussions that should not be extended to your colleagues.

Always put into consideration the perspective of your colleagues. Put yourself in their shoes and if something would make you uncomfortable, be certain it will make them even more uncomfortable.

8. Professionalism Is of Utmost Importance

Perhaps the most important tip, no matter the circumstances, or the up and downs that come with any relationship, professionalism is the utmost important factor to always put first in your workplace romance.

You can have a long and healthy relationship with your coworker as long as you two remain professional. Professionalism will give you respect from your colleagues. It will establish your relationship as legitimate in the workplace, alleviating you two from continued scrutiny as your colleagues and management will come to see the professionalism first and the relationship second.

Professionalism is what will give credence and respect to your relationship. It too will help you both remain cordial and productive in your individual positions if the relationship does come to an eventual close.

There are do’s and don’ts when dating a coworker, and if you can successfully navigate them, you and your partner can have a successful relationship.

Keep Your Relationship Out of the Workplace

If you adhere to the advice listed in this article, you should be well equipped to decipher whether or not you should pursue dating a coworker as well as how to do so successfully.

One thing is for certain, you should have the proper coverage and protection in place before getting into a workplace romance and we are here to help with just that. Contact us if you questions concerning insurance coverage. We’re here for you!

If you found this article helpful, check out our blog for more topics that could be of interest to your personal and professional life!