We spend a sizeable chunk of our waking lives at work so it's no surprise that the workplace is believed to be one of the most common places to meet your future spouse. Eight hours a day in the same confined space, not to mention long work meetings and after-work company drinks, are bound to result in a little innocent flirtation at the very least.
When to avoid an office relationship
- If your employment contract or company policy forbids relationships between co-workers.
- If your potential love interest is below or above you in rank. This will only serve to fuel office gossip and may draw suspicion about special treatment, promotions or wage rises.
- If there are any moral reasons why you shouldn't. As for all relationships, if the man of interest is taken, then he's not Mr. Right.
Set the ground rules
If you've passed the tests above, while there's nothing explicitly wrong with dating a colleague, you will have to play by a few extra rules.
Be sure of your (and his) feelings: Are you only attracted to him because you've been spending so much time together or because you like the excitement of an office romance? Make sure you're definitely interested in the man, and not just the situation, to avoid starting something that is only doomed to fail.
Think twice if it's a close colleague: While it may be a cynical way of looking at things, it's also realistic -- if you're working together day in and day out, what would happen in the event of a break-up? Would you both be mature enough to handle it or would it mean that one of you would have to start looking for a new job?
Work out your story: Both of you should sit down and discuss whether you're prepared to let your relationship be general knowledge in the office or whether you'd rather keep it on the down low to begin with. This is important to make sure that you're both on the same page and that one doesn't start announcing the news while the other is keeping it under wraps. Strong two-way communication at this point is a good indicator that you two have what it takes to go the distance.
Keep it professional: Everyone else is coming to the office to work, so keep a tight lid on any PDA or flirt sessions. It's less likely that your fellow colleagues or boss will have a problem with your relationship if it doesn't impact them -- but the moment you start making out in the coffee room, well, expect drama. Similarly, keep any arguments or tension at home and always act strictly professional in the workplace.
Have an exit strategy: Discuss what would happen in the case of a (sob!) break-up. Would one of you have to leave the company or could you manage to keep it together and work alongside each other? You may need to establish some post-break-up rules.