Dating at Work: Rules for the Workplace

Half of you are doing it now, and over half are going to do it again given the opportunity. Yes, I’m talking work romances. Ooh, la la. According to the Vault’s Work Is for Lovers: Vault's 2017 Office Romance Survey  Results, workplace dating is alive and well.

57% of respondents reported having some kind work romance ranging from a quick fling to an ongoing long-term relationship. Men are more likely than women to have had an office romance (59% of men vs. 54% of women). Male romances are also more likely to have been random hookups (25% for men vs. 16% for women).
— The Vault's 2017 Office Romance Survey
 Dating at work can be challenging. Set rules of engagement with your love interest so your career and professional relationships are not jeopardized.

Dating at work can be challenging. Set rules of engagement with your love interest so your career and professional relationships are not jeopardized.

Since half of you are at risk of seriously screwing up your career while you’re screwing around,  I wanted to share my work romance rules with you.  Everyone has an opinion about dating at work and you can find career advice. It’s likely no one ever explained how others might perceive your little workplace trysts and tell it to you straight. And, right now, if you have one, I bet you have co-workers who won’t say a damn thing about your behavior. Instead, they throw shade, or talk about you behind your back, and roll their eyes. Whether it’s the basic hookup, a booty call on speed dial or a full fledged relationship, here are Your Office Mom's rules for workplace dating.

  • Just because your co-workers say they are fine with you dating someone, doesn’t mean they’re happy about it. Most people will say they're okay with it, even when they disapprove or have reservations. What else can they say? So, keep that in mind when you're basking in the afterglow and temper your enthusiasm.
  • Quit hiding. You’re not as stealthy as you think you are. You can try all you want, but someone is going to out you, or your attempts to fool others will just look foolish because your co-workers can easily recognize changes in your behavior and routine. It's likely your boss, or HR will find out too. So know your company policy and figure out the whole disclosure bit.
  • Come clean. If it was just a hookup that’s fine, but an on-going thing is another thing.  Your close co-workers are going to be pissed when they find out you deceived them day after day unless you never share details about your personal life with them, Ever.
  • No PDA. No means none. Zilch. No public displays of affection. Period. There is no exception clause here. Like “except in cases when we’re getting out of the elevator" or "when he stops by her work area at lunch." It means none. Ever. Not even locking pinkies. We see it. We don’t like it. We roll our eyes. Stop. Now.
  • Please do not share your pet names. Thinking of a co-worker as Bae, Boo, Buttnut, Sweet Cheeks, Baby Cakes or Hunny Hunk is more than we can handle. Just don't. Ever. Not even on the phone.
  • Don’t let anyone catch you in a compromising position. You never know who is lurking behind you, looking for the TPS reports or who is going to walk in the supply closet. Ewww.  If getting caught is your thing, find another location for your little escapades.
  • Make sure you verify who you are texting and emailing before you hit send. You may be sending your salacious messages to an unsuspecting co-worker who after reading, wants to meet you in the supply closet.
  • Talk about something else. People get tired of hearing about what’s going on in your love life. When you’re sharing details about the weekend, be perceptive. If people aren’t responding, or asking questions, they don’t give a shit. You need different talking points. And, we don't want to hear your phone calls. Get up and walk away to talk. Please.
  • We don’t know your little inside joke, and we don’t want you to talk about it in front of us. So, cease and desist uttering sentences you have to clarify or end with “it’s an inside joke.”
  • Never, ever talk about any part of your sexual relationship. Ever. That’s just nasty.  If someone is interested, they’ll ask you directly and hopefully discreetly, or find out for themselves when you break up.
  • When you’re at work, others may be counting on you to work too. Quit trying to impress someone across the room, or meet up with them in the break room and get your work done so others can do theirs.
  • Don’t get all up in her projects or his mistakes or her work relationships and who said what to whom. You are both grown-ups so act like adults and do your own talking. You can't cross the line on this one.
  • We don’t want to hear about your arguments and we don't want to give you advice. We did that once, and we regret it. Keep us out of it. We have work to do, and we don’t want your relationship to be our distraction.  
  • Don’t make excuses for your new bae’s performance, mistakes, department or behavior.  It is what it is. We know it, you know it and your attempt to cover it up is lame. You're wearing the rose colored glasses, not us.
  • Consider the risks (emotionally and legally) and proceed with extreme caution if you choose to date a direct report or your boss. The RomCom storylines may be sweet and have happy endings after the chaos and havoc subsides, but real life usually doesn’t work that way. Often the secrecy can damage relationships, and your career can take a hit. 
  • If you or your love interest are married, engaged,  or in a relationship with someone else, you already know it's unlikely to end well. You likely won't be disclosing this office romance, but people have a way of finding out. If co-workers judge you or question your judgment, credibility and commitment, can you handle that? Is it worth the alienation that may come with it? 

The bottom line: Don’t make it weird. Dating a co-worker is challenging. Don’t jeopardize your work relationships by failing to establish rules of engagement with your new love interest about how you're going to behave at work. 

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I'm sure you have seen some crazy office dating antics, so what rules can we add to the list?