Dating at Work While Climbing the Ladder
Common wisdom says that dating where you work is a bad plan. Adding hormones and messy emotions to long hours and ambition sounds like a recipe for heartbreak and disaster. A quick read of your favorite women’s magazine or the wedding announcements section of the paper, though, tells a different story. Apparently, for many, the water cooler is the new coffee shop or bar. After all, you spend most of your waking hours in your office and with your colleagues. It is enough to make even the most strong-willed girl think twice when a good looking guy moves into the office next door.
But should you date where you work?
Remember, this is your career that you are talking about here, not a summer job as a camp counselor for eight weeks. Tread lightly and follow these rules to determine whether this is a risk worth taking.
Don’t date anyone in your department …(And if you’re going to date someone in your department, don’t make it your boss or your subordinate): I know, I know, you work all those long hours together, that project brought you together, etc. I’ve heard it before. Heck, I’ve been to the wedding and made the toast. But dating someone above or below you, besides being the basis for some pretty bad dirty jokes, is grounds for sexual harassment claims if one of you gets a review that you don’t like. The only thing worse than being the office skank is being fired and having no office. On the other hand, if your only office connection to Mr. Great Smile is that his office is three floors away from yours, and you see him twice a year at a company meeting, then you should be safe.
No PDA at the office: This means that you keep the kissing, hugging, groping and longing looks to the hours when you’re off the clock. When you’re in the office, you need to be seen as a professional. If your behavior turns ridiculous, then you will never be able to parlay all of your hard work into that promotion.
Know the rules: Before you take that office friends relationship to the next level, take a quick peek at the company handbook to find out the rules on dating a fellow employee. If you and your potential sweetheart both have access to signing checks, making journal entries in a finance or accounting department, or access to other assets, then there may be a conflict of interest if you date.
Be honest: If you decide that your career is more important that going out with an office mate, then don’t feel bad about it. There is no shame in turning someone down because you don’t feel comfortable dating a colleague. In fact, it is one of the few reasons that you can give that will let you both continue to work together without so much awkwardness that one or both of you ultimately transfers out of the department or company. In fact, even if you decide to end the relationship later, and want to keep things pleasant, this is still a great reason to give.
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