[Tweet ""I don't mix my honey with my money." "]
I recently chatted with one of my good friends and old college roommate about our careers and relationships after watching a recent episode of Being Mary Jane. When I asked her if she would ever date anyone at her job, she stood her ground and firmly replied, "Girl no! I don't mix my honey with my money!"
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Honestly, my friend's response is easier said than done. What do you really do when you find someone at your job and you develop something more than just an attraction for them?
Most people have either experienced or thought about dating someone that they work with. As professionals, we spend the majority of our time with our co-workers, so naturally it is not abnormal to develop a crush on someone that we interact with every day. In a recent study, 51% of workers believe that dating a co-worker is okay, and 37% of employees admit to having been involved with a co-worker romantically. These statistics shouldn't be ignored, and we as professionals should take the necessary precautions before entertaining the thought of mixing business with pleasure.
Lynn Taylor, a national workplace expert, noted that the idea of interoffice dating is a common question that she gets often. "Modern thinking is that you spend so much time in the office and online that those are the most likely places you will meet Mr. or Ms. Right," Taylor said. "Occasionally you'll hear: the gym, supermarket, or Starbucks, because those may be the only other places you even have time to escape to outside the busy office these days."
Interoffice dating is so common and honestly, no one knows when true love will strike. There are plenty of cases when interoffice dating has occurred and either went really wrong or really great. When cupid comes your way and hits you with his arrow, you can't ignore the potential impact that it will have on your professional life.
However, before you move from the office to the bedroom, it is important for you to ask yourself the 5 questions below.
1. What is my company's policy on interoffice dating?
If you don't know your company's policy on interoffice dating, read your employee handbook to see what your company has to say. Lynn Taylor noted in an interview, "The variation on corporate practices is so broad that you have employers with lenient policies, strict policies, and no policies, even at Fortune 500-sized companies." Figure out what the company policy is, because they may be extremely opposed to interoffice dating and you may be subject to consequences if you break their rules. When you look to see if dating a coworker is allowed, you can also look up "non-fraternization policies" (this is a common term that most companies use when discussing interoffice dating).
2. Is this person my direct or indirect boss?
If they are your boss, don't do it. "Problems can result from dating a person in a subordinate or superior position," says Taylor. "Also, remember this: If things go sour in your relationship with a subordinate, there may a claim of sexual harassment or hostile work environment."
Dating your boss can put you in a very vulnerable position. If you break-up, things can possibly become very awkward for you. If you are actually a match made in heaven and stay together, other employees may think that any success that you have at work is a result of your relationship.
[Tweet "Dating your boss can put you in a very vulnerable position. "]
3. Could this relationship distract me from doing my job?
No matter how cute your coworker is, don't let them get in between you and your check. If interoffice dating is allowed, it's important to keep the romance out of the office and stay focused on your job. If you are at work, you should be doing just that, working. In a survey, one person noted that, "there is NO WAY to focus on your job when the object of your affection (or diluted three-week mistaken hookup) works in your office."
When you date someone that you work with, it is easy to get caught up in their office chatting away, or accidentally taking extended lunch breaks with them. You should treat your relationship with your lover as professional as possible. Keep the non-work related small talk and the flirting to after hours. You don't want to become so attached to your coworker that you are neglecting the very place that hired you.
4. How close do I work with my crush? Do we work on the same team?
If you work closely with your crush, you may want to reconsider dating them. Working on the same team with someone that you date can make work more difficult than it should be. I talked with one of my friends that used to be in a serious relationship with an old coworker and he told me that this was the worst mistake he's made. He and his ex worked in sales on the same team together, but naturally since they were in sales, they were really competitive. Their jobs and competitive nature began to affect their relationship and the team whenever they were going through issues. My friend told me that eventually he ended up moving to a different sales team over a different region because he was becoming too distracted with his girlfriend. In addition, their relationship was not only affecting his work, but it was also affecting his money.
5. What will I do if it doesn't work out?
When we get into relationships, we live in a fairy tale land and we dream that we will be madly in love, extremely happy, will later get married, have beautiful children, and then retire happy with our loved one. Sadly, this is not the case for every relationship as both you and I know.
No one can predict if a relationship will work out or not in the beginning, but you should be smart and think about how you will be affected if the relationship took the wrong turn. When you date someone that you don't work with and you break up, you can just block their number, delete them from social media, and avoid all places where they hang out. Unfortunately, you cannot do the same if your ex-lover works with you.
Before you start a romantic relationship with a colleague, consider how often you would see him or her, and how much you would have to work with them, even after the break-up. Sometimes depending on how the break-up occurred, you may be put in a very uncomfortable situation. This in turn could negatively affect your work performance, and that could affect your growth at your job.
What are your thoughts on interoffice dating? Have you ever done it or know someone that has? Drop your comments below.