Saturday, March 23, 2013

Dating Co-Workers

My job occupies a large amount of my time.  Last year I spent roughly 50% of my time away from home for work purposes.  When I am home, I spend time on my own, or with family and friends.  And my group of friends is mostly a small, well knit group, without lots of new people to meet.  And I am not the type to lurk in bars trying to meet people.  So this pretty much narrows my dating pool to random encounters and co-workers.

Fortunately I work at a good place with lots of eligible bachelorettes.  But unfortunately, I have never really grown comfortable with the idea of dating someone I work with.  Even in my office there have been several successful office romances.  But, I am still unsure about it for many reasons.

I think one reason is that I am a pretty private person.  At work I have my more professional appearance.  It is hard for my nerdy core to come out.  Opening up to a potential romantic partner at work seems daunting enough.  But if that partner is a co-worker then it seems like you are opening up to a whole lot more people, because relationships are what people talk about in an office (among other things).

Another reason is the possibility of it going horribly wrong.  What if the relationship ended with a really bad breakup.  You would still have to see that person all the time.  You might not be able to keep your personal and professional feelings separate.  What if it was bad enough that one person had to leave their job over it?

And perhaps a silly reason, is that there is too much choice!  I feel like with office romances you kind of only have one shot at it.  What if you pick the wrong person, and it doesn't work out?  If you bugger it up, you can't just jump to the next person.  This isn't Mad Men.  I don't think the modern professional environment operates on that level.  Or maybe it does and I am just oblivious to all the inter-office shenanigans.

Or maybe these reasons are just excuses for me to avoid taking a chance.

What does everyone else think?  Is dating a co-worker something to go for, or avoid?


  1. Oof, I wouldn't touch the co-worker dating with a 39 and a half foot pole. Not because of the potential for bad breakups, which is scary, but because if it worked out, you'd see each other allll the time and I think that sounds like a recipe for smothering. (

    I'm surprised you didn't mention online dating; it seems like the best option for someone in your situation!

    1. Yes, the "too much of a good thing" cliche is another good reason.

      Online dating may seem like the best, but in reality it is not (for me). Perhaps I need to write another post...

  2. I shouldn't be commenting at work cuz I have tons to do today, but I was getting impatient.

    As someone who has dated a coworker and is no longer dating that coworker (and is no longer working with that coworker, either, since he left the company--not because of our breakup), I think it's both not as bad and worse than you think it would be.

    (Disclaimer: I only actually worked with my ex for about three and a half months, including the time before we started dating. This is partly the nature of the construction business, where you bounce around a lot. If we had kept dating, we may have ended up working together again, but probably not frequently.)

    Good stuff:
    - You don't actually see each other that much more often. Unless you're directly working together on some sort of team project, you both have work to do and if you're professional at all, you are doing it instead of hanging out with your significant other.
    - Your significant other has a better understanding of what you do all day at your job, and also who you work with, what the stresses of your workplace are, etc. Like it or not, work is where you spend most of your time and it takes up a lot of brainpower. It can really help that the person you spend the other majority of your time with understands what it's like.

    Bad stuff:
    - Pillow talk can turn into shop talk.
    - Coworkers sticking their noses in your business. (This ties in with your "private person" concerns. Believe me, I had them too. For the most part we kept things "secret," but I was pretty sure that a lot of people were on to us. It was awkward.)
    - Frequently seeing and/or interacting with the person after a breakup. I was lucky that we were already working on different sites/projects by the time our breakup happened, but if I hadn't been it would've sucked.

    However, the way I see it, there are good and bad things about any relationship scenario. You can decide what kind of risks you're willing to take on. I'm not sure that I'd ever date a coworker again, but I'm not really sure that I wouldn't, either, if I met someone that I really liked. I'm not willing to make rules for myself a la "I don't date x, y, or z." because those are arbitrary exclusions. (Exceptions include "I don't date serial killers" and things of that nature.)

    1. I didn't realize this comment would be so long.

    2. That is a very good analysis. I like your point about not making do and don't rules for yourself. I think that is good advice.

    3. Really interesting analysis, Megan. I've never dated a coworker and it's great to read this.

  3. I'm not too worried about dating coworkers or dating people in potentially awkward situations. I think a lot of social situations aren't awkward in themselves, it's how we interpret and perceive them. If you don't perceive something to be awkward, it isn't awkward.

    Personally, I think I have a lot of agency in choosing how I perceive things. I wasn't always like this. I think it can be developed.

    So yeah,.... it's up to both people to take responsibility for the situation and actively not make it into an awkward situation. If it's perceived as inevitable that something will be awkward, well, then it sure as hell is going to be awkward.

    That being said, I haven't spoken to my previous lover in half a year, so disregard this entire comment :)