Should you date your coworker?

Amy Culver |
Amy is our Lead Copywriter at Snagajob, where she loves to use her word nerd powers to help workers and employers connect. Her first hourly job was as a cashier at Chick-fil-a.
Categories: Working, Life Tips

If you’re searching the web for advice about dating a coworker, then odds are you’re already at least interested in someone. Whether or not you should pursue it depends on a few different things. But at the end of the day, always keep in mind that a workplace relationship can be risky. Sometimes it might be worth it. Many times, it’s not!

Is the other person your supervisor?

Dating someone who you report to is just a bad idea. When they need to ask you to do something at work, it could become awkward for both of you. And if a disagreement comes up in one area of relationship, it’ll affect the other area, too. 

If you think dating a supervisor is risky, think about the consequences of breaking up. Suddenly you’re reporting to a person who may hold a grudge against you. Not exactly the type of work situation you want to be in. 

One more thing to consider is—how will the relationship impact your coworkers? If the person is their supervisor too, you can bet your coworkers will think you’re going to get special attention or preferential treatment over them. And let’s be honest, they could be right. 

Does the company have any policy about dating coworkers?

Most companies aren’t going to care if you date a coworker, but ask them anyhow because some do! Find out if there’s a written policy that tells you what you can or can’t do while working for them. Chances are the only restrictions they might have would be dating someone who is in a supervisory or management position over you. 

If there’s not a formal written policy, then it’s probably up to you. But there are still some things to think about before you make a hasty decision!

How long will be working at the job?

Are you planning to make a long-term career here or are you just “passing through?” There’s probably less potential for something to go wrong in a workplace romance if you’re working a temporary hourly job. Of course you want to do your best at any job, but honestly—if the person you like is an amazing match for you, there’s no reason to waste the opportunity to explore things there. Especially if the two of you aren’t working at a corporation where you’re both fighting for upper management careers!  

Can you set up and follow a few rules for workplace interactions?

Let’s say you do decide to date this coworker. How will it affect your working relationship? That depends on the ground rules that the two of you work out. One suggestion—no flirting at work (or at least keep it limited to break or lunch periods). Your fellow coworkers may not mind if they see two of their peers going out, but that doesn’t mean they want it in their faces all day while everyone is trying to get their job done. 

As a matter of fact, it’s recommended to not advertise the fact that you’re dating, especially during the early stages. If there’s no policy against it, and it doesn’t affect your work in any way, then really your relationship is nobody’s business. But if you do decide to keep it quiet, make sure you’re both in agreement about that rule. Otherwise, one of you might end up telling the others and once the secret is out, it might lead to gossip you don’t want to deal with. 

Keeping problems away from work

Flirting isn’t the only thing you’ll want to avoid at work. The two of you will have to be mature enough to avoid any romantic relationship problems while on the job. That’s not always easy to do, and in some cases, it can make the issue worse. 

How’s that? Imagine being upset with someone over an argument you had the night before. Now you’ve got to spend the next few hours at work pretending you’re not upset. This type of emotional repression is necessary to get your job done without having a fight at work, but it’s actually not healthy to keep things pent up too long. If you’re not the type of person who can hold in your feelings around a person you’re unhappy with, you might not be the type of person who should date a coworker!

What if things don’t work out?

Speaking of keeping problems away from work—what if you end up dating but things don’t work out? Will you still be working there, having to deal with this person? Are the two of you going to feel some lingering resentment, making for an uncomfortable work environment? Again, this goes back to your plans for this particular hourly job. 

What if things do work out?

Is this other person someone you’re interested in seeing long-term, or are they just an “hourly” romantic fling? Maybe at this point you’re not sure. But put some serious thought into it before you decide whether or not to date them. Make your plan for what you’ll do if things don’t work out (especially if you’re not actually interested in a long-term romantic relationship). 

But also think about what happens if they do! Office romances have been known to flourish into marriage, and that’s obviously a very long-term commitment. So get to know this other person and ask about their long-term plans. Do they intend to stay in the area or move away to New Zealand next year to become a sheep herder? Or, for that matter, are you? 

No one can give you an exact answer because it’s a situation where you have to decide if the risk is worth the reward. Just think twice before you jump in. Good luck!