A friend of mine needed an urgent catch up over coffee. She has just started a new job and one of bosses seems to be giving her a lot of attention. “There is real chemistry there. Is it a bad idea to date someone at work?” I drew my palm away from my forehead and looked at her. “ I get it. When you are in your forties – and spending your life in the office – then feelings can develop. But in my experience, dating a colleague is a bad idea.”
I saw her smile drip and her heart sink.
I know yours has too.
You wouldn’t be reading this blog unless you have a crush and were wondering whether to take it further.
I feel it is only right I declare my interests here.
I am very aware that people meet at work and live happily ever after. My parents met at work and have just celebrated their ruby anniversary despite a considerable age difference.
But as a HR professional, I have had to help employers deal with the inevitable mess. In many cases it has involved one party moving into a different role, or in some cases, out of the company completely.
I have also dated people at work over the years. My single status should you something.
So let me break down the risk factor.
Absolute No-Go. The Boss.
This goes both ways, I will add.
My friend had developed the classic crush on her boss – I will add he is married. She dreams of her fairy-tale romance. I had to be harsh. As a new member of staff, if things turn sour I can guarantee she will be the one at risk of receiving her P45. Even if things go well between then, gossip will mean that any well deserved promotion will be tainted by people saying she slept to the top.
She worked hard for her career and this role.
It is not worth it.
Even if you are both single, a difference in seniority can cause all sorts of problems. If you are a senior member of staff, then avoid dating junior staff. I have known plenty of people claim sexual harassment against their bosses because they have felt unable to ward off unwanted advances.
The only way it is slightly forgivable is if the ‘boss’ concerned is responsible for a completely different department, and in a different building, or preferably in another part of the country.
Absolute No-Go. The Married colleague.
When marriages go wrong, it is natural to turn to colleagues for support. Hell – some of my best friends are former colleagues. Sometimes those friendships, especially fuelled by alcohol at the the office do, turn into something more steamy.
But here is my considered professional opinion.
This is a f*cking terrible idea.
An affair with a married colleague is going to end – badly. Maybe her husband is neglectful and the spark has gone. Maybe he is sleeping on the sofa whilst he sorts his own place out.
Not your problem.
In both these examples, at best neither of these people are ready for a fulfilling relationship. At worse they are spinning you a yarn. If you are in it for the long haul you will end up hurt and have to continue working with them.
Maybe you want some casual fun too. Good for you. I am not changing my advice. Get on Tinder. I have known plenty of people having to fend off angry wives at the gates of the office car park because she found the sexy texts you have been exchanging.
Your colleagues? It depends.
Classic lawyer speak. I know.
Whilst you may have found your prince or princess at work – the truth is many relationships fail even when you both have the best of intentions. Certainly, there is less risk if you are in different departments or even at the other end of the office.
I think we can all be clear on the possible fall out – it is why many companies have a policy against relationships at work. Plus there is the gossip and comments from others. I will let this article spell it out for you.
The difficulty with romance at work is that your crush may be heavily influenced by something called ‘vicinity attraction’. As in you start to catch feelings because you are spending hours a day with someone who shares your mutual hatred of the Monday morning meeting.
Do you really have common values and interests?
All I can say is if you have a crush on someone – get to know them as friends first.
I dated an office hottie once. The kind of guy that caused other women to swoon when he walked into the room and all the men wanted to be his best friend. Needless to say I was quite taken aback when he declared his interest in me.
So we went for a drink. A drink lead to a few evenings together to feel out the possibility of something more. He was a total gentleman.
But we had nothing in common outside of work.
The truth is the best way to meet someone is to get out and enjoy your life by indulging your own interests. Look to meet new people and expand your horizons. 39% of people meet their significant others through friends.
It truly is best way to find your soulmate.
So book a few days off work and throw yourself into your hobbies and interests.
Did you find yourself daydreaming about your colleague now?
I didn’t think so.