Fancy the fella in the adjacent cubicle? The woman down the hall? Dating a co-worker might seem like a rather simple concept, but it has the power to get messy very quickly.
Now that we've started Selling Sunset season 6—truth be told, we've already binged it in its entirety since it premiered on Friday, May 19—we couldn't help but notice the rather awkward dynamic between exes Chrishell Stause and Jason Oppenheim. Not only did she peruse an office romance, but she decided to do so with the boss. (If you have a gander at Jason Oppenehim's relationship timeline, you'll notice he's guilty of dating employees in the past.)
Though Jason and Chrishell are both involved with new partners, Marie-Lou Nurk and G Flip respectively, there's still some unease, and understandably so. How can you make an office romance work, and will your employment status implode if your relationship does?
"Things can get complicated when you mix work with pleasure," says dating coach Rikki Dymond.
That's an understatement! But don't sweat it: there are ways to navigate the intricacies of the...unique situation.
Rikki Dymond is a dating coach and Flirtini dating expert. Her mission is to "help women reconnect with themselves and use their natural feminine energy to bring forward mature and lasting love."
How to go about dating a co-worker, according to relationship experts
So that chit-chat near the coffee machine finally got to you, and you're going out on a date with the colleague you've long admired. Although it's exciting and only natural to want to explore the possibilities, you'll definitely want to proceed cautiously, according to the pros. Here's how to make the process of dating a co-worker a bit more seamless.
1. Check the office rules
Yes, it's 2023, and no one should be told who they can and cannot love, but mixing romance with a professional environment does present a few risks—and the business you work for might not necessarily allow it.
"You'll definitely want to make sure you know your company's inter-dating policies. The last thing you want is to have to sneak around and risk being fired," Dymond adds.
2. Plan ahead
It's easy to get whisked away in the emotions of a new chapter in your love life, but before you get too involved, you'll want to consider how this might affect your day-to-day going forward, especially if things go south.
"As tempting as it is, you need to think long-term," says Seeking.com dating expert Emma Hathorn. "If it doesn’t work out, how will you feel about having to see the other person every day at work? If it ends poorly, you could make the situation difficult for other coworkers, and create an unprofessional environment for both yourself and your coworker."
Does this potential relationship outweigh the discomforts that it might cause if it doesn't go as planned?
Emma Hathorn is a dating expert at the elite online dating service, Seeking.com.
3. Set boundaries
While you might not be adverse to PDA on a group date, a board meeting is another story. You and your S.O. are going to have to talk about how you will conduct yourselves at work and what you feel comfortable sharing with others around you.
"Be cautious of your personal space requirements and ensure you’re both open and honest about your needs and boundaries," Dymond says.
Likewise, dating expert Natasha McCrea agrees that you'll have to issue a few boundaries, but not just with the person you're seeing.
"Make sure you have a support system outside of the office," she suggests. "Dating someone at work should not be shared with your work wife or husband. This is a solo journey. If you start talking to people in the office about this, it can get messy."
Natasha McCrea is the founder of Love CEO Institute and the creator of the Love Intelligence Method. Through speaking, coaching and writing, McCrea's goal is to "improve your life satisfaction, connect to love and design a career that fuels your soul."
4. Prioritize work
If you're on the clock, your main focus is going to be the job. Don't let a relationship determine team plans, meeting changes and so forth.
"Failing to separate work from dating and your romantic relationship can result in conflict with your job," says dating expert Maria Sullivan. "Your coworkers and boss are more likely to blame any professional misstep on potential drama with your significant other."
Plus, being a little too vocal about the budding relationship with your teammate might make you the center of attention, but not in a way you'd want.
"There’s no gossip quite like office dating gossip, and you do not want to be renowned for being that person in the office who everyone is talking about," Hathorn says. "Equally, you don’t want to potentially jeopardize your own or your partner’s professional reputations."
Maria Sullivan is a dating expert and the vice president of Dating.com.
5. Keep it professional
Though it goes without saying, your weekend getaway with your beaux or dinner date is not something you should be discussing with your manager. Keep it all about the task at hand.
"You should behave in a professional manner in the office no matter what," Sullivan says. "Although businesses are increasingly open to employees bringing their genuine self to work, leave all personal feelings related to dating your co-worker aside when you come to the office and speak to senior leadership."
While it's not easy, it's not impossible, either! Just be sure to proceed professionally.
Need a TV show recommendation? Maybe a few decor tips? Danielle, a digital news writer at Future, has you covered. Her work appears throughout the company’s lifestyle brands, including My Imperfect Life, Real Homes, and woman&home. Mainly, her time is spent at My Imperfect Life, where she’s attuned to the latest entertainment trends and dating advice for Gen Z.
Before her time at Future, Danielle was the editor of Time Out New York Kids, where she got to experience the best of the city from the point of view of its littlest residents. Before that, she was a news editor at Elite Daily. Her work has also appeared in Domino, Chowhound, and amNewYork, to name a few.
When Danielle’s not writing, you can find her testing out a new recipe, reading a book (suggestions always welcome), or rearranging the furniture in her apartment…again.
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