How to Date a Coworker

There’s no way to decide whom you’re going to end up dating, but there are certain places where it’s weirder to find romance than others. Intra-office relationships are about as dicey as it gets. One wrong move, and you could be putting not only your love life in danger but also your entire financial livelihood.

With that in mind, here are some guidelines for how to successfully date a coworker (hopefully without losing your job).

Know what both parties’ expectations are.
Anytime you get into a relationship where you and your partner aren’t on the same page, things could get ugly quick. In a social setting, that probably means getting called some names and maybe losing a friend or two. In the work world, a lot more could happen than the other person just saying you’re a dick and telling their friends how awful you are. If you just want to hook up, make sure that’s what the other person wants. If you’re looking for something more serious, be honest with the other person. Obviously, desires can change, but there’s no reason to start on different pages, that just puts you halfway to a Veronica Corningstone-Ron Burgundy kind of work fight.

Stay composed.
Yeah, sometimes you’re going to fall madly in love with a person, and you can’t control who.it’s going to be. It happens. But try not to let it get out of hand with someone you work with, because that’s when things could get really weird. The more level-headed you can stay about things, the better. As much fun as those first few weeks of new romance are, they’re going to be super awkward for your coworkers and anyone else involved. There’s nothing worse than having to deal with an obnoxiously happy couple when you’re stuck in your hopeless work grind. Except for dealing with an obnoxiously unhappy couple when you’re stuck in your hopeless work grind.

Make sure to keep work separate.
We’re not saying you can’t go out to lunch with your new boo or flirt a little between meetings, but there’s a time and a place for everything. You don’t have to keep the romance out of the workplace entirely, but things are going to be a lot smoother and better for everyone if you’re more of a couple at home than you are at the office. For one thing, it’ll be less awkward for everyone else there (you don’t know who has a history, after all), for another, you’ll be a lot less likely to lose your job if you and your bae are still getting your work done during (and after) the relationship.

Don’t get too many people involved.
Odds are, at least the coworkers and bosses who know you best are going to realize there’s something going on between you and your new date. Then they’re going to tell some people, and they’re going to tell other people you might not even know, and the web of your new office romance is going to spread further than you ever thought it would. That’s why it’s often best to keep it as quiet as possible in and around the workplace. Don’t necessarily keep it a secret (unless you’ve both decided that’s for the best), but don’t go around bragging/announcing/talking about it with people who don’t really need to know.

Have an exit plan.
It’d be great if your new fling with your coworker lasts forever, but you have to assume it won’t. As pessimistic as it may seem, have a plan laid out for when things go south. Practice how you’ll politely break things off with them before things get too bad, and how you’ll handle interactions at work regardless of who ends things. You may not use it even if the situation does arise, but it’s better to have a way out and not need it than the other way around. Who knows? Maybe you’ll strike gold and not need an exit at all.

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