There are a lot of reasons why a potential office hookup is enticing. There’s something about that sense of danger and breaking the rules that makes things all the more intense – more so than sneaking around in other settings. Most workplaces have rules in place that say no to dating coworkers, while others are more lenient about the situation. In general, no matter what the rule, there’s still an electrifying quality to an in-house relationship with a co-worker.
But, as tantalizing as it might be to schedule a janitor’s closet quickie during lunch with your co-worker crush, this isn’t something you should be doing for a lot of reasons. You might find this sentiment to be a buzzkill or like a motherly finger being wagged in your fast, but it’s for your own good. Co-worker relationships, even of the more exclusively intimate variety, are risky at best and destructive at worst. They’re a fantasy that sounds good in theory, but that can actually blow up in your face. Not everyone can make a Jim and Pam situation work – and here’s why.
12. You’re Setting Yourself Up to Fail
Every topic on this list will be a specific scenario in which you’ll find yourself brokenhearted, without a job or just generally unhappy with your overall decision. Smart employees know better than to tread these waters – you’ve heard too many a cautionary tale to think this will end well.
No matter what the reason, be warned. Your hot co-worker might be nice to look at and you have fun together, but this romance is one that will be steeped in tragedy. Like Romeo and Juliet, you just aren’t destined to be together. This relationship probably won’t end in their iconic double-suicide, of course, but you get the picture. It’s doomed from the jump. Eliminate this possibility by simply disengaging and moving on from this fantasy of yours.
11. People Can and Will Find Out…
It takes a lot of effort to keep office relationships on the down low, especially if you work in small establishments. This doesn’t necessarily mean a small business, either – a small working environment like your local Walgreens or CVS can be a pretty tight-knit employee environment, and you know better than anybody that bored cashiers and the guy who stocks the chips in the vending machine like nothing better than to gossip.
This creates a recipe for disaster. A close-quarters work setting where you have to sneak around unsuccessfully plus gossipy co-workers means you’re likely to get found out quickly and this can lead to some pretty unsavory consequences…
10. …and They Can be Nasty About It
You might have a few work friends that think it’s cool you’re hooking up with the hot chick at work, and you’re sure to receive some congratulatory fist bumps once the news is out. Others, however, won’t take so kindly to this information, and they have good reason not to. Remember, smart employees know this can only lead to trouble, and they have every right to put a stop to your budding romance if and when they find out about it.
They might also change their opinion of the two of you rather quickly. While you were once a nice guy and a sweet girl they could depend on at work, now their opinion of you is cast in a very negative light – you tried to sneak around, lied about your relationship and you couldn’t keep it in your pants even though you knew you should have. It’s not a pretty picture.
9. You Might be a Boss Someday
If you’re a forward-thinking gentleman, you know that you might one day be promoted to a higher position than the one you have right now. This is great news for you – it’s always good to be in charge.
The problem is that you started your office affair before your promotion, so now you’re the boss of the girl you’re seeing. You can probably draw the conclusions yourself, but there are a lot of ways this can go horribly wrong. When things go sour in your relationship, you’re now in a position of power over her. People might look down upon her as getting preferential treatment because she is the boss’ girlfriend. She might ask you to give her this special treatment, putting you in a pretty nasty situation: agreeing puts you in a bad situation professionally, while saying no means you’re going to receive her ire.
8. She Might be Your Boss Someday
Reverse the roles now. Instead of you being in charge of the other person, your office fling is now your manager or supervisor. Things can get ugly in your relationship and their actions towards you professionally may reflect that. Co-workers are now wondering if you’re asking her to give you lax hours, overtime, benefits. You might be in a position to do so, which is a bonus for you, but it puts a strain on your relationship.
The takeaway is that both the good and the bad in this scenario come with repercussions that don’t work out in a business environment, especially when it comes to factoring in things like blackmail and being fired.
7. You’re Effecting Others
Maybe your first response to relationship criticism is a little frosty. Giving “haters” the middle finger, not caring what people think, it’s your life and not theirs, etc. But in a work atmosphere, what your co-workers think and how they treat you does matter. Actually, it matters quite a lot.
Imagine a situation in which you are indeed dating a girl from work. Your co-workers now have to figure out how to respond to this new pseudo-faction they’re presented with. Are you going to tell your new partner everything? Are they now nervous about working with you because they feel you’ll make self-sacrificing decisions for your new GF? Whether you like it or not, your relationship status can and will be taken into consideration when your co-workers make decisions after they find out.
6. It’s Harder to Break Up
Normal breakups are all about being romantically linked – or, rather, how you don’t wish to be romantically linked any longer. You say your goodbyes and that’s that. Good or bad, you’re not together anymore and there’s typically no turning back from that.
This isn’t the case for co-worker relationships. Usually you probably wouldn’t have to see your ex all the time, but your ex usually isn’t a fellow employee. Even if you switch your schedules around, she’s still going to be a presence at work until she quits, which may not happen. If you’re good at putting the past behind you and moving on, then you might be better suited to this kind of relationship. If she is similarly minded, then you’re set. Sometimes though, the awkwardness can’t be avoided and the atmosphere stays tense, making work uncomfortable for everyone involved.
5. It’s Flat Out Against the Rules
Depending on where you work, the attitudes about in-office romance can be petty shaky. In some settings, a work fling can be overlooked or simply a common occurrence. Sometimes this has more to do with the personal atmosphere than anything else – smaller businesses and more “Ma and Pa” like restaurants and stores tend to have a more lax attitude about things like this.
In more corporate settings, however, dating a co-worker is absolutely unacceptable – which, again, might be part of the thrill of the relationship in the first place. Just ask yourself this – is going on a few dates and maybe sleeping together a few times really worth potentially losing your job over, especially a job that you really need? This could be the reality you face if your boss finds out about the relationship and terminates you both on the spot.
4. Other Jobs Will Find Out
Say you did indeed date the pretty new receptionist. Say you had fun together, fooled around a little and the relationship was going pretty well. Say all this happened to change when your boss caught you being a little too familiar with each other in the break room and you both got fired immediately for breaking company policy and being intimate at work.
Now you’re looking for a new job…but this is proving to be tough because your last place of employment knows you got terminated for an in-office relationship that violated company policy, and your potential place of employment is of course going to call and find all this out. Your dating drama just cost you a job, and potentially your career. You’ll have to find a workplace that doesn’t care about in-office relationships, but that can be tricky even in a forgiving job market.
3. If It Happens More Than Once
In another hypothetical situation, you dated a co-worker and it didn’t work out well, with the relationship ending in a mutual breakup. Everything is going smoothly, thankfully, and you’re relieved – you were worried it might become a little tense and rocky, just like everyone warned you about.
This continues until a new girl starts working with you and she’s truly remarkable. Funny, cute, sexy as hell. It’s starting to happen all over again, and you both hit it off and start seeing each other. What used to be a nice atmosphere is now ruined because your ex is in the picture. You can’t remove her from the situation either because you’re co-workers. Now your ex is jealous or spiteful, your new girlfriend is insecure and angry about your ex all the time and meanwhile you’re caught in the middle with no safe place to escape to.
2. It’s Hard to Keep a Work-Life Balance
There’s typically a time for work and a time for socializing. When do you discuss work-related topics? At work. When do you socialize? When you’re off work. It’s pretty simple and easy enough logic to follow along with. Sometimes these lines blur in small ways, like hanging out with co-workers for a beer or chatting at break time. Still, this isn’t anything major and doesn’t necessarily effect your position in either realm.
When you date a co-worker, these lines become very, very hazy. You’ll talk about work at dinner, talk about dinner at work, and there’s no real escape from one or the other when you have someone placing a foot in both of your worlds. Your personal time together with your new girlfriend might be marred by work drama, conversations about shop talk and you officially lose any sanctuary aware from your nine-to-five you ever had.
1. The Dreaded Harassment Claim
This is perhaps the worst of the repercussions – that’s why it was saved for last. If your working relationship sours right along with your previous romantic engagement with a co-worker, you might notice that things are turning more bitter and hostile than you’d expect. A good person would simply try to work through these issues, but being realistic? Not every girlfriend you’re going to have will be a good person. What if this one isn’t?
It wouldn’t be the first time a jilted ex put someone in the hot seat over harassment charges. If your co-worker-slash-girlfriend becomes your ex-co-worker-slash-girlfriend, you could potentially be in hot water with your HR department if she claims you made unwanted advances or forced her into the relationship. You might think this could never happen to you, but be wary. Office relationships can be extremely turbulent. You know the outcome will be bad – but did you ever think it could end like this?