Most people meet their future spouse at work, but before you pack in your dating subscription, cancel your speed-dating extravaganza, and wait for the proposals of marriage to flood in, you need to consider a few things.
Getting to know somebody better in the office while under the protective relationship of being a colleague is a fantastic way to decide if you like them without actually showing your hand.
Flirting with married colleagues is one of the worst and potentially most destructive scenarios. When you work at close quarters day in and day out, you get to know each other extremely well. The romance can seem like a match made in heaven. Their partner doesn't understand them and you're a paradise in their otherwise ung/
stressful existence - or so they lead you to believe. I guarantee that once they've had their wicked way with you, they'll see no reason to leave their spouse, because they've had their cake and eaten it! Once you start to nag them that you want more of a commitment, you become part of their problem, not their solution.
Before approaching a colleague romantically you first need to check out whether the feeling is mutual. If it is, you can tell because they treat you more favourably than other colleagues, pay you more attention, give you lots of eye contact, smile at you more, and so on; if they're not doing this, then discretion and maintaining the relationship as a professional one is better. Check out the signs of mutual interest with a bit of help from Chapter 12.
Another thing to consider is your status in relation to the person you're interested in. Some office relationships are more tolerable than others to the company. The most desirable scenario is if the person is in another department and has a similar status in the company to you.
Relationships between people of unequal status are more problematic. Pursuing someone of lower status can leave you vulnerable to manipulation, so if you're in this situation make it clear that you won't be giving them any preferential treatment. Also, be aware that, if the wheel falls off, the more senior person is the one expected to behave better.
Finally, consider how ending the relationship may affect your work environment. People rarely fall out of love at the same time; friction can be created in the workplace if the person who is most keen to split is being upset by the avid pursuit of the other party. The smooth operation of the company can also be affected if people in the office take sides with the individuals concerned.
Make sure you can transfer elsewhere if the relationship doesn't go to plan. Or, if your company frowns on relationships at work, be prepared to leave the company in order to protect your career prospects and keep your relationship intact.
Office romance etiquette
If you decide to pursue an office romance, follow these rules to minimise the potential for problems and bad feelings with your colleagues:
✓ Take the relationship at a pace you're happy with, especially if they're senior to you; don't be rushed into anything you're not ready for just because they're higher up the food chain. They'll respect you more for it and if they don't - ditch them, you've had a lucky escape.
✓ Keep your decision-making objective. Having a massive crush on someone isn't the basis for taking their side in an argument and only alienates your colleagues and undermines your reputation.
In instances where it could be deemed that a conflict of interest exists, make sure you declare it to ensure your reputation in the company remains intact.
✓ Be discreet in the office. Being caught smooching over the photocopier is never a good career move and is embarrassing for colleagues to witness.
✓ Don't blab to your colleagues about your date's intimate attributes. Not only is doing so childish, but if you do end up walking down the aisle you'll wish you'd kept your mouth shut as they're grinning and nudging each other over their hymn sheets.
When you're sure that an office romance is the way forward, try the opening lines for such a scenario in Chapter 16.
Discovering a friend may actually be dating material is an exciting prospect. Not only do they already know your friends, they're also part of your established social scene and you know their likes and dislikes and they know yours. They may even be known and liked by your family, which is often a hurdle to jump. Making the leap from friends to lovers seems an obvious move once you've considered the consequences.
Just as in any flirting situation, you first need to assess whether the other party shares the interest you feel. Key to consider is whether their behaviour towards you has changed compared to what you're used to experiencing. Consider whether they're spending more time with you, sitting next to you more often, responding more favourably to your comments in a group context, and so on. Head to Chapter 12 for more on the signs of mutual attraction.
iftNG/ If the person you're interested in has a reputation for fishing within the group for dates and then tossing them back once they're bored or a better fish comes along, proceed with caution unless you're happy to be turned into bait.
One to the dog, nil to Jonathan
Jonathan was on a blind date at a dinner party arranged by Julia. He was distracted from his date by Philippa, a newcomer to their social group, and shared a secret smile with her as he discreetly fed the inedible dessert to the dog under the table. The girls in the group were hostile towards unsuspecting Philippa, but on feeling the chill in the air she rebuffed Jonathan's attempts at flirtation. Julia was furious with Jonathan for overlooking her friend, and flirting with Philippa, but not half as outraged as when she found a greasy stain on her carpet and a pile of dog sick in the corner. Jonathan didn't see Julia's friend again but saw Philippa in secret until she had cemented her place in the group and they outed their relationship to everyone's approval.
If you're dating within a group of friends, don't rush straight into things. Think about their feelings first to avoid upsetting the group dynamic.
With a bit of effort, you stand a better chance of forming a lasting relationship with a former friend than from dating a stranger, but are you prepared to lose them as a friend if it doesn't work out? Proceed with caution if not. You don't need to be full on with a friend; excessive contact which isn't returned, or demanding lots of separate date time to your normal social circle, leads them to think you're more like a stalker than a date.
Even if no obvious factors stand in the way of your beautiful friendship turning into a fabulous relationship, be mindful of the feelings of people in the group to maintain the equilibrium of your social circle. Although the vast majority of friends will be delighted that you've paired up, some people are naturally resistant to change; they tend to like things to be the way they've always been. Follow these tips:
✓ Assure anyone who reacts out of character that things in your group of friends are going to be as good as they've always been.
✓ Establish if your friends have any particular concerns, for example they feel uncomfortable about you hugging and kissing around them, and modify your behaviour accordingly.
✓ If you dislike confrontation, ignore your friends' unreasonable antipathy to your relationship. They'll either eventually accept the relationship as it becomes part of the fabric of your group or the matter will come to a head and you'll all be forced to deal with it.
Is there an ex within your social circle? If so, is the ex fine with the new couple dating, or could they be harbouring a grudge or passion for their ex that could disrupt your happy social community? To avoid upset, have a proper conversation with the ex before proceeding.
Was this article helpful?