Office Romance: 8 Real-Life Tips for Dating a Coworker

The pros and cons, tips for dating a coworker who works together

By Patti Flinsch-Rodriguez
Office Romance: 8 Real-Life Tips for Dating a Coworker

Are you secretly dating a coworker in your office?

Let's be honest. We have probably all had a crush on someone we work with. When you think about it, it's not surprising. We spend at least 33% (8 hours) of each day at work, which is more time than we spend sleeping!. According to a Live Science poll, Americans get an average of 7 hours of sleep per day, so we are at the office for more time than we are asleep, so it is somewhat natural to form relationships with our co-workers.

Odds are good that the people you work with are people you have stuff in common with in terms of your background.  You probably have similar university backgrounds since you were both hired by the same company. Given that you spend a good chunk of your day at work, it's understandable that your eyes will wander as you check out your co-workers.

8 Tips and Advice for that Office Romance

If you are going to date someone at work, there are some guidelines that you should follow.  Most of these are plain common sense, but it is good to reinforce it with these notes!  Here are some tips to guide you through your office romance.

1. Check Your HR Policy on Dating

There are often rules regarding supervisors dating subordinates.  That rule is always "Not Allowed."  Human resources has to protect the company from lawsuits, so they do not approve of managers dating their employees. There is too much room for things to go wrong.  The subordinate may feel pressured to date their boss in order to keep their job.  There can be sexual harrassment charges against quid pro quo scenarios.  That's when the person in power promises the subordinate a promotion or raise in return for sexual favors.

Every corporate environment has a handbook chockful of policies and standards that all employees are expected to uphold.  Before you embark upon any office romance, please see what the policy is regarding relationships.  At some companies, you need to inform human resources that you are dating a co-worker, so perform your due dilligence before jumping into the fray.

2. Keep it Private as long as Possible

Once the cat is out of the bag, there is no putting it back in.  It's best if you both keep your relationship private in the office.  The fewer people who know you are dating, the better it will be. Especially if the relationship is in its infancy, because there is always a good possibility that it won't work out.  There is no need to be the talk of the break room unless you are certain there is more than a few dates in this romance.

3. Don't Eat Lunch Together Every Day

If you are trying to keep your relationship on the down low, don't draw attention to yourselves by being joined at the hip.  Lunch on occasion is fine, but every day is a red flag.  Plus, you don't want to alienate your usual lunch buddies by dumping them.  Remember, this romance may not work out and you will need to eat with someone. No one wants to be the sad dude eating his chicken salad sandwich at his desk while watching re-runs of The Office on Netflix.

4. Eventually, Everyone Will Know

There is only so long you can keep your dating a secret, especially if the relationship is going well.  Be prepared for everyone to know and then your relationship will be become gossip fodder.  Every perceived slight by you in relation to your beaux, will be worthy of water cooler talk.  Don't worry, it will die down as soon as the office moocher swipe's Alice's ham sandwich from the shared refrigerator in the kitchen.

5. Think it Through

Don't approach the office as if it is a pick-up joint.  It isn't.  You do not want to be referred to as the creeper in accounting.  Remember, you should not take dating a co-worker lightly.  If you haven't really thought it through, you should not even engage in office romance.  

Yes, you will date a lot of frogs before finding your prince or princess.  However, if you think you just want to have a few dates, have sex and move on, you should avoid getting involved with someone from the office.  It won't end well and there could be repercussions for you in your standing with the company.

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6. Keep it Professional

You are co-workers, so you are in the office to work.  There should be no PDA at work. None! This will make your other co-workers uncomfortable.  Save the kissing and hand holding for after hours, even if you think no one is looking.

In the event that your office romance fizzles out, you need to step up your professional demeanor.  No matter who ended the relationship, you need to keep the details to yourself.  If you trash your co-worker, you will look bad.  If your co-worker ended it, and you reveal the circumstances, you are still going to look second rate for spilling the tea.  It's best if you give a non-commital explanation like "It just didn't work out.  She/he is a great person and I wish them well."  This response will show how mature you are and will put the whole issue to bed.

7. Don't Bring the Drama into Work

Everyone knows that you are dating, but no one needs to know the dirty details.  This means that if the two of you are going through a rough patch, don't publicize it.  You do not need your co-workers taking sides in whatever it is you two are fighting about.  

Keeping the drama at bay will play to your strengths in the long run.  It will reveal that you are a mature individual who can handle their personal life separate from their work life.  If you think you want a career at this company, that will be an important piece of the puzzle to climbing the corporate ladder. 

8. Don't Co-ordinate Sick Days

Nothing gets the rumor mill going like two co-workers always taking sick time on the same day. It could be a coincidence, but if it happens too often, people will be gossiping about you two.  The last thing that either of you want is a floodlight on your relationship, so do your best to keep it underwraps.  Don't make it so obvious. 

Showing up at corporate events together is another no-no.  The odds of two people at the same company, working in different departments, always showing up to corporate events at the same time and sitting next to each other in the boardroom would be incredibly serendipitous.  It's okay for you two to have separate lives at work, and should be encouraged.

Rules for Dating a Co-Worker

Keeping things professional is really the most important rule for dating a co-worker. This covers so many touchy situations.  If your girlfriend complains about being treated unfairly by her boss, it is none of your business!  As her boyfriend, you can sympathize with her and listen to her, but there is absolutely no action you should be taking in the office.  It is her problem, and you cannot take up the charge to right some perceived wrong.  If you do, it will be considered unprofessional for both of you.

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Pros and Cons of Dating a Co-Worker

The pros of dating a co-worker:

  • You both work at the same place so you understand each other's job and work responsibilities.  You do not have to explain what it is you actually do in the office.
  • You know the same office people so you can joke about the quirky people you work with.
  • You know if there is a deadline coming up or a big project that is due and understand if neither one of you wants to do anything after work.
  • It's easy to keep tabs on each other because you work in the same office.

The cons of dating a co-worker:

  • You will be together a lot. 8 hours a day plus whatever time you spend together after work. It could be a bit too much.
  • You cannot lie and say you have a deadline to avoid hanging out with her when you just want to chill at home playing Halo. She will know you are lying.
  • It is too easy to stalk each other's every move.  
  • It will be awkward if it doesn't work out.


Let working in the office together help you to decide whether this is a romance you should pursue.  You have the opportunity to get to know each other as friends first, which may inform whether there is any attraction.  It's easier to get to know a co-worker during the course of the day just making small talk.  You can go to lunch first as office mates to see if there is more to the two of you than lunch buddies. 

Can you date a co-worker? Sure.  Should you date a co-worker?  Well, that is a bit more complicated.  You have to assess the maturity level of the people involved.  If you think that you can both be mature and professional in the office while the romance is in full swing as well as when it has run it's course, take a chance and go for it.