It makes sense that so many relationships spark at work. You’re in close proximity all day every day with people who may have similar goals, values, and interests. You get to know one another really well, often spending more time together than you do with your own family and friends. You support each other through stress and celebrate one another’s successes.
However, if something special is blossoming between you and a coworker, there a few things to think about before diving headlong into the romance. This isn’t to say don’t do it!—only to take a step back, have the conversation, and ensure things won’t get messy down the line.
1. Will it affect the dynamic within the team?
A workplace romance can lead to unexpected fallouts. Some coworkers may judge you as using your relationship to advance your career or as taking advantage of your partner if they’re subordinate to you. Either way, it’s worth being prepared for the fact that people will probably talk. Moreover, knowing that two coworkers are in a relationship can lead to others feeling unsure of whether this has changed things within the team. So unless you can keep the relationship a secret, the best course of action may be to simply let the team know. If they saw it coming, care about you, and aren’t worried it will affect them personally, hopefully they’ll be delighted for you!
2. Could it lead to a conflict of interest?
If the nature of your work means a relationship could affect your impartiality, such as if one of you would be reporting into the other or could be perceived as giving preferential treatment, people may be unhappy. Be wise to the pressures that could arise. If you’re both truly in love and want to make this work but it’s simply not going to be possible at your current workplace, ultimately it might make sense for one or both of you to leave. Of course, if you decide only one of you should leave, this conversation in itself could lead to conflict.
3. Will you be able to stay professional?
If you let your relationship be known publicly, it’s important to not let it dominate the culture of the workplace, especially if it’s a small company. Otherwise the environment could become toxic, even leading others to find work somewhere less intense. So set up clear boundaries: Avoid PDAs, physical or verbal, and as far as possible treat each other as you would any other coworker, even if the team is aware of your relationship. Finally, unless you can totally trust a coworker as a friend, never disclose the intimate details of your relationship. Doing so wouldn’t only be unfair to your partner, but could also snowball into gossip and damage your career.
4. What will happen if it doesn’t work out?
Be upfront with your partner. Ask the question: ‘What if we break up?’ How would you minimize the harm, ensure the workplace atmosphere wasn’t soured? Conflict between two partners can be intense enough outside of work, never mind at work where pressures run high. A breakup might exacerbate those tensions, leading to divided loyalties and impacting morale and productivity.
5. When will you tell management (if at all)?
Most companies recognize that outright banning relationships would be futile and only force them underground. Many have policies for this specific situation to manage risk without being overly intrusive. HR may ask you to fill out a disclosure form, especially if it could imply a conflict of interest. In return, they should be sensitive and respect your confidentiality. The challenge for you and your partner may be simply when to let people know. After all, if it’s only been a few dates and you’re not sure yet, telling your coworkers may lead to unnecessary pressure. So it’s probably best to wait until you’re in regular personal contact and have had The Conversation. As long as you keep things professional and mitigate any potential complications, there’s no reason this can’t be start of something beautiful!
Maclynn is a boutique, multi-award-winning introductions agency with offices in California, New York, New Jersey, and London. We’re world-renowned for bringing together highly compatible singles within our vast network of attractive, intelligent professionals, and our matchmakers are relationship experts in their own right. Get in touch today, and prepare for genuinely meaningful dating—just like you deserve.