5 Rules of Office Dating Etiquette

coworkers in cubicles holding hands
Sometimes coworkers share more than just staplers.
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There's an old expression that you shouldn't mix business with pleasure. But we spend dozens of hours each week at our workplaces -- more time than we have to spend on many recreational activities. So it's only natural that we sometimes have better luck finding romantic interests in the break room than we do in a nearby bar.

When you're exploring a new relationship, the last thing you want to do is ponder how it might end, though that's exactly why we're often advised to keep our work life and personal life separate. If you break up, you'll have to see your ex every day. You could be at risk for potential sabotage from a heartbroken coworker. You might end up walking away from a job you love to avoid someone you used to. But if that's a chance you're willing to take, then here are the tips you need to date someone in the same office.


5: Don't Date the Boss

If you clicked on this article hoping to find tips on telling your coworkers that you're in love with the person in charge, then you've come to the wrong place. Dating a boss -- or dating a person who directly reports to you -- is a huge taboo in the world of office dating. Some companies may have policies that require you to disclose the relationship, but even if your workplace is lenient in allowing such romances, it's best to avoid the situation. Either ask for a reassignment, or find a new job if you believe this romance is real. If you don't, you'll likely be caught up in some nasty power struggles or allegations of preferential treatment.


4: Be Discreet

man and woman kissing at the copier
A big no-no: the romantic rendezvous at the copier.
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You're in love! And you want to shout it from your cubicle! But if the guy you love is in a nearby cubicle, you need to keep your mouth shut and your hands off each other. Even in the most polite offices, gossip spreads fast, particularly juicy items about interoffice couples. Don't share all the details of your new man with the gals in the office bathroom -- after all, while he's your coworker, he's their coworker too, and you don't want to affect how your partner is seen in the workplace. And even if you're tempted to smooch your new lady every time you pass her desk or hold her hand during a staff meeting, you must resist the urge. Not only is such behavior tacky, you could be risking your job if people think you're romancing, not working, from 9 to 5.


3: Keep Your Romance Away from Your Work Computer

On the last page, we advised against displays of public affection in the office. So if you can't squeeze in a hug in the break room, then surely a quick e-mail telling your beloved some sweet things is OK, right? Wrong! Though you may send hundreds of messages each day, don't think you can slip in a few to your new special someone on the corporate e-mail system. You never know who's reading your office correspondence, and you don't want to leave a trail of evidence that your weren't working.

And while it may seem unfair, you should also keep your romance off your Facebook and Twitter, particularly if you maintain online connections with coworkers or your boss. Remember, people have been fired or not hired for things they said on social media platforms, so don't say anything there that you wouldn't say in the office.


2: Don't Do Your Significant Other Any Special Favors

couple kissing above cubicle wall
So you say a quick kiss helps your sweetheart concentrate better on work? The rest of the office says it makes them sick.
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Your office sweetheart has hours of expense reports to fill out, and as it turns out, you've been gifted with a stunning ability to fill out hundreds of reports in less than five minutes. Unless you're known for helping out everyone with their expense reports, don't do your boyfriend or girlfriend's. The quickest way to turn all of your coworkers against you is to provide special treatment to your significant other, and some coworkers may be hyper-sensitive to displays of favoritism. Don't answer for your significant other in meetings or take on his or her battles with the boss. You didn't magically become a work team when you went on your first date, so fight the urge to help out on something that should be your significant other's responsibility.


1: Remain Productive

Love -- it can make it hard to concentrate. You can daydream for hours about your special someone. And when they're just a few cubicles down, then you can see the object of your affection whenever you want! Careful there, Romeo and Juliet. You still need to do your job satisfactorily, unless you'd like to get fired (which would eliminate the difficulty of interoffice dating, but would bring infinitely more complications). Don't take overly long lunches or drop by your sweetheart's office every 15 minutes. Stay at your desk and get your work done. After all, completing your work means you won't have to put in any overtime, which allows for more time for fun, outside-the-office dates.


Lots More Information

Related Articles

  • Bryant, Jo. "Modern Etiquette: Romance at the copier? Beware, say experts." Reuters. Jan. 25, 2010. (Feb. 24, 2011)http://www.reuters.com/article/2010/01/25/etiquette-romance-idUSSGE60503A20100125
  • Latham, Lisa. "How to Handle the Office Romance." The Street. July 25, 2007. (Feb. 24, 2011)http://www.thestreet.com/story/10369408/how-to-handle-the-office-romance.html
  • Pounds, Marcia Heroux. "Beware of Office Romance." Sun Sentinel. Feb. 14, 2008. (Feb. 24, 2011)http://articles.sun-sentinel.com/2008-02-14/business/0802130422_1_workplace-romance-co-worker-spherion
  • The Right One PR. "Dating a Co-worker?" June 19, 2009. (Feb. 24, 2011)http://www.therightonepr.com/2009/06/19/dating-a-co-worker/
  • Von Anders, Rachelle. "6 Tips for Office Romance Etiquette." Etiquette Guide. May 11, 2010. (Feb. 24, 2011)http://etiquette-guide.com/office-romance-etiquette/
  • Willis, Gerri. "Rules for office Romance." CNN. Feb. 14, 2005. (Feb. 24, 2011)http://money.cnn.com/2005/02/14/pf/saving/willis_tips/index.htm