1 in 5 people have met in work.
You can understand why, you spend 8 hours a day, 40 hours a week with the same people. Sometimes seeing them more than you would see a partner you met outside of work. I’ve dated three people across the various places I’ve worked and it’s never ended well. I wrote a post last year about a colleague I dated, when he went from being what I thought was my soulmate, to a stranger.
Even if there is no spark at the beginning (there never was for me) there is plenty of time – more than there ever would be if you met someone via a dating app or at a party – to get to know someone on a completely platonic level and see if the feelings naturally develop. All you need is a work Christmas party or a leaving do where you have the opportunity to see them in a more informal, relaxed setting, have a couple of gin and tonics and hey presto, you will officially cross the threshold of professional colleagues and completely blur the line forever more with that person.
I can see why people are drawn to the idea to date a colleague – probably for some of the same reasons I was.
- It’s exciting – at the beginning you try desperately to keep it a secret from everyone, not wanting to be seen as office gossip. You arrange meetings together, disguised as catchups, or go for walks away from the office at lunchtime to sneak a few minutes of time together.
- It’s (kind of) illicit – depending on the relationship you have in a work perspective. Obviously it’s more damaging if you start a relationship with your boss than someone that is on the same level as you, but if you do, it just adds to the thrill that you are doing something you shouldn’t
- It progresses quickly – whereas when you meet someone in real life, you may go on a date once a week for a few hours, the relationship slowly progressing over months, when you meet someone in work you see them every single day. Even if you don’t make time to spend together during the day, you will still cross paths multiple times every day and therefore remain more constant in each other’s minds than if you were to see them once a week
- Similar to the point above, you can get to know them much quicker. With each person I dated, we often spoke throughout the day on internal messaging systems. It was easier to do because you could see when the other was online and it provided a nice distraction from constant flurries of meetings and work. There is less need to play it cool and let hours pass before you reply, it’s more acceptable to reply to each other instantly and keep the conversation going throughout the day.
However, when you date a colleague and it goes to pot (as it did every time for me), all the positive points I listed above, immediately become nothing but negative and frustrating.
- Usually, people end up finding out that you are in a relationship. You can try your hardest to keep it a secret but the more into a person you become, the sloppier you tend to be in keeping it a secret. It can be something as little as passing by their desk and saying you’ll meet them after work and immediately everyone in your teams’ eyebrows are raised. I’ve never tended to mind people knowing about my relationships when they have eventually come out, but the awkwardness of having to tell each person individually that asks how the two of you how you are doing when you’ve actually split is something I don’t wish to repeat again.
- They say the best way to get over someone is ‘ out of sight, out of mind.’ For people that I’ve met outside of work it hasn’t usually taken me too long to move on, but every time I have dated someone I’ve worked with I have really struggled with it. How can you when you have to look at and interact with that person on a daily basis? Even if your heart is begging you to move on, your mind and ultimately your thoughts, react to what you focus on, and when you sit in a close vicinity to that person, there is literally no hope.
- In the same way that you got to know them quickly, it’s difficult to get to unknow them quickly. If they change their hair, buy a new suit, go on holiday, get a new girlfriend, it’s usually not difficult to overhear or be told by an insensitive colleague what the latest developments are in their life. Even if you block them across all social media, you still have a daily reminder of what you no longer have.
That’s not to say that relationships that begin in a work environment can’t flourish and result in long term relationships or even marriage, but for me, that has never been the case. Dealing with the difficulty of getting over them afterwards has made me never want to do it again – it’s just not worth the heartache afterwards, no matter how good it was at the time.
To my ever lovely readers, what do you think? Do you think it’s OK to date a colleague?
Great post. I’d also add that it becomes difficult to keep the work and home lives separate – it can be all too easy to take work issues home with you both, meaning you end up talking about work more and more. I like my job, but I also like to leave it at work!
Having a relationship with someone outside of your workplace means you actually have different things to say to each other at the end of the day, and an emotional detachment from the other person’s job that makes supporting them through challenging work times a lot easier.
Thank you and very true! It’s good to have some space in a relationship so you’re not constantly in each others pockets!
Brilliant post lovely! It’s the same with housemates too!!