I’m sure you’ve heard that dating coworkers is a bad idea. I know I’ve always made a point that I’d never date one of my coworkers, but every now and then, there’ll be a coworker crush that’s just a little too hard to ignore.
It’s important that you totally do ignore it, though, because dating a coworker has the potential to be a catastrophic mistake.
I’m talking like the biggest mistake you’ve ever made.
Here are 6 reasons why.
1. It distracts you from your work.
While it’s really fun to keep a secret, all those across-the-room glances are sure to keep you away from the task at hand. That’s bad at all levels, because you run the risk of getting in trouble at work, and if either of you depends on that income to survive… Well, it’s no longer completely guaranteed.
And it wouldn’t really be fair to blame your supervisors or other coworkers for this, either. When you’re romantically involved with one of your coworkers, it’s incredibly difficult for you to avoid making excuses to spend time with them instead of doing what you need to do. I work from home, and my partner is able to unintentionally distract me from work for up to a few hours at a time – and I consider myself a fairly task-oriented person.
2. If things get serious, you won’t have much time apart.
Working with someone for 40 hours a week is already a pretty big commitment. If the two of you spend more time together outside of work (which you probably should, for a healthy relationship), that can jump up to 50 or 60 hours a week together, or more. Then, when the two of you decide to move in together, it’ll bump that up to over 100 hours together each and every week… Really quickly. This is a lot of time to invest in the same person’s company.
Even if you really love your partner, you’ll need to leave yourselves room to spend time apart. If you’re working together, and not doing so from home, you’re pretty much at the mercy of others to be able to get time away from each other. It’s far better to prepare for the day you two bug the crap out of each other, than to be caught off-guard the day it finally happens.
3. If things go south, you won’t have much time apart, either.
If things go bad, and you’re still working together, work will be miserable when she’s there. She’ll have the ability to ruin your entire day without even trying, just by showing up and doing her job. If she tries to make your work life hell, it definitely will be. (Hey, I’m not going to pretend some women aren’t super spiteful. I used to be one of those women. Thankfully, I grew up a little since then.)
Working in close proximity to someone who broke your heart, or someone you let down, is not a fun feeling. Especially if one of you still has feelings for the other, it can be totally unfair. But there is an easy way to prevent problems like this – just don’t date your coworkers!
4. She could potentially out you at work.
For me, it’s a pretty scary idea that I could get outed in the professional world. I know, it’s a silly thing to be afraid of, this day and age. Right? Well, unfortunately, there are still so many places where you can be openly discriminated against in the workplace if your employers find out you’re gay. It sucks, but it is the world we live in, and until we change it, it’s harder to be ourselves in public spaces.
If you’re dating someone who could easily out you to management, and you live somewhere it’s legal to discriminate against queer employees, it can be an extremely delicate situation. Truthfully, anyone has the potential to out someone, with or without reason, but this is one unnecessary risk I’d rather not take.
5. You can’t move on if you see her every day.
Remember when we said you two were going to be spending a lot of time together? Well, that’s still going to be the case if you break up. Most workplaces expect you to be professional, which means you’ll have to deal with seeing your ex at work – it would be immature to ask to be transferred just because of your bad decision. Sure, you could quit your job, but then your ex would just be winning – and you’re too hurt to let her win. Right?
Unfortunately, your coworkers are going to be very aware of how not okay you are after the break-up. These are people you spend a tremendous amount of time around, and most likely, they know you better than you think they do. They can probably tell when you’ve gotten lucky, when you need to get lucky, and even when you get in a fight with your girlfriend – because they spend so much time around you every week. And now, one of these super-close coworkers is an ex-girlfriend. Yikes.
6. Eventually, you may have to choose between your job and your relationship.
I hate being put in a position to choose between love and money. Both are more important in my life than I’d like them to be, and I’ve turned down one for the other on a few different occasions (in both directions). That’s a bridge you’ll need to cross every time you come to it, but it’s worth preventing the situation from coming up more than it needs to, especially if you love your job (or had a really tough break-up).
If the two of you stay together, but one of you gets promoted, are you going to be able to handle that? Many places have regulations about nepotism in the workplace, and while you might be able to skate by without being noticed, you would be risking a lot. If you broke up, would you be able to handle seeing them every day, or would you feel pressured to leave your job? The decision is up to you, but it’s easier to avoid it.