The first thing I did when I got my employee ethics manual at my company was to look and see if there was a dating policy. I was new to the area and figured meeting someone at work might be safer than meeting someone at a bar.
Now, I don’t know the history behind office dating rules, but my observations lead me to believe that we have to change the way we think about interoffice dating.
Employees spend an obscene amount of time working. It’s just not always in the office. If you are a frequent traveler, there’s the number of hours spent in airports. If you own a Blackberry, you know they don’t call it a Crackberry for nothing. If you socialize with coworkers, you’re probably talking about work at Happy Hour.
If it wasn’t for sleeping, we could probably work 24/7.
Now imagine being a Gen-Yer in a new city. You may not have the funds to join dating services, bars start becoming too expensive, you like sporting events but who would you go with?
So we automatically turn to the group of people we spend most of our time with. Coworkers.
The problem with having a No Dating Policy is that it is seen as a rule, probably a wiggly one, and most people would ignore it. What that Policy doesn’t tell you is that it might be for your own good.
See, dating anyone is sticky. It’s a lot easier to casually date people you don’t know because you can walk away if things don’t work out. But if you have a hard time meeting people you don’t already know, that might not be a viable option.
One day you notice there’s a cute guy on your floor. Maybe he’s single. You don’t work with him directly, but could find ways to socialize. And then maybe you go out, and then out again. And then he doesn’t call you back. And you get all obsessive about the situation, which results in a lot of stress in your work. You even increase the amount of time you work from home.
That situation is probably why the Policy was in place to begin with.
Another scenario that is just as bad is dating the close friend of a coworker. If you break up, it will still come into your work life through the coworker. And be just as awkward, if not more so.
All of the above does not mean that someone couldn’t find a Happy Ending with someone at work. It just means you need to be smart about who you date. Period.
Here are some suggestions to perhaps make life a little easier if you chose to pursue a coworker:
-Don’t get drunk and sleep with him/her. Have some pride!
-Like it or not, have the DTR talk (Defining The Relationship). You’ll have a chance to come to some understandings and set ground rules.
-You should probably avoid making out at work during working hours, no one wants to see it.
-Be an adult. If things don’t work out, you still have to do your job. It was there first. And if things do work out, still do your job. Your new honey isn’t going to pay your bills.