Co-workers standing together with arms crossed at the coffee shop
There’s something intriguing about office romances. It’s can be tempting to seek out the “forbidden fruit,” but there’s also a sense of foreboding about it. Perhaps it’s because many companies frown upon these relationships. Or perhaps it's because you've heard endless horror stories about the potential fallout of such a relationship. Across the board, there is a lot to consider and new rules to live by if you choose to take this dive. Here are the guidelines to keep in mind should you decide to get involved with that drop-dead gorgeous copywriter in the Creative Department:

  1. Be professional. Part of being in an office relationship is being respectful to the workplace you both come from and of the other people you both work alongside. Don’t let disagreements get in the way of your job, and keep those love spats in check. This even applies to time you spend with co-workers outside of the office. If you have weekly drinks with a group of guys from work, bringing your relationship and its associated issues into that environment can potentially damage your friendships and, as a result, your working relationships.

  2. Don’t flaunt your new relationship. Don’t go sending out emails to everyone about your office romance. While most of your co-workers won’t care, others will feel negatively about your relationship and find it inappropriate. Be discreet and try to get a feel for which co-workers to share your relationship with and when the time to tell them might be. Whatever you decide, keep in mind that the news will travel fast, and even if you only tell one co-worker, it may be all over the office by the end of the day.

  3. Know your company policy on office romances. This is a no-brainer: whether you want it to or not, your place of work will play a role in your budding relationship, so you need to understand your company’s policy regarding office romances. If your company has rules against these relationships, you need to ask yourself if it's worth it. Either way, don’t think you can keep it a secret for long. There's a high likelihood your personal life will become very public. Decide, independently or together with your love interest, if this is something you'll be comfortable with.

  4. Establish boundaries. You need to separate your work highs and lows from your relationship highs and lows. Never use the workplace to continue a fight from home. This includes both email arguments and face-to-face conflicts. On the flipside, it's also important to refrain from discussing work issues at home. You'll be in each other's space often, so it'll be important not to overwhelm each other by combining all the stressors in your lives.

  5. Never date your boss or subordinate. Dating someone in your office is tricky on its own, and dating someone in a position higher or lower than yours puts you and your love interest in a particularly sensitive position, especially when it comes to matters like salary or employment status. And if you were concerned about the view of the company or other co-workers in regard to your relationship, dating a boss or subordinate will seem as an even more questionable decision. In most cases, this will certainly be against company policy, and you'd be putting even more at risk by continuing with the relationship outside of company approval.

  6. Be prepared for a breakup. For the most part, breaking up isn't easy for anyone in any relationship. If it doesn’t work out with your office partner, continue acting professionally and respectfully both towards each other and towards your workplace. You'll need to have a clear, focused conversation where you establish ground rules on future interactions both inside and outside of the office. You can’t control the pain, but at the end of the day, you need to be able to control your working relationship.

If you’d like to date a co-worker, do so with your eyes wide open. Be aware of the difficulties you'll face both inside and outside of the office. Prepare for both judgments and acceptances from other people you work with, and have a clear game plan for the occasion that things don't work out. For more tips and advice on office romance, check out these resources.

Good luck!