Office Romance

Is it okay to date a coworker?

Should you date someone at the office?

Maybe! But it depends on several things.

If you are a bright, career-minded woman with a job you like at a solid company, your workplace may provide access to more like-minded single men than your extracurricular activities do. This is especially true if you're working long hours and have limited social or church activities. Your workplace can offer a low-pressure setting for getting to know someone, in contrast to the sometimes high-pressure feeling of the dating scene.

. . . your workplace may provide access to more like-minded single men than your extracurricular activities do.

Drawing boundaries

Even though your job may be a place to connect with others, that doesn't mean it's always a good idea to date a colleague. There are some lines you need to be aware of and should never cross.

• Don't date married men. It should go without saying, but affairs ruin promising careers and personal reputations. Just don't do it. This kind of error in judgment is not easily forgotten and repercussions can be more serious for women.

• Count the boss out. It's not a good idea to date your boss or anyone else who could be considered a supervisor. This easily creates an unhealthy power dynamic and can undermine your credibility with coworkers. You'll be able to take full credit for what you achieve at work when there's no question about influence.

• Check the employee handbook. If your company has a formal policy against coworkers dating, honor it. You should honor the employee handbook, even if it means one of you has to find employment elsewhere. So should you jump ship on a great job just because a cute guy from the office winked at you in the elevator? No. But if you've gotten to know someone over time and you're both serious about moving your relationship to a romantic level while your employer has a no-dating policy, then one of you should leave the company. If the romance works out, someone would have to transition anyway. If it doesn't last, breaking the rules puts both of your jobs at risk. It's best to deal with it proactively.

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Diane Paddison

Diane Paddison is a business professional and founder of 4wordwomen.org, local groups of professional working women committed to faith, family, work, and each other.

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May 25

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