There is resource for meeting eligible singles that you may not have thought of. It’s convenient and accessible, with people who have at least one thing in common with you, and you frequent it on a fairly regular basis; the workplace! I know, it used to be taboo. There was a time when it was sexist gossip fodder where bosses had secret affairs with their secretaries or those on the lower corporate rungs went looking for a quick boost up, but now the office romance has come out of the shadows and for many, a viable option. According to a survey conducted by CareerBuilder.com, 25 percent of us have dated someone at work and over 70 percent of people who date a co-worker do it openly. Of course, this is not broken down by age, but it does reflect a growing trend across the board. The reasoning is obvious; we spend much of our daily awake time there and interact with these people during meetings, across the cube, over lunch and in the hallways. Most of us know details about our co-workers families, where they vacation, do for fun, and even their medical history. Much of the pre-get-to-know-you is already done! Plus you obviously already know they have a job with reliable income. What could go wrong? Well, before you send an e-meeting invite to rendezvous behind the water cooler, I should admit there are still legitimate downsides to dating at work. Although it is gaining approval, more women still get the evil eye when they participate. I know it is unfair, but old stereotypes die hard. Is it even worth it, you ask?
Personally I do think it is risky. Even if both parties are completely available and on an equal employment level, you still have to brace yourself for the gossip. It is highly doubtful a serious dating relationship could be kept a secret very long; the majority of us are not that great with a poker face. The people with whom we did not pick may be suspicious of favoritism or insider help/information. You will have to try hard to keep the negative impact to a minimum and never give anyone fuel for their accusations. Even though the official HR position for most companies today is reluctant acceptance, it is much better to be upfront with management. Depending on the work environment and type of business, it may be necessary to move one of you into a different department.
You also need to be very careful when navigating the initial stages. Be sure the person you are winking at across the filing cabinet is truly interested in you and not just worried you have an eye infection. A smile and a friendly ‘Good Morning’ is not a pick up line so confirm you are not mis-reading another’s intentions. There are pretty strict sexual harassment laws on the books, and if both parties are not in complete agreement, it can get disastrous real fast. My advice is to move very slowly. We have learned a thing or two in life about flirting and getting someone’s attention. Go easy and if you see the interest being sparked and returned, then you could be on to something.
Speaking of flirting, keep the obvious overtures to a minimum. The last thing we want to see at work are glaring signs of PDA. Keep it professional while on the job. No leaning across their desk, ‘meeting’ in the supply room, closing the door to their office, sneaking in the stairwell; while it may seem exciting to try and push the limit, it is in poor taste and could eventually back fire with lower respect levels from both co-workers and management. Let the tension build during the day, then handle your ‘business’ at home.
Do not use company email for personal messages. Do I really have to tell how awkward your next performance review would be if the entire company was blind copied on the exciting evening you have planned; Sugar Muffins?
While I would never want anyone to go into a relationship imaging the demise, in this case, it might be a good idea. If he/she turns out not to be the one, are they really worth leaving your job over? Will you be able to handle seeing them every day, working on projects or just hanging out in the break room? Be sure before you walk this road that your income and job security would not be impacted by a broken heart or a messy breakup.
I guess it sounds like I’m totally against this. I’m really not, even though I do not know too many successful couples who have met this way. Maybe I’m just not that hip. I am all for whatever makes someone happy and would never want you to walk away from a potential love match. I just believe this type of relationship would be more difficult than most and advise good judgment and caution.
Also, I understand that not all of you work outside of the home, so this would not even be available for you. Unless, of course, someone you know has a Take-A-Friend-To-Work Day. Now that is an idea I could totally support!
The bottom line is we all have opportunities in our daily life to meet a potential partner. The idea is to be open, available, inviting and sincere. If these qualities shine when someone crosses your path, regardless of where that path is, that glow will draw them in.
Hope With Abandon!