I can tell you from firsthand experience that starting up an office romance can be both an incredible and horrible idea. Two years ago, I took a job with a telecommunications company on a summer student contract. Within a month, I had fallen for another one of the students, and after our first official "date," we got serious.
Looking back on it, I feel like I might have rushed into everything, and I probably should have taken the time to consider the pros and cons of starting a relationship with a co-worker. There are a large number of things to consider before you decide to act on your feelings (and ever-increasing sexual tension).
What starts off as after-work drinks with a larger group of friendly co-workers can quickly turn into you setting up a Friday night date with the new guy in marketing. From there, things can become quickly heated.
Before you decide whether or not to date and/or sleep with a co-worker, here are the top five things you definitely need to consider:
1. People will find out.
It's not always a great idea to let everyone in the office know you're in a relationship (of any kind) with a co-worker. When I initially started dating my co-worker, we agreed we'd keep it to ourselves. In fact, that's how I figured out we were actually dating. The night after our first "date," I got a text from him saying something to the effect of, “Let's not tell anyone in the office we're dating.”
I mean, I wanted to date him, so receiving that text just made it official. The point is, though, you shouldn't let everyone in the office know about your relationship when it's still new. You need to make sure it's going to last before you tell everyone about it.
2. Things might be weird once you make it “official.”
The Monday morning after we had made things official, it was a little bit awkward at work. I noticed he was avoiding eye contact when he walked past my cubicle. (This also may have had something to do with the fact I was probably smiling like a crazed lovebird each time he walked by.) A little over a month of sexual tension can lead to a lot of feelings once you're able to reveal them.
3. It will be even weirder once you have sex.
Things seemed even more awkward after we hit this milestone in our relationship. It went from avoiding eye contact to awkwardly trying to avoid grazing knees under the breakroom table at lunch. I felt plagued by the notion other people knew we were having sex.
"They totally know," I always thought. "They're going to think I'm the stereotypical 'sexually extroverted' person at the office."
Aside from the paranoia, there can also be a lot of sexual tension with your partner throughout the day. You may think to yourself, "I just slept with him last night, and no one else knows but us."
You might also wonder, "What is he thinking right now? Is he daydreaming about what I look like naked?"
Meanwhile, everyone else is just absorbed in their own bubbles. They're just counting down the minutes until the lunch break ends, and they have to get back to the grind.
4. There's always the possibility of a breakup.
As I learned, not every relationship lasts. Like any breakup, you learn from the mistakes (and successes) you made along the way. Thankfully, my ex and I had broken up after our contracts ended. We were both living in different cities for school, and we didn't see each other every day.
When the following summer contract opened up for applications again, I was rehired instantly, while my ex's application was rejected. I like to think of that as fate. At the time, I was praying for him to come back to the same company. I wanted to rekindle our romance and spend every day together once again.
I now understand I needed that summer to do my own thing and recuperate from the loss of my relationship. I had to grow as a person, and I couldn't have done that with him.
5. It may just work out.
I've seen workplace romances work out for quite a few people, so I definitely don't believe people should avoid them at all costs. Your office is a great place to meet people and get to know others. You may even foster deeper feelings that could evolve into a romantic relationship.
As with any new relationship, you must be open to the possibility of it. If you ever want it to work out, you have to have the faith that it will.
There are many things to consider before beginning a relationship of any kind with your co-worker, but the same goes for any relationship. Remember to keep an open mind. Understand that some of the people you work with may potentially find out, and stay professional as long as the two of you are in the same workplace. These are all pretty simple guidelines to abide by.
If two people click and are meant to be, their relationship will flourish regardless of how they meet.