New Office Romance

We received the following questions on office dating.

  1. How do you deal with the whole situation when:

  • One person is more open to talk about it with co-workers and the other isn’t (doesn’t want it to be water-cooler talk)

N: I would wait until both are willing to share the relationship status and/or find other things to talk about with co-workers. This one comes from mutual respect for one another and if one feels uncomfortable at the idea of it turning it into office gossip, the other should try his/her best to refrain from letting it slip in small talk.

For the one who wants to have a chat about their S.O. with co-workers, I say that is fine but only with only a tight-knit group. While it may seem harmless to chat about anything and everything with your peers in general, especially ones your age, office chatter has a way of spreading. There are plenty of other topics you can chat with your non-tight knight co-workers about! Even if it is about your weekend, try saying “I” instead of “we”.

For the one who wants to keep it discreet, have a chat with your S.O. and explain politely that you don’t want to be put in a position where either one of your managers finds out by “hearing it through the grapevine” and brings it up to you, even if it is in a joking way. Your S.O. will better understand how serious this to you and hopefully be more conscious when engaging in office small talk. Over time, perhaps you will be more comfortable letting out more snippets of your personal life to co-workers. Make sure to tell your S.O. if you’ve reached this stage and compliment them if they’ve been doing a good job at keeping things discreet without feeling resentful!

I met my boyfriend at work and my team was not aware of our relationship until 8 months later. I’m very much a chatty Cathy at work and tend to overshare. For this, I made a personal choice to not disclose until I felt there would be less of a stigma. There was no magic month/timing, but just a feeling as time passed.

  • One person becomes weird when the ‘lover’ is around and can’t really hide it

N: If it’s more than just the first few times of awkwardness, I would talk this one out. Whoever is being “weird” probably realizes he/she is acting a certain way. For example, a year into the relationship with my boyfriend (when everyone at the office knows at this point), he would act cold to me when I would come down to visit him. He would keep staring at his computer screen and almost acted like a stranger. I was upset at his reactions and confronted him about it after it happened a few times (wait to see if it’s consistent behavior before reacting). He said he didn’t want to appear unprofessional from talking to me for “too long.” I said it’s fine if he doesn’t want to talk for long but that he didn’t have to be rude about it. Nowadays, we limit our face-to-face chit-chat to only for a few minutes at the office but there is certainly no more rudeness after we talked it out.

 

2. How do you behave if things get bad and you work on the same floor?

N: This depends on the degree of how “bad” things are. If you had a fight the night before and are completely ignoring each other, give each other that space and remain as professional as you can. You are both likely going to be moodier that day as it is hard for bad things in your personal lives not bleed into work, but shut it out as much as possible. It’s okay to sound a bit grumpier at work and have a less peppy tone, as long as you remain professional. If you have to pull a “sick” day because the fight was so bad, I don’t see a problem with that - but this should only be a last resort option. Try to resolve the fight/issue outside the office as soon as possible after work hours so fewer days go by with all the negative tension.

A: It’s tempting to rehash out the previous night’s fight at work via instant message or in person, but don’t do it! It’s distracting and unprofessional and can wait until you are done with the day.

 

3. How do you feel if the whole office knew?

N: To be honest, while a little awkward first, I am happy that my “whole office” knows about my relationship. I can openly refer to my boyfriend with his name. Most of the time when you are open with your life, others will also open up to you. I have become closer to my boyfriend’s team and my team as a result of our openness. I do want to note though that they are certainly more supportive because we’re a long-term relationship. If you are in the early stages and aren’t sure how serious it’s going to be, you should be cautious of sharing too soon.

Just last week, we had an office ‘triple date’! Suss out the culture in your office first and if you notice people are open about their personal lives, then I say, why not!

 

4. Do you think this can be a successful relationship considering that you have more things in common / topics to talk about?

A: While I can’t speak from experience here, I don’t believe that working together and having more in common is necessarily going to lead to a successful relationship. There are pros and cons of dating someone you work with. For instance, when you’re having a tough day or you need advice on a work situation, they have first hand experience and can give you really tailored advice. For example, my boyfriend is a freelancer and so it’s hard for him to give me advice or understand what I’m going through when I’m venting about office politics. On the flip side, it’s easier to “talk shop” at home, become competitive, and also feel like it’s moving much faster because there’s so much time spent together. I like coming home and just talking about the highlights of work and then moving onto other topics we have in common. By having a partner who works in a different industry, I get to learn about another world that I don’t have access to. Dating someone at work adds a layer of complication to the relationship, but if you’re careful and compartmentalize it, it can work out well!

 

5. Do you take snaps/insta stories with this person?

A: Adding your co-workers to your private social media accounts is a whole topic in itself. But as it relates to this question, it’s important to understand why this person is not ready to share their private life online. If there’s a specific group of people that they would like to avoid, you can change your settings on Insta stories or Snapchat so they are temporarily blocked. This could be a helpful compromise. Respect their feelings and wait it out until they are ready to share with the whole world.

We hope this helps!