Tinder may have made meeting new people substantially easier, but sometimes, quantity is not necessarily quality. For those who haven’t had any luck finding the right person online, perhaps it’s better to set your sights closer to home, or you know, office.
Think a couple of cubicles away.
According to several career websites, more and more people are finding romance at work. Vault.com reports that 44 percent of their respondents had dated a co-worker at least once. Meanwhile, CareerBuilder.com found that almost a third of their respondents married the person they dated in the office.
While these numbers seem encouraging, office romance isn’t without its perils. With our help, however, you’ll at least be making an informed decision.
Rule # 1: Don’t date your direct superior or your direct subordinate.
Times have changed, but some rules remain the same. According to Kathleen McKenna of New York’s Proskauer law firm, dating a superior is not the best idea, but dating a subordinate is “criminally stupid.” That’s just begging for a sexual harassment suit. “You might as well put a sign on your forehead that says, ‘Kick me here.’”
Precaution: If you’re really serious about her, consider moving to another department or look for another job. Not possible? Put it in writing instead, reports Forbes.com.
Rule # 2: Make sure you are on the same page.
The same rule applies whether you’re dating a colleague or not. If you’re not really looking for a relationship, let her know right from the start. If you’re looking for a girlfriend, you should tell her that as well. But of course, things won’t always go according to plan. It’s always tricky when emotions are involved.
Precaution: Be as honest as you can. That’s about all you can do.
Rule # 3: Be prepared for the worst.
Unlike dating someone outside the office, you can’t exactly avoid her if things don’t work out between the two of you. If you’re ready for that eventuality, then by all means, go ahead.
Precaution: Practice your best this-is-so-not-awkward face in the mirror as early as now. You might need it sooner than you think.
Rule # 4: Keep your lips sealed.
It might be tempting to go around telling people where you went for dinner or what film you watched last weekend, but try to limit “people” to your closest office buddy and have him swear on his girlfriend’s life that he’ll never tell. Otherwise, you might just jeopardize your chances completely.
Precaution: Keep a diary at home instead.
If you’ve graduated from just “hanging out” to “exclusively dating,” here are a few more rules to keep in mind.
Rule # 5: Always be professional.
You may have gotten into a serious fight the night before, but you can’t let that show on your face the next day. Don’t leave the other person hanging just because you’re mad at each other.
Precaution: Barbara Pachter, author of the book The Essentials of Business Etiquette, says that setting rules from the beginning is important. Talk about how to act when you have a fight or when things don’t work out early on in the exclusively dating stage, so you know what to expect.
Rule # 6: Try to keep your jealousy under control.
Seeing her talk to another guy—yes, even a guy she’s always talked to before—might make you feel a little territorial, but that’s normal.
Precaution: Don’t do or say anything you’ll regret. Instead, reverse the situation. Just because you’re trading jokes with another girl doesn’t mean you’re into her, right?
Rule # 7: Enjoy the process.
Despite all these complications, dating someone in the office is actually pretty awesome. You don’t just get to see her every day; you also get to talk to her and have lunch with her. If your boss is being a pain in the ass, you’ll always have someone to rant to. And vice-versa, of course. So yes, don’t waste your time thinking about the little things and appreciate all the things you get to enjoy together.