The office represents a “physical community” where co-workers can meet mates.
As employees work more and more hours, their colleagues begin to make up their social circles.
In 1965, 65% of people socialized outside of work; that dropped to 39% by 1995.
Unless a policy indicates otherwise, feel free to ask a co-worker on a date.
6 guidelines suited to the office environment:
1.”There’s no need to attempt to manipulate men into chasing you” – Women might consciously or subconsciously play hard to get when they consider how dating a co-worker could affect their careers, promotions and relationships. This extra obstacle helps steer women clear of the wrong men and also “heightens the interest” of suitable partners.
2.”In the office, you don’t have to pretend you’re otherwise occupied to give the relationship time to develop” – Getting to know someone at the office skips unwritten rules that confound couples who don’t know whether to kiss on the first date or to take it slowly.
3.”Don’t date him if his actions in the office don’t conform to your values” – Office romances often move more slowly than other romances, giving individuals the time to learn about each other’s values and personality.
4.”No need to make any judgments based on first impressions – you can get all the impressions you want” – Don’t judge a book by its cover. Give people with opposite interests a chance.
5.”Go ahead and look for someone like yourself – now you have the chance to find him” – Since time pressure isn’t a factor in office romances, people can learn what others like by listening to conversations and asking questions. It’s perfectly fine for a woman to start the conversation.
6.”Be your everyday self” – Your intended office mate is already familiar with and a fan of the regular “Monday to Friday” you.
Be discreet when dating a co-worker.
“Take it outside” – Find a way to get together away from the office, such as going for coffee.
“When all else fails, try happy hour” – Meet the gang after work in a relaxed setting. It’s a good opportunity to talk one-on-one with your potential mate.
“Be yourself, really” – If you’re the type to make the first move, do so. Otherwise, signal that you’re receptive to an advance.
“Don’t ask co-workers for an assist” – Don’t do the middle school thing and ask a co-worker to find out if the person likes you.
“Don’t indicate your interest via e-mail” – Realize that e-mails belong to the company, can be forwarded and never die even if you delete them. Write a note and deliver it by hand.
“No games, please, we’re adults” – Skip the secret-admirer routine and be frank.
“Keep it verbal” – Show interest through words, not through actions, unless you want to tangle with sexual harassment.
“Take no for an answer” – Prepare yourself for possible rejection. However, even if the person says no, it doesn’t mean all is lost. In one case, a man had to apologize for making a drunken pass at a co-worker and, even so, they ended up married.
“Don’t violate sexual harassment laws” – Two types of sexual harassment exist. One is quid pro quo, which involves a supervisor asking a subordinate for a sexual favor in exchange for something career-related. The more common type involves creating a “hostile work environment” where employees make “unwelcome” sexual advances or engage in chitchat (including jokes).
Don’t alienate or ditch your colleagues.
If the relationship continues for several weeks, check your company’s policy on dating and, if necessary, inform a supervisor.
Should the relationship fail, remain professional and civil.
If the situation turns sour, consider a transfer to another department or office.
When interviewing for a new job, cite your career, and not an unsuccessful romance, as a reason for leaving.
Stephanie Losee has written for Fortune and San Francisco Chronicle Magazine. Helaine Olen has written for Wall Street Journal, Variety, and The Washington Post. Both authors met their spouses at work.