Is office romance the key to a lasting relationship? Four takeaways from people who've been there.
Is it just you, or is that guy that you awkwardly stumbled into on your first day on the job getting cuter by the minute? Did he get a new haircut, or switch up his wardrobe? Probably not, according to a British survey conducted by the CBS network. Of the 2,000 men and women surveyed, 14 percent of couples that met through work ended up getting married, compared to 11 percent that were first introduced by mutual friends.
A CBS spokesperson explains how couples that meet in the workplace already have similar interests, and that close-friendships-turned-relationships are almost inevitable — despite how much supervisors typically frown upon them. Is familiarity breeding contempt, or do these office romances hold the key to lasting love?
We surveyed people who've mixed business with pleasure to find out what they learned from dating a co-worker.
1. Be clear of your expectations.
When you throw 'nearly naked on a daily basis' into the whole proximity and common interest mix, there's almost a sure-fire chance that a hookup is brewing. Shelby spent the past few summers lifeguarding at her town pool to make some extra cash, but after a one night stand, what she ended up with was an awkward three months.
"A kid I worked with had been asking me to hang out after work a lot, and the only time that I let it happen was at a party with all of our co-workers together," she said. "I hooked up with him that night, thinking it was meaningless, while he was clearly entertaining other ideas."
Shelby's poolside flame wasn't exactly thrilled with her lack of interest over the next few weeks, and made it clear to everyone that she was "the bad guy" in the situation. Shelby's advice? If it's just a hookup, it might not be worth it.
"Honestly," she said, "if you have to see someone everyday, and one person expects more from the other, it creates an heir of animosity that will make doing your job super uncomfortable."
2. Infatuation can be blinding … So be wary of letting it guide you.
When Nicole moved across the country last year looking for a blank slate and a new start, she had no idea that all of her "firsts" would be shared with someone else. She had moved in with a friend-of-a-friend, and because she was new to the area, he hooked her up with a job at the restaurant he worked at.
Between work flirtation and adjacent bedrooms, the two quickly found their friendship escalating to something more.
"At first it was awesome, because when you're in the beginning phase of a new relationship, you just want to be with that person all the time," she said. “Normally, you have separate jobs and houses and friends, but we shared all of those things."
Nicole began to realize that having a boyfriend who also shares the title of co-worker and permanent house guest was causing more harm than good.
"It was great for about five minutes," she said, "until we began to bring our work fights home and our home fights to work. We ran out of things to talk about, and just got on each other's nerves all the time."
They decided to break up the living situation a bit by inviting another friend of Nicole's to move in around seven months into the relationship, but the fix didn't last and they broke up a few months later.
"When you date someone you work with, you have to know that you're at risk of everyone knowing the personal details of your relationship and having them gossip behind your back," Nicole said. "And too much time spent together kills the spark."
3. Alcohol and co-workers shouldn't mix.
A couple of summers ago (seriously, what is it about summer and bad decisions?!), Molly was surprised to run into a high school acquaintance at her internship orientation. "We had always been friendly, but we never really hung out before — he was a year younger than I was," she said.
The two were fast friends, and while attraction was definitely blossoming, it all seemed innocent enough. "We ate lunch together every day, and things were always flirtatious, but it wasn’t a big deal to either of us," she said. "Then one weekend we both attended a mutual friend's graduation party, had way too much to drink, and slept together."
After their alcohol-infused hookup, the two had to sit next to each other at work all week … with Molly's neck and chest covered in hickeys.
"As if that wasn’t bad enough, I found out that he had a girlfriend and broke up with her a few weeks after it happened," she said. "So that further contributed to the awkwardness/guilt that we both felt for the rest of the summer."
4. Make sure that work is a common interest … Not your only mutual interest.
After six years of marriage, David and his wife realized that the driving force of their relationship was the chemistry they shared at work, and once that was removed from the equation, their bond began to grow weaker and weaker. David was Mary's supervisor for three years before they began dating.
"She came after me, relentlessly, and eventually I gave in," he said. "It was good, because we were both on the same page," he said. "It wasn't bad working together. A lot of people knew, but then again a lot of people didn’t know, because it's not like either of us was big on PDA or anything like that."
Three years later, David popped the question, and after nearly a two-year engagement, the couple married. "Working together was the best part of our relationship," he said. "It's where we first got to know each other, where we spent the most time together, and pretty much the biggest thing that we had in common."
When his wife decided that she wanted to back to school for her master's degree, David supported her decision, even though he did have a feeling that his relationship would feel the strain of the time spent apart.
"We're both workaholics,” he said, "and that was fine when we were working together. But when I was at work, she was at school, and when I was at home, she was studying." The two continued to grow apart, and eventually, the marriage dissolved.
His advice on office romance? "It's so easy to fall into, but it's so risky at the same time. There's too much room for the awkward formation of sides after it doesn't work out."
Have you ever dated a coworker? Tell us what you learned in the comments below.