Unless you’re a trust-fund baby who will never need to work, or a lighthouse keeper on a lonely bay, you’ve probably had a workplace crush on somebody, somewhere, sometime. It’s often a matter of exposure.
Admiring from afar
You’ve been trying not to get caught looking at “Brainiac” – every time he walks into his office across the hall. Or you can’t get your mind off of “Hot Redhead” in Accounting. Remember, though, that some of the same steps and rules that apply outside the workplace can also be useful within it – if you decide it’s a good idea to act.
Rule one: Things will go much more smoothly if you have some friends in common. So get friendly with your crush’s office buddies. Suggest a group lunch. If the lunch goes well, it means you realize this person is not only attractive from afar – but someone you could see yourself dating.
Now that you are acquaintances, use that to your advantage. Be the fun person who has a full plate and is hard to pin down. Interact with “Tall Guy” – but leave him wanting more. Then, casually work him into your schedule. But keep your time with him casual. If things don’t work out in the beginning, the aftermath won’t be as bad. We all know how hard it is to divvy up a circle of friends after a breakup. But applying that to co-workers, a boss and subordinates can be that much more difficult. After all, you do have your career to think about.
The Universal Rule... Take it slowly. This can be applied to almost anything: Putting on makeup, trimming body hair, and driving through residential streets… But “taking it slowly” should always be applied to workplace dating, because the work dynamic creates an illusion of intimacy. You spend lots of time together in relatively close quarters, solving challenges together, and you get glimpses of each other’s good and bad sides. There may even be that emergency 3 a.m. call! The work setting acts as an accelerated version of courtship.
Get too close too quickly, and you might be forced to deal with the aftermath while you are still trying to complete those PowerPoint presentations. At the beginning of a co-worker courtship, be realistic. Talk openly about your boundaries.
The ever-fading spark
You have a “workplace rhythm” with this person. That rhythm includes re-living a crazy office story, discussing assignments or tasks, talking about other hookups in the office, and complaining about the annoying people on your floor. When dating someone you don’t work with, these daily anecdotes drive most of the time you spend together. Now that you’re courting a co-worker, that “how was your day, Honey?” is a question that was answered during the day – many times over.
Yes, you already see that there might be a lack of breathing room. The space and autonomy in a relationship feeds the time you spend together. Absence makes the heart grow founder, so no matter how much we care for – and get along with – someone, that loss of personal space could lead to ill will.
Yes, it’s difficult to find someone special in this fast-paced world. So if you do find that someone on the job, don’t let them pass you by. Just take things slowly. Communicate, and be open to the reality of your situation. No matter how perfect you two may be for each other at work, it still takes a lot of work to keep the relationship going.