by Megan Reynolds
Working with someone that you’re dating takes a special kind of mental and emotional fortitude, the ability to keep two parts of your life distinct, with clear boundaries. It’s hard in the modern workplace. We spend so much time at work, and workplaces are getting more and more casual, making the boundaries shifting and fluid. The temptation to let your relationship bleed over into your daily grind is easy, but if you’re a nice, kind person, you should do your absolute best to avoid this. It’s cool that you’ve found someone that you want to spend time with outside of the office as well as in staff meetings and at weird company lunches. That’s a special thing, so cherish it. In the words of RuPaul, “Don’t fuck it up.” Here are some helpful guidelines for how to comport yourself when you’re dating someone you work with.
1. Don’t bone at the office. Ever. Please.
We are all very happy that you have found true love, and even happier and somehow more impressed that you found true love at the office, which feels like a hard thing to do. This is great! But do each and every one of your coworkers a favor and try to avoid having sex at the office. The thing about an office is that it’s shared space, the equivalent of a giant rabbit hutch that isn’t cleaned that often. Everyone is gross when they’re working. People’s keyboards are covered in a fine layer of seeds from their weekly bagel breakfasts and traces of Chipotle lunches linger on telephone handsets and computer mice. It’s not necessarily the filthiest place in the world, but it’s kind of gross, and more importantly, it’s a shared space. Don’t have sex in a shared space. Do that shit in the privacy of your own home. The only exception to this rule is if you are 110 percent sure that everybody else — including the cleaning staff — has gone home for the day, and you have a key that will look the front door. Then, and only then, is it okay. Use your best judgement, and be careful! And for the of God, if you insist on fucking on the conference table, CLEAN UP AFTERWARDS.
2. Keep your personal arguments out of the office.
Relationships naturally have ups and downs, but it is best if you keep these ups and downs at home, where they belong. If you’re silently seething because your partner hasn’t washed a dish in a week and a half, and you’re waging a silent war on the home front, don’t bring that to work. Work is stressful enough as it is, so your coworkers do not need to be privy to the things that go on behind closed doors. Don’t usurp meetings to bring up grievances about your home life or to subtly call out your partner for canceling on your standing date night to watch baseball with his brother. Dana from marketing doesn’t care that your boo — and her subordinate — has been “distant lately,” and she certainly doesn’t want to hear about it at your weekly status meeting.
3. Be honest about the fact that you’re dating someone you work with, because it’s better for everyone else — including you.
Some workplaces require you to be upfront with management about the fact that you are in a relationship with someone you work with. Some workplaces will make you fill out weird paperwork, like registering your car’s insurance. Others don’t care at all, preferring to stay ignorant of their employee’s home lives, but I think it’s best to own up, regardless of the policy. If you start dating your manager, for example, I bet a lot of other people would want to know that. Figure out what your office’s stance is on dating in the workplace, and comply with it. Nothing is forever — not jobs, not relationships, not your long-standing, mostly silent but functional interaction with the woman who does your laundry — but a job is crucial because it pays you on a regular basis and makes it so that you can do things that you like, like brunch and paying the cable bill. Don’t compromise your career. Whatever the policy is, figure it out and even if there isn’t one, be upfront. Honesty is really the best policy, whether you like it or not.
4. Discuss your home life after hours.
Work is for the following things: checking Twitter, writing emails, taking long lunches, putting together spreadsheets, gossiping with Karen in front of the fridge with all the Diet Cokes, looking for other jobs on days that you really don’t want to be there, and doing whatever it is that they pay you to actually do. It is not for subtle discussions with your love bug about what you’re going to make for dinner or whether or not you should take the cat Princess Cuddlepants to the vet because of that weird thing on her back that might be a mat, but is also may be a tumor. These are things that you would naturally discuss with your partner because they are relevant to your partnership, but they are also things that not a single person at your job cares about. I know, I know. You’re telling me that you’re a mature, responsible adult who would never, ever do any of this at the workplace. It doesn’t matter! Sometimes, you don’t even know you’re doing it! Just be aware. Nobody at work wants to hear or see the soft underbelly of your relationship.
5. If you’re going to send sexy emails, DOUBLE CHECK THE ADDRESS FIELD EVERY SINGLE TIME.
We have all seen “Bridget Jones,” so that means we are all exceedingly aware of the exquisite pleasures of the sexy email sent while your boss thinks you’re writing a TP report, or whatever. Send those emails if you must and if you want, but do yourself a favor and triple check the address field every single time. You will absolutely die of embarrassment unlike any you’ve ever felt before if you send your boss, or the office manager who shares the same name as your partner, a detailed list of the things you’re going to do tonight and what you’ll be wearing when you do them. The real takeaway here is, you know, don’t do this, but if you’re going to, I’m not going to judge. I just implore you to exercise enormous amounts of caution.
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