Developing feelings for a coworker isn’t unheard of, but it can bring an avalanche of conflicting opinions. While some people draw a hard line at romantic relationships in the workplace, others are more open to it (as long as it’s not a direct report). If you find yourself in the latter category, these questions will help you weed out the potentially great relationships from the potentially disastrous ones.
Are there any policies against it?
Some workplaces have policies that discourage or forbid workplace romances, or draw the line when it comes to someone you report to directly. Some don’t have any rules, so it’s important to find out the policies of your company. While it’s ultimately your decision whether you’re willing to chance your career on love, make sure you know the policies in place and the risk involved if you break them. A slap on the wrist might be a chance you’re willing to take, but losing your job may not be.
Is there a power dynamic to consider?
If one of you is the other’s superior in the workplace, the power dynamic could turn a budding romance toxic.
If there is a power dynamic (if you aren’t at the same level in the company or one of you reports to the other), and this isn’t against company rules, make sure both of you are comfortable with the arrangement, and then loop in your Human Resources department.
There is likely relationship-disclosing paperwork to complete, and it may even be necessary to restructure the management dynamic. Take the appropriate steps to avoid a situation in which one of you could take advantage of the other.
How confident are you in these feelings?
Assuming there is no power dynamic or policies against dating in your workplace, take some time to ask yourself about your feelings for this person. Do you see the potential for a lasting relationship, or is this a short-term crush? How would you feel if things ended and you had to work alongside them every day?
If you break up, your ex will still be a part of your daily life. Make sure that’s something you’re willing to deal with if the relationship goes south. No breakup is fun, but it can be so much worse if you work with your ex.
What is your gut telling you?
When it comes down to it, listen to your instincts. Pay attention to any red flags that indicate dating this coworker is a bad idea. Those warning signs are usually spot on—don’t ignore them.
Even if you’ve told yourself before that you would never date a coworker, it’s not always easy to hold yourself to that promise. How are you supposed to make that type of decision when feelings are involved?
These questions will help you evaluate and minimize any risk to your career while also giving you the freedom to see who you please. There is no black and white answer, so use your best judgment and be honest with yourself.