“My coworker and I are secretly dating”: 9 tips if this you

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I have a secret: my coworker and I have been seeing each other for just over four months now. 

Nobody else knows. 

Part of me feels guilty, but to be honest I’m enjoying the hell out of it. In fact, the taboo kind of turns me on.

The problem is I think that my assistant manager knows what’s going on. And things are getting pretty sketchy. 

Here’s what I’ve learned about how to date a coworker without losing your job. 

“My coworker and I are secretly dating”: 9 tips if this you

1) Don’t flaunt it!

When you’re dating someone you like, you want to let the world know about it. That means friends, family, coworkers, internet strangers, anyone really.

But when you’re dating a coworker you have to push that instinct down. 

Don’t flaunt your relationship, absolutely avoid PDAs (public displays of affection), and don’t use your office or work environment to flirt, sext, or send romantic messages. 

Keep your sexy time outside of work. 

You might find that at first, it’s really hot having a secret lover from work who you don’t have to tell anyone about.

But the thing is:

If and when your feelings for each other grow, it can be the opposite way around and you start to feel pangs of regret at having to keep things hidden.  This can be a hard dilemma to solve, which I’ll discuss later. But for now, keep it cool at work. 

Also:

Avoid acting especially cold or formal around each other, however. This in and of itself can look unnatural and set off alarm bells. 

Just act normal! Friendly, but not flirtatious. 

2) Be smart about communication

As I said, your workplace and work channels are not the place to live out your love affair. 

My work crush and I actually got started with post-it notes. Pretty old school, I know. It escalated from that to Snapchat (I know, you’re shocked that anybody still uses that, right?)

I actually hate Snapchat, but my cute coworker loves it, and who am I to deny her what she loves?

Anyway. We agreed early on: no snapping at work and no more post-its. 

Once we went beyond the winky face post its and got into heavier flirting we both realized very rapidly that anywhere near work just wasn’t the place. 

And even when we have been doing work from home, we never use Slack or other places to flirt privately. Even though getting caught is unlikely, it’s just too damn distracting!

3) Keep expectations low

My rule for life, in general, is simple:

Set your sights high, but keep your expectations low

That might sound like a contradiction, but here’s what I mean by it…

You should aim for the best you can and try your hardest to reach your objectives and goals. But you shouldn’t expect or feel entitled to any of it. 

The same goes with relationships, especially something that’s starting out in such an unorthodox way at work. 

4) Get smart with your contacts

Here’s what not to do with your workplace crush:

Put their name in your contacts and networks with a bunch of hearts and kissy faces. This is just asking for trouble. 

Change her name in your phone so that a slip-up at some time doesn’t get you busted.

Eventually, there may come a time when you open up about your relationship if it’s possible to continue within the rules of your workplace. But for as long as you’re flying below the radar, pay attention to small details like this. 

It can be the difference between getting caught and gliding smoothly out of sight. 

More tips?

  • Don’t let your touch linger or give small pats and caresses when you pat each other
  • Avoid winks
  • Keep eye contact casual and do not have long, smoldering gazes at each other
  • If you’re out on a date and a coworker sees you, don’t overreact. Say you went for a drink and are chatting about some work stuff.

5) Don’t let love issues negatively impact your work

This is a hard tip to follow, but you should do your best to do so. 

Even if you eventually come out with your workplace romance, no boss wants his employees letting their personal life spill over into their work life and negatively impacting it. 

If your relationship is having a tough spot, that sucks!

But don’t let it sabotage your job. That’s unprofessional and will eventually hurt your career and reputation with other coworkers and your superiors. 

“What happens at home or in your personal life (no matter who you’re dating) almost always affects your attitude, which affects your work — it’s just a fact of life,” is what Jacquelyn Smith wrote in her advice on this exact topic. 

“But try your hardest not to let your disagreements with your partner affect the decisions you make or how you treat others at work.”

I think she’s exactly right. 

6) Know the official rules (even if you’re not following them)

What is your company’s policy on dating coworkers or being romantically or sexually involved with them?

My company’s policy is zero tolerance. 

That’s why we’re keeping it a secret (and starting to get kind of paranoid, actually). 

Whether you intend to be open about your work love affair or keep it a secret, take the time to read the human resource’s policy on office dating. 

At least that way you’ll have an idea of what the worst-case scenario could be if you get exposed.  Plus it will make your time together even naughtier by knowing just how bad you’re being (wink). 

7) Diversify your work friendships

When you’re dating someone at work, it’s often the case that you start neglecting your other coworkers.

You stop conversing as much or really wanting work friends because your attention and interest are already all filled up with your significant other. I encourage you to still form work friendships and enjoy your time at work as much as possible, even if it’s remote. 

Not only does this let you not put all your eggs in one basket:

It also diversifies your social life in general. 

No matter how much you love your work colleague who you’re dating, sometimes a change of conversation is a great thing!

8) Have a SHTF plan in place

What happens if absolutely everything goes wrong? You need to have a SHTF (Shit Hits the Fan) plan. 

This includes having a plan for all of the following possibilities:

  • What if you get caught and both lose your jobs? Do you have CVs and cover letters prepared? How’s the job market in your field?
  • What if you break up and can’t stand the sight of each other anymore? How will you deal with that and will one of you agree to quit if it happens? If so, which one of you?
  • What if a coworker who you don’t like finds out about your office loving and dangles it over your head to blackmail you?
  • What if you never get caught or face pressure but begin to feel depressed about having to hide your relationship? How will you deal with this stress?

Write down a SHTF plan before you even get beyond your first kiss. 

I sincerely hope that you never need it. But if you do, it’s good to have a clear guide about what you’re going to do in response.

9) Keep relationship issues out of work

My coworker and I work at a mid-sized tech company. She’s in the accounting division and I’m more in the software development department.

There’s always plenty of work drama to talk about and bring home with us when we meet up sometimes after work and spend weekends together. But after a few really stressful nights we now consider work topics fully off-limits. 

They’re just such a downer, to be honest.

And even the funny things like our other coworker’s bizarre obsession with bobbleheads and the dirty habits of our regional manager start to become really depressing when we talk about them too long. 

I urge you to do the same. Keep work out of it.

There’s enough work to do when you get back on the job; when you’re together, focus on being together. 

It’s too good to stop…

My coworker and I are secretly dating and honestly…

I know I should stop. 

But it’s too good to stop. And I don’t plan to do so. 

I’m a bad boy, I guess. I like to think I do a pretty good job at work, but I know that you aren’t supposed to date your colleagues at work. 

What can I say?

She was just too sweet and beautiful at just the right time, and I went for her.

Will we get caught? I sure as hell hope not. And we’re both being smart. But anything could happen. 

I encourage you to make that cost vs. benefit calculation for yourself and make your own decision. 

Our work love affair is working out for us, but it isn’t for everybody.

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