Finding love in the workplace


EAR READERS: I recently had a discussion with a young adult about the dilemma of meeting people to date. He mentioned that one very natural place to meet someone with similar interests is on the job. But he knows how problematic it could be if a date didn’t go well, so he’s steering clear. Any tips on how to move ahead if there’s someone at work you’d like to date?

If no policy exists and you decide to take the plunge, you should still be mindful of your decision.
If no policy exists and you decide to take the plunge, you should still be mindful of your decision.© Dreamstime/TNS

“This is a complicated, fraught question and I don’t think there’s one easy answer — or, at least, one answer that will work for everyone,” says Peter Kubele Biya, founder of Shikshac, a blog for students and young adults who want to make their academic, social, or professional lives more productive and impactful.

Before even considering moving forward, checking company policy is a must, according to Dr. Tara Suwinyattichaiporn, associate professor of sexual and relational communication at California State University Fullerton and relationship coach at Luvbites. “Most companies have clear rules about (no) dating in the workplace,” she says.

If no policy exists and you decide to take the plunge, experts offer this advice:

Assess the situation. “Try to get a sense of how they feel about it. Are they open to the idea? Are they not open to the idea, but you're determined to try anyway? Do they seem indifferent or ambivalent?” Kubele Biya asks. “Knowing how they feel can help shape your approach and give you some clues as to how best to proceed.”

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Be tactful, sensitive, and honest. “Be honest about your feelings and goals but don’t turn it into a suitor/suitress situation where there are winners and losers; just [make it about] two people who may or may not be interested in each other getting to know each other better,” Kubele Biya says. “Try not to be overbearing or pushy; if someone's expressing disinterest or discomfort, respect that and try not to pester them about it.”

Kathleen Furore
Kathleen Furore© Provided by Tribune Content Agency

Be proactive in talking about what happens if the relationship does not work out. Suwinyattichaiporn suggests laying out ground rules to make sure there’s a mutual understanding about how you’ll handle situations that might occur. “For example, talk about remaining friends if the romantic/sexual relationship fails,” she says.

Be clear that dating has nothing to do with your day-to-day work. That lets both parties keep the relationship separate from career responsibilities, Suwinyattichaiporn notes.

Be extra cautious if the relationship is between a supervisor and a subordinate. “In this case, I’d suggest being transparent with the team or even considering employment elsewhere,” Suwinyattichaiporn says. “It’s also a good idea to communicate with HR ahead of the relationship.”

The bottom line, according to Kubele Biya?

“Keep in mind that relationships are always more difficult when you’re working together. They can create tension and pressure, additional factors beyond just two people getting to know each other better. So, while there may be potential upside in a relationship, there can also be significant downsides as well,” he concludes.

(Kathleen Furore is a Chicago-based writer and editor who has covered personal finance and other business-related topics for a variety of trade and consumer publications. You can email her your career questions at

©2022 Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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