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A coworker asked me to go on a date with him. I think he’s attractive, but I’ve been warned about workplace dating by friends who had negative experiences. I’m worried that turning him down will hurt his feelings and ruin our working relationship. What should I do?
Your concerns are justified! Dating can be complicated on its own, but combining your personal life with your professional life involves a great deal of risk. Before making a decision, weigh the possibilities and probabilities. A dinner date is not worth getting thrown off the career fast track. On the other hand, a potential relationship could be worth more to you than a part-time or temporary job.
Consider the consequences of dating a coworker. You might experience resentment from your employer or other coworkers, insinuations of favoritism, and outright questions about your ethics. Lines tend to blur quickly when you’re romantically involved with someone at work. It may be difficult at times to balance loyalties to your sweetheart and your boss. Workplace competition can create havoc in an office romance. It will not always be easy, so be prepared.
Advantages of dating a coworker include saving on transportation expenses by carpooling to work and being able to meet for lunch breaks. You will get to spend more time with your sweetie, but sharing every moment of the day and night could cause your relationship sparks to burn out quickly. It eliminates the excitement of looking forward to seeing your loved one at the end of the day. You might start taking each other for granted.
Take into account what will happen if dating your coworker turns into a relationship and one day that relationship ends. Can you imagine having to see your ex-boyfriend every day at the office? A messy breakup might force other coworkers to choose sides, which would be damaging to the social culture of your workplace. It would also create tension and impair your professionalism. If you don’t think you would be able to handle these issues, it might be best to say, “Thanks, but no thanks.”
As for breaking the bad news to him, don’t overcomplicate it. Tell him that you respect him as a coworker and appreciate him as a friend, but you think it is best to keep your relationship at the friendship level. He may not understand or agree with your decision at first, but in time he will recognize the value of your honesty. Make a conscious effort to interact with him as you normally would and be sensitive to the possibility that he might feel a little embarrassed. From now on, keep your coworkers in the friend zone and look for love outside of the office.
Need advice about your career, relationships, style, health, or just life in general? Ask Melissa! Send your questions to: email@example.com