COLUMN: Dating co-workers recipe for disaster

Katie Mallady

Before I say anything else, I want to make something clear. I am not on a crusade to stop people from dating their co-workers; I simply wish to educate people. Not that education ever stopped anyone from doing something unhealthy. Teenagers will continue to have sex, people will continue to eat at McDonald’s and co-workers will continue to eye each other hungrily across computers, cubicles and deep fryers.

As Hannibal Lecter says, we covet what we see every day. People see their co-workers more than their spouses, friends or any other people in their lives. It’s easy to connect with someone you see every day, and starting a relationship at work is the easy part. After that, everything gets harder.

The constant contact of work is good for starting a relationship, but it’s not good for keeping them going. Working with a new significant other is like moving in with someone after the third date. One of my friends made the mistake of moving in with someone he didn’t know well. They broke up because they couldn’t stand being in the same house and are currently in a Battle Royale over who will get the apartment and the cat.

A romance at work is not a private affair, no matter what you and your new significant other think. It will be practically impossible to keep your budding romance a secret from the rest of the gossip-hungry employees in your office. (One of my co-workers actually asked me to get involved with another person we worked with, because she “needed more drama in her life.”) Simply not telling the rest your co-workers is not enough, either. If you want to make sure no one knows, there can be no flirting, hand holding or any other public displays of affection in your work environment. But let’s be honest, that’s a complete impossibility unless you have no contact with each other during the day. And if that was the case, you wouldn’t be in this situation, would you?

Now that we’ve established you won’t be able to stay away from your “lover” at work, let’s think about what effect that will have on your job (and theirs). When my friend Sarah fought with her co-worker boyfriend, he was mad at everyone in the restaurant, the servers, the customers, everyone. Something tells me that being mean to customers in a tip-based business is a bad idea.

If you can stay with your significant other through all these problems, I commend you. However, most relationships fall apart under these stresses. (Please don’t feel romantically hopeless if a relationship doesn’t work out. Most relationships don’t work out. At most, only one relationship in your lifetime will be a winner, so the one you just got out of probably wasn’t it.) Unfortunately, the stresses don’t end with the relationship.

You will still have to see your ex. So every day at work, the bad feelings and resentment resulting from your break-up will be just as strong as the infatuation that started the relationship. One or both of you may be forced to find another job.

Many companies have policies against intraoffice dating, and there’s a good reason for that. Work suffers, people suffer, co-workers suffer; it’s just a bad idea.

Katie Mallady is a post-undergraduate and a co-copy desk chief for the Daily Kent Stater. She has never dated a co-worker. Contact her at [email protected].