I’ve been seeing a co-worker now for about 2 weeks, and like any relationship where you spend all your time together, things have escalated quickly. We’re not in the same department, but the company is only about 45 people, so I do see him several times a day. I try to be nonchalant about it, but outside of work, we’re becoming emotionally and physically attached in a way that I was unprepared for. A drunken kiss-turned-relationship in about 3 days flat.

Is this totally stupid? I’m new to this office and city, and until him and his group of friends I hadn’t found my “people.” Now I think I have, which complicates him and the situation even further. We literally haven’t been apart except in our cubicles for nearly 10 days straight.

What do you usually tell people in this situation? He’s not my superior, he’s not even much older than me, and we haven’t told people at work. How would you navigate this?

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12 replies
  1. Penelope Trunk
    Penelope Trunk says:

    There’s no right answer. But there is common wisdom that would say this is a fling. Things that make it look like a fling. So keep it a secret at work until you know it’s a serious relationship. Everyone has their own definition of serious, but everyone can agree that one month is not serious. It’s very hard to really know someone in one month.

    Once you tell people at work, your relationship’s focal point will probably be the hoop-la of workplace excitement (both good and bad) over the romance. So you two need to be strong enough together to want to put up with all of that at work. It will be distracting, and time consuming, and long-lasting, whether or not the relationship is.

    That said, most women need to date men they work with. If you are in your mid-twenties with a good job, you probably spend more time at work than anywhere else. And most of the men you meet are through work. And you have a biological clock ticking loudly. So it would be absurd to restrict yourself to non-work dating. It’s too inefficient in an area that has a tight deadline.

    Here’s a post about why you should date men you work with:
    http://blog.penelopetrunk.com/2007/08/02/yahoo-column-the-new-girls-guide-to-workplace-success/

    So date men at work, but there is no need to rush to tell people at work. I know it seems difficult and ridiculous to hide the relationship at work. But you would have a really hard time getting any work done if you were not hiding it.

    Penelope

  2. Anon
    Anon says:

    Just be aware that any man stupid enough to pursue a workplace “romance” in the cuurent environmen where he is defact guilty of whatever a woman accuses him of is not really LTR materiial.

  3. Southern Man
    Southern Man says:

    Yeah, we guys spend much of our day at work as well. But in today’s anti-male corporate environment (feminist women OWN HR) most of us would never risk dating a co-worker. Thus, your choices are (a) fools and (b) men high enough on the corporate ladder that they dare do what others do not. And (b) know that they’re good catches so they play the field with impunity. Date either at your own risk, and look for men like me at church or the gym.

  4. Shaun
    Shaun says:

    While I have to agree with Aron and Southern Man, you could put a more positive spin on it.
    If I were to date a coworker, it would only be because I was convinced that she was The One.
    So this guy might be foolish, or he may feel that the relationship is worth risking his career for.

  5. Steve S.
    Steve S. says:

    If it’s this wild and for two weeks, it’s strong odds that the office has already noticed.

    Tread very, very carefully: work is enough pressure without adding a romance to the mix; it takes real fortitude and dedication to avoid resentments. These things do not usually end well, unless one or the other is willing to leave the company.

  6. Sarah
    Sarah says:

    Though there are a lot of people who are uncomfortable with dating at work, and it is particularly awkward if either is in a position of superiority. Never-the-less I agree with Penelope and I myself have often dated people at work. I recently married a co-worker and we still work together, though in different departments. Some friends of the family did something similar and before my wedding she said that as far as HR is concerned it is inevitable – they hire a lot of bright people of a similar age and ask them to work long hours together, expecting anything else would be naive.

    Two things I would say:

    1. Be sure this is really a relationship and not a fling before you disclose it to everyone. Yes, people might suspect, but it’s not worth confirming their suspicions until you’re both sure that’s what you want.

    2. You never have to disclose at all unless there are specific rules that say you do, and if so make sure you follow them. Where we work, you do have to tell a manager if you enter into a relationship and neither can be a direct report to the other. Another couple at work changed departments so that the direct report issue couldn’t be a problem. Find out what the rules are at your job and once you both decide it is a relationship, make sure you follow those rules.

  7. The Gift
    The Gift says:

    Penelope is a woman. She is giving advice to a woman. And, from that perspective, her advice TO THE WOMAN is spot-on. As an attorney, I would advise the man that he is an idiot. The sex better be awesome because as soon as the flame begins to flicker, he will be fired and, in this economy, his career will be tough to rebuild. Maybe the office HR department will be sufficiently even-handed that both of your careers will be destroyed, but the destruction of the career of the male in the fling is a lock.

  8. Casey
    Casey says:

    Agree with ZorroPrimo. Anyone who dates anyone else at their workplace is just asking for trouble, and I don’t mean harassment charges. I’ve never seen a relationship between two co-workers work out well, excuse the pun. Ever.

    …And I guarantee you everyone knows about the relationship if it’s more than three days old.

  9. Jasa
    Jasa says:

    Wow! I resent the fact that some “corporate men” think they are being taken advantage of, or will be accused of sexual harasment, if they attempt to form a relationship with a female co-worker. Wakey-wakey, guys! Women have been working in hostile environments for a very long time, expecially in the sciences. Are you whining because you can’t conduct yourselves in an appropriate manner without being accused of something inappropriate. As a 50-something female oceanographer, I can tell you I’ve been sexually harassed in almosst every way immaginable since the 1980s. If you were a female working on a ship, you were often the only female–and that made a lot of men think 1) I was “easy” (NOT), 2) I had slept with the boss to gain my status (NOT), 3) it was ok to verbally abuse me (NOT), 4) if anyone was hurt on ANY watch, I had to be woken up so I could care for them, even though there were trained ship’s personnel and I was a scientist-Mommy complex, anyone? (DUH) and 5) I could be physically molested as well (NOT!). That said, I also was called Mom by many male personnel who actually knew me, because I was a caring field leader whom they could trust, with the integrity and courtesy that allowed mature men (note the word “mature”) to work with me for weeks at a time without problems, who could tell me if they felt they could not physically do their jobs on deck if the weather was not cooperating (takes a secure man to tell a woman he won’t hang of the back deck in a mere 20; following sea because he’s too scared and he might cause a safety issue for others), who could ask me for a ride home once we were back at the dock after they’d had a little too much to drink, etc. Those of you who responded in such a ridiculous whiny way, including the attorney, need to figure out what they are doing wrong. It’s not the system–you are your own worst enemy. And to finish, I did date co-workers over the years, eventally marrying one and raising a family, having known and worked with him for more than 15 years already. Get a grip. If your behavior is inappropriate, you should answer for it. If you don’t have the sense or ability to try to have a real relationship with a female co-worker without breaking company rules or enabling rude and unfounded gossip, by all means, DON’T, but please don’t blame it on the system. Act like a person with of integrity, folllow company rules and don’t be an idiot, and you may find the love of your life, if that’s what you’ew looking for, as I did. If you want a sexual fling, keep it out of the workplace. Not too difficult.

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