Modern Etiquette — Can I Hook Up With Someone at My Office?

Modern Etiquette — Can I Hook Up With Someone at My Office?

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We all know the old caveat about dipping your nib into the company ink. But who even uses quills anymore (aside from historical reenactors and Revolutionary War ghosts)?

In an age of increasing gender equality, casual hook-ups and technological access to our co-workers (Facebook chat, anyone?), workplace romances are easier to have than ever … but still just as confusing.

Q: I’m the only girl in my office. I really like a guy I work with and there’s not a policy against dating in our company, but I’m worried that it will set some kind of bad precedent. Thoughts?

No harm in getting to know him better outside of work to find out if the feeling is mutual, but hold off hooking up for as long as possible until you’re absolutely sure it will amount to an exclusive relationship. The lowest-risk office relationship is one where both of you have developed a mutually supportive trust and respect for each other. If and when you get to this point, have a discussion about how you’ll handle your relationship while you’re at work. Whom will you tell? How much personal information will you share with others? How will both of you handle it if you break up? What rules will you have for PDA? Which ties in nicely to the next question …

My boyfriend and I work together and have been covertly dating for a few weeks, and we pretend to show up to work and leave work separately. How soon is too soon to “come out” with an office romance?

If you think you can hide your affair from your co-workers, think again. I’ve worked with more than a few “undeclared” couples who thought they had the office duped. Note: Do not leave for vacation at exactly the same time, both return with a tan and outright refuse to know anything about each other’s whereabouts. Attempts to keep the relationship a secret usually fail and invite interest, speculation and gossip. So, if this is heading into “serious” territory, the sooner you tell your boss the better. If you’re just having fun, it’s probably not the smartest idea to begin with.

I hooked up with a dude at a networking function and he was a huge creep. He’s been emailing my boss about doing some work for us. Is it a huge f**k-up to tell my boss that I don’t want to work with this guy because we have “history”?

No. In fact, your boss would probably appreciate a heads-up about this guy’s ulterior motives. You can probably leave the hook-up details out of the story, though.

Is there a way to recover from a (very-public) make-out at an office function? Or should I just quit my job and move to Philadelphia already?

Oh. Wow. Yes, I say move, at least to a different company. That’s going to be a tough one to live down.

Many of the girls at my workplace talk about their hook-ups. I’m not a prude, and I guess I’d join in, but I worry too much about talking about my personal life at work. What do you think?

TMI runs rampant in the world of work because we spend more time with our co-workers than we do with our best friends. A good rule of thumb: If you wouldn’t be comfortable with everyone in the company hearing it, don’t say it. You’re right to use discretion, although listening to others dish is fun!

My company works with a lot of vendors, one of whom is hot, lives across the country and flirts heavily with me on email. He’s coming to town and wants to take me to dinner. I feel like there’s a strong possibility we’ll hook up. Is this unethical?

Nope. Colleague hook-ups become difficult to manage when there’s a difference in power or status and when they’re in close quarters, but it seems like this guy is distant enough in job description and geography that it would be safe.

I was hooking up with a co-worker, things got kind of serious, and it turns out he is not the guy I thought he was at all. He is terrrrrrrrible in relationships and now I want OUT. Hardcore. But this dude is SUPER-SENSITIVE, and I’m afraid he’ll pull some drama. How does one do damage control for an office breakup?

Let this be a lesson for everyone else considering a relationship with a co-worker: 90 percent of the time you will break up before one of you moves on to a different company. If both parties aren’t prepared for that reality, don’t get involved in the first place. That said, you need to have a calm talk with this man alone (outside of the office!) and tell him it isn’t working. Then form a specific plan for how you will handle being at work together. Agree on the “reason” you will give to co-workers, avoid trash talking, and continue to treat him with respect — as you would with all the others in the office.

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Modern Etiquette — Can I Hook Up With Someone at My Office?

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