Home  >  Flirting Flings  >  Dating Game

23 Tips to Date a Coworker & Handle a Breakup If the Relationship Ends

You’re attracted to the hot coworker you’ve started hanging out with. But dating a coworker can be tricky, so there are some important things you need to keep in mind.

dating a coworker

Dating a coworker can be the best decision you ever make or the worst. On the one hand, you get to spend a ton of time with them and see them in a professional setting—which can be really inspiring. Who doesn’t want to spend all day every day with their partner?

But on the other hand, you also risk your professional reputation.

Many workplaces actually ban dating amongst the team because it has the potential to disrupt the work environment. However, for those places that DO allow coworkers to date, you still may want to take things easy.

A relationship with a coworker is different from a relationship with literally anyone else, so there are some things you need to think of before pursuing this relationship.

Hazards of dating a coworker

There are a lot of reasons why you shouldn’t date someone you work with. 

They could distract you from your work, give you a certain type of reputation around the office, and you could potentially run the risk of being penalized for inappropriate behavior at work.

This could also lead to you being fired or not getting the promotion you really want. These reasons are why some people choose to keep their love life completely separate from their work life and just not date a coworker.

And this is something you should think about too. Are you a very strongly career-orientated person? Is your current job either your ‘dream job’ or the key for you to one day achieve your goals? If so, dating a coworker could be too much of a risk. [Read: Love or career – How to make the right choice]

How to date a coworker

Getting it on with a hot coworker is the stuff of fantasies for many people, especially if they’ve been crushing on someone in the office for a while. 

After all, you may not be able to resist if you find the man or woman of your dreams in a sexy power suit, but what more if you find that you share the same interests?

These office romances are actually fairly common, and the reason behind them is actually quite simple. You spend eight hours a day, five days a week in the office, where you can meet tons of different people. [Read: Ways to amp up your attractiveness and snag your dream date]

Among all those people you work with each day, odds are you’ll find someone you can really get along with.

Amidst the hustle and bustle of daily office work, you may suddenly find yourself sneaking glances at your crush and catching how you catch their eye, too.

From copy room flirtations to a steamy office affair up until the awkward breakup, let us be your guide to dating a coworker! [Read: How to be sexually attractive – 40 subtle ways to seduce anyone]

1. Check your company’s policy on dating a coworker

Is your workplace squeeze really worth losing your job over? Many companies would discourage an office affair for a good reason: it may get in the way of your performance.

The first thing you want to do is find out if there’s a policy explicitly stating that you should not engage in any sort of office romance *unless you’re looking to get fired*. 

If it’s not stated that this is grounds for termination, then, by all means, pursue your love interest to your heart’s content! [Read: Workplace flirting – 28 subtle signs a coworker is flirting and hitting on you]

2. Choosing who to date

Obviously, you didn’t land a job for the purpose of finding romance, but it does help to be on the lookout for someone you may be interested in. Superiors and subordinates are definitely off-limits, and dating them is very unprofessional, so avoid them.

Another consideration is finding someone who isn’t within your department or floor. Building up an attraction with someone you see very often is easy, but it’s equally easy to tire of each other down the line. 

Try to go up or down a floor or choose someone from another department. Besides, when things go awry, it would be tough to avoid those awkward moments when the two of you share a cubicle together. [Read: Tips to keep in mind when you start dating your boss]

3. Be sure they’re also interested in you before making a move

Just because Ted from finance or Anne from HR added in a little effort to make your life easier does not necessarily mean they’re into you. As with all relationships in and outside the office, never assume that someone likes you until you see some obvious signs.

Outside of the office, it’s not really a big deal as they can just avoid you. But within the workplace, this can be awkward at best or grounds for a sexual harassment suit at worst!

4. Get to know each other a little better during a company outing

Nothing adds a little more excitement to an office flirtation than the prospect of seeing him or her outside of the workplace.

When you’re all relaxed and free from the pressures of your jobs, you can finally spend some out-of-office time together without you having to ask him or her out on a date. [Read: Subtly flirty questions to ask your office crush]

If your office outing includes booze, then this can be the bottled bravery you need! Just take it easy on the alcohol, though, as you may end up being dead drunk before you can even profess your undying love.

5. Discuss how you should handle it if your relationship doesn’t work out. 

This is always a possibility, even if no one wants to think about it—because that’s not why you get into a relationship. You start it in the hopes that it’ll work out forever.

Nevertheless, discuss how you would act and how to handle the situation if the two of you ever did part ways. Make sure you make a plan for work and how you would tell coworkers and your boss. [Read: Sexual tension at work – 36 lusty signs of flirty coworkers you can’t hide]

And always remain respectful and professional at work no matter what happens.

6. Hide it well in the early stages, but come clean if you get caught

Even if it’s not against the rules of your company, your office romance doesn’t need to be the day’s hottest gossip. You don’t necessarily have to tell your boss if you and your coworker are just having a passing fling.

However, if you happen to get caught before you can tell your boss, there’s no use denying it. Your officemates may be put on the line, and they may have to report what they know. [Read: Quick and easy ways to deal with nosy coworkers]

In cases like this, just be out with it and be honest with your boss. That’s also a huge weight off your chest, as hiding every shred of evidence that you’re with someone from the office won’t be a problem anymore.

7. Tell your boss if it’s getting serious

An office relationship can have some effects on your behavior and performance at work. Though these effects can be controlled, it’s still a good idea to tell your boss about it, particularly if you’ve been dating for a couple of months.

It’s also better if your boss hears it from you instead of a gossipmonger who may exaggerate the details.

While you’re at it, add in some assurance that you won’t let your relationship interrupt your daily duties and genuinely follow through on it. [Read: Subtle ways to hint and flirt with a coworker and see if they like you]

8. Even if you go public, keep it discreet

This means no PDA in the office. It doesn’t matter how alone you think you are, you’re more than likely never alone. Don’t show public displays of affection when you’re at work.

First, it’s probably against some sort of company policy. Secondly, it just looks inappropriate and unprofessional. If you want to maintain your respect at work while dating a coworker, do not show any affection while at work.

This also means no work email “I love yous” and definitely no making out in the elevator! You’re in a professional environment, after all. [Read: Tips to keep in mind when you date your boss]

So, keep your romance out of your work. It’s fine if you want to have lunch together or if you want to have your coffee breaks together, but keep the physical stuff out!

You’re already sharing an office and probably seeing each other in the office all the time. Wait it out and resist the urge. 

Besides, isn’t it so much more thrilling when your honey’s out of reach for a while before you can fall back into each other’s arms after your shift? [Read: Public display of affection – how to do it, PDA etiquette, and 26 must-knows]

9. Draw the line between your personal and professional life

Don’t intermingle your work and personal life. Don’t go to their office and ask them what they want for dinner or nag them about getting the yard work done this weekend or something silly.

You should always keep your personal life and work life separate, even if you two work together. Maintaining that level of professionalism helps others see you in an appropriate way. 

Otherwise, they’ll start acting strange if you’re only talking to them to discuss relationship matters. [Read: Rom-com cliches that never work in real life]

Many workplace couples can pull this off, but some just can’t help themselves! Remember that you’re there to help your company thrive, and not just to make googly eyes at each other or play footsie under your desks.

If two people send something for you to work on, and one of them happens to be your flame, be fair and work on the one you should be prioritizing.

Give no preferential treatment to your significant other. [Read: How to choose between your love life and your career]

10. Don’t bring your arguments to work with you

This one is VERY important. As much as you should keep your home and work life separate, you may still need to discuss something personal at work.

However, NEVER bring a personal argument into your workplace. Never walk in fighting or go into their office and argue about something that you’re fighting about.

This is extremely unprofessional and exactly why companies have policies against dating coworkers. [Read: Relationship arguments – 25 do’s and don’ts to remember]

11. Don’t make it a huge deal

Don’t walk around whispering with people about how you’re now dating a coworker. It isn’t a big deal, and you should keep it as not a big deal.

If you start making a big deal that you’re dating a coworker, it can ruin your reputation within the business. Maintain a cool exterior, and after mentioning it to your boss once, don’t bring it up again. [Read: Enough is enough! How to stop playing relationship games]

12. Treat them like any other coworker

Just because you’re dating them doesn’t mean you should treat them any differently. In fact, you should treat them just as you would treat any other coworker.

This means you can’t just agree with them because you’re with them. If you disagree on a matter in a meeting, be sure to let your voice be heard and don’t hold back simply because they’re your significant other. This helps others realize you’re putting work above the relationship.

13. Don’t talk about your relationship with any of your coworkers

You may want to gossip and chat about cute things that they do for you or what they got you for your birthday but just don’t.

To keep work and home life separate, you can’t be talking all about them all the time. [Read: 20 signs a coworker is sexually attracted to you and wants to seduce you]

Other people start to feel as though they know them better than they do. Or they might even lose a little respect for you AND them depending on what you talk about. Keep other people out of your relationship. That’s what friends are for—not coworkers.

14. Make work a priority at work

When you’re at work, work comes first. It doesn’t matter what anyone says or what you must do. Just make sure when you’re at work that you’re putting all of your work responsibilities first.

You should act just as you would if you weren’t dating someone you work with. You should enter the building and go about your duties in a manner that suggests you aren’t even dating a coworker. [Read: Sneaky sex at work: The pros and cons of banging on the job]

15. Don’t ever have sex at the office

NEVER EVER, EVER DO THIS. Sure, this may be a big fantasy many people have. But it’s absolutely off-limits no matter who you’re dating—but especially a coworker.

You need to maintain respect and professionalism while you’re at work, and you can’t do that if you’re sleeping with a coworker on the job. Even if you think nobody will know, you should never do this at all.

What to do when a relationship with a co-worker ends

One fateful day, what you didn’t spend much time thinking about might actually occur. And for whatever reason, you break up. [Read: The most important stages of a breakup and how to get through each of them]

Going from dating a coworker to breaking up can be tricky.

Maybe you had a tiff over something stupid that turned into a major fight, and it eventually led to the demise of your relationship. 

Perhaps previously amicable coworkers started gossiping about the two of you, and one of you couldn’t take it anymore. [Read: How long does it take to get over a breakup – 3 months and more timelines]

Another co-worker may even have thrown themselves at your partner, and they, unfortunately, reciprocated.

Nevertheless, the real reason for the relationship’s end is practically irrelevant. 

The fact remains that you’re devastated. You are dreading the thought of ever walking into your workplace again and have even considered applying for a job halfway across the world. [Read: Mutual breakup – why they happen and how to recognize the signs]

Dealing with the loss of a relationship with a co-worker is always difficult, no matter how thick your skin is. But it’s actually not impossible, even though it may feel that way at times.

You, like many others before you, can survive this kind of breakup with your job and your dignity still intact. 

You just have to pay attention to your behavior in certain situations. No matter how much your former partner may push your buttons, don’t lash out. You’ll look like the psycho ex to the entire company. [Read: Important things you need to do to get your self-esteem back immediately after a break up]

Some couples who break up can’t bear the awkwardness, and one of them ends up leaving the company. Don’t allow one dalliance to have such a permanent mark on your career!

Some couples, on the other hand, remain fairly professional even after the breakup. 

Strive for this instead by planning clean exit strategies to alleviate the discomfort. For instance, you could use the restrooms away from your ex’s department or work different shifts.

But don’t completely alienate your ex after the breakup, either. [Read: Things you need to do when your office romance ends]

For the sake of formality, try to remain as civil as possible whenever you see each other. Anything other than civility will definitely get tongues wagging, and you wouldn’t want to be the center of workplace gossip again!

Here are eight very important things that you must remember if you want to deal with the recent end of a relationship with a coworker successfully.

1. Return all their stuff

If you were in a relationship with your co-worker for a long time, you likely have some of their things. [Read: 16 lessons to recover from a breakup one day at a time and move ahead]

After the breakup, you should return your co-worker’s possessions promptly. Not only will this make them see you in a positive light, but it will also give you the closure you need to let go.

You should arrange a time and place to meet in private to deliver the belongings. This will encourage your ex to return yours as well.

Do not dump them on their desk in a dramatic show of emotion, plop them on top of their vehicle and drive away, or engage in any of this sort of immature behavior.

You’ll just tick off your ex while making yourself look stupid in the process. [Read: How to feel better after a breakup – 22 steps to find your happiness]

2. Keep your distance

After you experience a breakup with someone you work with, you need to give them some space. You also need to take some space for yourself, too. 

Find some new lunch and coffee buddies. Don’t volunteer to work on committees or projects you know they’re involved with if you don’t have to. [Read: No contact rule – what it is, how to use it, and why it works so well]

Don’t constantly call or email them to find out what they’re doing. And, above all, don’t spy on them or enlist another co-worker to do it for you. 

Even if you have to pass by their windowed office on the way to your own, avert your eyes and resist the urge to peek in.

In essence, you need to ensure that there is a fair amount of physical and emotional distance between you two. Then, in enough time, you will eventually be able to function comfortably as just colleagues again. [Read: Reasons why the no contact rule always works for you]

3. Maintain a professional attitude

Chances are, even if you don’t do so voluntarily, you will be forced to work with your ex again. 

Perhaps, you committed to a certain project before you knew the two of you would break up. Or maybe you have to assist with a certain assignment that they’re involved with to keep your job.

If you do have to communicate with them for work purposes, maintain a professional attitude, especially in front of others. [Read: 23 secrets to get over someone you see every day and not lose your mind]

Don’t make wisecracks about their looks, their personality quirks, or any of their other attributes. And don’t criticize their work more than you would any other colleague’s.

Never, ever bring up anything that happened during the relationship, especially anything that happened in the bedroom. 

Dragging your former relationship into the picture while you’re supposed to be completing a team assignment will likely cause you to bicker with your ex and annoy the rest of your team. [Read: Things to keep in mind when you bump into an ex often]

4. Keep the details of the breakup to yourself 

Following your breakup with your coworker, you will likely want to spill your guts to some of your other co-workers. 

If your ex dumped you, you may feel like filling your cohorts in on what a horrible, misled person they are. Or, if you dumped them, you may want to tell your co-workers all about the horrible things they did to get themselves dumped. 

Telling your co-workers that you and your ex are no longer a couple is fine. However, you’ve got to keep the details you share about the relationship’s end to a bare minimum. [Read: How to stop obsessing over an ex and free your mind for something new]

Not only will going on and on about the breakup make you look unprofessional, but your ex may also hear that you’re talking about them, and start talking about you, too. 

Both of you will look gossipy and childish in the best-case scenario. In the worst-case scenario, the majority of people will take your ex’s side, making you an outcast within the workplace.

This is definitely a hazard and consequence you risk when dating a coworker. [True confession: My (co-worker) ex’s revenge – How my ex’s rumors ruined me!]

5. Don’t start dating someone else at work right away

Having a rebound relationship rarely makes the situation better. However, this is even worse when, after breaking up with a co-worker, someone decides to have a rebound relationship with another co-worker.

You may be tempted to do this due to loneliness. Or maybe you want to rub the fact that you are still found attractive by someone else in your ex’s face. But for the sake of all parties involved, you should stay avoid dating another coworker for at least a few months after your breakup.

Rebound relationships rarely last long. And once this one ends, you’ll have to go through the healing process in front of your colleagues again. [Read: The worst people you can have a one-night stand/rebound relationship with!]

Instead, take the opportunity to get out socially and look for love outside of your workplace. You never know whom you might be missing if you focus on searching within only one venue.

6. Don’t bad-mouth their new significant other

Of course, your ex may start dating another co-worker right under your very nose.

Alternatively, they may get a new partner outside of work who starts showing up to see them constantly, forcing you to see their face. [Read: The real reason behind why you’re jealous of your ex]

Regardless of how much anger or frustration begins to stir within you, avoid publicly insulting their new flame. 

Even if they do have a really strange laugh, drive a run-down, ancient car, or think wearing stripes with plaids is appropriate. 

Instead, be thankful that your breakup will now allow you to find someone who’s better for you. [Read: Why it’s normal to feel strange when your ex dates someone new]

7. Don’t engage in unnecessary competition

If you’re a competitive sort, and your ex is in a similar position to you, you might be tempted to compete with them. You might go for honors, such as promotions or raises, just to “show them up” to prove that you are smarter.

However, this is just a waste of time and energy. Especially if you don’t really want to take on any extra responsibilities. Instead of realizing what a star you are, your ex might realize that you’re purposefully competing with them.

That’s not to say that you shouldn’t continue to chase your goals in the workplace. Just don’t make these goals dependent upon what your ex does. [Read: Why can’t I get over my ex when I want to move on and forget them?]

8. Don’t play games to try and get them back 

Perhaps you were the dumpee and never wanted to break up in the first place. Or, shortly after you dumped your ex, you realized that you made a mistake. Do not resort to using sly tactics in the workplace in order to get your former partner back.

Repeatedly walking by their office doused in a cloud of cologne and wearing your hottest outfit may turn their head.

But it won’t make them respect you as a long-term relationship option. And depending on what your sexy outfit consists of, this may get you sent to the human resources department.

Leaving gifts in their office or arranging fake meetings so that the two of you can talk will just make you look desperate. And the more desperate a person seems, the less attractive they seem. [Read: Things you HAVE to do after a breakup to feel awesome!]

If you’re interested in getting back together with your ex, just honestly tell them. But realize that you have to accept their answer, whatever it may be.

By following the advice above, you’ll dramatically increase your chances of surviving a breakup with a co-worker with little to no bumps or bruises, metaphorically speaking. [Read: The good and bad of being friends with an ex – your helpful guide]

Provided that your ex behaves maturely and respectfully, you two will be able to transition from being partners to professional associates seamlessly. 

And after a while of healing, you can decide whether you want to jump back into the workplace dating pool or vow off coworkers for good. If you choose the first option, who knows – maybe next time, there won’t be a breakup to deal with!

[Read: Sex in the office – pros and cons of banging in the workplace]

Dating a coworker can be a fun and exciting thing—if you follow these rules. Otherwise, you may find yourself looking for another job in a matter of weeks.

Liked what you just read? Follow us on Instagram Facebook Twitter Pinterest and we promise, we’ll be your lucky charm to a beautiful love life. And while you’re at it, check out MIRL, a cool new social networking app that connects experts and seekers!

Carol Morgan LP
Dr. Carol Morgan
Dr. Carol Morgan has a Ph.D. in communication and is a professor at Wright State University where she loves corrupting young minds. As a relationship and succes...