Office Romance Survival Skills
Most men avoid dating colleagues for fear of what'd happen if things went sour, a survey shows. But hey, a coworker knows your pain, is on your schedule, and livens up lunch. So go for it. But make sure you ...
1. Transition well
Sharing an elevator the morning after a hot bedroom session? Awkward — and potentially damaging. According to a 2008 survey in Human Nature, women are far more likely to have morning-after regrets than men are, especially if they fear that the first hookup will also be the last.
Manage it: "Pick up with the same inside jokes you had before you hooked up," says Anna David, relationship expert on G4's Attack of the Show! You always had a good rapport, so show her that hasn't changed.
2. Quash rumors
Fear of gossip thwarts many potential courtships, according to a recent corporate survey. Still, 66 percent of participants in another poll said that once they're involved, they don't worry about secrecy.
Manage it: Timing is key. "Simply showing up together for drinks after work should transmit information without a lot of unnecessary drama," says Stephanie Losee, coauthor, with Helaine Olen, of Office Mate. "When questions come up, answer simply. Limit the details. Coworkers don't want to know more, anyway."
3. Forget work
"People who share battle scars can mistake themselves for romantic partners," says Olen. But talking shop during that getting-to-know-ya time will lead nowhere fast.
Manage it: "Give yourselves a 10-minute time limit for work chatter, and move on," says Leil Lowndes, author of How to Talk to Anyone. To grow close, you need shared experiences outside the cubicle. Do things that fuel conversation, like seeing a good movie or taking a short trip.
4. Tell your boss
Nobody wants a heart-to-heart in the corner office, but the boss will hear the news eventually. It really should come from you.
Manage it: "Use the meet-the-parents test," says Daniel Pink, author of The Adventures of Johnny Bunko: The Last Career Guide You'll Ever Need. "If it's serious enough for you to introduce her to your parents, tell your boss, too." Losee suggests that the more senior staffer deliver the news. Say simply that you wanted to be open about it, and stress that your work won't be affected. "Do not walk into the boss's office together," says Losee. "It's infantilizing."
5. Let her be charming
It's hard to watch any woman you're sleeping with flirt with another guy — even if, in most cases, it's just the usual office banter.
Manage it: A 2008 study in the Journal of Economic Psychology found that pretty women earn 7 percent to 12 percent more than their less-attractive counterparts. If she can make her looks work for her, who are you to stop it? But make her feel more confident about your feelings for her, David says. If she knows where she stands with you, she may treat others differently.
6. Recover quietly
Only a third of office romances go long-term, so don't be shocked if it ends. If you're a snot about your breakup, coworkers could (and honestly, should) take your ex's side.
Manage it: "Save arguments for after 5 p.m., away from the office. And never, ever punch office property," quips Emma Taylor (a.k.a. Em of Em & Lo), coauthor of Buh Bye: The Ultimate Guide to Dumping and Getting Dumped. If the split seems small in the office, your colleagues won't know any better: They'll just think things fizzled. It happens.