Questions Answered: Should I date my co-worker?

Question: I’m interning at my dream company for the fall and spring semesters. Things have been going really well, but here’s my question. There’s a guy in my department that I’m really into. He is definitely interested in me, too. He is a full time, regular employee. I asked around and there doesn’t seem to be any policy against dating. Would dating him ruin my chances of getting a full time offer at this company? – Lyanne, Lubbock, TX

Answer: First, congratulations on landing an internship at your dream company. Any time we try to mix our work and personal lives, things can get a bit tricky. The first thing I would suggest is getting in touch with your Human Resources department to get confirmation that a dating policy does not exist. Also find out if there’s a policy against employees dating interns, which may be considered a different situation than employees dating one another. Next, check with your school to find out if there is a college policy about interns dating co-workers. You just want to check all your bases.

There are a few other things to consider, as well:

  • Since you work in the same department, would there ever be an instance when this co-worker might supervise one of your projects?
  • Thinking longer term, if he were promoted, would this co-worker suddenly become your supervisor?
  • One of the primary concerns with dating in the workplace is the potential for misuse of power. You never want to find yourself in a situation where the person you are dating has power over you, or you have power over them, (i.e. one of you is supervising the other).
  • You will also want to consider how both of you would manage the end of the relationship. Breaking up can be challenging enough all on its own, but if you add to that the awkwardness of seeing each other regularly at work and having to work cooperatively with one another, your work life has the potential to become very uncomfortable.

If you do decide to date your co-worker, be especially cautious not to draw unnecessary attention to yourselves. Always be professional with one another and keep displays of affection outside of the workplace. As much as possible, refrain from discussing your relationship with other co-workers. If things end up not working out, don’t give into the temptation to talk about him behind his back to your colleagues, and hopefully he’ll do the same.

As far as whether or not dating this person could hinder your chances of getting a full time job offer, that really depends on many of the factors mentioned above. However in my professional opinion, I would suggest waiting until after your internship is complete before dating your colleague. Keep your internship about focusing on your job, developing and honing professional skills and pursuing your career goals.  The end of the spring semester really isn’t that far away if you decide you still want to date him after the internship is complete.  If you do receive an offer of full time employment, great! And, if there are no policies against employees dating one another, then dating him at that point won’t be a problem. If you don’t receive a full time offer, you will know that it had nothing to do with your relationship with him and if you chose to, you could still date him. Best of luck to you!

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