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Dating a Colleague: A Case Study

By: Maggie Lonsdale BA (hons) - Updated: 5 Oct 2012 | comments*Discuss
Colleague Dating Relationship Office

As around 70 per cent of people meet their future spouses at work, it comes as no surprise to realise that people date their colleagues.

It’s all well and good to have two people that are married in the workplace, or even in a serious relationship, but how do you deal with it when people first get together? What are rules, spoken and unspoken, for dating a colleague?

This was the situation for Simon Aldridge, 32, an IT technician for an IT consultancy in central London. Having been single for some time, he was happy to find that he got on well with the new marketing assistant.

Simon told us, “I had never had a relationship with anyone at work before – I’d always met my girlfriends through friends – but I met the new marketing assistant, Sally, on a night out with the team and we just clicked. We gradually got to know each other, chatting at work and on Friday nights when we’d all go for a drink, and after a while I asked her out for dinner.”

Keeping the Relationship Discreet

Simon’s colleagues were aware of the growing relationship between Simon and Sally and, at the beginning, thought it was very sweet. Simon and Sally were both careful not to flaunt their relationship and thought that they were being very discreet.

Simon continued, “When Sally joined the company she was keen to work hard and get ahead in her career, so she did not want to jeopardise her career by getting involved with me. I think if she hadn’t felt like the relationship was going somewhere she would not have wanted to get involved, but we both felt like we had met someone special.”

Simon and Sally were both conscious of making their colleagues feel uncomfortable, so they didn’t flirt or act inappropriately, but there were some inevitable comments. Simon explained, “A friend of mine at work did say that we ought to tone it down a bit – it wasn’t anything major, but it did make me realise that a relationship at work is very visible. He told me that it was a bit much that we started to come into work together a few times a week and would always take our lunch breaks together. Although this wasn’t against our employee handbook, I realised that it meant that I was no longer sharing lunch with my colleagues, like I always used to.”

The Future

It was at this time that Simon decided to think about looking for another job, as the relationship was getting serious and Simon and Sally were planning to move in together. Even though he was not required to look for another job, Simon was conscious that he did not want to affect Sally’s career progression as there was a possibility that the position of marketing manager would become available.

Some companies had rules about dating colleagues in their employee handbooks, but most don’t. However, many companies prefer their employees to have a very low-key, private approach to dating colleagues as it can cause unnecessary friction, especially if the relationship fizzles out.

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