Dating a coworker is risky business. It worked out great for Jim and Pam on The Office, but that’s television. Real life workplace relationships usually don’t end up so well. I can speak from personal experience. When the relationship is working, spending your work day in close proximity is amazing. When it’s not, it’s like being in hell and then some. If you work in a big company in different departments, and you don’t see each other on a regular basis, then I don’t see much of a problem, unless there’s an explicit company rule against it (which I doubt is legal). But if you do see each other or work together regularly, you need to tread with great care.
Don’t think you can avoid the pitfalls by agreeing on rules of behavior to follow in the event of a breakup. Emotions trump rules every time. You might as well write those rules on a piece of toilet paper and insert them in the appropriate place. At least they will not have been a total waste. You’ll never be able to return to the coworker relationship you enjoyed prior to your romantic involvement. It might even get so unpleasant that you’ll be forced to leave altogether.
Now that I’ve sufficiently scared you from ever considering the possibility of dating a coworker, I offer you a ray of hope. Despite the dangers and pitfalls, in some cases I think it’s worth the risk. If you truly believe, with all your heart, that this coworker whom you’ve gotten to know so well is your soulmate, and if you’re willing to bet your job on that, then you should go for it. True love is more important than any job, isn’t it?
But you need to be as sure as you can possibly be that this person has the potential to go the distance with you. You’re risking your livelihood here. Get to know as much about him or her as you can before starting to date. Spend as much time getting to know each other before dating. Isn’t that what dating is all about anyway? So you’re dating, without officially dating. Let him or her know your fears about dating a coworker, so everyone understands that you’re taking this seriously. That will dissuade him or her from pursuing the relationship if all he or she was after was a quickie affair. If you do decide to date, try to avoid getting sexually intimate until you feel secure in a committed relationship. If you do break up and you haven’t yet had sex, the awkwardness and bad feelings will be a lot less than if you had. You might even be able to continue working in the same place.
Your mission is to find your soul mate. Just because a person works with you doesn’t mean you need to pass up the chance for a great relationship. You just need to be extra careful and as sure as you can be that a relationship with this person has true potential. Remember, your livelihood might be at stake.