Now we're always at work, more and more people date co-workers

Despite the quiet quitting trend, Brits are working more than ever.

As of August 2022, the average weekly number of hours worked by full-time workers in the UK was 36.5 hours.

In addition to this, 6.49 million British people have a side hustle.

With a still looming (and worsening) cost of living crisis, it’s not hard to imagine why we might be working so much.

This does, however, mean there’s little time to do much else. Like dating.

After all, when are you supposed to put in the hours to scroll through dating apps, get through the talking stage and physically go and have a date with someone, if so many of us have at least two jobs?

Maybe that’s why more people are dating in the workplace.

Office romances are on the rise as people start to turn away from dating apps in hopes of meeting someone more organically.

In fact, data from the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) released in February 2022 suggests workplace romances may have actually increased. It also shows that 75% of workers are open to the idea of dating a co-worker, despite the taboo that’s still attached to it.

Dating and relationships coach Christiana Maxion tells Metro.co.uk that people prefer to form romantic bonds in persons.

She says: ‘What the apps have done is create a lot of distrust and zero accountability in the dating-verse.

‘This then leads to loads of ghosting, planned and unplanned dates, and an inbox that resembles a graveyard of failed dates.’

The office romance is a tale as old as time – be it an office, kitchen or building site – serving as an unexpected yet inevitable breeding ground for blossoming romances.

According to another survey by job site Vault.com, 58% of employees have engaged in a romantic relationship with a colleague at some point. Perhaps more surprising, 72% of those over the age of 50 years old have become romantically involved with a co-worker.

But dating in the workplace comes with a lot of unique problems – from struggling to maintain a work-life balance to creating an awkward breakup situation.

Kitchen manager Ashley, 29, tells Metro.co.uk that dating a co-worker resulted in ‘one of the most awkward and horrible situations’ of his life.

He explained: ‘I started dating one of the waitresses at a restaurant I managed a few years ago.

‘I feel bad for saying it but the day she handed her notice in was the most relief I’ve ever felt.’

The pair had dated for around four months while working together, but Ashley says it didn’t work out.

‘We got sick of each other because we saw each other at work all the time. We just never had time without each other.’

‘The breakup was so messy,’ he adds. ‘We had to spend months working together when we didn’t even want to look at each other.

‘And when she started dating someone else, I had to watch her new boyfriend pick her up from work and get invited to staff drinks. I will probably never date a co-worker again.’

But there are pros to finding a partner in the office too.

Office manager Emma, 31, says she met her fiancé at work four years ago and now that they work in separate buildings due to a promotion, she misses working together.

She tells Metro.co.uk: ‘Our relationship started as an office flirtation and as our relationship developed, I loved always being in the place where it all started with him.

‘It’s innately romantic and nostalgic to be in your meeting place so often, and keeps you connected to that honeymoon period.’

‘About two years into our relationship, he moved to another building because he got a promotion and we both miss seeing each other all the time.’

Emma believes the workplace is the perfect place to meet a partner.

She explains: ‘I’m obviously a bit biased. It worked out really well for me. But the thing with dating a co-worker is you already have something huge and really important in common and you understand each other’s work struggles and the importance of your job really well.’

She says that with her exes, work was often the subject of arguments. ‘It’s hard to describe work problems and why work sometimes needs to come over other commitments if they don’t get it. My partner always gets it, because he works there too.’

Christiana points out that while, often, relationships suffer because partners struggle to make time for one another amongst your other responsibilities and life events, couples who are also colleagues will always have time together no matter what, which could be a good relationship blessing.

Ready to start dating your co-workers?

First off, maybe don’t date all of them. Secondly, while it might be fine to date a colleague these days, there are some do’s and don’ts Maxion recommends keeping in mind:

DO

  • Be direct with communication and make a mutual decision to either continue or discontinue a romantic relationship.
  • Be open and honest about your feelings, fears or worries about a possible relationship.
  • Flirt in a discreet way. Remember, you are a professional.

DON’T

  • Involve alcohol in your interactions too soon. This could lead down a sloppy slope of mistakes made.
  • Be bitter if it doesn’t work out.
  • Spread any gossip or hateful comments about the other person if you do split. It will be viewed as immature, unprofessional, and may hurt both yours and your former partner’s reputation.

And if you’ve got the hots for a co-worker but you’re not sure how they feel towards you, or whether it’s worth jumping into dating together, Maxion says to follow these steps:

  • Build the bond at work and work out if you see potential for further growth.
  • Ask your co-worker to hang outside of the office/work and gauge their reaction. Are they hesitant or ready to go?
  • If they’re enthusiastic about it, do an activity together, or a common interest.
  • If sparks do fly outside of the office, don’t get romantic just yet. Instead, have an open honest conversation about your feelings for one another and decide if the two of you would like to invest in a romantic relationship.

Ultimately, its hard to say whether dating a co-worker is a good idea. It depends on so many different factors from which roles the two of you take on in the workplace, whether they’ve already dated another co-worker who still works there (yikes), and whether the potential relationship is worth risking your job for.

Sure, it’s pretty hard to get away from an ex if they work on the next desk over from you.

But, equally, it’s pretty pessimistic to dodge a genuine connection with someone you feel all the feels for because it might go down hill.

You never know, you could be the next Pam and Jim.

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