Dating at Work

Dating at Work2018 Update: We still think this was a great discussion on dating at work, but you may also want to check out our more recent discussions on love, including dating advice for career-driven women.

Ladies, what are your thoughts on dating at work? Have you ever dated a coworker? What do you think are the rules for dating officemates? With Valentine’s Day coming up, I thought we’d have a nice open thread about the pros and cons of dating at the office. (For those of you already happily coupled, let’s hear how you met, whether at the office or beyond!)

For my $.02: I never dated a coworker, although I had crushes on a few of them over the years — at the time I was very worried about being viewed as someone who saw the office as a dating pool. Looking back, this was probably silly — in Big Law so many people churn through the lower ranks it’s almost like another grad school, and there are always more people to work with if a relationship ends poorly. Indeed, I know several happily married couples who met as coworkers at BigLaw — although all of them kept it a secret, even from good friends, until the relationship was pretty serious. (In fact, a number of readers noted in our last open thread about dating at the office that they had dated at work, and discretion was the name of the game, as well as paying attention to the “don’t date assholes” rule that, you know, is a pretty good one for dating in general. I also agree with the other little rule that readers noted in that thread, though: Summer associates or interns should not date at the office.)

As for how I met my husband — I went through a phase where, fighting my introverted ways, I said “yes” to pretty much any activity that would take me out of the house. For about a year and a half I went to political fundraisers, soccer games, and trivia nights — and I also joined museum groups like the Young Lions (at the New York Public Library) and the American Museum of Natural History’s Junior Council. And just when I was about to give up my little “dating project,” I met my husband. We met at a friend-of-a-friend’s birthday party in a bar on the Lower East Side; Mr. G also did not know the birthday girl well and in fact had to be dragged to the party (by our future best man!). Our circles really didn’t intersect at all, so it’s really lucky that fate took us both to that party.

All right, ladies, over to you — have you dated at the office? Share your stories (and your rules)! If you’re happily coupled, how did you meet your partner, whether at work or beyond? 

Psst: we’ve also talked about finding time to date when you’re busyhow to date a really busy guy, and how to date someone with more time or less money

Further reading:

Pictured at top: my flowers, originally uploaded to Flickr by Jenni Konrad.


  1. This is a line I just won’t cross. I work for a company with thousands of employees, so I’ll date outside of my department ONLY, assuming there’s no chance of us interacting at work ever.

    It’s just not a worthwhile risk for me, the fallout potential is huge.

    • Me either. The last thing I want is for a guy to know what I look like NAKED. Also I do NOT want him bragging about what we did in bed. FOOEY! I think dados right– you should NEVER poop where you eat, meaning your private parts should NOT be the topic of discussion in the LOCKER room. Sheketovits told everyone everything about me and my boobie’s. TRIPEL FOOEY!

    • I agree, it’s fraught with danger. I dated a co-worker years ago and broke it off after a few months. I know the breakup really hurt him and it was made worse because we worked in adjacent departments and had to see each other every day. He left the company a few months after the breakup. I never dated at work again, even though I was asked out frequently. But then I know other people who met at work and went on to have successful marriages. It’s risky, but for some people the workplace is a good or perhaps the only way to meet people. Tread cautiously.

  2. Diana Barry :

    When I was young and foolish (after 1L year), I dated a fellow summer associate. It was my last serious relationship before I met DH, lasted about 6 months, half long-distance. I wouldn’t do it again!

  3. I met my husband at work. We worked at a place that had a lot of people fairly young out of college or grad school, and it was a very social group. I think out of our group of 15-20 people that regularly had happy hours, there were at least 3 marriages.

    That said, when we actually realized there was an attraction there, work became a little awkward. We weren’t in the same group, but we had the same boss 3 levels up. Personally I had a really hard time focusing on my work in those early courtship days. Sometimes we would go for coffee midday and sneak kisses in the elevator on the way back – that was nice. Maybe 6 months after we started dating, he left for a job at a different company, which made things easier for both of us professionally.

    I’d never dated a coworker before, and I was pretty sure he was not going to be a fling. I would never, ever hook up with someone at work with the expectation that it was a fling. Way too much risk. (We’ve now been married for a decade.)

  4. Off topic, but question about taxes: my husband thinks he can do them, but in 2015 a) I worked as a contractor and didn’t have taxes taken out nor did I file quarterly b) we moved to a new state and started new jobs c) bought a house and d) had a baby. Seems like we should pay someone to me.

    Follow up: is there a good reason not to hire an accountant who happens to be our neighbor? We moved to a small town and she was recommended. We googled her and she lives next door. Would that weird?

    • Were you running your own small business or working as a contractor? If you were a 1099 contractor, doing your own taxes wouldn’t be so bad. Has your husband done your taxes before with TurboTax or similar?

      Perhaps a compromise position could be that your husband does your taxes via TurboTax but doesn’t submit them yet and then you could hire an accountant to review them and let you know if you did anything wrong with your deductions or if you missed anything. But a real accountant, not a pop-up H&R Block storefront – I made that mistake once when I worked in 3 different states over the course of one year and thought I should get help – the person was basically just working through the same software that I could have bought and filled in myself.

      The other reason I recommend doing it yourself through TurboTax is it steps you through lots of questions so you can find all the paperwork you need – it will cost a lot more to get your taxes done if your accountant has to constantly call you up and say “do you have this tax form from your home purchase? What about that form from your student loans?” etc, etc

      Another reason for hiring someone is that there may be things about your new area you don’t know – for instance, in my city there is both a local income tax and a school district income tax – and the paperwork is very un-user friendly. We didn’t do those for the first 2 years because we didn’t know any better, and got hit with a big bill in year 3.

      • I disagree on multiple counts.

        First, I can’t ‘review’ your taxes without re-preparing them based on your source documents. It’s not like when I review something my staff prepared where there are work papers and reconciliations for everything. So doing them yourself is just setting up an expectation of what they will look like that may or may not be accurate, and won’t save you money. Both my required ethics courses as well as my malpractice insurance suggest against these types of engagements, so I’d be suspicious of anyone who agrees to this.

        Second, the contractor portion wasn’t the only new complexity this year. Everything together really does call for a professional.

        And finally, a quality practitioner will give you a checklist or organizer to complete as part of the preparation process. This takes the place of you filling out the questions in Turbotax to organize your paperwork. A practitioner who keeps calling you up because they don’t give you one and don’t know what you get from you is not one you want to use.

        • Meg Murry :

          Ok, fair enough. Thank you for clarifiying, since I am not a tax pro, I will definitely defer to you.

          I know the person would have to re-do what was already in Turbo Tax so it wouldn’t necessarily but much cheaper.

          We always do our taxes ourselves in TurboTax (my husband has an accounting degree but has never worked professionally as an accountant) and it’s basically a project that takes the bulk of a couple of evenings – but the time actually entering into the software is minimal, the main part of it is going “It’s asking for form XYZ from our mortgage company. Do we have form XYZ? Crap, it’s online. Double crap, where is the password to this stupid online portal I haven’t used since last year. Reset password, finally get form, download, print.” Repeat for next quesiton on TurboTax, over and over and over again.

          The only way I meant for it being cheaper was that my FIL always had his taxes done professionally and basically paid an arm and a leg because he just gave them a disorganized shoebox full of receipts and miscellaneous tax forms – the year he finally got a clue and hired my BIL to organize the paperwork first (for way less money) he paid a lot less than the years he was a jumbled mess.

    • 1. Your husband definitely shouldn’t attempt your taxes.
      2. I don’t see anything wrong with using a neighbor (I prepare taxes for neighbors, acquaintances, etc – you’ll have a professional relationship for this one thing, and be friendly for other things) AS LONG AS
      3. She is properly credentialed: preferably a CPA, but an EA that came recommended by more than one source would be ok too.

      If she is not credentialed in one of those ways (unfortunately, basically anyone can call themselves a tax preparer even without any training) steer clear.

      • What is your threshold for should versus should not attempt on your own? When do you say ok it’s worth it to pay someone to do this? A home purchase? Adding dependents? We’re otherwise very straight forward, but got married in 2014, house in 2015 and no kids. For the first time I really want to make sure they’re done right and I don’t know about TT.. sometimes I think it oversimplifies or could be missing things. We are in a high tax bracket FWIW and I think we might owe big $ this year.

        • Minnie Beebe :

          Buying a home and/or adding dependents is not a big deal when doing taxes, especially if you’re using Turbo Tax. It’s not rocket science, really (I say this as a person with an actual background in a rocket science-related field)

          I would hire an accountant if I owned my own business, or worked as an independent contractor, was paying a nanny (not under the table), or had some income properties. Otherwise, TurboTax is pretty simple. Even my FIL, who was a financial advisor and filed taxes for multi-millionaire clients for years uses Turbo Tax.

  5. I met ex-Mr. Pep at my first job out of college. Although I was very attracted to him, and the grapevine (mutual friends) said he was interested in me, I just wouldn’t consider dating a coworker. However, after I accepted a job at another company, I let our mutual friends know I would be receptive to a call if he was still interested. He was, he called, and a whirlwind romance ensued…

    Unfortunately, another workplace romance for ex-Mr. Pep was the cause of the end of our marriage.

  6. It's Me Again... :

    Might be an industry-related question, so perhaps not the same across the board… BUT I’ve seen many people crash and burn in their careers for dating coworkers or colleagues.

    I recently had to move someone off one of my accounts because the team she was working with was shutting her out and not respecting her counsel as a PR person. Turns out, this woman had secretly (but not so secretly) dated one of the on-air talent and when it got around, she was immediately stereotyped and lost credibility as a professional.

    Totally sexist, I believe, but nonetheless true.

  7. I wouldn’t. I’m also horrorfied at the thought of dating someone in my industry. And I’m internally RAWRING over the fact the happn (which I downloaded yesterday) has me crossing paths with an in-house lawyer that stole my manuals. THIS IS NOT OKAY STALKER DATING APP

  8. It may not be a good idea, but honestly finding someone to date is hard enough without excluding a large part of your social circle.

    • I think it’s also a know your office type of situation. It would be very frowned upon where I work unless it really ended up being serious and then I think it would be “overlooked.” But Mr. AIMS used to work in an office where there were so many office romances no one batted an eye. I think it stemmed partly from the fact that it was a very large agency with a LOT of young people – everyone was always going out for happy hour, working odd hours together, etc. FWIW, I met Mr. AIMS when we were both 1Ls. I can think of at least a dozen other LTRs that started in our class alone and many are still going strong years later.

  9. Ivory tower :

    This sometimes happens in academic circles, sure it doesn’t look like you have started your career if you are a grad student, but some relationships progress beyond that where people get married and even get hired in the same university or department. I think the only caveat is when people in the same research group start dating. I know of one couple where it is pretty obvious to everyone but the woman seems to want to hide it or pretend it’s not happening. Another couple both professors in the same department got a divorce and ultimately the man had to leave the university. And finally I know someone who was having an affair with her PhD supervisor who was also married—apparently everyone knew in the department. Personally this is not something I would admit to but she did not seem to feel like there was anything wrong with what she was doing. Eventually Professor ended the relationship. IMO If things are going well, then it’s okay but if the relationship sours considerably then things can be miserable for both parties. Also it’s worth it to weigh the damage to one’s reputation (I think women are often judged more unfairly), and whether there is real potential there i.e. not just a fling.

  10. Senior Attorney :

    I had come in contact with Gentleman Friend through work several years ago, while I was still married. I moved to another work site, then when I came back to town I was in a different department, with which he doesn’t have any dealings. By then I was divorced. I joined the local Rotary Club and lo and behold, there he was, and one thing (very slowly) led to another, and the rest is history.

    It’s occasionally a teeny bit awkward because he sometimes has business in my building with people I know but don’t work with directly, but generally it hasn’t been an issue.

    Actually I’ve never dated somebody with whom I could talk shop before, and I’m enjoying it quite a bit!

  11. Wildkitten :


  12. Never dated a coworker, BUT once I did have a huge crush on one of the summer associates while working in BigLaw & omgosh I was obsessed with him in my head lol! Silly looking back on it. Anyways – I met DH in college. Pretty cliché. But it works!

    I think that dating a coworker isn’t bad but I would agree that the couple should keep it secret until it’s very serious. Maybe even on the verge of engagement if not after.

  13. Anonymous :

    I’ve dated at work twice, including dating my office-mate. I think it’s easier the younger you are and the more likely you both will be moving on from the job in a couple of years. I also think you just have to know yourself. Can you put on different hats when dealing with the same person? In the case of my office-mate, he left for grad school while we were still together so there was only the awkwardness of trying to keep it semi-secret that we were dating. In the second case, we kept working together after we stopped seeing each other and it was fine. Sort of awkward maybe, but I knew when I started the relationship that I might have to deal with working together after breaking up and I wouldn’t have started it if I hadn’t thought I’d be able to handle the break up. I don’t think dating at work is a big deal unless you make it one.

    • Also ask yourself how well the other party can put on different hats and maybe even have that talk before pursuing anything. When I dated a coworker in my 20s, we’d had an (I thought) amicable breakup. However, when I was going through a family emergency and needed assistance covering something at work, he ended up going off on a rant about how my grandfather probably wasn’t even dying, I just wanted to be able to go out to bars and meet guys that night.

  14. I met my husband at work (BigLaw) and we started dating as (gasp!) summer associates. We kept it secret for several years very successfully, despite having super-close friends at work that we even vacationed with etc. We only disclosed when we got engaged, and both stayed at the same firm after we got married.

    In retrospect, so many people dated and hooked up with no long-term or career-limiting fallout that I’m not sure it mattered as much as we thought. I definitely think a policy of not dating at work can be unnecessarily restrictive, especially if you work a lot at a demanding job. Ultimately, no one cares as long as everyone behaves like an adult at work.

    • Someone at my firm joked recently how colleagues here sometimes marry each other, but they never date each other.

  15. Anonymous :

    Met my DH through mutual friends when he was in grad school and I was a summer associate in his city. I’ve never dated anyone at work, but by the time I was working full-time (I went straight through to law school from college), I was in a serious relationship with my now-DH. I spent five years in Big Law and never heard of any office relationships or even hook-ups but maybe I was just out of the loop.

  16. Edna Mazur :

    I met and started dating the hubs at work. To be fair it was seasonal farm labor while we were both in college.

    Strictly hypothetical in my case, but if I were on the dating scene I would be hesitant to date a co-worker as a professional adult, but the romantic in me sees why it would be difficult to stick to that if an awesome person happened to be in the next office over.

  17. Met Mr. Anon99 while working at a large public interest legal employer. He is older than I am and was significantly further on in his career at the time, so there was never any chance of our being in competition. (Also, he was not a supervisor.) We were discrete and likely would have kept our relationship secret for longer but were outed by two co-workers who saw us at dinner on Valentine’s Day (nowhere near our office – just bad luck).

  18. I had a horrible dating your coworker experience. The only time I ever did it. First job out of college and we met in training. Both had the same jobs but worked in different locations. Loved the closeness of having the same job and knowing some of the same people. Everyone knew we were friends but we gave the impression we knew each other so well because we’d known each other for a long time. It crashed and burned when I was up for a promotion and he mentioned it to his boss who wasn’t aware of the opening. I looked terrible for talking about it before it was a done deal (I can’t remember the details, he might have told his boss it was a done deal?) They ended up not hiring for that position and we broke up.

  19. I dated a coworker for a couple months. We kept it discreet, it would not have been a huge deal if it became completely* public, but it never really got serious so it was never an issue. I wouldn’t say I regret doing it, but I would proceed with more caution if it ever came up again.

    *he was less careful about discretion and had tagged me in some facebook thing, when a coworker found him there it showed up, etc. etc. The level of required discretion was actually one of the disagreements that led to breaking up, since he would not accept that I didn’t really want to be known as the girl who dated someone within a year of joining the company (he had been there for several years, and as a dude just had more de-facto credibility).

  20. Anon in MA :

    Nope, never had and never will. Doesn’t matter how big the company is! I like to keep my personal and professional lives separate.

  21. Dated my husband 24 yrs ago in a big company but we were on offsite building. I was mysteriously transferred to another remote location, but still commutable. We were early 20’s so no big deal.

    We work for an international bank, have moved all over but live in canada now. We went to a work Xmas party of 60 + people, probably one third were couples. We do have strict rules about spouses and reporting lines, including dating

  22. I had a fling with a guy that started at my internship (he was in IT with me) and continued some into my senior year but fizzled out. Didn’t appear to affect anything with my career as I was hired on full time. I then met my now husband in my new hire class (20ish people, lot of people picked up groomsmen/bridesmaids out of the group in addition to my husband and I meeting). We kept dating under wraps until after the end of the summer and we were placed into roles within IT but totally different reporting structure. All our coworkers were like “Yup we knew”, so so much for being discreet. However our company was a pretty family oriented place – it was a small town (30k) and everyone was friends with each other. We were definitely not the first to date within the company and won’t the last.

    One funny part was that we requested to be transferred within the company to another city while we were engaged still. We ended up having to go to the courthouse and get legally married 5 months before our actual ceremony so that he could be covered under my move package. (I found a role in the new city before he did) Apparently that too happened a lot with folks getting expatriated to other countries.

  23. DONT DO IT! I dated a co-worker years ago as an analyst in investment banking – there were many of us young people right out of school and it was not out of the ordinary for dating. Unfortunately, I dated a man who heated on me and others in the group knew it before me! It was awkward with my co-workers and even worse around him. Such a mess. I left the company a few months later but those were awful months. Just not worth it.

  24. Mr. pickle was a fellow summer law clerk. We kept things on the DL until the end of the summer, and came out as a couple when we both continued clerking part time during the school year. I moved my office to be far from his, so no one minded.

  25. I’ve done it but wouldn’t do it again. If there is a break-up, there are too many uncomfortable, awkward moments. If you enjoy being grist for the gossip mill, go right ahead.

  26. Kat, You basically dated yourself which is how you attracted a man you love. Great story. At my job, there was a friend break-up that impacted the office in ways that I never saw with romantic break-ups. It was so bad I eventually got a new job even though I was never part of that little group.

  27. My husband and I met at work, and dated for nearly 2 years while we were both employed and in the same office (same floor actually). He still works there and I’m in law school.

    We kept it quiet for about ~3 months until we were both on separate teams within the office. We didn’t broadcast it after that but we eventually told our close ‘work friends’ and of course it eventually got out. Everyone was completely okay with this.

    But again we ended up married (so no dating an asshole problems there), never any PDA, and just generally did not broadcast it and let the knowledge spread ‘organically’. Didn’t hurt that we had good relationships with our co-workers prior to this as well.

    For what it’s worth, I thought it was great. I loved being able to grab coffee and lunch nearly everyday and to complain about/rave about things at work and completely understand who and what my boyfriend/fiance/husband was talking about.

  28. I met my husband at work, but we didn’t start dating until after he moved on to another company. I had never dated a coworker before and obviously never did again. We dated for 5 years and have been married for 13 years.

  29. I met my husband at work, and we dated as coworkers for about 2 years. We were both in the military at the time and living abroad, and we were peers rank-wise, so this is 100% normal. Most people knew we were dating by about the 3rd month – plus we eventually moved in together, because our entire social circle was basically coworkers. But, there’s no PDA allowed in uniform, and we weren’t any friendlier with each other at work than we were with any other friends; it was generally a young, relaxed, convivial environment. The only time it was ever an issue was on a deployment when we both got food poisoning and had to excuse ourselves from a mission… there were some murmurings that we were malingering just to spend time with each other. But once people realized we legitimately camped out in our respective bathrooms all day, they got over it.

    We worked in the same (huge) building for a while a few years ago, too. I really enjoyed that — we commuted together and met up for coffee or lunch, but our jobs didn’t intersect at all, so we could each maintain a separate professional identity. When we were dating in the military, I strongly, strongly disliked when people would ID me – or worse, introduce me to new people – at work as “SO’s girlfriend.”

  30. Little Red :

    I did it once over eleven years ago. We broke up after five months since he decided to deal with not wanting to do anything over the weekend by standing me up and then acting like nothing happened when we saw each other the following Monday at work. I was able to avoid him for the next few months and then I stopped being angry and the friendship we had reasserted itself and things went back to being okay. We weren’t in either reporting chain so there was nothing inappropriate and I think we managed to keep it secret for the entire time.

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