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Is it OK to date a co-worker?

I am no love guru, but I do know that you can’t stop love when it’s happening. And when it occurs at a tricky crossroad that may endanger your career, we all know that we shouldn’t just let Cupid shoot you. Do you, therefore, have to make a choice between the two or should you strike a compromise that allows you, your partner, and the organization to be in their happy places?

Here are five questions you may want to consider before you finally decide to take the plunge:

Is it allowed by your company?

While many companies are progressive these days, most still implement what we call as "fraternization" or the limiting of relationships at work to the professional sphere to ensure focus and objectivity in all work processes.

Consider checking your HR manual first if your company regulates this. Companies that "fraternize" do not allow employees to enter exclusive romantic relationships and marriage (some do allow if both do not work in the same department or any related function).

And even if you plan to be hush-hush to avoid this regulation, do note that rumors spread fast. At some point, someone will call you out and you may just be sent to the principal’s office.

How will this affect your work performance and in the long-run, your career?

Seeing your partner every day at work can be a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it’s a blessing to multitask your personal and career life in the same office building. On the other, it can also serve as an unavoidable distraction that derails you from your career goals.

Weigh the possibilities: is having your partner in the office for the better, e.g., she’s your accessible support system. Or is this going to be a clock sucker because you spend too much time together? You might just be sacrificing the usual time you spend on networking or pushing sales in the field.

How will this affect your co-workers’ perception of you?

You can’t control what people think about you. Couples who work in the same teams will always be perceived as favoring each other that may compromise fairness. “It’s so unfair that my boss never calls out Anna’s tardiness just because they’re dating,” says one of your direct reports.

When people think you are partial to someone, they disengage and call foul. They believe that every effort that they do won’t matter because you already have a predisposition. Some of them may think that you got your promotion by favor and not by merit. Visualize this possibility and see how this can compromise your relationships with other people in the company that you need for your success.

If this goes wrong, how will this affect your job?

It is such a tragedy to break up with your own boss, your teammate, or anyone you work with on a project that’s already stressful. Not only will it be challenging (heart-wrenching, I should say) to move on when you have to see your ex-partner every day, but you also endanger your career if it rests in their hands.

The familiar movie line in romantic comedies goes like this: “I’d rather be friends with you because I don’t want to ruin the great friendship that we have.” It seems this line is too famous because it is  true— some relationships are nice to daydream about, but the consequences are just too much that it’s not worth pursuing. 

Finally, how will you and your partner work this out? What are the ground rules?

Assuming you successfully got past the stage of getting the “relationship permit,” how will you keep the professional space that will keep everyone in 'business as usual' mode? How physically intimate will you be in the office? Does your partner want to always spend lunches together or go home together?

Will both of you take it professionally if the other keeps confidential information from you because the company says so? These rules matter because they will determine the happiness you both deserve especially since you’ve fought hard to get to this stage now.

You might need to set some boundaries, so expectations are managed. 

Your next steps

Let your brains take the reins before your heart acts too fast. While love is something that one shouldn’t rationalize too much, remember that the context of finding it in the office is a unique one that may need compromising.

Ask yourself, at the end of the day: How much do I want this so bad that I am willing to fight for it? And will it be good for both of us if I finally get it?

Whatever your decision is, it is your happiness that matters. I wish you and your partner the best. Good luck! –

Jonathan Yabut is the proud Filipino winner of the hit Asian reality TV show, The Apprentice Asia. He is Asia's leading motivational speaker on topics involving leadership, talent of development Gen Y workers, and office productivity. Jonathan is also the founder and managing director of his marketing consultancy firm, The JY Consultancy & Ventures, which offers marketing and talent optimization services to startups and Fortune 500 companies.

You can invite Jonathan for training and mentorship by emailing