The guy is perfect. He has just the right amount of confidence and charm, a smile that makes you weak-kneed and eyes that transform you into a blubbering puddle of emotion with just one look. Absolutely and positively perfect.
Oh wait, there’s just one thing – he’s your best friend’s brother! Or ex. Or maybe he’s your co-worker, boss, or internship supervisor. Whichever.
Regardless, he’s totally off-limits. Someone once said that, “the heart wants what the heart wants.” Great quote, but what do you do when your heart wants someone you really, absolutely, positively, truly can’t have? It can be tricky. A survey conducted by CareerBuilder.com revealed that 40 percent of workers have dated someone at their job, which goes to show that the office isn’t all about work. It makes you wonder if you should take the leap. Big risk, big reward, right? Not all of the time.
First of all, you have to figure out whether or not he’s definitely into you. That might seem basic, but misjudging the advances or actions of said guy could be disastrous and embarrassing. You could lose a friendship, your job, or worse. Thoroughly test those romantic waters!
There are the usual tip offs, like if he starts hanging around you way more than usual, touching your arm during conversation, sending you flirty texts, etc. Some more important ones to look out for: does he ask to hang out with you one on one, maybe to grab a casual lunch or some drinks at happy hour? Does he specifically want to see you without your friend, or his sister, around? You get the picture.
You can also try just asking him. Don’t freak out though! I’m not sending you directly into the war zone. Slip in a casual, “Everyone keeps telling me they think we’re seeing each other! Completely crazy, right?” If he responds with a smile or something else positive, you’ve got permission to start flirting it up.
Second of all, decide whether or not you’re definitely into him. Again, this seems like the most elementary romantic instruction, but crushing on a colleague is serious business for some work places, and I’m not sure that your best friend would appreciate you having a careless fling with her ex. Do you actually both get along and can you see a real relationship forming, or do you just find him super duper attractive and want to have a little fun? Is there a future there? Be absolutely sure before you find yourself hitting and quitting it.
Lastly, once you’ve determined if the feelings are serious and mutual, it’s time to get down to the nitty-gritty. As far as dating a co-worker goes, contact your HR department to see if there are any rules when it comes to an interoffice romance. Usually companies are pretty lenient, but they might require you to notify someone about it. Dating someone with seniority is usually more complicated, and usually a no-go zone. If it’s against the rules, then you have to make a hard decision. Are you going to transfer, or just keep it on the DL? If you really like him, it could be worth it. Just make sure you aren’t giving up an important career opportunity for something that might not be so permanent.
There are also serious rules that apply to dating a friend’s ex or brother. The brother is a little less abrasive of an option, so just ask your friend if it’s okay right off the bat. Let her know she can always talk to you about it if it starts to get awkward, or complicate your friendship.
And then there’s the ex: the ultimate hurdle in the land of off-limits dating. Generally, unless their relationship lasted less than Kim Kardashian and Kris Humphries’ marriage and was pretty meaningless, exes are a no-no. If it’s anything otherwise, she might act brave and say that everything is okay (“Really, I swear!”), but your budding relationship with her old flame is going to be upsetting. If you’re still at a loss, stick to Taylor Swift’s old adage that says, “You can never date a friend’s ex if he made her cry.” Wise words from the country cutie.
Like I said before, the heart wants what it wants, but you need to decide if it really should. There are many, many guys out there, and there’s no reason for you to be zeroing in on the one man that could mess up a great friendship or a possible career. Be careful ladies!