The holiday season is upon us and as the leaves begin to fall away, so does the hot-girl summer mentality: it’s officially cuffing season and everyone you know has downloaded the apps that are meant to be deleted! As November rolls around, parties and playtime are inevitably traded in for cocoa and cuddles. However, online dating can open the door to some pretty awkward situations, like matching with a coworker.
Nowadays, the most accessible way to find your match is through online dating — and for every horror story, there is a success story to counter it. The ease and confidence that these apps provide people make the dating scene that much more appealing to the current generation.
However, in the college climate, there is always a risk of coming across people you know, especially when your matches are provided based on vicinity, with similar interests and similar age ranges. So, what happens when you’ve matched with people in your workplace on, or near, campus?
Encountering this kind of situation as a college student can be incredibly stressful and awkward, but relationship expert and coach Helena Roman tells us that they are still entirely manageable, and can still lead you to valuable relationships — romantic or otherwise!
The College Dating Scene can get… complicated.
The typical undergraduate college dating scene is a relatively limited pool. Managing these situations requires a little responsibility from all parties involved. “While using dating apps in tight-knit settings like college environments, it’s important to handle new connections with tact and discretion,” Roman tells Her Campus. “Establishing personal boundaries and openly discussing intentions right away can help maintain comfort in shared spaces, such as classes or common campus hangouts.”
The idea is to not place too much pressure on individuals to either (a) take a date to the next level, or (b) completely ghost the other person. A certain level of maturity is necessary to avoid uncomfortable interactions moving forward, especially because university life is so interconnected.
But if you want to avoid those exchanges completely, there are also more secure ways of dodging familiar faces on the apps. “Daters may be able to adjust their privacy filter and app preferences to prevent certain matches,” Roman says. “Many dating apps offer a search function based on specific criteria, enabling users to browse potential matches. This functionality allows users to filter and limit the profiles they encounter — helping to avoid potentially uncomfortable connections.”
Regardless of your decision, be cautious.
Sometimes, though, you might find yourself interested in pursuing a relationship with that matched coworker — and unexpected matches can still be a good thing! In these cases, it is important to take a step back and look at the bigger picture before mixing business with pleasure to consider how this could alter your professional landscape.
When it comes to workplace relations, it’s crucial to consider policies and regulations, but also to “assess how a relationship might affect the professional atmosphere.”
“More often than not, dating a coworker results in romantic issues that trickle into the workplace environment,” Roman adds, “Daters should reflect on the possible fallout of a breakup and how it could influence productivity or create uncomfortable feelings at work.”
When it comes to relationships in a professional setting, it’s best to truly think about your actions, and their consequences, before engaging. After the initial “match” on the app, you have to seriously think about mutual respect, the balance of power, and the possibility of a breakup. “College students need to be particularly aware of the social web when engaging with potential matches,” Roman says.
As college students, our social networks are very interwoven; even in larger university settings, where the population count pushes 50 or 60 thousand, everyone is still only twice or three times removed.
Consequently, navigating dating apps requires a blend of tact and honesty, but can still have a positive result: “Being matched shows that the app’s algorithm found common points between you.” Roman tells us. Even if your match isn’t meant to be, “shared attributes are a great indicator of compatibility and friendship. As they say, you never know who your friends will introduce you to!”
Practicing respect, discretion, and understanding when pursuing relationships in the workplace — or in really any blind-date setup — can make things much less awkward moving forward. Considering all of your options, and their effect on your social life, is incredibly important when taking on a partner that is connected to your professional life. Try consulting things like HR guidelines, and other parties in your inner circle — always trust your instincts!