You already know the risks of dating someone in the office.
Will getting involved with this person give either one of us an unfair advantage or disadvantage at work?
How will our relationship be perceived by our boss and co-workers?
If we start dating and then have a difficult breakup, how will it affect our ability to work together?
But, when you’ve got a crush on someone at work, those worries can easily fall by the wayside. You see this person every day, in his or her element, doing exceptional work—pretty soon, that rational voice in your head gets quieter and quieter and the emotions become impossible to ignore.
What should you do (besides, you know, check the dating policies in your employee handbook)?
If you’re finding yourself contemplating a workplace romance you’re not sure you should pursue, here are four things to keep in mind.
1. Remember That “Feeling” Doesn’t Always Mean “Acting”
It’s okay to like someone—anyone, anywhere, any place. But liking someone doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to act on those feelings.
Put simply: You can enjoy a feeling, without ever having to act on it.
Use your judgement to decide, “This is a time to feel, and this is a time to act.”
2. Remember That You—Not Your Feelings—Are in Control
Your feelings do not control you. You are in charge.
If it feels like your emotions are taking over, that means that you’ve allowed intense feelings to build up for too long, like steam in a tea kettle. The good news? Once you release those emotions safely, they won’t rule you anymore.
There are so many ways to release pent-up emotions. Screaming into a pillow. Thwacking a pillow with a knotted-up towel. Painting, writing, or singing loudly while vocalizing your feelings out loud. The more physical, the better.
3. Remember That You Don’t Have to Feel Guilty (in Fact, it’s Dangerous if You Do)
I like my co-worker—but I shouldn’t!
I know I shouldn’t be attracted to my boss, but I am—I feel terrible for feeling this way.
Guilty thoughts like these are like throwing gasoline on a fire. They’re dangerous, because you’re far more likely to do unhealthy and inappropriate things when you’re already feeling guilty.
Guilt distorts our ability to think clearly, leading to thoughts like: “What the heck, I’ve already made a mess of everything by falling in love with my married boss (even though no one knows), so I might as well pursue this.”
But remember, again: You are in charge. Not your thoughts. Not your feelings.
4. Remember That You Are Allowed to Enjoy the Excitement
Having a workplace crush can be fun, exciting—and even productive!
You might find yourself dressing more sharply, speaking up in meetings more readily, contributing to projects in a bigger way—all because you like the way that special someone’s face lights up when you’ve done a great job.
Once you clear guilt out of the way, you can delight in the thrill and the sparks.
And with those happy sparks in your heart, you can shift into a positive frame of mind—one that will allow you to calmly consider the pros and cons of starting a relationship with your co-worker.
When it’s time.
If it’s right.