The only time I was actually excited to go to my old job was when I knew my work crush was going to be there. It was a retail job at a shoe store —not a typical 9-5 — so I didn’t see him everyday. But when we did work the same shifts…oh boy.
My mood was totally different on those days. I was excited to go to work and even happy to be at the store. I had a pep (or, um, maybe a sexy strut?) in my step. There was something to think about other than how boring and miserable work was. Finally, I had a reason to go to work. Being in a better mood on the job also made me put in extra effort. It was a win win: I got to enjoy flirting throughout my shift while also killing it on sales.
Workplace Crushes are Normal
I’m hardly the only person to experience the workplace crush phenomenon. Fifty-eight percent of recent survey participants reported engaging in a workplace romance in some capacity. A psychological study aptly titled, Workplace Romances: ‘Going to Work Is Amazing and Really Fun found that participants involved in a workplace romance “expressed their pleasure in going to work” and were also motivated to work harder.
Despite the fun factor and possible productivity boosting effects of a workplace crush, this type of relationship is still considered pretty scandalous. Of the 58% of aforementioned survey participants, 64% kept it “mostly” secret due to the risky nature of the relationship. Company policies vary when it comes to a workplace romance. Even if such relationships are allowed, employees may fear gossip or judgement from peers and higher-ups.
Navigating Your Workplace Crush
Whether your crush is brand new or turning into something serious, here are our five tips for surviving the workplace crush.
1. Know your company’s policy
Some companies are more lax than others with policies surrounding employees dating. HR and management might be okay with it in certain situations — like if you’re in totally different departments. However, if there’s a power dynamic — if your boss is your crush, or you’re the boss with a crush on a direct report — HR probably won’t be cool with it.
Your organization might require that you tell your direct managers and HR if you actually start dating your crush, or you might face consequences. I recommend whipping out that employee handbook you probably ignored during onboarding to get some concrete answers.
2. Decide if you actually want to pursue Your Crush
You are in control of your actions. As you may remember from elementary school days, it is possible to have a crush without acting on it. You can bask in the good feelings and butterflies you get from your work crush without having to act on it physically or to even disclose how you feel.
Talkspace therapist Rachel O’Neill, Ph.D. says, “Dating a workplace crush can carry some serious ramifications (like loss of employment). It might be helpful to consider whether pursuing the crush is worth the potential fallout. If you do decide to pursue something, you might want to consider how to be proactive in an effort to minimize potential consequences.” Do you think this is just a case of casual sexual attraction, or could this be the real deal? Know your motives — and your crush’s motives — before going all in.
3. Think ahead
While your dating style outside of work may be more carpe diem, you have to be a little more mindful with workplace crushes. Put some thought in and plan ahead. You might want to ask yourself:
- What if you hook up and it’s weird?
- Will you be able to do your work without feeling painfully awkward?
- If you end up dating for a while and then break up, will you be able to remain professional in the workplace after the split?
- If you and your colleague-crush end up getting serious, will you be able to stay in your current jobs?
- Would you be okay switching departments if HR required it?
It’s not necessarily fun to think about these things, but it’s important to weigh the pros and cons to decide how you’d handle various possible outcomes.
4. Create boundaries
If you want to play it safe, create boundaries. For example, if you feel like your physical chemistry is too intense to be left alone together in a room, don’t allow that to happen.
O’Neill says “I recommend working to put into place some boundaries to minimize the contact you’re having with the person. For example, if you routinely enjoy lunch breaks with this person, try including another co-worker or using lunchtime to catch up on some reading.” Having a buffer can help when you’re trying to resist temptations. If you’re already in too deep and actively pursuing a relationship with your crush, create boundaries surrounding flirting and physical contact in the office.
5. Keep it professional
Unfortunately, the main purpose of work is getting work done, not flirting. Keeping it professional in the workplace can differ depending on the workplace — not oversharing details of the crush/relationship with your coworkers, not engaging in PDA, and making sure you aren’t too distracted to actually get your work done. Again, reference your company’s policies for more rules regarding appropriate behavior. Staying professional will ensure that you won’t face consequences.
Honestly, life is short. We spend most of our time on this planet working, so we might as well have a little bit of fun. Having a crush make us feel good — and in this case, makes us dread work less. Is that really such a bad thing? Whether you’re pursuing something more with your crush or simply just letting yourself feel all the feelings, you can still revel in the pleasure of crushing.