Of all the romantic clichés, the work guy is often the biggest no-no. But why? Honestly, unless he’s in a position of power over you, dating a guy from work is actually pretty harmless. Except if you didn’t know beforehand that he was engaged to your cousin’s best friend’s sister. Or if you are an awkward person who doesn’t know how to act normally when things turn sour and you still have to see each other most days. Regardless, many people find their partners through work so it’s more common than you think!
How does it start?
You’ve seen the sexy back of his head from your cramped desk next to finance and have had vague thoughts to yourself: Yeah I’d do him. In team meetings, you always sit up a little when he is presenting on his work. And you dreamily fail to pay attention to a single word, so focused are you on the sexy timbre of his voice.
Unless you’re one of those bold women who take charge and goes after what she wants, you wait and do nothing. Maybe gossip with the work bestie about dreamy work guy, but he remains a fantasy from 9-5pm Mondays to Fridays. He’s something to break up the monotony of work and for when procrastination is at its all-time high.
Then one day, he reaches out to you on the work chat. You get a little head rush. But you try to play it a little cool by waiting a painful six minutes. At least. He’s asked you for your help with the website that you manage. You answer back with the help he’s asked for. This type of back and forth continues for a short period of time until you have become friendly enough to talk in the break room. You notice things are more flirty than work-appropriate. You’re sussing him out, he’s sussing you out. You pay ultra-close attention to things like his body language. You dress cute and put mascara on when you know he’ll be in meetings with you. You and the work bestie overanalyse the texts between you and the work crush.
At the next work drinks, he grabs the stool next to you. With his sleeves rolled sexily up showing off just the right amount of bicep, you gulp some wine and think to yourself: This is it. You spend the rest of the night flirting and chatting away. Long after the managers have left the bar, he asks you: Want to go to another bar? And you do, because look at him. Who wouldn’t?
Enter the honeymoon phase
Everyday you feel giddy and excited to go to work. You exchange secret smiles and texts throughout the day, meeting for a ‘coffee’ conveniently in the kitchen at the same time. You wonder whether anyone knows you guys are together. They probably do.
You hang out often after work and stay over at each other’s houses. You learn that he’s a horrible cook, but he makes the best cup of English Breakfast tea and buttered toast for breakfast in bed. He learns that you are terrified of spiders and refuse to open corkscrew wine. You lay awake at night sometimes still in disbelief that you’re together. This thought is swiftly interrupted by him snoring and throwing an arm around you. Your arrangement is perfect and you think this will never end.
How it ends
He starts becoming more distant. At work he barely talks to you on the work chat. You start staying over less often. It drops to once a week, then every couple of weeks. You desperately try to keep the fun times going by suggesting dates at new restaurants or that funky mini golf place you know he loves.
Eventually, he asks to meet you for a coffee in a public place. Not his house or yours. It’s awkward between you two as you exchange unnecessary small chat whilst sipping overpriced flat whites. You know it’s coming, but it still hurts when he says: I think we should stop seeing each other. You ask why. But it doesn’t really matter why. He could have commitment issues. He doesn’t see you two together long term. He wants to move overseas. Doesn’t matter. What matters is how you handle it next.
How to handle a breakup with the work guy
There are a couple of ways to handle this and it depends on a number of things such as your personality, level of maturity and your work situation.
- Ignore him and shoot passive aggressive comments whenever he interacts with you.
Don’t recommend. This just makes things awkward and uncomfortable for everyone. Especially because they all know you were boning and it’s painfully obvious you’re not any more. Also, like seriously. Are you going to ignore him forever until either one of you leaves the company?
- Change jobs
This is a bit drastic. However if you’re finding the break-up is affecting your work performance and you need a change of environment for your mental health, start looking for your next role. And lay low whilst you’re applying and interviewing. Just don’t try to lay low under him again.
- Remain civil and move on
Honestly this is the most boring, but it is practical. Life is not a film. He’s not going to change his mind and magically declare his love and commitment to you. It doesn’t happen often, but you can remain friends with your exes.