Are we the next Jim and Pam?
April 17, 2010 7:55 PM   Subscribe

I've read all the previous threads about coworker relationships. It's a polarizing issue, and I've generally fallen on the side of opposition of them. Of course, the universe being as it is, I've found myself in a situation where I've fallen pretty badly for a coworker who reciprocates my feelings. We cannot decide if this is worth pursuing. Can you help us?

We're the two youngest (24 and 23) at a company of about 50 people. Our company is not a typical one; it's very employee-focused and we are a tight-knit group. Our website describes us as "kindred spirits [...] who enjoy hanging out and working with each other;" an apt description. She is a project manager on two (of generally between four and six) projects I work on, though our company has a very flat hierarchy and she is not a superior and has no professional authority over me. We have both been very successful at our jobs and are frankly quite valuable to our employer. There is no company policy regarding employee relationships, and I can think of several current and previous relationships that have taken place in the office, including a past one involving my superior and a current one between a senior partner and a department head.

The abridged history: I've been at the company for close to two years, she started about six months ago. She was immediately assigned to one of my company's larger and more important accounts (that I was already on), so we worked closely together from the get-go. We have lots in common, became good friends immediately, and spent lots of time together outside of work. There was undeniable, unspoken chemistry that was obvious to everyone around us—we had coworkers accusing us of dating less than three weeks after she started. The teasing, of course, was untrue... least, the teasing that came before this past Tuesday was untrue. The dam burst, and we finally admitted to having feelings for each other. No, we didn't sleep with each other. We've spent each of the past 5 days together, acting as a couple and spending a great deal of time hashing out the pros and cons of a potential relationship. It's been an emotional week, but we've enjoyed ourselves and learned a great deal about how we function as a more-than-platonic unit.

What did we learn? We, as a unit, are awesome. We've fallen hard for each other. We had half a dozen strangers comment on us—how adorable we are, how we look like newlyweds. This is the first girl I've dated who I could picture being with for the rest of my life, and her feelings for me are as strong as mine are for her. I'm picky as all hell a Big Deal.

Frankly, we aren't terribly concerned about losing our jobs. We are, however, concerned about other factors mitigated by the fact that we are coworkers.
1) We already see each other 5 days/week, and that will only increase if we date. It'd be terrible to get sick of each other.
2) We're both professionally successful, though that came at a cost—we work a lot, and work very hard. Our company is a big part of our lives. If we date a coworker, our work-life balances are further skewed.
3) Being coworkers, a great deal of our conversation before this week centered around our jobs. We have a very valid fear that work would dominate our potential relationship in the same way that it is our
4) We're really good friends. There are the usual levels of complication introduced by that fact that are multiplied when you add the fact that we're also coworkers.

We're very self-aware and would likely notice any problems in these areas early on. We've also discussed mitigation strategies to some of our concerns. For example, we're planning to go out and do more non-work-related things together. But is that enough? Probably not. Does it matter? I have no idea.

We parted this afternoon with the resolve to take a few days' break from each other (aside from normal work interactions) to think it through. We have plans to go to a baseball game Friday (she's a big baseball fan—perfect, right?) and hope to leave with some sort of resolve. I've thought it through, and am still completely torn. I need some outside counsel.

What do you think? Is this worth pursuing? Does love conquer all? Or should I be more pragmatic (pragmatism, mind you, is my default setting) about this and not be so foolhardy?

If anybody wants to answer backchannel (or if another coworker wants to call us out :) ), I set up an e-mail address at I'd welcome any advice through that medium as well.

Thanks so much, hive!

(Asked anonymously since my handle is derived from my name)
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (16 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Dating at work is risky; on the other hand, where else can you meet people?

I met my husband at work, though we did not date until after I left there, since he was seeing someone else and I was oblivious. But without work, I would never have met him. Our 12th anniversary is Monday, so I'd say, we did ok.

Think of it in these terms: if it goes well, and you both stay at your company, then it will probably be fine, as apparently this has happened already at your company w/ no drama.

If it goes badly, as in really badly, one of you may end up leaving the company because it's too painful to work together.

But, if you both act maturely, even a breakup probably won't ruin your work lives, or your personal lives, in the long run.

I don't know how one dates pragmatically, anyway; attraction is not a pragmatic beast.
posted by emjaybee at 8:04 PM on April 17, 2010

I don't know about Jim and Pam - it evoked How I Met Your Mother for me, more than anything else.

(I'm not a fan of the show but the thing I like in it is the thing I like in your post - analyzing romance... mmm!)

Just from the way you are writing about this potentially full-blown relationship, I think you're pretty into it and I doubt that many people here will try to talk you out of it. None of your reasons are strong enough to offset what you seem to be feeling for each other.

It may even be that you two have, without admitting it, already made up your minds and this extensive conversation is more excellent foreplay than critical examination.

I say go for it. Best wishes!
posted by mondaygreens at 8:05 PM on April 17, 2010

Just go for it, and stop being such a nerd. You're both really young, and you probably won't even be at this job for five years, let alone forever. Honestly, I don't see the downside - you really like each other, and your workplace culture is comfortable with relationships (and is already teasing you about the relationship you aren't in!)
posted by moxiedoll at 8:06 PM on April 17, 2010 [7 favorites]

And I don't mean deconstructing romance, but more - romance examined by (romantic) people in the throes of a romance. That's good meta.

Jim & Pam, frankly, don't evoke romance - especially because it's a rip-off, people. That's just too meta for magic.
posted by mondaygreens at 8:07 PM on April 17, 2010

You might want to plan some activities to do _separately_ to keep things fresh and make sure you have conversational fodder. That should help mitigate what sounds like your greatest concern.
posted by amtho at 8:17 PM on April 17, 2010

Eh, sure, why not? I'd do it, not that it means you should, but hey. Actually, I knew a married couple that worked together at one of my old jobs. They even worked in the same office, just the two of them. Then they'd take smoke breaks together, and I think they left at the same time. Didn't seem to bother them at all. If you do end up getting sick of each other, or it just doesn't work out, well, cross that bridge when you get to it.
posted by wondermouse at 8:19 PM on April 17, 2010

Just be ready to talk to HR to make sure there aren't going to be any issues and so they can help make sure that no issues come up that they can help you avoid.
posted by theichibun at 8:24 PM on April 17, 2010

Don't tell anyone at work for the first 4 months. Partly to alleviate complications if it doesn't work out, but also cuz it'll be really hot to sneak around like teenagers.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 8:37 PM on April 17, 2010 [7 favorites]

You are going to be better than Jim and Pam because you sound so genuine, excited and heartfelt. It made me feel so excited to read it your post. I'm sure my vote is obvious--go for it. I would make an honest effort at taking it slowly solely for the purpose of having your eyes open enough to detect possible bumps in the road. If you dive in, they might surface at point where both parties' investments are much deeper. Good luck!!
posted by rglass at 9:00 PM on April 17, 2010

Go for it.
Your list is well thought out, and things you should be aware of that might happen. Doesn't mean they will. But the fact that the two of you have worked out such a list speaks well to your communication skills. And if they're in this good shape before a relationship, it stands to reason you will be able to communicate and work out things as they arise.

Maybe you're so used to working at work, you want to work just as hard at this relationship, and that's a good thing, but you just have to let go and go with it and not over think too much either.
posted by NoraCharles at 9:43 PM on April 17, 2010

My boyfriend and I met and started going out at work. That was 8 years ago - the company we worked at has since gone out of business, but we're still happily together. If we had kept apart because we worked together I'd have missed out on an awesome relationship, and been out of that job anyway. Now that we work at different places, I miss having him at work, we were a great team - work can be a lot more exciting when shared with your love, if you're both really into the job. We did keep our relationship secret at work for the first year or so, just in case it didn't work out, we figured that it would be a lot less drama if it were just between us (of course, our friends totally figured it out!) Promise each other that no matter what happens, you will behave decently to each other, and go for it!
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 9:52 PM on April 17, 2010

I met my boyfriend at work and we've been dating for over a year. We used to talk about work a lot; it probably dominated like 70% of the conversation. Now I would say it's 10%. It rarely comes up unless we're asking how each other's days were or discussing the latest gossip or whatever. We just have better things to discuss now that we know more about each other and have more shared experiences besides work. I do not get sick of seeing my boyfriend after working with him then hanging out, but we don't see each other as much as you are seeing her.
posted by tweedle at 11:58 PM on April 17, 2010

Go for it. I met my partner at work, and we worked together (sharing an office, even,) for three years. We were literally together 24 hours a day, seven day a week...and it was awesome. We're happily married and now work for different companies, which sometimes bums us out--it was so nice to be together all the time that it's difficult not to be now.

Like Potomac Avenue said, I'd suggest not immediately announcing things at work. If you're required to report it to HR, do so, but keep mum around your coworkers for a while. You don't want a million people opining on your relationship, especially early on, and if things don't go well, it's easier if people don't know.

I'd suggest cultivating a hobby together, though, to make it easier to get away from the work talk. Take up gardening, or knitting, or jogging, or whatever--so long as you're doing it together. It's the one thing that I wish my partner and I had done earlier, and I think that the earlier you start actively looking for non-work things that you're both interested in, the better off you'll be.
posted by MeghanC at 12:05 AM on April 18, 2010

Go for it. Good to go in with eyes open, but don't beanplate the maybes. Heartily approve of Potomac Avenue's 4 month idea.
posted by Emperor SnooKloze at 6:34 AM on April 18, 2010

What did we learn? We, as a unit, are awesome. We've fallen hard for each other. We had half a dozen strangers comment on us—how adorable we are, how we look like newlyweds. This is the first girl I've dated who I could picture being with for the rest of my life, and her feelings for me are as strong as mine are for her. I'm picky as all hell a Big Deal.

Ohhh my god just sleep with her already. You've known this person as a partner for five days--time will tell if you'll make good partners--but you're clearly building the interaction up in your mind to be bigger than Jesus. Five years down the line, if you're still together, the relationship will be way different than it seems right now. And it might be awesome! But holding off on committing physically and emotionally and beanplating it and building it up in your mind is just setting yourself up for disappointment.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 8:28 AM on April 18, 2010

I'm usually first in line to say don't get involved with coworkers, but man, sometimes it happens. And it's clearly already happened here. You're obviously head-over-heels for one another - just go with it.

Just keep in mind that if it doesn't work out, that there may be consequences. And actually, I tend to disagree that you should keep it a secret - when it does come out, which it will, it will cause much more suspicion and resentment than if you were upfront about it.
posted by restless_nomad at 9:00 AM on April 18, 2010

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