Do you have a “work husband?” A male coworker with whom you have good chemistry, trade light jokes and exchange the occasional flirtatious glance? It’s fun, isn’t it? Most of us spend at least eight hours per day at work, and having a flirtation with someone can make those long days more interesting and put a spring in your step.
A Few Guidelines for Flirting at Work
A flirtationship can be positive if you take a lighthearted approach without any expectations, and if you and your crush are both single. You can keep it pretty harmless by staying off the topic of sex, and by avoiding making any plans to go out at the end of the work day.
You’re going to have to work long term with this person, so be sure you set expectations early on. Say something like: “You’re my work husband, but it stops here at the office. I just think you’re fun to flirt with and I love our witty/playful banter.” Honesty is always best, and you need to mention it right away so that you’re both on the same page.
Of course, it’s a game changer if you or the object of your affection is in a relationship or married. It’s disrespectful to your partner, and/or the partner of your co-worker. Keep in mind, you wouldn’t want another woman flirting intensely with your guy at his office. It’s a dangerous game and one where many people can get hurt. We all flirt in a harmless way with the opposite sex, but it’s a slippery slope that could backfire if you get too close. Let it be known you’re in a loving relationship, and that you’re supportive of your coworker’s relationship by asking about his partner. This way everyone knows where the boundaries are.
If your work crush becomes so important that you have to tell your significant other, then you might not be flirting in an innocent way. There could be something missing in your current relationship, so at that point, take stock and be honest with yourself.
A Surprising Complication
There is one major downside to an office flirtation, even for single women. You could be getting just enough of your needs met by your crush, that you accidentally stop being open to a real, substantive romantic relationship outside of work. All flirtations have physical rewards in addition to emotional ones, such as the release of feel-good chemicals including dopamine and endorphins. The regular release of these chemicals sets up a reward cycle in the brain. The result is that you become satiated by the object of your flirtation, and without realizing it, you’re not engaging with the men who could have real potential for you.
There is no reason to settle for less, especially when you want and need more. Ask yourself if your flirtationships are lighthearted, harmless and positive. If so, have fun! Just don’t be afraid to cool things off and walk away from the flirting if you see it’s getting in the way of your life outside of work.
What’s Been Your Experience?
Have you ever had an office crush? How did you keep things light and harmless? Has a work relationship kept you off the dating bench while you were holding out hope it could be more? I’d love to hear from you so please share your comments below. In the meantime, get out into the real world and create the relationship you deserve.
Update: I was asked about this topic during a recent appearance on Radio MD. You can listen to the interview right here: Flirting with a Co-Worker? Where to Draw the Line.