Work Hard, Play Hard: How to Deal with the Fallout of Your Work Relationship

Dating a coworker may seem like a great idea, until the breakup when your heart is shattered and you have to work with them the next day.

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Dating a coworker may seem like a great idea, until the breakup when your heart is shattered and you have to work with them the next day.

Work Hard, Play Hard: How to Deal with the Fallout of Your Work Relationship

To Quit or Not to Quit

Dating a coworker may seem like a great idea, until the breakup when your heart is shattered and you have to work with them the next day.

By Lindsay Biondy, University of Pittsburgh


It’s your first day of work, and you’re a little nervous that you won’t fit in .

You have short conversations with everyone, trying to find out who will help you pass the monotonous days of catering to the public. Your coworkers are nice but nothing special, until, wait, who’s that? This colleague very well may be the most attractive person you’ve ever seen. Are they from Tennessee? Because they’re the only ten you see. You have to talk to them, and when you do, it turns out they’re witty and charming, and wow, could their voice be any sexier?

Miracle beyond miracles, they don’t think you’re completely unattractive, and you start dating. It’s all horribly romantic, like something out of a Nicholas Sparks book, with kissing in the rain, writing sweet texts to each other and assuring them that if they’re a bird, you’re a bird.

At work, it’s even better because you get to flirt and make money at the same time. Plus, it’s fun to see how much PDA you can get away with before your manager reprimands you. All your coworkers tell you what a cute couple you are, and of course, you agree. Could life get any better?

Work Hard, Play Hard: How to Deal with the Fallout of Your Work Relationship
image via sheknows

Well, maybe. It’s all fun and games until you break up two months later.

Suddenly, their cute little quirks irritate you to no end, they don’t want to text you every morning and you can only make out in the ice room so many times. Unfortunately, you can’t forget they ever existed like you could in a normal breakup. You just got your schedule for the week and, oh no, you both work tomorrow. How in the world will work be anything but awkward and painful? Here are some tips on how to make your breakup as amicable as possible.

1. Be Professional

As impossible as it sounds, try to treat your ex like they’re any other coworker. So what if you’ve seen them naked? The worst thing you can do is let that affect your job.  Thirty-eight percent of people have dated a coworker at some point in their life, and only one third of that percentage has ever led to marriage, so don’t beat yourself up about it. I know it’s easier said than done, so if you really need some help, check out this relationship support group.

It’s going to be hard, but keep up a polite relationship with them. Say hello when you see them. Don’t act like they don’t exist because it’ll come off petty and make the inevitable future interactions unbearable.

Though, there’s a fine line between being nice enough to get through the day and being so nice that you start to regret breaking up, but you need to find that line, and you can’t cross it. Only talk during work, and avoid outside communication as much as possible. In general, the best way to get over a breakup is to have plenty of space, but since that’s not possible at work, you have to proceed with extreme caution and willpower.

2. Avoid Gossiping

It’s so tempting to bad-mouth your ex. All your anger and resentment is bubbling up to the surface, and you know some good old-fashioned gossip will make you feel so much better. Maybe you think it’ll ruin their reputation, or maybe you just want to tell your side of the story before they tell theirs, but in the end, it’s only going to make you look bad.

Your good friends know you. They know anything you say in anger isn’t a reflection of your true personality, and you’re just trying to blow off some steam. Your coworkers, however, most likely don’t know you very well, and your reaction could form a strong impression in their minds.

Are you able to handle bad situations calmly, or do you hold a grudge? Remember, not everyone has your best interests at heart. Some people want to cause drama and want you to cause a scene, purely because it’s entertaining. Don’t give in to them, and don’t give your ex the satisfaction of getting under your skin.

3. Don’t Make Your Coworkers Take Sides

Usually after a breakup, everyone takes sides because there’s always a weird sense of awkwardness when you see your friends talking to someone they know you hate, especially a recent ex. Plus, they want to be supportive of you in your time of need. Though, in this case, it doesn’t help to divide the work staff.

Work Hard, Play Hard: How to Deal with the Fallout of Your Work Relationship
image via scgh

There will always be a situation in which people are going to have to talk to each other, whether it’s asking for help or communicating a message  from your boss. Your relationship was personal, so make sure your breakup is too. Don’t force people to be sucked into your drama.

Remember that your ex has some really good qualities. Why do you think you started dating them in the first place? It makes sense that other people still see those qualities and want to be around them, even if you don’t.

4. Don’t Date Someone Else from Work

Seriously, don’t do it. You can’t possibly think that’s a good idea. Don’t you remember the horrible breakup you just went through? Things are still awkward, and you know how fast gossip can travel. Think about why you really want to date this new person. Are they smart and funny, like you’re telling everyone? Do they smell that amazing, or are you trying to make your ex jealous? Maybe you’re just looking for a rebound.

Either way, imagine how hurt and angry you’d be if your ex started dating another coworker. It would be excruciating to watch them flirt every day, just like you used to. Even if you’re being pleasant to each other, and even if you’re sure you don’t want to get back together with them, you might still get jealous. Don’t do that to them because you really did used to have fun together, didn’t you?

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