The Upside of Dating Co-Workers

(Note: This is part two of the point/counter-point of dating co-workers.  In part one I recalled the painful situations I have seen and experienced over the years.  Taking the side of dating co-workers is our resident Spanish language adviser and PhD candidate Senor Esparza.  He takes the position that it is in fact beneficial to date co-workers.  Obviously there is a middle ground we would both advocate.  No amount of logic or reason is going to prevent or cause anyone to enter into a workplace relationship.  This series if for entertainment value only.  If you are not reading it with a smile, you might be missing the joke.)

Soundtrack inserted by yours truly.


I will not attempt to refute the points that our favorite restaurant blogger has made.  Much of the rationale behind his screed warning people off of dating co-workers is grounded both his experience and the experience of many others.   This being said, I am going to frame the issue a little bit differently.  I would argue that not only is dating a co-worker natural consequence explainable by proximity empiricism, but in many cases can be preferable to dating people that you have not gotten to know through the course of working with them.

Bowlb y’s theory will form the foundation on which we will draw up our theory on why dating co-workers is not just okay, but in fact, awesome.  “One basic statement of Bowlby’s (1969, 1973, 1980) theory is that all human beings are born with an attachment system aimed at maintaining proximity to significant others (attachment figures) in times of stress.” (Mikulincer, et. Al, 2000).  There are numerous other articles by prominent biologists and psychologists that have produced data that have shown proximity to human beings as the most likely indicator of whether they will become attached to that person.  Personality types, phenotypes, attractiveness, and intelligence are ancillary indicators of whether or not two people will become emotionally attached; proximity to the subject has consistently shown itself to be a primary indicator.  In order to bolster this theory, Priest and Sawyer created a study where they placed college freshman in a large dormitory and studied the patterns by which they became attached to each other.  The geographic correlation was a sky-high .871.  In social science, this kind of a figure is near perfect.  (1967)

As a phenomenon, “hooking-up” with a co-worker is simply going to happen on occasion to just about everybody that has ever worked in the restaurant business for any amount of time.  If you are so risk averse that you are willing to fight your own biology and psychological desires, it is perhaps somewhat undesirable to “hook-up” with your co-workers.  If you are like me, however, and your worldview espouses the notion that “the heart wants what it wants”, then you are willing to accept a week or two of work awkwardness for the psychological satisfaction of dating somebody who Priest and Sawyer would argue you would necessarily be attracted to.

Western religion and I rarely agree on anything.  That being said, the process of responsible courtship laid out in the Jewish, Christian, and Muslim faiths has always been attractive to me.  A modified version can be applied to the restaurant experience and provide a historical foundation for how and why such work couplings can be successful, and thus should be pursued.  Before romantic love in this process, two potential partners are encouraged to spend time getting to know one another as friends.  The restaurant workplace is conducive to idle chatter, can often be a fun environment, and provides people a venue where some if not many of the people there are friends outside of work.  After developing the friendship, co-workers spend time alone and the relationship progresses.  The foundation of a religious and human behavioral model for restaurant workers (or in the case of academic research, all workplaces) to engage in a relationship is a well-documented incidence. (Mahlangu, 2006)

Last, I would like to argue, as an aside, that many of the points our favorite blogger laid out as to why one should not date co-workers should really be titled: Why You Should Not Act Like a Jerk When Dating Co-Workers.  One may even argue that this can be a positive facet of restaurant dating; treating the other person well is incentivized through peer-pressure.  Restaurant workers are often attractive, well educated, and very outgoing.  To argue that these people should avoid coupling is nearly akin to making a rational argument as to why tigers should avoid eating zebra cubs; it ignores what can, must, and should happen.


Mahlangu, Charles E. (2006). Love, Courtship, and Marriage. Journal of Theology for Southern Africa, 24(1), 124-131.

Mikulincer, Mario. (2000). Stress and accessibility of proximity-related thoughts: Exploring the normative and intraindividual components of attachment theory. Journal of personality and social psychology, 78(3), 509-533.

Preist, Robert F. and Sawyer, Jack. (1967). Proximity and Peership: Bases of Balance in Interpersonal Attraction. The American Journal of Sociology, 72(6), 633-649.

(Editor’s Note: Do what you are going to do.  My best friend and his wife met through a restaurant.  I was the best man at his wedding and the coolest little kid in the world calls me Uncle Dave.  I still don’t think either of them would say working together made their relationship easier.  I will never say that nothing good comes from workplace relationships.  Just be aware that it will bring it’s own set of issues with it.)

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8 comments on “The Upside of Dating Co-Workers

  1. Zebra cubs?

  2. You are both very correct in what you say! The “X” factor in the relationship (or the lack thereof) is the 2 parties involved. Thereafter, the individual interaction between the two can be anywhere from the occasional nod once a week to being married with a kid. I will side with the “HELL NO!” to same-employment “entertainment.”

    On to where most relationships get started in my world…I will raise a glass to all the LOVE out there.

  3. yellowcat on said:

    The first post was a Murphy’s Law of what WILL happen. Your rebuttal was a scientific argument of what SHOULD happen. Sorry, but Murphy’s Law wins the argument.

    I look at the irresponsible, partying people I work with (have worked with, have been) and dating each other is annoying for not only the couple, but for all the other wait staff. I groan out loud whenever two coworkers start dating.

  4. There is an excellent article on on this. I totally aggree with yellowcat. Coworkers dating isn’t a good idea.

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  6. Opportunist on said:

    Let’s face it, restaurants are the equivalent of a petting zoo, in regard to Dr. Esparza’s reference to the zebra cub. Dating people in restaurants is 50% of the reason to work in a restaurant in the first place. It’s like the gods of vocation have collected all of the reasonably intelligent, attractive, and likable people in the city and put them on the shelf for other people to pick from. It’s great. If you can’t find a date in a “restaurant environment”, the love prospects are pretty low. Throw 40 men and women in a hot restaurant on a busy night with drinks surely to follow and things are sure to happen.

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