Why Not To Date Co-Workers

On the downside, you work a double with them tomorrow

It is that time of year.  Love or at least heavy lust is in the air.   That means just one thing in the restaurant business.  It is too hot to sit on the patio.  Well that and co-workers are starting the annual mating ritual.  At the most recent count, there are six confirmed couples at my restaurant.  I was discussing this with some co-workers when someone said, “hey, you should write a blog about that.”  I had pondered it before, but never thought there was much to cover.  My opinion is simple and based on a great deal of experience.  Dating co-workers is a horrible idea.  My friend disagreed and offered to write the counter-point.  So today we kick off a two part series on dating co-workers.

I am a child of the 80s and was raised on John Hughes movies.  The hopeless romantic streak runs strong in me.  I have been in this business for 15 years and of course I have dated co-workers.  I have seen 15 years worth of work couples and even been in a few of their weddings.  I have seen co-workers have babies.  I have seen co-workers divorce. My opinion is still clear though, don’t date your co-workers.

To make my case I have laid out 10 problems you will face in chronological order.  From beginning to end there will be issues you have not considered.  I know it is terribly unromantic to write such a list about such a beautiful thing as two people finding love.  As your heart is going pitter-patter staring across a table of empties at last call and into the slightly out of focus eyes of the co-worker you never knew you thought was so cute, here are a few things to keep in mind.

1)    It will not remain a secret.  You want to avoid drama and not be part of the gossip?  Probably should have thought about that ahead of time.  On average it takes approximately 18 hours and 43 minutes for word to spread throughout the restaurant.  18 of those hours are you not telling anyone.  The 43 minutes is that first person you tell telling someone else and it spreading throughout the staff.  Maybe you both want to try extra hard to keep it a secret.  That generally means that one of you has someone in particular they are trying hard to keep it from.  If it is not you, guess who it is.  Which brings me to my next point.

2)    You will find out about the exes and the hopefuls.  You both have a history.  If the other person’s history includes anyone at the restaurant, you have a new enemy.  One person has generally been working there longer.  If it is them, now you will hear the stories.  You can also expect grief from everyone who has ever tried to flirt with, been too scared to flirt with, or been rejected by your new partner.

3)    You will also now unknowingly inherit any of their enemies.  Anyone who does not like them now has a reason to not like you.  Their friends will not necessarily embrace you as they wait to see how you treat them.  This is only the purgatory stage.

4)    Get ready for the stories.  People looking out for your best interest (see 2 and 3) will tell you exaggerated stories about their past.  Any comment you make to a guest or co-worker that can be perceived as flirting will be forwarded to your partner immediately.  They will usually leave out that the guest you were flirting with was 76 years old.  Every hangover is morning sickness and every comment will make it through the rumor mill.

5)    Welcome to the never-ending date.  Most couples start out with a two or three dates a week.  Restaurant couples do too, but then they work together 20-40 hours a week on top of it.  When they get on your nerves, you get to work a double with them.  When they are not there, expect to answer questions about how they are doing at least a dozen times every shift.  This is not even including them waking up and asking you to work their shift which is its own slippery slope.

6)    You will find your inner jealousy.  I do not care how secure you are; you will find that you are more jealous than you thought.  Guests will flirt and you will notice.  Even if jealousy never becomes an issue, guests will create problems.  It is one thing to have your partner come home after work and tell you about a mean guest.  It is another to hear the story as the guest is sitting at the table.  This creates a myriad of problems and expectations you do not want to deal with.

7)    You will break up.  Relationships end.  You are pretty much going to have to settle for one relationship in your whole life that does not end.  That is the person who you live happily ever after with.  Everyone else becomes an ex.  Only now you still have to see them everyday.  Thought it was a good idea to date a hostess?  Welcome to the sight of tumbleweed in your station.  Decide to take a chance on the bartender?  The beer taps sure are pouring slow today.

8)    You have to divide the mutual friends.  Most relationships develop mutual friends, but you generally get to leave with the ones you brought into the relationship.  In restaurants, you had many of the same friends to begin with.  They will all decide on their own who the jerk is.  Expect your social calendar to clear up because you won’t be going on dates with them, but also won’t be invited to where they will be.

9)    You get to hear all about their new partner.  Inevitably they will start dating.  When they come in happy and telling all their friends about them, word will make it to you too.  This is its own special form of torture if you are still getting over the breakup.

10) You blew your chances with everyone else.  No one wants to settle for being your second choice.  You picked who you picked and ruled out all other co-workers.  Unless you manage to make it out of the relationship without them ever saying a negative word about you, your reputation is ruined.   Of course you can wait until someone new is hired and return to step two to restart the process.

I know it is tempting.  You spend so much time around your co-workers that they form a huge part of your social circle.  It seems ridiculous to rule them out just because you work together.  I also know that this post will probably not override the pitter-patter of your heart when you see them.  Just don’t say I didn’t warn you.

My advice is to date in the industry, but outside your restaurant.  The cute waitress at the trendy pizza place down the block is a much better alternative.  That is what I did.   It seems to be working out pretty darn well.  I should probably wrap this up (especially after the mentions of first hand experience with this topic) with a shout out to her and some other Coloradoans I am looking forward to meeting.

Stay tuned for the counter-point tomorrow.

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21 comments on “Why Not To Date Co-Workers

  1. When my boyfriend and I started dating we worked for the same company diffrent restaurants, and that was too close. Now that we both work for diffrent companies we can actually have a conversation about work and not a constant bitch fest. We all hate talking about work when we go out(because the conversation never ends once it starts). Why would you want that to be a constant in your relationship?

  2. can’t wait for the next part… haha

  3. Shelby on said:

    I disagree with pretty much all of this 🙂
    and I’m an expert on the topic… Also, I think maybe you’ve been rejected by a few too many coworkers to be impartial in this topic

    • tipsfortips on said:

      Probably true. I am also not contending that all of these are true in all relationships between coworkers. I took a bit of comedic license, but after enough years I think most people have see each of these things happen. There are success stories, but I don’t think it is disputable that dating a coworker is at least more difficult than dating outside of work.

  4. Well written, all extremely valid points. Nicely done. Awaiting the rebuttle.

    • tipsfortips on said:

      We tried to stake out opposite positions. He is arguing that is is good to date coworkers. I think he has a much more daunting task.

  5. vandervecken on said:

    7 is so dead on … but 10 is only true for guys. girls can go through every guy in the restaurant. but worst of all: it’s your rent money! don’t shti where you eat!

  6. This is an interesting article, but at the end of the day says very little specific to the restaurant industry.

    All these points assume that 1) people will break up (which david himself concedes is not always the case) 2) that people are going to act childish. While love and the break ups make us do stupid things rarely would it or does it reach the threshold of hurting someone’s ability to make money. I work with people who date the people who seat their sections. Not for a minute do I feel like they get special treatment.

    Dating people you work with is going to be complicated. Whether it is at the bank or slinging food. So is the juice worth the squeeze? That is the question.

    David answers this perfectly for us when every once and awhile he tells us it does work. And even when it doesn’t work usually the ride (literally and figuratively) is worth anything to come later (we have all been there when seeing someone for work is fun and yes there might not be a future). I am believer that is better to try than not to try at all. In other words it is better to determine whether the juice is worth the squeeze by squeezing the fruit sometimes than just guessing.

    In the concept of transparency, I am dating a server I work with, someone who many people would have never guessed it would have worked out. There are zero promises that a year from now we will be together, but in a few short months there is no doubt it has been worth it.

    Imagine those bad days at work when everything is against you. There is nothing better than having someone come up to you and whisper something in your ear that turns your day around. Or being able to go home and tell them how work was…. and they completely understand because they have been there too.

    Knowing that work is work. Meaning just because I love you doesnt mean I am picking up patio 4 for you. More importantly loving/caring for one another enough not to ask the other to work shit shifts for you. Instead you look forward to working with them. Because she thinks it is cute to drive together or it is nice to steal a small kiss when no one is looking. Because the juice is worth the squeeze.

    We all know we should not shit where we eat. It makes sense. Don’t create the possibility of adding something to a situation that will dirty it or ruin it.

    But sometimes at the end of the day you might regret no shitting where you eat. Passing in life is far worse than not trying.

    The key is when stuff goes bad, and yes it could or as david says will happen, get through the rough time period and dont be an ass/childish. I can say in my many serving jobs I have seen few succeed, but almost none of them turn ugly.

    Usually they are lack a bad customer, the taste stings for awhile, but one day you come to work and it just doesn’t matter anymore. I am lucky to work with someone I love. Who on my bad days remembers me for my good days. And who after a shift I can go home with and share all the things we have in common outside of work. Because one day I might not be serving and one day she might not be serving but maybe just maybe if the stars align just right I will be with her for years to come.

    And only because I took a chance, and squeezed that ripe fruit for the picking did I find out how sweet life can truly be.

    • There are a few typos above, they can be blamed on a slight buzz and my general lack of regard for proper english. I thus apologize.

      ps. This is a fun discussion.

  7. yellowcat on said:

    The only thing worse than an office romance is a restaurant romance. The worst restaurant romance is the one that started last night at the martini bar.

  8. This is an interesting article, but at the end of the day says very little specific to the restaurant industry.

    All these points assume that 1) people will break up (which david himself concedes is not always the case) 2) that people are goi…ng to act childish. While love and the break ups make us do stupid things rarely would it or does it reach the threshold of hurting someone’s ability to make money. I work with people who date the people who seat their sections. Not for a minute do I feel like they get special treatment.

    Dating people you work with is going to be complicated. Whether it is at the bank or slinging food. So is the juice worth the squeeze? That is the question.

    David answers this perfectly for us when every once and awhile he tells us it does work. And even when it doesn’t work usually the ride (literally and figuratively) is worth anything to come later (we have all been there when seeing someone for work is fun and yes there might not be a future). I am believer that is better to try than not to try at all. In other words it is better to determine whether the juice is worth the squeeze by squeezing the fruit sometimes than just guessing.

    In the concept of transparency, I am dating a server I work with, someone who many people would have never guessed it would have worked out. There are zero promises that a year from now we will be together, but in a few short months there is no doubt it has been worth it.

    Imagine those bad days at work when everything is against you. There is nothing better than having someone come up to you and whisper something in your ear that turns your day around. Or being able to go home and tell them how work was…. and they completely understand because they have been there too.

    Knowing that work is work. Meaning just because I love you doesnt mean I am picking up patio 4 for you. More importantly loving/caring for one another enough not to ask the other to work shit shifts for you. Instead you look forward to working with them. Because she thinks it is cute to drive together or it is nice to steal a small kiss when no one is looking. Because the juice is worth the squeeze.

    We all know we should not shit where we eat. It makes sense. Don’t create the possibility of adding something to a situation that will dirty it or ruin it.

    But sometimes at the end of the day you might regret not shitting where you eat. Passing in life is far worse than not trying.

    The key is when stuff goes bad, and yes it could or as david says will happen, get through the rough time period and dont be an ass/childish. I can say in my many serving jobs I have seen few relationships succeed, but almost none of them turn ugly. Rarely does it come to the point of picking side and often a middle ground is met. Are you always going to be comfortable with one another, probably not. But how comfortable is anyone seeing someone they have been naked with. But as rarely as it is gets ugly people can also stay good friends. It requires maturity, but maturity exists.

    Usually they are like a bad customer, the taste stings for awhile, but one day you come to work and it just doesn’t matter anymore. I am lucky to work with someone I love. Who on my bad days remembers me for my good days. And who after a shift I can go home with and share all the things we have in common outside of work. Because one day I might not be serving and one day she might not be serving but maybe just maybe if the stars align just right I will be with her for years to come.

    And only because I took a chance, and squeezed that ripe fruit for the picking did I find out how sweet life can truly be.

  9. Dating a coworker is one of the easiest things to fall into. When you work with someone, you can really see who that person is pretty quickly. So, the process of actually going out is extremely comfortable because you already know the person on a different level.
    A friend could work with someone for three years and suddenly start dating…but it gets serious real quick because you’ve spent almost everyday seeing and talking to that person.
    It’s not a bad thing. YES, it could be. But point blank…you cannot help who you like/fall for/love. It’s just tricky.
    My situation lasted for far too long and it was my fault that everyone knew everything. I was that stupid girl. The thing was, we were dating on and off, on and off, on and off…and everyone knew every time. Which caused frustration in everyone. I seriously feel bashing my head against this desk just thinking about it. (this is the bad part).
    Good part: I met an amazing man who i still consider one of my best friends. The funny thing is, when i left that restaurant, all of the stress went down the drain (not to mention i moved cities too haha). Ether way, like i said before, you can’t help who you fall for. If it happens to be someone you work with, then just keep your mouth shut. Mouth shut and perhaps a change in availability 🙂

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