How To Date Within Your Industry Without Ruining Your Career

September 9, 2019  |  
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dating a colleague advice

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Ideally you’d fall madly in love and spend your life with someone who wasn’t in your industry—at least not in your narrow, specific field. But, the reality is that it only makes sense we hit it off with people who work in the same industry as our own. We were drawn to that industry for a reason. We share many of the same passions, interests, and values. We may even have similar or at least complementary personality types. Then there is the fact that you just spend so much time with people in your industry, that as luck would have it, that’s probably where and how you’ll meet someone. If a relationship works out with someone in your field of work, it can be awesome. But, there are a lot of obstacles and things that can go wrong along the way. If you don’t date within your industry the right way, it can ruin your career. Here is how to avoid that.

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First, just observe. For a while.

You have the advantage of getting to know everyone in your industry pretty well, outside of a date setting. You’ll see them at work, at networking events, and at work happy hours. You’ll hang with them at out-of-town conferences. If you think you’re interested in someone, don’t rush to make your interests known. Just watch and observe him, in a work setting. You have the luxury of doing so.

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You’ll be grateful you did

So, the reason you’ll just watch and observe for a while is this: probably eight out of ten guys you think are prospects will turn out to have major flaws you could not have dealt with in a relationship. And you got a free pass. You got to learn that about them without dating them. You’ll be so happy you just sat and observed at first. You saved yourself some drama.

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If it’s a blatant come-on, pass

If a man in your industry blatantly hits on you, don’t go out with him. Anyone who knows anything about dating within their industry doesn’t just hit on a colleague at a networking event, as if you’re a couple of strangers at a singles bar. If that guy hits on you like that, that means he hits on lots of women like that. He’s got drama, and baggage, and isn’t someone to go near.

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Listen to other women

Other women in the industry may have pioneered a path aka slept with/dated a man before you got there. If several women verify that a guy is unstable, mean, controlling, or just downright bad news, listen to them. Be grateful you get to learn about that guy the easy way.

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Avoid the guys who date everyone

Steer clear of the guy who has already dated several women in your industry, and broken up with them. And I’m warning you: he will be charming and seem quite personable. How do you think he got all of those women to date him? But if he’s already had tons of relationships within your industry, then he’s sloppy about this dating-in-the-field thing. If you go there, you’ll be another ex of his, soon enough.

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One-night-stands are for outsiders

I get it: sometimes you just want to hook up with somebody. That’s fine. But go outside of your industry for that. You don’t need to have a lot in common with a one-night-stand, so why muddy the waters by sleeping with a guy you’ll see at work for…ever?

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Heed breakup warnings

If a guy in your industry broke up with somebody else in the industry and it was a big, messy, dramatic thing… stay away from him. The way someone is during a breakup says a lot about how he is in a relationship. And in general.

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Take the chance to be friends first

You have all of the time in the world to get to know these guys. And, it’s perfectly normal to befriend a colleague. So, if you are interested in a guy in your industry, just be friends at first. If you like what you learn about him, you can pursue something more. Or, you can keep it in the friend zone.

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If you date someone, take things so slowly

Should things turn romantic, take things slowly. Like, very slowly. Whatever slowly usually means to you, slow that down even more. You learned as much as you could about this guy as a friend, but you still never know what it’s like to date someone until you date him. And so, you may still pick up on some deal breakers. Hopefully, you aren’t too far in when that happens that the breakup feels messy.

 

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If you date up, keep it under wraps for a while

If you get into a relationship with someone above you—like a boss—keep it under wraps for a while. Think of all of the people you’ve dated for three months that you eventually broke up with. The truth is that, a relationship isn’t really on solid ground for, well, several years honestly. It isn’t realistic to keep it under wraps for that long, but try to keep it under wraps for half a year if you can. If it ends before that milestone, you’ll be glad you didn’t tell everyone you were dating a boss. It’s best not to be known as the woman who tries to date her way to the top, even if that’s not what you were doing.

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Don’t mess with friends

If you are potentially interested in two guys who are friends, you need to play it so cool that nobody would ever even know you liked either of them until you gather lots of information. You don’t get to date one guy, and then his friend later if that doesn’t work out. If you flirt with both at the same time, they’ll both lose respect for you. Take all the rules about observing and befriending and apply them tenfold if you’re interested in two guys who are friends.

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Don’t discuss it unless it’s serious

Really, there’s no need to tell anyone about any of the guys you’ve kissed or been on a date with in your industry unless it goes somewhere. You have to remember that when gossip spreads, it gets amplified. Maybe you have one dinner with a man, and by the time that story makes it down the grape vine, people believe you were sleeping with him for a month.

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Even then, be very discreet

Even when you do begin to tell people you’re seeing a guy in your industry, just tell your closest confidantes. People talk too much. Just tell your truly close friends who you can trust to keep it to themselves.

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Never, ever, ever date a separated man

Don’t date a man in your industry who is going through a divorce. Everyone else in the industry (and office) knew his wife. They may have liked his wife. You just become a villain in this situation.

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If things go sour, be the epitome of grace

If you do break up with a man in your industry, be graceful. Don’t bash his reputation to others even if he’s terrible. Don’t talk about him on social media. Don’t slash his tires. Your reputation in your industry is on the line here, too.

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