Are you looking for love? Are you at work right now? Then hit send on that e-mail and consider this.
Finding love is hard. A love connection requires so many things to line up for two people at the same time--interests, attraction, values, aspirations, and their single-and-looking status. Meeting people who share your interests isn't terribly difficult. And attractive people are all over the place. But what about shared values and aspirations? Head to the gym or somewhere less sweaty like church or a bar. As for finding other single people? They're out there. A number of studies say we're split about 50/50 around the globe--singles to marrieds--which gives us billions of options.
The challenge, of course, is aligning all these pieces of the love equation. And hoping the other person feels the same way, too. It's a miracle that anyone finds love. Except that it isn't. Lasting love connections happen every single day, and there's no reason why the next one can't be yours. I don't even know you, and I know that for sure. And, I believe work is the best place to find "the one."
In honor of Valentine's Day, let's explore the why (and a little bit of the how) work can be "the place" for love with some lighthearted Q&A involving both the female perspective (mine) and the male perspective: my husband's. By way of introduction, he's one of the most pragmatic people I know (in a really adorable and sometimes annoying way) and we met at work.
Robin: Brian, remember when we met 15 years ago? When there weren't really viable online options for meeting people? When match.com was still reserved for those so desperate that they didn't mind looking desperate? I clearly remember the evening we exchanged phone numbers. We were both standing outside of that bar after an office happy hour and typing numbers into our flip phones.
Times have certainly changed, but do you still think work is a good place to look for love?
Brian:Is this like answering, "How do I look in these jeans?" Or the time you told me you wanted a vacuum for Christmas? Luckily, I ran that idea by your dad, and he quickly let me know it was a test. Not one you knowingly proctored, but a test. Under no uncertain terms should you buy household appliances as Christmas gifts. When you tell your friends what I got you, it is only going to end badly for me. So to answer your question, of course, I agree. Work is a great place to look for love.
Robin: I think so, too. In fact, I think work is the best place to meet people and the number one reason why is that there is built-in, third-party verification. Work is perhaps rivaled only by an introduction through mutual friends in this benefit. At work, you know people are who they say they are. The "prove it" stage is significantly reduced, too. The workplace offers a handy shortcut that leaves more time for simply getting to know someone, in our case, you.
I was recently talking to another friend who met his wife at work. He validated the benefits, saying, "I knew she was, you know, normal." Which makes me laugh because they're both lawyers for the Central Intelligence Agency and are definitely not normal from my perspective. Smart and really interesting, yes, but not normal. Which, I guess, proves his point. One's sense of "normal" is all relative, which makes work a great filter. After individuals make essentially the same series of choices throughout college, in applying for jobs, and in getting acclimated to a work environment, you're left with a bunch of like-minded people that all seem normal to each other. Win.
Understandably, some people might hesitate to approach someone they're interested in at work. Things could get awkward. Were you concerned at all about that before you (finally) asked me out? Given the very long number of months it took, I can only assume yes.
What advice would you offer before someone asks out a coworker?
Brian:Most importantly, I would determine if she has access to your personnel file. You have to do your homework! Proceed with caution if she's in HR or the law department J Once that is out of the way, then you just have to take the chance. But be prepared for a "no" reply. And because it is at work, you need to be patient in waiting for that reply.
Okay, enough on the why--let's talk about how.
Robin: I tell my single friends to first open their eyes and their minds a little. Before we met, Brian, I remember having some ideal husband characteristics. I probably even wrote them down in some incredibly sappy journal. You do have many of those traits--but also many more I didn't know I wanted in a spouse but that I now believe are critical to our happy marriage. I would have missed out if I'd stayed locked into the vision of my "dream guy" that I'd came up with in my 20s.
What other practical steps would you suggest to finding love at work?
Brian:Don't write your criteria down in a journal. You need to maintain your aura of aloofness. In all seriousness, focus on those you have some type of interaction with. Not the hot girl you saw at Subway once. You will never see her again.
Would you go so far as to suggest that people look for another job if the prospects in their office aren't so great? I mean, where did "finding a wife" fall in your list of criteria when looking for a job?
Brian:Somewhere after "will I get paid?" but before "do they have free coffee?" I think when you are looking for a job, you focus on the position, your role, and, of course, how this will lead to you becoming a millionaire. But there is definitely something to be said for how well you fit the culture of a company. If a company is filled with Star Wars fans and you are a Star Trek guy, as great as the position sounds, it might not be a good match-making culture.
Robin: Lastly, those single-and-looking should take a digital break for, I don't know, maybe three months to give this workplace alternative a try. And no, you can't do both at the same time.
Deactivate your match.com account, delete the Tinder app, and kiss OKCupid goodbye--at least for a little while. Because, here's the thing. Many people in the single-and-looking category who use online dating sites and apps are stuck in a repeater loop of dead ends. Messages unreturned, text exchanges gone silent, swipes going different directions--they all accumulate and zap our energy and enthusiasm for the whole prospect of dating. It's the paradox of choice problem. The overwhelming volume of options drives people away from--not closer to--making lasting connections. Oddly, customers offered more choices are less likely to buy because people (that's all of us) are afraid to make a choice we will later regret. We know there are a lot of options, so we just keep shopping--more and more mindlessly. And as more time passes, the less sure we become about what it is that we want anyway.
The only way out of this loop is to narrow your choices (perhaps at work!) while having faith that the right one will come your way.
PS: If you're already dating someone at work, check out Lolly Daskal's piece on how to manage your romance at the office.