How To Date Co-Workers: NBC's "The Office" Style

Top 5 Inter-Office Relationship Types

Office relationships are always a bit of a sticky situation. There's no question that dating in the office can make things awkward, especially if things don't work out. That's why it's so entertaining to watch relationships develop and disintegrate around the water cooler. And that's also why shows like The Office capitalize on this uncomfortable, unavoidable situation.

"The Office" presents the top 5 approaches to inter-office relationships...

  1. Dating the Boss. Michael and Jan (Steve Carell and Melora Hardin). As Michael so adeptly demonstrates, dating the boss can be a complicated endeavor. Not only do you have to convince your boss that you're a good person to date (which is easier if your boss is a divorced woman ready to give up and date the first thing that comes along), but you also have to convince her to go against company policy (and potentially her own morals). If you follow Michael's tactics, which include 1) assume she's your girlfriend even though you've only kissed once -- ok you fell asleep in the same bed too, but nothing happened, 2) make inappropriate comments around the office regarding your relationship, 3) make her inexplicably jealous by dating your real estate agent and 4) invite her to Sandals Jamaica for a winter vacation, you're bound to win her hand, if not her heart.

  2. The Secret Relationship. Dwight and Angela (Rainn Wilson and Angela Kinsey). If you have contempt for the majority of your co-workers and don't plan to let them in on your personal life anyway because it's your business and not theirs, keeping your relationship a clandestine affair is easy to do and adds some excitement to the ho-hum feeling associated with normal office relationships. relationships are always gossip-worthy...but if you keep yours under wraps it can be even more enjoyable; it's just between you and your secret love.

    As your girlfriend passes by your desk and sternly whispers, "Kitchen!" you get excited by the intrigue of it all. As long as you stand at the coffee counter, facing the wall, and your partner stands at the vending machine, pretending to buy a candy bar, you can talk about your personal life without anyone in the office being the wiser. Well, maybe an astute receptionist will figure it out...

  3. The Hook-Up Gone Wrong. Ryan and Kelly (B.J. Novak and Mindry Kaling). Sometimes office parties or happy hours end your work-life as you know it. When you "accidentally" make out with a co-worker, or even worse, wake up next to one, you know you're doomed. Especially when there are only 15 people working in your office and the girl you made out with is extremely annoying and clingy. There's no escape. Well, maybe you should have thought about that before your 5th shot.

    In this instance, Kelly takes a page from Michael's book and simply assumes that she's dating Ryan. And won't take "NO!" for an answer. It's painful to watch, but much like Jan, Ryan ultimately gives in and begrudgingly agrees to date Kelly. The lesson here? If you can get that guy you like at the office drunk, he just might make out with you. Then you can badger him into being yours forever...or at least until the branch closes.

  4. Moving On. Jim and Karen (John Krasinski and Rashida Jones). It's not usually a good idea to try to get over an unsuccessful relationship with a co-worker. Especially if the person you're trying to get over is another co-worker. We all know how it's going to end. Nevertheless, when you're looking to move on, it's natural to turn to someone you're comfortable with and who you see on a regular basis. The threat is that your past may come back to complicate your new relationship.

    Who can foresee the girl of your dreams' ex-fiancé barreling into the office with the intention of killing you, or at least beating the crap out of you? Nobody. Except for maybe that weird guy who volunteers as a Sheriff's Deputy on the weekends. Maybe he has some mace in his desk for just such an occasion...

    As you can see, although it happens, dating a co-worker to get over a broken heart is not ideal. And we all know that you haven't really moved on...

  5. Pining Away for a Co-Worker who's Taken. Jim and Pam (John Krasinski and Jenna Fischer). We know that you and that cute girl (or guy) across the office are meant to be, and so do you, but the timing is just never right. It's heart-breaking to endure, but it's what keeps you coming back to the office (and The Office) every week. Although you have to be patient (it will take at least 3 seasons), this seems to be your best bet for a long-term successful office relationship. You know you're perfect for that other person, so you hang around them, entertain each other throughout the day and wait. And wait. And wait. But never give up!

    If TV has taught us anything, it's that you're bound to get the girl in the end.

    Note: Toby and Pam (Paul Lieberstein and Jenna Fischer). There is a danger here of becoming Toby. He's pining away for Pam, but he's so pathetic that nobody is rooting for him, and Pam has no idea he's even interested. Don't kid yourself and long for someone you'll never have. Be realistic. But if you're a Jim, and you're attractive, fun and oh-so-much-more-than-compatible with the love of your life, stick it'll probably get to kiss her in the season finale.


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I must put this right out there...this article rocks. You've laid the couples, and the advice out there beautifully, and that last clip about Toby and Pam gave me a lump in my throat!
You, dear, are an excellent writer with a terrific sense of humor, and I can't wait to read more!

By Patrick Smith