Lovehacker: I Banged Someone In My Professional Network. What Now?

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Dear Lovehacker, I recently spent the night with someone and now I'm getting strong attempted-relationship vibes from them. To be honest, these vibes were kind of there before too. I will definitely see them at work-related events in the future and I'm not sure how to avoid this situation. Help? Thanks, Tyler.

Hi Tyler,

Same. In fact, a survey by The Vault in 2015 revealed that in the USA, 51% of people have engaged in an office romance at some point in their professional lives. So you're not alone. Work-related situations can be messy, even when you don't work directly with each other.

Here's the thing. Sex counts as a relationship, even if it's just for the night. Like with any relationship, it's important to manage everyone's expectations. A 2016 study of American college students revealed that 65% of women and 45% of men hoped that a casual hookup would turn into something more. Those are big numbers, and it sounds like your fling definitely falls into this category.

I'm hesitant to suggest ghosting this person. It's a mean thing to do and the work factor makes the situation particularly delicate. But by the same token, an honest conversation could have the potential to damage professional relationships in the future. Especially if you converse with them online. I'm possibly being overly cautious, but I wouldn't want anything like that to be in writing.

You need to keep things as above board as possible from here on out. If you have to be in contact, make sure it's strictly business. If they ping you on Facebook, keep the responses short, but respectful.

Blame a hectic work schedule if they call you out on the conversation changes. If they actually need to contact you about work they can do so through the appropriate channels.

When it comes to industry events, maintain the professional relationship with a greeting and polite small talk if necessary. Try not to spend too much time with them. If you can't avoid them, make sure you stay in a group. Don't agree to pre or post event dinners or drinks and don't hang out one-on-one. Hopefully they will quickly accept that a serious romance isn't on the table, and there won't be any bad blood between you.

Moving forward, I would suggest avoiding casual flings with people who you know want something more. They're just going to get hurt. They are an adult, capable of making their own decisions, but giving them a false window of opportunity when you know how they feel doesn’t help the situation. They may take what they can get in the hopes of a relationship forming, but in the end you're both just left on cleanup duty. Casual sex is fun, but do it with a degree of mindfulness.


Lovehacker is a weekly relationship and sex column where our resident Agony Aunt answers your questions. Need help? Drop a comment below or email [email protected].


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