Helpful Do’s and Don’ts of Working with Your Ex


At some point in your life, you’re going to have a crush on someone that you work with, and there are times where that crush develops into something more serious. According to a study completed with over 4,000 workers, nearly half of them have dated a colleague. Sometimes those relationships result in wedding bells, other times it doesn’t end in holy matrimony.

What do you do when your relationship with a co-worker ends? You already knew the consequences and went ahead anyway, and now things are awkward. You don’t need to worry; your relationship might have been doomed, but your work doesn’t need to be. Here’s some help.

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Do: Set Your Boundaries

Before you return to work, ensure that you have a private conversation with your ex so you can make sure you are both on the same page. If the relationship ended on decent terms, the discussion doesn’t need to be awkward. However, if it was a messy split, then it might be challenging. No matter the circumstances, you need to attempt to figure out what the boundaries are together. It may be as simple as moving desks.

Don’t: Be Sociable

There’s no need to completely ignore your ex or act like they don’t exist, but if you hang out in social situations after work, you might blur the lines of your boundaries. It’s good to be pleasant and say hello as you pass, but agreeing to drinks or dinner after work might lead you into an uncomfortable situation.

Do: Stay Busy

Nobody likes a breakup, and they suck even more when you didn’t end it. Having to see your ex consistently doesn’t help you to move on, so make sure you keep your mind busy. You don’t want to find yourself upset in the bathroom during lunch.

Try speaking to your boss to find out if they have any additional work or projects that you can do. Not only does it help with keeping your mind busy, but it also helps to show that you care about your job.

Don’t: Try and Win

There is always one person that takes the breakup easier than the other. Regardless of if it’s the first one to move on, or the one who seems to continue to function as a human being like nothing is wrong. If this is you, it’s not cool to brag about it. Try not to talk about how happy you are and how many dates you’ve been on. Word travels fast at work, and it has the potential to really hurt the other person involved.

Do: Seek Out Help

There is no shame in seeking out help if you are struggling. Taking a mental health day can be helpful, and so can consulting with Human Resources. They are hired to help you with your health and make sure that you are capable of completing your job comfortably. Don’t be afraid to ask for a helping hand if you need it.

Don’t: Make People Choose Sides

It’s essential that you are respectful of your co-workers, and putting them in a position where you are making them choose sides isn’t the right way to approach the matter.

If your ex-partner is sitting with a shared group of colleagues and friends, try being polite and ask that you join. If you don’t feel comfortable, you can skip it and eat at your desk. If you force your friends to pick sides, you can find yourself isolated, which is an even worse situation for you.

The only thing that is really going to get you past the awkward situation is time. No matter how it feels now, it’s going to pass. Regardless of whether you and your ex get to a friendly point, or you reach a point where neither of you remembers why you were upset, it all boils down to patience. Next time, remember that it’s not always recommended to get into a relationship with a colleague.

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Helpful Do’s and Don’ts of Working with Your Ex

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