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I found a co-worker on a dating site. I've seen her around before but have never spoken and never really had any interest.

However, after reading her profile, I am interested in pursuit, but am not sure of the appropriateness:

  1. The dating site charges a high fee. I'm not super comfortable paying to message just one person. Would it be considered harassment if I messaged them directly at work? (I'd find this creepy myself so probably yes?). If it is I'd just pay the fee.

  2. Would it be considered harassment and a risk to my career if I approached her on the dating website? Both of us are aware the other works at the company

I should note that I'm aware of the "don't defecate where you work" idiom and how bad things can get dating a co-worker. In my case I feel that doesn't apply - we're not even in the same building, and it's a huge company.

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    Why didn't you include your country?? – guest Feb 12 at 16:32
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    Is "liking" her or "swiping right" an option on this website? If both of you "swipe right" and it's a match, then it would be more appropriate to approach her via the website, I'd say. Approaching her at work wouldn't be correct. – Charmander Feb 12 at 16:36
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    How reliable is the site? Does the profile state where she works? How careful is she with her pictures online? Is it possible to rule out that the site made a fake account and it's just coincidence that they found her picture online for the profile? – user13267 Feb 13 at 0:48
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    @Charmander Great idea, although I think if you "match" or something, it should already be fine to approach her at work instead, assuming she was aware that OP is a coworker – Mars Feb 13 at 3:44
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    In my case I feel that doesn't apply - we're not even in the same building, and it's a huge company. - The fact that you've "seen her around before" makes this comment irrelevant. The mere possibility of running into someone she declined on a dating site may create a hostile work environment for her. That is not fair to her regardless of the size of the company. – Joel Etherton May 18 at 14:24
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Found a co-worker on a dating website. How do I approach them?

You approach them through the dating site. On the dating site she is presumably open to being approached by other people, at work that might not be the case. If the fee on the site is too much then do not bother pursuing her at all. The money lost for being fired for harassment will probably be much greater than the dating site fee.

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    Is it really that bad in your country (or at big international companies) nowadays? An employee having a profile on a dating website will file for harassment and make a coworker fired if approached and asked out in a respectful manner? Is asking someone out politely (without pressuring if the answer is "no") considered harassment now? – Val Feb 13 at 5:37
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    @Val if he approaches her at any other way besides the dating site it might be. If he messages her on the dating she might ignore him. Maybe she isn't even using the dating site anymore because she already found someone. – Jungkook Feb 13 at 6:59
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    @Val I agree with you, but that's how it is at the moment. And I think OP should be careful since it's workplace related. – Jungkook Feb 13 at 8:24
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    This feels a bit overly paranoid, though it would be nice to have the country the OP is in, but it's hard to see how asking someone out would be considered harassment by anyone. How did people ever get together before dating sites? – colmde Feb 13 at 11:52
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    @Jungkook : Is it that bad in the USA? If I want to ruin the life of a coworker out of spite (or just because I'm bored) I could just go to HR, complain of sexual harassment even if nothing happened, and the coworker's career will be damaged even if there is no proof for my allegations? – Val Feb 16 at 10:25
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In my view, the dating website is a red herring. Why not approach the person directly at work (without mentioning the dating site) as you would normally ask out someone? Whether this is considered harassment is dependent on your culture/locale (but when people become a couple in real life, someone has to ask out the other person!). In Southern Europe, it would be fine to ask out a person in your workplace with which you do not work together (of course, provided that you do this respectfully and with your employer's policy on that matter in mind). Most couples do meet at work.

Of course, read in the Internet the usual advice for dating on the workplace. You can find a lot on that in the Internet.

And, just to be sure: it is usually better to ask one out personally than to message them (especially if this would be through a company channel), of course.

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    @Donald OP specifies that they do not work in the same building and implies they do not interact at work. – dbeer Feb 12 at 19:36
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    @Donald: They do not work together but work in the same company (say, a office worker and a janitor in different buildings, but payed by the same boss). – guest Feb 12 at 20:38
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    I'd like to upvote this (I married someone from my workplace who asked me out), but making the approach at work is not the right place to do it. Find a pub that everyone goes to after work, or something like that, and do it there. Not actually during work hours. – Player One Feb 13 at 9:14
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    @gburton In USA it's a no-go, in most countries in Europe it's no problem at all (as long as you're not her/ his boss). – Chris Feb 16 at 18:15
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    @FrankHopkins We agree there, it is culture-specific. I was looking at it from employer perspective. Most companies in Europe don't care about it and normally it won't have any work related consequences. Still it's awkward for the people involved in it. – Chris Jun 9 at 9:38
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Don't do this...

The dating site charges a high fee. I'm not super comfortable paying to message just one person. Would it be considered harassment if I messaged them directly at work? (I'd find this creepy myself so probably yes?). If it is I'd just pay the fee.

Your gut instinct is good on this one. It would be extremely inappropriate to bring up the fact she's on the dating site in conversation - let alone actually acting on it to ask her out. She's using the dating site outside of work, not during.

More simply, even if you got the information that she's potentially looking for a partner via the dating site; sending anything like this during work, especially via work communication, is completely unsolicited and inappropriate.

Would it be considered harassment and a risk to my career if I approached her on the dating website? Both of us are aware the other works at the company

No and Yes.

Would it be considered harassment? If you work nowhere near her, have no ties to her or her department, and were careful to respect her boundaries (as you should be anyway); then it'd be unlikely to escalate into a harassment claim (not impossible though).

Is it a good idea? Not really. You might not work together right now, but you don't know where you'll be (or where she'll be) in the next year. Even if you're completely unfazed by working with somebody you wanted to date - she might not be.


I'd strongly recommend you treat your current workplace as the biggest compatibility red-flag you can. If in all other aspects you think you might be interested in her; hold the fact you work together against it - it's not worth the risk.

It's not romantic to consider; but the reality is she is no more likely to be "the one" than the many other potential romances you might pursue. All good relationships are built over time, without ever being a perfect fit. Ignoring that you ever saw her profile is not going to hurt your chance to have a romantically fulfilling life - but it will do a lot to protect your career.

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    I would definitely hope she does get a say in whether they date or not. – guest Feb 12 at 16:52
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    @guest That was meant in the sense of her not getting a say in being asked; which may make the workplace less comfortable for her. I've removed the line as I can see how it reads the way you pointed out, and the sentiment is already in another part of the answer. (Thanks for pointing out the ambiguity) – user81330 Feb 12 at 17:09
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    @guest if he is in a higher grade position in the company than she is, she may feel pressured into accepting his advances for fear of rejecting having a negative influence on her career. (this can happen irrespective of the sex of the person holding the more superior position btw. – jwenting Feb 13 at 4:35
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    @jwenting: Theoretically, yes. But I think OP has to figure that out if that could be reasonably the case. My sister is a professional translator, her husband a janitor in another building of the company she is working at. I don't see any problem or pressure in this situation. – guest Feb 13 at 6:12
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One big problem is that just because you found her photo in a dating site doesn’t mean she is on the dating site. So if you approach her outside the website, it may be complete news to her that she is on that site, which might end up highly embarrassing for everyone. The more attractive she is (to someone who is looking for romance and is wise enough to know that supermodels are not on these websites), the more likely that it is a fake.

Especially when you are charged significant amounts of money for contact information.

PS Naive commenter doesn’t know how this works. He signs up, he pays, and lots of lovely women on the site unfortunately just found a partner and are not available anymore. That’s when the site is scamming. The other possibility is that a scammer signed up, numbers are estimated 25%. Does she have photos on Facebook? Open season for scammers.

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    This is not a "big" problem. Unless the coworker is actually a model, the odds of somebody else randomly using their social photos are extremely low, particularly on a dating website where people expect to meet the other party in person. – lambshaanxy May 19 at 2:39
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    You are very naive. – gnasher729 May 19 at 6:05
  • Oh, it's well known that fake profiles are a big thing on paid dating sites, but using the photos of actual people in the same location without permission has lawsuit written all over it. Sure, an individual scammer might not care, but the site management themselves won't be this foolish. – lambshaanxy May 19 at 12:18
  • How would they know it’s the same location? And if it’s a scammer, how would she find them? – gnasher729 May 19 at 12:54

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