Introducing CWB: Colleagues With Benefits

If you thought Friends With Benefits complicated the hell out of things, consider the same scenario…but at work. 

By: Laura C. Anderson

Let’s be honest about something: you can’t avoid someone you work with. It’s impossible, especially if that person is also the same person you’re f*cking. Or used to f*ck, whatever. Also important to mention: you’re not sneaky, or sly. You thought you were being discrete? Psh, everyone knows.

That one creepy dishwasher guy, Bob, who you try not to make eye-contact with, saw you two making out when you thought no one was looking and briefly made an uncomfortable joke about it to a nameless employee who has nothing better to do in his/her free time than text everyone he/she works with about the news. Before you know it your parents are calling you asking about your new girl/boyfriend.

We’ve all made the mistake of having sex with someone we work with. We all know it’s a cardinal rule to avoid such a situation because everything just becomes, well - messy. And fast. We all know that saying, “don't shit where you eat,” yet we all continue to shit where we eat.

What is it about our disposition or wiring that makes us so attracted to something we can’t have? We’ve all started a new job and taken a good, hard look in the mirror reminding ourselves repeatedly we’re not going to get too close or have sexual relations (Bill Clinton voice*) with our colleagues. Yet, two days later we’re exchanging numbers and agreeing to meet for “drinks with friends.”

While we’re on this whole honesty kick, let’s also be real about the fact that no one agrees to meet for drinks with someone else’s friends whom they’ve never met before and have no interest in getting to know unless they have an objective, a motive, if you will. Nine times out of ten the objective is sex, and ten times out of nine the sex is inevitable, so why are we so surprised when the next morning is awkward and uncomfortable at work? 

You two went from playful interactions with heavy amounts of sexual tension and flirty verbal foreplay to a deadpan awkwardness that not even dishwasher Bob wants to be around. It’s like a switch is suddenly turned off, the chase is over, the game is lost, the anticipation ceases and all that’s left is a night you both regret. And why, you might ask? Because neither of you know what the hell is going on.

Are you two a thing now? Was it mutually understood that the sex meant nothing? Is it going to happen again? Are we keeping this a secret? Will going on a real date make things weird? Are we supposed to talk about it or pretend it never happened? Does this mean you’re no longer going to sneak food to me like you’ve been doing, cause I kind of loved that?

Hooking up with the people you work with is usually frowned upon because unless the two of you ride off into the sunset together and live happily ever after, you’re going to go your separate ways and nothing is ever quite the same once you’ve had sex. And now you’re both avoiding each other or sidestepping around the nosey employees who ask things like, “I heard you and Karen are a thing?” or, “So, tell me, do you like him?”

We’re only human and it’s not our fault if we find someone we work with attractive. But damn does it become problematic when you find yourself stressing over seeing that person at the one place you’re stuck at until five (or whenever) o’clock everyday.

With a little more thought, something occurred to me; what if there’s a way to go about hooking up with your colleagues without the metaphorical shit hitting the fan? I mean, come on, there has to be some methodical way to approach the situation without Becky getting hurt or Dylan thinking he’s got a stage five clinger he needs to avoid at all costs.

That being said, for this one I went into full investigation mode to find five men and five women who know a thing or two about this topic and asked for their takes on how to make it work. Here’s what they had to say:

Jake, server: “Talk about it before you do it. Worst thing you can do is get too ahead of yourself, f*ck her, then ignore her. Especially when you really want to f*ck her again and you do and it makes it worst.”

Deep, Jake.

Ford, personal trainer: “It’s always weird when people you work with find out but I think the best thing you can do is agree not to talk about it to anyone, ever. People love drama and gossip and the more you feed into it, the worst it becomes.”

Well duh, but when has that, in the history of ever, happened? Someone always says something. 

Tripp, bartender: “Shit. I don’t think I’ve ever made this work since I flirt with women as part of my job. Girls get hired left and right at the bar and whomever I’m into at the time always gets mad/jealous when she sees the flirting. It’s weird though because she’ll know she really can’t get mad cause we aren’t serious so over time it just feels like I have a constantly pissed-off, passive-aggressive work girlfriend. Bottom line? I don't recommend it.”  

Spoken like a true CWB veteran.

Derek, spa technician: “I’d say just be open about what you two want at all times. If someone starts to develop feelings then you just have to talk about it. I’d rather the girl tell me she wants more to my face so I can diffuse the problem right away.”

You’re right, getting rejected head on is way better than months of wondering if you’re ever going to get that text back. But like – come on Bro, you didn’t see her as a “problem you needed to diffuse” when you were literally balls deep a few weeks ago.

Steve, personal trainer: “I used to have a thing for my boss before she transferred. She made coming to work so exciting. I loved our dirty little secret until it wasn’t our dirty little secret anymore because everyone found out. Things are never as exciting or fun when you’re not sneaking around. So maybe whoever you’re interested in – you two should talk about whether you’d be okay with everyone finding out or not.”

Anyone else singing All-American Rejects in their head right now?

Sarah, accountant: “If you set guidelines ahead of time and rule out any possibility of things getting serious, neither of you are confused on where you stand or what’s happening and it can just be carefree and fun.”

There’s a reason you never see the words, ‘guidelines’ and ‘fun’ in the same sentence.

Diane, bartender: “It always gets messy eventually. I compare CWB to a ticking time bomb. I truly don’t think there’s a way to go about it without one of both of you regretting it. Because, really, what’s the solution? One of you quits?” 

Preach, Diane. 

Shelly, retail manager: “I’m married to the man I once worked with so I guess I’m biased but I just think if it’s meant to be it will be but you’ll always regret it unless you give it a shot. Yeah, odds are it won’t work out or last, but there’s always the chance it will.”

You’re that “exception to the rule” everyone hates, Shelly. You should know that.

Kristi, server: “Communication is really important when it comes down to anything sex/friend related. Usually the two don’t coexist; I mean there’s a reason people say you shouldn't mix business with pleasure but at the end of the day we all have needs and desires and if you’re like me and you have little self control and you know it’s going to happen regardless then I guess my only forewarning is that you two should talk openly about it first.”

Self-control? What is this foreign ability you speak of? 

Morgan, chef: “Set an expiration date. It sounds stupid, I know, but just hear me out. If you have a date for the hooking up to end then you can totally enjoy it while it’s happening and you won’t be confused or hurt when it ends. You will both be expecting it. And if once it’s over, you two still want to hook up or hang out then you can establish a new relationship. That fuzzy period between hooking up and never speaking to each other again is pure death. Set an expiration date.”

Ding, ding, ding! And first place goes to Morgan with the ingenious ugly truth. That’s right boy, we can f*ck until this Greek non-fat 80-cal yogurt in my fridge turns sour.

Laura C. Anderson | @s0mebl0nde



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