OK. So you chose to ignore our advice on NEVER dating somebody at work. Wrong move, Bro. That said, we do understand that co-workers often engage in this activity called "happy hour," and that mistakes can happen. As risky as the behavior can be, it's also very common. Now that you've woken up next to a female (or male, whatever your thing) co-worker, you need to do some damage control. We all know how worthless Abstinence-Only Education is, so here's a set of guidelines to help you out in this sticky situation.
1. Don't Do It
This is really more of an "I told you so" than anything else. However, it really cannot be stressed enough that you should avoid hooking up with co-workers at all costs. It is the 21st century, and some companies are actually very open and accepting of the fact that office romances are somewhat inevitable. That said, there is just too much on the line here. You can lose your job. It can make things awkward with other colleagues. If you don't lose your job, you can still hurt your reputation enough at the office that it affects your promotion opportunities. If your direct boss hears about it, it could also affect his or her opinions of you. Remember that nobody will ever blame you for *not* banging the hot girl over in accounting, but some will hold it against you if you do. You probably have literally millions of moderately attractive and disease free co-eds to choose from in your area -- pick one (or twelve) of them.
2. Know Your Options
You probably already know that when you bang a chick, you essentially have three options.
Option One: Act like it never happened. This is a viable option in this scenario if applied correctly. That said, you can't just "disappear" the way you would with any other one-and-done. You're still going to see her. Every day. At your job.
If you plan to execute the Neutralizer tactic, you need to make sure she's on board with you and ready to cooperate. It is absolutely imperative that you sort this out the next morning, and not later via text (or worse, at the office, see guideline #4). When in doubt, fall back on the "oh man I'm just really weird about the work thing" cop out. If she's anything less than half-crazy, she'll have to respect that.
Option Two: Keep banging her casually and see what happens. This is a terrible idea. We are taking it off the table. There simply no way to pull this off, it cannot end well. If you ever find the planet where the laws of physics allow you to repeatedly bang the chick at your office, keep it a total secret, never have to call her your girlfriend, and continue to bang other chicks at the same time, please tell me how to get there. On Earth, it can't be done.
Option Three: Give her an honest "shot". Try actually dating her. Ask her out a few times. Text her pictures of funny cats (you know you do that, tool). Hold hands with her when you walk places together. Agree to hang out with her on weekend nights when you'd rather be out crushing Natty with your bros. Yes, this is a viable option for you. It's not without its risks. If you decide you like the girl and she winds up dumping you (or was rolling with Option Two the entire time without your knowing it, rookie), your work environment just got a whole lot worse. I've been there personally. It sucks as bad as it sounds.
All that said, if you know the girl pretty well and realize that you have feelings for her, it might actually be worth it to pursue. Again, it's risky, but it's also pretty common and some companies are totally OK with it. If you find yourself thinking about her and wanting to hang out with her more and more when you're already around each other a lot of the time, landing her (before somebody else does) may not be the worst move here. Especially if your alternative is showing up at the office all emo every day because you like the girl at work but don't have the balls to ante up on it.
3. Keep It HUSH HUSH
This should also go without saying: when you bang somebody at the office keep your mouth shut about it. In most people's mundane lives and work environments, word on this sort of thing travels like wildfire. In fact, one of the most popular happy hour pastimes is... talking about who woke up with who after the last happy hour. It should be obvious that you do not want that kind of attention. Even if you have close "friends" at work, don't fucking tell them. There's too much at stake, and honestly you shouldn't trust work "friends", anyway.
If you need to share the details of your conquest, tell your non-office bros. Even show them her LinkedIn page for evaluation purposes (but don't forget to turn off that creepy privacy setting that tells people when you've viewed their profile, stalker 101 right there). But when it comes to your office colleagues, shut the hell up. Word will probably eventually get out on this, and you shouldn't panic when it does, but you definitely don't want to be the reason people know. It never looks good.
"Your knowledge of spreadsheets has me wet."
4. NEVER at Work
So you've decided to be this girl's little office knight in shining armor and have gone with option three -- you're actually kind of dating. That's fine. Be mindful that there are always risks, but do what you want. If you go down this path, there is one rule that you must always follow no matter what: when you're at work, you can NEVER act like you've seen each other naked. You and the girl need to be on the same page with this one, because it's kind of delicate, but it should really go without saying. Of course there are the obvious things to avoid -- any sort of PDA, sending flowers to her desk, and the other completely idiotic things that some bros do when they go down the relationship path. There are also the less-obvious things that you need to keep in mind, because trust me, people notice. Don't stop by her desk all the time to "chit-chat", don't leave the office together and act as if it doesn't look like you're banging, don't only talk to her at happy hours. Try your best to act like you did before you opened Pandora's box of office poo-swah.
5. Be a Gentlebro
The stakes are much higher with this kind of relationship, and you need to make sure to bring your A-game. We know that you're going to follow guideline #3 like a pro and keep this quiet, but ultimately word will eventually spread no matter what. That being the case, make sure that the words being spread about you are all (or mostly) GOOD. Don't be an idiot and cheat on her -- you can do that with other girls and it probably won't fuck your career. Don't awkwardly avoid her in what would be otherwise normal office interactions or social events. The morning after, offer to pick up coffee or bagels. Keep a good head on your shoulders and make sure that you treat her pretty well. Remember, that the story will inevitably spread on this one -- just make sure you're not the bad guy when all's said and done.
And thus concludes our guide on What to Do When You Wake Up with a Coworker. Again, the best way to handle this situation is to avoid it entirely. If you fail on that golden rule, follow these guidelines for damage-control. Until next time, Bros.
[Coworker sex image via ShutterStock]