Five People You Should Never Date

You should have known better. Or maybe you did; you just didn’t care. You’d heard the horror stories and the admonitions: “Don’t date a/your…” But some things are easier said than done, and forbidden fruit tastes so much sweeter.

When I got into a relationship with a co-worker a few years ago, I knew it wasn’t the brightest idea I’d ever had. We worked literally a few feet from each other. Technically, I was his junior at the office, and the company had an explicit no fraternization rule.

Five People You Should Never Date

But rules, I told myself, were made to be broken. Apparently so was my heart. When he ended things—at the office (fitting, perhaps, for it to end where it began)—a few months later, I finally understood why you don’t fish off the company pier. Because of his unavoidable proximity and the anxiety of having to keep my heartbreak under wraps, there were more teary trips to the ladies’ room than the guy frankly deserved.

Of course, there are always exceptions to the rule. But, in the hopes that at least one person will be saved from staring dejectedly at the back of an ex’s head from a cubicle every day, I’ve put together a short list of people to avoid like the plague.

1) Your HR Rep (Or any co-worker for that matter.)
Beyond the inescapability factor, the power politics of the office make it a bad place to pair off. Even before her relationship with J.T. in human resources headed south, Leslie realized her new boyfriend had “way too intimate a knowledge” of how much money she made, her benefits, her professional past and future, not to mention control over her paychecks. It’s what licensed couples and sex therapist Lisa Thomas calls “a power differential,” and it’s detrimental to any serious relationship.

Sure, J.T.’s professions of love through inter-office mail and making out on the VP’s couch after hours were fun, but for Leslie, they were far from worth the entanglement that accompanied their breakup. She finally got over J.T., but only after he was transferred to China.

2) Your Ex’s Best Friend (Or sibling, or roommate, or …)
Three words: Drama, drama, drama. Not only did it cause a stir among their mutual friends when Katie started hanging out with her ex’s best friend, Chris, but when her ex finally found out, he was hurt. “Think about it,” says former matchmaker and relationship author Nancy Pina. “If your ex’s best friend pursued you, he has revealed that he is not a man of good character, since he obviously doesn’t know what it means to be a ‘best’ friend.”

“Sometimes people will gravitate toward exes or friends of exes because there’s something familiar there, and there’s the fear of moving on,” notes Lisa Thomas. Sure enough, Katie realized that dating Chris was exactly like dating Gary—it didn’t work. “I could have saved myself a lot of trouble and heartache,” she says, “if I’d realized that they were the same person in different bodies.”

3) Your Personal Trainer (And anyone else in your entourage.)
Coming up with excuses to avoid the gym is easy enough without adding the potential embarrassment of running into an old hook-up to the list. After a short tryst with her personal trainer, Margaret wasn’t looking forward to having someone who’d seen her naked tell her she needed to tone her glutes. Ultimately, she severed both the personal and professional relationship and found a new gym. When it comes to dating, “it’s good to keep all of your professional contacts away from your personal contacts,” says Thomas.

The same applies to your barista, the waiter at your favorite restaurant, your dry cleaner, your hairstylist, etc. If you like the service you’re getting, don’t go looking for more customer satisfaction in the sack. Remember, says Pina, you might not be the only customer they’re serving.

4) The College Student (If you’ve been out for more than a year.)
One problem here is the potential for an unhealthy (and very unsexy) parent-child dynamic, says Thomas. “The maturity level will be night and day,” agrees Pina. Take Lucy, who’d been out of college for five years when she found herself dating a college senior … and his two roommates, his foosball table, and his bedroom with an NC State football blanket as a curtain.

“It was fun at first; then it was terrible,” says Lucy. “One time I had to pick him up from a party. I had to work that day, so I was the sober driver … I felt like a mom in the carpool line. Then one of his buddies puked in my car.” If you’re gonna babysit, you should at least be paid for it.

5) Mr. Or Ms. Perfect
If someone seems too good to be true, he or she probably is. “On paper, anyone can look good,” says Thomas. And anyway, it’s not about being perfect, it’s about “work[ing] well together to solve conflict.”

Not too long after her relationship with HR Guy, Leslie found herself in a perfect-on-paper match-up with someone who had all the qualities she thought she was looking for. But he was too perfect, and it ended up driving her away. She became more irritated with his seeming perfections, especially when he refused to stick up for himself. “For a while, I couldn’t imagine anything taking away this sense of peace I had found. I ignored the little things that [ticked] me off—he never stood up to me, he had a habit of starting each sentence with the same disclaimer, he went to the wrong college … I ignored it because he seemed like Prince Charming,” recalls Leslie. “I remain sure that he is indeed—for someone else.”

Unfortunately, it can be easy to go lookin’ for love in all the wrong places—and to convince yourself you’ll find it there. But remember, the exceptions only prove the rule.


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