I want to get back into dating, but should I ask my coworker out?

EDthrowaway911 asks:

I’m a 21-year-old guy in university who’s generally pretty awkward around females. I dated a girl once for about a year and I broke up with her. I’m thinking about asking another girl out again. She works in the same emergency room as me, though we hold different positions.

I’ve been working in an emergency department as a scribe for the last year, meaning I follow doctors around and take their charts on a rolling computer. I’m pretty much busy the entire shift, but occasionally have down time or time away from my computer. I’m getting more acquainted with the staff and I noticed this girl (I don’t know her name) who is an ED tech that I’m interested in (ED techs take EKGs, transport patients, splint, answer phones, basic tasks like that, pretty busy) The ED dynamic is overall pretty relaxed and everyone jokes with each other and is nice. I love it. I know of a few relationships that are within the ED and they seem to work well.

I don’t really know anything about her, but she has asked me my name, noticed my new haircut, and I’ve made eye contact with her frequently. I get a vibe that she is interested, but it’s very hard for me to gauge this given how friendly everyone is with each other in the ED. Compared to some of the other ED techs (of similar age), she has definitely been the most friendly to me. I don’t know what her relationship status is.

I’m trying to come up with a way to get to know her better or make a move. My best thought was to just ask her name, and when she says it, if it’s a difficult name, (she’s Russian) just hand her my phone and have her put her number in. Problem is, everyone is so busy in the ED it’s hard to find a time to even do this. I did have a chance this weekend, but I wasn’t really sure of myself. Any advice on how to approach this situation or anyone have experience with dating in a hospital? I’m kind of hung up on the “don’t shit where you eat” idea, but I think the ED might be an exception. Any advice?

Demetrius says:

I’m a big fan of the saying “don’t shit where you eat” or the less inflammatory version “don’t poop where you play” but I get understand your fears about asking out a coworker. I’m a big fan of exercising caution in most of these sort of scenarios, but maybe you’re over-thinking it.

Before we get into what you should do about this attractive coworker, let’s talk about the way you think about Dating. When you’re considering asking someone out, you should avoid making the act of asking someone out on dates, or even just getting back into dating, as a big event. Dating is only a big deal when you’re dating someone seriously. Until then, treat it lightly and you’ll feel less pressure, and by extension, less awkward about it. Do you feel awkward about the fact that you work in an Emergency Room? This is a place with actual stress and life or death situations and you seem to be handling that just fine. Dating is insignificant compared to the sort of work you witness everyday. Maybe you haven’t been in the dating world long enough but trust me, you’re going to be doing a lot of asking out and getting rejected before you meet someone you can build a long-term relationship with. So get out of that mindset that this is some big deal because it isn’t. Don’t get hung up on your old relationship, or the fact that you haven’t dated in awhile because that doesn’t matter.

Now for the actual advice for related to your questions! Right away I want to tell you that although you work in the same place, asking her out would absolutely be okay (assuming it’s cool with your Human Resources department). The whole “don’t poop where you play” thing doesn’t apply because your primary job function has little to nothing to do with this woman’s job function based on what you describe. So yes, you’re in the same workplace, but you barely interact which means that you definitely can ask her out without it being something you have to worry about. Even if she rejects you, the fact that you interact so little means it probably wont be awkward at all.

Based on what you describe about your interactions, I can’t tell for sure if she’s actually interested in you romantically, or just friendly. Yes, it’s true that she seems interested in you, but that might just be a general interest. Of course, it’s possible that she is interested in you romantically, but there is really only one way to find out, and that’s to ask her out. Just keep that in mind. It’s not an absolute Yes, nor a NO, just a maybe. Maybe is a good position to be in when you’re thinking about asking someone out so don’t let that deter you.

You should absolutely ask her out but the method you proposed is…not good, to put it as nicely as possible. Being direct will always earn you more points than not, and trying to get a phone number without expressing romantic intent is the absolute worst way to try to pick up someone. I can tell you’re an awkward guy because the whole approach you propose s a classic socially awkward move. I was a very socially awkward guy, especially with women, and when I wanted to ask a woman out I always tried to do it in a way that left room for me to save face. Trust me on this, the passive aggressive move never works and it usually comes off a bit creepy. Always be direct! The next time you see her and it’s a good time (you’re both not busy, not surrounded by peers, etc.) ask her if she wants to grab a drink after work sometime. If she asks you if it’s a group of people, be honest and tell her it’d just be you and her. If she seems hesitant or insists that you should make it a group outing, she’s probably not interested in you romantically. If she takes you up on the offer, get her number then (by the way, when a girl asks for your name, you ask for her name!). Don’t make any declarations to her at this point about how great she is, or how great you’d be together. Just get a drink and if it goes well, ask her on a real date.

Asking out a coworker should always be determined on a case-by-case basis but it sounds like you’d be fine if you did. Just be direct about it and if she says yes, go for it.

Good Luck Out There.

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