The Case for Not Getting Close to Your Coworkers

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I have always firmly believed that your work life should be separate from your personal life. To me, keeping your work relationships separate from your personal relationships keeps you from crossing ethical lines and keeps work what it should be- work. Essentially, pleasantries have no place in work life norms.

Don’t get me wrong, having strong mentors and people you can rely on at work is incredibly important, especially to your success. While being friendly is always a good idea, here’s why you should keep your relationships from getting too personal.

You won’t advance

Getting Close to Your Coworkers

While making friends at work when you’re young and single makes seems “easy,” it can be detrimental to your career. If your boss sees you as being too chummy with your coworkers, it can make it harder to distinguish you as a leader and someone they would respect were they to promote you to a higher position. Becoming a part of the crowd makes it harder to make yourself unique and stand out.

Management may also worry that you have “good friends” and just “regular friends” and that team members will receive preferential treatment based on their “BFF level.” That’s not to say you can never advance is you have close friends in the office, but this is something incredibly important to keep in mind.

You make yourself as a target for gossip

Getting Close to Your Coworkers

We all know the horrors of cliques. The more you associate with coworkers, the more you open yourself up to getting sucked into one particular group and thus opening your life up to gossip. While your personal life is no one’s business, just keep in mind that people do talk, and that gossip and rumors- even if they aren’t true, have ruined plenty of bright careers.

You can become collateral damage

Getting Close to Your Coworkers

“They,” say that you become like the five people you hang out with the most. If you’re hanging out with people at work who aren’t known for their drive, work ethic, and productivity people are going to perceive you to be just like them. On top of that, God forbid one of your coworkers do something illegal, and you look guilty by association. Like I said above, gossip, whether it be true or untrue, has ruined careers.

You set yourself up for drama

Getting Close to Your Coworkers

I don’t know about you, but I come to work to do my job, not to deal with petty drama. Giving your coworkers access to your personal life whether it be through social media or telling them about your new hook-up etc. is a recipe for drama. They read all of your political Facebook posts, they see the silly pictures of you and your friends on Instagram, and they view your drunken Snapchat stories- and they form opinions about who you are and your work ethic based on these things. Personally, I have made it a rule NOT to be friends with coworkers on Facebook (besides a very select few). If I want to connect with them, I use Linkedin.

You make your work-life balance impossible

Getting Close to Your Coworkers

When does work end and when does it stop when you’re always with your coworkers? Chances are if you’re going out together or spending time with them outside of the office; someone is going to bring up the manager they don’t like or the project that needs to be worked on. Your time off is your time off, and it’s essential to your productivity that you’re able to come back to work energized, refreshed, and motivated to do your best.


I’m not saying sit in your cubicle like a hermit and mumble a barely there response when someone says, “good morning” or asks how your weekend was. Be congenial, be willing to help others, and be a team player- just don’t be too close. Keep your work life and personal life separate to stay on the best career track you can.

How do you feel about workplace relationships? Do you have a horror story or cautionary tale? Let me know in the comments!

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About Chloe

Chloe is a San Antonio, TX native who loves margaritas and brunch almost as much as she loves reading a good book and a catching up on Empire. Learn more about Just a Girl in This World, click on the "About" tab in the main menu.

21 thoughts on “The Case for Not Getting Close to Your Coworkers

    1. I see what you mean! There’s a girl at work I’m close to that i can go to if i have issues or just need to vent, but there’s definitely a line I wouldn’t cross. i call her my “work wife” and my mentor my “work mom.”

  1. These points are all so valid. My hardest part of moving states and leaving my job of 2 years was that I was never going to see those people again. So strange since I had spent SO MUCH TIME with them…then nothing.

  2. These are all so important! My husband is close with his coworkers and we hang out a lot on the weekends but he doesn’t let it interfere with his work so during work hours he only hangs out during lunch and things like that.

  3. Wow! I totally needed to read this. I just started my career in marketing with my first salary position, I eagerly wanted to make friends but this made me think about it differently. If things go sour it won’t be good at all!

  4. You bring up some really valid points. I agree with the work life balance point. At my previous job, I got along really well with all my coworkers and we would hang out all the time (even after work). It was fun to spend time with them, but the more we hung out, the more I just wanted to go home and do my own thing (considering I had just spent 8 hours with them at work). I think finding the right balance is key.
    Katie |

    1. Yes! I have a “work wife” that I invited to my birthday dinner and we go to lunch sometimes, but other than that i want to be able to go home at the end of the day and have my own life.

  5. I think the biggest thing is that you can get complacent if the people around you are complacent. If they have bad work habits, it can be easy to pick those up too. I do think it’s worthwhile to have a friend or two at your job as well as being on good terms with everyone in the office.

  6. I totally understand where you’re coming from, but I also disagree a little bit. I think getting close to your coworkers is essential for working as a team, and if you have an issue you need to discuss with someone, you have a reliable shoulder to lean on.

  7. Totally agree with this 100%, if only because I work in a corporate environment. At the end of the day, coworkers are not your friends – they are there to think of themselves and get ahead just like you’re trying to do.

    1. Yes mam! I also work in corporate America, and naturally, everyone is out for themselves. If my “work friend” sees an opportunity to get ahead and better her life, she wouldn’t think twice about me.

  8. I actually have a great relationship with the people I work with and my boss. I haven’t really run into drama or anything of the sort which is really nice!

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