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Should You Bring a Date to Work Functions?

Ask Savvy: Should I Bring a Date to a Formal Work Dinner?

Dear Savvy,
My company is hosting a formal dinner for everyone in my department as a thank you for our extra efforts on a recent project. Most of my co-workers are married and will probably bring their spouses, which makes me think I should invite a date. The problem is, I'm not sure my current dinner date and me are ready to be asked the inevitable barrage of questions like "how long have you been seeing each other?!" Is it appropriate for me to bring a platonic pal, should I give my guy a chance to shine, or should I just go alone? I want to be professional, but also don't want to get stuck in the corner because I don't have a date.
Thanks for your advice,
Unmarried Mary

Savvy says: No one wants to be stuck in a corner! First off, I suggest asking the event coordinator if others are in fact bringing dates. In my experience, the majority of work dinners are usually nondate events aimed at team building unless the invite explicitly says to bring someone (or, you know "the more the merrier!"). It sounds like your company wants to reward employees for a job well done, not toast to couples. Once you know if others plan to bring spouses you will know if this is even an issue.

That being said, if you don't have someone in your life who you are ready (or willing) to expose to your colleagues to, then don't force it. And don't think you need to bring a gal pal either. There's nothing more uncomfortable than babysitting someone through a work function — or pretending to be interested in a date's work life when you're not. To see how I think you can use your singledom to your advantage,


Flying solo will allow you the chance to network and work the room in a way you might not be able to if you were entertaining a date. Find your favorite couple or colleagues and linger with them during cocktail hour and then select your dinner chair when half the party has been seated so you can assure you are posted in a lively position.There's no reason to overcompensate if you attend alone, because being unattached will likely allow you increased chances to impress in your own right.

Whatever you do, don't for a second think your boss or colleagues are judging you for being single or coming without a date. It's perfectly reasonable (and professional) to want to keep your private life private or simply, attend a work event sans your lover. Your fellow single co-workers will thank you.

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