Quiz: Does Your Work Friend Have "Real" Friend Potential?

Liz Sheldon

When I tally up the friends I’ve made as an adult, more than half are people I met through a job—including my two ride-or-die BFFs. I sat across a very small desk from them at a startup e-comm company for four years until we went our separate career ways. Something the three of us discuss a lot is how lucky we feel to have successfully transitioned “IRL” buds, a shift that can feel risky. After all, no one wants to feel like they don’t make the cut beyond just being work friends. In the best cases, incessant contact, inside jokery, and stress-bonding on the job can lead to the kind of friends who’ve seen you ugly cry and invite you to Friendsgiving.

So how can you figure out if your professional-friend crush is interested in more? Like with any crush, the answers lie in a timeless, teen mag-style quiz, conveniently presented below. Jot down your answers and look to the results for advice from successful work besties, as well as consolation if your meeting soulmate isn’t meant to be your standing Sunday brunch date.

1. What’s the vibe of your Slack DMs?

a. Mostly deadline Qs and project updates

b. Work stuff with a few Housewives .gifs or skull emojis sprinkled in

c. Includes jaunty weekend recaps and exclusive pet pics

d. So juicy you had to take it to texts

2. Have they ever invited you to an outside-the-office hang?

a. No :/

b. Yes, their friend/significant other’s public DJ set or comedy show

d. Yes, a bday rager (still recovering)

d. Yes, a one-on-one movie, meal that wasn’t lunch, or anything involving a car ride longer than 20 minutes

3. Quick! How much do you know about them?

a. Ummm…I think they’re from Cincinnati?

b. Their kid just learned how to read, pretty cool!

c. Opinions include: Paddington 2 is a masterpiece, oat milk is a must for coffee, fruit never belongs in salads

d. Their full natal chart (how else can you send the best astrology memes, duh)

4. How often do you lunch together? (Skip to the next Q if you’re WFH.)

a. Does waiting in line at the vending machine count?

b. We’ve walked to the salad spot a handful of times

c. Taco Tuesdays are sacred

d. Our standing date includes making each other sandwiches—is that weird?

5. How often are you low-key messaging during larger meetings?

a. Still waiting for them to make the first move

b. Only when you-know-who is really going off the deep end

c. I’ve snort-laughed out loud at least once (disaster)

d. Other people are starting to notice, and it’s a problem

6. Are you friends on social media?

a. Gah, I’m working up the courage to hit “request”

b. We’re FB friends only, via an invite to a group event

c. I’m alllll up in the comments of their latest recap-carousel

d. Ask me about their secret TikTok and what they’re posting on “close friends”

7. Have they confided in you on a no-good, very bad day?

a. I think we shared an eye roll once

b. We’ve done some wound-licking as a team

c. An occasional midday vent sesh is par for the course

d. We’ve cried into our beers together, literally

8. Would other coworkers call you friends?

a. Def not

b. I guess in a “sure, we’re friendly” kinda of way?

c. It’s no secret we’re part of a regular happy hour crew

d. They’ve given us a celeb-couple-style hybrid name

"This could be us" energy. Photo: Julien Tell

Mostly As: Borderline Buds

The bad news: You’re not there. But, you might get there! The biggest factor in this cordial-not-close phase of a relationship is time. If this is a relatively new co-worker, test the waters: Ask more personal (but still work-appropriate!) questions, invite them for coffee, or share something fun about yourself. If you’ve tried and it didn’t fly, respect those boundaries. Some people want to keep their work and personal lives totally distinct, or sometimes the chemistry just isn’t there outside the office. On the up side, having a coworker you like is still a big win.

Mostly Bs: Clearly Connected Coworkers

If they were interested in more, you’d know it by now tbh. This one’s probably destined for in-office friendship only, and that’s okay! Maybe you’re a 20-something hitting up the club every week while they’re busy taking their pre-teen to softball, and your odd-couple bond works best at work. Or maybe their “work self” is all they feel comfortable sharing. If they’ve shrugged off invites or plans keep falling through, don’t get too bummed out. Instead, try to pinpoint why spending time with them makes you feel good, and look for that in your OOO friendships.

Mostly Cs: Strong “My People” Potential

The signs are promising! Rachel Herzig, a creative director, suggests this litmus test for what kind of legs a friendship might have: “If you both want to spend time together talking about things other than work, that’s a good indicator—when you’re lingering in the office because you’re genuinely interested in their conversation, and vice versa.” If you’re standing in the lobby or Slacking after hours to dissect the latest season of Selling Sunset, it can be a natural transition to invite them over for a viewing party or see if they want to continue the convo over a cocktail.

Travis Fitch, an architect who’s amassed an impressive amount of friends from work over the years, also stresses the importance of “having a space outside of observation of your bosses to connect—it can be on GChat, or a physical space like a bar.” He also stresses the importance of a “bold individual” to make the first invite to a weekend movie or a day trip. Maybe that’s you? Much like dating, group plans are a good way to nudge things forward early on.

Mostly Ds: True-Blue BFFs

Congrats! You’re actually already friends with this person. Either straight-up ask them if they want to extend that socializing into “real life,” or watch out for clear signs they’re just as smitten. Take this example from my own life: When a coworker I was pretty close to shed tears of joy upon hearing I got into grad school, it felt like we’d instantly crossed a wonderful line. It was clear she genuinely cared for me beyond our current titles and roles. She invited me to her bachelorette party soon afterward, and the rest is history.

Also, sometimes it takes not working together for an office friendship to become fully realized. With that coworker, it was hard to prioritize spending downtime together when we already worked long hours side-by-side, and had other people to catch up with off the clock. Going your separate ways job-wise is a sink-or-swim moment for this kind of friendship, so if you’re serious, get some plans on the books, introduce them to your other besties, and revel in introducing them as your friend instead of “Ryan from work.”

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