How To Handle A Workplace Romance

Office romances are generally frowned upon for many reasons, but really, we spend more than half our waking lives at work. Is it really any wonder then that sometimes feelings will blossom at the workplace?

In this article, we will look at some of the pros and cons of office romances and see if we can find a way to do them ‘right’.

First of all, we need to realize that outright banning co-workers from dating is counterproductive and unreasonable. After all, most of us have no control over our feelings, and also, as humans, we thrive when we are in love, when we feel connected and when we share a common goal or cause.

Let’s look at some of the pros of office romances.

You can get to know your partner organically.

It’s unlikely that you go to work looking to get into a relationship with a co-worker. So, you have a better chance of getting to know someone’s true character before you start dating. If that person is in your friends from work group, or if you work side-by-side with the person for any length of time, you’ll undoubtedly have seen and gauged many of their qualities that would have taken you ages to work out if you were just dating them.

Positive traits in the office can translate over to a relationship.

What we mean by this is that you’ll be able to assess if the object of your affections really does have the qualities that you are looking for in a partner. If you are attracted to someone who is driven and responsible, you’ll be able to tell if the other person has these qualities from the way they act at work. Relationships are a team effort, which is very similar to the workplace.

You probably have a lot in common.

If you both work in the same industry, chances are that you already have a few common interests. The workplace is an environment with like-minded people overall, and if you are in a job or industry you are passionate about, passion breeds passion, especially for those who are attracted to creativity and/or intelligence. Also, if you are both in a high-pressure job like law enforcement or healthcare, you’ll both understand each other’s’ day-to-day stresses and hectic schedules, which can be especially helpful.

Of course, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows. Office relationships also do have their share of downsides, including:

You must be mindful of co-workers.

While it may feel like the two of you are in your own little universe, you have to respect that your co-workers may not be swept up in your romance. PDA and flirting in public can make your co-workers uncomfortable, and even lead to resentment and lack of trust. You’ll also need to make sure that you don’t exclude others, whether from an inside joke, a private conversation, or a table in the break room. Another reason to keep it on the down-low is to avoid becoming the subject of office gossip, which can become stressful and put a strain on your relationship.

You could jeopardize your professional reputation (and your job).

Worst-case scenario, an office romance can tank your workplace reputation, and depending on the situation (and your company’s policies), it can even cost you your job. There are a lot of factors at play here, and keeping your composure, compartmentalizing your personal life and maintaining your trustworthiness — no matter what happens — are all key when it comes to upholding professionalism.

Dating someone higher or lower in the office hierarchy can get messy

Now, you’ll want to think really long and hard before pursuing a relationship with a subordinate or supervisor. Know that nepotism, responsibility, and assumptions of abuse of power can make things messy and skew how your co-workers view you. In a situation like this, you may have to choose between your job and your feelings; just be sure that one is worth giving up for the other.

So, what can you do to manage your relationship if you do decide to pursue your workplace romance? Here are our tips:

Consider (and be clear about) your intentions early on.

Remember, the office isn’t really the place for a casual hook-up, so you need to consider whether you see your relationship lasting the long-term. While there’s no need to inform HR after your first date, you may want to inform them once things get serious. Also, you will want to establish some ground rules early on, such as PDA and how much of your relationship you’re willing to share with your officemates.

The bottom line is, there’s nothing inherently wrong with an office romance, provided you proceed with caution, openness, and honesty. Try to do it right from the beginning by being thoughtful and deliberate, regardless of the outcome.

Do you have an office romance story you’d like to share? Tell us about it in the comments below.