Office romance is okay (until it’s not)

By February 14, 2014 Management & HR

From the time we get our first real job we’re bombarded with warnings: “don’t date your co-worker,” “getting involved with your co-worker can ruin your career,” etc. Yet according to some surveys, As high as 56% of us, have been involved with someone at work. So while everyone is at least aware of the potential issues created by office romance (sexual harassment and disrupted workplace harmony to name but two), a large portion of us can’t seem to resist.

 

If you are one of those people that just can’t resist the temptation of an office dalliance, know that there are some instances when an office romance is really not okay:

When you’re not discreet

They say ignorance is bliss. We say that office romance is taboo, but then implicitly accept that it’s inevitable. As co-workers, we’ve held up our end of the bargain, yours is to not rub your workplace romance in our faces. We don’t want to know what you’re fighting about, we don’t want to know who’s cooking dinner tonight, and most of all, we don’t want to see any public displays of affection, whatsoever. We know that you’re an item, but we’d rather pretend you’re just colleagues and your discretion helps us maintain our delusion so that we can focus on our jobs, rather than the scintillating details of your love life.

When your work is affected

My friend spent a year pining away for his boss. When they started dating (don’t forget, that’s how the Obamas met), the first thing I said was “don’t get lazy!” Focus on why you’re there in the first place – to do a great job. One of you might be asked to switch to a new team or division due to conflict of interest that could occur when participating in a hierarchical relationship.

When you’re using the person

Whether the relationship is casual, or there’s professional gain to be had by dating your colleague, here’s a tip: don’t bother. Just don’t. People will get hurt. You’ll look bad. It’s not worth it.

When you’re cheating or thinking of cheating

I don’t think I need to elaborate too much on this one. Out of the one third of Canadians who admit to dating a co-worker, 17% admit that they or the other person were already with someone. The devastating consequences of having an affair go beyond your work and reputation. People can get hurt (as with above), and families can be torn apart. Do not get involved with people’s with significant others. And not to go all romance column-y, but if you’re even considering having an affair, maybe it’s time to look within yourself and reach out to your partner to understand why you’re unhappy or dissatisfied. Don’t drag another person into your domestic problems.

Basically, excluding the above, anything goes when it comes to office liaisons. Just remember to respect yourself, respect the object of your affection, and respect your workplace.

 

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