Is dating someone from work a good idea? Like many things, the answer is "it depends." There are many factors to consider, from your respective positions within the organization to your abilities to manage the emotional volatility that can result from crossing the professional-personal line. Many office romances lead to successful marriages, and just as many lead to messy and complicated entanglements. Here's a brief run-down of some of the issues to consider.
How Common is Workplace Romance?
An office romance is more common than you think. A 2018 study found that 58% of respondents admitted to having a workplace relationship, 18% admitted to having a random hookup, and 19% admitted to having a workplace affair that involved cheating on a spouse. The numbers are likely understated; 44% of survey respondents knew of coworkers who cheated on their spouses on business trips.
Is Office Romance a Good Idea?
On the plus side, work colleagues are familiar, and you have at least one thing in common, which makes them a less risky bet than a stranger you might meet online or at a bar. However, while many people meet their spouse at work (one study found that 22% of married couples in the US met at work), an office romance doesn't always work out. So what happens if you find love while on the clock? Can a relationship that began at work last without harm?
Are Workplace Relationships Allowed?
Before you decide to start a relationship at work, take a look at workplace regulations. Some employers have stringent guidelines about personal relationships. In specific situations, it can be illegal, and possibly criminal, to create such personal connections. Companies are notoriously bad at communicating such policies if they have them at all. And since most office romances are kept secret, especially in the beginning, no one wants to tip off HR by inquiring about policies after a romance has started. Do your research before it even comes up as an issue.
Office Romance and Power
If you find yourself falling for someone who is either your superior or subordinate, carefully consider the risks. There is the potential for sexual harassment where there is any kind of imbalance of power in a workplace hierarchy. The “ Me Too Movement” has increased awareness and sensitivity towards behaviors that may not be as consensual as they may appear. If you are the superior, you could face a backlash or a lawsuit. If you're the subordinate, it could be career suicide. Your ex-lover may withhold promotions or penalize your performance. In the worst-case scenario, you could lose your job.
Managing Romantic Relationships in the Workplace
Love being what it is, you may find yourself falling for a work colleague someday or on the receiving end of someone's (welcomed) advances. To give your relationship the best shot at success, here are some tips to keep in mind as you proceed.
Controlling Your Romantic Feelings
If you move forward, how well are you and your partner able to control feelings? You may feel the overwhelming desire to express affection, but this can have horrific consequences in the workplace. In most workplaces, showing open affection places into question your judgment, character, and abilities. If you cannot restrain your feelings, office love is not for you.
Just maintaining a single relationship has its challenges. When you have two vastly different relationships with the same person, you are dealing with boundaries, expectations, and emotions on a more intense level. The private relationship you have must remain separate from the work one. Should the two meet, both relationships suffer, along with your reputation. Compartmentalizing is not an option. It is a must.
Separating Work from Home
Almost everyone who starts an office romance thinks they're mature enough to keep their personal relationship separate from work. Are you sure about that, though? Will arguments and trouble spill over into the workplace? If you're fuming at each other from your squabble the night before, it creates tension for everyone in the office.
Conflict resolution is a part of life. Should you disagree with someone professionally or romantically, that skill is put to the test. You may have a great romantic relationship, but your work relationship may be filled with disagreements, even direct conflicts. You can also have a great working relationship, but your personal one may be a total disaster. You may have to expect that your two-pronged connection to one person may not be an all-around positive experience.
Every relationship has bad moments. When you work with the same person you love, you may not have the option of distance as a healing tool. As angry as you may be, you will need to be cordial to a person who has deeply wounded you. Can you keep up appearances after a bitter fight? Do you have that level of self-control?
Keeping Your Workplace Relationship Private
In a media age, everyone is sharing and caring intimate details. For workplace love, disclosure is the kiss of death. Despite every effort to be discreet, no office romance goes unnoticed forever. Your co-workers will start to notice stolen glances, flirty smiles, and furtive brushes against each other near the copier. Once the cat's out of the bag, the chatter will start. Rumors will start to fly that you're receiving preferential treatment or got a promotion simply because of who you're dating. You could find yourself on the receiving end of some nasty remarks and end up being ostracized. Life at work can become miserable.
To keep ugly gossip from appearing, keep your love life private. For some, the compulsion to share is irresistible. If you or your partner cannot remain silent, this could be a deal-breaker.
When Dating a Co-Worker Goes Wrong
It's easy to get caught in the thrill of a new love interest at work. It adds excitement to a boring day at the office. However, before you get involved with someone at work, consider how things could turn out if the relationship ends. Breakups are always hard, but an office breakup is horribly awkward. Instead of having something to look forward to every day, you will now dread bumping into each other. Try as might, you won't be able to avoid each other all the time. Even if you're an emotional mess, you will still have to interact with your ex professionally at the office.
You do not have the luxury of being angry at work. You may have to be cordial to a person you no longer love, possible even like. Feelings have to be deeply buried. No one plans on a love ending, but when it involves work, you have to know if you can handle it, or not.
If you're going to embark on an office romance, tread carefully. Successfully navigating an office relationship isn't impossible, but it can be tricky. Be aware of the pitfalls and keep things professional during working hours. If you want to talk more about the pros and cons of falling in love at work, please reach out to one of the many gifted psychic advisors here at Psychic Source.