You’ve probably seen this at your job: A man and a woman start dating, and all is well at first. Word spreads in the office, and people are happy for the couple.
But a few weeks or months later, tension develops between the lovebirds. Drama ensues. Others overhear angry phone calls and notice animosity between the two.
What began as a feel-good relationship for all turns into awkwardness. Some people advise an absolute ban on office romances. I think that’s extreme. We’re adults, aren’t we? I’ve had office romances that were successful, at least for a while. You may have too.
The keys are wisdom and maturity. Be wise enough to carry on your romance with a co-worker discreetly. And be mature enough to control your emotions if the relationship turns sour.
Here’s an interesting article by Susan Adams of Forbes. It says a survey by CareerBuilder showed that four of 10 employees said they had dated a co-worker at some point.
So office romances appear inevitable. The article offers several guidelines for keeping them from becoming a disaster.
Most importantly, don’t date a person who works for you. If the relationship explodes, the underling could file a sexual harassment suit.
“Especially for the person in the supervisor’s seat, such a relationship is ‘criminally stupid,’” said employment attorney Kathleen McKenna.
You’ve heard of pre-nuptial agreements in a marriage. McKenna advises a “cupid contract” if a boss and worker insist on dating.
“They should spell out in writing the fact that both are engaging in a consensual relationship,” the article says. “If the company has a sexual harassment policy, they should make it clear they understand the rules.”
Most office romances, however, are between equal colleagues. An article on CBS Money Watch has a couple of tips for these relationships. First, make sure you have more in common with each other than the same employer, it says.
“The more out-of-office friends, events, [and] gatherings in your life, the healthier your relationship will be,” according to the article.
Second, keep your office romance very low profile, particularly in the beginning.
“It will be easier for you two to explore a relationship without being the subject of coffee-room gossip,” the article says.
Many people are tempted to have an office romance. If you’re a supervisor, resist the temptation to date an underling. If you’re dating a workplace equal, still use caution. Your image and advancement prospects could be at stake.