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Eyes on the job: beware the office romance
Young professionals often spend more time at the office than at home. As a result, there are a lot of single men and women who don't have the time to meet new people. Naturally, they seek their potential partners within their surrounding environment: the office.
Single people feel that work is a natural place to meet new people. After all, you spend at least 40 hours a week there, with individuals of similar backgrounds and interests. Relationships with co-workers can be especially tempting because hard work doesn't leave much time for socialising.
There are many issues both positive and negative to consider before engaging in office romances. One of the positive aspects is time efficiency, since you no longer need to search for a significant other in the evening. Why look around for potential dates when you have an office full of beautiful women? You save both time and money.
A second advantage to dating someone in the workplace is that since you spend so many hours together at work, you already have an idea of what she's like. This can save you from lots of headaches down the road.
A final advantage, besides the sex, is that you can carpool. Not only do you get to spend the night together, you also save on gas. Wow, what are the chances that you could date women who would save you petrol money?
Office romances also have their drawbacks. For example, no matter how well the relationship is going, the situation itself is a recipe for disaster. The fact that couples are in constant contact with one another day and night may cause friction within the relationship. Everyone needs "alone time" to pursue hobbies or hang out with friends, and the lack thereof may cause relationships to self-destruct.
Office romances may interfere with individuals' abilities to perform their professional duties. Imagine telling your girlfriend that she's fired. There is obvious potential for conflicts of interest between office situations and relationships. Be sure to avoid accusations of favouritism, which may harm the morale of colleagues.
Jealousy is another negative issue. Because you must usually keep office relationships a secret, other employees may flirt with your partner or vice versa. You have to keep in mind that this type of flirting is common and happens all the time in the workplace. So keep cool or the cat's out of the bag.
Before beginning a relationship, consider its potential outcomes. If things don't work out, will your work life become awkward? Prepare yourself for the unwanted situations that might follow. In order to be prepared, evaluate who's date-worthy, their position and the consequences of a break-up:
Dating colleagues: Rivalry and competition may harm the relationship. Uncomfortable situations may arise after the break-up when career advancement issues come into play.
Dating subordinates: False accusations of favouritism may arise, as well as accusations of sexual harassment after the break-up.
Dating bosses: False accusations of favouritism may arise. You may get fired after the break-up.
Read on for more about the pros and cons of an office romance:
Conceal an office romance
Dating by personality
How to handle her raise
Guidelines for success
Always remember, while inter-office dating is not necessarily illegal, many companies have policies against it. The tricky part regarding such policies is what defines dating. Most companies encourage friendships, so where's the line between friendship and dating?
If you start dating someone in the office, who can you tell? Should you try to keep it a secret? What if someone finds out? Would it have been better if you had been honest with your co-workers from the get-go?
Here are a few preventative guidelines to help develop a successful office romance without falling into any pitfalls or lawsuits.
- Adhere to the "one year" rule by only gradually letting a workplace or business acquaintance become a friend. Even then, try to keep it a casual friendship.
- Be careful if you are new at a job or in an extraordinary situation (like a trade show or a conference) and someone seems overly friendly, prying into the intimate details of your personal life.
- Test your business friend with "low risk" trust tests, to see how reliable they are. Is something you shared repeated to others? Are you discovering references from private conversations being mentioned in staff meetings? Does the new friendship seem equal and reciprocal or one-sided?
- You can be friendly in the workplace without jeopardising your career. You don't have to reveal your family secrets to make friends.
Things you should never say
- Anything you would not want repeated on the evening news or read about in a newspaper.
- The sexual prowess of your romantic partner as well as any former sexual liaisons.
- Business topics that are unethical or indiscreet.
- Bad-mouthing, or anything disparaging about clients.
E-mail communications present a new challenge to discretion in business relationships. There is something about e-mail that makes men and women let down their guards, so before hitting the send button on your computer, re-read your message and make sure that it is appropriate for a business environment.
Office romances can be fun, and successful. A growing number of newlyweds are co-workers. They should take the proper steps, however, to ensure that the relationship will last without interfering in the workplace. Finally, they should also consider the consequences of breaking up with a colleague before beginning the relationship.
Your say: have you had an office romance?