Office romance is not the taboo it used to be. We are spending more and more time at work, so it’s only natural to start developing feelings for some of your co-workers. Still, in most cases, an office romance is not really such a great idea. Sure, there are some great upsides to it, but there are also many dangerous downsides. Let’s take a look at all the aspects of an office romance – the good, the bad, and the ugly.
Obviously, there are some genuinely good things about an office romance, and they’re the ones we’re going to talk about first.
Most of us spend the biggest amount of our time at work, surrounded by our colleagues. When you see someone all the time and you spend a lot of time together, starting an office romance may be very tempting. This is especially true if you know them well and you have plenty of things in common. Dating a co-worker makes planning easier, as you probably won’t have to go out of your way to adapt your schedules to accommodate the needs of your new relationship. And well, when you’re meeting for drinks after work, you don’t have to go through the trouble of setting a time and place.
Who better to understand your job-related frustrations and worries than your colleague? If you’re dating a person who works with you, they have first-hand knowledge of the situation in the workplace. They know if your boss is unfair, or if your clients were especially difficult that day. This makes it easier to sympathize with you, which makes for a better relationship.
Many people feel that dating can sometimes be dangerous. If you go out with a person you’ve just met, you’re risking all kinds of things. You don’t know their character; they can be violent or have a problem with sudden mood swings. They can be criminals or other shady characters, or they can simply be weirdoes. Because of all of this, the majority of people find it safer to date someone they already know – for example, a person with whom they spend 40 hours a week.
Unfortunately, there are many downsides as well.
If you get into a relationship with a colleague, sooner or later people will notice, and you’ll become the subject of gossip. It’s unavoidable. Even though many people enjoy gossip, and for those who don’t, there are ways to deal with it, nobody really likes being put in the spotlight in such a way. Furthermore, a relationship can easily be jeopardized in its early stages if too many people start meddling.
Even if you don’t mean to work less, chances are that you will. And the fact is that your co-workers will notice as well. If you stop to chat on your way to the bathroom or if your lunch breaks start lasting 10 minutes longer than before, other people at work will think that you’re slacking off. Of course, you may continue to do your job with the same or even increased efficiency – if you’re seen changing your habits to accommodate your relationship, you’ll provoke negative attitudes in your co-workers.
Finally, if it doesn’t work out, your ex is still your colleague, and you have to see them every day. It can cause a very difficult situation at work, especially if one of you didn’t want the relationship to end. Imagine spending 40 hours a week working with a person who broke your heart. Not nice, right? Even worse, if the tension between the two of you is too high, it can even cause problems for other people, and one or both of you can lose your job.
In the very worst of cases, there can be some downright nasty consequences of an office romance.
So, it didn’t work out, you broke up, and you thought that that was it. And then you get a call from the HR, and you hear that your ex claims that you harassed him or her before or after the breakup. This happens more often if you are in a superior position in the company compared to your ex. Now this is a tricky business and you should be aware that your job is on the line, so you should seek professional help. Find a good law office, such as Stevenson Business Lawyers, and make sure your rights (and your job) are protected
If one of you is the other’s boss, your relationship has just become more complicated. If you are in a lower position, be ready to face the distrust of your co-workers. From the moment they find out about your relationship, they’ll assume that any recognition you get at work is because of that relationship, even if it’s well-deserved. If you are in a higher position, you may start to question your partner, because it may cross your mind that they are simply taking advantage of you. Furthermore, there are usually rules in place for such cases, so tread lightly and make sure you understand the consequences of your relationship.
When you work with a person, how much do you really know about their personal life? Imagine if your new boyfriend or girlfriend is actually in a committed relationship that you know nothing about. Now imagine their partner storming into office and start calling you names and stirring drama. It’s embarrassing, it can cause your co-workers to lose respect for you, and it can even cost you your job. Or what happens if you find out that your new partner has been sleeping around with several colleagues? There are many disaster scenarios, but they all end in tension in the best case or losing your job in the worst.
Even though an office romance has some benefits, usually it’s a bad idea. Of course, if your co-worker if your soul-mate, you should go for it. However, if they’re not, it’s simply not worth the risk.
Daniel Brown is a law graduate and a passionate blogger from Sydney. His areas of interest are alternative dispute resolution and its applicability in different fields of law, IP law and resolution of disputes arising from intellectual property infringement and commerce law.