How to Succeed at Office Romance
According to a 2009 survey by the job search Web site CareerBuilder, four out of 10 workers say they’ve dated a colleague at some point in their careers. Three in 10 say they married the person they dated at work. Fewer workers are keeping their romance a secret these days. CareerBuilder found that 72% are going public with their office relationships, compared with 46% five years ago. Despite its ubiquity, office romance can be fraught with peril. What’s the best approach to conducting a love affair in the workplace? Here’s some advice.
Avoid Dating your Dupervisor or Supervisee
Getting romantically involved with an underling or supervisor can be a recipe for disaster. Need we spell out why? Such relationships cloud the ability to make objective decisions about promotions and raises, and they damage office morale. If the relationship goes bad, the supervisor opens himself up to a sexual harassment suit.
Sign a Cupid Contract
If you must date a supervisor or supervisee, put some ground rules in writing. Make the consensual nature of the relationship explicit to protect against a sexual harassment suit should the romance turn sour. Colleagues who date across departments should also consider such a contract.
If you engage in the verboten supervisor-supervis ee relationship, then step up and tell the human resources department you’re doing so. The supervisor should do the stepping. He (and it’s usually a he) is more likely to have job security. In addition, the fact that he came forward will help protect the company from a sexual harassment suit if he gets the consensual nature of the romance on the record early.
Date Someone Outside your Department
Look beyond your immediate colleagues. Try the company softball team or one of your firm’s philanthropic activities. If a relationship begun there doesn’t work out, you may run into each other in the elevator once in a while, but you won’t have to work together every day.
Pause Before you Plunge
This is obvious advice, but people must be told, says Pepper Schwarz, the author of 16 books on romance and relationships. She says to ask yourself, "Do your temperaments match? Are you a risk taker? Is the other person someone who plays around?"It could just be lust, not love.
Don’t use Office E-mail
If you’re dating someone at the office, don’t write love notes over the company’s e-mail system. Your boss might read them. So might the guys in IT. Always remember: E-mail is not private.
No Public Displays of Affection
If you’re dating a colleague, keep it quiet. Don’t smooch and snuggle in the office. Do go out to lunch with people other than your honey. And by all means, don’t let your lovers’ quarrels spill over into the office. You’ll just make others uncomfortable. Or jealous.
Prepare to Lose your Job
Let’s face it. You may not want to hang around the person who just dumped you. In many cases, broken office romances wind up with one party exiting the firm. It could be you.