You’ve read all the reasons to pursue love on the job but now it’s time to seriously think about the repercussions that this can have on your future with the company. While there’s no denying the joy of being in a romantic relationship with a colleague, there are some very obvious perils of mixing business with pleasure— for employees and employers alike.
Likewise David Letterman has gotten himself into a bind with his office romances. The best thing about these celebrity sex scandals is for you to learn what not to do.
“I have a pure generalization that I think people should try to live by at work— ‘no fishing off the company pier.’ I also had a manager who used to say, ‘don’t get your honey where you make your money,’” says Chris Rafter, senior human resources professional. “In my opinion people should soberly consider whether getting into a relationship is worth what may be at risk,” he says.
Here are some tips on things you should not do when it comes to office romance:
5. Don’t go chasing coworkers if your intention is just for a casual hook-up. People go to work to earn a living and people go to bars for a drink and a good time. Your job is not the place for pick-ups and quickie office flings. It hurts the integrity of the workplace and your reputation as a serious worker— not to mention that you could be putting yourself at risk for a sexual harassment suit if you play the field with too many coworkers.
4. “Don’t use company email, IM, or text. These technologies are not private,” Losee warns. So remind yourself and your sweetheart that while you are at work, you should not be using the company Internet to exchange romantic or sexually explicit emails.
3. Try not to get involved in a relationship in which one partner is a boss and the other is a subordinate. According to the SHRM research, most workers discouraged this type of pairing— 80 percent of employers and 60 percent of employees agreed that this was off limits.
Definitely do not get involved if one or more of the interested parties are married and/or involved in a committed relationship. Hold tight and withhold from acting on your desires because the consequences of being found out could end with one or both of you having to leave your jobs.
2. “It’s called an office romance because you met at work, but that doesn’t mean you conduct your romance at the office,” says Losee. While sex on the job has the thrill of secrecy and intrigue as Hollywood would like to have you believe— you saw the sexual escapades of Jennifer Aniston and Jake Gyllenhall in the storage room of Retail Rodeo in the film The Good Girl— in reality, this kind of behavior is bound to land you and your partner in trouble with the coworkers and the bosses. Coworkers who publicly flaunt their love are prime targets for office gossip and this will inevitably filter back to the management, which is never a good thing.
Radiah K. Givens, a social media strategist met her husband on the job five years ago and says that the best thing that she did was to keep their relationship private. “Office romance can work… if one compartmentalizes the workplace and your private life,” she explains. “No one ever knew we were dating because we stayed away from each other during work hours. When we got married it was truly a jaw dropper because… we kept it on the down low for two years,” Givens says.
1. Don’t get jealous if one partner gets promoted over the other. Competition between lovers can cause a major rift in any relationship. Losee recommends reminding yourself that you started the relationship as office buddies. “If your best friend got a promotion, how would you behave? Would you be petty, would you act jealous? No, you would be happy for your friend—genuinely happy.”
If tension continues to brew over the success of one partner, it’s likely that a long-term personal and professional relationship is not going to succeed for either of you. It doesn’t matter that your professional successes are measured by the same meter in the same company— couples who can’t be supportive of one another’s success is not a well-matched pair and should look elsewhere for fulfillment.
So do remember that office romance can and has worked for many couples. But also remember that there is a lot more at stake than just a broken heart. So before you start pursuing that attractive coworker with all the right words and ideas during meetings, do think it over and ask yourself, is this office love worth your job, if it came down to it?