Couples meet and fall in love everywhere: on the subway, in an elevator, on an airplane and even online, but it's the couples who begin their relationship as co-workers that interest me most. Office relationships are tricky business. Although finding love in the workplace is relatively commonplace for some, we are often advised against it. In fact, many of my clients hire me specifically because they do not want to dip into their office dating pools! Striking a balance between our professional and personal lives can be challenging enough without the added stress of a relationship inside the office. But let's face it, we're human, and falling in love is not something we can control. So, the big question for those who find themselves falling, and for those who have already fallen, for someone at the office is "can this office romance survive successfully?" In my opinion, the answer to the question is, "Absolutely!" - but only if you are mindful.
The office environment creates the perfect potential dating platform- close proximity with attractive colleagues, easy access for meeting new people, and daily interaction that allows you to get to know different sides of a person. It is extremely easy and convenient to think of those in your workplace as part of your potential dating pool when long hours are often the reality and you don't have the time or the energy to go out and socialize after work.
Sounds great, right? Not so fast. Like any relationship, what may start out as a wonderful workplace romance can change quickly. If the relationship goes sour, you no longer have the sanctuary of the workplace. Instead you'll come face to face with your ex on a daily basis having to keep a professional relationship or at least the facade of one despite what may have transpired between you. Daters beware; office romances are more prone to end up with scandal, hurt feelings, and strained work environments.
An office romance is a great thing if you are mature enough to tell the difference between basic attraction or temptation, and the prospect of a genuine, long-term commitment. Office relationships are not to be taken lightly, so ask yourself: "Do I really see the potential for this to go somewhere serious?" If the answer is no, and you really only see a casual, short-term affair in your future (or if that's all that you want), do everyone in the office a favor and avoid the headache.
And what if you're already in a fantastic, long-term relationship with a co-worker? If it's something that has already blossomed and is working well, there is no reason to ruin a good thing. But there are a few things to keep in mind that will help maintain a comfortable working environment - for you and your colleagues.
The key is to respect the working environment. It's always wise to create a solid boundary between your job and your personal life, and you can do this by not being overt about your relationship. It can be very tempting to sneak some time with your significant other during work hours - longer breaks together at the water cooler or coffee machine, or frequent conversations that are not work-related. While the two of you might think it's adorable, your co-workers won't. I've heard from plenty of people that office relationships make them uncomfortable, and actually cause resentment if it seems like you have become less attentive to your work. In addition, many supervisors don't like office relationships simply due to the potential for legal issues and sexual harassment suits should a bad breakup occur. So remember - don't advertise that you are dating someone within the office if you want to maintain a level of professionalism and stay away from office politics. People will have more respect for you. This rule also applies for dating your boss. Dating your supervisor will only heighten the intensity of the obstacles presented by an office romance!
At the end of the day, if you don't have to look for love in the workplace, it may be wise to look elsewhere. Dare, I say, even tap the resources of a capable matchmaker! Remember, there are plenty of potential love interests out there; so unless you know in your heart that this person has a chance of being The One, move on from the workplace and shift your eyes to the public. While technically, there really isn't a "correct" environment to meet a prospective partner, I think it is wise to try to steer clear of co-workers when looking for romance.