Whether it’s the soft hum of the fax machines or the sweet glow of the fluorescent lights, we have all, at one time or another, found ourselves wondering how the cutie next to the copy machine would look tangled up in our sheets. But is it a good idea to pursue an office romance?
The short answer: NO WAY! What are you, crazy? We are in the middle of a recession; do you know hard it would be to get a new job if this fling goes sour? Statistically, the majority of the relationships you will enter into will end up in a break up. These aren’t good odds if you are uneasy about the idea of having your ex gliding around the office every day, or if you aren’t ready to give up your current job.
The real life answer: It’s complicated. While there are some very valid (and a little scary) arguments against office dating, the office is a rather logical locale to meet people who have similar interests and professional aspirations. There are a large number of happily married couples who met at work, and to them, the risks were worth it.
If you find yourself feeling bold as you notice how sweetly the glow of your computer screen reflects off of your coworker, make sure you read through these considerations before engaging in an office romance:
1. Check in with your HR department:
It’s important to know exactly what the potential consequences could be before jumping into the arms of your coworker. He or she might be worth a few disapproving looks, but not necessarily the loss of your job. Check your employer’s guidelines regarding inter-office mingling. This will help you decide whether it’s right for you to make a move or if it’s better to just keep lusting away.
2. Decide if you are ready to handle a potential social stigma:
Even if job loss is not on the table, there are some other risks to consider. Social stigmas are sometimes attached to office romances. Your coworkers could begin to feel as though you are favoring one another or acting unprofessionally. Its one thing to be gossiped about around the water cooler, but it’s another to have your professional image tarnished. This relationship may not last, but your reputation will follow you.
3. Be prepared to say goodbye to your “private” life:
Speaking of gossiping…When entering into an office romance, it’s critical that you realize one thing: Everyone knows! Despite your best efforts, unless you and your potential sweetie are working as super secret agents, people in the office are more than likely to at least suspect something. Whether or not people are talking about it (with you), you need to be prepared for everyone to be aware or even involved in your personal life. When it comes to an office romance, gossiping can be considered equivalent to talking shop.
4. Evaluate the potential strain on the relationship:
Even if all signals are a go, as far as your work world is concerned, it’s important to also consider your home life. Are you someone who requires a lot of “me” time in a relationship, and will seeing your partner day all day, every day wear on you? How would each of you feel if one is complaining about an annoying coworker, and that coworker just happens to be sharing the covers? It’s critical that you be honest with yourself regarding your ability to separate work time with home time before deciding to move forward.
5. The un-crossable line:
While some office relationships can be tolerated or even condoned, few employers will look the other way if one of you is a subordinate to the other. Even if an employer does not have a specific policy regarding office relationships, extracurricular activities between a boss and an employee are highly looked down upon and could lead to sexual harassment charges or even dismissal.
If you decide that an office romance is not for you, don’t feel discouraged about where to meet the future Mr. or Mrs. Right. Hartford has a thriving population of young, unattached professionals, and even has several organizations designed to help them mingle. HYPE, or Hartford Young Professionals and Entrepreneurs, is a fee based social and professional networking organization that offers many chances for Hartford area professionals to interact. YAP, or Young Active Professionals, offers people a free membership and also hosts many events, perfect for finding that special someone.