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Romance in the Work Place: The Good, the Bad and The Ugly.

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by Simon Gressier

11 months ago

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people2people have been in business since February 2005. Last weekend, I attended the third wedding in which the bride and groom met at people2people. In 2017, I shall be attending a fourth and I am sure there have been other (less successful) liaisons which haven’t made it up the aisle. I do have to make a declaration however, that I met my wife at work too…I think it’s been a successful liaison. All this got me thinking about the pros and cons of romance in the workplace and I found this article interesting reading, I hope you will too. 

Romance in the Workplace from career-intelligence.com 

Romance in the Workplace – The Good 

These days, people spend the bulk of their time at work, which makes the temptation to start an office romance strong. After all, these are the people you see every day. You have a lot in common with them. When you spend this much time with someone, you get to know them on an intimate, day-to-day level. You get a feel for their intelligence, personality and ethic and this can create a type of chemistry that could lead to something more. Also, when you date somebody at work, they ‘get’ you and the pressures of your job. Dorothy Tannahill Moran puts it this way: “There are groups like law enforcement and the investigative agencies that have had great success actually encouraging relationships because the demands and pressures being put on them are often unique to their professions. Being in a relationship where someone knows those demands and how that can likely impact time and availability is vital for any kind of relationship growth. People inherently understand and are attracted to others who “understand” that part of their life.” Another draw of getting involved with a colleague is the excitement coupled with the ‘safety’ of dating somebody you already know. Gregg Ward, Workplace Consultant puts it this way: “There are a lot of ‘creeps’ (both men and women) out there in the world; dating and falling for someone you work with is a lot easier/safer than trying to meet someone in clubs, bars, etc. And, once the romance starts, it can be very exciting ‘pretending’ to your colleagues that you’re not dating.  Practically speaking, two people in an office romance can also be a force for good; sharing notes/ideas and collaborating well together.” 

Romance in the Workplace – The Bad 

There are also a lot of ‘cons’ to dating your colleague. The most common one being, if it doesn’t work out, you still have to see your ex and work with him or her every day. This is especially hard on the person who didn’t want the relationship to end. This type of situation can lead to poor performance, increased absenteeism, workplace drama and a possible hostile work environment. Also, workplace romance rarely, if ever, stays between two people. Soon the rumour mill gets started and it’s everybody’s business. Now your love life is the subject of gossip around the ‘water cooler’ and all eyes are on you and the person you’re dating. Relationships need time to grow between just two people before being brought out into the open. Constant scrutiny can drive a quick wedge between you. Another reason work and romance rarely mix is it can put a serious hamper on job performance. You may find yourself taking longer lunches together or finding ways to sneak off to be alone. This could lead to jealousy among colleagues who may view this behaviour as ‘slacking off’. 

Romance in the Workplace – The Ugly 

Aside from creating a tense office environment, having an office romance can also lead to potential legal consequences. For example, if one party wants to end the relationship but the other one doesn’t, a sexual harassment claim could eventuate. Another potential ugly consequence of workplace romance? The person you’re dating may already be in a committed relationship. Imagine the embarrassment of finding this out through a nasty phone call or email from a furious significant other! 

The Supervisor/Subordinate Relationship – Double Trouble?

The supervisor/subordinate relationship is one of the trickiest office romances to navigate since there are so many potential pitfalls. For one, favouritism is going to be an issue. Think of it this way: If your supervisor has ten other employees and she is dating you, your colleagues are going to start treating you differently. Whether she is or isn’t offering you any special ‘perks’, such as salary increases or time off, people are going to believe she is. You may even risk turning into the office outcast. As a supervisor dating a subordinate, you may run into some issues as well. Say you’re the supervisor and the person you’re dating suddenly believes they no longer have to work as hard or even do their job at all. Normally, you would reprimand the person but considering the relationship, your hands are now tied. 

What to Do When Romance is Unavoidable 

Some office romances go beyond the excitement of a mere fling; they’re the real thing. If you and the person you’re dating believe this is something lasting, it’s best to disclose the relationship with a supervisor or management above both your positions for a fair analysis of the situation. When it comes to workplace romance, it’s best to weigh the pros and cons first. You might find the love of your life or lose the best job you’ve ever had. At the very least, an office tryst will change the dynamic of your working environment. It could lead to diminished job performance, gossip and possible legal issues. Be sure to think it through before jumping right in.

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