5 Rules for Office Romance

How to Keep Love at Work from Derailing Your Career

Couple playing footsie at work
Save playing footsie for at home. Leland Bobbe / Taxi / Getty Images

Office romances have been around for as long as offices (or other workplaces). Because of the amount of time we spend at work, side by side with our coworkers, our social lives and professional lives often become entwined. Those relationships often become quite intimate, even when they aren't romantic in nature. That in itself can be problematic but when those friendships grow into romances, watch out!

While meeting someone at work can be great for your social life, it can be like a train wreck as far as your career is concerned. When you are thinking logically, you know you should avoid an office romance. Sometimes, however, your good judgement goes awry. You just find that man or woman too irresistible. Before you know it, you are fully immersed in a liaison with a colleague. If you end up in this situation, these rules cab help you minimize the impact it has on your career.

  1. Be Discreet: With social networking sites and tv reality shows encouraging us to let the world witness our most private moments, discretion has become a dying art. When you are having a workplace romance, you are much better keeping it private than you are flaunting it in front of your coworkers. This doesn't necessarily mean you should lie about your relationship but you shouldn't put it all out there for everyone to watch unfold either. You don't want to become the talk of the office.
  1. Set Rules and Have an Exit Plan: Make sure you and your partner are on the same page about your relationship. Before you get more involved, decide how you will proceed as far as the office is concerned. For example, will you try to keep it a secret or will you let others know about it? Even though it is quite unpleasant to think about the possibility of your relationship not lasting just as it is beginning, you should figure out how you will handle it if that unfortunate event does occur.
  1. Be Honest With Each Other: Honesty is, of course, important in any relationship. Dishonesty can increase the bitterness that often accompanies the end of a romance . When you have to see each other regularly, as will be the case with someone with whom you work, you certainly don't want to make things even worse than they would ordinarily be.
  2. Don't Let Your Feelings Get in the Way of Your Job: This may take quite a bit of effort, but if your feelings for your partner influence how you do your job, you may find yourself looking for new ones (job and partner both). You may, for instance, be hesitant to critique your partner's work even if it is your job to do so. If you can't do that, you are doing your employer a grave disservice and it may be time to move on or ask for a transfer to another department that would keep you from working together in that capacity.
  3. Stay Within the Law: Make sure your feelings are mutual and that your partner does not feel any sort of pressure to stay in the relationship. Sexual harassment suits are unpleasant for everyone involved. Be aware of what constitutes sexual harassment and avoid doing anything that can invite those accusations.