By Eric Bradford
If you have strong, romantic feelings for a colleague, you are not alone. Happy Worker reports that 42% of adults have had a relationship with a colleague. Another 50% of adults have had a secret crush on a colleague. It makes sense.
Where do you see people as regularly as you do at work? Even if you work at a factory that requires employees to wear ugly, bland uniforms, there’s bound to be someone who you find attractive. If the attraction if purely physical, it’s a good idea to take things slowly. After all, in time you’re likely to meet someone at a social event, club, airport, sporting event or cultural festival that you think is good looking.
Yes. Physical attraction comes and goes. If that’s all there is to a workplace attraction, you might want to set your sights on someone other than your colleague.
Office romances to avoid
20% of workers reported that they dated a married colleague. This is one to avoid. After all, what would you do if your date’s spouse showed up at the restaurant or movie theater while you and your colleague were hanging out (showed up with the kids)?
If you’ve been hit with a sexual harassment lawsuit before, dating a subordinate might be a bad idea. Another instance when you might want to avoid an office romance is when you’re attracted to an office gossip. Move forward with that relationship and the details of every date that you go on could make the rounds throughout the entire workplace. Same applies should you two break up.
Should you have an ex who works at the firm, you might want to pump the brakes before you start another office romance. Start another office romance and your ex and new lover could bump heads, creating undue tension at work. And again, if the relationship is purely, sexual – think twice.
Successful workplace romantic relationships
The good news is that more than a quarter of office romances end in marriages. President Barack and First Lady Michelle Obama met at work, so did Bill and Melinda Gates. Celebrity couple, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie met while working on set. According to Forbes, CBS CEO, Leslie Moonves, also met his wife, Julie Chen, at work. AOL’s founder, Steve Case, met his wife, Jean, while both worked for AOL. Considering that more than 25% of office romances lead to marriages, it’s not surprising that some of these unions not only endure but go on to be lovingly successful.
Yet, not all office romances endure. When these relationships end, they can get ugly. The trickiest office romances occur between subordinates and managers. In fact, some company policies strictly forbid supervisors and managers from entering into romantic relationships with their subordinates. At the start of the relationships, the last thing from couples’ minds if what will happen should the romance end.
Think before you leap into the arms of a colleague
And just what happens? Subordinates have sued managers (and entire firms) after a romance ended, claiming sexual harassment and that they were coerced into the relationship. After breakups, former partners have also found it too hard to continue working together on a project or team. Approximately 7% of these partners leave the firm after the relationship ends. Then there are instances when one person in the broken relationship struggles to let the other person go. During these times, human resources and compliance managers might get involved, possibly putting someone’s job in jeopardy.
Therefore, as with any relationship, it’s smart to think seriously before entering into an office romance. Make sure that your feelings aren’t fleeting. For example, is what you’re feeling infatuation, a crush or lust? Generally, these three have not proven to be enough to keep a relationship going strong over the long term. Also, consider your professional relationship (i.e. subordinate, manager) with the colleague you’re attracted to. Think about what could occur should other people in the office find out about the relationship should you decide to start dating a colleague.
If you do decide to move forward with an office romance, give the relationship the same thought that you would give any other romance. Take the time to get to know the other person. Avoid putting on blinders. Accept facts as they present themselves. Also, avoid raising the other person to hero or heroine status. And keep your working relationship professional. If the relationship is meant to be, you’ll have plenty of time to hook up after work.