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Business and Pleasure: Where to Draw the Line with Work Relationships

business and pleasure

It’s an age old question: Is it OK to mix business and pleasure? I have found myself asking that question, and also heard many friends asking the same.

I honestly believe you don’t really know that answer until you have been in the situation. Whether it is a simple hook-up or a relationship, in some way or another it can ruin things for you at work.

Figuring out where to draw the line can also be tricky. For many, befriending a coworker isn’t harmful at all. For many, hooking-up with someone from work isn’t a big deal. For many, being in a romantic relationship with someone from work isn’t a big deal either. Some have even found their spouses that way.

I work in retail, and at my job it seems as though I work in a live TV novella sometimes. I’ve seen everything at my job. From hookups, to married couples who work together and family members that work together. Believe me, when I say that it happens in the workplace more than you probably think. If you are someone who keeps to themselves and doesn’t see any of these things happening, well most likely it’s happening behind closed doors.

Family in the Workplace

At my job they don’t allow immediate family to work together, meaning a brother and sister can’t work together, but cousins can. At most jobs, similar rules probably apply. Drawing the line at a cousin would be most appropriate, but be careful. Family drama is not something you want blending into your work environment. 

Bottom line: If you are working with a family member, just make sure it’s a family member you get along with. Be sure it’s someone who will make you look good for recommending them – not someone who will make you look bad.

Hook-ups and Romantic Relationships

Hook-ups in the workplace happen way more than they should. I remember when I was first hired (I’ve been working there for over five years) this was all I heard about. People either gossiping about all the hook-ups or warning me. Naturally, I listened to their warning. Some people don’t care about being the gossip of the week at work or known as the person who sleeps around. I on the other hand, hate being included in gossip at work. If you feel the same way I do then I suggest drawing the line at friendship with someone. Don’t hook-up; even if you do like being the topic of gossip, being the person who sleeps around is never a good rep to have.

Relationships in the work place can go either way. In some cases, it ends up working out and some get married even. While for others, it can end badly, or just not work out. There can be many reasons for this. From cheating, to abuse or simply the fact that you can’t be in a relationship with someone you work with.

I know from personal experience of being in a relationship years ago with a coworker, that things can get weird. Even if it ends well, and even if you both act professionally, there’s just that weird space of energy between the two of you, and you both know it. And chances are, others know it too.

When it comes to figuring out where to draw the line with relationships at work, it can be tricky. Don’t flaunt the relationship at work; don’t make it seem more than it is, if it’s not. At the end of the day, you choose what you want to share with others at work, and it’s your relationship. Remember these tips, because if a relationship ends, you don’t want people gossiping at work – it only makes for a negative environment.

Bottom line: It’s probably best to keep it under wraps until you know if the relationship is going somewhere.

Coworkers as Friends

Another tricky one is befriending a coworker. It can end up being a great friendship, or being the worst thing that happened to you professionally. It’s all about knowing who you can and can’t trust at work.

My now-best friend is someone I work with, and we’ve been maintaining our relationship for five years. But I have also been very careful with who I choose to hangout with outside of work and how much personal information I share with them. It’s hard to believe, but some people are vindictive enough to use your personal life to hurt your career.

Bottom line: Make sure your next friendship with a coworker isn’t going to be with someone who’s going to turn on you and tell the whole office your juicy secrets.

When it comes to any type of relationship at work—be it romantic, familial, or a friendship—you should always know that there is a point where you should draw the line and know when to draw that line before you put your reputation at work in jeopardy. Be smart with your choices and remember at the end of the day, it’s your career.

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About the Author

Jovi Casie

Jovi studied Journalism at Southwestern College. She currently works full time and is a mom to a beautiful daughter, named Olivia. When she isn't working or spending time with family and friends, she enjoys being a crazy plant lady, watching HGTV and spending quality time with her daughter. You can often find her cozied up in a local coffee shop writing for her personal blog. She hopes to one day work full time as a writer and to inspire others to live a happy and successful life.