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Risky business: The fine line between work and play


It can spark from a lingering look across a boardroom table, a quick conversation at the copier or even that accidental bump into one another at the company coffee cart, but no matter how it starts, entering into a office romance can be risky business–literally. Even though in this day and age these love affairs have become almost as common as the age-old high school sweetheart, that does not mean that they have become as accepted. These types of relationships can be subject to sexist judgment, criticism from other coworkers and perceived with a general negative connotation. Don’t let these challenges sway you from your chance at finding true love–just follow our simple guidelines on how to keep your office romance budding both on and off the clock.

DO keep your relationship discreet whilst in the office. The office may know about you and your office hunk and, hey, they may have even seen the two of you at happy hour with your tongues down each others throats, but that kind of behavior should be kept out of the office. No wants to see you two love birds holding hands over cubicle walls and gazing deeply into each other’s eyes. This type of behavior will likely disgust your coworkers, startle your boss and give your relationship a bad name. Avoid PDA in the office at all cost– believe me, your relationship and reputation will both be benefactors.

DON’T let the problems in your relationship become problems in the office. If you and your sweetie have a fight the night before and it still hasn’t been resolved by the time you arrive for work, don’t shoot him daggers eyes across the office or send him a flood of emails declaring your angst over their behavior. And definitely don’t complain to any of your other colleagues about your issues with him. Remember this isn’t just “some guy” you’re dating; this is a person whom you also work with in a professional setting with other people, and at work, your professional reputation comes first.

DO still allow time for your other relationships in the office. It can be very easy to get lost in your relationship and start to avoid time spent with others in the office. Make sure that you make the time to still have drinks with the girls and that your man does the same. Becoming anti-social while in a relationship can be problematic outside of office romances, but especially while in an office romance. Your colleagues may become annoyed by this behavior and consider about the possibility of a breakup–you’d be left with your broken heart and remnants of all of your severed relationships. 

DON’T try to play out the sex on the desk, copier, conference room table, etc scenario that we see so often in Hollywood. Chances are you’re not going to pull off the whole “throwing the items off the desk in the throes of passion” scene exactly right, and if you were caught, your career at your place of employment, and possibly beyond, would be over with little chance of recovery. 

DO prepare yourself for the backlash and criticism from other people in your office. Make sure that you know before going into the relationship that people most likely aren’t going to be jumping for joy over your new companion, but that they will probably judge you for it. Gather some talking points and a few defenses to counteract the debbie downers at your office.

Romances in the office can be complicated just like any other relationship, but don’t let that stop you from pursuing your love interest if there is a strong connection. Be smart about it, and you’ll likely be able to solve any problem that comes in the way of your career OR your relationship. Do be aware, though, of your company’s police against inter-office romances; it may be a big no-no from the start. If a major disaster does strike, remember that your twenties are for learning and everyone makes mistakes–just keep calm and work on.

Photo credit: Naomi Roe

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Alison Spann

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