The Whens and Whys of Office Romance

2009 October 20
by Kate O'Neill

Creative Commons License photo credit: Niffty..

Over at, there’s an article about how to have a successful office romance. via How To Have A Successful Office Romance – It’s relevant because:

According to a 2009 survey by the job search Web site, four out of 10 workers say they’ve dated a colleague at some point in their careers. Three in 10 say they married the person they dated at work.

Some of the wisdom this article imparts is:

Don’t date underlings.

“You might as well put a sign on your forehead that says, ‘Kick me here.’” McKenna acts mainly as a defense lawyer.

Negotiate in advance

If a supervisor and an underling just can’t resist each other, McKenna recommends that they sign what she calls a “cupid contract.” They should spell out in writing the fact that both are engaging in a consensual relationship. If the company has a sexual harassment policy, they should make it clear they understand the rules.

Know that the stakes are high

One more piece of advice: Consider how you would feel if you lost your job. Everyone who has experienced heartbreak knows that proximity to an ex can be unbearable. All too often, say experts, failed office romances result in one person leaving the job–willfully or not.

While this is a fairly comprehensive run-down of being in a relationship with someone at work, it overlooks some of the nuances around getting into and out of that relationship.

What about everything leading up to and following the office romance? How do you approach someone at work you find attractive? Anything flirtatious runs the risk of at least being viewed as sexual harassment, even if the approach is handled carefully and with respect. How do you manage it without crossing a line?

And then how and when do you decide to tell coworkers you’re dating a fellow coworker? Is it wise to keep it a secret? Is it even really possible?

And of course, how do you deal with the fallout of a breakup? Have you ever had to work alongside someone you used to date? How did it go?

Been there? Give us your wisdom in the comments.

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