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9 Reasons to Separate Your Work and Love Life


By Sarah Rae, BounceBack Editorial Staff

Workplace romance may be common, but is it for you? Mixing business with pleasure, if overdone, can create a monumental mess, trampling hearts and careers. And in the heat of the moment, we may become so brazen we forget just how much is at stake. That’s why the most often cited reason for avoiding interoffice relationships is the distraction and hardship that occurs after the breakup. Having to see your ex on a daily basis or finding out through the grapevine that they’ve started dating again are scenarios anyone would want to avoid – especially in the office. 

Related: 5 Most Unlikely Places to Make Your Next Match

The problem with this is that we rarely consider the possibility of breaking up at the beginning of a relationship. Having a crush isn’t so logical. We only think about the fun, exciting parts and forget to consider the future consequences if things don’t work out. So, before you let those butterflies trump responsibility, consider these 9 points. You may decide it’s best to consider the phrase “office romance” an oxymoron.

1. Workplace Attractiveness v. Real World Attractiveness

Knowing a person in the workplace isn’t the same as knowing them outside of it. In the workplace, conversations likely center around work. It may seem like plenty of common ground exists, but most of it’s career-focused. Think about ways you identify yourself outside of the office: classical jazz enthusiast, drinker of mint juleps, jogger, Lost fan. How much real-world common ground do you actually share?

2. The Politics of the Professional Hierarchy

Every relationship in the workplace has its own dynamic. If you’re thinking about dating a supervisor, consider the jealousy that might ensue amongst your peers. Does a subordinate catch your eye? Not only could this action be read as favoritism, but you have to consider your partner’s expectations: Would they expect to be spared from duties or given special consideration?

Related: To Fling or Not to Fling?

3. He Said, She Said

How comfortable are you with being the subject of idle gossip? Every workplace has it, and interoffice dating is the juiciest kind. Coworkers pay close attention to these relationships to see if it could ultimately affect them. In this tiny office universe, you are the new ‘Brangelina.’

4. Get into your coworkers’ shoes.

How would you feel if two other coworkers started dating? Insecurity, instability, and overall resentfulness don’t need much fuel before you find yourself looking for another place to work.

5. Get into your potential partner’s shoes.

If you care about them, you must care for their career. Getting involved could change that path forever, especially if you hold a superior position. A failed relationship may be enough for your partner to permanently exit the office doors. Furthermore, how will it change your image in the workplace?

Related: 5 Signs You Have Fallen in Lust

6. How reasonable are ground rules?

Some advise you to strike a deal with your partner that promises a professional boundary in the workplace will be maintained. No flirting, flowers, or cutesy notes; no seat-saving; and not every lunch break spent together. Can you stop yourself from stealing glances at your partner? Are these promises you can keep?

7. Say no to secrets.

Some say you have to keep your office romance hidden, but is it just a steamy romance novel or a potential relationship? Don’t discount the intuitiveness of your coworkers; they long for gossip to spice up the day-to-day. Consider how many healthy, lasting relationships start off with, “We used to meet in the neighboring town to avoid being seen having lunch together…”

8. Are you ready to spend a lot of time together?

Working together can be just as annoying as it is fun. And sometimes you’d rather be alone.

9. What are you really looking for?

You may think you know the roots of your infatuation, but the truth can be surprising. Do you long for a professional ally, close friend at work, fling, or long-term relationship? Know what you want before you start looking and lay it out clearly for your partner. The career-sphere is not a place for games.

Related: On the Rebound or On the Mend?

Have you been in an office romance? Did it work out? If it didn’t, what did you learn in the aftermath of the split?

Sarah Rae received her MFA in writing in 2009 and is currently pursuing a Master of Arts in psychology. She lives and writes in Brooklyn.

BounceBack helps people find happiness after heartbreak. Click here to get advice from our members.

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