We all spend such a large proportion of our waking lives at work that it’s only natural that romance should blossom. Falling for a co-worker, however, can cost us friends, promotion, and, in some cases, our job. If true love finds you in your cubicle, these tips can help to make it a success.
Don’t do it
The first tip for a successful office romance is – don’t go there in the first place. However, no one can predict where Cupid’s arrow will strike, and since thousands of us meet our future partners at work every year, here are ten tips to help you make it a success.
Ask to be moved to another section
If things do heat up, come clean with your manager and possibly ask to be reassigned to another section. In some organizations, it’s policy to keep those in a romantic relationship apart during the working day, so before you go any further, you might want to check out the company’s rule book.
Keep communication professional
We’ve all become accustomed to using email as one of the main ways of communicating, but don’t be tempted to use your work email to carry on romantic conversations with your (hopefully) latest squeeze. For the same reason, keep your sweet SMS nothings to your coffee or lunch break and be aware that even instant messaging generates a log of what was said (or, more accurately, typed).
Take tips from Mi5 – keep it secret
Mi5, the CIA, and other secret service agents are so successful at what they do because they keep a low profile and don’t draw attention to themselves by their behavior. Don’t be caught canoodling in the elevator or the stationery cupboard, tempting as it is in the early stages of romance when pheromones are at their most active. Keep the kissing and the cuddling for after work. Keep your romance out of the office.
Don’t suddenly change the way you dress or start singing sloppy love songs
Although it’s often difficult to hide your feelings when you’re truly, madly, deeply in love, try not to suddenly change your behavior. If you’ve always dressed in sober blues and browns and you suddenly turn up for work in a Hawaiian shirt and pale slacks, your co-workers might start wondering about the reasons for the transformation. And whatever you do, don’t suddenly start singing love songs around the office.
Safety in numbers
To keep your feelings a secret, hide them in plain sight. If someone’s caught your eye, it’s best to go for group outings, like bowling or a meal, particularly in the early stages. And when you start seriously dating the gorgeous girl or guy who’s caught your eye, it’s a good idea to go to locations in neighborhoods where you’re less likely to encounter your co-workers.
Stay committed to your work
When you’re at work, stay focused and on task. Your employer is paying for your time and skills, and you owe it to them and yourself to not let your mind drift into pleasant daydreams of romantic locations and pastimes. If you really can’t stop yourself dreaming about your beloved, then give yourself a time limit: say, five minutes per day, preferably during your break.
Stick to your peer group
Avoid having an office romance with those at different stages in their career to you. Whatever you do, if you’re a supervisor, don’t date one of your team, and whoever you are, don’t date the boss. Not only could it lead to accusations of favoritism, in some cases it could leave you out of a job when the relationship ends. Stick to those at around the same career level as you, and preferably in a different department.
Don’t neglect your other friends and pastimes
This rule applies to all dating, not just office romance. Although everyone hopes for a happy ending and a gorgeous meringue of a dress, not all relationships last forever. So make sure you keep your own pastimes and friends to enjoy. Don’t neglect your other colleagues either: if things go wrong, you’ll need their support more than ever.
Look for another job
If things get really serious, you might want to start looking for another opening outside your office. That way, no one can accuse either of you of any wrong-doing, and you can enjoy every second of your romance in comfort and peace.