The work/life balance has shifted in our society. People often work longer hours and take fewer vacations. If you’re single, that means less time to devote to your social life and dating. All those extra hours in the office mean more and more time in close proximity with your colleagues. If you are attracted to a coworker, this greatly increases the likelihood that the chemistry will bubble over.
In fact, the chances are that if you haven't had a fling with a colleague at some point, then the person sitting next to you has: 59 percent of people in a survey of office workers confessed to having had a colleagues-with-benefits relationship. While an office romance may seem exciting and alluring (and convenient), there’s lots to consider before you start sharing more than Post-its with a coworker.
You May Be Breaking the Rules
Oftentimes, company policy strictly prohibits dating in the workplace. Breaking the rules and keeping your relationship secret is never a good course of action. Not only are you putting your entire career on the line, but an authentic relationship really needs to exist in the open. While secrecy may be sexy in the short term, it usually ends in disaster.
If office dating is against company policy and you want to put your love relationship before your work relationship, then one of you will have to leave.
Office Romances Don’t Exist in a Bubble
You may be dating just one of your colleagues, but you're working with many more. Whether it’s perception or reality, the male-superior/female-subordinate relationship dynamic (or vice versa) comes with a whole set of problems. While the two of you may think you can keep your relationship and the office balance of power separate, your coworkers may feel entirely different. They will have a piqued interest in your relationship, and rightly so. They will consider themselves to be at a disadvantage because they aren’t part of “the” couple. Any promotion or decision by the party in power will be scrutinized, and any advancement or benefit to the underling will always be questioned. While these “sexual politics” may be just a perception, it doesn’t matter. The superior, especially if it’s the man, is at risk for claims of bias or even harassment.
Your Boss May Be on the Hook
Because of this dynamic, your employer bears the risk of your relationship. Again, if other people’s perception, whether it’s justified or not, is that you have received preferential treatment because you are dating a superior, your boss not only has to deal with disgruntled employees but there may also be legal ramifications. Any type of workplace harassment suit or allegations of impropriety can seriously damage a company’s reputation and lead to a huge financial claim.
Ultimately, we want to follow our hearts. Maybe you have found your true soul mate at your job; you’ve weighed the options and you want to put your relationship before your career. Just remember to act responsibly. Full disclosure may not be enough, so just be prepared to keep the same partner but find a new job.