A 2011 Careerbuilder.com survey showed that 40 percent of professionals have dated a co-worker at some point during employment, 30 percent of whom claim to have married the romantically entwined co-worker. While these statistics show it isn't impossible for an office relationship to succeed, there are a minefield of problems that can arise with office dating. These problems, if not avoided, can endanger both the relationship and your career
Dating Between Professional Ranks
An office romance can be especially problematic and awkward when the person you are dating is either your professional subordinate or your supervisor. Rumors of favoritism can arise, false or otherwise. If you're dating your supervisor, you may risk getting terminated after the breakup, especially if company policy allows a supervisor to terminate a position without reason. Dating a subordinate, at worst, may lead to sexual harassment accusations post-breakup. Even if you and the person you're dating is a colleague, professional jealousy and competition also is a risk to consider.
Small Office Space
The size of your office may be a big factor to how an office fling might play out. If you work in a large office or if the person you're dating works in a different department, there will be fewer problems on this note. A smaller office space, however, can create a sort of claustrophobia and tension. In a small office, where gossip reigns supreme and everybody knows everybody's business, this could spell disaster for a developing office romance.
In response to the fact that office affairs can sometimes be unavoidable, human resource departments often include a clause in employer contracts on how dating co-workers are to be handled. Make sure you look up the company policy before pursuing romantic prospects at work. While some company policies may only go so far as prohibiting physical acts of love at the workplace -- a benefit, as public displays of affection are oftentimes unprofessional and would make co-workers uncomfortable -- other companies may disallow office affairs altogether, resulting in the termination of one or both partners.
Alienating Your Colleagues
The more time you spend with your significant other in the office, the more likely you are of isolating your other colleagues. Rumors of a clandestine office romance may ruin your chances at career advancement. The secret of an office fling can be ruined when one of your colleagues catches your indiscretion.
Everybody needs alone time, so being in constant contact with a significant other during both working hours and off the clock could cause one to be annoyed. This friction can be even further exacerbated after a breakup with a tension so thick it could interfere with how you work with one another. If the relationship ends badly, your ex-partner may purposefully try to make your work more difficult. You may even end up hating to work with your ex and become jealous if he or she gets involved with another one of your co-workers.
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