Work has ALWAYS been one of the main places people meet their spouses.
In fact, not all that long ago, women went to work in hopes of meeting an eligible guy.
Secretaries fell for their bosses.
Shopgirls flirted with handsome customers.
It made sense: we spend a third of our lives at work, so we might as well multitask!
These days, up to 1 in 5 people meet their significant other at work.
Eight million Americans start a workplace romance every year.
So it is perfectly normal to find love on the job.
But there are risks.
One study found that 4% of folks who dated a coworker got fired, while 21% ended up quitting their job as a result.
How can you fall in love at work without getting burned?
It’s No Secret
I’ll never forget the office Christmas party where a woman I knew, who worked for our company occasionally, pulled me aside and pointed across the room. “Are they dating?” she whispered.
I followed her gaze to where two of my coworkers were standing. It seemed like they were talking, but there was this huge distance between them, and the girl wasn’t even looking at the guy.
“Them?” I asked her. “I don’t even know if they really know each other all that well.”
She looked at me and rolled her eyes. “I KNOW these things,” she told me.
And, sure enough, she was right.
A year later, those two would be walking down the aisle.
So I guess I don’t have x-ray love vision. But some people do.
And that’s why you’ve got to know from the get-go that you can NEVER hide a workplace romance.
People with keener eyes than me will spot you, no matter how well you try to hide it.
So before you start flirting with your office crush, find out what your company’s policy is. Even McDonald’s CEO lost his job for getting into a relationship with an employee. Anyone who directly reports to you, or anyone higher on the food chain, is out.
But What If It’s Love?
But maybe you feel an incredible pull towards this person.
Maybe it’s impossible to resist.
And you know he feels it, too.
Ask yourself how committed you are to this particular position with your company. If you had to choose between your job and exploring the possibilities with him, which would you take? Could you switch to a different department?
That’s not to say it will ever get that far.
Workplace romances go sour as often as they go right.
It can end up being really uncomfortable working with someone you were once intimate with.
On the plus side, workplace romances are more likely to result in marriage than romances that begin online. When you work with someone, you learn a lot about who they are. You see how they perform under stress. You already share so much in common.
Learn the Rules
But never forget that the workplace is a heightened environment that plays by different rules than the world outside.
You may find him incredibly attractive as he commands the room at a meeting, but not half as interesting when you’re sitting across from each other with nothing but work to talk about.
#MeToo has had a big impact on workplace romances.
Not only do many companies have strict policies in place—78% outright ban relationships between managers and employees—but a lot of men are now extra careful about doing anything that could be construed as flirting, because they don’t want to be accused of sexual harassment.
Harvard Business Review reports that tech giants Facebook and Google even monitor whether you can ask someone out. Apparently, you can ask a coworker out once, but if they turn you down or say something noncommittal, you can’t ask them again.
Still other companies require that all romantic relationships between coworkers be disclosed.
So it takes two very determined people to wade through the morass of possible pitfalls.
And if you’re that determined, and if the flame refuses to burn out, then maybe there is something here. Maybe this really is the seeds of a lifelong love.
You wouldn’t be the first workplace couple to fall in love and walk down the aisle. I’ve seen it before, and I’ll see it again.
Just remember this:
- Nothing stays a secret for long, and
- Only you can decide if it’s worth your job.
Let us know what you think!