Lady Love: Is Mixing Business with Pleasure a Good Idea?

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by Lady Love

Dear Lady Love,

My co-worker and I recently hooked up after having a few drinks following a business meeting. We have secretly had feelings for each other for quite some time now, but have been hesitant to act on them because we’ve heard so many horror stories of office romances turning ugly.

I’m wondering whether or not I should pursue a relationship with him. I don’t want to jeopardize my career or be the topic of gossip in the office.

When does it make sense to mix business with pleasure?

Overworked, Looking for Love

Dear Looking for Love,

I’m not surprised to hear that you’re interested in giving your office romance a try. It almost makes perfect sense, especially considering there are more singles in the workforce than ever before. Our co-workers become the familiar faces with whom we share similarities and interests, not to mention countless hours on the clock. It’s convenient to meet someone on the job instead of fumbling around the bar scene or taking chances with online dating.

You’d be surprised at just how many people have dated someone they work with. According to a recent survey of 8,000 workers by the job-search website CareerBuilder.com, at least four out of every 10 employees have previously dated or are currently dating a colleague–17 percent admitted to having done it twice. Although many people oppose office romances, saying it’s best to keep things to “friendly flirting”, roughly one-quarter of all workplace relationships have resulted in long-term partnerships and even marriage.

Many people make great efforts to keep their romances a secret, not because they fear getting caught, but because they enjoy the excitement of keeping things under wraps–it’s the adventure that keeps your toes curling.

It’s a tempting opportunity and only natural to want to seek out a potential partner within your surrounding environment. But romance at work can also be tricky and sometimes have its drawbacks. Don’t be surprised if you happen to start seeing your romantic life become the topic of office gossip, depending on how your colleagues view the motivations behind your love affair. For example, if you happen to be dating a boss or a subordinate, false accusations of favoritism or rivalry and competition may arise.

Uncomfortable situations may even emerge if the two of you were to break up, primarily when career advancement issues come into play. Imagine having to fire your boyfriend– how well would that go?

No matter how well you think the relationship is going, the situation can become a recipe for disaster. Just think about it: Couples are in constant contact with each other on a day to day basis. This lack of “alone time” can easily cause friction. Also, pursuing love at the office may interfere with your ability to perform your professional duties. The Society for Human Resource Management advises employees to remain focused at work; 58 percent of executives view office romances as unprofessional; 38 percent believe they end in disaster; and many more believe that they wreak havoc on morale.

Before beginning a relationship, consider its potential outcomes. If things don’t work out, will your work life become awkward? It’s a smart idea to prepare yourself for the unwanted situations that may follow. If things do get serious and you think the relationship has potential, then open up the discussion about whether it’s feasible for one of you to look for work elsewhere. If your company has an office in a different location, maybe it’s possible to transfer or at the very least, switch departments.

The best office-dating scenario is when people from different departments date, but it’s important to remember that somewhere down the road, the two of you may someday have to compete for a raise.

There will always be obvious potential for conflicts between office situations and relationships, but here are some tips to consider if you decide to move forward:

*Don’t date your boss or a subordinate.
*It’s best to know your company’s policies before making a move.
*If you’re already in a relationship with a co-worker, talk about consequences of breaking up. *Suppose the two of you broke up, keep in mind that you have to spend every day around each other.
*Keep PDA at the office to a minimum.
*Nothing will make your co-workers more uncomfortable than seeing you make out with your lover in the break room.
*Figure out whether you’re going to share your romance with your coworkers or keep it a secret. Maybe they already know?
*Don’t get so wrapped up in the relationship that you’re distracted at work.
*Don’t use office email or devices to correspond.
Lady Love is not a medical doctor, licensed psychiatrist, counselor, therapist, reverend, or rabbi. She has not been evaluated by the FDA, the CDC, or the BBC, and her words are not intended to diagnose or treat any condition. However, L.L. does know a lot about sex, loves hearing from you, and adores answering your questions. Leave her a comment or send an email to LadyLove@knoworthy.com. Or follow Lady Love on Twitter:@KW_LadyLove.

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