Should you date your colleague?
I like the idea of people meeting 'the one' at work. Let's face it - it's a great place to get to know someone in a safe and controlled way. You can see their personality up close without showing your hand. You can witness their work ethic, sense of humour, conflict management style, manners, social skills, and even their dress sense!!
However in saying this, there are some real dangers that go hand in hand with office romances.
These obstacles don't typically exist in other types of relationships, so it's wise to consider them carefully before jumping into bed with a work colleague.
HR policies For many office workplaces there are specific rules around workplace relations. Essentially, some work environments outlaw this and have strong legal policies in place to stop this from occurring. Going against this and falling in love with a work colleague could result in a hefty fine or a loss of employment.
Gossip Going out with someone at work means you're going to be in the firing line for rumours and gossip. Your every move will be monitored by those around you, and word will spread about the both of you when you're not in the room. Your relationship will be the focus of office conversation and this can be exhausting and irritating. Lack of privacy Most couples tend to fight in private away from the prying eyes of family and friends. However in office romances, arguments can occur at work that sees your dirty laundry get aired to everyone who wants to listen. You may have a loud screaming match in front of others, or else be giving each other the cold shoulder. Whatever the case, people can see it, and your private matters will now become more public. Favouritism Office romances can become particularly tricky if you decide to date your boss. This can see a power play start to happen and possible favouritism occur over other colleagues. If this happens, the office can turn against you and things can become extremely tense and hostile. Inappropriate behaviour You might think that you can keep your hands off each other at work - but this can be very difficult at times. As a result, you may find yourself taking risks and engaging in inappropriate behaviour with your workplace love interest. From kissing each other, engaging in PDA and even having sex, to sending explicit texts and emails during work time - there is a risk of stepping over the line.
Reduced work performance Although you would like to keep your eye on the ball and maintain high work standards this can often be hard to achieve when you're having an office romance. You can get distracted, lose your concentration, run late, become disorganized, miss deadlines or make uncharacteristic mistakes. Messy break-ups Unlike the normal break-up process, when you end an office romance you still have to see your ex every day after the split. They may even be sitting beside you at your workspace! This can be awkward, embarrassing, hurtful and irritating. It's not something that goes away quickly or easily, and can make for a tense workplace moving forward - particularly when you start dating other people! With these dangers in mind, make sure you think carefully before getting involved in an office romance. Be up front and discuss the possible pitfalls and consequences with your new love interest, and put in place some plans so that you protect your relationship from these work dangers. The more teamwork you have going into an office romance the better you will cope with the pressure that goes along with it.
John Aiken, RSVP dating and relationship psychologist, as seen on the hit show Married At First Sight, and on Ch 9’s Today show, Today Extra and A Current Affair. He is a best selling author, regularly appears on radio and in magazines, runs a private practice in Sydney, and is a sought after speaker. (www.johnaiken.com.au)
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