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Finding Your Valentine, at the Next Desk
Workers today spend more time at the office than their predecessors. As a result many of the activities that used to happen outside working hours--eating breakfast or dinner, for instance--now happen in the cubicle. But what about dating in the workplace?
We polled 185 young professionals to find out their views on office romance. Fifty-two percent of them reported having dated a coworker at one point or another during their career. Only 21% said that their employers had specific policies in place to address office dating, while 37% did not know if such policies existed.
Many employees referred to social awkwardness during, and especially after, an office romance. As one respondent from Bradley U. said, "I've seen many people date within the workplace and more often than not, it turns into an awkward situation for not only those two people, but their other work friends who are thrown into the middle of their tension. If you're going to date someone in the workplace seriously, someone needs to move on to another job to keep the separation of life and work."
Others reported being burned by the trickle-down effect of their superiors' romantic relationships. A graduate of the US Military Academy wrote, "During my last job, I ultimately left and took another job because my supervisor and senior supervisor had a romantic relationship and my boss felt he had the freedom to do anything without repercussion."
Fifty-nine percent of respondents felt dating someone at work would have a negative impact on their career, and many said an office romance is trouble waiting to happen. As one U. of Tampa grad said, "If it goes well, you'll be accused of favoritism. If it goes badly, you'll be accused of prejudice. Whether it goes well or badly, it will impact office politics -- almost always negatively, as people perceive that they have to deal with both of you as a team...and breakups rock the very foundations of office politics."
On the flip side, some thought an office romance could succeed if the parties worked in separate departments and had little or no interaction. Secrecy was also cited as an important factor--the less gossip sparked by an office romance, the better.
Some respondents even reported finding their life partners at work. As one graduate of Western Michigan U. said, "I currently work at the same place as my life partner and it works out great. We make it a point to see each other only at the beginning and end of the day."
There's little doubt that office romance happens--and sometimes leads to lasting relationships--but the consensus on the issue seems to be to tread carefully, and keep your workplace flames discreet.
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