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Danger: Office Romance Ahead

Danger: Office Romance Ahead

You spend most of your waking hours at work. You rarely get out for lunch, never mind dinner. You'd like to meet that special someone, but you just don't know where to look. Suddenly, Cupid shoots his arrow, and it hits the person in the next office. Your heart starts beating faster, and blood rushes to your head. Out with all reason -- love is in the air!

Stop. Sure, meetings will be more fun. You already have lots in common. But how often do office romances work? And when it ends, what will your life be like? Will you be peering around corners to make sure your former love isn't in the hall and avoiding the company picnic for fear your ex will flaunt a new love interest? Is this any way to live?

Before you throw your next promotion to the wind, here are five reasons dating your coworker might not be such a good idea.

Romance vs. Reality

Unfortunately, this is not a tale by the Brothers Grimm, so you can't count on a happy ending. You can rail against the unfairness of it all, but think of it this way: If life were fair, you wouldn't be in this dilemma, and the arrow would have pierced the heart of someone nice who works for the company across the street.

If you're smart, you will deal with the real world and anticipate plenty of bloodshed before this tale concludes. One of you may need to leave the job if things don't work out. If things do work out, one of you may have to go, because it's against company policy to date fellow employees.

One Promotion Later...

Let's say you become involved with someone in your department, and you receive a promotion. Now you're in a relationship with your subordinate. This opens up the possibility of blackmail. And what happens when it comes to conducting reviews and disciplining your honey? You get the picture.

Play It Cool

Still thinking of dating a coworker? Better start popping extra vitamins and heighten your sense of discretion. You'll need a lot of energy and concentrated effort to keep your office romance just between the two of you. And when coworkers eventually find out, you may be the subject of ridicule and suspicion:

  • "I can't believe he's going out with her."

  • "Of course he got the raise. Look who he's dating."

If you want people to focus on your professional abilities, don't give them reasons to fuel the rumor mill.

It's Not Just About You

You may think this is a private affair, but is it really? Logic tells you your romantic involvement will impact your coworkers directly. If you sit together in the company cafeteria, will people now feel they should give you privacy? Will they exclude you from certain conversations, because they don't know what you'll relay to your new love?

Consciously or subconsciously, your relationship may influence decisions that go well beyond a lunchroom. Your romance may color everyone's judgment with regard to promotions, projects, team building and responsibilities. The relationship could make it more difficult for your department -- and depending on your position, your company -- to operate effectively.

Harassment Possibilities

And then there's the H word and all it can entail. If your relationship ends badly, will your ex-love tell HR you were making unwanted advances? Think about how a harassment suit will impact your career. Then join a local dating service.

And while you're at it, join some professional associations. They offer many opportunities to socialize while moving your career forward.

So before you pencil in a date with your office desire, schedule dinner with some nonwork-related friends. You'd be surprised what might happen if you start nurturing your other relationships. If you spend a little more time away from the office and your coworkers, you might give Cupid a chance to improve his aim.

If you still feel your coworker is the one, what do you do? If you work for a big company, transfer to another department or facility. If that's not an option because of your profession or company size, get yourself a new job.

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