Despite all the cautionary tales regarding the dangers of office romance, countless employees wind up in relationships with co-workers every year. And as you might expect when two people try to maintain both a business and emotional relationship – while spending virtually every waking hour together and keeping the whole thing a secret – workplace dating often ends in tears.
Poll just about any office, and you’re likely to hear at least one story (if not more) of workplace dating that went awry. What’s worse, the fallout from these failed office romances can be far more brutal than a run-of-the-mill relationship. At least in normal life, if you look at the person you thought you’d marry and suddenly realize that you actually can’t stand the sight of them, you can just break up. But when this person is a work colleague, you may still have to maintain a professional relationship no matter how badly things end. Depending on the circumstances, failing to do so could cost you a raise, a promotion – or even your job.
Of course, warnings about the dangers of workplace dating and office hookups are nothing new. The phrase "don’t dip your pen in the company ink" is a well-worn cliché, and some companies are so concerned about the negative effects of office romances that they expressly prohibit workplace dating. Yet, despite this, co-workers continue to wind up in bed together, restrictions and warnings be damned.
So if workplace dating is such a bad idea, why do employees keep doing it? Is it because the stress of working together creates a unique bond between people? Or that as employees work longer hours, the office has become the only available place to meet people? Maybe the truth is that in spite of conventional wisdom, not all office romances are destined for failure. People who are drawn to the same employer often have common interests and a similar outlook on life. In fact, some of today’s best-known power couples began their relationships while working together. Then again, some notable romance disasters also began with workplace dating, so it’s important know what makes office romances succeed – and what makes them fail.
If you have you got your eye on a co-worker but don’t know whether you should make a move, proceed carefully. Handle your office romance the right way and you might live happily ever after; screw it up and you could wind up looking for a new job. If you’re not sure whether to act on your office crush, try taking a queue from these famous (and infamous) couples for some of the main do’s and don’ts of dating someone in the workplace: