Dealing With Personal Relationships At Work: Dating At Work

“Office romances need to be treated with kid gloves,” she advises. “You can’t be casual and flippant. Be smart, take it slow, get to know the person; know your company’s policy. Don’t hide, be open, tell your boss and co-workers once you and your partner have spoken and are on the same page.” While we just said that forbidding romances is counterproductive, there is likely one exception.

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However, if you’re ready to share your life with someone and want to build a lasting, worthwhile relationship, life as a single person can also seem frustrating. With her warm, playful approach to coaching and facilitation, Kelly creates refreshingly candid spaces for processing and healing challenges around dating, sexuality, identity, body image, and relationships. She’s particularly enthusiastic about helping softhearted women get re-energized around the dating experience and find joy in the process of connecting with others. She believes relationships should be easy—and that, with room for self-reflection and the right toolkit, they can be.

Being a good listener doesn’t mean you have to agree with your partner or change your mind. But it will help you find common points of view that can help you to resolve conflict. When you experience positive emotional cues from your partner, you feel loved and happy, and when you send positive emotional cues, your partner feels the same. When you stop taking an interest in your own or your partner’s emotions, you’ll damage the connection between you and your ability to communicate will suffer, especially during stressful times.


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I reached out to Professor Sean Horan, chair of the Department of Communication at Fairfield University, to learn more about what young professionals need to know. Sean and his research partner, Professor Rebecca Chory, have spent most of their careers trying to understand the implications of having a romantic relationship at work — both on our performance and on our team members. “My partner and I met working in a lab at a biomedical company. He was my team lead when I started. We were friends and workout buddies for a couple of years and we’d also get together for game nights and rock climbing with another person on our team.” None of this means work relationships are destined to fail. In fact, you’re likely to have a lot in common with people you share a similar career with, so it can work pretty well.

“Companies are—and should be—concerned about claims of harassment, quid pro quo and retaliation when or if the ‘consensual’ relationship ends,” Jackson said. “This is a very big issue in particular when one person is subordinate to the other, and especially when one person is an executive with significant power.” Steve Easterbrook was fired as CEO and president of McDonald’s in November after the board found he violated company policy when he had a consensual relationship with an employee. Members may download one copy of our sample forms and templates for your personal use within your organization.

She points out that these are correlations, not causations, but it’s a good argument for avoiding any public displays of affection and remaining professional at all times. “It makes life easier and less uncomfortable for the people around you,” she says. “As unromantic as it may seem, you need to have an open conversation about how to talk about your relationship and how you’ll navigate the risks,” says Markman. Like Natalie said, an interoffice affair can affect how others think about you, and those negative perceptions are not felt equally. One study showed that most employees frown upon coworker hookups, and that the brunt of their negative perception falls on women involved. Being in an office romance can make you appear less productive, especially if other people catch you and your partner being flirty on company time, even if everyone else spends half the day watching videos of cats playing piano on their phone.

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Most single people say they don’t feel a lot of pressure to find a partner from their friends, family or society in general. About two-in-ten (22%) say they feel at least some pressure from friends, while 31% say the same about family members and 37% say they feel society is pressuring them. A majority of the overall public (65%) says the increased focus on sexual harassment and assault in the last few years has made it harder for men to know how to interact with someone they’re on a date with.

The structure of your policy will depend a lot on the size of your company. In a large team, where colleagues in different departments begin dating, the process may simply be a formality. A smaller organization, who can’t simply reassign one partner to a different department, faces different challenges. The easier your policy is to understand, the more chance employees will be honest about their workplace relationships. It’s natural for employees to be hesitant about going public—but they should know the consequences of hiding a relationship will be far worse. Generally speaking, situationships usually have more emotional involvement than a friends-with-benefits scenario but not the explicit romantic feelings and commitment of a committed relationship.

If you’re dating someone, be upfront about it with your colleagues. This will stop tongues from waggling and unnecessary rumours from being whispered around the office. Plus, the #MeToo movement exposed the prevalence of abuse of power and sexual misconduct in the workplace. This has made both workers and employers more cautious about romance on the job. Examples may be found on the Internet, from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, in HR books, or you may even want to request copies of policies from other companies with whom you have contact.