How to Approach an Office Romance (Dos and Don’ts)
Navigating office romances can be tricky and potentially career-ending. Before entering into one, it’s important to take some time to think through the implications and risk factors involved. This article provides key considerations, so you can make informed decisions about your office romance.
Many individuals meet their partners at work, however, dating someone at work is typically frowned upon. Some businesses even have specific policies against it. So what if you and a coworker have been flirting and want to pursue a relationship? Should you avoid it? Should what’s best for your work life take precedence over what’s best for your personal life?
What the Experts Have to Say
Coworkers fall in love for a variety of reasons, according to Art Markman, a psychology and marketing professor at the University of Texas in Austin. “You spend a lot of time at work, and if you put people in close quarters, working together, having open, candid talks, there’s a strong likelihood there will be romance.
According to Amy Nicole Baker, an associate professor of psychology at the University of New Haven and author of many publications on office romance, research reveals that we are drawn to persons who are similar to ourselves. “The more familiar you are with the individual, the more likely you will develop attracted to one another,” she adds. If you’ve developed romantic feelings for a coworker, approach with caution.
Here are some things to consider in a workplace romance;
1. Understand the risks.
Before acting on your emotions, you should consider the hazards – and there are many. Of course, there is a danger that the relationship may fail and that one or both parties will be get hurt. There may also be conflicts of interest. Markman refers to the dual relationship concept, as an “ironclad rule” in psychotherapy. it states that therapists cannot have any other connections with patients other than a professional one.
The same rule obviously does not apply with coworkers — many individuals are good friends with coworkers, for example — but “having numerous connections with someone generates possible conflicts of interest that may be difficult to overcome,” he adds. Do you prioritize the team’s or the individual’s interests when dating a teammate? There are also threats to one’s reputation. “Your professionalism may be put into doubt,” Baker writes, “particularly if people do not regard your motivations for entering the relationship as positive.” Some coworkers may believe you are favoring your love partner or vice versa. “
Having a relationship with someone higher up in the business might generate a different reason for why you’re succeeding.
2. Have the best intentions possible in an office romance
If you are aware of these risks but still wish to proceed, research suggests that your intentions are important. This is not a one-night stand situation. Experts believe your employees’ reactions will reflect their perceptions of your motivations. They will definitely think of you less favorably if they believe you to have an “ego motivation” — searching out the relationship to satisfy your own interests, whether it’s to advance in your organization or for your personal enjoyment. “Studies suggest that employees are typically positive if they sense that you’re falling in love and truly care about each other,” she adds.
So, before you dive in, examine your motivations and how others may view them. Having honest intentions from the outset may also help protect against wounded feelings and misunderstandings if the romance ends.
3. Know your company’s policies.
Many employers forbid employees from workplace romance, vendors, clients, or suppliers, or demand particular disclosures. So do your homework before beginning a relationship. “Follow the rules and attempt to understand why they’re there,” Baker advises. “Ignore them at your own peril.” If you’ve already broken a policy, she advises you to “come clean early” since “the longer you continue, the greater the repercussions will be.” According to Markman, firms have been “dropping such prohibitions in recent years, both because they’re difficult to enforce”
This is a plus for him. “When it comes to workplace relationships, we want to educate individuals on principles for making smart, mature decisions, not dictate via punishment.” Because of the #MeToo movement, rules are also changing. For example, at Facebook and Google, you can only ask a coworker out once, and you can’t ask again if the individual says no or gives you an unclear response (“Sorry, I’m busy”).
4. Keep your distance from your boss and direct reports.
It is preferable not to date your superiors or subordinates, regardless of your intentions. “It is a poor idea to get engaged with anyone in your line of command – up or down.”
“From study, we know that the outcomes aren’t as excellent, and the impressions are more negative.” Here is because this is where the most obvious conflicts of interest exist. It’s hard to be objective when giving someone you’re dating a performance review, for example. And you don’t want people to think that you’re being unjustly favored; it might weaken your own confidence and hurt the team’s spirit. Both experts agree that boss-employee romances do occur — and that some of these relationships work out. If that’s something you want to think about, they recommend you “take immediate action” to transfer to a new boss or reassign your direct report to another team.
5. Don’t try to hide or pretend about it.
Be honest about your interactions with coworkers and your supervisor. This may be difficult advice to follow, especially if you are unsure where the relationship will lead. “You don’t have to tell them after the first date,” Markman says, “but telling people reduces awkwardness” and increases the likelihood that they will be positive about the relationship. Besides, “even if you don’t tell anyone, somebody will find it out,” he claims.
Experts go on to say that office romances have inferior outcomes and might be “toxic” to other relationships. “Secrets erode our trust in one another, and when the truth comes out, people will feel lied to,” she says. Maintain a basic and transparent disclosure. “We went on a few dates, but I’m sure you can understand that I don’t want to get into it right now,” you might say.
Make certain that your boss is among the first to be notified. Put yourself in your manager’s perspective. Wouldn’t it be interesting to learn if two members of your team, or a team member and a colleague from another group, were dating? Then “let your employers make the call on how to staff you. They may prefer that you do not collaborate. You are allowing them to make informed decisions by informing them.” Whether or not you notify HR depends on business rules and how much you trust your department’s colleagues to handle the problem. “If you have a solid HR department, you might want to keep a record, especially if the relationship gets ugly,”
6. Know your HR stand on your relationship preference at work
Don’t inform them if your HR department has a reputation for prejudice. LGBTQ individuals may not feel comfortable sharing a connection with a coworker, especially because being homosexual may still lead to termination in many jurisdictions. For this, many people may be uncomfortable discussing their relationships.
7. Draw boundaries
While you want others to know what’s going on, you don’t have to expose your connection to them. An expert – Baker and her colleagues conducted study on workplace flirtation and discovered in two separate studies that “those who regularly observe flirting… report feeling less happy in their occupations, and they feel less valued by their employers.”They’re more inclined to provide a bad evaluation of the work environment, and they may even consider leaving,” she adds.
She points out that these are correlations, and it’s a good argument for avoiding any public displays of affection and remaining professional at all times. “It makes people’s lives simpler and less unpleasant.” You should also establish boundaries with your relationship. “As unromantic as it may appear, you must have an open conversation about how to talk about your relationship and how you will navigate the risks.” We want to think that “love takes precedence over other things, which is why there are fewer prenuptial agreements than there should be,”
However, you do not want “work tensions to spill into your relationship and vice versa.” Consider establishing ground rules for when and how you will discuss work — and your relationship — with one another.
8. If you split up
Of course, not every romance will work out, and it’s wise to be prepared if you or your partner decide to stop things. There’s no need to sugarcoat things: “It’s going to be really painful,” Baker adds, “but you still need to be forthright about the breakup.” “If you’ve been telling others about the relationship, keep them informed on the fact that you’re no longer together,” Markman says. And try to maintain as much professionalism as possible. “ Anyone who has ever been in a relationship has said something less than crazy about an ex.
“However, you must remain cordial as if nothing has ever gone wrong and expect that the other person will do the same.” If working alongside the individual becomes too awkward or difficult, you may need to consider leaving the position or shifting to another area. Whatever the outcome of the relationship, The less drama there is, the better.
Remember These Principles
- Understand the numerous risks of being romantically involved with someone at work.
- Learn about your company’s rules, policies, and reasons for its stand on this issue.
- Discuss what you will do if the relationship does not work out.
- Date a worker if you’re not serious about a romance.
- Date someone you report to at work.
- Try to keep the relationship hidden from your manager or coworkers; it will only affect trust and create a lot of awkward scenarios.
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