Perhaps one of the most controversially taboo topics is workplace affairs. There are mixed feelings about this, especially in today’s society, where women are becoming more and more prominent in the workplace. Is there a reason not to fall in love with a coworker? And if you do find yourself mixing business with pleasure, is there an ethical way to handle it?

The Reason Why

Imagine what it was like in those ancient times where most women stayed home. The husband still had a secretary, typically a woman, and there were a few other positions open to women. But the men were married, and therefore, it was inappropriate for men and women in the workplace to fraternize.

Over time, that dynamic has changed. However, it can still lead to issues for some businesses to have their employees dating. After all, new relationship energy – NRE – can be very distracting. It’s more easily manageable when your significant other is unavailable for eight hours a day while you work in separate places. But if you’re right next to each other, or can visit each other in the workplace, it can be difficult to concentrate on work.

Then again, think about what happens if you break up. This could get uncomfortable for not just you but for everyone you work with. So, there are multiple reasons not to dip your toe in that pond. Still, it happens. In fact, sometimes husbands and wives find themselves working together. What is the ethical way to handle an in-office romance, especially if you’re not married?

Relationship Don’ts

Let’s get the things you should avoid out of the way first.

  • Don’t exercise your right for PDA. While small gestures can be expected, and it’s not fair for others to make you uncomfortable about a quick kiss or holding hands, it’s also inappropriate to shove physical intimacy down everyone else’s throats.
  • Don’t allow your judgment to fail you. If you have a commitment that requires you to be somewhere at a certain time, don’t skip out just to make sure you can see your significant other on your lunch break. Don’t make bad decisions about your job.
  • Don’t break work rules. If your office has a policy about office relationships, make sure to respect them to avoid other conflicts of interest, and never risk your job.

So, what can you do to make sure everyone is happy?

  • Do tell superiors about your relationship, if it’s expected according to office policy. This includes having one or both of you reassigned to different teams or departments, if required that you don’t work together directly.
  • Do be discreet. Sure, your acquaintances are going to know you’re together, but that doesn’t mean you need to gush about your personal life in front of everyone.
  • Do communicate and make sure you both still have personal space. Be sure you’re continuously addressing each other’s comfort levels.

An office romance doesn’t have to be a problem, if you handle it appropriately. It’s a matter of being mature and honest about things so that you don’t disrupt the work zone, whether with love or hostility.

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