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Why Relationships with Coworkers are an Office Don’t

Fri, 11/09/2012 - 4:26pm | by Guest Contributor


We all know that entering into romantic relationships with coworkers is a bad idea.  We know this because most companies have policies against such out-of-office fraternization (that will usually result in one or both people getting fired).  But what if you meet the one true love of your life (or so you think) while at work?  Should you deny yourself the chance for a lifetime of happiness just because of a stupid policy?  What possible harm could it cause to explore these intimate entanglements?  In truth, it’s simply a matter of making a choice; if you decide to flout company policy in exchange for a shot at love, then you may be willing to live with the professional consequences.  But perhaps you should first consider all that could go wrong in such a scenario and why you might want to avoid it.

For starters, office romances can hurt your work performance and damage your reputation.  If you’re focused on a love connection with another employee you may be distracted from important daily tasks (that you’re being paid to perform, by the way).  Even if the brass never gets wind of your relationship, other coworkers could see through your deception and get the mistaken (or very real) impression that you’re receiving preferential treatment because of your fling.  This could lead others to treat you differently or even file complaints.  Eventually, either scenario could lead to write-ups and even job loss despite the fact that your supervisors are unaware of the relationship.  And if you don’t think losing your job will cause ripples in your personal life, think again.

Of course, there is also the potential for a breakup to occur, which could cause even more damage in the office environment, especially if there are bad feelings on one side or another (or both parties feel wronged).  There will almost certainly be tension between you and your ex, especially if you have to work together or see each other frequently, and it will cause no small amount of discomfort for you and likely everyone around you.  But it could get worse; suppose one party feels unfairly rejected or simply has a vindictive streak.  If the issue of sexual harassment is raised, you may face not only firing, but also legal action, even if there really wasn’t any harassment going on.  And if you get caught in flagrante delicto, as it were, you’ll almost certainly face reprimand or even firing.

But that may not even be the worst of it.  While the professional and emotional implications of such a move are intimidating, to say the least, you may not have considered that your health could be at risk, as well.  Unless you ask for an STD test up front (which is a pretty big mood-killer) you have no idea what you might end up with.  And everyone knows that protection doesn’t always do the trick.  The whole affair could end in pregnancy or in a trip to the clinic for testing with Western Blot Reagents.  And you’re kidding yourself if you think that a pregnancy scare or the transference of a venereal disease won’t put a crimp in your relationship.  Of course, it pays to consider the worst that could happen; so unless you are okay with the prospect of ending up jobless, loveless, and medicated for life, perhaps you should simply steer clear of office romance.

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