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The dark side of office romance


An innocent look, a quick email or an invitation to lunch is enough to spark an office romance. But are you being foolish and at the same time jeopardizing your career? Carefully consider the repercussions of your decision if you respond to the advances of a co-worker or initiate any action of your own.

Workplace romances are nothing new; they are very common and occur at all levels of employment. Unfortunately, countless careers are destroyed or slowed down because of a few weeks or months of pleasure.{{more}} Families are devastated when the affair occurs between people who are already married. Companies suffer, as productivity drops or is compromised, and morale among other workers is often low as claims of favouritism can result or workers can feel disrespected by this unprofessional behaviour. Junior workers who become involved with senior level managers/supervisors or executives are either terminated or pressured to leave, and companies can be embroiled in scandals and sexual harassment lawsuits that can be costly. Is it worth it?

Because the average adult spends most of his or her waking hours with people other than his/her family, it’s important to be alert and guard against falling into the trap of an office romance. Here are a few tips:

If you work long hours with the same person, try not to be alone with that person on a regular basis.

If you travel on business trips with the same team/person, do not eat all your meals with one person and be careful about night outings to bars when travelling on business.

 Avoid discussing your personal life at work. If personal conversations begin, keep the details basic and speak in general terms. A fight with your spouse, major challenges with your kids or finances should never be discussed with co-workers.

If you find yourself feeling attracted to a co-worker, weigh the pros and cons carefully before deciding to pursue that person.

Be alert to men or women who are always complimenting you, or go out of their way to help.

Do not ignore what may appear to be innocent flirting or overly friendly gestures. Let the person know you are not interested.

Ask about your company’s sexual harassment policy, especially when advances are coming from a senior staff member.

If you find yourself hopelessly in lust with a co-worker and you feel this is your soul mate,  consider changing jobs if that person means so much to you.

Karen Hinds is “The Workplace Success Expert.” For a FREE SPECIAL REPORT on Avoiding Career Killers in the Workplace, send an email to

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