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He Said, She Said: Pursuing Workplace Romances

A workplace romance exists when two employees of the same company begin to develop a mutual attraction towards each other and ultimately start a relationship. So what do you do when you begin to crush on a co-worker? Pursue or not pursue? That is the question.

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When you’re working in an office every day from 9 to 5, it’s natural to have a crush on a co-worker and grow a bond with them. Sometimes those bonds will go beyond the friendly lunch meetings and deepen into a romance that provides an opportunity for love to flourish. After all, it happened for Jim and Pam of The Office and though they may be one of television’s most popular fictional couples and one that everyone pines to emulate, it didn’t stop the realities of President Barack and Michelle Obama from pursuing each other while working at a law firm, or Bill and Melinda Gates while working together at Microsoft, and even Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie on set of their film Mr. and Mrs. Smith.

Many around the world pursue the workplace romance with or without the happy ending and if they didn’t take chances or risks, they might not have figured out if the person they are crushing on is ‘the’ one.

While workplace romances can have several benefits such as energizing office morale, motivating employees, improving communication, teamwork and cooperation, it can also have its downsides. Besides affecting the couple directly involved, a workplace romance can affect a company and its employees while threatening career advancements, complicating work relationships that might lead to conflict of interest in positions and a decline in work performance. So what is the best course of action to take when confronted in a situation like this?

This week we hear from Lexy of Palo Alto, California who is wondering what’s the best way to handle an office romance. Should Lexy take  a risk and pursue her co-worker? Our writers get together to help her out.

He Said She Said - Lexy June 26

Janna says…

Office crushes are definitely a tough subject – there’s a whole other set of rules and considerations on top of the general dating conventions, which you know. I feel your pain! I guess the first thing you need to figure out is what your office’s policy is on dating a coworker. I know that you have your own personal thoughts on the matter, but it’s a good idea to check and see if your office has any rules or codes of conduct for that, too. If it’s frowned upon, discouraged or outright against the rules, then that sort of helps you make a big decision right there! Even laid back offices have some rules that they’re serious about.

However, if your office has no policy about coworkers dating, I think it’s really all up to you. Keep in mind that you interact with this guy every day – if things go south and don’t wind up working out, you’ll still have to interact with him every day. There’s no avoiding him if things don’t work out or he isn’t interested. So, if I was in your position, I’d have to ask myself: is it going to be worth it? When we fantasize about these things, we always think of the best case scenario – he likes you too, work isn’t an issue, and everyone’s happy. And that might happen! But it might not, too. So I’d suggest being honest with yourself for a minute. Picture asking him out and having him turn you down. Are you going to feel awkward, uncomfortable, and unable to focus on work with him right there? Or are you going to be proud of yourself for putting yourself out there and getting closure on the “what if?” between you two, and able to go on with your work life as a professional? Your gut feelings and reactions to that mental scenario will be a big help in trying to decide whether or not you want to chance going for it with your coworker. It could be totally worth it – but it might not be, too. And you’re the only one who can make that decision. Good luck!

Drew says…

Lexy, I’m going to keep this simple and to the point, because as far as I can see, there’s only really one option for you here:

Life’s too short. You might regret the times you try and fail, but not half as much as you’ll regret the times you didn’t even try. If you make a go of it, and it all goes up in flames, that’s a lesson learned. If you don’t do anything, it’ll just eat you up inside.

Good luck. I’m sure it’ll be great; or as we say here in Scotland: “Whit’s fur ye’ll no go by ye.”

All the best!

Layne says…

I might be labeled a stick in the mud for saying this, but I would be rational and not try to pursue anything with this guy simply because he’s a coworker. There is a time and a place for everything and the workplace is just not right for starting up relationships, in my opinion. I think it helps that he feels the same way – it’s pretty significant that both of you are a little bit hesitant about this. Plus, you say so yourself – “I hate the idea of compromising what we have now, which is a growing friendship, as well as our jobs.” After all, isn’t that the most important thing?

Stephen says…

Lexy! This is a real area of expertise for me, as I am now married to my former co-worker. What I will say is that Drew is right; life is too short, and your happiness should be a high priority for you. However, I think Janna has the best approach, you need to check whether your office has any policies regarding relationships in the work place. When my wife and I first got together, we threw caution to the wind and just started dating without seeking any advice from our employers. Our lives became very difficult for a time, but fortunately for us, we moved on from our jobs and things got easier.

In short here is the approach:

Check with the company on coworker dating policies:

  • If they say it’s okay, then things are great, and you should go for it;
  • If they say no, is this guy worth getting into trouble for, or maybe even finding a new job for?

I hope this helps, and that you find what you’re looking for!

* * * * *

If you seek advice from our writers, email us at thehudsuckerblog@gmail.com! Perhaps your question will be featured in our next installment.

While our team of writers have given their advice with the best of intentions, they nor anyone of this site assume responsibility for your actions or the results of them.

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