Rhian Morgan speaks to two experts, leading psychologist and writer Dr Lynda Shaw, and relationship and divorce coach Sara Davison, on what advice they could offer to professionals considering an office romance
When it comes to the pros and cons of office romances, divorce coach, Sara Davison says: “It is common to fall for someone whom you spend a lot of time with and so it makes sense that many people fall in love in their place of work. It can definitely make your job more enjoyable if you have someone to flirt with during the day and it can encourage some people to work harder and longer hours.
“You will naturally have a lot in common with people in your office and so it is easier to make a romantic connection than with someone online whom you have never met. They will also understand a side of you that other potential partners will never see as they get to see who you are at work and what you are capable of. But office dating is a dangerous game as, while it can add some excitement to your working day, it has huge potential to back fire on you and possibly be a career-ending error. The downside is huge. It can make it awkward for your colleagues if they are aware of the relationship and it is a common cause of tensions at work.
"At work, people have a certain professional persona which may not be a true reflection of them at home. I recently had a married client who fell for someone in her office. She did leave her husband for him and soon found out that he wasn’t always so nice out of the workplace. Their relationship ended after two short months. If you are dating someone who is higher up in the organisation, this can reflect badly on you, too, as people can jump to conclusions and assume you are trying to climb the corporate ladder. Even if this isn’t true, it can harm your professional reputation.
“If or when the relationship comes to an end, it can be very difficult to see them every day. The quickest way to heal from a broken or bruised heart is to cut ties with your ex but if you have to work with them every day this can be very painful and ultimately it could affect your standard of work.
“It will also affect the atmosphere in the office, not just for you but for everyone there. This could result in one of you having to leave the business and this can be devastating to your career. It may seem like a fun thing to engage in but it has disastrous potential consequences.”
- Sara Davison is a life coach and divorce specialist, as well as an entrepreneur, writer and media spokesperson. Her website is www.saradavison.com
While leading psychologist and writer Dr Lynda Shaw says: “On the one hand, what better place to meet someone than at work, where you spend most of your waking day? It’s a relatively safe way to meet people without the potential dangers of internet dating or meeting a random stranger in a bar.
“On the other hand, there is a danger that if it all goes wrong you will have to continue to see that person day in and day out, and that it might not just be awkward for the two of you but for your other colleagues as well.
“It might be an idea to keep your new relationship under wraps for a little while until you are sure whether it’s going to become a meaningful relationship but then don’t feel you need to make an announcement that you are together. Let your colleagues find out organically when you are both ready.
“Being professional at work is of the utmost importance. Losing your job because of impropriety is a total waste. A fling just simply isn’t worth it. You want your boss to think you take your work seriously.
“It becomes trickier to have a relationship at work if one of you is the boss. It may be that if the relationship is serious (and don’t have a relationship with your boss unless you think it is going to be serious) that one or the other of you will need to find a different job so that neither of you can be accused of nepotism.
“Ultimately, if you have met Mr or Ms Right at work, then you would be foolish to not see where that could go because you happen to work together. But be professional and try not to talk about work too much out of hours because you need to find other areas of common ground.”
- Dr Lynda Shaw is a chartered psychologist and Associate Fellow of the British Psychological Society, as well as an entrepreneur and author. Her website is www.drlyndashaw.com
Click here to read real-life case studies of people who have found love at work - and find out whether or not it's worked out well for them.