Office romance today is more prevalent than ever despite what employers may mandate. Longer hours, more business travel and less time to meet people out of the office provides more opportunities to develop intimacy with people at work. Is there a way for singles to play at work without putting their careers at risk?
"The rule is when you are dating someone from work, keep the romance out of the office," says Philippa Courtney, advice columnist and author of 4 Steps to bring the Right Person into your life Right Now! That means acting like coworkers not lovers. If you cross the line you may really tick off your coworkers and end up with an uncomfortable work environment for you and others. Sooner or later a messy office romance ends up affecting the people around you.
How to keep an office romance under control
Keep details of your romantic activities to yourself.
Office gossip boomerangs back and not always with the truth. Only a hint of something can reach your boss and be explosive. Coworkers hearing about or suspecting your romantic escapades may find them embarrassing or morally offensive, or even feel like you are creating a hostile environment where harassment claims can rise.
Find interesting places after hours and away from the office to get in touch with your romantic side.
Don't come back to work after a late lunch looking rumpled and smugly satisfied. Avoid the temptation to use conferences as a romantic getaway. You may think nobody will notice your absences and activities, but they always do.
The real danger is not in starting an office romance; it's in ending it.
A scorned lover can be a fatal attraction. Just like the movie of the same name, he/or she may not kill rabbits, but they can kill your career. Get balance in a primarily physical relationship so you can transition into an office-friendly separation.
More on office romances: What you should know
If you're on the fence about having an office romance or cutting one off, here's what you need to know.