What to consider when considering a workplace hook-up


The number-one rule, of course, is you should not be flagrant. A new handbook for workplace dating, Office Mate, is full of practical precautions like asking the person out in the parking lot rather than their cube, and trying happy hours for truly fair playing ground.

Why the caution? According to a Gallup poll, people say they are more offended by someone kissing a co-worker than they are by someone stealing from the office or drinking on the job. And Barnes & Noble is so offended that they won’t even carry Office Mate in stores, even though it is likely that about fifty percent of Barnes & Noble employees have hooked up with a co-worker, and surely they could all use a handbook.

Attitudes toward office mating get more lax as you go down the corporate ladder. Younger people expect to hook-up with coworkers. After all, they are working most of their waking hours, so it’s a natural spot to search for romantic opportunities.

It used to be that women had to preserve what little power they had at the office and couldn’t squander power with bedroom antics. Today, though, women are equals for the most part, and in major cities women earn more than men. This parity leaves a lot of room for negotiating in and out of bed.

And women don’t have time to waste. Most want to get married by the time they are 30 so they probably want to have the right relationship in place by the time they are 28. This means they will probably have to date men they work with in order to meet their timetables. (And if you think playing beat-the-clock is unnatural, think again: Scientists surmise that women are so optimized for the game of beat-the-clock that a first kiss is a woman’s biologically attuned tool for quickly weeding out bad mating material.)

Also consider this: We do best when we have limited choices, which makes the workplace is more appealing than say, Match.com. Karim Kassam studies how we deal with choices, and he found that we are much more satisfied with outcomes when we are picking from four or five things than from many more.

Kassam says we have a “psychological immune system” that helps us to see outcomes as positive. He is at Harvard, so it’s not surprising that he uses the Ivy League as an example: If you get into Harvard but not Princeton, you can say to yourself that Princeton is too much of a country club anyway. But if you get into Harvard but not Princeton, and not Stanford then you can’t say Princeton was too pretentious for me because Stanford is less pretentious than Harvard.

“The more alternatives there are,” says Kassam, “the more psychological maneuvering you have to do to tell yourself that your outcome is the best.”

Apply this to dating. You are much better off choosing from the five people you spend your days with than from the 6000 people available to you online. You might think that you will find someone better online, but in fact, you will have a harder time convincing yourself that it is someone good.

The problem is, workplace romance is a slippery slope, especially because not every hook-up is about establishing a lasting marriage. And some are about disrupting a marriage.

A one-night stand, for example, might improve your health, and, timed right, even make you a better public speaker. But be careful about letting things get too intense, because the human brain in love is like the human brain on cocaine: Totally obsessed.

Helen Fisher is an anthropologist who studies love, and she found that the same part of our mind that looks for more cocaine is the part of the brain that thinks about the person we are in love with. We all know how effective the coke addict is at work; the same can be said of the romantically obsessed.

And, bad news for people who think they will have a quick affair that won’t get messy: the human brain is capable of feeling attached in a long-term way to one person while at the same time in love with another person.

If you are feeling like you want to have a one-time fling, think about forgoing the orgasm. Because Fisher says that, just like the addict who is hooked the first time, you can fall in love from just one orgasm. (Here’s a fun and interesting video of Fisher talking about this topic at TED.)

It’s a different ball game if you travel a lot for work – different ball game as in people play more often.

A Yahoo poll found that most extramarital flings happen while someone is on the road. So it surprised me that only 10% of people on the road take their wedding rings off. But then I was sitting next to a guy on a plane who was wearing a wedding ring, and I told him about that research. He said he thought that women were more likely to hook up with a guy who was wearing a ring, because married men are safer. Then, when the plane landed, he asked me out.

47 replies
  1. Caitlin
    Caitlin says:

    It partly depends on the size of the workplace. I think it works out better in a large company, especially if you don't have to work together closely day to day

    It also depends on the professional relationship. If a boss dates his/her employee, then it raises all sorts of issues. But if two co-workers date each other then it's much simpler.

    Also, a lot of people meet their partners _through_ work rather than _at_ work. A lot of people wind up dating clients or suppliers or people at partner companies. There are still issues but they are somewhat different to the issues in dating a co-worker.

    Have you read the book, Penelope? Is it any good?

    * * * * * * * *

    Yep, I have the book right here. In fact, I have three copies because the publisher sent me two review copies and Helaine Olen, one of the authors, sent me another. I guess they knew it would be right up my alley :)

    Anyway, I think you'd like the book, Caitlin, because it addresses all those "it depends" situations that make office romance more productive or less productive depending on the situation. I like the book becuse it really gives you a lay of the land in terms of what's going on in the underground of the workplace.

    – €“Penelope

  2. Steve
    Steve says:

    My father gave me a great piece of crude, but true advice when I entered the workplace on just this subject – “don’t shyte where you eat”.

    I have stuck to it not just because I respected his opinion, but because I have seen first hand too many times the adverse impact workplace romance can have.

    There are not good excuses for this behavior at work, no matter what a woman’s biological calling may be.

    How about having a life outside of work?

  3. thom singer
    thom singer says:

    I love the line “the human brain in love is like the human brain on cocaine”. Obsession makes folks nutty (not just love and drugs)…look around your work place and see all the things that make people irrational.

    My parents met at work, and my mom had to quit when they got married. My brother and his wife met at work, and my brother had to quit when they got married (his wife had seniority!). They actually dated secretly for 18 months. So beware if you like your job… someone might have to go. Know the policies.

    People meet at work all the time, just go into it with eyes wide open. I never dated anyone at work, but have seen it work successfully and have seen it be a disaster. It is like any human relationships, it depends on how BOTH parties handle the good times and the bad times.

    so did you go out with the guy on the plane? (just kidding!)


  4. Matt Bingham
    Matt Bingham says:

    I worked nine years for a company that had quite of few married co-workers. In fact, my best bud met his wife at work…she was the mail girl. It was probably the only place I will work where it was more of a norm to date a co-worker. I dated a co-worker (different department) for a bit and when it didn’t work out it was no biggie. We didn’t have to talk to each other that often because she did a totally different job. I don’t, however, think that dating someone in the same department or whom you work closely with works that well. Sure it’s great in the beginning but as soon as things go bad the whole team is affected. If you can leave it at the door that’s great, but often times it leaks in.

    * * * * * *

    It’s true that dating in a different department is easier than dating the person you work closely with every day. But I think the situation becomes a bit different when you think about that at this point in time people in their twenties are changing jobs every 18 months, on average. This means that one of the two people is likely to leave in short time, so the suffering of with a relationship gone bad won’t last long.


  5. Scott Williamson
    Scott Williamson says:

    The most important thing to consider is NOT DOING IT. When you’re younger and first starting out it can seem like a good idea, but it almost never is.

    The thing to remember is, we will only have one relationship in our lives that doesn’t end (and many times they end badly), so don’t drag that into the workplace.

  6. Queercents
    Queercents says:

    Penelope, this is a fun post. I'm sure it will push a lot of buttons which is why I always love stopping by.

    On the road, men prefer married women for the same safe reason. Men are more likely to hook up with a woman wearing a wedding ring, because married women typically aren't looking for a mate, they're looking for a hook-up. I'm sure you looked smashing in 4A, but I suspect you got asked out after he discovered you were married.

  7. Joselle Palacios
    Joselle Palacios says:

    I was in a workplace romance that was a disaster and the crappy feeling I had after it ended lasted much longer than the fling itself. As a bonus, I got to see the bastard everyday thereafter! Loads of fun!

    I met the love of my life and current boyfriend on Match.com. So, making my world wider by leaving a crappy job (perhaps I would have had better luck at the office romance if the overall work environment had not been so toxic?) and meeting my mate online was one of the smartest decisions I’ve ever made. On Match, I didn’t have to slog through 6,000 profiles either. There are many ways to limit and refine your search for a date online. I met my boyfriend after my profile was up for 3 weeks and had some dates prior to that too. It was very clear very soon that we were incredibly happy to have found one another. To think that I never would have met him had not just gone online is awful.

    Anyways, I would definitely proceed with caution with workplace romances. Because if it really blows up in your face, you’ll probably have to find a new job as well as a new mate. And even if it does work out, you’ll probably want a new job eventually too! Not unlike the job search, there’s more than one way to find a date (as well as a few really lousy ways). If you want a great job and a great partner, you’ve got to look wherever you can. And you’ve got to be smart and brave about the process.

  8. Rich
    Rich says:

    I have found many workplace romances start because of the mutual appreciation two people have for their work. It is somewhat disturbing to find a co-worker eager to help out, work late and go the extra mile, but is not so helpful at home in his/her domestic relationships. I have seen two affairs start this way in the past year. The admiration and respect we get at work for a job well done does not always translate at home.

    I would also be interested to see if people that were romantically involved at work made better/worse decisions than those who were not. Romance blurrs the senses, so does that mean the senses are blurred in the office.

    * * * * * * *

    Thanks for bringing up this important point, Rich. It’s actually one I try to make it a lot: Work is so much easier than home life. Clearly defined performance reviews are so much more inviting than going home to deal with complicated relationships. And predictable, adult co-workers are so much more peaceful than unpredictable, loud kids. So it’s no surprise that people spend extra time at work doing the easy stuff. I’m guilty of it, too. Not that it’s good to do, but each of us should be aware of it — especially when it comes to workplace romance.

    Here’s a post on this topic:


  9. Recruiting Animal
    Recruiting Animal says:

    There is definitely a similarity between romance and addiction. However, romance fades. Addiction doesn’t.

    * * * * * * *

    This is a really important distinction. I wish I had made it myself. Thanks, Animal.


  10. Steven
    Steven says:

    I agree with Bob a couple of comments up. If you don’t have time to get out there and date, then maybe you should do some soul searching. A healthy relationship takes time and commitment… if you can’t find/make time now, I guarantee you that you won’t find the time later.

    I say this to people with dogs. Don’t get a dog if you work 50 plus hours a week. That’s just plain mean.

    Now on to gossip…

    I know the retailer Macy’s will split dating employees to different stores.

    * * * * * * * *
    Oh. I love this gossip. Why don’t people post more gossip here? I want to be clear that I really encourage this. It’s fun.


  11. Steve
    Steve says:

    “It's true that dating in a different department is easier than dating the person you work closely with every day. But I think the situation becomes a bit different when you think about that at this point in time people in their twenties are changing jobs every 18 months, on average. This means that one of the two people is likely to leave in short time, so the suffering of with a relationship gone bad won't last long.”

    – €“Penelope

    While the twentysomethings may be trending a job change every eighteen months or so, I feel that reality will catch up with them when a resume with three job changes in five years begins to inevitably work against them.

    Besides, eighteen months is a long enough time to make a mess of the interoffice environment.

  12. Kathryn
    Kathryn says:

    1) I think the caveat to office dating for women is to be sure that you aren’t trading respect/power for biological impulses. Or better yet, be ok with that trade before you make it. Women may be subject to more equal treatment in certain industries, but it’s not all of them. Women in technical roles are still subject to quite a bit of sexism which society likes to forget, so they don’t have much support in fighting it. But I’m glad that you’re advocating the guide manual to anyone considering an office romance because (obviously) any decent treatment of the subject would be book-length.

    2) I wish you could find the link to that Italian study that showed how the part of the brain that’s “in love” completely changes after the first year of the relationship. (Which is one reason people should be together for an extended period of time before making legal/religious commitments.)

    3) As for all the “don’t shit where you eat” comments: would you or did you date within your major as a college student? Because that’s in effect the same thing as having an office romance. I always held that due to the two-body hiring problem facing women in academics, I needed to only be involved with “portable” men. So I found me an actuary. But that’s not for everyone and part of being successful in a relationship is having common grounds/interests. A lot of people derive great emotional pleasure from their work subject and sharing that enthusiasm (as experience shows) can easily spark romance. Trust me, the easiest way to seduce a male grad student is to be sincerely interested in his research. (I’ve not tried it on any women, but I’m sure it’d work just as well.) If you’re ok with dating someone who shares your major, then you should be ok with dating someone who shares your work.

  13. HR Wench
    HR Wench says:

    A gazillion years ago I worked for Barnes & Noble. Everyone dated everyone else there: supervisors, employees, customers. Kinda funny they don’t want the office romance book in their stores. They must know their employees already know the ropes.

  14. Helaine Olen
    Helaine Olen says:

    Hi all, this is Helaine Olen, the co-author of Office Mate. First, I want to thank everyone for such a smart discussion about what is such an important topic.

    I do wish, however, people could adopt a bit more of a live and let live attitude. I’m not sure why folks who don’t want to date someone they work with are so furious that someone else might make a different decision. We are all adults and can presumably be trusted to make our own decisions. Why in this one area do we think people should not be allowed to do so?

    Second, while I do agree many of us work way, way too much, I am not convinced simply telling people to get a life is going to accomplish much. Most people work these insane hours because they will lose their jobs if they don’t, not because of some intrinsic desire to spend 50plus hours a week at the office. Telling these people that the hours they work are their own fault is just not going to help anyone except, perhaps, the corporations that are demanding these work hours from people. The powers that be want people to think it is all about personal choice, so they won’t protest.

    Last, this conversation has reminded me of words of wisdom I once heard from a female bartender, who informed me she always wore an engagement ring to work even though she was not engaged. Her reason was very simple. She didn’t want to deal with constant passes from drunk men while at work. Through trial and error she had discovered that men don’t see wedding rings as a deterrent, but do view engagement rings as a no-go zone. Men, she said, figure you must really be in love if you are engaged. Married — hey, that’s something else entirely. You might well be available. You’ve been validated by someone else. And you are likely not looking to disrupt your life. You are safe.

  15. Jessica
    Jessica says:

    According to the Barnes and Noble website the book is available at my local store-perhaps you had some misinformation? Or did the company change their stance?

  16. Dave
    Dave says:

    Hey animal – romance only fades if you’re not doing it right! I’ve got a 30 year anniversary coming up, so I feel like I’ve got some experience on this topic.

  17. Danny
    Danny says:

    Okay, here’s the deal. It all depends on if you are talking about a fling verses love. Although I am for both because I am addicted to beautiful women (Penelope, will you hook up with me?), I am wise enough to know that both can be harmful to your job. I say job and not career for a reason. Where you work is your job, and should not be viewed as your career. So, you have to weigh the value of the relationship or fling in question.

    I fell in love with my supervisor 15 years ago. We did the Friends thing for three years because we both valued our Job and thought we would be harming our career to cross that line. After three years of the frustration of playing the “Friends” game, I came to the following conclusion… I love this woman, probably will never find another with her brains, beauty, and sick sense of humor ever again. I was about to lose something a hell of a lot more important then my Job. It turned out that we both felt the same way so we handled it. We dated secretly for a very short time (about 3 months). Finally we went to our Manger and let him know about the situation and that we would both seek out a job elsewhere in the company. He was happy that we were honest and actually helped us to find other jobs in the company. Within two months, Anne had another job that actually ended up being a better career path for her. So, I will never regret it. The only thing I do regret is the 3 years we lost being worried about our Job.

    Now, what about a fling that is not love? 90% of the time, it’s a bad idea but if you follow my advice from earlier you can make a good decision. Again, you have to weigh the value of the relationship in question. Probably more applicable to guys, but if you ever have the chance to hook up with that woman that is normally way out of your league? Say you are a nerd and for some reason you have a once in a lifetime chance to hook up with the Super Hot VP of xyz at a party. You should ask yourself, Is your job really that great? But make damn sure it is truly a once in a lifetime chance. I’m talking the brains and looks of someone like “Penelope Trunk.”

  18. Dave
    Dave says:

    Helaine said: “I do wish, however, people could adopt a bit more of a live and let live attitude. I'm not sure why folks who don't want to date someone they work with are so furious that someone else might make a different decision. We are all adults and can presumably be trusted to make our own decisions. Why in this one area do we think people should not be allowed to do so?”

    I haven’t been one of thos furious people, but I do think that office romances need to be approached with caution. The biggest problem with them is how they can (aqnd usually) spill over into the office and affect everyone else. I once worked with someone who thought that sleeping with a boss gave her some of his authority. There was much grumbling and discontent, until he finally had to tell everyone that she had no authority, and if we told her to go piss up a rope, he wouldn’t hold it against us. I can’t imagine having to do anything much more mortifying. If you can manage to have your romance without it leaking out in the workplace, then I’ve got no problem, but as soon as it intrudes on me, it becomes a problem.

  19. kathryn
    kathryn says:

    4) On the topic of wedding rings: since I’m in a serious relationship with my actuary and am not looking for anything on the side, I make a special point to wear a faux wedding band when I go out with friends. So far it hasn’t stopped anyone and I get the impression that most of these men don’t even notice I’m wearing it. (Certain looks of shock inform this opinion.) Perhaps it’s because of my age? Or maybe the fact that it’s a silver band and not gold.

    Ohhh… I just saw Helaine’s comment about engagement rings. Ok, well, I now post the above comment in confirmation of this phenomenon. Men don’t see wedding bands. It’s a specialized form of sex-linked glaucoma.

  20. Anne M.
    Anne M. says:

    Most women want to get married and have kids by the time they are 30? Really? Why – because they “have to?”

    Just because the media reinforces the beliefs of feeble minded conformists as to what they “have to do” doesn’t mean that anyone intelligent has to follow directions. Each woman and man has her or his own mind, and you cannot generalize and judge.

    This blog gets worse all the time – conclusory and bullying in tone. I see how it whips up controversy to get readers but who died and made any journalist or blogger God? Geez, reading this just isn’t worth it any longer. Too much annoyance for no content.

  21. Stephanie Losee
    Stephanie Losee says:

    Hello–Stephanie Losee here; I am a co-author of Office Mate. I wanted to clarify that after Helaine spoke to Penelope, Barnes & Noble agreed to carry the book. We are grateful to them for supporting what we are trying to do, which is to address an activity that half of all workers will engage in at some point but which few talk about. Even after publishing Office Mate we are still getting blowback; one company we wrote about where there are a lot of married couples who met on-site changed its entire corporate policy to prohibit employees from cooperating with the press from now on without pre-approval from PR whether the story is about their professional OR personal life. But on the whole the dialogue has been very constructive and edifying.

  22. late_twentysomething
    late_twentysomething says:

    Why do companies so actively discourage this behavior from the top-down? I’d think one “to do” for the list is to encourage our employers and direct supervisors to “think differently.”

    I just don’t see how a company can expect its employees to work 70-80 hours a week, be on the road constantly, and not fulfill basic human needs at work. It’s insane.

    So what’s the story? Is it just butt-covering in politically correct offices?

  23. Working Girl
    Working Girl says:

    The best thing about finding love at work is that you really know who that person is, on a day-to-day basis. You see him when he’s tired, disappointed, stressed. Dating is so artificial; you only see a facade. So I think work is a really good place to find true love!

    If it ends badly? I’ve seen many people handle it very well, in an entirely adult fashion. It can be done!

  24. Ted
    Ted says:

    “the human brain is capable of feeling attached in a long-term way to one person while at the same time in love with another person.”

    Or, to be less convoluted, “The human brain is capable of loving two people at the same time”. I think it’s important for someone who’s entering into an affair to realize that they can and will love both people they are intimate with. I don’t think you should denigrate the second relationship just because it’s second. The problem with an affair is the concealment and the deception, not the love.

  25. Helaine Olen
    Helaine Olen says:

    I just want to respond to Dave's concern that office romances need to be approached with caution. Stephanie and I completely agree. That's why we wrote an entire book on the subject!

  26. kathryn
    kathryn says:

    Most women want to get married and have kids by the time they are 30? Really? Why – because they "have to?"

    Yes, because that’s the point where eggs stop being viable and birth defects start to skyrocket.

    People complain all the time that the Age-30-Deadline is some sexist conspiracy to oppress women. Huh? What’s more oppressive: Spreading the news and encouraging society to adjust to this deadline by accommodating the needs of young mothers? Or dismissing these concerns and spreading flat-out lies that condemn a substantial fraction of working mothers to costly infertility treatments and/or endless therapy for children with congenital defects?

    Yes, it’s total bullshit that young women have to chose between having kids while it’s biologically favorable or getting a great career started. But you know what? The smart solution isn’t fighting our bodies.

  27. Shefaly
    Shefaly says:

    ‘… when considering a workplace hook-up…’

    Going by the comments on how workplaces are fertile grounds for finding mates and ‘true love’, I must have been the only person reading the post, who did not realise the deliberation and ‘intentionality’ behind such hook-ups. Hook-ups – a word that renders the whole thing rather sordid. Of course, the intentionality is signalled by the word ‘considering’ in the title of the post.

    Whatever happened to old fashioned romance, chance meetings, and serendipity, even in the workplace? Or is life for most people really just so terrible?

  28. Ross
    Ross says:

    …I was sitting next to a guy on a plane, who was wearing a wedding ring, and I told him about that research. He said he thought that women were more likely to hook up with a guy who was wearing a ring, because married men are safer. Then, when the plane landed, he asked me out.

    How shallow. How about writing a column about commitment, honesty, integrity, and doing the best job possible, Penelope? When I turn 65 and retire, I hope to be able to reflect on my career with complete satisfaction. I don’t want to reflect on office conquests, how to avoid real work, and doing yoga on the bathroom floor. While your career advice is certainly brazen, it seems to me that it would breed a rather shallow career.

  29. Dave
    Dave says:

    Helaine & Staphanie – just to be clear, I don’t have anything against office romances – I met my wife at work. It was 30 years ago, and attitudes were very different back then. We lived in a conservative area of the midwest, and the company was very conservative also. My supervisor told me how just 5 years earlier, there had been rules against the men and women eating meals together. This was no longer in place, but you could still see that the men and women mostly ate on opposite sides in the lunch room. It was a big room, serving 2 buildings (7 story main building and another 6 story building) and the two of us were some of the few “mixed” couples who dared to meet in the middle. As a young man, I found it reminded me of some of my high school dances. Official policy at that time would have required one of us to quit once we were married, and unofficially the pressure would have started as soon as we announced our engagement, so we kept it secret until I found another postion and gave notice. This was a common practice, we certainly weren’t the only couple there! Things are (thankfully!) different today, but I would still advise caution and discretion. This is a minefield that can easily damage your career, if handled poorly.

    Best of luck with your book,

  30. Adam
    Adam says:

    MEN: Do not dip your pen in the company ink!

    Unless you do not care about your job or you are already on the way out, there is simply too much risk involved with dating in the work place. Plenty of stupid people will not heed this advice and unfortunately leave themselves exposed to sexual harassment charges–even if the stories are fabricated. From what I’ve heard, it can be brutal.

    Understand that laws are written against you. I would even go as far as to recommend not even speak to a female in your office on any topic not regarding work. You’ll find this to be extreme, but you can still aggressively move up the ladder while minimizing risk by avoiding “small talk” with these ladies. Save your charm for women outside your office.

    It should be no surprise to you men that the recommended book was written by women and most of the reviews are written by women. Yes, there are a few women who are aggressively working up the ladder, but the MO of most women is to go to college (and eventually enter the workforce) looking for a potential mate they can consider a good provider. Doing so helps give them exposure to graduates as opposed to burger flippers.

    Anyway, that is another topic of discussion. Please realize the risk you are putting yourself in each and every time you involve yourself with someone in the office. It is simply not worth it. There are millions of women out there and no need to limit yourself to a (not even select) small group while putting your career in peril.

  31. Kathy S
    Kathy S says:

    I dated co-workers when I had a LOT of them in my department (50+) and they were in my age range (low-mid 20’s). Now, I’m the youngest and I only have 3 co-workers so 100% nothing’s going to happen. So, in my case, the more choices I had, the more likely I was to have a fling. I actually had 2 or 3 at once! I also met my current boyfriend online because I am so picky I figured I would have to choose out of a few thousand before I found one I really liked.

    The main reason we don’t like to be overly selective is plain and simple: we’re lazy and we want to pretend we made the right choice by saying “oh, well it must be MEANT to be”. I make my own luck. IT’s tough work, but I can see reality for what it is..

  32. Dale
    Dale says:

    I met my wife (F) at work 25 years ago in another country:)
    Her boss hated me as she thought that I wasn’t good enough and lectured F on the wisdom of this relationship. Things worked out well for us, but there are dangers that have not yet been stated in this blog. One of which I saw played out at another job.

    Here, the young lady in question had a workplace relationship and got engaged to the guy. They subsequently broke up after two years, and a few months later she began dating another person from the job. Well, surfice it to say, that every man on that job began (unfairly) to think that she was easy, and she was hounded to death. NOTHING is secret about an on-the-job romance/fling.

    To make matters worst, eventually, the other females on the job started saying things about her rather than defending her; actually, this helped encourage the wouldbe Romeos. They said things like, “She has to try every new man that comes to work here…” and other much, much meaner things.

    I do not discourage intra-office dating, but I do caution that things can get pretty ugly pretty fast when it does not work out.

    Now on to the gossip, over 80 percent of marriage breakups particularly in the entertainment industry, are due to intra-workplace hooking up. Husbands, things ain’t like they used to be. Be your wives’ best friends or someone else will be;) And it may not be Natalie from Accounting… but these days, it just might be:)

  33. Working Girl
    Working Girl says:

    My husband and I were a workplace-hookup. I’m glad we met and all; we have now been married ten years, but looking back on the situation I now see it as a stressful time. Also, I am sure our relationship interfered with my work performance at least initially. I spent an awful lot of time wondering if my new boyfriend was in the office, what he was doing, and who he was talking to. I went out of my way to find reasons to visit his department sometimes carrying around a stack of project files pretending I had questions.

    From the beginning, we both agreed to be discreet and keep our relationship a secret even if it meant attending the holiday party separately. I worked in accounting and was privy to confidential information including the company's financial position, payroll and human resources. Even though I took the confidentiality aspect of my position seriously, I am sure senior management would have been more cautious sharing information with me if they had known about our relationship and may even have thought twice about promoting me to management.

    My future husband was a consultant with sales goals he needed to meet and projects he had to manage under budget. After we had been dating a couple of years, I was promoted to Controller. I then had to sit through uncomfortable meetings and had a few awkward moments as my future husband's performance was reviewed and critiqued in front of me. I left the company a month before we were married. After our marriage was made public, my former female co-workers claimed they had been on to us for quite some time; whereas senior management all of whom were male had been completely taken by surprise. My husband left the company three years later.

    In retrospect I believe we were fortunate our workplace-hookup worked out as well as it did. We had been good friends for a year and a half before we started dating which I am sure made a difference. Also, I have never regretted our decision to be discreet and to keep our relationship a secret.

  34. Mitch
    Mitch says:

    “Then, when the plane landed, he asked me out.” Wow, that’s a shocker…not. How do you carry that ego around? And the themes of Christmas oppresses you (weak!) and every man on the planet wants to bang you are getting old. Congrats! You are on your way to being a crotchety & worn out B.

  35. Michelle Rafter
    Michelle Rafter says:

    From the “on the other hand” department:

    I just wrote a story that mentioned a company in an area of the country where it’s hard to attract qualified professionals in that particular field – so hard that the company had to end its official policy prohibiting married couples or SOs from working together. Now not only is it OK, they actively encourage it, and when they’re interviewing one half of a working couple for a job, they’ll look for a job inside or outside the company for the other. The CEO told me the story of a time they hired both a husband and wife. The couple were going to have a baby soon and they asked him to choose which one of them was going to stay home on paid family leave first. Times have changed.

  36. jo
    jo says:

    I agree with Adam’s comment above. Men should not touch a workplace romance because 99% of the sexual harrassment risk lies with men. Those laws were made to protect women from men in the workplace not the other way around.

    Read any company policy definition of sexual harrassment and it will mention “any unwanted attention”. That could include small-talk and glances.

    If you are accused of “any unwanted attention” by some woman in your company an investigation will be started by HR that will include an interview of all employess who could be affected by the “incident” including all managers all the way up the chain of command to the CEO.

    Your interview will actually be similar to a legal deposition that can be used in a court of law against you. Not a fun time.

    So boys, like Adam said, don’t even talk about anything other than work with any female in your office. For men, women in the workplace are like kryptonite was to Superman; very pretty but very deadly.

  37. Semanticheskoe Yadro
    Semanticheskoe Yadro says:

    Excuse me. Don’t ever take a fence down until you know the reason it was put up.
    I am from Taiwan and also now am reading in English, please tell me right I wrote the following sentence: “For more than eight years, exa has been perfecting its seo strategy.Written by google certified experts.”

    With respect ;-), Talia.

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