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5 Reasons Why You Shouldn't Have An Office Romance
Most businesses have official, and unofficial, policies concerning interoffice romances, and there are many of them expressly against co-workers dating one another and bosses dating their employees. There is a reason for that even if for some people it seems like one of the dumbest rules in the book. After all, work is the place where you spend the majority of your days. Work is the place where you spend the majority of your LIFE. Some people spend more time with their co-workers than they do their significant others or their children in some instances, depending on their career. A person's job is sometimes the most logical place where they would meet someone they could have a relationship with, but that's precisely where a budding romance could end up being more of a liability than an asset to anyone's life. Lots of people have met their longtime partners at work, but just as many long term relationships budded on the job, plenty of others have tried dating their co-workers and it backfired—big time. Sometimes, it's also not only the couple in question that is affected by the subsequent demise of a work relationship, but other co-workers can be affected, their managers could be affected, and in some cases, the entire company. Dating on the job can have its up sides, but there are plenty of ways it could go south, and there are a few reasons why those policies are sometimes added into employee contracts. Some employers have been burned and they don't want to go through all the drama that an interoffice romance can create, and you can't blame them if they've been through hell and back because two people who met at work got frisky in the past.
Here are some of the reasons it could be in your best interest to leave those people at work alone and meet someone on your time, or if you dare, risk being unemployed at the prospect of on-the-job nookie.
Here's the biggest question: Is going out with, or sleeping with, this person worth your job?
There are a lot of people that will see something like not dating their co-workers as a bendable rule when they want to go out with a certain person, but just because you don't take that rule seriously doesn't mean your bosses won't either. When you sign contracts upon being hired for employment by a particular company, you need to be sure that you understand everything in print before you put your signature at the end agreeing to work there. EVERYBODY signs contracts when they're hired on the job, I don't care if you're a cashier at a convenience store or if you're an office manager at an insurance company. Some company managers will tell you about dating policies up front right after they've hired you while you're sitting in their office, but some others won't unless they see something budding between you and another employee and call you aside. If a manager calls you into their office to comment on interoffice policy, you should definitely take their advice seriously or you could lose your job. For some people, dating a certain person is worth losing their job, but for most, it isn't.
If you're dating a fellow employee on the down low, and things are working out well for the two of you so far, don't tell anyone else that you work with under any circumstances. There are conniving people in every workplace that love to see other people miserable, and if they can aide in that misery, they especially take pleasure in it. There are times when another employee, or even someone who's a rung or two down the ladder from your boss (still a fellow employee, just higher on the food chain), will approach you in a seemingly innocent manner and bring up the matter of your suspected relationship with the other employee. They may even say something to the effect of, "And if you're thinking about what the manager said about dating other people in the office, don't even worry about it. Just tell me…are you?" It's one of the oldest tricks in the book so you can let your guard down and tell them what they want to know as either ammunition to get you fired, or to start a rumor about you at work. People do that all the time whether it's work related or not, it's a common manipulation strategy, just don't fall for it. If you know you're not supposed to be dating someone, or you suspect that it's a no-no, outright deny it or skirt the truth—don't tell them squat, I don't care how nice they come across.
When avoiding office romances are a strict rule at your workplace, there could be a very good reason for that. More than likely the managers or owners probably had a few issues, or a huge one, with employees dating one another and they don't want to have to ever deal with those again. At times, it helps if you know what happened in the past, but don't ever say, "That'll never happen to me. I'm smarter (or better) than that." And don't say anything to that effect either, because most of the time when you think you're smarter or better than other people or you're above certain behavior, you're usually wrong. We always say "never", and a year later, we're in the same predicament. Why is that, you ask? Because we're human beings. Even if you don't have a clue what happened in the past, but your boss is vehement about it, take it seriously; and unless you run into the person of your dreams that you don't think you can live without, don't date your co-workers.
Dealing with office politics is sometimes tricky, especially when it comes to you doing something and one of the higher-ups doing the same thing. Most people understand the hierarchy right away. Obviously, your managers and other people higher on the ladder will be able to get away with a lot more than you can, but your role as a "lowly" employee can get blurred if you're approached by someone with a greater title than yourself for a romance. Sometimes it boils down to someone asking themselves, "If I don't go out with this person I could get fired; on the other hand, if do go out with them, I could still get fired. I have no idea what to do." This is more common than people think, and if you think it's easy enough to report sexual harassment, think again. So many people make false sexual harassment claims that they make it hard for those with legitimate ones to be taken as seriously as they should. For instance, I know of females that flirted heavily with their male co-workers and/or behaved in a sexually overt manner, and perhaps one of the males said something or made an advance they didn't "like", then the next thing you know they've filed a sexual harassment claim and they act as if it's all the guy's fault. A lot of women don't agree with what I'm saying, but it's what I feel and what I believe is right: Don't send out signals that could possibly invite a sexual advance from another person, and when they respond to your signals with words or by deeds, you act as if you're completely innocent and what they did came out of nowhere. I'm a female and I've been in different situations. There are times when some people can mistake your neutral friendliness as an opening for a romantic advance, especially when you work with the public. For some people it's hard to tell the difference between friendliness and flirting; sometimes it's their fault, perhaps it could be your fault, and sometimes it's nobody's fault. The same thing can happen with male co-workers, and if you work with them long hours things can happen. I've had customers in the past make advances at me, and I saw it coming, but then I found out one of the a-holes propositioned anyone with tits for a romp in the sack despite that fact that he was old as dirt and married, and with any others it was easy to thwart anything they attempted by making it clear that I didn't customers, without actually saying it. Those types of things happen when you're working with the public (I hated working with the public). With co-workers, it was a different story. One of my managers, who I didn't get along with at first, unexpectedly one day started being extra nice to me and actually slyly propositioned me for oral sex. I nicely declined his suggestion.
I can't speak for other women, but I take responsibility for my actions. I can admit when I do something—right or wrong, but it's always harder to admit the wrong because that's how we are as people. And don't think this can't happen to men as well. If you're male and one of your female co-workers make advances toward you, don't fall for it. There are women out there that will go so far as to rub their butts over a guy's crotch and then file a sexual harassment suit against him. And no, this wasn't a case of her bending down in an attempt to pick something up and they were in a tight space and it was bound to happen due to close quarters, or something that happened accidentally. She did it on purpose, the way any woman would do when she's hitting a guy or trying to be seductive. That's a signal if I ever saw or heard one, but chances are, if he makes an advance on her and touches her breast or butt or says something she considers "lewd" after the fact, she'll go and file a complaint and act if she never did anything at all; it happens, and I know of incidents like that one personally. I'm never on the woman's side in those cases, and some would say I'm wrong for the simple fact that I'm a woman as well. Anyone can say what they want, but wrong is wrong. She was wrong for what she did, and he might have been wrong for what he did in response, but it wasn't all him and he didn't start it. People always expect women to be the victims in these cases, and the males to be the culprit—or that's the preconceived notion of it—but men can be mistreated in these instances as well. There are females that can flirt with their male employees and pressure them in certain ways that are inappropriate and threaten them; it's just that male employees are less likely to report it. There's the thought that if it's a female trying to have sex with a male there shouldn't be an argument, no protest on his end, but that's not fair. It's very true that many men will jump at the chance to sleep with their female boss if given the chance, but not every man behaves that way. Not every man is a whore that will sleep with any woman just because she's offering. Also, there are straight men that have to put up with sexual advances from their gay or bisexual male bosses, but the same as with females, it's more embarrassing for a male to report things like that. After all, if he files a sexual harassment claim, there's typically an office investigation and everybody usually finds out details about the matter. If it's a straight man going through this, there's the possibility that he could be taken as gay or bisexual when that's not the case. A lot of people now will say, "So?" But there are still many people that are straight and don't want others to question their sexuality in any way, and you can't blame them for that.
Don't be surprised if you are fired for sleeping with someone that has a higher title than yours at work, and he or she does not. Don't be surprised when a boss gets away with sexual harassment regardless of the evidence you may have against him or her. If it can be avoided, then do your best to avoid it. Some people consider flirting harmless, but it's not when it comes to co-workers and bosses. Many people are propositioned with sex by their bosses and they just do it and get it over with; some people got their jobs by sleeping with their boss. They need a job to provide for themselves and/or their families and they may not want to, but they go ahead and do it anyway. It's not about job security necessarily, it's the simple fact that they're either trying to get a job or keep their job. None of this stuff is new.
Also, don't be surprised if your boss is strict with the interoffice dating rule, yet he dates his employees. I've seen many things, been around many different people, and heard tons of stories. For some people they go to work, do their job, and collect a paycheck; for others, they have to deal with a lot more than what they were trained to do on the floor or behind the computer.
Be careful, because you could possibly be fired over a rumor. If people see you flirting heavily or behaving inappropriately with someone and they walk in on a conversation between you and that person, they could go back and tell someone that they think you're dating them. I've worked with tattletales before, and they are the worst little rats you could ever encounter. Usually, the on-the-job rat is always looking for drama, or they complain a lot, or they're always looking for special treatment. I was working with some young girls that were quite a few years younger than me a while back and told any and everything they could think of. I wanted to punch both of them in the head so hard they'd forget their own names, so that if anyone wanted to ask them who they were they wouldn't even remember to tell that. It's annoying working with rats, but everyone has one, and sometimes it's a manager. If a manager who is expressly against interoffice dating gets a whiff that you're possibly dating a fellow employee, they could start watching you a lot more closely. Some will give you a warning, call you into their office and have a discussion with you, but others will see something and think more of it than there actually is, go by the office chatter, and bam…you're fired.
Then again, let's say you are sleeping with someone on the job. Things could end badly between the two of you, and depending on how that other person's brain operates, they could start spreading nasty rumors about you. The worst part is, some of those rumors could actually turn out to be true, and they're not just telling lies, they're telling your secrets. Sleeping with someone could ruin your reputation on the job and word could travel right up to the head of the company and your name could be mud by the end of the work week. Some people aren't wired properly, and sometimes you can do something that pisses them off to the point where your life could spiral out of control. It's horrible even when it's just in your personal life and then you have to deal with the people at work, but it's about a thousand times worse when your personal life and your work life merge and they're equally awful, and there's no real escape.
When it comes to your reputation at work, you have to be careful. As harmless as it sounds to some people to have a romance at work, having a romance go sour with a co-worker or an employer could ruin your future employment prospects. That's always something to keep in mind.
The After Effects
Not every romance lasts, and with the bitter taste of a breakup, it could make working life even more miserable than it is, especially if dating the co-worker you broke up with made your job bearable in the first place.
The fallout of your romance could negatively affect other people at work. If there's post breakup fighting between you and your ex slash co-worker, other people could end up in the middle of it by chance or by choice. And in some cases, it could affect the company you work for.
Some people close to you and the ex could try to be of help by switching your work schedules around so you won't have to be around one another so much, but that only does so much in some cases.
The Office "Swap" Meet (New girl or guy?)
If you're the newly employed kid on the block and you've been thrown into a space with people who've been working together for years, you could be entering a situation that looks innocent on the surface, but it's far from it.
I found out a year after I'd been working on a past job that the store manager frequently slept with his female employees, and they probably thought it offered them job security—it didn't, of course. Most of them eventually got fired for various reasons, but sleeping with him didn’t help their case in any way.
As I stated before, male and female managers often proposition employees for sex, people just don't talk about it because they don’t' want to lose their jobs. The problem with being new is that if a manager could make you believe that you're special, and you're an absolute vision that walked into his life (or his store), and the next thing you know you're sleeping with him. What's the problem with that exactly? Well, he might do that all the time with new employees; it's just that none of them were around to tell you that because they were already fired. I know to some people, this sounds like something out of a fictional novel, especially if they lead straight lives where work is just work and anything like sex or romance doesn't even come into play at their jobs, but I assure you, these things happen. If a manager makes someone feel special and they start getting clingy, that's the perfect reason for them to find an excuse to fire that person—especially if that manager you're sleeping with is married. My advice to you is, just don't sleep with the boss. Some bosses give perks to people they sleep with, and then transfer them to other stores if too many people find out about their romance/affair. That could happen to you, and you could be happy being the "kept" mistress (in a way) or man on the side (I'd like to call them "manstresses", but that's not a word—although it should be), but it probably wouldn't. Unless you look like a young Angelina Jolie or Jason Lewis. You probably don't look like a young Angelina Jolie or Jason Lewis, so you can hope for the best, but expect the worst.
When it's all said and done new guy or gal, you could ultimately become the laughingstock of the office. Don't think there aren't employers out there who will sleep with you and then tell people for a laugh—at your expense. Why? Because people are mean bastards. They could talk about how you believe anything they said, or that you really believe sleeping with them would get you this or that. You could take a nude photo of yourself and then end up seeing it at work. It's bad enough when things like this happen in our personal lives, but at work, it's much worse. Think about it.
"Keeping it Casual" Doesn't Always Work
There are all sorts of ways to define relationships now; so many to the point that we have "redefined" relationships altogether. Fuck buddies/friends typically go into their arrangement with a casual sex agreement. When they're horny, they hook up, take care of one another, and part ways. There are no feelings attached with this act aside from those of physical pleasure between the two people. Not everyone falls in love when it comes to this sort of setup, but it can happen, even to the best of them. Sometimes, before or after sex you can get to talking, or you find out that you and the other person have more in common than you thought. Perhaps, over time, they start to get cuter and cuter as your sexscapades go on, week after week. The problem is, one person's feelings may begin to grow towards the other, but the other person feels no different from when the tryst began. That's when the problems begin.
The person that still feels "casual" about the sex may go on to sleep with another co-worker, while the one that "caught feelings" ends up getting jealous about that person sleeping with someone else. The whole point of being casual with someone about sex is that both of you are allowed to see, and sleep with, other people the majority of the time. Jealousy isn’t a factor when you're keeping things casual because neither of you are meant to be jealous of what the other person does (or in this case, who the other person ends up doing). Someone could end up fist fighting on the job, and get fired. People have physical fights with another at work all the time. There were even two female teachers—TEACHERS!—at an elementary school a few years back that started fighting one another in the hallway of their school where they worked after finding out they were dating the same guy. Yes, you read that right…teachers. I know so many people that have been fired from their jobs for fighting on the job that I should be embarrassed to know them.
And you don't have to start the fight to get fired. Fighting is fighting. The next thing you know, not only do you not have an income, but you don't have anyone to have sex with either. Bummer.
Back to the office policy thing again. Just because you view it as "casual" sex, doesn't mean your bosses will feel the same way if they find out. To some people, if there's a policy about interoffice dating, they think it's about having a full-blown relationship with someone, and that excludes having casual sex with a cool person that they work with. That's not the way it works with everyone. To some older people, having sex with someone is just good as being their girlfriend or boyfriend, titles be damned. A lot of older people do NOT believe in anything like casual sex and they're not shy about telling you they think it's bullshit. And if they have a policy about interoffice dating and they're strict about it, if they find out you're having sex with someone, you could get fired buddy.
Casual sex could lead to a complicated working environment, no matter how laidback your intentions.