• Tue, Feb 14 2012

The Psychology Of Why We Fall In Love With Coworkers

Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie in Mr. and Mrs Smith, the film where they met.

According to a recent survey by CareerBuilder.com, 38%  of workers said they have dated a co-worker at least once over the course of their career; 17% reported dating co-workers at least twice. Thirty-one percent said their office romance led them to the altar. The survey used more than 7,000 workers nationwide conducted by Harris Interactive between November 9 and December 5, 2011. Social settings outside of the office were cited most often in regard to workers connecting on a romantic level. Running into each other outside of work (13%), happy hours (12%), lunches (11%) and late nights at work (10%) were among the most popular catalysts for dating co-workers. Most workers who have had office romances said they were open about their dating situation. Thirty-seven percent reported they had to keep the relationship under wraps. “Whether you’re dating someone higher-up or a colleague at the same level, office romances are always tricky,” said Rosemary Haefner, vice president of human resources at CareerBuilder. “First and foremost, it is important to know your company’s office dating policy. Remember to stay professional and draw a boundary line between your personal life and the workplace.”

Dr. John Duffy told The Grindstone:

“I think the factor that most allows for people falling in love with bosses and co-workers (despite many corporation policies) is exposure. We see the people we work with more than anyone else. In many corporate cultures, people work together for many hours a day, often well into the evening. They get to know one another quite intimately, and sometimes become attracted to one another and fall in love. I do think that some workers become enamored with the power their bosses carry, which can make the attraction even greater.

You are also correct that there is a certain like-mindedness, or at the very least some salient interests in common, between people who work together. With all these factors at play, I often think it ridiculous to enact a policy forbidding relationships between co-workers, as it often seems all-but-certain in so many work places!”

Obviously, it is fairly common to fall for a coworker but you should know that the environment can make you susceptible to it. Dr.Tessina, author of The Unofficial Guide to Dating Again, says keep in mind these do’s and don’ts when it comes to navigating office romances:

  • DO remember that you need your job, and act accordingly
  • DON’T get involved with a married co-worker, no matter how much you like each other.
  • DO keep your in-office behavior businesslike — coworkers shouldn’t be able to tell that you’re dating.
  • DON’T share information with your coworkers about your dating situation. You’ll become the subject of office gossip.
  • DO understand that, if the relationship has problems, you may wind up having to change jobs.
  • DON’T suddenly start dressing provocatively at work, it will alert your coworkers that something’s going on.
  • DO remember your e-mails, phone calls, etc. are not private. If you must talk to your in-office inamorata, use your cell phone in a private space, where you can’t be overheard, or talk in code.
  • DON’T allow yourself to be used by someone else in the office to get influence or information, and don’t cuddle up to your boss in hopes of a promotion or raise.


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