With 38% of workers saying they have dated a co-worker at least once over the course of their career and 17% reporting they dated co-workers at least twice, there are inevitable going to be some relationships that don’t go well. But even though the relationship is over, guess what isn’t? Your job. You still have to show up everyday and work with this person. “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. We talked to some people who had to work with their ex everyday.
Joan Martin is the founder of fanaxcess.com. It seemed she and her ex girlfriend could not escape eachother throughout their career.
“I met my ex-partner, Suzanne, when we both worked at Merrill Lynch in the late 80′s in San Francisco. I was a stockbroker and she was in a management training program. She was interested in the music business and in particular, Roberta Flack. She campaigned to work for Roberta and got a position on her management team in NYC. Then I was asked to come work for Roberta as a Business Manager. I accepted and did that work for 12 years. All the while, Suzanne (my partner) and I lived, worked and traveled together. We broke up after 12 years right before both attending Columbia Business School for our MBAs and had a couple of tough years but after graduation I took a position with a Sony subsidiary in San Francisco. The company was looking for a director of Sales and I knew Suzanne was perfect for the position. I was the CFO/COO. We both worked there for about a year. Then we bought into a fertility clinic and worked to build (doubled) that business for three and a half years. Then once again two years ago, Suzanne started an musician management company and asked me to join. I did and just a month ago we started a software company (FanAxcess.com.) Overall, we have a great blend of financial/operations/strategy (me) and sales/marketing/execution (Suzanne) skills. Additionally, we know and respect each other greatly!”
Aimee Elizabeth, author of Poverty Sucks! How to Become a Self-Made Millionaire told The Grindstone:
“My ex and I have been working together all through our marriage and our divorce. We work together on investment property – a fancy way of saying we are landlords. He handles the maintenance, I handle the management – we both play to our strengths. And because real estate is in the toilet, we cannot afford to sell off the real estate in this down market.
But for now, it works great. We were fair to each other in the divorce, we are best of friends. We actually get along better working together as friends than we ever did as husband and wife. Now that we are no longer married, and we are friends only, there is nothing marriage related to fight about. Just a happy business relationship and friendship.”
Dr. Tina Tessina told The Grindstone:
“The reason so many people date in the workplace, even though it’s often disastrous, is that it’s easy. You get to know someone well by working alongside them, observing them interacting with others, seeing them under stress. A lot of these relationships do work, and it’s actually a good way to meet someone — it’s just that the consequences of a poor choice are so big.”
Though the relationships above have worked out pretty well for the most part, Joan and her ex-partner even recommend eachother for jobs, this is definitely not always the case. Emily Yount, an editor, told The Grindstone:
“I have found that it is better to never date within your office, but if you do and it goes south, the best thing to do is pray you work in a big office. There is nothing worse than working in a small 5-15 person office and seeing that person on a daily basis. Look for a new job and scout the bars or dating sites for potential dating partners…not the break room.”
But if you do decide to pursue an office romance, keep these rules in mind from Dr. Tessina:
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.