Categorized | Workplace

Office Romance: Statistics, Rules and Guidelines

Posted on 19 May 2011

Although the statistics are somewhat murky, many people meet their honey where they make their money. National studies show that between one-third and one-half of all American workers has either had a romantic relationship at work or know someone who has.

Take Mark and Sharon, for example. They found themselves in a friendly post-project conversation over some java. Before long, their conversation turned from idle banter to naughty repartee. Eventually, their lattes weren’t the only things steaming. The following days were filled with sultry stares, ‘accidental’ touches beneath the conference table, sexy e-mails, and steamy phone conversations. By week’s end, Mark and Sharon were considered an item.

A recent Internet poll revealed that only 28 percent of some 30,000 respondents said they would not have a workplace romance. The remaining 72 percent reported being open to romance at work under varying circumstances. Apparently, the 24/7 lounge environment of many workplaces has turned them into the “singles bars” of the new millennium.

We used signals to show affection: a wink here, an extra-wide smile there, but no touching.

How to properly handle an office romanceCurtailing Cupid

If you get the warm fuzzies every time your co-worker walks by, arm yourself with these tips from those who have been there, done that, or seen it all before:

  • Keep it on the down-low or the up-and-up? “Don’t behave in ways that create speculation,” said Capital Management Supervisor Denise Williams, who recently married her workplace paramour. “While we didn’t make a conscious effort to keep it secret, we didn’t advertise it either. It was important that we maintained professional integrity.”
  • Establish ground rules in the beginning. “Once it became clear that we were no longer just having lunch together, we talked about the importance of not meshing our careers with our love lives,” Williams reports. “We were careful about e-mails and phone conversations. We didn’t even visit unnecessarily.” 
  • Don’t date up. “Even with a pristine reputation and excellent performance, when you date a supervisor, it’s difficult to be respected and taken seriously,” says IT Specialist Simon Johnson. “Your success and track record will always be suspect.” 
  • Check out the corporate climate. Workplace romances “often happen in younger workplaces like IT shops and customer service call centers. They’re just more relaxed,” according to logistics coordinator Maureen Carney. “It might work in that environment, but just know that your professional reputation follows you as you climb the ladder.”
  • No public displays of affection. “We used signals to show affection,” recalls Williams. “A wink here, and extra wide smile there, but no touching. Except for the occasional quick peck on the cheek on the elevator.” 
  • Don’t let emotions cloud your judgment. “Even if we’re raging like angry bulls, we always remained cordial and professional at work; save the drama for home,” Williams advises.


Mark and Sharon’s tryst might sound like a scene from a trendy sitcom likeSpin City, Just Shoot Me, or Ally McBeal. But it’s not. The two are a real couple who began their relationship at work five years ago. Apparently, art really does imitate life.


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