Is An Office Romance Ever A Good Idea?
A few months ago it became apparent that two people in my office, let’s call them S and G for the sake of this article (and not AT ALL because it sounds cool and Gossip-Girl-esque), had begun extra-offital relations.
At first it was just a subtle eye-wink or the hint of hands grazing as they passed the milk in the kitchen, but it soon became apparent that this was more than a harmless office flirtation. In fact, in very little time it went from a lingering gaze in the office meeting to kissing in the lobby.
Of course it became the hot topic among employees. It was all we could talk about: who liked who more? Had S really given G a key to his flat? Did they really have ‘full-blown-sex’ at the office party? We couldn’t get enough. We only discussed it in the most disdainful terms obviously; acutely aware that such overtly lovey-dovey behaviour was inappropriate in the office environment.
I have to confess though; I felt jealous, and I don’t think I was alone. I started pondering what it would be like to have my own office affair. It would certainly add a little excitement to the day and it would be great to know where one’s partner was at all times. It eliminated the awkward first string of dates, that phase where you are trying to work each other out: do we have anything in common? Is he a better option than entering middle age alone with a vibrator? On top of this, you would always have someone on hand if you needed to vent about the mornings frustrations and you would never need to explain you weren’t in the mood because work was just ‘SO stressful’ right now because they would already know. Office romance seemed blissful.
Blissful, until we noticed that the lustful gazes had stopped. The joint coffee making (one person holding the cafetiere while the other plunges) seized and it was hard to ignore the tension that hung in the air when they were in the same vicinity. Suddenly, I didn’t feel quite so jealous anymore. I relished being able to choose my seat in a meeting based on being closest to the biscuits and not furthest from my ex-lover and not having to check who was coming before I agreed to post-work drinks.
I began to wonder, was it worth it? Was it worth the rumours, the awkwardness, the heartbreak? Having to come into work every single morning and seeing the subject of last night’s tears? I’m not so sure. You can’t moan to your colleagues about the way your ex treated you because he is there at the next table, and you can’t eat your way through thousands of sugary calories because you need to show your ex (daily!) what he is missing. If they weren’t ignoring each other they were arguing in the corridors, and they both avoided the kitchen like the plague.
Of course, there are examples of office romances that do work, where people meet their future spouse and go on to have a happily ever after. There are also examples of people who manage to have emotion-less sex with a colleague before going peacefully back to their lives. However, for most of us, seeing someone we fancy every day, coupled with the excitement of the initial secrecy (as you steal kisses behind the open fridge door) is a sure fire way to convince yourself you’re falling for someone – and falling for them fast.
Add to this the ‘fishbowl’ aspect – the incessant questions from co-workers, the sideways glances as the two of you cuddle up on your lunch break and the pressure of agreeing on the boundaries of a work-relationship – and before you know it, you and your boyfriend are ‘just trying to have some space from each other’ while sitting three seats away.
Relationships are brilliant but hard work, and do you know what is also hard work? ACTUAL hard work, at work. A work relationship is taking two of the most stressful aspects of your life and combining them – it is a disaster waiting to happen.
Oh, and by the way, the reason that S and G broke up is because S suddenly had a ‘pressing deadline’ that meant he had to stay late with D (another female colleague) and so the lingering gazes and lust-filled laughter began again. And, this time, no one was jealous.