Editor’s Note: Today’s guest post comes from career blogger Al Turner, the managing editor of Campuses to Careers.
So, you’ve fallen for the guy or gal in the next cubicle over and you’re not sure how to proceed. Well, human resources managers see office romances bloom (and go bust) more times than they can count.
At the beginning of your new inter-office relationship, you may be too blinded by infatuation to see the pitfalls. Before committing yourself to a new relationship and blurring the lines between your personal and professional lives, consider these possible problems and what actions you’ll take to avoid a major career road block.
Peril 1: He’s Always There
At the beginning of your relationship, you probably won’t mind that your new beau is everywhere. You’ll see him or her every morning at work and then most evenings after work. However, we all know that there can always be too much of a good thing. You may find that a few months into the relationship, your love sickness has turned to you being sick of your new love.
How to deal: Just like with work, you sometimes need a vacation from your relationship. Talk to your partner and agree on times when you can pursue your own hobbies or spend time away with family and friends. Remember that your partner needing some time alone does not mean that he or she doesn’t care about you. Time apart can actually be healthy for your relationship. After all, how can you miss someone who never leaves?
Peril 2: Workplace Bias
Say you’re working on a group project with your partner. What will you do when he or she offers up some not-so-good ideas for an important presentation? Because of your outside relationship, you may not feel like you can be completely honest with your partner the way you would with another colleague. These feelings can affect your judgement and the quality of your work, and other colleagues and your boss will be sure to notice.
How to deal: Make an agreement with your partner to be just colleagues while at work. This means that while you will still approach your partner in a respectful manner, you will give your honest opinion about their work. There will always be times when your outside relationship complicates your work relationship, so try not to take things personally if your partner disagrees with you while on the job.
Peril 3: Bringing Relationship Drama to Work
Even the best employees can let their personal issues affect their work. What do you do if the cause of stress in your personal life is also sitting right next to you at your job? All couples fight, and one of the greatest perils of dating a co-worker is that the drama from your personal relationship can spill over into your work relationship. Whether you’re giving each other the silent treatment or getting into a screaming match, your boss and colleagues will have a front-row seat. Whenever you bring your relationship drama to work, your reputation and even your career can be put at risk.
How to deal: No matter how bad the fight with your partner is, make a deal with him or her that your personal issues always stay at home. It may be hard to put hurt feelings aside, but it’s something that you have to do while at work. If you find your partner is being passive-aggressive or trying to discuss personal problems while you’re working, take him or her outside of the office building to talk about it during a break. Confronting your partner while still within earshot of others is never a good idea, especially if you think it could get particularly nasty.
Peril 4: Post-Break Up Awkwardness
Not every relationship leads to happily ever after. You may find that after your office romance fizzles out, only awkwardness remains. The hard feelings that sometimes accompany a break up can last for a long time. When these feelings are directed at a colleague, it can make it hard for both of you to do your jobs to the best of your abilities.
How to deal: Every time you enter into a relationship with someone at work, you have to prepare yourself for the possibility of a break up. Talk to your partner while you two are still together and lay some ground rules in case the relationship ends. For example, you could make it a rule that you don’t talk to colleagues about the relationship or its demise.
Deciding to get into a relationship with a co-worker can have its pitfalls, but it can also have its benefits. Your co-worker turned boyfriend or girlfriend will have a deeper understanding of your life because they know what goes on during your nine to five. By preparing yourself for common office romance perils, you’ll be able to have a more fulfilling relationship and, if it happens, a less messy break up.
Al Turner is a professional writer and career blogger. He is also the managing editor of Campuses to Careers, a college and career blog that helps young people make informed decisions about their future and find the best college and career opportunities for them.
Image courtesy of Lorchaos.