5 Reasons to Avoid an Office Romance

Why You Shouldn't Look for Love at Work

Two colleagues flirting in office
••• John Cumming / Digital Vision / Getty Images

Many relationship experts suggest looking for potential partners at work, but that can be the worst place to find a significant other. Office romances can threaten your job and ruin your career. While a coworker may meet several of your criteria for a perfect mate—similar interests, proximity, and compatible work schedules—there are several reasons to avoid getting involved with someone who shares the same workplace. Before you embark on an office romance and fall head over heels for a coworker or, even worse, your boss, here are some reasons to be wary.

Love Can Be Distracting

That "head in the clouds" feeling you get when you begin to fall in love can be very distracting. Now, imagine not only daydreaming about the object of your affection while you are at work but also seeing him or her throughout the day. It may sound really cool, but if you find yourself gazing across the office at your sweetheart instead of tending to your job responsibilities, your boss will likely have a problem with it.

You Won't Be Able to See Your Partner's Flaws, Even If You Need To

It is not unusual, or even necessarily a bad thing, that you neglect to see all the little the flaws in a romantic partner, especially when a relationship is just beginning. Even as it progresses, you may see your significant other through proverbial rose-colored glasses.

Your inability to notice your partner's imperfections may keep your romance alive, but it can be harmful if your partner is also your subordinate. As a boss, you are responsible for making sure those you supervise—including those with whom you are romantically involved—are performing well. Your feelings may keep you from recognizing any problems or acknowledging any you do see. It may be difficult to give criticism if you think it could damage your relationship. If you are the subordinate instead of the boss, imagine being on the receiving end of negative feedback about your work from your romantic partner.

Fights Will Follow You to Work

Every couple has spats from time to time. It happens. You know how they say "never go to bed angry?" You could similarly say "never go to work angry." While it's a sweet sentiment, it may not be very practical. You can't turn anger on and off like a light switch. 

You may, on occasion, go to bed or work angry at your partner. If you spend your day apart, that may not be a tremendous problem, and it may actually be helpful. Your bad feelings may blow over by the time you meet up at the end of the day. However, if you share a workplace, you may find yourself feeling pretty uncomfortable every time you see your significant other.

Your Coworkers Will Be Up In Your Business

Your coworkers—and your boss—will have front row seats to your relationship. They will know when you argue and when you can't stop staring dreamily at one another. From their point of view, watching your relationship play out on a daily basis, not to mention the awkwardness of a possible breakup, could make everyone uncomfortable. Some coworkers who have bad intentions could even use your romance against both of you. You don't want to become the subject of workplace gossip.

It Will Be Harder to End a Relationship If You Work Together

Not every relationship is meant to last forever. Unfortunately, in many instances, one partner recognizes that before the other. Under normal circumstances, you know it will be awkward if you run into your ex when you're out and about. If you work together, you are guaranteed to see each other every day. To avoid ruining your work relationship, you may end up staying in an office romance longer than you would if you were just dating someone with whom you didn't work.

Breaking Up is Hard to Do

While it's wrong to stay in a bad romantic relationship, your fears that ending it will damage your working relationship are not unfounded. Breakups are challenging under most circumstances, but when you have to see your ex at work every day, it can be grueling. That is even true if both of you handle things in the best way possible. If things were to get too uncomfortable, you might be forced to look for a new job.

What to Do If You Can't Deny Your Feelings

Sometimes love just happens, even when you aren't looking for it. If your feelings for a coworker are so intense that you can't bring yourself to heed these warnings, there are steps you can take that might protect both yours and your partner's careers from ending up in ruins. Read Five Rules for Surviving an Office Romance to learn more.