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In the 1980s, Pat Benatar banged out the lyrics, “Love is a Battlefield,” and if you don’t proceed with caution, that’s exactly how an office romance can turn out.


Although workplace relationships can create some sticky personal and professional situations, employers can’t stop them and employees can’t seem to avoid them. When you put women and men with similar interests and careers in the same environment for at least 40 hours a week, it’s impossible to contain the romance fires. A recent study put the number of working adults who have dabbled in dating a co-worker at 30 percent.


Banning office interludes is next to impossible, so employers have to rely on employees handling the relationships in an appropriate manner. More often than not, that’s easier said than done. But as anti-nepotism rules in the workplace have gone the way of the dinosaur, companies are embracing policies that are more family friendly. Southwest Airlines is one example, boasting more than 1,000 married couples within its ranks, according to Inc.com.


So, if you have your eye on a man at work, here are some common sense suggestions to follow when mixing business with pleasure:


► Shakespeare wrote in King Henry IV that, “discretion is the better part of valor.” It’s wise to follow any phrase that promotes caution as the smartest policy, especially when it comes to relationships. If you’re attracted to a male coworker, go slowly and be discreet about it. Don’t advertise your intentions and motivations to everyone in the office. Don’t constantly hang around at his desk or in his office. Instead, try going out to lunch together, a drink after work or communication through email, which has become the vehicle that drives office romances. Since most companies have access and legal rights to monitor employee email, use it wisely and keep your comments above the belt. 


► So, you’ve met a man at work and have hit it off. What now? Well, first of all, no one wants to see you making out in break room, so put your hormones in check. After some time, it may be OK if co-workers know that you’re going out, but you should still maintain some discretion. Both you and your new male friend should be acutely aware of the potential pitfalls if things don’t work out. If you have any suspicions that a breakup will result in an uncomfortable and unprofessional situation, look elsewhere for a potential date or boyfriend.


► If it’s your boss or a superior you fancy, then that’s all the more reason to be cautious. When work status is unequal between a couple, the manager can be in the unenviable position of demanding certain things or being privy to information that he or she can not share. If your boss is also your lover, the conflict of interest can certainly foster resentment and accusations of favoritism among other employees, resulting in a sticky situation.


► There are certainly positives to working with a man you’re dating, among them the companionship and development of a healthy relationship could bring you closer together. However, the constant contact can also work is the opposite direction, fostering friction and resentment. Some women – and men – just aren’t cut out to be with their significant other all day, every day. Jealousy can also rear its ugly head. It’s necessary to have contact with other employees throughout the workday, and simple communication may end up being misconstrued as flirting, or worse. 


Like any good relationship, communication is the key. And it requires an extra effort if you’re going to be dating someone at work. Outline all the ground rules, remain professional, discuss potential pitfalls and before diving into any relationship, make sure both parties can balance the tricky aspects of career and the office romance.


Teena Rose is a columnist, public speaker, and certified/published resume writer with Resume to Referral. She’s authored several books, including, How to Design, Write, and Compile a Quality Brag Book, 20-Minute Cover Letter Fixer, and Cracking the Code to Pharmaceutical Sales.



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