[ Skip Main Nav ]

Phoenix Forward

7 ways to handle a workplace romance

Dealing with dating in the workplace

An office romance doesn’t have to be “love in a hopeless place” like in the pop hit “We Found Love” by Rhianna, but it can be risky, according to Anastasia Metros, PhD, area chair of higher education for the University of Phoenix School of Advanced Studies.

Since your career and employment could be affected by having a relationship with a co-worker, she offers these seven tips for how to proceed with caution before you act on your attraction:

1. Ask yourself the big question.

Metros suggests starting off by asking yourself, “How important is my job, and how important is this romance?” since you could lose your job if the romance causes problems in the office.

“Too many people run into an office romance without considering the positive and potentially negative ramifications,” says Metros, a career and employment expert.

2. Consider telling your boss.

It won’t be an easy conversation, but Metros believes you should be open with your supervisor about starting a romance with a co-worker. Your boss, or someone in human resources, could also lay out the company policy on relationships in the workplace for you if you have any questions.

“In this instance,” she explains, “it’s really not better to start the romance first and then beg forgiveness later.” 

3. Don’t date out of your pay grade.

The most important rule of workplace dating? Don’t date the boss. And if you’re a supervisor, don’t date someone who reports to you, Metros warns.  Those relationships could lead to jealousy and conflict with co-workers who could suspect your raises or promotions are a direct result of your romantic relationship with the boss. 

Your objectivity will be questioned if you’re a supervisor involved with a member of your staff, she says, and dating someone you supervise is a conflict of interest.

4. Make it a private affair.

There shouldn’t be any signs at work that the two of you are in a romantic relationship, Metros says.

“To maintain professionalism,” she adds, “people shouldn’t know that you’re dating or a couple in any way, shape or form.”

5. Don’t let the romance interfere with work.

“You should conduct a romance on your own time and not on company time,” says Metros, who advises not sending love notes or planning weekend getaways from your work email accounts.

6. Don’t be physically affectionate at work.

Public displays of affection have no place in the office, so keep your hands off each other when you’re working. The risk? Someone could complain that the two of you kissing in the cafeteria makes others uncomfortable, Metros says.

7. Be prepared to handle a breakup.

If the relationship doesn’t work out, be sure to treat each other with respect and professionalism — especially since co-workers could be watching for your reaction, and you don’t want to damage your reputation.

“People who knew you were together,” Metros says, “will be scrutinizing everything you do when a breakup occurs.”

Interested in furthering your education?