Caught in A Bad Romance: Why Office Dating Is A Deal Breaker

1333910840316_2911114I don’t know much about love. Really, who does? It’s a bit of trial and error and a lot of compromise, from what I do know. I’m thinking of those couples you see as you’re scrolling through your News Feed, “married 70 years” and all of their advice is typically the same – it’s going to suck but most of the time, not so much so they decide it’s worth sticking around.

While I may not know much about love, I’ve read plenty about it. Not typically the stories about how love is hard but the really romantic, can’t get enough of each other type love.

I’d imagine that’s the case for most; sad doesn’t sell. That’s why Nicholas Sparks does so well.

Now, don’t judge me, but I loved Nicholas Sparks’ books when I was in high school. How could you not, really? Between the beaches and the drama, I likely would have driven myself to a North Carolina beach to fall in love with a rugged man if I had a license…. or any interest in men. I’m confident anyone who knows me is chuckling at this point considering the idea of me being with a man of any stature, but I digress.

The whole reason I (and every other Sparks fan) loved those books is because he does such a great job of telling their whole story. You really get to know the characters and then, once they meet, it’s magical.

The Myth of the Meet Cute

meet-cuteI use the word ‘magical,’ because as a culture, when it comes to romance, we have a great attachment to the significance of meetings. I just read an article in the New York Times on how people write about love.

The official Modern Love Editor (yeah, that’s a real job, apparently), Daniel Jones delivered a really well written, first hand view on how a love story shifts based on perspective; someone that’s old or young, a man or a woman.

He also brought up the details – the first meeting in particular – and posed the question: “What do we consider a good meeting story?” 

Jones responds, perfectly in my opinion, saying that a good meeting story is “when it involves chance more than effort. You get bonus points if the chance encounter suggests compatibility, like mistakenly wheeling off with each other’s shopping carts at Whole Foods because your items had so much overlap, you got the carts mixed up.”

And let’s face it. The meeting story matters. It’s the first question out of anyone’s mouth when you mention a new person you’re seeing –“sooooo (they drag out the o every time they ask), how did you meet?

You want your friends to think this person is the best human ever and this story is your first chance to make your friends jealous. So they embellish.

I even know people who have lied about how they met because they didn’t think people would approve of the relationship if they knew the real story. In this specific instance, their magical moment was on CraigsList and, being the moderately judgy person that I am, I’d say I understand the lie.

It’s a little weird to meet in a digital landscape where it’s 100% acceptable to respond to a desk for sale with a dick pic. As your friend, I’m not thinking about how great your new boyfriend/girlfriend is but rather wondering why you were both looking for love in such a clearly wrong place.

Or, another wrong place, the office.

The Office Romance Taboo: Don’t Shit Where You Eat?

Wwq74coffice-sex-dating-hr-policy-workplace-ecards-someecardsI get it. Meeting people is hard, particularly when you have a full time gig. And when you pile together a bunch of people with mutual interests together in the same place for 40+ hours a week, office romances are pretty much an inevitability. All it takes is a happy hour, a Christmas Party or any time booze and coworkers mix, and  – voila!

Bad decisions are bound to happen (occasionally, they turn out to be good ones, but that’s the exception to the rule).

You can always blame the booze, but c’mon – we all know that you committed what’s kind of the cardinal sin of the workplace. So, if you’re looking at the employee directory like some sort of proprietary Tindr, then ask yourself:

What in the hell makes you think that hooking up with a coworker is a good idea?

Don’t say TV. From Sam and Diane on Cheers to Olivia Pope and the POTUS on Scandal, to, well, the entire Grey’s Anatomy casts, there’s no doubt that office romance makes for good television. Now, call me crazy, but what makes for compelling primetime programming doesn’t normally translate into solid life choices.

You’re not going to start selling meth out of a van or join a biker gang anytime soon, for instance – that’s obviously escapist fantasy. Not so with romance, which, I can almost guarantee, won’t have the happy ending that it does in Shondaland.

No matter what I say, you probably already know that love and the workplace don’t mix, but according to a recently released CareerBuilder study, just in time for Valentine’s Day, that doesn’t seem to be stopping you. In fact, 37% of respondents report having previously dated a co-worker, and 30% of those romances have reportedly led to marriage.

If you think this sounds sweet, you’re dead wrong.

Think about it. This statistic also means that fully 70% of interoffice relationships fizzled, and probably created a ton of drama and a ton of awkwardness at the office for both the couple and their coworkers. I’m not sure what’s worse – having to see your ex every day or having to deal with the drama involved in decoupling coworkers.

 

Wait, I know what’s worse: people who date the boss. The CareerBuilder study showed that of those who had an office romance, 25% did so with someone who’s superior to them, including their own managers. That’s against the rules at most businesses for a reason – because it kind of breaks every ground rule out there, both personally and professionally.

 

C’mon, people. Let’s use some common sense and look at the dangers of workplace dating. There’s no OSHA poster covering this stuff, but there really are some simple rules that everyone should follow to protect both their emotional and career wellbeing.

 

A Few Simple Rules for Dating At The Office

f31a41115ad9f761ebfdf0cafd5529e7f4cae0da4b823d34c3bbcab9cc439589If I’m completely honest, the most obvious rule for office romance would be: don’t do it. Ever. But, obviously, some people just can’t help themselves – mostly people with a pretty low standard for romance, if their magic moments can be found in the confines of a cubicle or between trips to the break room.

When I say they can’t help themselves, I mean they REALLY can’t restrain their romantic inclinations – CareerBuilder found nearly 1 in 5 workers (19%) who have had an office romance have had an affair with a coworker where at least one person involved was married at the time. Colleagues should never be cuckolds, so let’s add that to the list: don’t date married people.

Of course, that’s a rule in life, just not at work. Unless, you know, you’re a terrible person.

 

Of course, it’s hard to set concrete rules and regulations involving office dating when everyone pretty much already knows it’s a bad idea to begin with, and there’s no stopping some people from shitting where they eat, so to speak. So rather than provide a list of what not to do, I started to think instead about who at the office is truly undateable.

 

5 Douchebags You Should Never, Ever Date at the Office

Using the CareerBuilder study, I decided to come up with a list of deal breakers for dating at the office. If you’re going to do it, then there’s no stopping you, but at least you can be a little choosy about which coworker you choose. If you’re feeling alone this Valentine’s Day and decide to cast aside any semblance of sanity and look for love at the office, make sure to avoid these co-workers to minimize the inevitable awkwardness that’s going to come when you get broken up with during a lunch break (or worse, via work e-mail or at your desk).

Here are the 5 types of douche canoes you should never, ever date at the office.

 

1. Undateable Douchebag #1: “That Guy.”

They show up just often enough that you know they work there, but not regularly enough to convince you they do anything important.

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2. Undateable Douchebag #2: “The Heartbreaker.”

This type of co-worker, who’s almost always (with some exceptions) a guy, who prides himself on his conquests with coworkers – and has already taken home half the call center, most of the corporate comm team and every temp receptionist ever (and loves talking about it, too). Worse, this Casanova of colleagues has bagged the biggest prize of all…your boss. And she still hasn’t gotten over him.

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Undateable Douchebag #3: “The Quickie.”

This is the co-worker whose schedule is completely opposite yours – you’re there mornings, he’s there nights and weekends, meaning you’ll never see them – and have to make the most of that limited time. Of course, a few weeks of this almost always leads to the kind of jealous rage over not ever seeing each other that causes the most acrimonious breakups.

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Undateable Douchebag #4: “The Compensation Casanova.”

This co-worker is constantly broke, living paycheck to paycheck (and happy to tell everyone about how underpaid they are and how the company is screwing them over comp). He or she earns less money than you do, and see your bigger paycheck as a way to get someone else to treat them or pick up the tab – or, in some cases, advance their careers.

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Undateable Douchebag #5: ANYONE YOU WORK WITH

Not to beat a dead horse, but let me drive home the primary point of this post one more time. If you work with someone, you can’t date them. It’s stupid to even think about trying, or that you’re going to somehow be the exception to the 70% of office romances that don’t work out. The odds aren’t in your favor.

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Please note: failure to follow the advice listed in this column will lead to awkward workplace interactions, really weirded out co-workers and a reason to hate going into the office even more than you probably already do. Remember: there’s no walk of shame worse than the one on your way to work, and abstinence really is the only guaranteed form of protection. Hey, don’t say we didn’t warn you.

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RecruitingDaily contributing writer and editor.  I am a storyteller. A tactical problem solver. A curious mind. A data nerd. With that unique filter, I work to craft messages that strategically improve the perceptions and experiences of our clients, the people they employ and the candidates they wish to attract. I methodically review and collect research and insights to offer solution-based recommendations that meet the one-off, and not so one-off, recruiting and employer branding problems of today’s global employers.




mm

RecruitingDaily contributing writer and editor.  I am a storyteller. A tactical problem solver. A curious mind. A data nerd. With that unique filter, I work to craft messages that strategically improve the perceptions and experiences of our clients, the people they employ and the candidates they wish to attract. I methodically review and collect research and insights to offer solution-based recommendations that meet the one-off, and not so one-off, recruiting and employer branding problems of today’s global employers.

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