If you’re looking for love then meeting your Mr Potential at work is one of the top three ways singles hook-up. The other two are meeting through friends and online dating.
Whichever way you meet, there are always potential difficulties to negotiate. For example, sometimes friends set you up with someone you can't stand and you're stuck having to be nice to them because you might bump into them again socially. And there's always the danger when meeting someone online that they'll turn out to be nothing like their dating profile.
Meeting someone in the workplace has its own set of obstacles. At first it’s thrilling, exchanging glances over your desks and lingering in the staff canteen hoping to bump into each other. But it’s crucial to get clued-up and face the realities of these romances.
Here are 10 top tips for a stress-free office romance:
1) Sounds a bit ‘Big Brother-ish’ but check your company’s policy on relationships between colleagues. Some bigger companies, especially internationals, forbid them. It might seem unreasonable, but you don’t want to break your contract any more than you want to get a broken heart.
2) Even a decade ago it was easy to have a bit of banter and flirt at work. With sexual harassment laws now in place, be very aware of the difference between a little banter and ratcheting it up to full-on flirting. Remember, those laws are there for your own protection, so it's best to heed them.
Some people feel awkward seeing flirting going on in the workplace, so discretion is crucial. You can signal your interest to that Mr Potential with lots of flirting when others aren’t in earshot.
3) Let’s say you two have got it together and are now dating. While some will be happy for you, other colleagues won’t want their noses rubbed in it. You might want to show how loved-up you are, but keeping it low-key at work is better all round.
4) Being professional involves more than you two simply leaving the flirting and loved-up vibe at the office door. It also means taking care not to show favouritism to each other. Or overcompensating by going out of your way not to help each other. As a rule of thumb, use how you treated each other before you started dating, to guide your behaviour now.
5) An excellent way to keep some professional distance is to keep liaising with other workmates about day-to-day decisions and issues at work. One thing people have confided in me, is they ended up using their new partner as a sounding board for everything to do with work. That doesn’t give you the full array of views available around your office.
6) It feels exciting now, but it’s far too easy to bring your work home with you when you work in the same office. Discuss setting boundaries on how much you talk about work - outside of work - to prevent any ‘boardroom-boredom’.
7) It might be a red hot fantasy sleeping with your manager, but when it comes to the real world of work, set ground rules if one of you has seniority. For instance, if you have less seniority you can’t expect them to give you a leg-up just because you’re getting your ‘leg over’ at the weekend together.
That would damage his position and undermine your own worth in the workplace.
8) Speaking of fantasies, many have exciting ones about getting frisky in the finance office or sexy in the stationery cupboard. And in my sex-tips articles I often recommend racy work-based fantasies for fun sex-chat. But the reality is, you need to keep it as a fantasy - you could face disciplinary action if caught in compromising circumstances at work. And it oculd seriously harm your career if you did.
9) Who doesn’t love having an office-gossip? Especially about colleagues’ love lives and your own? One study found nearly 80 per cent of office gossip was based on who was flirting with each other, who fancied a colleague, etc.
It is one thing to share with workmates that you’re seeing Andy from accounts, but quite another to give intimate details. After all, he deserves privacy and you wouldn’t want him sharing gory details about your sex techniques with everyone in his department.
10) In Fifty Shades of Grey, Ana was swept off her feet by Christian in a workplace interview. But their relationship was far from plain sailing and emotions got tied up in knots… as well as other things!
It can be really tough if things start going downhill with your relationship. In this case, you both must agree to keep personal difficulties out of the office. You might feel you can't wait until you clock out to tackle your differences, but if your personal life starts getting caught up in your work or, even worse, if you start being petty at work in order to teach your other half a lesson, it’ll reflect very badly on you.
Dr Pam is also online at www.drpam.co.uk.
Have you successfully negotiated an office romance? Let us know in the comments!