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Relationships at Work – the Good, the Bad & the Ugly

Posted Jul 22 2008 8:23pm

Okay, my plan was to write an article weighing the pros and cons of dating a colleague – a co-worker. Well, politicians have managed to take this issue to an unprecedented level! No, I’m not talking about Eliot Spitzer. I am talking about Spitzer’s successor, David Patterson, and the mayor ofDetroit,Michigan– Kwame Kilpatrick. What in the heck is going on?!

Patterson and his wife have admitted to having affairs during “a rocky time in our marriage.” After Patterson was sworn in, he revealed (“to quiet rumors”) that for the most part, this marriage’s road is strewn with boulders – not rocks. It is reported Patterson has had numerous affairs during his marriage and two of these affairs were with women who worked with him. Then there’s Kwame; he along with his former Chief of Staff, Christine Beatty, surrendered to authorities today on felony charges of lying under oath, among other charges. These shenanigans caused me to do some serious thinking about workplace relationships.

Frankly, I was surprised to discover that research shows that four out of every 10 people meet their spouse or partner at work. I guess this is understandable since people tend to spend more time at work than anywhere else but home. But shouldn’t we draw the line when at least one of the lovebirds is married? Research showed that in most companies there is a stringent rule; written or unwritten that dating your boss is a big no-no. Based on the recent news of the aforementioned elected officials, the new stringent rule should be “Don’t date folk who are married to someone else. Regardless of where you meet them – at work, the health club or the nightclub – stay away from married folk!”

The Pros of Office Romance

The workplace is a whole lot less artificial than a bar or online dating and a person’s work ethic says a lot about their character. Most people don’t take a job expecting to meet a partner – it just happens. So, this means that prior to the workplace relationship, both parties usually get a chance to see the true character of the individual which probably explains why workplace romances are so prevalent. Also, people tend to be attracted to people they spend a lot of time with and the workplace is in itself, a social setting. All of this means that the person you meet at work and start to date is pretty much the true deal; they aren’t play acting.

Side note:I tend to believe that due to the nature of the workplace (pictures of family on desks, etc.), people are aware of who is married. So this means that most people know going in they are beginning an affair with a married person.

The Cons of Office Romance

If the relationship does not work out or one person becomes the other person’s boss, let’s just say a Fourth of July fireworks display has nothing on what could occur if the relationship does not end well. If the relationship ends in an amicable fashion, there probably won’t be a problem. However, we know from experience that most relationships end in a less than amicable fashion. This fact makes working with an ex-lover quite difficult and uncomfortable for both parties and those who work with them. One’s professional reputation may suffer as well. Office romances are not secrets; you’d be surprised by how the news spreads like wildfire. If one of the partners is unscrupulous or vindictive, very personal and embarrassing details of the relationship could emerge to the detriment of someone’s career.

Workplace romance is risky business and it seems to get even riskier if the romance has political connotations!

About Carmin Wharton

Carmin Wharton is a relationship coach, professional speaker, entrepreneur, and the author ofLessons Learned: While Looking for Love in All the Wrong Faces; a book which focuses on the pitfalls many women encounter while seeking a loving romantic relationship. Carmin uses personal, gritty, and sometimes heart-wrenching accounts of her relationships with men to show that each relationship teaches us a valuable life lesson. Each failed relationship, no matter how badly it ended, leaves us with a gift. She asserts that everything that we need to know about anything is found in God’s Word – the Bible; applicable scripture, the ‘Lesson In-Depth’ and the relationship’s ‘Gift’ is included at the end of every chapter. She is also the Founder; an online networking community for women of color.

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