Meeting another person who shares your passion is enthralling; here is someone who’s devoted to the same vocation as you, someone who also holds your great talents and unique set of skills. Add in physical attraction, natural chemistry, and seeing him or her daily, and this can lead to serious workplace romance. What makes dating in the workplace both common and irresistible is mutual purpose; striving for similar goals is a deep bonding factor. How not to fall in love?
All of the above rang true for Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski, recently engaged hosts of MSNBC’s Morning Joe. It was sharing the same career that lay the bricks of their love over time. Beyond seeing each other every day, Joe and Mika also have solid chemistry. They’re in sync in terms of their intentions and actions, complementary on and off the camera. Both are meticulous and powerful, dynamic and animated—traits that they discovered only by working together. Like many workplace couples, they understand that working together can actually help their relationship: as the anchors noted, they’re forced to settle their disagreements before going on air.
Not all workplace romances are this ideal, and certainly some are more complicated than others. But if you find yourself in a relationship with your coworker, implement these five rules for successful workplace dating:
Separate business and pleasure. Once you enter the doors of your workplace, your partner should become your coworker and nothing more. Pay attention not to act like a couple at work, as this can be distracting and cause your peers to feel uncomfortable. Shut out all relationship matters until the moment you both leave work. Forget the fact that you had a fight that morning, that you can’t wait to sleep together, etc. Don’t bring stress from home into the workplace but also don’t bring stress from the workplace into your home. This requires some discipline, but dissociating these two elements will benefit both your love and your job.
Use your connection to your advantage. You will feel more comfortable around your significant other than other peers, of course. Use the spark that already exists between you to excel in your work duties. You know exactly what your partner is good at or what he or she may have trouble with. Aid each other in projects and tasks, from reminding your partner about a deadline to giving them ideas about a presentation. This doesn’t mean that you’ll perform your partner’s work, but that you should support each other inside the office just as much as you do outside of it.
Be aware of your behavior. Understand that your significant other will be much more attentive to you than to others. Your partner may see you innocently flirting with a peer and become jealous when anyone else wouldn’t notice. Or, your partner may get upset that a coworker is treating you badly, whereas other peers would remain oblivious to the unfair treatment. Heightened sensitivity is one of the obstacle of workplace dating. Observe your actions so as not to create drama that seeps from your job into your relationship.
Don’t volunteer information. Once your relationship becomes serious, you’ll have to be open and honest with your superiors. But as much as your boss will have to know the truth, your peers have to know nothing. Your private life is just that: yours and private. You don’t need to brag to all the ladies around the office that you’re dating handsome Hank, why, or for how long. Don’t make the workplace a gossip hall about your romance; external influences can ravage a perfectly good relationship. Never divulge personal details about your significant other to your coworkers, as it can be both embarrassing and damaging to your partner’s career.
Set up a plan B. As much as you both may be in love today, there’s no telling what tomorrow can bring. You and your partner need to be on the same page in case the relationship ends. You can’t be expected to quit your job just because you broke up! Come to terms on how you would handle a separation if it ever comes to that. If you feel it’s necessary, you can even write up an agreement and sign it to ensure you’ll both stick to your promises.
Workplace dating can be tricky to say the least. But love will find a way, as it often does, and two people who genuinely fit each other should be together no matter their employment. Consider the rules above to fulfill your career, your partner, and your own joy.
To love without limits,
Dr. Carmen Harra
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