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With American workers spending more hours than they used to at the office, there is less time to get out and socialize. Plus, many people are getting married later in life, so it should not come as a surprise that more coworkers are falling in love on the job.
Another reason for the proliferation of office romances is the fact that women now make up nearly half of the workforce, which has leveled the dating playing field. Furthermore, your office is staffed by people with whom you are already compatible by virtue of your going into the same line of work. You share many of the same interests, are likely in the same age bracket, and are motivated by similar goals and dreams.
Written and unwritten policies on employee romance vary from firm to firm; it's your responsibility to find out what they are. Although both you and the object of your affections may be willing participants in the relationship, remember that there still may be repercussions. Disciplinary actions for on-the-job dating could include one of you being asked to resign from the firm.
If you decide to follow your heart, keep in mind the following few pointers before becoming romantically involved with a coworker:
Discretion is the better part of valor. Play the movie to the end and consider what the consequences will be if the relationship doesn't work out. Only you know whether you will be able to handle the emotional and professional pressure of seeing this coworker every day if your romance fizzles. Also, is this a person who will bad-mouth you around the office if things sour?
Face reality. Consider how this person presents himself or herself at work. Are you seeing what you want to see, or do you really like and trust him or her?
Do your homework. Ask human resources if your firm has a stated policy about colleagues dating.
Use wisdom when making the first contact. Skip the email. Make a discreet phone call to suggest a cup of coffee or a drink after work. If the answer is "no," take it in stride. If the answer is "yes," then meet after hours far away from the office.
Breaking news. Before deciding to share your newfound joy with coworkers, wait a little while to see if your relationship has legs or if the two of you drift apart after the first few dates.
No PDAs, please. Save public displays of affection for your off-hours; they are inappropriate in the office and can make your coworkers feel uncomfortable.
Stay offline. Don't send romantic or sexually explicit emails. Your personal messages can potentially be read by anyone once you click the "send" button.
Fight fair. Don't bring your arguments to work; there are enough conflicts among coworkers as it is.
Don't compromise your work ethic. Continue to do your job efficiently. If your personal life begins to affect your work, you may be asked to choose between your career and your companion.
Don't play favorites. Be a team player and willingly work with everyone. You don't want to appear to be favoring your sweetheart.
Don't kiss and tell. No matter how friendly and supportive your coworkers seem to be, secrets seldom remain confidential. Don't say or do anything that you don't want your entire firm to know about.
Be prepared to resign. If your relationship does work out and the two of you decide to tie the knot, one of you should be prepared to look for another job.
Keep smiling. If things don't work out and you have to go on seeing each other at work, avoid drama, be polite, and don't succumb to the urge to take revenge.
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