Saturday, April 25, 2009
Surviving an Office Romance
“Propinquity may lead you into temptation.” The definition of “propinquity” is to be close to someone—in proximity—and what better place is there for this to occur than in an office environment? Work can, at times, call for intimate collaboration between coworkers as proposals approach midnight deadlines, presentations are outlined through tense and excitable conditions and projects are coordinated under secrecy and intrigue. We’ve all been there. Many times it’s only a matter of inches that separates a professional association from an outpouring of passion, (…or a slap in the face.) Most of the time one acts with restraint and professionalism, but sometimes rationality decides to break for lunch and, for better or worse, a romance is born.
While an office romance may seem exciting and adventurous, the thing you should be thinking of most is how this new relationship will affect your co-workers. If you relationship has advanced to the stage of PDAs (public displays of affection), it may be worth your while to know that others may find this practice annoying, if not disruptive and vulgar. Beyond the simple envy, jealousy and nausea your relationship may elicit, there are other degrees of fallout to your burgeoning office affair. While shrouded in the fog of love and lust, you may not realize it, but others may see your relationship as a shifting of the office’s political landscape with new blocks and alliances taking shape necessitating new avenues for diplomacy and maneuvering. If your adventure leads you into the arms of a “higher up,” the anxieties of your coworkers may be compounded and find expression in neuroses, paranoia and panic. At the time, you may be oblivious to these collective fears, but if you try to put yourself in the shoes of one of your team members—empathize—you’ll understand that their consternation is not without merit.
Here’s a basic way to look at things, if you find yourself in the middle of an office romance ask yourself this question: which is more important to you, your job or the relationship? If you decide that your job is more important than the relationship, then think about removing yourself from this lustful dalliance as quickly as possible. (Ideally, you should have avoided this situation at the start, and hopefully it’s not too late to avoid substantial harm.) In truth, this admission reveals the fundamental weakness of any hope for a long-term relationship, and rather than inflict pain and suffering on your immediate love interest (as well as your team), make the more mature decision and try to find external, outside-of-work outlets to satisfy your sexual energies. If you decide that your romantic relationship is more important than your job, then a different set of variables lies before you. If your instincts are reliable and you know a good thing when you see it, for your own sake and that of others, avoid the mistake many have made by attempting to grow the relationship “in-house” and work out between the two of you who is better positioned to leave the company and who has more advantages in staying. This is what may be considered a rational, adult conversation, and it takes into consideration the thoughts and realities of being romantically involved in a tight-knit work community. This may serve the interests of your coworkers and team, but it may come to benefit your own interests as well. In some ways, work can create undue pressures and strain on a relationship. The healthier option is often to keep home life and work life separate.
Whatever your situation, remember to tread carefully when the potential for an office romance introduces itself. While it is easy to forget what the repercussions may be, keeping a cool head will serve you in the long run. We all look for and desire that special someone to spend time with …to grow with and share important times of our lives. This is a universal truth. But there is a time and a place for everything, and you must ask yourself if the disruption imposed by an office romance is worth the trouble it may create for you and those you work with.
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