Our readers frequently send us questions about office romance. Yesterday we debunked some of the myths of office romance. Today, we share our thoughts on the dangers of office romance and analyzing the potential damage to your career and personal brand. If you have your dream job and want to keep it that way, we offer these 8 considerations for your office tryst and your career.

  1. Abstain

Avoid the temptation to get involved with an office colleague in any branch or division of the organization. Keep in mind that you may be transferred. Or end up supervising your paramour in a different department.

  1. Sticky Situation

Just remember workplace romances can be extremely complicated. Flush out your motivations, why you have these feelings, and assess the best way forward. Sift through potential relationship outcomes. What is going to be best for both of you, and your company, moving forward?

  1. Follow Rules and Guidelines

If the organization has set policies for office romance, discuss and disclose your relationship accordingly. Follow the organization’s workplace touching policy. For example, if she goes in for a public smooch in front of colleagues, and he feels this is inappropriate, you may have a problem.

  1. Plan for the Worst in the Beginning

By considering every potential outcome, you can decide if the complications of an office tryst are worth the damage. Do this realistic analysis and have the conversation with your potential office romance. Their response to your reality may surprise you. Although this may seem negative and terrifying, consider the risk you considering. Discuss possible break up scenarios, transfer requests, other employers, who is most likely to obtain new employment, how colleagues will be impacted, what policies you need to read and follow. Avoid surprise.

  1. Avoid Favoritism

If you engage in an office relationship, your peers will be uncomfortable. Favoritism damages colleagues, supervisors and may result in legal action. When you’re at work, try to be professional, avoid lingering looks and touches, and remember PDA doesn’t go unnoticed.

  1. Consider Social Media

Be aware that Research examining the ethical implications from workplace romances that turn into sexual harassment claims found that the inappropriate use of social media has an impact. Carefully consider the impact that social media will have as your conduct may be captured both inside and outside the office.

  1. Transfer

If you fall in love, think seriously about transferring to a different department or joining another organization. Avoid damage to your career, relationships, mentor, colleagues and personal brand.

  1. When it’s All Said and Done

Be sure to consider what may happen at the end of an office romance. The perspective will be vastly different as research has shown terminated relationships are associated with sexual harassment suits, altered judgement and emotions regarding the relationship. Are all office romances doomed? No, however they are complicated and pressured in a way unlike other love. Many people have been happily married to previous colleagues for years, meanwhile others are going through divorces with company-wide ripple effects.

Carefully consider all of the risks and consequences before embarking on an office romance.


Sharon Schweitzer, J.D., is a cross-cultural consultant, an international protocol expert and the founder of Protocol & Etiquette Worldwide. She is accredited in intercultural management, is the resident etiquette expert for CBS Austin’s We Are Austin, regularly quoted by BBC Capital, Investor’s Business Daily, Fortune, The New York Times, and numerous other media. She is the best-selling, international award-winning author of Access to Asia: Your Multicultural Business Guide, named to Kirkus Review’s Best Books of 2015 and recipient of the British Airways International Trade, Investment & Expansion Award at the 2016 Greater Austin Business Awards.

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