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Relationships In The Workplace: Taboo or To-Do?

As long as men and women have coexisted in the same workplace, the question of having relations with someone you share a cubicle wall with has been asked.

Since you spend about half of your waking life at your place of employment, is it wise to date where you work?

On the one hand, there’s the convenience: no running around trying to meet up after work—he’s as close as a post-it stuck to his computer screen. Plus, when you eventually move in together, you can save on gas and carpool. Not to mention, it’s pretty tough to cheat on your significant other at work when they sit close enough to hear you fart.

But on the other hand, there’s the inconvenience of distraction: when you’re totally, completely, dizzingly in love with someone at work, it’s hard to care about deadlines and typos. And when you’ve just had the worst fight ever, it’s hard to care about deadlines and typos.

I investigated all the variables, collected the data, and after years of field work, I have come to one conclusion: I may have a drinking problem.

No less revealing was my opinion of this dilemma. First, the evidence:

Exhibit 1: I once dated my workplace manager. Because in-house hookups were punishable by death , we had to keep it strictly hush-hush. At first I think the secrecy made it all the more exciting. I was like James Bond—without the car chases and Swiss army watch. But you know, a funny thing happened on the way to the taboo parlor. I fell in love with him and wanted to tell the (mostly uninterested, I admit) world about my amazing boyfriend. This caused a lot of arguments and tension within our relationship, which translated to his scheduling the worst shifts for me at work. Result: inconvenient.

Exhibit 2: Although I had since decided not to date coworkers who were higher up on the food chain than I was, I had no hesitation about casual encounters with someone of equal standing. After a guy I worked with made it clear that he found me attractive, someone may as well have blown a whistle and called out, “Let the games begin!” We flirted in the kitchenette, we dirty-talked via email, we joked around at Christmas parties—all without being obvious about it. Double-entendre wordplay was our forte. It was fun, sensual, naughty and believe me, I’d never looked forward to Monday mornings so much. The problem was, my next employee review showed a serious decline in, to sum up, caring about work. Result: super fun, but inconvenient.

Exhibit 3: And finally, after years of not dating, sleeping with, or even winking at anyone with whom I worked, I accidentally fell in love with someone. Try though I might, I just could not prevent it from happening. I tried showing him my worst side, telling him I had been court-ordered not to date, and not returning his calls. Somehow, he fell for me anyway. While we occasionally shared a smile across the chaotic office, or texted each other sweet messages in the middle of a meeting, we were diligent about keeping our relationship completely separate from our work. Things were going smashingly and I didn’t even care if I got to tell the whole world about my amazing boyfriend or not, because I knew he was amazing and that was all that mattered. And then suddenly he broke up with me, and I found myself having to avoid the workplace because it’s hard to type when you’re sobbing from a broken heart.  Result: inconvenient, painful and awkward.

So after much research in this area, I can unequivocally say: relationships in the workplace? Strictly taboo. Unless, of course, the commitment you’re looking for involves a straightjacket and day passes.

Selena Templeton is a blogger for JenningsWire, a blogging community created by Annie Jennings.