Office Romance

Last week, I received a question from an anonymous member of the CLC Community. It’s a tough one, but I’ll give it a try…

What about doing business with someone with whom you are romantically involved?

Generally, my approach to networking is not about dating, but I believe this is a legitimate relationship-oriented question within the professional realm. On the one hand, we spend a significant amount of time with those with whom we work and get to interact quite a bit with our co-workers. Plus, we have a lot in common with those individuals given our mutual interest in the industry or organization, perhaps even some shared responsibilities and financial fate. It stands to reason that we might feel a strong connection and be drawn to one another.

On the other hand, being involved romantically with someone with whom we work can be really awkward… first for our co-workers as there may be jealousy or a sense of disproportionate attention or favoritism and it could make others around you uncomfortable. Then, there is a risk of things not working out… how do you manage to work together through the breakup? I know a lot of people believe that they can be “just friends” after romantic involvement… but, let’s be honest, that is rarely the case! And, let’s not forget – if one of you is more senior to the other, you are almost certainly violating company policy by being involved and it’s really not a great idea for all of the aforementioned reasons.

So, with that in mind, if you are romantically involved with someone at work (or thinking of becoming so):

  1. Separation of roles. Do your best to work in different departments or at least have different job responsibilities with different reporting relationships. And, be sure you are not breaking company rules – you don’t want to get fired!
  2. Agree to some ground rules. Be open and honest with yourselves about the short- and long-term implications of your relationship. Talk about what you plan to do if you are in a disagreement, if you have sensitive information about work-related matters (i.e. keep the info to yourself!), if you break up, etc. And, no gossiping about one another at work… in other words, don’t kiss and tell!

In truth, there are many couples who work together directly – some of them own their companies together (in fact, a friend recently announced that he is quitting his job to join his wife in her entrepreneurial venture which they will co-operate together and they couldn’t be more excited about the chance to work together every day), others work for other peoples’ organizations and do just fine… so, be introspective with yourself and transparent with your partner to ensure that you can manage your personal and professional interactions in a successful manner.

How about you? Do you work with your partner or spouse? How’s it going for you? What have you done to ensure that things stay positive in both your work and personal worlds? Please comment at

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