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20 problems a workplace romance can cause


A workplace romance can cause your productivity to suffer.
Photo: / Vladimir Melnik

David Letterman’s sexual escapades with female staff members have focused attention on the problems associated with workplace romances and office affairs.

The lesson here is that you should think long and hard before becoming romantically or sexually involved with someone on your job. Before you take the plunge, give serious thought to some of the problems that can occur.

I mentioned several of these problems on NPR News yesterday in a roundtable discussion with host Michel Martin of Tell Me More.

Below is a list of some of the problems that can occur:

• Your productivity or the productivity of those around you may suffer.

• If your office romance results in preferential treatment with regard to work assignments, raises, promotions or company perks your co-workers will resent you.

• Envious co-workers may attempt to sabotage your work.

• Your coworkers’ perceptions of your work performance may be lowered.

• If your workplace lover is married, or in a committed relationship, many of your workmates will form a negative opinion of you, or question your judgment.

• You could be accused of creating, or contributing to a hostile workplace environment.

• If you’re a woman, a series of workplace romances may earn you a reputation as someone who tries to sleep her way to the top.

• If you’re a man, a series of workplace romances may earn you a reputation as someone who preys on female workmates.

• Depending on your company’s policy regarding workplace affairs, you may be transferred to another department in the company, or to another location – even out of state.

• Becoming romantically involved with someone at work could even cost you your job.

• You could become the subject of office gossip.

• A workplace romance with a superior will cause workmates to assume you’re getting preferential treatment, even if that is not the case.

• No matter how competent you are, some of your workmates will always attribute your job advancement to your workplace romance.

• Resentment could develop in a peer-to-peer workplace romance if one of you moves up the corporate ladder and the other one doesn’t.

• You and your workplace lover may find yourselves in competition with each other.

If your workplace romance should come to an untimely end, you could be faced with an entirely different set of problems.

• Things could become awkward, if the two of you still have to work together.

• You could find yourself facing sexual harassment charges, even long after the relationship is over.

• If your former workplace lover is a vindictive person, he or she may attempt to sabotage your career.

• A jilted workplace lover above you in the chain of command can negatively influence the kind of work assignments, raises, or advancement opportunities you receive.

• Your former lover could spread nasty rumors about you on the job.

Thanks to the alleged extortion attempt of David Letterman by Richard Halderman, we can now add one more problem to the list:

You could be blackmailed by your former workplace lover, or by someone else who knows about the affair.

Can you think of other problems that should be added to this list?

These are just a few of the problems that can befall you if you become romantically or sexually involved with someone on your job.

If you know of any problems that aren’t listed here, please feel free to mention them in the comments section below.

*** © copyright 2009 Ruth Houston

Ruth Houston is a New York-based infidelity expert who is frequently called on by the media to comment on infidelity issues in the news. She is the author of Is He Cheating on You? - 829 Telltale Signs, the founder of and publishes the Infidelity News and Views blog at  .

For more information about workplace romance, office affairs, and workplace or work spouse infidelity, see:

The 17 Rules of Engagement for Workplace Romance

David Letterman Broke 2 Cardinal Rules Governing Workplace Romance

Do Work Spouse Relationships Lead to Workplace Affairs?

14 Ways Your Work Spouse Relationship Could Sabotage Your Career

Business Travel And Infidelity - How Cheating Men Use Business Travel to Hide Their Affairs

5 Infidelity Trends Likely to Affect You

13 Things Everyone Should Know About Signs of Infidelity

Free Infidelity Tip Sheets and Special Reports


  • Janette 4 years ago

    why have an affair at all? sooner or later you're gonna get caught

  • Elme 4 years ago

    The most dangerous of all is when the office romance ends with the "obsessed" or the "ownership rights" one feels about the other. Sometimes, this causes (has caused) one to murder the other, of course, injuring innocent bystanders in some instances. Murder/suicide has also occured. Now, after all of the above, add this to the mix and you decide - Is it worth it? NOT!!!