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Workplace romance: not always a good thing

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Many people have successfully found love in their offices because they followed the unwritten rules of dating a coworker (see Workplace romance: how to do it the right way, part 1 and part 2). But not all experts feel that pursuing a dating relationship at work is a smart career move these days. Today, Roy Cohen, career coach and best-selling author of the Wall Street Professional's Survival Guide, details the negative side of romancing a coworker:

In general, dating a coworker is not a great career move—it will almost always fail. It may seem like a great idea at the time—for convenience, because you both work long hours, because you appear to share common interests and values, etc.—but it is absolutely the worst possible decision for the following reasons:

1. The odds of a relationship failing are far too great to risk your professional and financial security. It is easy for “Masters of the Universe” to think that your relationship and experience will be different from others. That arrogance is often what leads to a breakdown. Even if yours succeeds, if it appears that one of you is offering the other preferential advantages, you could both find yourself in serious trouble. In general, one of you will end up taking the bullet.

2. If there's a break-up that turns ugly, working together could be a nightmare. Imagine the consequences if one of you ends up managing the other. It can be difficult, maybe impossible, to fairly hand out work assignments, give feedback, and do performance reviews when there’s ‘bad blood’ between an employee and his or her manager.

4. For many of us, proximity offers insights that may make an ideal work colleague a horrible romantic match. Far too much can be learned in the work setting about a love interest which could make compatibility that seemed to exist. Besides, what makes for good work colleagues is rarely ever the same for bedfellows.

5. Many organizations have rules about dating colleagues...not because dating a colleague is a bad thing. You may share common interests and motivations and you may both love the organization. The rules exist to avoid any messiness that might arise when the relationship ends, when one of you gets promoted, or if one of you has access to information that should not be shared especially if it might benefit your partner unfairly. If you manage the person you're dating, imagine the consequence if you break up. Your ex is dissatisfied with his or her bonus or raise, and then sues you and the company for sexual harassment.

One of Roy’s clients was thought to be having an affair with her married boss. She wasn't, but the rumor mill was so damaging that she eventually had no choice but to transfer to another department. It was unfair and unnecessary. She was smart, efficient, and added enormous value to her team and her department...much more than her colleagues. Her boss's interest and encouragement, and the time they spent together in animated conversation, was in large part a by-product of her hard work and enormous talent, not romantic interest. So if you’re on the verge of starting a relationship with someone at work, read about both sides of this important issue and make a wise choice.

Workplace romance: doing it the right way, part 1

Workplace romance: doing it the right way, part 2

Workplace romance: the wrong way to date someone at work

Subscribe to this Examiner so you won’t miss this Valentine’s week series on Workplace Romance!

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About this Examiner: Kathryn Marion is the award-winning author of GRADS: TAKE CHARGE of Your First Year After College!, the most comprehensive resource for navigating the world of work and independent living after graduation, as well as host of the book’s companion resource site, www.GradsTakeCharge.com. The print edition of GRADS: TAKE CHARGE is available through Amazon and other online booksellers. The e-book edition is available through e-junkie.

Kathryn also coaches students, graduates, and career changers as well as consults with small businesses and aspiring authors.

Follow her other Examiner columns: Job Search and Life After College. And even more articles on SelfGrowth.com.

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