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If you work full time, you probably spend more time with your co-workers than you do your own family. So, it is expected that you are going to make great friends and get close with those you work with, but what if this leads to something more? Having a relationship with one of your co-workers can lead to disastrous consequences. There are two main outcomes of an office relationship, finding the love of your life, or risk losing the best job that you’ve ever had if the relationship goes wrong. Before things get serious, make sure that you weigh the pros and cons.

In a survey of 8,000 workers by CareerBuilder, it was found that 40% of the workers had dated someone at work, and 17% had done it twice! The main reasons they gave for getting in to a relationship was that there were elements of convenience, familiarity, and commonality.

Here are a few of the things that need to be considered if you are thinking of dating a colleague, or you already are:

Firstly, you have to be extra cautious if your romance is with your boss. This is one of the situations in which the repercussions can be disastrous. There may even be legal implications to the relationship, as companies often frown upon these sorts of situations. Your boss is your superior and is there to manage you in your work, not necessarily to date you. Yet, statistics suggest that around half of those who begin a relationship with their boss end up marrying them, maybe this is due to the pressure from everyone to make it work. One of the main issues with this type of romance is that your other co-workers may start to feel that you are being treated differently because the boss favours you. You don’t want to risk being alienated from your co-workers.

Keep the relationship low key or completely hidden if possible. Being flirty with this particular person or showing full on PDA (personal displays of affection) is inappropriate in an office, and can be uncomfortable for the rest of your co-workers. Bringing the relationship into the office could lead to gossip. You should also be careful when putting images on social media. You may have colleagues on there, and if they see something, they may start asking questions or gossiping. You also don’t want to be bringing in problems from home; a row in the office about personal matters is awkward and uncomfortable for everyone.

Be careful when sending any risqué emails. Being secretly flirtatious with your partner may be fun and exhilarating, but it is a very common and easy mistake to send an email to the wrong person, or worse, send the email to everyone in the office.

If you are going to flirt, at least do it discreetly. The office isn’t a private place, and your co-workers are watching, especially if they think something is up. Maintain professionalism and an air of mystery to your relationship.

Things can get especially messy if you both break up. It’s not going to be a great situation seeing your ex every day, as well as having to work amicably alongside them. You may want to speak to your boss about the situation, but if your ex happens to be your boss, seek a more senior figure to confide in. Things could get even worse if it was a bad breakup, or one of you didn’t want the relationship to end as this could potentially lead to a sexual harassment claim.

Overall, to avoid things getting complicated in the office, and to keep everyone happy, keep the relationship as low key and as out of the office as possible.

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