February 8, 2012
Boss has squashed love between 2 co-workers
Q: A colleague and I have fallen in love after working closely together for about a year.
Unfortunately, our boss has forbidden us from dating because he feels it would be bad for office morale. (Dating colleagues isn’t against company policy, as long as there is no supervisory relationship between the parties.) One or both of us leaving the company would be possible but not easy. We work in a highly technical specialty, so there aren’t a lot of jobs.
How do we deal with these feelings, which we can’t act on, while we decide what to do in the long run?
A: Let me answer the question you really want answered: Can’t we get together, anyway?
I know plenty of couples who met, married and split while co-workers. What the most successful co-worker couples have in common is discretion and distance.
By discretion, I mean that the dating/married couples give no sign they are more than co-workers. No three-hour lunches, no whisper-fights by the water cooler, no Seven Minutes in the Supply Closet.
Distance means working in different departments and/or on separate projects. It also means staying out of each other’s work conflicts and keeping your personal and professional interactions in separate spheres.
I have to wonder, though, how your boss knew there was anything to forbid. Did you ask his permission? Or was your mooning over each other so obvious that the UPS delivery guy thinks you should get a room, already? In that case, your boss may have a point about morale. Of course, his “forbidding” you to date is about as effective (and probably as legal) as ordering you to body-paint each other with chocolate.
But aside from your boss’s edict, here’s one big reason you should proceed with caution: You’re in a small field. If you handle this badly, your reputation could precede you like a lit fuse.
Email questions to Karla Miller at email@example.com.
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