Why Workplace Romances Can’t Last


A recent syndicated column by sportswriter and sometimes-satirist Norman Chad has reignited the debate over whether the NBA should abet the relationship between Phil Jackson (who took over as president of the New York Knicks on Mar. 17) and Jeanie Buss (who runs the LA Lakers). What’s the problem there? It’s a conflict of interest of epic proportions, with the two engaged to be married as of January while running competing teams. Sure, mixing business and pleasure can work out sometimes, but there’s a reason businesses have rules in place to prevent it.


Photo: Laker Nation

A boss-subordinate relationship creates conflict of interest
Whether you’re a worker bee dating your boss or it’s the other way around, your relationship can exact a toll on your reputation. The optics of the situation can make other employees feel as though the partner in power is playing favourites, calling their leadership into question. It doesn’t get much easier if you’re the subordinate, either. Even if you’re solely responsible for your successes, they’ll be viewed through the lens of the leg up dating your boss has given you.

A relationship between coworkers makes it harder to get the job done
It’s no less alright if you’re dating someone who’s on the same floor as you. Such a relationship puts stress on your colleagues. For example, your boss will get the wrong idea if you’re seen gabbing on company time, even if you’re really discussing those overdue TPS reports. The team dynamic of your office may also be at stake if colleagues feel like you team up together to push your ideas through—and if that’s really the case, then the office just lost two free thinkers who could have contributed to a broader creative process.

Mixing business and pleasure is a recipe of drama
Put frankly, who wants to talk business during personal time? Blurring the lines between the cubicle and the bedroom will make neither you nor your officemates happier (seriously, get those PDAs in check). Your coworkers will take you less seriously if an argument about dishes blows over into the conference meeting, and your love life will take a serious hit if you turn spreadsheets into pillow talk. It also puts you both in a tricky situation if you move on either with your life or with your career. Quitting will be a lot harder if you want to keep your relationship, and keeping your relationship will be difficult if you jump ship.

Sleeping with the competition can’t end well
They call them “inter-office relationships,” and it’s easy to see why they’re a temptation: you don’t work together, and your home-work balance stays safe. The only problem is if you’re working in the same industry, your love life could spell a conflict of interest for competing companies. When word gets out (or worse—when one’s company loses a lucrative contract to the other’s), both your jobs and your relationship might be at stake.

Hiding an office romance ain’t easy
If you think that you’ll try camouflaging your workplace romance, think again. Simply put: people aren’t easily fooled. They know the knowing glances you throw each other, and they’ll notice how readily you back each other up. Once the word is out, your bosses will have a hard time trusting you again, and colleagues will feel taken advantage of—even insulted that you thought they were dumb enough to fall for your ruse. Most workplaces will immediately put into motion an effort to displace one or both of the workers, and that’s in no way a good thing.


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