I’ve started seeing a work colleague and the relationship appears to be getting quite serious. But we want to avoid the rumour mill and have decided to keep it secret. What is the best way to handle an office romance?
There is nothing like an office romance to get those rumour mills grinding. People love to gossip and work is the perfect place to do it. The workplace provides a community of human relationships, exactly what dedicated gossipers need.
The secrecy is a great move but only if you want to get the rumour mongers really talking. Trying to hide it isn’t going to fool them. How can you keep love a secret? People feel the vibes, no matter how hard you try to behave innocuously.
Is it so sinful to meet someone in the workplace and fall in love? It’s been happening for millenniums. The famous Cleopatra mixed business and love two thousand years ago. Nothing is going to prevent love relationships occurring in the office.
Why then do couples feel they have to sneak around shamefaced when their only crime is to fall in love?
Employers, whether individuals or organisations, have certain expectations of their employees. They expect you to be loyal to them. Of course, they might not admit this because they want to be free to get rid of you if it suits them. Just the same, they want you committed to the job and the company’s success.
Your fellow employees also expect you to be loyal and committed to the company’s goals, just as they are. Your work colleagues have their own interpretation of how the goals should be achieved and, naturally, they want you to support their ideas.
But here you are, forming an alliance with a fellow employee. And this is no ordinary alliance; this is a love liaison. They know they can’t compete with the strength of that sort of alliance. They assume that you and your lover are discussing the rest of them in your pillow talk,and they’d probably be right, wouldn’t they?
They wonder who you are going to support in the future when a contentious issue arises. There is a good chance you’ll be influenced by the opinions of your lover. They are concerned that your lover’s needs will be as high a priority as your own. Your loyalty to them and the organisation has been dissipated.
In short, they can’t trust you any more.
At some level, you already know this. That’s why you are hiding the affair. You don’t want to be distrusted and misjudged. But of course, hiding it just feeds their suspicions. You are going to create the very thing you are trying to avoid.
Once you know the relationship is serious, it is best to come clean.
Tell them the two of you are having a relationship and then take care not to flaunt it. Continue to treat each other in a businesslike way at work. Keep your independence and make a point of publicly disagreeing with your lover on any issue where you have a genuine difference of opinion.
And for everyone’s sake, please keep the smooches and the sweet little endearments like “babe” or “honey” strictly out of business hours.