“Approximately 59% of workers have participated in an office romance,” says Toronto psychotherapist and relationship expert Kimberly Moffit. (Shutterstock)
Sexytypewriter.com, QMI Agency
, Last Updated: 6:46 PM ET
Mad Men’s Don Draper and Roger Sterling are notorious drinkers, notorious boardroom piranhas, and notorious womanizers, bedding just about every secretary who has ever worked under them.
One of Draper’s office trysts ended with a flurry of tears and a dramatic resignation. Another ended with an idyllic wedding proposal. Real-life office romances may not be as prevalent as they are within the fictional walls of Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce, but they are astonishingly common.
“Approximately 59% of workers have participated in an office romance,” says Toronto psychotherapist and relationship expert Kimberly Moffit (Kimberlymoffit.com). “It’s very, very common for people to have work relationships, even though they’re (often) discouraged.”
Alan and Pauline were colleagues in the same government office. The pair has been together for 10 years, married for seven and are raising two little boys.
“It’s a good thing that we met at work,” says Pauline. “He was very respected at work — a good leader and very smart. I probably wouldn’t have seen these qualities if we had met outside of work, because the rest of the time he’s a goofball! It wasn’t awkward at all, but that’s because we were right for each other.”
According to Moffit, it makes sense that sexual and romantic relationships frequently blossom in the workplace.
“When you’re working in close quarters with someone, a lot of intimate kinds of feelings can happen. So you could develop a crush on someone — maybe even somebody who you wouldn’t normally crush on — because you spend a large amount of time with them.”
Moffit says this is especially true of high-pressure jobs where the stress and emotional rollercoaster of day-to-day work life can create bonding experiences.
“Most workplaces are pressure-cookers of people with similar interests,” says Phil, 26, a retail manager who has been quietly dating a co-worker for the past six months. “Put a bunch of people with the same degrees in the same stress-filled place for 48 hours a week, and of course some of them are going to throw themselves at each other.”
As 29-year-old Lianne colourfully puts it, “It’s hard to resist a piece of candy when it’s in your face every single day.”
But embarking on a work relationship should not be taken lightly. It can be extremely dangerous terrain for several reasons.
“You could be risking your job,” says Moffit. “(A romantic relationship with a colleague) can make you lose your focus at work. When we go to work, we always want to be our best self. That’s the place where we can show off our talents and our abilities, but when we lose that focus “¦ not only can we lose our satisfaction in our jobs but we can also lose our competitive edge.”
There’s also the rather messy issue of a relationship ending while your professional relationship continues.
“When things end, you still have to see that person every day and face them,” says Moffit. “And depending on the roles that you have, you may even have to take orders from them. That can be a really hard thing to do, especially if you once had an intimate relationship with that person. It can create so much tension in the workplace that you could feel pressure to leave your job, and that’s really unfortunate, especially if you’re not actually ready to leave your job.”
While we should not rule out the possibility of finding everlasting happiness in the arms of a co-worker, Moffit advises going into it “carefully and slowly. If this is somebody that you think could turn their back on you or if you think there’s even a slight risk of things not turning out well, definitely don’t get involved.”
Did You Know:
Have the talk
Find love at the office? Discuss how you’ll handle working together or moving on professionally if a potential romance ended up on the rocks, says Forbes.com. Prepare yourselves for the potentially awkward, emotional, or rough situations that might follow in a breakup.
Sexy Typewriter blogs about her dating failures – online and otherwise – at Sexytypewriter.com.