Elizabeth Tsung / Unsplash
Kenya Foy
July 07, 2017 10:26 am

Workplace affairs: We all know that they are ~kind of~ a bad idea, but that definitely doesn’t stop them from happening. Let’s assume you’ve already crossed that line and are totally involved in some way with a coworker. Like, that ship has sailed. We aren’t here to judge. The question now is, do you let people at the office know what’s going on, or do you actively try to keep it a secret? When it comes to getting involved with a coworker, there are legitimate reasons to keep your office romance a secret.

According to Career Builder‘s 2017 Valentine’s Day survey, 41 percent of workers have found themselves caught up in an office romance. But despite those stats, workplace affairs are still considered taboo.

It’s fairly easy to make the case for why workplace romances should be avoided: For one, it’s tricky enough to navigate office politics without the added stress of worrying about how your dating life will fit into the scheme of things. And nearly everyone who’s dated someone on the job has a horror story about what happened when they broke up and why you should never, ever follow in their footsteps.

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Needless to say, the decision to date your coworker shouldn’t be taken lightly. But if you decide to go for it, discretion might be the best route to take.

Intra-office daters present and future, take notes. Here’s why you should probably keep your office romance under wraps:

1It might be against office policy.

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Let’s be clear: In no way are we encouraging anyone to violate work rules, but we are humans, after all, and sometimes romantic connections develop when and where we least expect them. If you find yourself catching feelings for a coworker, keep it to yourself. Some companies have strict policies about dating on the job, so maintain discretion to keep yourself out of trouble and, above all else, gainfully employed.

2If things go south, the fallout can be contained.

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Keeping your office romance between you and the person you’re dating prevents other random people (hello, meddlesome coworkers) from interfering and making the end of your office romance way more awkward and messy than it has to be.

3Women are more likely to be accused of using romance to get ahead.

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Unfortunately, sexism plays a role in how an employee can be impacted by a workplace romance. A Forbes article that cites a 2009 Western Journal of Communication study found that women bear the brunt of “annoyance” or feelings of anger that other employees harbor towards people who date colleagues:

4 It gives others less of a reason to question your professionalism.

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If everyone at work knows you’re dating a coworker, that could give some people ammunition to use against you when you’re having an off day. Instead of attributing issues to an unbalanced workload or dealing with a toxic colleague, members of your team or higher-ups could automatically assume your dating life is to blame instead, which could lead to them questioning your professionalism.

5 It keeps the attention on your job performance.

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For every person who chooses to publicize their workplace affair, there are 20 nosy colleagues who are distracted by the fact that they’re working alongside intra-office daters. Whether they’re constantly gossiping about what they think they know or just generally uncomfortable about working with coworkers who are romantically involved, the fact is that dating on the job can be perceived as distraction.

6It helps to keep your professional and personal lives separate.

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We know what you’re thinking: Dating someone you work with is the last decision to make if you want to keep your work and personal lives separate, but it can still be done if you both agree to follow certain rules like avoiding PDA at work, not discussing any romantic issues on the clock, and definitely not sending personal messages via company email.

Obviously, dating a coworker is a personal choice, but if you choose to partake, consider keeping it between you and whomever you’re romancing after hours in order to minimize the chances of starring in your very own workplace drama.

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