Office Romances, Unavoidable? What Are The Pros And Cons

Fortune Magazine reports that the Bay Area of California is famously home to some of the country’s best workplaces and most innovative companies.

The San Francisco Bay Area has more Fortune 500 headquarters than any other region except for the tri-state New York City region.

With companies come offices.

With offices come office romances.

Though we may have not fully appreciated it at the time, when we were in high school and college and had massive access to young people that we were attracted to, sometimes literally sitting next to them, once those school days are over, unfortunately so is the access.

Isn’t that in part why we dread being in the world of the adults?

In that world, if we want to meet someone we still have church, online dating services which at times can be dangerous, the super market pickup, the casual conversation at the park, the booty shaking at the health club or other creative pathways that usually involves trying to connect with strangers that you have no idea about their history.

Have they already slept with 200 people? Please don’t laugh. writer, photo credit

Are they serial liars? How long does it take to find that out after you have invested so much time in them?

We could go one but we think you get the point.

So where do most people turn their focus to attract someone where they know their history in terms of their work ethic, principles, honoring their word, human relations, self-control and more?

The work place.

We’ve seen that play out in television series that we have grown to love.

Without a Trace is an American police procedural television drama series that originally aired on CBS from September 26, 2002, to May 19, 2009. The series follows the cases of a Missing Persons Unit of the FBI in New York City. writer, Warner Bros. Television Distribution photo credit

The successful series lasted for seven seasons.

The prominent romance that evolved in the series occurred between Samantha (Poppy Montgomery) and her boss Jack (Anthony LaPaglia).

There were many quiet moments of soft to intense eye contact, wistful smiles and finally the decision to go forward.

They also had their challenges attempting to remain objective while performing a high risk job.

One of the most unforgettable office romances occurred on Star Trek The Next Generation.

"Booby Trap" is the sixth episode of the third season of the American science fiction television series Star Trek: The Next Generation, the 54th episode overall, first broadcast on October 30, 1989. writer, Paramount Domestic Television photo credit

Set in the 24th century, the series follows the adventures of the crew of the Federation starship Enterprise. In this episode, the Enterprise discovers a derelict centuries-old alien battlecruiser and becomes trapped along with it.

The crew begins to investigate ways to escape the trap before succumbing to severe radiation poisoning.

Captain Picard orders Chief Engineer Geordi La Forge to find a way to restore power while a second away team searches for more clues on the Promellian vessel.

Geordi realizes that the only way to restore power is to reconfigure the warp drive and traces the warp drive's design back to the Enterprise's construction and blueprints created by Dr. Leah Brahms.

Jordie enters the ship's holodeck to help figure through the engine reconfiguration, whereupon the computer takes an off the cuff remark by Geordi literally and creates a holographic representation of Brahms herself to assist him in his work.

She’s absolutely gorgeous and brilliant. What a combination.

As Geordi does so, he asks the computer to update the hologram with Dr. Brahms' personality profile, and slowly gains romantic feelings for her and she does as well for him.

Their collaboration solved the ship’s problem with no time to spare.

Well, that is television and as real life as it may seem, it is not.

As we know, real life can be far more complicated and doesn’t remotely go as planned.

Often times in the movies too, especially in a Lifetime pot boiler.

Not from Lifetime but effective at the box office is Obsessed which spent its first week atop the US box office, and grossed $73.8 million from theaters, internationally. writer, Screen Gems photo credit

Obsessed is a 2009 American thriller film directed by Steve Shill. The Rainforest Films production stars Idris Elba, Beyoncé, and Ali Larter.

Obsessed tells the story of Lisa, a gorgeous office temp played by Larter, who develops romantic feelings for her boss, Derek Charles (Elba), and repeatedly attempts to seduce him. Derek's wife, Sharon (Beyoncé), learns of Lisa's obsessive behavior, and suspects an affair.

The ensuing nightmare of a temp scorned turns Derek’s life into a lurid nightmare.

The caution sign is just around the curve.

Given the practical, ethical and above all legal issues associated with office romances, if you make a decision to pursue one, you had better tread very carefully.

We have a visiting female writer with some exceptional credentials to help us navigate.

Let’s meet her.

Lydia Ramsey is a business etiquette expert, speaker and trainer based in Savannah, Georgia, with over three decades of experience. She offers business etiquette training, keynote speeches and executive coaching to corporations, businesses, associations, universities and individuals. She travels throughout the US and abroad to offer her programs on manners and professional conduct in the workplace.

Lydia is the author of several books including MANNERS THAT SELL - ADDING THE POLISH THAT BUILDS PROFITS and LYDIA RAMSEY'S LITTLE BOOK OF TABLE MANNERS. She has produced four training videos, including "Dining for Profit," which was featured in The Wall Street Journal as one of the top four training videos on business dining.

Lydia is regularly called to be interviewed or featured on national television and radio. She has appeared on ABC, FOX TV, NPR, PBS and The Travel Channel. She has been featured or quoted in newspapers and magazines, including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Investors Business Daily, Forbes, Entrepreneur, Inc., Real Simple, Cosmopolitan, Men's Health and Golf Digest.

Lydia believes that etiquette is not about the rules; it is about the relationships. Her goal is to help people keep their feet out of their mouth and the egg off of their face.

The Office Romance: Pros, Cons and Cautions writer, bruce mars photo credit

By Lydia Ramsey

Is the girl or guy in the next cubicle beginning to look awfully attractive? Maybe you'd like to strike up more than the usual office friendship, if so, what should you do and how should you go about it? Before you make your first move, give it some thought. If you decide to pursue your interest, you may be jeopardizing your love life and your career. On the other hand, if all goes well, your job performance may improve and your personal life stands to take a turn for the better.

It is not unusual for people in today's workplace to find their spouse or partner in the office. According to the American Management Association, almost one-half (49% to be exact) of office romances result in marriage or a significant long-term relationship. After all, most people spend more of their time in the workplace than anywhere else. If you choose to make a romantic move, be smart and know the rules.

Know the company policy. Some companies have strict policies against dating coworkers; others just ignore it. Still others even encourage it.

Although most organizations don't want to intrude on their employees' private lives, the shadow of sexual harassment looms large. And it is never wise to date someone who is your supervisor or who reports to you.

Set the ground rules. Discuss early on how you plan to handle the relationship around the office, and what you will do if things don't work out. While that requires a level of maturity and discipline that is often hard to come by, do it if you both want to keep your job. Don't put your career on the line for the sake of a romance that might not work out. Approach with caution.

Consider the effect on your job performance. Being in love can be distracting. If your focus at work is on the object of your affection and not on your job, you are putting your career at risk. Don't spend more time in the copy room or at the water cooler than you normally would. On the other hand, job performance could improve when you are trying to impress that other person.

Be discreet and professional. It is never a good idea to discuss your romantic relationships with coworkers so keep the details to yourself. People will talk. There is no subject more fascinating than the office gossip.

A few extra words of caution about romance in the office:

Observe the one year rule of dating in the workplace. Gradually become close friends with a co-worker. Start by keeping your interaction casual. This is definitely not the time to go head over heels right off the bat.

Be especially cautious if you are new on the job, whether you are pursuing or being pursued. Because you are a new hire, you will be under extra scrutiny. Your boss and co-workers will be watching your closely and observing your professional behavior.

Be wary of email. Remember that email is like the newspaper. Anyone can read it, and someone may. Before you hit "send" make sure that what you are sending is as professional as you want to appear.

Steer clear of Facebook and other social media sites to post the details of your new-found love. That's where people go first when they want to pry and spy.

Office romances can be fun and successful. Take the proper steps, however, to ensure that the relationship will last without interfering in the workplace. The wise couple is careful that any interaction in the office is purely professional. It's a matter of having your career and dating it, too.

Here's to finding love in all the right places!

© 2014, Lydia Ramsey. All rights reserved. Reprints welcomed so long as article and by-line are kept intact and all links made live.

Lydia Ramsey is America's leading authority on business etiquette. She is a speaker and author of Manners That Sell. She is based in Savannah, Georgia and travels the globe, offering keynotes and seminars on business etiquette, professional conduct and customer service to individuals and organizations. For more information on her products and services, contact her directly at 912-598-9812 or via her website at

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